Monday, January 14, 2013

Barrocco Celticao in Akaroa

Holidays are a good time for a quick getaway for Nick and me...we delivered the boys into the safe-keeping of Willem and Nadine and their four children (how much trouble can two extra be when you already have triplets+one?) and took ourselves to Akaroa, which sparked our interest in October last year when we visited for the first time during a free afternoon at Family Camp.  It's a quaint little town with Frenchly named streets and old but well-kept buildings; our motel was on "Rue Jolie".  We arrived late afternoon on Monday, and feeling somewhat peckish hastened to find an eatery.  Settled on the "Harbar", a cute place directly on the water's edge.  Several Little Brown Jobs were eagerly fluttering around and were brave enough to eat out of our hands; they must have known we were tourists and wouldn't swat them away as surely the locals must do - presumbaly the novelty of birds sitting right on your table would quickly wear off. 
After a hearty fushnchups we wandered through town on the main road, alongside the shell-strewn beach, thinking how much my parents would love this town if/when they come to visit us again! 
Now this would definitely not be a Suitable Booking Arrangement if you were in South Africa - these people hire out kayaks and also do guided tours and dolphin swims in the bay.  You simply use their cellphone which is attached to the inside of the car, and dial a number to make a booking.  They also had an iPad set up in the back seat with signs posted on the windows saying "look here", so you could see how much fun it would be to use their services.  In SA all you would see is a smashed window and a disconnected cord with no phone!  We still marvel at the low crime rate here.
Whaling trypots (above) are dotted about the foreshore, dating back to the mid 1800s. 
We walked all the way to the lighthouse, admiring the views and scenery along the way.
At 7 pm we were seated (in the front row, mind you) and ready for our main reason in deciding on Akaroa as a good one-night destination - the International Akaroa Music Festival was taking place from 11th to 20th January and although we hadn't known anything about it before a quick google search for something cultural, this really grabbed our interest.  It's an annual event; during the days there are workshops and classes for students, and in the evenings there are concerts, varied in style and arrangement.  We picked "Barrocco Celticao" which boasted "a collection of exotic early, traditional music; 16th century dances to folk songs and modern jigs and reels followed by a ceilidh".  It was amazing!!  We sat enraptured as a group of five musicians entertained us with a variety of instruments and vocals.
Of particular interest (aside from the fiddle and mandolin) was the lute (above) and the theorbo (below) - again, something us uncultured backwoods folks had never heard of, but its additional giraffe-like neck sets it apart from a regular lute and supports and base strings.  Brilliant sound!
Had a brief sampling of some scottish dancing from a cute wee lass...
And then it was time for us to dance!  We must have jigged and reeled for a good hour at least, not counting the water breaks.  A ceilidh, as we discovered, is much like a barn-dance with a set pattern of dosey-dos and "swing yer corner gal", just in a different accent.  We are considering returning next year, armed with a group of musically inclined friends who also happen to enjoy dancing.  And...we're still not done with this remarkable evening...the musicians quickly packed up and regrouped at the Harbar (our dinner spot) for some jamming.  Wow!  We enjoyed the live music over a well-earned green apple drink but didn't stay the entire evening...left around 10 pm and could still hear the strains of violin and accordion carrying as we neared our motel.   Absolutely, absolutely wonderful experience. 
I've uploaded two videos to YouTube which you can watch here and here.

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