Run to the hills

Day 208, Monday 30 July 2012, Alcaucin

I have not really had a great sleep for a while so popped half a magic pill last night in an attempt to get a good night in. I have had a few things on my mind (as always) and was a little anxious about the morning.

It was a good sleep (yes !) and I was up as normal for a Monday at 6:15, not that I was going to work – today I was going to go for a run !

First things first though – priority number one for the day was to get on the internet as soon after 6:00 as I could and order the freshly released new Mono album “For my parents”. The first 400 copies of the double LP are white,  very cool. I am glad I did as it did sell out, sadly it goes to NZ where my record testing nephew will no doubt be eager to check it out and I will have to wait until I return to see it.

I hadn’t run in a while, I did a couple of bits on the Coast Path Run a few weeks ago, and though I ended up doing some big days, there was a lot of walking involved, fast walking mind, it was never a stroll along the beach. By my normal standards I have also been doing a lot of physical work in the past week and have not fuelled or hydrated well either so I am quite tired physically. It is also warm and the road I have chosen to run is mostly uphill for six kilometres where I will turn around and run back down. I was concerned I would blow out quickly and this will dent my running confidence, and this has been playing on my mind for the past couple of days. On the positive side I am leaner than usual, need the run to clear my head and burn off some tension and I am looking forward to getting out !

I set off just after 7:00 with the objective of reaching the top car park at the Alcazar recreation area in the hills above Alcaucin.

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I was really surprised about how well I ran, I mean I did not set any records or anything, but apart from stopping a couple of times to snap photos on my cell phone of the sun coming up on the pass I ran the entire distance, pretty much all of it a gradual climb. I love watching the sun come up on the big bluff on the other side of the valley; I watched it as I worked every morning and will do so again when I return to work in a couple of weeks.

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The view to the top

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In fact when I got to the top carpark I could have carried on – especially as it was now trail ! But I want to repeat tomorrow so I decided to take it easy today, maybe tomorrow some trail can be run.

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I did get a wee sweat on over the fifty minute climb. Note my new Camelbak matches my new shirt – must surely be a first for me !

2012-07-30 08.04

The run down was fun, it only took thirty minutes to get back down again – scarily, in fact very scarily, I enjoyed the run up more than the run down – though normally do love running down a fast flowing hill. Apart from a light soreness in the legs, more so from the pounding from running down the hill I felt really good, and the best part was I had burnt off any tension in my mind and body – I love running for this !

I took five minutes in the pool to cool down – it was now 25 degrees in the shade, and then got my gear in the sun to dry for tomorrows run.

Ian and I went up to the local for lunch, I had a beer and a healthy chips and battered deep fried prawns. I am going to say I have never seen prawns like that before and everything here comes with chips, I felt I earned it though!

2012-07-30 14.08

I pretty much did sod all else after lunch, which is really the objective of these couple of days, I swam, read and listened to music – discovered The Dandy Warhols, heard them before but never listened to them, something else on my must buy list.

Under the advisement of Ian I also completely changed my plans for the rest of the week and am off to Granada on Wednesday for a couple of nights and will then spend a few days around the villages in the Sierra Nevada mountains – will pack running shoes I think.

Tonight I realised I am fifty in just seven weeks and I have no idea what to do ! My current favourite band, New Yorkers – A place to bury strangers are playing in London that night – should I go ? I will be in Spain so that will mean a trip to London, if I go to London is it worth going back to Spain…. questions questions !!!

There was no choice really

No rest for the not so wicked.

Day 207, Sunday 29 July 2012, Alcaucin

I missed my seven months on the road anniversary yesterday, though I guess seven things are not really celebrated.

I was up a bit later again today, this being a Sunday and in theory not a work day, especially in Spain ! But today was the last opportunity for a couple of weeks to get some work done so I was on site soon after 9:00.

Today I wanted to get the front wall done, and I turned this

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Into this.

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It took a long time, the old paint was in bad condition and it took quite a while to get even the most basic prep work done. By the time I started getting paint on the front of the wall the sun was blazing and it was over 30 degrees so the paint was drying in the tray as fast as I could get it on the roller. I didn’t finish till after 3:30 and didn’t do a heck of a lot else for the rest of the day, I did watch the end of the womens road race, great effort by the top three and really enjoyed the mens 100m freestyle final.

The dogs are a bit psycho tonight for some reason, Ian is out and Muttley has been going nuts. I have had to close them inside and go downstairs for some peace and quiet.

Tomorrow I plan on getting up early and going for my first run in a wee while.




Work work work

Days 203-206, Wednesday-Saturday 25-28 July 2012 – Alcaucin

Life has settled down for the past four days and with the exception of Friday each day has been like this – get up at 6.15, drink coffee, go to work and paint, come home mid-afternoon, eat, shower, flop on bed for an hour or so, eat, watch TV/DVD, surf internet, sleep. Well, OK, today (Saturday) I got up at 8.30, went to work, and then came home and drank beer and ate instead of flopping on the bed.

The weather has been pretty kind this week, only really getting much above 30 degrees today. Starting work early means I get a reasonable amount done before it gets too hot and if I plan OK I can follow the shade around until the middle of the day. Painting white on white in bright sun is not so easy !

The morning view over the olive groves


I have to confess to being a bit of an internet junkie, or maybe just a communications junkie, (though I don’t do twitter !) I subscribe to a couple of blogs and am a regular reader, commenter etc on BookFace, but I really like email the best. When I was travelling in Asia with a time difference of between five and seven hours it was quite easy to exchange emails with people back home. However, Europe is a different situation entirely, with Spain being ten hours behind New Zealand. This is a weird time difference and really means I do not get to have a ‘conversation’ with people that often, and to be honest – I don’t like it ! My early evenings are spent checking for messages that never arrive as it is the early of hours of the morning in NZ.

Friday saw Ian and I join his girlfriend Jo, her daughter and her brother and his two sons who are visiting from the UK at the Feria (fair) at Torres Del Mar.


The fair is a fairly (pun intend) big deal and goes on for a few days. I have yet to really get into the groove with Spanish ways, Ian and I met Jo and co at almost 10:30 PM and the fair was really only kicking into the swing of things with the fairground really getting crowded around 11:00 !



The fair was the same as all the fairs I have been to, loud music, loads of rides for kids and families, junk food all over – except it goes on most of the night. There were hundreds of families with small children in attendance and teenagers galore. I was dead on my feet and at midnight Ian and I left Jo and family to it, they got home at 2:00. The Spanish are weird, though I guess it was cooler in the evening than in the middle of the day !

Saturday was a change from painting, I did filling instead. I worked till 1:00 when I took a power walk up to the local shop as they are closed from 2 to 5 to buy some beer and wine for tonight. Stupidly, it appears I managed to buy a bottle of bloody awful sherry instead of a bottle of wine. I am going to have to hit the Spanish phrase book prior to the next solo trip to the shops ! Back from the walk I did a further hour of work before stopping as it was too hot to use filler as it was going off faster than I off could put it on the walls !

A small section of the main drag of Alcaucin has a massive shade cloth over it – awesome !


After work work and a feed and a San Mig. I knocked of some of the house work (first time in months – I almost enjoyed it) and then watched the end of the Olympic cycling road race over a second and third San Mig.

Much as I would rather be relaxing I am working the weekend as the house I am currently painting is occupied for the next month, so I cannot work on it and the next painting job is not going to be available for two weeks. This means from Monday I will pretty much be out of work so I will take off next week for a few days and see some of the sights of southern Spain.
I will put a plan together tomorrow, but I think I will do Malaga, Gibraltar, Cadiz and Seville then come back here and do Granada a day or so later. It will be nice to have a base to come back to.




The dog ate my jeans….

Day 202, Tuesday 24 July 2012 – Alcaucin

Arghhhhhhh, the bloody alarm went off at 6:15 again and it was time to get up, suck down a coffee and head out the door to work, thank goodness it only takes thirty seconds to get there !

It was another cool and cloudy start to the day and it was still rather gloomy as I set up my ladder and drop sheet and prepared to start painting eves.

Those who know me well know I am a wee bit scared of heights, those who know me really really well know that even standing on the top of a ladder freaks me out a bit. Strangely I was ok with it yesterday; maybe it was the excitement of first day of a travel break for me, or the opportunity to make a bit of travelling money rather than just spending it, whatever it was I was fine. This morning it wasn’t so flash. The first hour and a bit I really struggled on the ladder, I was painting slowly to not make rapid movements and I seem to be getting paint splashes everywhere – especially on my new shirt – luckily it was bought for this purpose and only cost 4 euros (6 NZD).

I stopped at 8:30 as I was hoping to be able to Skype my mum and sons who are at her house for dinner – however, my email must have been unread as they were not logged on. I had a coffee and a break from the painting and was not really looking forward to heading back as I had a couple of hard sections to do – close to the edge of the veranda – the ground is a lot further away at the edge !

On the way into the house I found the Levi’s I bought in KL that were hanging on the drying frame were lying on the ground with the Leather Levi’s badge on the bag half eaten off by Muttley, along with a chunk of denim. I am hoping it will start a new trend in dog-chewed denim. Luckily I NEVER tuck shirts into jeans so they are entirely usable.

From then on the day passed fairly quickly, I stopped for a coffee with Ian just after 10:00 and worked till 3:30 when it was hot and just getting a bit too windy to be standing on a ladder. I moved around the house a bit trying to avoid the worst of the sun as it came out from behind the clouds. The house looks a bit odd now with sections of eve unpainted. I also made a start on the huge retaining wall behind the house. It is in pretty rough condition as well, so the first job was getting the edges and details done with the brush.

Chilled for the rest of the day until it was time to cook dinner. The Spanish don’t eat until very late in the day, I am always starving by dinner time – started cooking about 8.40 !

Sunset from the deck – again…

Work day !!!!

Day 201, Monday 23 July 2012 – Alcaucin

Work day !

It has been a while since I last used the W word and meant it, let alone actually did any of it personally, so I was verging on enthusiastic when I launched myself out of bed at 6:15 this morning, well less of a launch and more of a stumble I guess.

I grabbed a quick coffee and at 7:00 Ian and I left for the days job. About twenty five metres later we arrived at the house over the road bar one which Ian has the job of painting. By local standards it is a reasonably large single storey villa and is some serious need of painting.

Today I was going to be working on the yellow trim. There are quite strict rules on house colour here with white and yellow being the main allowed colours – and white makes a load of sense here ! I was basically left to it for the day, Ian had a bunch of his regular Monday jobs to complete so I didn’t see him till we stopped for half an hour for coffee at 10:00.

I painted until 2:00 and got a decent chunk done, the painting was harder than it should be due to the pretty average quality of the rendering, which seems to be typical of some of the houses here.

It was a great day for painting, not sunny and not overly hot, only mid twenties, so barely worked up a sweat. I did get a wee bit sun burnt which was a bit dumb of me – but good news – I did  not get any paint on my shirt – which is a complete miracle.

I was feeling pretty good after work, surprised as I had been mainly painting over my head all day and was expecting a sore neck. After a shower and a lie down I got up feeling  sore from the elbows up.

Ian and I went shopping late in the afternoon, down to the mall about fifteen minutes away. I wanted to get a few clothing items for work, cheap shorts and t-shirts that can be tossed if they get covered in paint – which is entirely likely at some stage. I also got some speakers that I can plug my MP3 player into while I am working…

Dinner was a whole kilo of prawns, bread and sauce. Yumbo !!! supermarket shopping is the shizzle !





Day 200, Sunday 21 July 2012 – Alcaucin

I am only posting today as it is day two hundred on the road – or since I left New Zealand anyway. Not sure if taking some days off really counts as being on the road either, but meh, its my blog so I can do what I want.

What I wanted to do today was nothing apart from un-pack and finally catch-up with the email backlog. Up until the time I started typing this post I pretty much achieved that.

Ian had not got home before I went to bed last night so I didn’t realise he was home when I got up at 7:30 to walk the dogs, it was a beautiful time of day to be out, it was cool (ish) and the sun was still rising in the sky, you could see the light slowly moving down the hills to the west as I walked, a wonderful sight.

Ian left again for the day soon after breakfast and I finally got around to making this


Look like this !


My pack is empty, first time since well before Christmas I have not had to ferret around in it for something. So nice to put clothes in to drawers and live like a human again for a wee while. And that was really it for the day.

I watched four more episodes of Firefly, read some book, read some of the learn Spanish book (confused) and after taking the dogs for their afternoon walk watched the end of the Tour de France on TV – Go Brad ! until Ian came home.

The rest of my street.


The stairs 🙂


Dinner and TV – oh life is so normal. So good to eat fresh local veges again, one of the many things I miss about Asia.

Apart from the sunset view.






The first day of many

Day 199, Saturday 20 July 2012, Alcaucin

Awake early after quite a warm night, hopefully I will get used to the warmth quickly, I imagine so. At least it is only hot here; there is none of the draining humidity I had in Asia, which is a blessed relief. When I woke I started mentally preparing the list of things I need to do and it took a conscious effort to actually stop and remind myself that for the moment I do not NEED to do anything. I am not rushing anywhere in the next few days – or maybe even weeks as I have committed for three weeks at least. There are some tasks I will do in the next day or so, things that I have been waiting to have an actual postal address – such as organise a new New Zealand drivers licence to replace the one I lost in Laos – what seems like months ago now. The rest can wait. I grabbed a coffee and a real book – with paper pages and went back to bed.

Ian has gone to the beach with his girlfriend today so I am alone in the house, miles from anywhere apart from the village and with no car – perfect. All I have to do is walk Rosie and Muttley, my new four legged friends.

I pretty much spent the day doing very little – achieved my first goal ! I watched five episodes of the TV series Firefly, listened to some music, had a dip in the pool, read some book, ate and drank coffee. In the late morning I walked up to the village for a brief explore. A place I hope to really detail over the coming weeks.

To the north


southish. there are a number of incomplete developments here. These two were illegal and have been shut down by the authorities.






And in the afternoon I walked the dogs, not too far as it is roastingly hot.


At 7:30 I cooked myself some pasta and veges, which was extremely pleasant and then I settled into write some blog posts and do some email in front of some English TV. Such luxury – music, TV, cooking my own meals….

Sunset from the deck, apparently the good ones are yet to come.




Ryan Air – it doesn’t get any better

Day 198, Friday 19 July 2012 – Barcelona to Alcaucin

My final sleep in Barcelona was pretty much as lousy as the first two. I thought a couple of whiskies might have eased me into a doze, but at 1:30 I was still restless and ended up turning the air con on and popping the unused half of the previous nights pill. Even that was not overly successful and I had fairly long night. There is a lot on my mind at the moment and I am hoping some down time from travelling and sightseeing in Alcaucin will allow me some head space to sort everything out and start to organise phase two of my journey.
I was up before the alarm went off at 6:30, packed and drinking the final sludge-like free coffee at the hotel before 7:00 and on the road at 7:30. There was no real need to leave that early, my flight was not until 11:50 but the day was already warm and walking even only one or so kilometres with a pack and a wheelie bag when it got hot was not something I relished.

The hotel recommended the airport bus over the train and it was so much easier and quicker than the ride in from the airport, the things you know when it is too late ! I arrived at the airport almost three and a half hours before my flight – something I am used to though, a habit formed in the past few months. I found the check in for my flight and it was even manned -I thought to myself “great, I can ditch my bags and go have breakfast and un-sludge-like coffee”. But no, way too easy, after waiting for fifteen minutes I finally asked one of three people chatting what time they opened, they said an hour. Way to go Ryan Air, awesome customer service, leaving me standing there like a twit. Another nail in the Ryan Air coffin. I stomped off with my stuff and struggled negotiating the closely packed tables and chairs in the cafe while carrying coffee, breakfast and three bags.

The flight was OK, reasonably smooth, but Ryan Air does not even provide passengers with the little pouches on the back of the seat in front – which means holding magazine, glasses, mp3 player etc on my lap for the flight – not so much fun. The landing however was a different kettle of fish, I am pretty sure we dropped from a hundred foot straight down – it was the roughest landing ever, even worse than Vietnam Airlines and I thought those were bad.

My cousin Ian met me at the airport in Malaga and we left pretty much immediately for the forty minute drive to his house in Alcaucin, with a brief stop at Macca’s on the way 🙂 Ian is ten years younger than me and has lived in Alaucin for about eight years, he currently shares his house with two dogs – Rosie,


And Muttley.


I am sure these two will appear a few times over the next few days !

Alcaucin is a small village sitting at 500 metres on the edge of the Sierra Tejeda mountain range it has a population of about 2500, plus a few summer residents.

Ian and I spent the afternoon catching up on the past few years, with me admiring his CD and DVD collection – and planning a few movies sessions when he is out and about over the weekend !


mmmmmm, what is this outside my bedroom wall…


I am staying on the ground floor of Ian’s double storey house; I have a bedroom, bathroom and a lounge area with my own TV and best of all – a stereo. I am so looking forward to using the stereo and listening to music of my choice that is not being played through the tinny speakers on my laptop or the headphones on my Sony Walkman.

Once the worst of the heat had gone out of the evening we wandered up to the village and had a couple of beers and some dinner at one of the restaurants in town – nice.

it is great to be here I have been looking forward to this for a while.

I posted photos of pets !!! Obviously I need a break 🙂

A day of walking

Day 197,Thursday 18 July 2012 – Barcelona

Probably due to the half sleeping pill I popped or possibly because I’d only had a couple of glasses of el cheapo rioja instead of the normal three or four – whatever the reason, I had a dead man sleep until about 7am. It was the first good sleep I’ve had in days and it was extremely welcomed.

I lounged in bed for a while then grabbed what was the least disgusting of the hotel free coffees I have had and got ready for the day. Today was my original check out day but I have extended a further day; this however, requires a change of room, so before leaving I had to pack my stuff. This is always a bigger task that it should be.

I was still out the door by a hugely respectable 8:00 am and off to find the Picasso Museum, which is the last thing on my MUST do list for Barcelona, there is still a (lower case) must do list and also a would be good to list too, like any excellent city there is more to do here than time allocated. Excellent city to do list = allocated days + 1.

I’m glad I left early as the museum is a bugger to find, at least it was with the Map I’m using. But once found I went in search of some breakfast and espresso – Loving, just loving short coffees now! After my morning shot I was back to the Picasso Museum for the queue. Thirty minutes before opening and already a decent queue had formed, by opening time there would have been in excess of five hundred queued squeezed into the wee alley. Though the surly guy in the front of the shot was possibly not one of them!


The gallery was very cool, with a vast collection of early period Picasso works, with over one thousand pieces being donated by  the artist. I spent most of an hour in there, which is pretty good for me in an art gallery.

There was also a small collection of work by Vilato, Picasso’s nephew, which was quite cool – though very influenced by his more famous uncle!

From the Picasso museum I wandered up to the Arxiu Fotografic de Barcelona with the hope this was a gallery dedicated to photographic works. It was dedicated to photography but was sadly not a gallery per se, more of an archive – which I am sure would have been great to explore! They did have a small show which I checked out. Why do photo exhibitions make me want to shoot mono again?

Spain has the unenvious record of an unemployment rate of 24% with youth at an incredible 60% – it is not all smiles and works of art in Espana 😦


My next goal was the Museu D’Art Contemporani De Barcelona (MACBA for short – don’t ask why). It took a while to find but was worth the visit, both externally and internally.



Though interestingly the gallery (new obviously) is in an area of Barcelona that was heavily “renovated” and the subject of the exhibition at the Arxiu Fotografic – though not directly this part of town. The MACBA was very cool, I loved the building and some – not all, of the exhibitions were interesting, it was quite modern, most of the art was from the last 40 or 50 years. There was a great exhibition on some “live art”/hippy shit from the 70’s. I loved the video footage – (God save me if I am turning into a freaking hippy). There was also a photo exhibition from the late 70’s /early 80’s of the local area as it was changed – similar to the above. The photo gallery was so quiet, the stand out sound was the click of slide projectors – awesome !



token selfie…


I stopped for a beer and some tapas in a cafe on La Rambla – the main drag, and paid through the nose for the pleasure – the most expensive cheap feed I have had in Europe. Doh ! BTW – I did not use the ketchup…


I foolishly decided (it is 30+ degrees) to walk up to the fort above the port, my aim was to find the cable car, but (see above) my map was crap and I ended up walking all the way. At one stage – well away from the public eye I will add, I made the radical choice of removing my shirt to get some of the most vaguest of breezes on to my skin. It was hard work – but when I went to the cable car to take it down the hill later on it was 7 Euro a trip, glad I walked. Hot as it was it really wasn’t that far!

The castle was dull and full of tourists, but with awesome views over the sea and the city. Though confusing which was the way in 🙂


I went the wrong way!


I spent half an hour up the top enjoying the breeze and views as well as avoiding the sun before heading back down into the city centre to find my way back to the hotel.




Once down past La Rambla and into the old part of town I decided to stick to the alleys to avoid the sun


and ended up doing a few circles before popping out in familiar territory and finally stopping for a cooling beer at the taverna next door to my hotel.

I was on my feet for eight hours  Chucks are not ideal for a long days walk in the heat, my feet were a tad swollen by the end and I knew it had been a long day.

After unpacking (read throwing stuff all over the show) in my new and incredibly noisy room overlooking the main street, and after a wee lie down I wandered down the road to my new favourite kebab shop and consumed the most awesome chicken kebab ever ;I was starving ! Once sated I went and had a drink with the Pakistani guy who worked there (he of course did not partake) I chatted with him for a while, I think he enjoyed being able to speak English rather than Spanish, and to someone who knew who Shahid Afridi was !

It slowly went downhill from there as Johnnie Walker was cheap…

Though not too downhill as I am still typing and it is only 10:18 pm 🙂

Opinions on black and white photos ? after seeing a lot today I am very keen to go back !

Gallery – Street art in Barcelona

There is a huge amount of graffiti in Barcelona, most of it is just scribbled tagging,  though  I am sure there is some pithy political statements in among the scrawl, sadly it is all Spanish to me, so you my eager audience, do not get to see it either ! Anyway, statements are not always art and art is what I am in to, whether you agree with my tastes or not.Most doorways have something sprayed, brushed, inked or stuck on them so there was a variety of things to look at.

Here are some of the ones that caught my eye – BTW, I am a huge sucker for anarchy symbols. Less so for real anarchy!

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