Luxembourg … and back again

On Friday I took the train down to Manchester, caught up with my good friend from my National Youth Choir of Great Britain days Danny Curtis and the following morning at pointlessly-early-o’clock (I got up at 04:15 BST) we caught a KLM flight to Luxembourg via Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

We were en route to Luxembourg to celebrate our former NYCGB colleague Jonny Grocock’s 40th birthday and the baptism of his daughter at the Anglican Church of Luxembourg.



Having done my homework online before we flew out I knew that we needed to get the number 16 bus from Luxembourg airport into the city of Luxembourg, alighting at Royal Boulevard, and that it would cost a very reasonable €1.50 (approx. £1.30).

We arrived in Luxembourg around 11:00, and thanks to Google Maps and my GPS-enabled mobile phone (HTC HD2) we were able to find the Anglican Church of Luxembourg very easily.

Venue found we went in search of lunch.

And demonstrating just how cosmopolitan and European we are we ended up at McDonalds Place d’Armes. My first McDonalds in about six or seven years.


We returned to the Anglican Church of Luxembourg in time and Jonny’s daughter was duly baptised … by the wife of one of my former tutors at TISEC (theological college), as it turned out.


And we then retired to the Mercure Kikuoka Golf Club for drinks, dinner and … of course, karaoke.

What fun! Danny, Jonny and his brother Richard and I enjoyed renditions of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and a song by Take That!

…and back again

Getting up pointlessly-early was becoming a habit. We closed our eyes around 23:30 (CET) and my alarm made me literally leap out of bed at 03:15 CET / 02:15 BST.

Having been in Luxembourg for only about 20 hours we caught the 06:20 plane back to Schiphol and then back to Manchester.


I then caught trains back to Cupar in Fife, via changes at York and Edinburgh. And despite having seats booked on the Manchester-York and York-Edinburgh trains I had to stand all the way back because the trains were either too overcrowded and I couldn’t actually reach my seat or because someone was already sitting in my seat.

The first seat was occupied by a man holding a baby and I didn’t have the heart to turf him out of it. The second seat was at first unreachable but by the time the carriage had cleared sufficiently the temperature in the carriage was so unbearable that it was preferable to stand in the area between carriages next to an open window.


All in all that was a great weekend with three great friends. Such a shame it couldn’t have been longer.

Fixing the audio problem with Spb Mobile DVD on Windows 7


I’ve been preparing for my trip to Luxembourg next weekend and given that I’m going to be spending many hours on a train I’ve been converting a couple of DVDs into a format that I can play on my phone running Windows Mobile 6.x.

I’ve been using the rather excellent Spb Mobile DVD, however I ran into a slight problem: since upgrading my PC from Windows XP to Windows 7 the DVD I can no longer hear
any audio on the DVDs (either previewing in Spb Mobile DVD or on the ripped
movies) but the video is superb quality.

I contacted Spb’s technical support who replied the same day saying that I should install the AC3Filter audio codec and try again.

Sure enough after the installation of the AC3 Filter codec Spb Mobile DVD is working once again: superb video and audio too.

I thought someone else might find this information useful.

An email from Luxembourg

Map of Europe highlighting location of Luxembourg
Map of Europe highlighting (in red) the location of Luxembourg

Last night I received an email from Luxembourg. I had to look up on Google Maps to remind me where Luxembourg is. It’s in Europe (I knew that), near France (I knew that too), and next to Belgium and Germany (that’s the bit that I’d forgotten).

The email was inviting me to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in April to a dual celebration: the baptism/christening of Georgina and the 40th birthday of her father, my dear (and sensible) friend Jonny Grocock.

Danny Curtis, Gareth Saunders and Jonny Grocock sitting on a car in 1993
Danny Curtis, Gareth Saunders and Jonny Grocock sitting on a car in 1993

I first met Jonny in December 1988 at St Elphin’s School, Darley Dale on my first National Youth Choir of Great Britain (NYC) course. That was the night the water pipes broke and we were all evacuated to the library at around 3:00 am.

The burst pipes had nothing to do with NYC.

Nope. Nothing. Nothing at all. Well…maybe just a little bit.

But not me: I was asleep. Being sensible.

That’s what I was like in those days. It was my first NYC course and I woke around 2:30 am to the sound of running water. I just assumed that this was an NYC tradition: showers in the middle of the night of the first night of a course.

It could happen!

Jonny, Danny Curtis and me all became Social Secretaries in NYC in 1993, after the first World Tour.  They are two of my best friends in all the world. And perhaps even further afield.

I’m going to do my very best to get to Luxembourg to see him. You just watch me!