Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Madrid.

Madrid is very wet, windy and cold. Umbrellas were flying 50ft in the skies above Madrid today. Despite that, I managed to turn €2 into €142. Yay! Thank the fucking fuck for that.

The last couple of weeks have been tough. Really tough. For Three days in a row I was drenched to the bone. Sleeping cold and waking with aching bones and joints. Not nice. Haven't enjoyed it.

I hit a low at Cuenca. A nice place, but very, very wet.

After talking to the toilet attendent in the central park I headed towards an albergue. Not one of those pilgrims' albergues, but a homeless night shelter. I like this system. Anyone in need in any city in Spain can find a safe bed, shower and meal for One night only. If you don't find work after a day, you move on. It seems fair to me.

Desperate for a hot shower (I would have given anything) I followed instructions to the albergue. Thankfully, they let me in. This is only the Third time I have used such facilities in almost 16 months of walking. First time was a legite pilgrims stay. Second time was by 'accident' after being refused entry to the official pilgrim albergue. They are all very different in my limited experience. This one was sterile. You are told what to do and when to do it by people in white coats. But, WTF - free meal, warm bed (in your own room), hot shower and breakfast for free. They're not supposed to be welcoming places. A very fine line between welcoming and caring. When you're that desperate any warmth is a welcome, but you have to appreciate it is for One night only.

So, fully refreshed (and with brand new socks and underpants from the albergue :D) I tried to make cash in Cuenca as it pissed down. The only dry pitch I could find was a small arcade with very little through traffic. Not liley to make any more than enough to buy a meal until some very generous person browsed my sketches, read my blurb and then gave me €20 and insisted on not taking a sketch. Fucking cool guy. When you're this down and out the first €10 - €20 is the most difficult. From there on you can invest in materials. With that very generous €20 I took a bus to Madrid and now I have almost €150 in my pocket and a plan to make €1K by Tuesday!!!

I'm off to Leon for a day because I love Leon and want to say 'hi' to a couple of good people. Then I'm straight on to Santiago to make a painting of the cathedral to sell in exchange for a months rent of a farmhouse on the Costa de la Muerte. Simple hey? Life can sometimes be that simple - if you don't try - you don't get!

I've given up on this walk. It was costing money. I wasn't enjoying it. Policia Local in Barcelona and Valencia left me feeling like some no-rights fucking crim'. Cunts. There is no fucking law that says I can't sketch in the streets no matter how big. I will only return when I have to. Whatever the reasons for policing the streets like that, it doesn't work. Barcelona and Valencia have some of the highest levels of street crime in the World. Idiots focussing on artists and artesans collecting a small income whilst ignoring the real crime is just a little bit crap to say the very least. Catalunya and Valencia - not my favourite places in Spain.

Onwards and upwards. Hopefully my next project will be up and running within a couple of weeks. I'm keen, eager and have a drive within to see funds raised to provide camino experience with a mentor to anyone from a 'disadvantaged background'. Absolutely hungry to see this work - so, it will.

Off to the bus station for a couple of hours kip before taking a night bus for another couple of hours.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Cuenca.

It was wet. Very, very wet. Quite nice, but wet, very, very wet.

Huge change in plan due to unfair play by Policia Local in Barcelona and Valencia followed by absolutely dyre, unworkable weather in Cuenca which was quite nice, but very wet.

I'm in Madrid and heading for the Galician coast! Time to get my next project moving forward. More later.

I may hang around in Madrid for New Year. Well, as I'm here...

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Can any city in Spain be worse than Barcelona?

Oh yes. Valencia.

Purely from the perspective of an artist who still relies on street work for about 70% of my income - Valencia is absolutely shyte.

Finally, policia local tell me I will never get permission. Permission doesn't actually exist. They tell you that you need permission, you can and fill in all the forms, queue to get them stamped, and then they go into the recycle bin.

Actually, it's not policia local here, it's PLV - Valencia's very own branded local police protecting all business interests and ensuring all income from tourists arrives safely in it's rightful place and stopping anyone else from making a penny. I'm on Third and final warning from locals and secret police. It's been raining often. I almost got arrrested for calling secret police facist cunts. I think they actually took it as a compliment. Next to impossible to make money from art on the streets here. I picked up a bit of commissioned work that just about covered hostal fees. I am stuck here. It's another trap.

Whatever cash I have in my pocket at the end of today goes on a bus ticket to get as far away as possible. That is not likley to be very far, but at least it's a start!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Permission to Sketch!

I find this unbelievable. It is actually illegal to sketch on the streets of Barcelona and Valencia without permission. Permission that it seems, is impossible to obtain. Last attempt at the ayuntamiento. Filled in all preliminary forms. Get them stamped. "OK, what next?". "We'll call you". Right. Won't be holding my breath.

I get a mixed response from Policia Local. Some say it's fine if you're just sketching. Others say you need permission and insist I pack-up and leave. It's spoiling any chance of me getting decent work here and saving money to walk to Cuenca. I have a mural to complete. Other than that, I'm restricted to working during siesta for just Onee hour whilst there are no police around and trying to sell sketches illicitly by night alongside drug dealers and purveyors of illegal goods. Barcelona and Valencia make artists feel like criminal scum. I will leave with a prevaling memory of facist cuntism.

Not that I think my art is that good, but...

100 years from now what sort of street art will Barcelona and Valencia have to represent their extrordinarily rich culture in these times? They'll have fuck-all other than commercial, valueless bullshit.

On the face of it, you walk around both cities and feel as though you're surrounded by art from all eras and an overdose of contemporary art. However, it's 90% superficial crap and there is sod all real art going on today. No future Vincents, Henri de Toulose (who I am told used to do similar large scale sketches to my own to pay his way), not even a future Guadi!

So, I'm on a new plan. Just make enough cash to get the fuck out of here and start walking from Cuenca. Hopefully, they treat artists better. If that fails, I head straight to guaranteed work elsewhere and save enough to walk across the plains in winter.

Just about surviving myself ATM. Waking each day with just a couple of €'s in my pocket and scraping enough to pay for bed and meal. Weather has turned shit also. It's tough. It could be much easier if I had permission to sketch. Hoping to find new sponsors, but my own survival is paramount - cold winter coming.

Permission to sketch on your own fucking streets!

Facist Catalunyan scum.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Wrong Sort of Permission.

Dammit!

Seems to be some sort of problem with the fact that I don't have a residential address in Valencia. I can see why they have such a system.

Policia Local are all being total pedants this weekend. I'm stuck.

A quick explanantion of how I'm working ATM. Every town, or city I reach I go to the main plaza and start sketching 3x1 Meter panoramics on paper on the floor. In most places in Spain pavement drawing is illegal. Police see me drawing on the ground and decide it's not legal. I then go get permission from the local council. Usually straight forward. Not so in Catalunya. Even with permission, police will often tell me to pack up because I don't have permission to collect money. I don't ask for money. People read who I am and what I'm doing and if they like the idea, or like my work they may drop a coin. Usually no more than €15 in a single day. I rely on sales of sketches. I sketch big to get attention, and pick-up commissions - it's simply to difficult to do it any other way in a strange city.

I don't like this. You're made to feel like a criminal. It gets you down if you're already desperate for cash. I'm currently just about making enough to survive. Tough time of year, tough year. Hopefully next week will be better and I can find some way of getting permission without being resident in Valencia.

On the plus side; Villa win again :)

Friday, 18 December 2009

Valencia :)

I like.

Beautiful plazas and buildings to sketch for a start. Perfect working surfaces. Night lighting that extends my working day by 5 hours if needed. Meeting good people. Getting good work. Getting a little wet currently, but that will pass.

I have permission. Just One grumpy fuck Policia Local to avoid. Lots of English speaking people here. Difficult to find a bar where someone isn't speaking English. Not a moan.

Nice hostal for accommodation at a good price. Really nice bunch: http://www.likeathome.net

I may stay for Christmas and New Year! Not so long really. For as long as I'm saving pennies, I'm staying.

Highly recommended for a weeks stay at least.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Valencia.

Thankfully I've made it to Valencia. Not because I made the money I needed in Barcelona, but thanks to some very generous help from a very kind person.

Valencia is beautiful. Even when it's freezing cold and grey. It may be similar to Barcelona in so much as it's a city by the sea with a port, beaches and great architecture, however it doesn't have the crap :)

Barcelona was expensive. It was also full of empty. Empty flights, empty beds, empty bars and empty plazas. I was expecting this winter to be financially tough. I suspect many people cancelled fun city breaks when the media was at it's peak of Crisis gloom 10 months ago, or so. Consequently, cities like Barcelona are suffering. Now might be the time to pick-up a last minute bargain. For me, it's not good. That's my theory at least. I'm also hanging on to the hope that my theory is that cities like Valencia and Cuenca attract holiday makers who feel a little less intimidated by recession. If any city in Spain can ride a financial downturn, Valencia looks to be the place. I'm hoping to recover the cash Barcelona gobbled. Art buying is a very impulsive purcahse mind, and pre Christmas/Crisis purse strings put impulse purchases out of peoples minds. We'll see what happens.

Took a night bus. Haven't slept. Physically and mentally shattered. Today I'm going to do a 'practice' sketch to see what sort of reaction I get. It is just about the perfect city for me. Hopefully, I'll get the weather luck and the authority luck. I need it!

BIG thank you once again to all who helped in Barcelona. Hugely appreciated.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Barcelona. Why I like it.

It has plus points.

Mostly, the people I know here. I have been treated very kindly by many. Good friends live close by. The hospitalty offered by people I have got to know has been more than enough to restore any faith in humanity that was fading. Thank you very much to those people.

It is a city of opportunity. If you take your time, make connections, meet lots of people, sooner, or later you get a small break. The only way I can make money here is by picking up commissions.

Coincidentally, my mate Paul Sandsculpture was in town (I'll post a link to his website at a later date). We happened to meet a guy with a 10 Meter yacht who was planning to gradually head south through the winter harbour by harbour. So, off went Paul (I think). Great way to find work through December, January and February. I would have liked to have gone myself, however my plans were already made. There are opportunities if you're prepared to look for them.

It is a beautiful city beyond the superficial surface. Architecturally amongst the World's best. I spent last night in a very nice, huge appartment in an area that reminded me very much of Limehouse in London. Old factories, converted warehouses, city appartment blocks, workshops, offices mixed together and overlooked by Barcelona's Gherkin. Swanky NY lounge style bars next door to forever local cafes. I like that area of Barcelona. Still easy to stay in touch with the real people.

I need just €50 more to head to Valencia. Not likely to happen tonight. Can only try. You never know.

Someone told me Valencia is just like a little Barcelona. That may, or may not be a good thing?

Barcelona. Why I don't like it 2.

Lets' get the moaning out of the way before I move on.

Go into a bar. Looks a bit expensive, so check the prices before ordering. How much for a congac?

Depends on which one.

The cheapest one?

€5

OK. I'll have that one. Then when it's time to pay...

That will be €6.50.

What?

€6.50. I gave you the expensive one.


It's just a commercial, penny grabbing scam everywhere you go.

It's also extremely difficult to make money on the streets. Tightly controlled where it's 'good'. Policed to an extreme. I got accused of selling beer on the streets the other day. My sketches were apparently just a cover! It is also saturated with street performers, buskers, beggers and others just trying to scrape a living. It is also saturated with thieves and bag snatchers. Because of this, many tourists are forever on guard and reluctant to take time to look, listen, or speak to any stranger on the street. It is by far the most difficult city to work in Spain.

I imagine it's nothing new. It has always lured artists and musicians on a false promise. Anyone thinking about working the streets in Spain - be forewarned; Barcelona is not the place to come.

I could moan more, but my fingers are to cold to type.

Onwards and upwards...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Barcelona. Why I Don't Like it!

I should. There is loads of good sketching here.

Point 1: The Police don't let me sketch big.

Point2: I just sat by the marina to enjoy a spliff and wine and got hassled by some cunt trying to rob me.

Point 3: Until you get to know the real city you just meet thieves and people living an image here - I live in Barcelona, therefore I am cool. Well, no you're not actually. You still work 9 to 5 and have no idea beyond the magazines you read. To many shallow idiots here.

On the other hand, most beautiful person I know lives just a short train ride away.

I'm persistent!

Barcelona. I leave A.S.A.P.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Granada to Barcelona to Valencia.

I haven't posted here for a while because I've just been going about my 'everyday business' which seems a bit boring to me. However, in retrospect, much has happened.

Work has been good for different reasons. Today delivered good cash and an offer of a lift to Barcelona (I have to be in Barcelona to be on the big telly! - more on that at a later date). Other than TV, there are only a couple of good reasons to go to Barcelona as far as I'm concerned. One makes handbags and I feel as though I owe much gratitude and a chance to return goodwill. The other lives a short train ride out of the city and just makes me feel happy. Looking forward to a bit of time in good company and a break from working the streets.

Working the streets. With reference to a comment made earlier; Granada has NOT done 'a fucking Barcelona' as I put it. They have simply introduced a system that allows anyone to obtain permission to work/perform/play on the streets if they have legal papers. I have sympathy for those who don't, but have no idea why there is going to be a protest this evening by those who do. Obviously, you are not going to get permission to busk, or beg outside a bank by the cashpoint. It's a very reasonable, and fair system as far as I can see. You can play music on the streets if you're not causing a nuisance, or asking for cash without permission. That's the bottom line: 'NO MONEY MAKING ACTIVITY IN A PUBLIC PLACE WITHOUT PERMISSION'. Easy enough to get permission if you want it. Fair is fair. The police simply want to know who's in town, on the streets, and doing what.

Last Sunday was a total washout. Streets full of nothing but rain water. I took shelter under a pine tree outside a bar (the only forever dry spot I know in Granada) and was invited into the bar by a couple of good people. The thing I have always wanted to do more than anything as an artist is work for my meal and drink. And, I did last Sunday. Sketching directly on the wall for as much beer as I could drink and as much delicious soup and Russian salad as I could eat. That represents the true pinnacle of artist life to me. It's something I've wanted to do so much I've always been afraid to ask. Finally, I got an invite! I no longer feel like some sought of fraud. Memories of my past life in design studios, advertising agencies and corporate offices mean nothing. I do art for my food :)

Off to Barcelona for a few days and then on to Valencia to start walking again. Despite winter, I am really looking forward to this route. It's going to be tough financially, but 'fuck yeah' - it's going to be very, very, enjoyable.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Me at work...

... In La Coruña.
Thanks to Monte for sending this photo. I like it.


I am still 'stuck' in Granada. Plenty of work - making hay whilst the sun shines. The weather has been fantastic here since I returned.

Planning my next route. A change of plan after learning about a little known route that begins in Cuenca. I'm going to find my own way from Valencia to Cuenca and then follow the existing path (if there is one) from there. Not sure on time scale. An open plan, but I am looking forward to meeting up with people in Santiago again. Oh, and I think I promised someone a sketch in return for a bit of time and a coffee :)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Walk Out to Winter...

...swear I'll be there.

Not often I wonder what Roddy Frame is doing these days, but today I thank him for a beautiful song and beautiful teenage memories!

All new winter togs :) With a budget of €200 I set out to buy my winter walking gear. If I had been offered a choice of a Million coats I would have chosen this one. And, it came my way for just €8 courtesy of my favourite second hand, Mr Ben shop. Brand new, snug as a glove, all weather proof and it is made from professional components - it says so on the label. Has to be good if it is the choice of professional coat wearers. Not a job my school careers adviser told me about, and I have to admit I had no idea that people got paid for wearing coats. Tough work in the Andalucian summer. I guess you would have to drink lots of water.

New boots also. They are seriously strong, no nonsense boots. Will last a year at least. All leather with tough rubber soles. They're called 'Worker' boots. I like that. I have always aspired to be a worker, but why bother going to all that trouble when you can buy into the 'worker lifestyle' for just €27?

A new cashmere sweater for just €3.

Leaves me lots to spend on printed corporate style T-shirts. Well, if you can't beat them - join them.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Final Destination.


All pilgrims will recognise this...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Granada, Granada, Granada!

I always get stuck here. Mostly, because I like it here. Granada remains my favourite Spanish city, and this time around, making cash is proving not to be a problem. Great weather (although I sense a change), good work, plenty of good friends and many parties and hiking expeditions.

On the downside, I have lost count of the number of times I've been 'controlled' by the police. Seems like every other day. Don't think I look particularly scruffy, or wrongun like. It gets to you after a while. I'm simply trying to save enough cash for my next walk to raise more money for charity by selling sketches and picking up commissions, but I'm made to feel like a criminal. It's me who gets stuff stolen - go find the real criminals you cowardly little fucks.

Yesterday evening I went shopping at Mercadona. Carrying 5 bags full of groceries I sat down on a bench in Jardins de Triunfo to pause for 5 minutes. Almost immediately Policia Nacional turn up and ask for my documentation. They then run a check whilst one of them looks for my non-existent discarded drugs. All is fine. I'm not a criminal on the run. No criminal record, but hey, they politely tell me to fuck off anyway. I'm not allowed to sit on a park bench for 5 minutes. They then wait just around the corner to see if I return to collect my non-existent discarded stash.

Worse than that, some police are also issuing bogus fines to people. If they don't like the look of you they make up a story about Guardia Civil searching you and finding an illegal knife. €301 to pay at the end of the month, or you go to jail. Nice street policing!

Those are the hazzards of working on the streets and being perceived as being poor. Or, perhaps looking poor, but with cash to spend on bags full of groceries from Mercadona is even more suspicious?

The other hazzards are disease. There seems to be a fair bit of TB around. A mate is recovering in hospital with secondary meningitis that has caused a few brain problems.

Not all sunshine and fun. However, I do like it here. Staying until I have saved enough for my next walk and new boots and togs.

Friday, 16 October 2009

They say it's addictve.

Perhaps it is.

I'm back in Granada. I want to head back to the North West coast of Galicia. I can't see any reason not to walk Mozarabe and Via de la Plata again. I'm in no rush and curiosity is getting the better of me. So, I walk the original route again with new knowledge and an eye for yellow arrows :) Through the winter :( It was very cold sometimes.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Photographs?





There aren't any!


Many people keep asking me where all the photographs and photographs of sketches and paintings are. Well, here's just one. The rest won't appear here until they have at the very least paid for themselves.


I've been shooting on film and sending films back home as I've been walking. Eventually, I hope to create some sort of 'guide', or, 'art book' about alternative walking routes to Santiago.


This was taken on a friends new digital compact. I seem to have returned to a base instinct. Forget the technical crap, all the rules, what is and isn't cool - just shoot what you see and like.




And, here's a painting. Not mine. A sample of recent work by a good friend. He's completeing a series of large oil paintings all about rural abandon. Many mountain villages in Spain have become deserted over the past 40 years, or so due to political, social and environmental change. Entire villages left derelict in varying states of delapidation. The series of paintings tell the story of why villages have been deserted.



Friday, 9 October 2009

Back from the mountains.

Not sure where I'm back to though!

That was a really nice and much needed break. Beautiful place, beautiful company. Now I have to find a route back to Granada from a €10 start. A little over 1,000KM. A beer seems to be the best place to start :)

On to Leòn - one of my favourite cities in Spain for many reasons. Then to Madrid for the sake of a cheap €17 bus ride to Granada. Then, I make plans to head back to the North West tip of Spain and start my new project. It may take time - I don't have the cash to play with until December, but it will happen.

The weather luck seems to be back with me. A careful plan back to Granada and I won't get wet.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

The End.

OK. That's it for me as life as a pilgrim artist. No doubt I'll walk pilgrimage routes again at some time in the future. I'll also come back here and summarise in more detail after I've spent a bit of time normalising and chatting with old friends. Today ended with a policia local conflab. "Show me the law that says I can't sketch on the streets". Apparently I can paint, but not sketch on paper on the floor. It's got fuck all to do with art, and everything to do with being perceived as being poor. Why not go and demand a bug ridden albergue gets itself sorted out? That is doing Santiago no good at all. The vast majority of people enjoy what I do. It's harming no-one.

I'll keep this blog going for my next project.

Now I-m off to meet friends in the mountains and enjoy a proper holiday.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Blimey!

I'm fucked. Totally allergy fucked from bedbugs.

The albergue staff here are continuing to accept cash from pilgrims even though there is absolutely no doubt they have an infestation of bedbugs.

I can't be arsed to walk around town to look for alternative accommodation. I'm tired. My body is blistering. Swelling up. I will willingly sleep on the porch. Peacefully. But, they insist on calling Policia Local.

I have asked a couple of times for a complaint form.

*Quick edit - the owner has just turned up*


Guess I'll update tomorrow.

Not Mosquito - Bed Bugs :(

And, it turns out I'm hiper-allergic, or summat.

The lying, money grabbing, fuck wits at Acuario Albergue in Santiago can fuck off. They have known they have an infestation for sometime, but have chosen to carry on collecting cash. Fuckers. I hate them.

Stayed again last night, so I have another 3 days of puss ridden, blister popping, swelling joint agony ahead of me. Cunts.

I shall not be letting them get away with it.

Fuck off end to my years walking camino. First albergue I have come across with a problem like this. Expensive medical treatment. Painful as fuck. All because they chose to take the cash. This is just a dressed up garage with hippie shit everywhere. 56 beds at €7 a night. You work it out!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Vigo & Ourense.

Just went to visit whilst I had the opportunity. My intention was to walk north along the coast from Vigo. However, I got eaten alive by mosquito blanco - I seem to be a bit allergic to them. My body is covered with scars.

Vigo was OK. Expensive and overated. Had the feel of a very tired end of season tourist town. Loads of roadworks and building restoration going on, so perhaps I'll give it another chance another time. Can of lemon pop €1.80! Sketching paper (usually €1) €3. I left pretty quickly and took a random bus to Ourense.

Ourense has hot water mineral springs. Exactly what the doctor ordered. Beautiful city. There are so many in Spain. Ourense would make my top 10. If you ever visit be sure to cross the roman bridge and visit the part of town where all the real people live away from the tourists.

Back in Santiago. No sleep for Two days. Still very itchy and sore. Plan to sketch and sell here (police permitting) for the weekend and then head to the mountains to visit friends.

Monday, 21 September 2009

A call for pledges.

Anyone interested in getting the ball rolling financially on my next charity project can make a pledge here.

It is simply a pledge. As soon as an account has been set-up and new charity established (or, possibly an existing charity) you will be sent an email reminder to honour the pledge paying the charity directly.

Absolutely no idea how much I will raise myself from sales of paintings, but I'm hopeful for around €10K. A lot will depend on publicity - anyone reading who knows how to do that, please let me know.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

An Intro to My Next Project.

Almost finished walking. A fabulous experience, but I'm looking forward to a more static life for a year at least.

I am going to rent a place on the North West coast of Spain and paint 5 seascapes a day. I will auction all paintings on the internet to raise more money for charity - hopefully a new charity that will offer camino experience to disadvantage people with a mentor. That is going to take a fair bit of organising. Until everything is established I'll try to raise funds to get the project started.

It's going to be a very wet seaside winter for me :) Don't care. I care more about having my own bed.

I have some work and exhibition commitments to fullfill next year, so will have to take a few short breaks from painting seascapes. Not entirely sure how this is going to work yet. It will happen mind, and I'll continue blogging here with pictures of each new painting. You will be able to see how my... erm... 'style' develops over the year.

For my own income I will be selling prints and sketches on the streets of Galician cities at weekends.

A loose plan at the moment. I'll post confirmed details here as soon as they are confirmed!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

In praise of La Coruña bus station cafeteria.

Almost forgot this.

Burger with pork, bacon, egg, cheese and salad plus chips - €4.40. Take that Mr Kebap Pathetico man.

Tourist info incredibly helpful also.


I am getting ridiculous hassle from Policia local here in Santiago. Apparently it is illegal to sketch the cathedral. Blimey! I'm going to sketch a legendary LostPhotographer 360 degree panoramic umbrella this evening. Roll myself a big fat one and just sit in the middle of the plaza sketching and sketching and sketching. I can't see one single legitimate charge for sketching on an umbrella. I'll display a large 3 Meter x 1 Meter sketch also. Someone may ask me if it's for sale. Pathetic tossers. Arrest me if you so wish and I'll take every ounce of publicity from it. Arrested for sketching. Come on then.

Beautiful city. Love it here, but I actually got 2 police cars and and 4 police last night for having the audacity to sketch the cathedral without permission. I guess there's not a lot of real crime here to deal with.

Santiago de Compostela II

For all the walking I have (and have not) done this is only my second visit to Santiago. It's even more beautiful this time of year than it is at Christmas. The next couple of visits will happen far more quickly - just a case of filling in camino gaps rather than any more 1,200KM treks.

My excursion along the north east coast was fantastic. The most beautiful hiking I have yet to find in Spain. One stretch in particular was paradise. Lump in the throat natural beauty at every turn. Varied also. From boulders of granite to soft, pale dune beaches. A relatively easy 14KM hike along the coast from Laxe to Camelle following the obvious PR-G 114. Stunning!

Fish from the sea, fish from the rivers. Peaches, apricots, apples, pumpkin, sweetcorn, sweet juicy blackberries and much more all for free. I ran out of cash at Camelle after an almighty through the night fiesta and made way directly to Santiago, so I still haven't actually reached Finisterre. Maybe walk from here after all.

I have also met someone who has told me about an alternative 'pagan' route to Finisterre that follows megaliths and ancient monuments rather than Catholic churches and stuff. Interesting. I will investigate more.

My current plan is to rent a cottage on the coast in paradise for winter and spend a few months painting seascapes. Off season rentals are cheap and plentiful. I can make plenty of cash on the streets of Santiago de Compostela provided I get permission. I can't currently. Apparently all permissions are booked until November. I have one sketch half complete that I am determined to finish. There is absolutely no law in the world that can prevent me from sketching the cathedral surely?

Hopefully make a bit more money here before heading back to Oviedo to walk Camino Ingles. Rough plan. I am having to be very flexible.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

My Holiday.

I'm walking from La Coruña to Fisterra. It's not a camino route. I'm walking with sod all cash. No map. No guide. My intention is to forget about money completeley for a week, or so and just fucking well enjoy the real spirit of camino (even though this isn't a proper camino de Santiago).

It's beautiful here. Stunningly beautiful. Atlantic coast surrounded by lushness. Tiny little fields and fertile flood plains around bays and estuaries. Dramatic, mellowdramatic and subtle all at the same time. I want to enjoy it whilst the summer lasts. I may not get another chance. For all I know I could get stuck back in the rat trap one day and regret not doing it now, so now I do it.

It's almost harvest time. There's plenty of free food growing everywhere. Mushrooms are already about (oh dear! :D) and I have a fishing rod. I will sleep wherever is dry.

Feel like I sort of lost my way a little on a money focus. Raising money for good causes mostly, but I'm getting grief for that and it's spoiling my own experience.

This is my holiday. No internet. No mobile. No cash. No nothing.

I will enjoy :)

Camino de LostPhotographer - the wobbly route to Santiago.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The Worst Kebab Shop in the World Ever...

... is in La Coruña. €5 for the most pathetic mouthful of meat, dribble of lettuce and white stuff. Not 100% sure, but there may have been a very small piece of onion in there also.

Just thought I would mention that.

Other than that, I like La Coruña. Money isn't good and it is expensive, but I like it. Not Spain's most beautiful city, but I like it. Fantastic swimming beaches.

Not sure what's going on on the sales front. Saturday and Sunday were business as usual. Yesterday was absolutely dire. Today has also been crap so far. Nothing has changed as far as I can tell. Just seems that everyone is in a dead grumpy mood and not interested in sketches at all. Rain is on it's way and I'm near skint. Expensive bed. Expensive meals.

Huge thank you for the tinned fish, bread and pears. You know you're in a good city when people go to that sort of trouble.


How did I get here? I cheated. Sort of. There were Three options from Oviedo. Three different routes and I wanted to explore all of them. I walked for about 60KM from Oviedo, then took the bus to La Coruña. From here I will walk to Finisterre before getting a bus back to Oviedo and walking a Third distance along the Second route.

It is just getting more and more beautiful. I'm almost speachless about the beauty of the countryside here. Tiny little fields cut out of forests and shrubs. Enchanting. Magical. If fairies exist they live here. I would like to live here also despite the rain.

Rain cometh. No money :(

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Just another day.

Less than a year ago I would have been writing about the way the crazy people here drink their cider. Now it just seems like yet another local custom. I'm sure the locals take it very seriously mind.

Think this blog is getting a bit boring. I'm getting a bit bored. A brief explanation of my day will probably best explain where I'm at. I have had to save a bit of cash for an excursion, so I've been putting in the hours even if I haven't been hard selling. I've been in Oviedo for Four days now. I have a pitch that is far from good, but police leave me alone. People now know where to find me.

9AM - 11AM complete a few A4 sketches of scenes around town. I'm now carrying a folder with a stock of sketches from various places I've visited.

11AM. Put big sketches on display with smaller sketches (and today another 360 degree umbrella panoramic). Usually, I would sketch another 3 Meter x 1 Meter to gain attention. Today, I had more than enough commissions to keep me busy.

And, there you stay all day until 8PM. Hassle to pack-up and come back, and you never know if you might miss someone looking for you.

With angle grinders from pavement slab cutters going in the left ear, pneumatic drills from a building site in the right ear, and lump hammers through the spine and into the center of your brain all day long you sketch, and sell, and try to communicate with people in Spanish and deal with the wind that blows sketches around whilst irritating everyone. A very long day.

Sold umbrella sketch plus one more ordered. €70
One small commissioned sketch of a chapel. €20
Set of 4 small sketches from photographs. €60
Two sketches sold from stock. €30

Total €180

Outgoings (materials, umbrellas, bed and meal) €46

Saved from the day €136

(Plus a generous donation of €5 and about €6 in dropped coins).

That represents an average day if you know what you're doing and put in some hours. It's work. It's not particularly nice work. The pay is OK.

A better pitch, another day, a bit of selling without the noise and the wind, takings might double. On the other hand, it may bloody well rain. Three wet days in a row will see €136 disappear very easily.

It's all work and no play at the moment. I'm not enjoying it. Could be worse I know, but it should be much better. I was having far more fun and a far better adventure when I was surviving on virtually nothing. Those days of pilgrimage are going to be far more memorable and a great deal more valuable.

Not sure where I go from here other than towards Santiago again. It will no doubt change completely once more again very soon and I'll have something new to moan about :)

Monday, 24 August 2009

Rains lots here :(

Hardly surprising. The countryside is lush as it gets. Dramatic mountains giving way to dense eucalyptus forests. Beautiful little bays, estuaries and beaches. It's like living in a 17th Century romantic landscape painting.

But, it's crap for street artists desperately trying to make money. To be honest, all this rain along the coast has taken me a little by surprise. Expected some, but not this much.

I'm off to shelter in a bar and watch Villa get demolished at Anfield. Has been a shit day, might as well end on a bum note!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Oviedo.

I'm supposed to be in Barcelona. I'll be there Tuesday.

I'm glad I came to Oviedo instead. Picos de Europa, the Asturias generally and a very nice little city. I plan to live here. No need to say more really. Fun place. A little expensive, but worth it.

I backtracked to Santander to get a night bus to Barcelona. I don't like Barcelona, so when the ticket office man told me the buses were fully booked I was quite relieved. Decided to spend night in bus station. Got bored. Got first available bus out. Happened to stop in Oviedo and I liked the look of the place, so here I am. I may stay here forever one day.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Santillana del Mar.

If you ignore the hundreds of tourists snapping away on their Nokias, it's like walking back in time. A World Heritage site - a perfectly preserved/restored little medieval town with prehistoric cave paintings just a short walk away. All of history is here.

Thanks to a friend in Santander I already had contacts here. Good contacts. Contacts like; here's your bed, here's your food, here's your drink, here's my number for any help you may need - now get to work :) My sort of people. Staying for 2, or 3 days.

Interesting trip to get here via the Atlantic on a yacht! (Sort of).

Saturday, 1 August 2009

It Rains Lots Here.

Lots.

It's a problem. This was supposed to be the easy route. Far from it. Whilst I've been stranded in Santander (still can't walk) I've picked up good work, met good people and received lots of help. But, outgoings have been high and it rains lots and lots.

I'm back to square One cash wise. It's raining and my boots leak. Foot is still painful. I'm not happy.

Think I will just start walking again on Tuesday regardless. A few strong painkillers. I'm beginning to wonder if my foot will ever get better. I think it might be fucked for good :( Can't hang around in Santander stagnating much longer. Something has to change.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A Manifestation of Sardines!

Never seen anything quite like what I watched this evening.

Sitting on the prom, finishing a portrait when about 10 trawlers moored up and started blowing their horns.

News quickly spread. Free sardines were up for grabs. Millions of them. No exageration. People teamed in with empty carrier bags and left with as much as they could carry. Why?

Initially, I thought it was some sort of annual fiesta thing. But, no - it's not normal - I was told. Apparently, they caught far more than they could sell. Some freak sardine university caught in the drag nets? Who knows.

A very strange thing to watch. Millions of free fish. Millons.


On a different note...

My own kitchen, my own shower, my own bed and my own bog. Want, want, want, want. Want now. Getting very tired of travellers life. Very tired.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Fisherman's Blues?

















I wish I was a fisherman
tumblin' on the seas
far away from dry land
and it's bitter memories...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

I Won't Stop Walking Until I Know Where I'm Going. Part 2

I've bought a diary. A diary for planning rather than recording. Work is getting busy.

I won't stop walking until I know where I'm going...

I was always going to Santiago de Compostela. This time I'm going to stay there. Or, at least sort a place to move all my crap out of storage and into a flat, or house, or summat.

Staying in Santander for a while longer. My foot still needs time. Then walking to Santiago from here. Organising an abode. Then back to Granada to repeat route 1. Then staying in Santiago for a year at least. Opportunity knocks. Somewhere in between I have to fit in trips to Barcelona, Berlin and London to arrange future projects.

Busy. Long days. With a diary. It has almost become a proper job.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Radio Radio!

Nobody told me it was going to be LIVE!!!

Panico! Spanish and confidence deserted me some what. Less said the better. Moving swiftly on...


Main fiesta week has arrived in Santander. The city is teaming already. I have a free fab studio plus a huge supply of free MDF. I'm firing out 30 minute small, psychedelic panoramics and selling at €30 a time. All other jobs currently on hold (I have some very interesting work lined up) whilst I concentrate on making some decent cash.

Why didn't anyone tell me it was going to be LIVE! Oh well, live and learn. Better prepared and (hopefully) better Spanish next time. Thanks for the opportunity anyway :)

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Staying Put for a While.

Nice fresh sea breaze. Tourists. Studio space. I plan to stay for while and make the most of it. I need new boots and clothes. Hoping to save enough plus more to get me to my next destination.

This is almost like a real job. Work place, daily routine, regular clients.

I might be on the radio. We'll see how my Spanish goes!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

How the F*** Did I Get Here?

10 years ago, almost to the day, I found myself on the rooftop garden of a penthouse appartment in downtown Manhattan. 3am, beautiful company, bottle of champagne, views up both sides of the Hudson and just the WTC towering above us. "How the fuck did I get here?" I wondered. "How the fuck did this happen to me?". It wasn't what my life was supposed to be. Just a couple of months earlier I was sleeping on sofas of friends and family in the Black Country. Nothing wrong with the Black Country, it's just that it's about as different as life can get to NY as far as city living goes.

And, today, I find myself working in a dream studio - a funky modernist building. A huge space losely reflecting the bridge of a ship with 280 degree windows centered on a NE aspect. Views across the bay of Santander. A 7 Meter x 3 Meter canvass streched out before me. Quality free meals (fresh off the boat haddock in a rich cream sauce with peas - food doesn't get any more perfect in my book). Free drinks. Materials and paints all supplied. A dream job in a dream studio. I suspect this is actually as good as an artist's life can get. "How the fuck did I get here?". It's not what my life was supposed to be!

It's fucking good mind, and you won't catch me complaining. Hoping I can make it last through the summer. It won't last forever. I know that. Make hay whilst the sun shines. My life is lacking very little at the moment, but sometimes the little things are the biggest and most important. Not that I'm complaining. Yet.

Friday, 3 July 2009

How Quickly Things Change!

You have to remember this. Everything can change without notice in a moment. From good to bad, or from bad to good.

I can't really say that Santander has been particularly bad. It is very good in many ways ;)

And, it just got really good. My BIGGEST commission to date. 7 Meter x 3 Meter paintings to adorne the ferry terminal. Very nice work.

They could get me hooked on €30/day doing this - it's all I need. But, I'm hungry for more, so the business head in me is saying 3 days and get the fuck out unless they're happy to pay for another 3 days at the rate I'm getting used to.

My client list is beginning to look very, very impressive already.

A HUGE 'thank you' to the guys and girls at the Brittany Ferries terminal. Far from a finished job, but hope you like it when it is finished. Support is greatly valued. Good bunch of folk. My next visit to the UK will avoid the airports for sure.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Vagabonds, Vagrants & Immigrants.

Possibly, no - undoubtedly a bit of all Three in me.

I wasn't born in Spain - I migrated.

Vagrant, to a certain extent. I have an official address and all that, but I haven't actually slept there for a long time.

Vagabond? Not to sure what a vagabond is!


When people percieve you as being poor you see the World in a completely different way. You see the worst and best of people. Experience higher highs and lower lows. Above all, you feel suspicious. You are the guy the supermarket security watches. You are the man on the street that is obviously a thief. Truth is, that as a poor person you are actually the most vulnerable to theft, manipulation, crap and other stuff. A soft target to all those that most perceive as being rich, trustworthy and acceptable.

The camino, as far as I can tell, existed originally to enable itinerants to travel cheaply. To allow people to move and follow work. A migration route for those with little money. See, this is what really fucks me off today - credit card toting 'pilgrims' who moan about poor people abusing their network of cosy, safe cheap hostals for the middle classes. Bigoted fuckwits who think anyone with an Eastern European accent is obviously a thief, or a beggar. I could rant forever here. It is the reason I'm giving up on chosen routes. I'll be spitting at people if I hear much more of it.

One exception; I will repeat my original route (Mozarabe/Via de la Plata) on September 22nd, but with new knowledge, a new image and photographing what I actually want to photograph for my own pleasure. Money won't be an issue this time around.

In the meantime, I'm going to meander my own gentle route along the coast for Summer.

Foot is still borked. I've well and truly fucked it. But, I'll manage and enjoy with the aid of pain killers and stuff.

I have a nice commission to complete tomorrow. Looks like I'll be leaving Santander unpaid for a couple of jobs - fuckwits. That could have been a few hundred Euros to charity. Instead some supposedly rich, respectable type is pissing it away and snorting it up his nose. Cunt, quite frankly.

May stay for the weekend. Someone very lovely here who I would like to spend more time with. Tell me more about Marine Biology

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Goodbye Santander.

Huge edit!

Bit of a grumpy fuck last night. My foot is taking forever to heal. Usually, the simple solution when things aren't going to well is to walk onwards. I can't do that ATM :( I feel as though I've had a liberty taken from me.

Don't fancy a bus to Madrid, so 'm staying for another couple of days at least.

First post I've felt the need to edit. Hope to many didn't read it.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Cantabria - a Welsh Connection?

Since I've been claiming to be Welsh (a very tenuous family link) I've become more interested in Wales.

The other night I was in a bar when a bunch of local folk in uniform dress started singing. Sounded to me to be very 'Welsh male voice choir' like. This evening, I met them again and sketched them singing on a bandstand for Noche de San Juan celebrations. They sounded even more Welsh. Found an opportunity to ask a few questions and they told me they were traditional songs from the Ronda! "What, in South Wales?" asked I. "No, the ronda is the name of an area of mountains and valleys in Cantabria" I was told. Interesting. There was also a major road in Bilbao called Morgan. This is no coincidence I tell you.

I'm told I have to rest my foot for another Five days, so plenty of time to research a bit more.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Half Way!

2000 Kilometers and 9 months to the day exactly. Seems a long time ago since I left Granada with nothing more than my backpack and a few Euros. Seen much. Experienced much. Now I have to do it all again!

I'm quite happy about that even if I am missing good mates and my own bed greatly.

Just another 2000 KM and 9 months to go then :)

Saturday, 20 June 2009

A Portrait.



Being a total film photography fanatic, I couldn't resist this:

I'm currently in Santander. Enjoying the place very much. Went out to complete a painting commission today - a view of one of the fabulous beaches here, when I found some old guy in a small park with what initially looked like an old plate camera. Wish I had taken some pictures, but the photo I have to post here is the portrait he took. I was carrying as much as I could to complete a very large oil painting.

Turns out this guy has been taking 'instant' portraits for almost 70 years. The 'camera' has to be one of the Worlds first ever instant processing labs/camera/copy camera!

Large box on tripod with bucket of water dangling below. If I'm still here next weekend I'll take some photographs, but in the meantime try to imagine...

Stage 1. Load camera with small sheet of paper.

2. Take photograph. No shutter. The guy sells 2 for the price of 1. The first being the test strip. A brief removal of lens cap.

3. Open small infrared skylight on top of camera/lab/box with lens.

4. Develop negative print.

5. Fix print in small tank that conveniently drops out of box into daylight for viewing.

6. Wash print in bucket of water dangling below tripod.

7. Extend camera/box/darkroom belows to transform into copy camera.

8. No shutter again. Briefly remove lens cap to take photograph of negative print.

9. Open infrared skylight and devlop print.

10. Drop into samll fix tank and remove from camera to view in daylight.

11. Repeat with adjustments for contrast etc.

12. Drop prints into bucket of water to wash.

13. Dry with tea towell.

14. Polish dry with thumbs.

Really nice old guy. Very little business, but I suspect the 'nostalgia' factor, 'retro' appeal will keep him busy. After watching me have my portrait taken, a group of teenagers quickly formed a queue. €10 for 2 retro cool B&W photos.

Proper Old Skool beach portrait of me.

Love Santander. But, this has been the highlight so far.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Santander (with a borked foot - still).

Looks like I'm stuck in Santander for Two weeks at least. Stupid of me to ignore foot problems, and now I'm under strict instruction not to walk at all for a while. So, Two weeks (at least) in Santander. Not really a problem. It's a lovely city. I have an affordable bed and sketching potential is huge. Plenty to keep me busy for a fortnight.

Can't believe I managed to walk 2,000KM+ over mountains, through valleys and across plains with barely a blister only to fuck my foot up with a gentle stroll along a promenade! Such is life - you never know.

If I'm staying here for a while I better contact the local press. I need all the help I can muster.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Very green & Very Wet.

It's very green and very wet. A bit like Ireland with palm trees. I think. But, I've never been to Ireland. It's a bit like the Isle of Man again.

I need sunshine and cash quickly!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Bye Bye Bilbao.

I've enjoyed Bilbao. Think I've said all the good stuff, so only fair to give the rain, humidity and mosquitoes a mention :( There's a very good reason why this part of Spain/Pais Vasco is so very green. The price to pay is a bit much for a street artist reliant on good weather for money. I move on despite still having a very painful left foot. Not sure how far I can get with a couple of Ibuprofen?

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Yay! Bilbao.

I got the luck I needed :)

Also negotiated pension fees down a bit. I am 100% in love with this city. From a sketchers perspective it is heaven. A diverse mix of some of the most adventurous architectural styles representing centuries. It's fab.

Loads of cool public spaces for people to just hang around in also. A superb use of a 'dead space' under a flyover. The most vibrant 'dead sapce' I have ever come across. This is a very cool, funky city.

Proper Northern Spain tourist season is just beginning to reach peak. There are temporary public art installations sprouting up everywhere. My favourite so far is the little field of mushrooms. Umbrellas atop large bamboo canes. The artist's statement (this is by no means verbatim) was about how city parks are public spaces of tamed nature and how public art installations are tamed spaces of manmade chaos. When it rains he sees mushroom umbrellas sprouting in the city. A paradox of wildness coming from a manmade environment. The paradox for me is that his art is a paradox of a paradox. It just looks cool. I like it.

Bilbao is my new number 1 favourite city in the World! Hope I can afford to stay here a little while longer and sketch more.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Bilbao...

Still here. Still struggling to make it work. Still have a fucked foot. Shame, because I really like this city, but it rains and it is expensive.

Single rooms in a pension advertised at €36/night. WTF! I just want a bed for 8 hours and a 10 minute shower. The only cheap option is an absolutely horrendous, out of town, difficult to find, very sterile, very unfriendly disagreable hostal/albergue/shag hotel complex. They won't let me stay there anyway, but if I had to choose between there and the street, I'd take the street.

Fantastic city for many reasons. There is loads I would like to sketch here. However, I haven't sold a single sketch and income looks to be €60/day tops for me. After paying for a bed and food and life it doesn't leave anything. Small beer and a sandwich = €6.

Tempted to go back to San Sebastian still. But, Pamplona isn't far away and that was good for €100+ a day (reliably) and a pension room was only €13/night.

Currently surviving on smiles from beautiful people and peanuts. Literally. Would like to stay, but...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Back to San Sebastian!

I have to rest my foot. It's getting no rest in Bilbao.

I like it here, but arrived very tired (fucking nutter pilgrims wanting to go to sleep before sunrset and get up at 4.30am). Why? Is it some religious, brainwashing sect? First night in Bilbao I spent drifting the streets looking for affordable accommodation. Just been told I can't stop at the €16/night - out of town and very difficult to find - albergue, so I'm getting the train back to San Sebastian to start walking again when my foot has recovered. I'll enjoy doing that walk a seocond time around. There's a hidden 'paradise bay' that's just a short hop off path :)

Foot fucked. Tired. Grumpy. Even a mega dose of Ibuprofen isn't helping. Painfully tired.

This is very hard work sometimes.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Bilbao with a Bad Foot.

San Sebastian was a bit special. The walk (of what I did) along the coast was even more special. Paths through forest glades with views across sandy bays surrounded by lush meadows. A stunningly beautiful coast line. Shame I borked my left foot. I took a small train ride onto Bilbao to rest my foot before for a few days and hopefully make a bit of cash. San Sebastian was good, but outgoings were relatively high for Spain. €24 for a bunk in a 6 bed dorm!!!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

San Sebastian.

I'm staying here for a while. I like it. I like it lots. Safe cheap bed with free option. Good food. Good money.

If someone had asked a very specific question just One week ago I would have answered "Spain is a very diverse country in many ways, but you always know you're in Spain". Today the answer would be "Spain is a very diverse country in many ways, but you always know you're in Spain unless you're in Donastia/San Sebastian". This is NOT Spain. It is so NOT Spain. Very unique for many reasons. I definitely feel as though I've gone abroad, but I'm not totally sure where!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Donastia/San Sebastian

From here on referred to as Donastia, or San Sebastian depending on how the mood takes me. It's good. Two beautiful beaches. One with half decent breakers for surfer dudes. Great food. Beautiful surroundings and stunning sunsets over the Cantabrian sea, or Atlantic. Not entirely sure exactly where I am, or what sea I'm looking at. Many people here seem to speak hungarian though. That's a problem. I can barely understand Spanish.

Left my mates behind in Granada once again. Travelling alone takes a bit of adjusting to. Things have changed a bit in Granada. There is no longer a self-service laundrette. According to a local journalist I spoke to all 'street art' will be banned from June 6th. No jugglers, no miming, no human sculptures, no clowns, no music, no nothing and me out of a job! No doubt that is the local councils solution to fighting the ever increasing number of muggings. Public spaces for the public. They're our streets. We pay for them. Why the fuck can't we play the way we want in them?

No such problems here. I am enjoying a great deal so far. May even pluck up the courage to dive in alone on the sand-sculpture front. It's a bit scary.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning.

Many people ask me if I've read Laurie Lee's book. I haven't. So, I've just ordered a copy. Someone yesterday past on a Laurie Lee tip about the number of coins to keep in your tips hat/box/mat. Apparently you can have to few, or to many. Not in my experience. Perhaps times have changed. To few certainly. People don't like to see a failure, they like to see a winner. I'm more of a 'success breeds success' theory believer. More coins means more drops. Bigger coins means bigger drops.

Back in Granada. Enjoying the city as ever. To many parties to avoid mind. Planning sand-sculptures in my mind. Three basic elements; sand, fire and water. A few basic principles also. Obviously, the sculpture has to be good. Bigger the better. I'm looking forward to finding a suitable beach on the north coast to build 'Island of a Thousand Wishes'. Plenty of things to go wrong. I'm a little apprehensive, but excited also. Still need a partner/assistant though.

Hoping to leave for San Sebastian on Monday. This is Granada mind. It is a people trap!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Lonliness...

I'm back from the mountains. A few days of beautiful solitude - just me and the animals and a hot bath under a cherry tree in a forest dominated by huge chestnuts. Bliss.

Someone I met in Valladolid asked me if I ever get lonely. I do. But, not in the way I expected, or the way you might imagine. I'm more than happy in my own company when I'm walking in the middle of nowhere. Being several Kilometers away from the next human being is a very nice thing. The times that I feel lonley are when I'm in a comfortable hotel room, in a stange city on a bust Friday night. Not knowing anyone, or where the most sociable bars are. Still struggling with my Spanish in a noisy, party environment. Plenty of people around, but no social contact. That's when the lonliness hits. However, this is Spain. One of the most open and sociable cultures I've ever known, so the lonliness is a rare thing.

A few days of beautiful solitude in the breathtaking mountains of Ancares national park. Bears, wolves, wild boar with baby wild boar boglets. Peregrin falcons! I've never wondered why so called before. The "wandering falcon".

A few days enjoying quality company also. A very nice break.

All change again. New plans. For logistical, work and officialdom reasons, I'm heading for Madrid to get a cheap bus back to Granada. A few days there to sort stuff out then I head to San Sebastian to start sand-sculpturing my way along the north coast to Santiago. Hopefully with someone to help me. May not always be possible to sand-sculpture so, I'll be sketching also at times. May recruit an assistant in Granada, or may meet someone on the road.

Granada bound. I'll be doing my best to avoid the very strange Granada magnet!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Leaving Leon.

I'm off for a break in the mountains tomorrow. I'll be 'off radar' for a few days at least. Some people may see this a bit of a long holiday, but it is work. Enjoyable work, but work with long hours. Physically hard and mentally tough at times. I need a break, so I'm going to take one.

Thank you Leon. That was better than last time (without the snow). Great weather for the last few days. Fab May Day fiesta on Friday. Many, many friendly people. Tonight I'm off to the birthday party of the owner of the hotel I'm staying in. A rare invite - hotels are usually desperate to see me leave! Fellow pilgrims wanting a short stay in Leon and a break from the albergue scene check out Hotel Reina on Calle Puerta de la Reina. Lovelly people. Clean, comfortable. Simple, but from just €17/night for a single room for a night. Very nice place for that price.

And, I may have collected some nice work close by for later in the summer. I may be back sooner than planned.

I love Leon.

Oh, and thanks to you again :) Friendly people make cities so much nicer to visit.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Grey Days & Form Filling.

It's a little bit wet here. I don't care.

How to get permission to sketch on the streets in Leon:

1. Go to the townhall and queue for a 'solicitu' form.
2. Fill in said form.
3. Queue at the correct desk to get the correct stamp.
4. Walk 2KM to the out of town Policia Local building.
5. Get lost in corridors searching for the correct office.
6. Find office and annoy duty police man with his extra bit of work (he obviously hates form filling as much as me).
7. Wait whilst he completes a new form.
8. Wait whilst he takes it to another office for some reason?
9. Wait whilst he takes it to another office to get it stamped.
10. Go and sketch. Yay!
11. Smash head against brick wall when policia local tell you this isn't the plaza you asked permission for.
12. Go through whole process again hoping policia local won't think your wasting their time by being a total plonker and give you permission for the right plaza.

I also have a bit of a chesty cold. Doing my best to ignore all swine flu scare stories.

I'm off to walk to the out of town police station in the rain.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Leon :)

It's as good as I remembered and just as cold and windy as I forgot. Strange how memory can be so selective. But, I love this city. It is seriously the friendliest place I've ever visited. A few hoops to jump through to get permission to work Plaza Mayor, but I got permission and a blind eye to my photocopy ID.

There's a house in the mountains. It's an absolute ruin. No services. However, it could come for just €5,000

Not even I would be that mad. Would I?

Monday, 27 April 2009

Leon.

I'm here again. The city is just as good the second time around. I love it here. It's just as windy as the first time and rain is threatening, but do I care?

People to meet, work to be done means a break from pilgrimage. From here I head into the hills in about a weeks time. Then I will go back to Burgos to start walking again. Money and officialdom to sort out, plus some quality time with some quality people.

Talking of quality people; I owe someone here something big time. If you're still reading here and still in that shop you have a date you're not allowed to refuse :) You have absolutely no idea how much your kindness was appreciated last time!

Leon. Already done it. Have connections. Know the score. Sorted with a safe bed. I really hope the weather doesn't spoil to much. I'd like to finally make enough for a trip to Madrid to get a new passport.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Totally Sparked Out in Valladolid.

I am a complete mushed up mess of a party after party after party of a person. Pissing out of my arse and I'm pretty sure my brains are a bleeding :D Nice!

Fun city. Really fun.

Time to move on. I don't quite have the necessary budget for a passport replacement trip to Madrid. So, one final morning on the streets here tomorrow to clear stock and then I head straight to Leon for work.

Valladolid is up there in my top 6 list of favourite Spanish cities. It's not immediate, but it grows and grows and grows on you. I've met loads of good people and had a great time.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Valladolid. It's Growing On Me.

It would grow on anyone. This is a fabulous city.

Has to be said; there is a bit of a... erm... 'Conservative' undercurrent. Strange thing with cities like this (and London) is that the counter culture has to be better, louder and bolder to survive. Hasn't taken me long to find it and I've already met many cool people here. I'm loving it despite the expensive bed. I'm making enough to keep my head above water and getting invited to party after party. Thank you to the very nice people who invited me to their party last night. That was a quality night.

A night of performance art in a small flat in Plaza San Juan. Excellent music, poetry, animation and general entertainment from a lovely bunch from Spain, Italy, the States, Brasil and me representing (cough, cough) Wales! For my part I sketched each act until I'd downed far to much red wine. Then, for my main act I decided to introduce John Cooper Clark's best known to a new generation. I did the bloody version because I think it works better and I couldn't come up with a better explanation as to why I left the UK.

Another night, another party. Having fun here big time :)

I like Valladolid lots!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Thank You 20 Minutes :)

Permission granted. Yay!

I doubt very much if it would have happened without the article in this morning's free sheet. When I walked into the relevant authority office, all the women knew who I was. Very helpful. A bit of rule bending and I have a pitch to work until Sunday - right through peinte holiday weekend.

Valladolid is actually an interesting city. Waste no more time and get to work. See what my pitch is like.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Pledge to Donate to Charity?

Well, a man can only keep asking!

http://www.sponsorformsonline.co.uk/TheLostPhotographer.asp

Palencia Y Valladolid.

Another diversion!

Very strange few days. Palencia first; nice little city. If you're into your architecture, it's a little box of absolute gems. It also has a huge Jebus sculpture and a severe lack of diversity.

I had my phone charger stolen. Been trying to replace it for days now. Apparently, my phone is to old. 12 months old. An antique obviously, so please direct me to the classic mobile devices collectors shop for a poxy €2 worth of wire and bits. Not a fucking chance. I need a new mobile. I am suffering txt withdrawal big time.

The cheap hostals in Palencia didn't like me. Ended up paying €30 a night for a reasonable room.

Valladolid. Arrived. Sketched. Went in search of cheap accommodation. Found a very poor pension for €18/night. Very poor, but it will do for now. Booked in. Paid up. Went for meal. Came back at around midnight to sleep only to find my bag and paintings in reception with a 'you can't stay here'. WTF NOT! I've paid. We have an agreement. I went a bit mental. Has to be said, but eventually left without twating the fucking cunt big time with a a refund and small compensation payment

In search of another hostal. I followed advice from a taxi driver to a cheap hostal. Was not fucking cheap and it was not fucking good. Tired as fuck, I booked in. €30/night for the pokiest little closet I have ever paid for. No window. No ventalation. Just a bed in a poky box. Oh! And, a tray of munchies. No doubt they'll be for all the card toting suckers to pay extortionate rates for. Sure enough, a minute later reception knocked on the door to take them all away. "Sorry, the manager says if you don't have money I have to take them away" :D FFS! He didn't just take the snacks away, he took all the industrial sized arse wipe out of the bogs! Obviously thought I was going to walk away with that also! Besides the fact I just paid €30 for a fucking shitty little box for the night, the being treated like shit is also a bit crap. Fuck off Hostal Lima - you are arse wipe.

Valladolid. I can make money here police permitting. I have a feature in tomorrows 20 Minute free sheet. Possible local TV spot and another local rag feature. All lined-up as from tomorrow ready for the peunte holiday weekend. But, my website is down. My mobile don't work. Policia Local want a licence that may be possible, or may not - who knows? I have a few big expenses ahead of me.

For the first time since getting robbed, I'm missing my ID and plastic. Missed an important online payment with no cards and cheap hostals are reassured with formal ID as deposit. I'm on a mad dash to Madrid to get all formal again.

New phone = €50
New Passport = €200
New Boots = €50
Absess in my right gum = Could be very, very expensive :(

Lots of unexpected costs suddenly come my way. Hopefully, so do the tourists, but I'm noticing a distinct crisis effect in these parts.

Staying here for a week. Valladolid is a but of a weekend escape for people in Madrid. It has a beach. A city in the middle of northern Spain with a beach! I remain hopeful.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Panic! Help! Aaaargh! ETC!

Can anyone here help me? In return I will send a very nice sketch by post to anywhere in the world.

Due to someone else's curious cock-up and circumstances beyond my control and the theft of my bag in Barcelona I have just a couple of days to get 20 UK Quids into my PayPal account to make a critical online payment.

20 quid buys a sketch that is selling for far more usually, but I desperately want to get money to PayPal and don't want to 'cheat' by asking mates. Well, I may have to, but I'd like this to work instead.

Leave a message here if you want an original, beautiful sketch for 20 quid. Please. Thanks.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

This Weeks Duty Policia Local and Me Don't Get Along.

So I'm off. Can't grumble despite the weather. Burgos is a beautiful city full of very friendly people. Met loads of good people. Any pilgrim passing through would do well to take a menu of the day at Atelier de Cocina on Calle de Jesus de Maria Ordoño - just a 1 minute walk of track on your way into town. Seriously good food and very good people. Tuesdays menu of the day is just €8 for 3 courses plus drink and coffee. Take your choice from wild mushroom and mountain cheese pealla, or pasta, or stuffed green pepper, or salad to start followed by steak and chips, or steamed red pepper stuffed with mince and rice, or fish of the day. Highly reccomend the apple pie for pudding. All washed down with a bottle of Rioja and finished with coffee for just €8! And, it is quality food with quality service. Why do people go for fast food?

Special day for me today. Long time since he died, but I still take time to consider all my father taught me on his birthday. So, small (or, possibly large) scotch and cuban for me this evening. Tomorrow I walk.

Less said about this weeks policia local the better, but: FUCKING FACIST CUNTS HAVEN'T YOU GOT ANY CRIMINALS TO CHASE, OR WORK TO DO? POLICE LIKE YOU DO NOTHING TO SERVE THE PUBLIC GOOD. PEDANTIC, LAZY FUCKWITS.

OK. I feel better now. Most of them are more than alright, but the point scoring pedantic twats are not the sort I like. Why the fuck can't I paint a public scene in a public space? Why?

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Snow!

This can't be right. It's the middle of April. I'm in Spain. Apparently it is expected to snow here on Friday. Not even Three weeks ago I made the mistake of jumping into a river the sun was so hot. Body warmer was dumped long ago. I have new summer hiking gear and now they say it's going to snow.

I have a bit more work here that can be completed indoors. And, I've bought a nice big green umbrella to do a 360 degree Burgos, Plaza Mayor sketch on.

The local Dia supermarket has cheap coats for €9.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Weather Forecast :(

Oh noes! Expensive rains cometh everywhere.

I have Two commissions to complete here in Burgos and would really like to collect payment before leaving. Just a little shy of my target. On the other hand, if I hang around and can't work, I lose money.

May just walk on through the rain in my nice, new, shiney, professional pilgrims nylon cape, or may stay and try my luck with a couple of 360 degree panoramic umbrellas. I know I tried this before with little success in Leon last year, but I was actually offered a fair amount of cash for that umbrella before I lost it. It is raining everywhere (again). Pointless trying to avoid it. Dry pitches here at least. Have work to finish. Or, just go for a long 10 day hike in the rain and the wind to Leon?

I'll sleep on it.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Fame in Burgos!

Thank you very, very, very much!

What a very nice feature. It will undoubtedly help my cause a great deal. Full page spread in the local edition of El Mundo (Correo de Burgos). Extremely well written also. You have a rare journalistic talent. May it take you where ever you want it to take you.

¡Muchas gracias!

Burgos is being more than good to me. I'm loving every minute here despite the rain.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Sunshine!

Yay! The sun is back.

Burgos is being unbelievably good to me. I have free bed. I have a free 3 course meal whenever I want. I have no hassle from police. No reason why I shouldn't comfortably save enough to get me all the way to Santiago.

Tourist season has started. It can only get easier from here on in.

What am I saying? Asking for trouble. I should be out selling now, but it's a lovelly evening and I'm a lazy fuck who would really like to make a few more social contacts here. Incredibly friendly city. Typically Spanish with it's chilled, laid back attitude.

I'm off to watch the carousel again. Seriously considering building one at some point in the future.

Another Wet Semana Santa?

It's wet, it's cold and the forecast doesn't look to good. Last year in Granada was close to a total washout. I'm not going to complain mind. At least I'm in a city with plenty of dry pitches to work. Plan is to churn out lots of small sketches of the cathedral to sell at the weekend. I have a free bed. Should still be able to save cash to get to Leon despite the rain.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Burgos = Beautiful City.

Loving every minute here so far. It is a very, very, very beautiful little city. It's also proving to be a very friendly and fruitful city. Plenty of work for this pilgrim artist.

A huge thank you to the very nice people at Atelier de Cocina for fab free lunch and hospitality. And, another thanks to Mr J for his pad for a week, or so. A regular bed in my own room. A bathroom without a que. A kitchen to cook green things in. Fantastic and hugely appreciated.

Palm Sunday. Every year during Semana Santa the tune in my head is 'Red Army Blues' by The Waterboys (Mike Scott). Droning horns of meloncholly.

Spent much of yesterday afternoon drinking beer under a budding willow on the banks of this very picturesque river. Pretty sure there are trout in there, but dammed if I could find them.

Staying here for as long as it proves to make economical sense. I really like it.

Also been watching the antique carrosel with an eye on my financial future. Pretty sure I know the right people to help build a reproduction of splendid quality. But, how do you go about getting a pitch?

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Everything is Going All Touchy Feely.

I like it.

People keep touching me and stroking me. In Santa Domingo the other day, I asked someone for directions to the nearest tobacco shop and they sort of stroked me in a very friendly sort of way. It's happening lots. Whenever I say 'gracias' I get a friendly stroke in return. Perhaps it's some sort of religious belief in helping a pilgrim, or something?

I'm in Burgos. It's beautiful. Very friendly. Already made contact with the local press. Have a contact here who has offered a free bed. I need to replenish funds. There is absolutely loads to sketch here. Plazas, palaces, the cathedral, monasteries, paseos... loads. Should keep me busy. Make enough to get to Leon and perhaps pay for a week, or Twos break in the mountains. I'm hopeful.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Good Beer and Fly Fishing.

Not exactly what everyone thinks of when they think of Spain.

In Navarette, in the heart of Rioja, in a small bar in Plaza Mayor is the best beer I've ever tried in Spain. One of the best I've tried anywhere. Describe as a 'strong red' it's sort of a pilsner meets a late summer red ale. Surrounded by some of the cheapest and the best red wines in Spain, I stuck with the beer.

Yesterday I saw the perfect river in which to learn all about fly fishing. Befriended a couple of local lads and watched before trying myself. Huge trout. Huge!

Making a dash for Burgos tomorrow. Will probably hang around for a while. May even stay for Semana Santa. Then on towards Leon for the second time. I owe someone a drink and a meal there. Hopefully there will be less snow, rain and wind this time.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Adios Logroño.

OK. Turned that around far more easily than I was expecting. One more commission to complete tomorrow morning then I'm off hiking through the rain towards Burgos.

Despite the crap (and I've taken loads of crap here) I actually like Logroño lots. It's the sort of workable, unpretentious type of city I could live in quite happily. Everyday people doing everyday stuff and all getting along very nicely.

Not at all sure why my brains went wobbly last night. Could have happened anywhere. 


A note to all trying to contact me by email: I'll reply A.S.A.P. But, I can't find an internet cafe here that isn't running Vista with IE7. How the fuck Microsoft come out with an OS that won't even let you read Hotmail is beyond belief. Or, perhaps it isn't so unbelievable. Useless bunch of money grabbing arse wipes that they are.


Aaaaargh! Exspensive Rain :(

Logroño is proving to be a bit expensive even without rain.

Fully appreciate that my sketches are in the street on a public right of way. They always get stepped on, rode over occassionally, but Logroño is proving to be exceptionally bad. People stop. Look at the sketches and then walk over them. I'm working in a pedestrianised zone. I don't expect 4x4 trucks to come along and do a three point turn all over my work. This one managed to put a dirty great tyre track on every single sketch in one single swift manouvre. Then a bunch of cyclists met up close by. They hung around for 30 minutes, or so. All of them looked at the sketches and read the blurb. When they set off at least 6 of them rode straight over. One actually stopped and looked down at the sketches before riding off again without changing course. Another totally destroyed a sketch ripping it to shreds.

I decided to change pitch and went to the park. There the sketches gained skate board tracks. And, lowest of low, some teenage twat stole all my Euros.

Much as I like my sketches covered with street dirt it sort of renders them unsellable. When I exhibit I want them to be covered with crap. They look cool like that, but I can't sell dirty sketches on the street. I gave them away to a rather lovelly bunch of students who gave very generously earlier in the day.

Not sure if that was the trigger, but depression comes from nowhere completely unexpected. Last night I sank into a vast void of painful nothingness. Thankfully it seems to have passed quickly. Ended up going on a bit of a bender. Woke this morning with a bad head and dirty great hole in my pocket. Today it is raining. I somehow have to turn a piece of paper and a pen into €100 and get the fuck out of here. Desperate to start walking. That was a really shit night.


Thursday, 26 March 2009

Strange Dreams and Future Projects.

I had a very lucid dream last night. I dreamt I caught an overnight train home. At the first stop I stepped off the train for a quick ciggie only to watch the tain pull away immediately leaving me stranded. Then I went to a motorbike shop and bought a motorbike. It didn't work. When I protested I was told I couldn't have a working motorbike because I didn't have a full licence and wasn't entitled to a refund. Bugger :( What can it all mean?

Possibly worth mentioning that I haven't had a drink for a few days now. My brain is functioning on a very different, unfamiliar level.

I'm no expert, but if you're going to try and read anything from your dreams this one can only mean One of Two things. Either I'm so sick and tired of the day to day bed finding routine and craving my own bed, my own bathroom and my own space that I'm desperate to settle, or I subconciously want to continue walking. I'm none the wiser.

An opportunity has arisen. I've always wanted to try living completely without cash for a year. Self-sufficiently as possible. My next project may happen in June. I'm posting this on various web forums and sending emails in the hope of finding a new sponsor:

"Don't think I'm breaking any forum rules with this:

I'm looking for a sponsor for my next (photographically documented and blogged) project. Once I've finished this Camino to Santiago I'm going to remain static for 12 months living in the mountains, in a teepee, or wattle and duab hut surviving self-sufficiently - 100% without cash.

I'll be growing stuff, gathering stuff, fishing, preserving, dealing with my own waste etc. But, there's a slight concession to 21st Century technologies: I'll be maintaining a blog and website from which I'm allowed to exchange absolutely anything I can make for anything I may need/want. Ceramic art, sketches, paintings, food stuffs - chutneys and other preserves will be offered in exchange for a fishing rod for example.

Hoping to sort out all legalities and permissions by June. I'll have missed the planting season, but I have  plans, skills and a world of knowledge at my fingertips (Hopefully).

I obviously can't pay Telefonica, or Movistar with sketches. I need a laptop and digital camera on loan for 12 months. Anything that functions reliably. And, service costs covered for 12 months. On top of that, if the site generates exceptional buisiness for the sponsor it would be nice to see a bit of cash go to charity if I manage to survive the full year.

I suspect during times of economic crisis the project will get a lot of interest. My current blog has plenty of regular readers. This one will be far more interesting and feature much more photography. Shooting film whilst continually on the move proved unviable time and pocket wise.

Fully appreciate what I'm letting myself in for. Well researched and fairly confident even if it's going to be very tough and cold at times. Not sure I'm capable of nobbling a trout if it looked me in the eye never mind wringing a chickens neck, but necessity may well dictate.

It's all for a good cause (and my own fun). I will be starting with just the rucksack I currently carry and a First Aid kit. Everything else will come from scratch. A small solar panel to power batteries is obviously a priority.

Anyone interested? Leave a post here, or contact me via my website/blog.

www.thelostphotographer.co.uk

www.thelostphotographer.blogspot.com"


I'm not going to do it until I'm able to blog it daily. If I get a sponsor - it happens this year. If I don't - I continue walking until February 2010 and make it happen the.

That's the plan at least, but there is always someone outhere who could make me change all my plans with a single word.

Beautiful spring day here. Absolutely beautiful. Rain is on it's way. I have a couple of indoor commissions lined up. I have fine tuned this travelling artist business to perfection. Of course, now I've said that I can only expect tough times to return!



Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Logroño

Yet another nice city full of great public spaces. I could do well here, but it's going to rain.

Rain forecast for tomorrow. Friday looks OK. The weekend looks shit. There are places here where I can sketch in shelter at least, so I may as well hang around and wait to see if Monday brings better weather for walking to Burgos. 

Rain is exspensive :(


Monday, 23 March 2009

OMG! OMG! OMFG!

I've read about it in a book. I've heard many stories about it. I didn't believe. I do now.

There's tap. An ordinary tap in an ordinary wall. You turn it on and a never ending flow of free red wine comes from it. How scary is that? Dangerous place that.

Spent a couple days walking to Logroño with a very likeable bunch from places all over the world. Nice walk and good company. I plan to stay in Logroño for a few days. I think it's a city I can work. All good so far and the weather is holding out.

A tap with free red wine!!!


Friday, 20 March 2009

Make a Pledge for Charity?

Anyone?

http://www.sponsorformsonline.co.uk/TheLostPhotographer.asp

Estella Part 2.

I'm staying for One day and completing a single large sketch to hopefully cover costs of my own room for a night. The albergue is very nice, but I got very little sleep despite being very tired. Breakfast to the sounds of Bob Marley - that was a nice touch.

There is loads to sketch here. Beautiful buildings and a very nice large park with riverside walk. It used to be vegetable gardens to serve the convent that remains in the centre of the playing field. I say 'playing field' because yesterday evening it was teaming with people of all ages playing, chilling, or just strolling. Lovelly atmosphere.

As well as many beautiful old buildings and nice public spaces, Estella also has more than it's fair share of architectural 'mistakes'. I guess they were all built at a time when there was a huge demand for quickly built stuff(?). They look very temporary and shabby compared to the historical buildings they surround. Doesn't really spoil the place, but it does take a little of the shine away.

The city is surrounded by rocky mountains covered with pines. A couple have huge crosses at their peaks. It's a beautiful setting that makes for a very dramatic and painterly sunset and sunrise.

Nice place.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Estella.

This is very nice. Plenty to explore and sketch. It's fiesta - San Jose - a puente weekend :) So, I may rest my legs for a day.

Municipal albergue is very nice. Fantastic showers and a fully equipped kitchen. I'm going to get cooking loads of vegetables and fish with pasta. €5.50 including breakfast and there's a free albergue just down the road.

I left early this morning. Walkinf before 7.30 AM. It's already busier than I expected. I paused in the first village for about 30 minutes and watched more pilgrims walk past than I saw on my entire Via de la Plata!

As for the young bunch of Spanish 'pilgrims' who managed to almost beat me to the best bed and clean showers despite the fact they didn't get in last night until 1 and were still sound asleep when I left; fucking cheats :D Strolling up in your flipflops with boots around neck as if you'd just walked the same 25KM as I had. Lots of cheats on this camino. And, lots of taxis offering to carry your rucksack to your next destination.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Puente la Reina.

I consider this the first leg of my second camino, and what a very beautiful walk. Stunning day. Loads of blossoms and butterflies. A walk over a small mountain/large hill(?) amongst the wind turbines - I like them. I know many don't, but I find them mesmerising and strangely enchanting.

I am seriously paying the price for abusing the very good, cheap red wine in Pamplona mind. Need a week of drinking water only and plenty of healthy eating. Bed here is €8 in a very nice, clean shared dorm with TV! I'm told there is an all you can eat buffet available for €10. May well give that a go.

Off to explore this pretty little town.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Leaving Pamplona.

I'm a bit sad to be going. What a very lovelly city. Bit of a special week in my life that. Good people, good places, and good cash. Enough cash in pocket to see me all the way to Burgos without worrying for safe beds. I'm sorted even if it rains :) And, I still have Logroño to work in between.

Special place full of good memories.

Thank you Pamplona - that was aces!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Liking Pamplona.

I like it here very much. It's a very beautiful city. A very safe city. Very friendly. And, it's surrounded by beautiful parks. It's also pretty affordable.

It's very different to other cities in Spain I've spent time in. Other than the public loos (some with attendants - very Old England) it also functions in an orderly fashion! Everything works as it's supposed to work. There is no reliance on the usual Spanish chaos system :D

Foot needs more rest. Looks like I'll be walking from Monday.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Pamplona...

... It's a city. It's in Spain. It has public toilets! WOW!!! I'd forgotten just how convenient they are. Lots of public toilets. Big, clean public toilets.

It also has a nice square and friendly police. The citadel (former - now park) is a very nice place also. Full of modern art and a very trenquil place to escape to. You'd never guess the history if you didn't know.

Staying here for a week to rest my left knee and foot. Totally wobbling. Then I start walking along Camino Frances towards Santiago. I've decided to do this now before it gets to busy and whilst Spring is approaching. Talking of Spring, not sure if it's just me, or rising sap, or summat, but the women here seem to be very, very sexually aware.



Anyone reading here who has expressed an interest in joining me for a long, or short stint, now could well be the best time to do it. Easy walks to safe, cheap beds. Relatively uncrowded, but you will certainly meet plenty of people en-route. Spring - it's going to be fucking beautiful. And, anyone who hasn't expressed an interest... same ...

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Little Hell Hole.

People have told me many stories about Spanish towns like this. I didn't believe them. Now I do.

Not to sure where I am exactly. Strolled in late. Couldn't find a cheap pension, or hostal open. Went to a hotel and tried my very best to spend €50 on a room for the night, but they weren't having it!

I may look a bit of a mess. My trousers are torn and I'm limping quite heavily. Totally borked my left knee and foot :( Woke this morning in the doorway of a hotel to be greeted by police. I'm most definitely not welcome here. Fuck knows why anyone would want to live here (?) On the 'plus' side??? I also woke to find a loaf of bread and a meal by my side!

Can't walk. Only bus in my direction is late afternoon. House prices suggest there is work and money here, so WTF! might as well try some sketching for cash. I give it 10 minutes at best. You never know, I may even get a free police car ride out of town.

I've invested in a new pair of trousers. I think that's a very wise investment ;)

Friday, 6 March 2009

100 Reasons to Love Zaragoza :)

Only been here a couple of days and despite the wind (BIG WIND) and cold I love it.

From the nice, swanky train ride to arrival at the splendid contemporary station to meeting a great bunch of people at the first bar I stumbled into well after midnight.

Friendly. Beautiful buildings. Fab free art & stuff to see. More that you have to pay a little for. Clean, comfortable, friendly hostal at just €17/night. The most helpful tourist information service I've ever found in Spain. People going out of their way to help me, or simply give good advice. The most culturally diverse and balanced city I've ever visited in Spain. And, the police are just leaving me be. More than that actually! They're even stopping to look at my work before paying compliments and giving the thumbs up. I like it here. The good people of Zaragoza have only the horrible wind to thank for preventing me from hanging around to long.

And, best of all is the main Plaza. Plaza del Pilar; a recently restored, huge public space with a great mix of old and new. Cathedral at one end, Roman museum and tower at the other with the magnificent basilica dominating over contemporary art and water features. Every city should have spaces like this for everyone to enjoy without the hassle and noise of commercial onslaught and cars. Nice enough in blustery gales. I'm determined to visit again to enjoy the space during night in the depths of summer. Gets very hot I'm told. Cold by winter, hot by summer to the point of water shortage. The lighting by night is excellent. The usual town planning discussion in Spain goes like this:

"We've found something old"
"What is it?"
"Dunno"
"OK, we have 50,000€ to spend on old things, what should we do?"
"Call the orange light factory and buy the biggest we can get"
"OK"

Not here. I wish the Alhambra in Granada was lit so consideratly.

May stay a day, or Two longer, but I have to be elsewhere pretty soon.

Nice place. Very nice place and just what I needed to restore my love of a beautiful country after the hiccup that was Barcelona.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Huge Cheat!

I'm in Zaragoza after a very enjoyable 200KPH train ride. Not really a cheat. I'll explain later.

Zaragoza is very cold, wet and very windy, but so far, I like it. Lots of free stuff to see and do and lots of friendly people.

...

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Aaaaaaaaarghhhhhh!!!

One of those fucking days.

I'll admit I'm a little grumpy due to hangover and accepting (very reluctantly) that I can't always have what I want, but I fucking HATE Barcelona. What a stinking little shithole of a false city. Policia Local ordering me to pour my can of beer into the nearest bin was the final straw. At least I thought that was the final straw. Back here for a day for the sake of €50 and the day has already cost me more than that. Rain doesn't help. Everything is going wrong. If it can bork - it borks!

How fucked off am I? Well, very occassionally I lose my cool. Very occassionally. If you happen to be a very able bodies and capable beggar asking me for cash when I'm in this sort of mood you get a verbal outpouring that you'll never forget. Rarely violent mind. 'Fucking parasitic scum' sort of mood today. Like I don't take enough crap from people anyway.

OK. Now that's off my chest I can go out and sketch in the shelter of an arcade and enjoy myself. Next person to try asking me for a single Cent gets twated on the bridge of the nose :)