Chateau d'Ars (Mr. Ryall's Friday)

Featuring guest blogger Chris Ryall

Over on, Euro-oriented melodeonista Chris Ryall has been posting reports of his own experience at Chateau d'Ars. He has graciously allowed me to post them here.

I picked up #1 daughter in London and we set off to the Channel. A couple of technical hitches slowed us up a bit (Dolly May has blagued her way into UK without passport, but never out!) slowed our progress into Kent and we managed to miss not one ferry, but two! Picardy went well enough, and with a delightful lunch stop behind us we got to the edges of Paris .. It started to rain :o

Geoff mentions a bit of weather ... classic Britanique understatement! We are talking a wall of water. The spray was so heavy on the A10 that you couldn't see the Mercedes bombing up your tail at 140+ until they were a few metres off the bumper. (One even had his lights off)!  When a Peugeot pulled out suddenly you couldn't discern the lorry he was overtaking. Météo-France were forecasting "same tomorrow and at the weekend".  It didn't look good ...

Downhill to the Loire, and Orléans still had some chambres à bonne marchée. It was even too wet to eat out. We picnicked in our "Formule 1" and turned in. The bloody UK weather had actually followed us - it was still raining in the morning  :-\

Our rise onto the plain of Berry was easy enough and we chose to come in from due north, off the chauffard infested motorways.  I can confide that the Routier at Issoudun is very clean, very Berrichon in cuisine, and fantastic value. The D road from there then  miraculously took us right through the old St Chartier village! It was deserted.

There's a legendary tale of bureaucratic central French bumbledom in the village of Clochemerle. Well - the Comite George Sand who run the festival are of this genre. This year's innovations were to be sawdust toilets*, and a ban on cars on the camp site. Loyal customers of some 20 years were to carry their bedding ½ mile in the rain from the car park ??? Fortunately I had my walking stick in the car, and a standard NHS card looks very like a carte invalide to a Berrichon  ;) We were there.

Friday afternoon was spent renewing old acquaintances in the salon des instruments. The festival's on site catering is pretty good (though a small beer is now €3!).  The sages of cGS had decided to save money on the canopy on the smaller dance floor  ::)  I tried the big one, but what with the rain and the mud it was pretty lethal. Patrick Bouffard waved me over for a drink and we swapped stories about breaking one's leg! He was on crutches but I won't embarrass by saying how he did it  ;)

The Friday bands were incredibly high tech - virtually all had their sound man actually on stage with them, bristling with computers. Krenijenn laid down layers of Breton sound, and the rondos were safe enough to dance to (though you got very wet)! I can't find a youtube, but their music developed way out of the simple Breton themes with Rap and other imports, yet remained utterly danceable 8)

Gascony's Ba'al were equally techo/fusion but that reference to the Sun god didn't stop the rain. Again, note the integrated sound man on stage.  Dolly (now clad in bubble wrap!) had a great bop to la Clèda (1:30am+) but pauvre Papa had to turn in :|glug

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