Sunday, August 09, 2009

Yeah, we were there...

Thanks to GkT for his exceptional generosity, Bel and I got to attend the "Großer Preis von Deutschland" at the Nürburgring and see Mark Webber drive his first pole position home to victory.
George, you're a bloody champion, and it was awesome having you here and experiencing the 4 hour traffic jam on the way to the Nürburgring with you. :)

In August, Bel and I also went to see Tracy Chapman perform at the Stimmenfestival in Lörrach in the south of Germany.

The gig was opened by Scott Matthew, and ex-pat Aussie who has been living in NYC for the last 12 or so years. This guy (and his band) have a really interesting and crazy sound, that just has to be heard to be understood - sometimes melacholy, sometimes happy go lucky, sometimes with a ukulele. The dude has a soft, smokey, kick-arse voice that you can also hear on his website (linked to above).

Between Scott's set and Tracy Chapman coming out on stage, the heavens decided to open up and deliver us with torrential rain for about 30min. Given that the concert was in the market place in Lörrach, there weren't many places to run and hide, but we managed to take refuge under a canvas awning attached to the ice cream parlour, that decided to dump its contents in one big gush at regular intervals over those who weren't lucky enough to be standing underneath it. Funny stuff.

After the rain delay (and the cleanup effort of the roadies on stage), TC came on an delivered a great concert and encore set. I think that it's rare these days to hear an artist whose voice is just as powerful and flawless on stage as on their records, due to the over production of the majority of shitty pop albums, but Tracy is just as good, if not better vocally live as on her discs. Sure, she doesn't deliver a gimmicky stage show that lots of people love to see, but she just plain and simply doesn't need to. That being said - when she wants to rock, she knows how to rock, as she proved in her covers of Proud Mary [Ike & Tina Turner] and Money (That's What I Want) [Barrett Strong].

Bel really loved this gig (and really loves TC in general), and if you get the chance, you should really check her out live.


Outdoor rock climbing in France

In June, Bel and I decided that it was time to enrol in a rock climbing technique course at the local gym that we have been frequenting. The course was a basic introduction to a few key techniques and ran for 2 x 2 hours during the week after work, with a week gap in between so that you had time to practise what you had learned.

After finishing up the second night of the course, Björn, our climbing instructor, asked Bel and I if we wanted to head out with him on the weekend to France to try outdoor climbing. The opportunity was too good to pass up, so we piled into the car, picked up Björn and another girl in Mainz, and headed off to France.

Björn preparing the first climb

Buggered Bel brooding

The conquered crevice
All in all we had an awesome day, with us both learning a lot about keeping your balance, your center of gravity, and climbing up crevices. Both Bel and I left a little skin behind on the sand stone in France (the French national anthem says something about spilling the blood of their enemies on the fields of France...), and I had already left a sizable strip of shin-skin on the wall the night before in the gym, so after this weekend we looked like real pros. :)

Björn lead roping the crevice

The view from the top

Brushy preparing for a route that beat him
Thanks to Björn for taking us out, and hopefully we will get the chance to go again and experience climbing in the great outdoors.