Friday, 25 August 2017

Reasons To Be Cheerful. Part 3.

For some reason Ian Dury and The Blockheads are whistling out of my brains today.

This post is partly in response to the childish comments I have been deleting. I would like to explain why I maintain this blog, and what my travelling existence is all about.

I travel for work. I travel for adventure. I love to hike.

I am not hiking on some sort of endurance test. F*** that quite frankly. I move as slowly as possible. I am not out to win medals. I am not looking to gain accolades. I do not have any desire to earn brownie points to move my status up into some sort of higher echelon of 'been there - done that' travelling league of idiots. There is no potential for cheating - there is absolutely nothing to cheat, or lie about.

Travelling is a fundamental necessity in my life and search for the work I enjoy. I love the adventure. The experience. I even enjoy the hardship, pain and sacrifices that have to be made. If you don't experience the lows, where are the highs supposed to come from? It is not a life for everybody, but it suits me just fine for the time being, and hopefully for long into the future.

This blog is not designed as a chronological recording of evidence. It wasn't designed for anything other than my own amusement. It has become a very useful way to record my own recollections, stay in touch with friends and followers, let existing, and potential clients know I am still alive, still looking for work, and possibly heading their way.

I often try to explain that the majority of my income does not come from the cash I make on the streets. It comes from the people I meet on the streets. Working in capital cities throughout Europe, I meet many people who may well be art buyers. They are on holiday mode; relaxed - not at work. If they like what I am doing, like who I am, they happily give time, then we exchange contact details, and who knows? The day may come when they need the work of an artist. Travelling as I do is as much about networking and making connections as anything else. Cash on the streets, day to day helps cover my costs. That is about it.

The logistics of travelling as a hiker mean I don't always have an internet connection, or even charged batteries. Nowhere to plug my laptop in among all these Spanish Oaks. Often I will post retrospectively after consideration. I may not have power in my laptop, but I am an artist - I always have old fashioned pens and paper. Jotting down memories for possible publishing a few hours, days, or even weeks later is common practice for myself. The last post I made about Setubal was posted whilst I was in Santigo do Cancon some Two days after leaving Setubal. There isn't really a 'live' timeline to follow here.

I really haven't bothered to waste my valuable internet time deleting posts in the comments here. The spammers are frustrating, and do themselves more harm than good other than improving their Google rankings. But, downright malicious remarks for no good reason really isn't on. The cowardly way they read just depresses me. So, from now on, any posts in the comments I don't like will be deleted. I have left the last one just as an example of what I am on about. The guy is becoming obsessively abusive here and on a web forum I have used for many years. TBH, it is a little bit concerning.

Anyway, I am actually in Portimao today. Nice enough place, although I don't see much cash making opportunity here. I will sketch for enough cash to cover beer and tobacco to get me to the next destination. Hiking is an expensive way to move from A to B, but you can do it little by little in financial increments. I shall stay for the day, and walk this evening, or early morning to the next town.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Lagos and an Estonian connection.

It was Hemingway who said "there is One in every port". Seems he was right. I am on a bit of a Hemingway vibe presently simply because a mate in Granada called me Hemingway (you bastard M!).

I arrive in Lagos and get to work sketching a scene of a bar with trees and a church. A very lovely person then introduced themselves and told me a friend of a friend had one of my sketches in their house in Estonia. I meet Estonians' everywhere, and without exception have enjoyed their company much - possibly more about the travelling/walking circles I move in as much as anything else. Eight years ago I was in Santiago de Compostela where I met 'T' from Estonia (amongst others). Somebody else bought a sketch of the cathedral. And, so, Eight years later, here I am in The Algarve, and yet another sketch heads towards Estonia.

Strange how these things work. Thanks 'T' and all the other very agreeable Estonian people I have met.

 I am still thoroughly enjoying this journey. It is reaching it's final stages, but I really don't want it to end. Walking extremely slowly from here on!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

So, how does The Atlantic Ocean affect your life?

"Affect my life? It controls my life", someone told me. They went on to explain that they could shelter from the sea, but never escape it. It provides, it takes away, it is everything.

My own perception is a spiritual one. I appreciate all the affects of the sea, the life, the power, the food, the cleansing, the land environment - the plants, and all they feed. But, it is the almighty power which really grabs me most.

I'm not entirely sure what I mean by 'spiritual' other than it is something beyond my imagination and belief, but absolutely nothing to do with a God. I can look at a landscape and understand why it has a special ambience - the valleys, the hills, the skies and the seas will all play a part in creating a place with a very special, unique feel. The geography, geology - the science within nature, all makes much more sense to me than any belief in a mythical being.

I loved Nazare. It was there where I really felt the spirit of the Atlantic. I'm not alone. Someone decided it was good idea to claim the spirit for their God and build a very impressive church in a tiny village. The spirit was there long before the church, the chapel, or the Catholic believers.

The Atlantic - it is just an almighty force. It affects all of us, whether we are aware of it, or not.

Personally, I just find it incredibly invigorating, or "healthy as fuck" as someone in Nazare told me. It is still the best answer I have received yet. Simple and very bluntly straight to the point of life.

Friday, 18 August 2017


Heading South towards the land of Daily Mail reading wronguns. I'm told the journey will be very beautiful. It had better be.

I'm very close to eating solely what I pick and fish. Lime juice is the only thing I am adding which hasn't been picked from the tree by my own hands. Perhaps there is an alternative.

Using small paper bags collected in Setubal, I am drying all the herbs I find inside my backpack. It seems to work, and herbs can make a big difference to flavours. Eating from the land is nothing new (believe it, or not :D). Many thousands of years ago nomadic life was the norm. I am cheating in that respect - much of what I pick is cultivated. There is plenty of wild stuff available, but the offer of picking a red pepper, or leek from a kind person's allotment is too good to refuse.

Why am I doing this? Very simply; because, I enjoy it. There is no real financial saving. With Two fishing rods and tackle costing over €70, I have caught just One mackerel. It was a very delicious mackerel mind. There is something very rewarding about catching your own fish, picking your own fruit, harvesting vegetables with your own hands. Then, preparing it, and cooking it all yourself. You become so much more aware of the nutritional value and the whole process involved in the growing. And, as it is so fresh, it tastes much better and has a far greater nutritional value. Every apple picked from a tree starts to die as soon as it's life source is cut off. As it fades, it loses nutritional value. How long does it usually take an apple to reach your mouth from the time it left the tree?

I am hiking for much the same reasons. It costs about 10x as much to hike from A to B than it does to take a bus. However, the rewards are immeasurable. I love it for all sorts of reasons. Pain in my foot is comfortably being ignored.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


Pronounced: Eschtuba.


I am having to rest my foot for a few days. Here is as good a place as any.

Moving and harvesting and cooking again soon. In the meantime I am going to the best market ever everyday...

Not my photograph. See more here.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Montijo - Pinhal Nova - Setubal.

That was one of the most bizarre hikes I have ever done. Melilla to Nadar excepted (nothing can be stranger than that within 20KM).

This is neither suburbia, city, nor countryside. Plots of what may appear as madness to someone who grew up on the very strictly controlled planning laws of a very Conservative Welsh Borders.

Goats. Sheep. Pigs. Spanish oaks. Mega bathroom retail warehouse. Car dealers. Pharmaceutical research centres. Fruit orchards and vegetable fields. Meat packing factories. Old little houses with their own allotments. General no-mans land turned dirt tracks. Scrap yards. Stupidly expensive new mansions and even more stupid residential gated places. All this blown constantly by a relentless, decomposing, salty Atlantic wind. Military aircraft constantly overhead... Chaotic as fuck at first glance. Anarchistic even.

But, I guess if the goat guy does his thing, the cork depot person does their thing, the pharma co manager does their thing, the bathroom place keeps selling bathrooms, the little independent smallholders keep themselves to themselves, factories are just factories. It just seems to work. The apparent mess is not relevant to everyday life here. Even the rubbish (a lot of rubbish) and the huge stray dogs seem happy enough here. Somehow, there is a very gentle harmony in all this craziness.

I suppose if everyone is going in through the out door it doesn't really matter.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

All restored.

Laptop repaired and upgraded.

I am now in Montijo (south side of the bay from Lisbon). Once again, I am being treated exceptionally well by the people in Portugal. Very strange thing about my life is the people I meet on the street. A very nice strange thing. I can't remember exactly when I was in Aix en Provence, but I very clearly remember the person who bought my sketch and effectively 'bailed me out' of a tricky situation. And, so we met again in Lisbon. And, again it was an absolute pleasure - your kindness is greatly appreciated. Fabulous food, fabulous company. Hopefully we shall all meet again one day. Who knows?

I have hiked a long way without a functioning laptop. Reached Lisbon. Visited many places on the way, and now I'm over half way through this trek.

Sketching for cash. Then, searching for things to cook. There is a museum of agriculture here. I have to visit the exhibition of Atlantic agriculture. Pretty sure I could learn much stuff worth learning.

Updating more frequently now my laptop has been repaired.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

How does the Atlantic affect your life?

'It is healthy as fuck'.

I thank Nicole for that one. I think I agree. Other than a very over excerised right foot, I am feeling on top of the World despite being at sea level.

Boiled potatoes, carrots, broccoli and boiled egg with a fish. No idea what the fish was, but someone assured me it was good to eat, and it was.

Seaweed pudding with fig and blackberry sauce.

All 100% harvested fresh from the land and sea.

I'm heading to Lisbon to pick-up a new screen for my laptop. This is one of the unwritten taxes you have to pay as a perpetual traveller. Another unwritten tax is you have to give away 40% of all the tobacco you ever buy.

Nicole lives in Nazare. I absolutely loved the place. I Will explain why  in a bit more depth another day. In the meantime, it is just one of those very spiritual places where you feel as close to nature as it is possible to get. Vulnerable, yet very alive all at the same time. You don't need to walk far to get away from the tourists and enjoy the wilderness beaches. Very special.