Saturday, 25 June 2011


Rowan spotted this video on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. It's from a high school graduation celebration here in Jajce. We were out of town when it was filmed so we missed the parade, although we did see a similar one in the boarder town of Gradiška on our way back from a recent trip to Zagreb. It's a fun video to watch - we know a few of the characters in it - and it does a good job of showing Jajce off, which we think is a cool thing.

Posting it tonight has an added significance because I've got that end-of-term feeling. My work on the children's album (that our last post talked about) is officially finished. After nine months of the project simmering in the background and two weeks of intense work, today we put a CD on the bus to Mostar, where the artwork is being designed and where it will be duplicated. It is a satisfying feeling to have delivered what was asked of me inside the timeframe we initially discussed. That the initial feedback has all been positive is an encouraging bonus.

Now all I need to do is get those songs out of my head and start learning a bunch of local covers for an acoustic set in a couple of weeks. But before then, I will have one day with a summer holiday feel to it!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

In the mix

It looks like it's going to be another sunny day in Jajce but I'm inside, sitting down for another of mixing. It's what I've done for the last two days; it's what I'll be doing for most of the next three days. At that point we'll assess progress and work out what needs to happen before the end of next week. You'll have to watch the video below to get the details of the project, it's enough here to say it's going well but the timeframe is tight. The looming deadline means there's little room for interruptions. However, in my experience, achieving an uninterrupted working day is a big ask in Bosnia and Herzegovina - but here's hoping!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Mine no more.

“UK Government congratulates #Nepal for clearance of last remaining minefields & its designation as landmine free country.” So tweeted the Foreign Office this morning. This is good news for the Nepalese, and for visitors to their country.

When it comes to the scars of war, clearing up the physical mess can take a lot longer than it does to return to some kind of psychological normality. We hear people talking about choosing to move on, but bombed-out buildings don't mend themselves. In the fifteen years since the shooting stopped in Bosnia and Herzegovina many of its marks are still clearly visible. This morning I woke to see the sunlight streaming through the bullet holes in the shutters on the window of the bedroom I was borrowing.

I'm in Mostar. I drove down from Jajce on Sunday evening. One section of the journey passes through what has been, until recently, a largely unmarked minefield. Last month a sudden proliferation of bright yellow hazard tape alerted me to the fact that I'd managed to miss the small red “Pazi Mine' signs that have been nestled in the bushes for some time. In the last week the roadside shrubbery has been hacked away and a grid of hazard tape marked out over the ground: all indications the days are numbered for this particular mine field.

Perhaps it's just me, but it is strange living in a country where there are still so many mines out there. You don't go off the beaten track. You do watch where you put you feet when you're outside of town. You do look up at the inviting mountain views and think “I wonder...” Optimistic articles I've read indicate Bosnia might be in the say position as Nepal within ten years, the pessimists add another nought to that number. Either way, the day can't come too soon.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

What we see in Zagreb

Last weekend the Pope was in Zagreb. We were there the couple of days before he arrived. The to events had no connection, except that we were as aware of his impending arrival as he was unaware of our impending departure.

However, the point of this post is to put Zagreb on the map if you haven't heard of it before. We would hope the capital of Croatia has crossed your consciousness before now but should it have evaded your radar that's about to be corrected.

We've only started to explore Zagreb since our move to Jajce; it's now about a four hour drive away, which is makes it a reasonable proposition for a weekend break. Where as every city we've visited in Bosnia and Herzegovina has a east meets west feel to its architecture, Zagreb is definitely a western city. It has charm and, though we can't claim to have visited any of them yet, it also seems to have a healthy collection of museums and art galleries. It also has recently landed a regular Easyjet service from London Gatwick.

If this reads like an advert, or a puff piece, I have to confess, sadly, that we are in no way getting remunerated for our kind words - not that we'd object if that situation changed! What we can say is that we have seen enough to know there's plenty we'd like to see more of in Zagreb. We'll definitely be back there some time. And if you're reading this in London or Paris you are just one cheap, direct, flight away from meeting us there!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Music Courses Update

Last Thursday we ran a second rehearsal for our music students at Novi Most Jajce. Since we started teaching guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums (and violin), at the beginning of the year, we've seen a steady increase in the number of young people wanting to learn with us. Some have tried an instrument for a few weeks and decided it's not for them, but despite that drop-off we still have more students than we started with. Fourteen of them joined us for this session. For some it was their first time trying to play as a band, for most it was their second. (One or two might have had a little more previous experience.)

Anyone who's played music for any length of time will know there's a big difference between being a 'bedroom player' and a gigging musician. It's encouraging to see these young people rising to the challenge. Many off them are still in the very early days of getting to grips with their instrument. That they are prepared to use the little they've learned so far to make music with others is a real credit to them. Fo our part, we hope that providing both personal tuition and regular opportunities to play with others will not only give these guys a great start on their musical journey but hours of fun too.