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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Steaming hot in le Garonne, castles and jumping jays!

Its touching 36 degrees and still climbing here on a nice medium sized campsite about 20 Kilometres South East of Libourne in the Garonne region of France. My beer wasn't cold to start with when I grabbed a bottle out of the back of the car but now it's as hot as the cup of coffee I had first thing and not good!

We're supposed to be playing tonight - another impromtu performance but at the moment any movement, musical or otherwise, is creating sweat beads everywhere .... good job there's a pool here!

There's a magnificent castle just outside the campsite boundary - its called Rauzan Castle. Originally built in the 13th Century by Henry the 3rd, it's impressive tower bears witness to the 100 years war between France and England. Here's a couple of pics -

We're up in the hills here and there are lots of trees all around, it's quite beautiful actually and although we're nearly at the end of June there's lots of birdsong around from dawn till dusk. We heard some Scops owls last night with their curious submarine bleeping call ... they called all night and have to say got a bit tiresome (not often I say that about any bird call!!) No pics of them I'm afraid, not sure I've ever even seen one but the Jays (pic right) around here seem to be particulary tame and seem to be grabbing tit bits from the few campers on site. Managed to capture this same bird in hopping mode too (below)

Zoot alors! About 10 French campervans turned up all at the same time ... hope they like our music enough to throw a few euros dans le chapeau!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

On Tour ... Dordogne magic!

On tour still with the band and although we've played just 3 gigs and a couple of busking sessions we've already netted over 500 euros for Cancer Support France.

We're all loving the performances but the actual touring, travelling from site to site and living on the road, is predictably hard work for 3 fifty year olds but the sun is shining and the wine is flowing so we're all in good spirits.

We're in the Dordogne at the moment and as luck would have it seem to be tracking the river itself ... its a truly beautiful setting and although I've past this way a couple of times before I can easily see why so many English folk choose this part of France to either settle or holiday - its like a quieter version of Devon!

The bar we played at Mauzac last week (le barrage) was right on the banks of the river and in between practising, playing and sound checks I managed a few trips out with my camera. Not much going on birdwise but this Grey Heron perched on some kind of waterworks structure made a good picture

As did these flying Swans at the same location

A little further down the river there was a good example of one of the many fine aqueducts to be found all over France.

Back to the music tour and worth mentioning the charity we are supporting again - Cancer Support France (all info on our facebook page and some of the work we're putting in here! For sure, most of our gigs are fun and well received but some of the busking is hot, hard work ... just look at the blood, sweat and tears we shed in the name of music at this market venue in Lalinde -

I'll be diplomatic here and just say this was a 'learning experience'.... but 19euros for 3 hours playing in the heat of the day was not what we expected from French market goers!! I might as well have worn the hat rather than put it down ..... spent more than that re hydrating myself!!

You live and learn.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our first gig raised 320 euros .... wow!!!

Ok, apologies for scant posts of late but blogging and touring in a band at age 50 plus is at the very limits of my multi-tasking abilities!!!

Here's a short clip of our first booked gig on the charity tour of SW france ... it was hosted by Le Barrage at Mauzac, a lovely bar on the banks of the Dordogne and many many thanks to Amanda, the owner of the bar, for contacting us and arranging what turned out to be a fantastic evening for all concerned. Everyone had a great time, we raised 320 euros on the night for Cancer Support France and we got a paid follow up gig later in the year .... such fun!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Beyond the Gap Summer Tour .... all for charity!

Rain permitting, the band Beyond the Gap (that's me, Jane & Mark) should be setting off on our Summer tour of SW France today. The plan is to head south to the Dordogne and perform our stuff in various bars, campsites and open markets there and then doing pretty much the same further south in the Languedoc, Aquitaine and the Pyrenees ... hey we've even thought about heading into Spain, but hear the busking laws are pretty strict there so it might just be a cheap fuel stop! In any event we have to be back for the 29th July because we're booked to play Lascaufest

We have several booked venues along the way but our thinking is that most of our performances will be of the busking variety.The whole tour is in aid of Cancer Support France with all profit going to them and we have a 'just giving' site set up if anyone reading this wants to contribute.

You can also follow us via our Facebook page (, we'll be updating most days and we're also in cahoots with AngloInfo ( who have agreed to give us free advertising in return for promoting their websites.

This our main promo pic that goes on any posters for booked venues ... me and Mark looking suitably moody!

And here's a couple of pics of our vehicles all 'stickered up' with Jane having a celebratory drink before the off ...... Ribena she said!

So, all ready for the off ..... weather to be honest is not looking grand for busking but we need to go because I'm picking my fiancee up from Bergerac airport on Wednesday .... yipeee!!!