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.



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


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


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?



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


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


... 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?"
"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"

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


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 :)

Monday, 2 March 2009

Sand Sculptures.

Final day in Sitges. Had fun here and learned much about sand sculpturing from this guy...


Now, back to Barcelona to complete more work.