Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chinese Chocolate Guy

A small ode to my favourite busker of Antwerp - or as I like to call him, Chinese Chocolate Guy. He pops up everywhere from the big tourist attractions, to the small bohemian side streets, to random squares. He manages to choose his setting appropriate though to the acousitics in the surrounding environment (how aware he is of this, I'm not too sure - perhaps per fluke!).

What makes him unique in Antwerp is his cleanliness and friendliness. I enjoy the street artists which captivate their audiences, but I also enjoy buskers who aren't just begging. Actually, I'm quite sure by this guy's appearance, that he works a regular job and just busks for the fun of it. I'm also sure he has been trained in suzuki (I recognise the majority of his repetoir and the abililty he has to play for hours on end without a note of music in front of him). But what makes me smile most about him, is that for every cent he receives in his violin case, he stops playing (no matter where he is in his piece) and gives the 'donator' chocolate of some sort! It is actually very difficult to tell him 'no - just keep playing'!!

So my thanks goes out to you, Chinese Chocolate guy. I hope to see you for many more years on the Antwerp streets, keeping the air filled with classical music.

By the way - congrats to Tia Hellebout from Belgium! The first (and only) gold medal for these olympics, alongside the silver won by the 4x100m relay won by the women! I even had a tear in my eye!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sæglópur, á lífi

With incredibly poor attempts trying  to squeeze in a little study, August has proven to be a great month so far (though wet and full of electrical storms!). We had another date with Anna (as Sabien has been frolicking around the pyrenees) and went  to a free show from a South American Theatre company (we think... - Spanish speaking in any case) to see Tony Travolta. Basically a sort operetta/musical (very little spoken text - mostly singing) but Tom and I were entertained the whole way through (despite little pitter patters of rain). Anna was a little more critical, but she has far more theatre experience than us, so she was probably right!
Sunday brought us some Aussie visitors, at the beginning of their European tour: Nicky and Liz. Such lovely guests and open to new Belgian specialties in the way of beer, waffles and schnapps. We made the most of "Zomerbar" (also with Anna) and the free movies playing on the Schelde (river passing through Antwerp). The movie showing for us on Sunday was "Road to Guantanamo" so not a nice happy flick for the new visitors, but the location was fantastic (sand hills built in an old hangar with a screen and projector) but sand can be quite hard on your bum after a few hours... Am going back on Sunday to see Little Miss sunshine again, and on Wednesday for No Country for Old Men (have become a late starter in the Coen Brothers cult followers).
Just thought I would include another from Tony Travolto - was very impressed!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ik wil je, blijf bij me, hou van me, ga nooit meer weg

Constant festivals here in the summer... on the last day of July we went to the Casablanca festival in Hemiksem (not far from where we live) which was completely free and full of music (and of course good company!). Bloody hot mind you, so when the rain started around midnight, we didn't mind the cold shower for the walk back to the car!

Nita and Natalie came along for a while (although I think Natalie was more interested in the jumping castle than the music - lucky for her, her mum is short enough to go on with her!)
It took place in a large field near an old abby, so the view was quite spectacular. As the sun went down, the entire abby was lit up - where the monks get their money from, I don't know (they don't brew the beer anymore...) I was quite happy too since they sold Ricard at this festival!
We spent most of the night with the Van den Broeck family (Martine is a colleague of mine and a good festival attender). So, Tom couldn't resist putting another child on his shoulders to get a good view, while the rest of us just gasbagged our way through the evening.

Tomorrow am off to another free concert, and Sunday brings some australian guests! Dunno what I am going to show them, but will do my best to flaunt Antwerp