Spain, Rain, Plane (sigh)

Posted by Rowan Coupland on Sunday, June 27, 2010
I am beginning to get bogged down with unwritten blog entries.... weblogged down, backblogs, etc etc. So I will try and give as much of the sense of my week or so in Spain with as little keystroke expenditure as possible, and hopeflly no more completely terrible puns.

Spain was really to be a double-edged friendly sword, with half the time spent in te hills of Catalunia at the very secretive Kuiperfest, and half the time spent with friends in the very much more easily accessible comfy suburb of Madrid, Majadahonda. But first, Kuiperfest.

When I was researching how to get to the festival, I was alarmed to find both that the town I had been advised to get to contained no train station, and that the website I had hoped to refer to now said "Kuiperfest never existed. anyone who told you otherwise is a fantasist". Slightly fearing this had all been some terrible entrapment/English altfolk musician scam, I decided that the tone differed enough from "sorry no refunds available" for it to be ok to venture out, and on an early Barcelona morning I narrowly avoided missing the bus out to Calaceite.

I think it is probably at this point that I should attempt to prune this entry and avoid it being a list of names of people and things, food eaten and local alcohol drank. So, as it turned out, the festival did exist, and it was an eco-festival in that there was no electricity supply and that you looked out on an open valley while going to the toilet. Bands played into the night. Dan, a viola player and composer, and Gus a poet/saxophonist seemed to play nearly constantly (On Saturday morning, I was entrusted with the task of holding some Bach sheet music for Dan to play. We walked around for a bit til I asked what he was rehearsing for. "Rehearsing? Oh no, It's just to wake everyone up". The final night Dan could be seen falling asleep into his viola, still softly bowing).

One morning I woke up with an evil looking spider in my shoe, having made a web.
Another, myself, Suse, Will and the folk-styled Laura (Hocking) and Emily (Manuel) decided we would walk to the local town to buy wine and teeth cleaning apparatus, the classic combination. After very nearly setting off without water for everyone, we wandered round trying to find a path, only found almond trees, ate some almonds then decided to take a 'short cut' through the valleys, as we could see calaceite ever so clearly just over there.

A number of hours later we had nearly run out of water, were rationing the three pistachios i had found at the bottom of my bag, and had split up into groups in order to see if there was either any path, or any sight of town. A few text messages to loved ones were sent. Miraculously none of the separate groups disappeared and we headed through thick thicket getting cut legs and catching the sun and eventually eventually managed to find the bridleway. We got to Calaceite another couple of hours later and arrived to some weird cacophony of barking, tannoy announcements (townwide, and sounding fairly ominous given that it was in a foreign language) and what sounded like the muslim call to prayer. Emily ordered us lots of sandwiches in a bar, we bought wine and tooth brushing stuff, and then helpfully John Fairhurst appeared in his tour/camper van to offer us a lift back to the festival. I ended up scrunched up immediately behind the front seats, clinging on to the side on a hideously bumpy track, seeing nothing, but listening to various selections of awesome blues and the last track on Tom Waits' Rain Dogs from an amplifier by my knee.

The rest of the festival involved.... firewater, dancing, moonlight, high winds, reddened faces, clowns, puppets, middle aged spanish men singing incredible songs about i don't know what, talks about the american civil rights movement and modern art, and some singing and playing and songs about icelandic volcanoes. On the final night I performed hemmed in by vans to keep out the wind and ran off into the moonlight after a good drunkards special and a nice singalong to roses and daffodils. I'd the honour/difficulty of following Laura's set which had brought a tear to at least one audience member's eyes. Though her songs are probably more characterised by urbane jesting and modern love stories, and were accompanied by a still awake Dan. Ditto Emily's set, who should be found and listened to when she stops trying to save the world from her base in Abu Dhabi.

On the final morning of departure, many people were still up, and many people were still unconscious. J.D., an American via Glasgow, commented: "look, they're all lying in the exact same position. like fucking tetris." Then he continued tying knots.

To join this by now fairly long blog entry to the rest of this probably also fairly long blog entry, I say, I was lucky enough to be given a lift to Madrid from the festival by three lovely Exeterians. We stopped in a bar and bought sandwiches and ice cream while Spanish men shouted.

This is the non music bit of the blog. Or the 'holiday' section. I was staying with Jim, a friend from home, and through luck or magic some more of us were coming for the same time. So Jim, Tamar, Charlie Mat and I painted Madrid even more red than it usually is (it's the world cup). We did some excellent hanging out by the pool at Jim's, even cramming into the far corner to get the last dregs of sunlight in the evening shade. We played volleyball against the natives, and we were pretty rubbish. I got the hang of the nudge it over the net technique, but all my punches went very far awry, much like Mat's, which were spectacular but often fruitless (sorry Mat). We ate good couscous, we ate good pastabake, we tried to avoid sunburn, we watched the england game. We played a terrific game of charades and then on the last night we drank wine and watched a thunderstorm. This was a good humanising period after some sections of travel where you begin to feel like a collection of unwashed clothes that cannot communicate with anyone within a certain vicintity. If you read this guys, 'hi'.

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