Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pokusaj - Get into it

The Cotswolds is a small area in the west country of England, roughly the size of Greater Tokyo. The Cotswolds is mostly famous for being the wettest part of the world, particularly on bank holiday weekends. It is also well known for its many quaintly named villages like Old Sodbury, Little Slaughter and Cold Ashton (it really was colder in Cold Ashton!) and the green rolling hills that separate them.

Anyway, I went to the Cotswolds last weekend to walk in the rain and enjoy the scenery. The trip was organised, like most trips I take, by Joyce and featured a motley crew of under prepared and overly optimistic walkers. The emergency search and rescue team in Bath must have looked on with unusual concern as we milled around in central Bath (the town where our train dropped us off) comparing muesli bars and complimenting each other on the new wet weather gear we'd purchased during the week. Some unusual choices had been made. One half of Tranzie had decided to wear a waterproof tent rather than a waterproof jacket (presumably it was cheaper?) while the other half had gone with a sharp little skin-tight number so as to preserve his aerodynamic profile. Smart. Only Joyce was clever enough to bring waterproof shoes, though in fairness my shoes were specifically designed for off-road use and made clever use of brown suede, which helps disguise mud.

In any case, at the end of the day, no amount of money spent on clothes made from fabrics with fabulous wicking qualities can replace the toughness and mental fortitude that we as a group possessed. So we set off in high spirits to tackle the gentle hills and meandering pathways that faced us. Joyce, as always, had done her work well and chose a terrific route for us to walk. The scenery was beautiful and classically "English" - cultivated, green, soft and muddy. Actually, to be fair, the rain held off for most of the time, with only one morning spent trudging through showers. It did rain heavily on the third day, but we were smart enough not to walk that day, preferring instead the six-seater taxis for which the Cotswolds are also rightly famous.

As an aside, Saturday night featured an impromptu rest-break in Bath where we managed to take in the Eurovision song contest. I hadn't watched Eurovision for roughly 10 years but I intend to never miss it it again. I loved every minute of it (well, every minute of the performances, the vote tallying did get a bit dull about half-way through the 43 voting countries). To do it justice would take a whole new blog posting, and I don't have energy for that. But my personal highlight was "Pokusaj" by Laka - the entry from Bosnia-Herzgovina featuring the most successful Bosnian alternative music act performing today (or so Wikipedia tells me). No joke, the song is fantastic - uplifting, exciting, fast-paced and seriously catchy. But the performance took it to new heights - a strange girl hanging up laundry, four more strange girls in wedding dresses knitting cardigans, an even stranger man in a powder blue suit acting like a puppet. It was all so strangely and fantastically unexplained. I couldn't get enough. Unfortunately they finished mid-table, as the Bosnians didn't have as many friends in other countries as the winning Russians did. Oh well. Look it up on youtube - it'll make your day.

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