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


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!

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 OrdoƱo - 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.


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


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


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.