Arts and Culture, Travel

It’s Summer in Europe – Festivals!!!

OK, so for about ten months a year, life in this corner of Europe is cold and bleak, characterised by grey skies, gusty gales and the type of rain that conspires to keep people indoors. Nobody goes outside unless they absolutely have urgent business to attend to, and even then, they stomp around with a miserable look of despair and reluctance, burdened by too many layers of clothes, determined to go back indoors as soon as possible.

But for two glorious months or so, everything changes. The sun comes out in full force, and the streets fill with folks with shortened hemlines, smiles and a swing in their step. The longer days also mean that one still has plenty of time to stroll the parks or hang out for cocktails after a full day at work. Best of all, summertime means one thing for the duo – festivals.

Stalking the streets in search for art.

Stalking the streets in search for art.

GodzillaPin is a festival freak. Back in their Adelaide days, the poor chap literally lost his mind in Mad March; between WOMADelaide, the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the Clipsal 500 (not to mention all the other events in the regions) all happening during peak surfing season, GodzillaPin desperately wanted to believe he could split himself up to be in 10 different places at the same time. It was GodzillaPin who’d cultivated the Ninja Turtle’s enthusiasm for festivals – it’s not to say that she doesn’t enjoy spending a lazy summer day reclined on the grass with a glass of cooler wine listening to amazing groovy beats, it’s just that she was never really raised to appreciate life this way.

So, the weekend started on Friday evening with the 6th edition of Hop Hop Hop!, the international open air street theatre in Metz. Over three days, various theatre troupes performed in public spaces, absolutely free of charge. More than just theatre, there was also music concerts, marching bands, little scenes, and surprise performances where people rendez-vous at a particular time and place with no idea what they’re going to watch. It’s all good fun, and free!

Qualité Street putting up a musical/acrobatics performance at Place St Louis - according to the duo, it was the best performance of the evening.

Qualité Street putting up a musical/acrobatics performance at Place St Louis – according to the duo, it was the best performance of the evening.

Here’s a short clip from the beginning of the performance by Qualité Street. For those who find themselves in Europe this summer and wish to catch their performances, here is their touring schedule.

The same weekend, there were the Festival World MeYouZik and the Rock Um Knuedler Festival, both free and open air performances in Luxembourg. They were highly billed events, with the likes of Winston McAnuff and Anastacia being the drawcards to the respective events. GodzillaPin had initially assumed that both the world and rock festivals were happening concurrently, but it turned out to be world music on the Saturday they showed up. This is just as well, as between the two genres, the Ninja Turtle prefers world music by a very large margin.

Debademba on the Lion Stage - their style of music is described as: Afrobeat, blues, with a nod at rock.

Debademba on the Lion Stage – their style of music is described as: Afrobeat, blues, with a nod at rock.

Next up was Playing for Change, not so much a band as a collective of musicians with the goal of Connecting The World Through Music.

Next up was Playing for Change, not so much a band as a collective of musicians with the goal of Connecting The World Through Music.

GodzillaPin came to this festival especially to watch Grandpa Elliot perform. That guy can really rock a harmonica.

GodzillaPin came to this festival especially to watch Grandpa Elliot perform. That guy can really rock a harmonica.

At the MeYouVillage, there were stands with information of non-profit organisations and non-government associations focusing on fundraising for various needy communities around the world. At the village, there were also some exotic foods and drinks on offer.

The Gangbé Brass Band performing at the MeYouVillage stage.

The Gangbé Brass Band performing at the MeYouVillage stage.

A short extract of the Gangbé Brass Band’s performance. It’s quite hard to describe the style of music but it’s a fusion of African beats with jazz/big brass band? At any rate, it was cool enough to get all the little kids off their bums and shaking their booties.

Winston McAnuff & Fixi on the Lion Stage. The programmes were running behind schedule and groups were starting a good half an hour after their scheduled performance times.

Winston McAnuff & Fixi on the Lion Stage. The programmes were running behind schedule and groups were starting a good half an hour after their scheduled performance times, but it was worth the wait.

The evening ended with the duo swinging to Alice Francis on the Holy Ghost Stage. The duo had first seen Alice Francis perform in Nancy back in 2013, and fell in love with the genre because of this amazing trio from Germany. They were enjoying the music so much they didn’t take any photos or videos, but here’s a clip from one of their better known songs.

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Travel

Super Sunday – A Frolicking Good Time

When left to their own devices, GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle have a fashion of clearly distinguishing the week and its end. Gone are the wholesome meals and waking at reasonable hours, as they fall into bed at 2, rise with a throbbing headache and proceed to feast on sparkling wine, Stilton cheese and crackers.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The first (and foremost) glorious thing this weekend was the weather – we got a few hours of sunshine and the type of stifling heat that precedes rain. It got so hot during our walk out to the farmers’ markets that GodzillaPin stripped off his layers. Unfortunately for all, this meant seeing him in pyjamas. Sort of.

Sun! In mid-October!

Sun! In mid-October!

There is something of a tradition to buy a roast chicken at  the markets for our Saturday lunches. In summer we tear it apart and rustle up a salad with leafy greens, peaches and vinaigrette, while autumn called for a more warming spinach stew. Versatile stuff, whole roast chickens.

Yet this time, something else excited the duo even more. While strolling through the markets, GodzillaPin was frozen in his tracks by the sight of the most beautiful array of squashes he had ever seen. There were squashes big and small, green squashes, yellow squashes, orange squashes, squashes he didn’t know the names of… It was squashy (peachy, but with squashes).

GodzillaPin pondering a nosedive into the lot.

GodzillaPin pondering a nosedive into the lot.

The Ninja Turtle got an even better find. After hunting for a year and half through all of this Gallic nation, making fervent enquiries from Auvergne to Bretagne to Lorraine, she finally found what had been haunting her dreams since leaving Australia:

I don't care that France has got 500+ varieties of cheese, nothing even comes close to replacing a Stilton

I don’t care that France has got 500+ varieties of cheese, nothing even comes close to replacing a Stilton.

Pleased with their bounty, they made their way home, believing they have seen it all. Were they in for a shock when the after-lunch stroll saw them bumping into one of these contraptions.

You know how in Japan, one can purchase some really weird things (we won't be explicit here since family members are reading this, but some of you will immediately catch our drift)

You know how in Japan, one can purchase some really weird things (we won’t be explicit here since family members are reading this, but some of you will immediately catch our drift) from a vending machine? Well, they’re amateurs ‘cos here in France…

The next time, dear reader, you run into a snooty French person or someone acting like French cuisine is superior in all the human race, gently point out that in France, one can buy baguettes from a vending machine. The mind boggles.

We also got a taste of the South this weekend in Nancy too, at the 40th edition of the Nancy Jazz Pulsations.

We attended both the Friday and Saturday night concerts, but it was far more enjoyable the second night, when the air wasn’t thick with marijuana and the music loud enough to penetrate the marrow. Our unanimous favourite was Alex Hepburn, though Ibrahim Maalouf was a very close second.

So that was the weekend for GozillaPin and the Ninja Turtle. Now they will lay low and try to recover from the wine, cheese and jazz hangover before another week commences.

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