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Friday, July 13, 2012

Bums n Boats!

Well it seems the busking tour is pretty well taking over from my normal postings on 'baggins abroad' but this is not a bad thing. July and August are the 'pants' months for birds just about anywhere and, music apart, we are passing through some stunning parts of France as well as meeting many interesting and diverse people.

A couple of weeks ago whilst busking in a market place we were approached by someone who wanted to book us for their campsite..... free drinks, free accommodation and food. Agreed we said! Slight catch, depending on your outlook on life, the campsite turned out to be one of those where all involved do their camping with no clothes on!

Undeterred, up for the crack and determined not to turn the other cheek, we 3 busking troubadours, clad in nothing but our clothes, strode boldly into a place of nude people at Le Couderc naturist site, a Dutch run establishment (why are we not surprised!) and were immediately disarmed when we had to ask directions to the reception from an octogenarian naturist. Funny thing, it was us that felt embarrassed's not at all sexy, just a bit strange to see so many people going about their activities without clothes on! Further discomfiture ensued when we were shown around and taken to the bar for a drink .... faced with 3 sets of  male bum cheeks leaning against the bar its really tricky to make the right sort of conversation or know where to look. I think we ended up admiring the beams in the ceiling!

Joking apart, I have to say that the owners made us feel very comfortable, provided us with a chalet, food and all the booze we could drink. There was no pressure at all for us to do the naturist thing and for our gig in the evening all the campers were dressed. It was a good gig, we raised a decent amount for the charity. Sorry folks, no pics were allowed of the naturist thing, shame because those three cheeks at the bar was a picture dying for a caption but here's one of us playing the gig and some blond geezer with a guitar who didn't mind being photographed!

After that experience we've headed further south and after a small but very enjoyable gig at the 12 bar in Hure (nr Bordeaux) we've picked up some very lucrative gigs in the bars along the Midi Canal where it runs alongside the Rivere Garonne. The canal itself links the the two coasts of France, the Atlantic and Mediterranean and is a quite magnificent piece of engineering. Constructed in the 17th Century by a chap called Pierre Paul Riquet, it was commissioned as an alternative waterway route to the dangerous and long trade route around Spain. After falling into disrepair after the 2nd world war it has now been given a new lease of life by the tourist trade and judging by the multi-national make up of the boating folk - Australians, New Zealanders, Dutch (of course, they get everywhere!) and Brits as well as many French boats, its certainly thriving with the several ports along the way providing great meeting places as well as good places for us to busk and make great money for the charity!

The canal was an excellent place for taking photographs, not just because of the gaily coloured boats and barges but also because there was so much going on, with lock gates opening and closing and well, you know boat folk .... if their not tying knots or scrubbing the decks, their usually just showing off! Anyway, boat photography is a new genre for me so here's a few selected pics I thought captured the feel of the place.
This is about as busy as it gets!
Love the composition on this one and I think my mum will like the name of one of these fine vessels!
Here's Hilda May's back end!
One of many grand old barges moored up

Guessing this is newer but no less grand!

Could this be a French rival to the Grand Canal in Venice?

Deck guard!!

No photo collection of canal life would be complete without at least one lock pic so here you go .... small boy and 2 cyclists thrown in (not literally of course) for good measure!

We made many friends and acquired some great contacts during our short stay along the various ports along the Midi Canal and the Beyond the Gap tour will be back there on our way up North. For now though we head for the Pyrenees and since my blogging is way out of date here's a bit of pseudo time travel for you .... we've already done the Pyrenees gig (went very very well!!) ... I've been to Spain and back and by now Jane n Mark should have sampled at least one stage of the Tour de France. Oh dear .... much catch up blog posts to do!!!

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