We were all set to move on to our first Helpx placement (assisting Barry in setting up his Music and Art Centre), when Barry bailed. Why? Because our van is too big. Had we told him about the size of Georgie? Only a gazillion times. Numerous emails had contained sentences like:-
‘Our motorhome is ten metres long. That’s ten whole metres. Read it again to make sure you’ve got this – ten metres.’
‘Yes, I understand and it’s no problem.’
‘That means we need room to turn, and no low bridges, or 3.5 ton limits. And did we mention it’s ten metres long?’
‘Yes, absolutely fine. No problem.’
And so the day before we are due to set off, Barry says:-
‘Your van is too big. Sorry. Gotta cancel.’ Flake.
So we stayed another few days in Chvalsiny, while we decided how to fill our time before our next placement at the beginning of July.
And how fortuitous was that, because we caught the opening night of the Five-Petaled Rose Celebrations in Cesky Krumlov! This takes place every year and is a three day festival in honour of the Rosenbergs, the five-petaled rose being their insignia. Lots of medieval costumes, and parades, and jousting, and hog-roasts, and people selling huge amounts of weaponry, and mad gothic music. And belly dancing, no idea why, but who cares.
The tiny town was full of seriously over-excited Chinese tourists having their photo taken with Czechs in frocks.
The town square held the main stage and, when we arrived, a series of dances were being performed by the ladies of the local Exotic and Oriental Dance School. So, lots of belly dancing, and lots of other dances that used props like beautiful fringed shawls or swords balanced upon heads, but as far as I could see were basically variations of belly dancing.
Then a procession led by the Rosenbergs arrived to much fanfare and cheering. All the nobles were presented to the knobs, as kids squirmed in linen shirts and velvet dresses, and dogs tried hard to look regal whilst sniffing each other’s bottoms.
There were definately some people that gave the impression they dressed like this all the time.
There were workshops for all things medieval; leatherwork, pottery, authentic food and medicine making, glass-work, etc., and of course the blacksmith – who showed us the best way to light a fag with a coal.
The market had an abundance of armour and weapons on sale. Ranks of long-bows and crossbows, tons of hatchets, scimitars and swords, and a rather fetching brass bra.
Towards dusk, we wandered off to another stage set in a park. Arcus, a group described as playing Gothic music, came on and spent a fairly painful-sounding ten minutes tuning up two bagpipes and a couple of stringed things, one of which was played like a guitar, the other with a bow. Not a clue what they were, and also fairly doubtful that I was going to like Gothic music, or anything with too many bagpipes, but curiosity and beer kept me in my seat. They also had long leather skirty-trousers, which was a bit worrying.
But they were brilliant. And maybe it was the incessant quaffing I’d already done or just the mood of the festival, but once those drums started I didn’t give a toss that the tuning up had been largely unsuccessful. I just loved it.
And I wasn’t alone: the kids all started dancing, and whirling, and doing cartwheels in front of the stage. Then some of the mums joined in with their kids (in that way that says, ‘I can get away with dancing like crap because I’m dancing with a four year old and I’m lowering myself to that level. I’ve got moves, oh yes, just not doing them today’).
And then, oh joy, some of the velvet-clad, Anne Boleyn-bonneted ladies, (who clearly attended that dancing school), started twirling their hands and hips, and doing something vaguely belly dancer-ish, but with total abandon. Heads were flung back, arms shot up flamenco-style, and skirts were twirled until we saw the tops of their popsox. You had to be there, I tell you. Little boys got up on stage to show off their moves (or wave to their mums), encouraged by that tall hairy chap in the photo above. One little jerkin-clad moppet was so unspeakably cool that they got him to introduce their next song, and gave him and his mate free CD’s.
This all led nicely up to the torch-lit procession back through town, before the serious drinking got under way to the fire-eating and twirling show (with draped python???). We just had a brilliant time.
BUT ALL GOOD THINGS…
We’ve loved Cesky but it was time to move on, so the next day we drove to Vienna as we’ve never been, and everyone says it’s beautiful. We crossed the border into Austria, and the first thing I saw was a doe, a deer, a female deer (stop it Bev, you are not Julie Andrews). But I did.
And now I have to go because, as ever, the WiFi is too slow. I will tell you what happened next very soon. XXXXX thanks for reading.