Saturday, 26 May 2018

Annecy: Carnaval venétien

I have always thought that the date of Carnival was related to the date of Easter: carnival's Sunday is 7 weeks before Easter Sunday, and ends three days after the first day on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras). The Dutch Catholic part of the population seems to stick with the religious calendar; however in predominantly (traditionally) catholic France they do not seem to bother so much with the exact dates of carnival.

In those towns in Burgundy where carnival is celebrated the celebrations take place during a weekend one or more weeks later then the "official" carnival. In places where carnival is only celebrated as a party for schoolchildren it is often held on a weekday. Sometimes the festivities last a week, like in Chalon, partially indoors (balls, concerts) and partially outdoors with one or two big parades. Scenes one encounters in Dutch Brabant and Limburg (the catholic southern provinces of the Netherlands), where the towns are filled with a seething carousing guzzling mass of people, we (fortunately) have not encountered around here.

Recently we accidentally found out that a number of French towns organise something connected to the Venetian carnival. One of those towns is Annecy, a small 3 hour's drive from here. And since we had enjoyed the Chalon carnival twice already (which we found enough anyway), we decided to sign up for a bus trip to Annecy. Not for Sunday 11 February of course, but for Saturday 23 February. We were completely baffled by the crowds there. Annecy's old town is small with narrow streets, and at places it was impossible to move at all.

In and amongst the spectators there were people dressed up in elaborate costumes with ditto masks, and when asked they stopped, took an artistic pose, had a photoshoot with whomever wanted that, and then paraded on. There were about 500 people dressed up like this, of all nationalities. There were Swiss, Italians, but also French dressed up like Venetians.

Even though the costumes were beautiful, I was a bit put off by the masks. That what can make a photoshoot of people with "real" faces interesting are the facial expressions of the models (if one can catch the expression of course). Needless to say that the masks do not show any emotion at all. My conclusion is, that, even though it was a very cold but beautiful day, one event like this one in Annecy is more than enough for a life time. Having said that, if Annecy one day decides to stage a Carnival in Rio, who knows….

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Ikea-density per country (12 mei 2018)

Ikea Dijon
if you ever want to buy something at Ikea in the Netherlands, you will seldom have to travel more than 30 miles. In France that is slightly different; the nearest Ikea-shops for us are located in Dijon or Lyon, each about 60 miles from our home. And since Ikea Dijon is considerably more easily reachable compared to its Lyon counterpart, we have a strong preference for Dijon.

A car full of Ikea stuff, but no Billy case....
Hence, when we needed another Billy bookcase and some more Ikea stuff, we decided to check the availability of "our" furniture on the Dijon website. That seemed to be the case, although the remarks on the website were a bit ambiguous.
We understood "Disponible sur commande au magasin de IKEA Dijon" to mean: order on the spot and pick your parcel up at the collection counter. For another type of cupboard it said "Disponible à IKEA Dijon", which we interpreted as pick it up from the shelf, pay and leave. However, we found out that the Billy bookcase could be ordered there and then, but that the order had to be delivered to your home by Ikea itself.

This Mackapär cabinet however was available in Dijon
We were advised, if we did not want to pay the delivery charges, we should make another trip to Lyon, where the bookcase was available and from where it could be taken home straight away. Since we did not need the bookcase urgently, we decided to leave the Billy bookcase in Lyon for the time being.

The exreme left Billy case came all the way from Eindhoven!
A few weeks later however, we had to go to the Netherlands, and about ten miles from Den Bosch, the place where we were staying, there happened to be an Ikea in Eindhoven. They had the Billy bookcase in stock, so when we returned to France a few days later, we had a brandnew Billy in the boot, and, it turned out to be marginally cheaper than its French counterpart as well!

Saturday, 5 May 2018

The show must go on

Biréli Lagrène & FrancisLockwood
Jazz in Trivy is one of the few festivals around here that does not issue newsletters to those interested; one has to keep an eye on the website or on the posters in Cluny. Last year there had been no concert that suited me, and this spring I had completely forgotten Jazz in Trivy. Fortunately early April I saw a poster in a window where the first concert in the series was announced for 20 April: Biréli Lagrène – guitar and Francis Lockwood – piano were going to give a concert entitled "Hommage à Didier Lockwood".

The Lockwood Brothers
I had heard Lagrène several times in Trivy, even one time with Didier Lockwood – violin, hence this concert seems to be worth its while. The word homage however was a bit strange, like Didier Lockwood had departed this life. That appeared to be correct; Lockwood had died of a heart attack in February. Through Google I found out that Francis was Didier's brother, and that explained the "Hommage". Tickets were ordered on line, and a few days later we went on our way to Trivy to hear Lagrène play.

Francis Lockwood
The plot thickened when we arrived in Trivy: at the entrance I picked up a flyer announcing a concert of the Lockwood Brothers for … 20 April. Obviously the flyers were printed before the death of Didier Lockwood; however, the organisation had managed to replace Didier Lockwood with Biréli Lagrène. The poster however was most likely printed just before the date of the concert.

Francis Lockwood & Thibault François
Once inside the church there appeared to be even more surprises. The announcer told us that also Lagrène could not be present tonight. He had phoned around 18h00 with the message that he was ill, and could not play. Fortunately, like good jazzmen, the organisation had a talent for improvisation. Before the break Francis Lockwood was going to play solo in a relatively short set, while after the break he was going to play a longer set together with the hastily drummed up guitar player from Lyon Thibault François.

Thibault François
To give those the honour they deserve: the organisation deserved a prize with honours for their improvisational talent, and, not having heard either musician previously, both played an excellent set.

Jean Léchère
Congratulations to Jean Léchère of Jazz in Trivy!