Battling Bands at Boussac

I have a headache, a stiff shoulder and sore calves today. Why? Because yesterday I was dancing for over 4 hours at the Boussac Battle of the Bands. (And I wasn’t the oldest rocker there either but I was the oldest one in the mosh pit!)

The Amities Internationales du Pays de Boussac organised this ‘tournoi’ and called on our Benj to be one of the judges, which he was thrilled about. He rounded up some friends from lycée to come and support him. They were an enthusiastic addition to the dance floor!

The battle was between five relatively local bands – Boussac’s own Fingers in the Noise, Argyle (pronounced arjeel) from Poitiers, Vertigo from Limoges, and Déjà vu (who renamed themselves last night to Tu Souviens) and Corrupted Generation, both from around Boussac. They were all excellent. Fingers and Tu were older groups who did great covers of hits from the 70s onwards. Corrupted consisted of 13 and 16 year old brothers on guitars, and a 14 year old girl on drums. No vocalist yet but they were brilliant. Vertigo was an excellent five-piece band of 30-somethings, with a very good guitarist, and the awesome Argyle were brothers Basile and Marthur Mousset and friend Noé Gaillard. They were absolutely outstanding and thoroughly deserved to win. Find out more about them at:

Their prize was a magnificent trophy made by local artisans Jean-Claude Aubailly and Sébastien Moser. It was a guitar made from scrap iron. There was 300€ too, plus they’ll be getting an hour long slot on France Bleu Creuse.

Johnny Mc sang in the interludes when the bands changed over. He’s a local British ex-pat who’s been here three and a half years now. He’s a very talented singer and a really nice guy too.

The show opened with a set by Hernbay Road, an indie/blues rock band from Clermont Ferand and they did a few more numbers later in the show. So it was an incredible night of music and dancing, and one I hope will be repeated – as often as possible!

There was a good crowd enjoying themselves. Luckily the weather was kind and the snow stopped at the right time to mean people weren’t put off coming. There were refreshments and a raffle (we donated a free llama trek as one of the prizes) and half the night’s proceeds went to the Telethon. So a great night in a good cause.

Boussac rocks!

The grus flew by

Cranes flying over our house on 17 November 2010

There are currently several tens of thousands of common cranes (grus) flying over France. A couple of thousand of those came over our house this afternoon. Every autumn, usually early November, they fly from northern Europe (Sweden, the Baltic Sea and northern Germany) across France on their way to Spain, although there is another migration route that takes them to Tunisia and Algeria. The birds fly at speeds of up to 70 kmph, depending on the wind. The trip is reversed in early spring.

These cranes are large birds, between 4 and 6 kg in weight and are up to 140 cm high, which isn’t that much shorter than me! Adults have a grey body with a black and white neck, and red markings on their head. Young birds up to a year old are yellowy-brown.

They’re protected but are still endangered due to loss of wintering quarters in Spain and breeding grounds in Scandanavia. What a disaster it would be if we were to lose them. The twice yearly migration is a fantastic experience – an incredible sight and an amazing sound.We look forward to it, but more so in spring since it means the good weather is on its way. Today, seeing the cranes fly over means it’s about to get very cold – here comes winter. They never get it wrong!