It’s hard being a carrot

carrot-world-1CARROT World is a ruthless place. An unacceptably-high proportion of carrots are considered to be misshapen and are rejected by the shops. They are loaded into cattle trucks and taken to an unknown fate in the east. Only carrots that pass the supermarket suitability test are offered to the public – this is an extremely narrow and subjective view on carrot quality. It’s like saying that only long, thin people with perfect shoulders and fake tans should populate the Earth. That’s been tried and it doesn’t work. But the rule is applied to carrots . . . Continue reading It’s hard being a carrot

Roll away the stones

stones-1a-copyDRIFTING along the ridge of a hill I come across a heap of stones. And then another heap of stones. And then another. Back in my native England I might have glanced at these heaps and deduced – with the air of a man who might be an expert but isn’t – they were the work of an ancient people, probably late Neolithic or early Bronze Age to middle Iron Age. But this is Spain, not the heathery moorlands of Cumbria or the northern Pennines, and different rules apply . . . Continue reading Roll away the stones

Eyes in a Granada sky

img_0135UNFRIENDLY and judgemental faces glower down upon the people of Granada from rooftops, columns and sunlit facades. These are the faces of the city Watchers. They have dwelt among the winds and the pigeons since mediaeval times and harbour little love for the mortals who scamper below. They can be vindictive, malevolent, rancorous and resentful. It is best to wander the streets with eyes averted unless you can summon the confidence to confront and challenge. I have spied the Watchers in many European cities – Krakow has a particularly virulent assemblage. Here in Granada they can be glimpsed by the light of the sun; or by the rays of the moon when – with a scraping of stone and a dribbling of dust – they occasionally change position. The city Watchers possess the scrupulous morals of the artisans who fashioned them and the tyrannical ways of the merchants and clergy whose unsoiled hands paid silver for the toil. They are an antiquity, a remnant of a past world that has survived into the present and will continue into the future. They guard and they condemn. And, occasionally, they act with frightful malice . . . Continue reading Eyes in a Granada sky

The migas touch

migas-1aFEW aromas arrest the senses more effectively than food cooking over an open fire. The smell of bacon and eggs wafting across a Highland campsite as the sun rises above the mountains; chicken sizzling on a seaside barbecue; goulash bubbling in a blackened pot as embers spark and crackle on a Hungarian hillside. This is food in the wild, as our ancestors cooked it; and it is food that has had its flavours enhanced by fire, smoke, dry wood and the elements . . . Continue reading The migas touch

Benidorm. Bring it on.

benidorm-1THE Carthaginians came and went. The Romans came, conquered and went. The Moors came, conquered and flourished. The Christians came, conquered, flourished, gave the world Franco, Morgan’s Tavern and the biggest holiday resort in Spain. Today, all those generations and waves of humanity later, this city of concrete, glass and pizza has more high-rise buildings per capita than anywhere else on the planet. This cauldron of cultures has history, sand, sunshine and karaoke bars. It’s a world within a world and a shock to the systems of the unprepared. It’s big, it’s brash and it’s brazenly brassy. It’s Blackpool with bocadillos and barbequed Brits, a beautiful blister set on a sun-baked beach. And it’s still known by its Moorish name – Benidorm . . . Continue reading Benidorm. Bring it on.