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


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!!!