Visit my website @ www.samharrisonmusic.com - do it, do it, do it! x

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Porter's - Cardiff

We Spent the next day of tour driving through Wales - beautiful Wales! A lot of it was boring A roads, but eventually we got to some amazing countryside! We stopped off at this beautiful place to get out bearings and I decided to climb on top of the van.

Logging in a forest

Molly
Georgie & Jeng

Teamwork...
Awesomeness!
Later on we arrived in Cardiff and started looking for the bar. We were running pretty late, and when we parked up I found I had a text from my friends Sophia and Catherine who I'd met when I was playing on the cruise ship Thomson Majesty. They were at the bar waiting to meet with us!

We dashed out into the torrential rain, not really sure where to find the bar, but we trudged on and suddenly we were there! We even found an umbrella on the way, which has hung in my van ever since for just such emergencies...

When we got to Genevieve's Open Mic at Porter's, Cardiff, Sophia and Catherine were waiting for us, and we proceeded to have an amazing night. Not only were the standards of music awesome, but the bar was incredible. It had it's own cinema, and a front room with a giant record collection for the bar goers to listen to! Check it out...



When I got on stage I was right at the end of the night, and I got to play four songs, including the d├ębut of a song never played before called 'Writers of Rhyme'. It'll be online with a video in the next few days, so I'll post it at the bottom when I've made it.




Afterwards I used my normal method of letting people have CDs and records for free, but asking for a donation. This works sometimes, and doesn't others. Normally even if people don't give so much, it covers pressing costs. The great thing is, at Porter's the audience were so generous it covered our journey all across Wales! Much love to everyone who was there on that wicked night :-) x

So, that's the official verdict. Genevieve's Open Mic - give it a visit. It was totally worth the trip!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Liverpool - Hannah's Bar

Woke up in Sheffield, Laurel and I went into town before we split. We took some photos with the giant metal balls pictured below and did some shopping. I found two records - one called 'music to bathe by' with nude women swimming in a pond on the cover (featuring Johnny Cash's 'If I Were A Carpenter') and No Tomorrow by Orson (on vinyl - who'da thunk?).

Big Kahunas


Then Laurel headed back home and I headed onto Liverpool down the A57 through the Peak District. I pulled over in a layby, met a sheep and cooked some Tortellini.

Tortelliniiiiiiiiii

Angry Sheep

Open Plan Kitchen
When we got to Liverpool, Georgie, Jeng and I hit the town for the next gig of the tour, returning to Hannah's Bar and Ogo's open mic. It was a great night but we bailed pretty early for an early start to Cardiff - here's some pics!



We stayed in Birkenhead for another night, then headed out to Cardiff the next day. Pics soon!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Start of the tour: The Millhouses, Sheffield + Welton Sports & Social

Welton Sports and Social was a good fun gig, most significant for this lovely bit of Graffiti on the cubical wall - right next to the words 'Cock - yum, yum, yum...'. I don't think it was related.

'Sam Harrison Rocks' Anon. Nice Person...
Next night was a bit of a triumph however - setting off a night later than we thought, we headed to Sheffield to a pub called 'the Millhouses'. Their Sunday open mic was in full swing when Laurel & I arrived at nine, but it carried on right into the early hours. I've never seen such a passionate and exciting jam! I was a bit nervous at first to play my own stuff, but the crowd were lovely, and gave us bags of support. I would recommend this open mic to anyone looking for a great audience! Here's some pics...




We ended with a really wicked Jam, and then we walked into Sheffield for a midnight explore and some takeaway pizza. I remember finding some giant metal balls covered in water, and we have pictures somewhere, I'll drop them in if I can find them.

I wish I could go into further detail about the acts here, but I'm awful with names, and I'd sooner not leave anyone out. I do however remember an incredible country duo with the sweetest vocal harmonies. They really blew me away, along with the high standards of the whole night. Millhouses, Sheffield folks - a real pub with real music :-)

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Liverpool - Return to Heebee Jeebies....

 Moving house for our friends gave us an excellent excuse to play in Liverpool again – Moral Laurel and I headed down in Molly the van armed with a guitar and plenty of booze money. We rode through the Mersey Tunnel into Birkenhead where Georgie and Jeng were putting us up, then caught the train into Liverpool James St. to meet them.

We rolled on into Heebee Jeebies on Seel St. for their Thursday open mic – this is the second time I’ve played this bar and I’ve really enjoyed both nights. One or two of the regulars recognised me, which made me pretty chuffed and put me in a good mood for the set. The atmosphere was great and a whole chain of cracking acts took to the stage, including a guy who sounded like Tom Waits. Love a bit of that!

Georgie & Jeng
I took a bit of a risk by opening with 'Price Tag' by Jessie J – the bar was what my Mum would refer to as 'trendy' – i.e. Indie, dark and low lit – very un-poppy. Still, Liverpool's inherent friendliness shone as always, and everyone got involved and some sang along – no music snobbery here! I followed it up with my song 'Cheese on Toast', 'I Wanna Be Like You' and finished on a Johnny B. Goode jamming with the Heebees regulars. I bought a stack of CDs and Vinyl and managed to get rid of them all.

Heebies
(Welcome) Stage Invasion
The liquor kept flowing – we started by teasing free shots out of an empty gay bar called 'Pink'. Then we headed to meet Dan, Suzie and Amy at some pub in Mathews Street which by this point some serious inebriation had prevented me from recalling the name of. Within a short time we were all dancing like maniacs on a little stage, where the locals were joining us for a sozzled tumble. From this pub we went to another and watched a band absolutely blow the place away. They were called JC and the Two Steps and had a residency at one of the clubs. They were tight as a ducks arse and the crowd went mad for it. I have a vague memory of a gay bar called 'Superstar Boudoir', with drag queens and some really eclectic songs that were meant to be classics, but they were completely fresh to my ears. We then headed back to Birkenhead, where Laurel went to sleep and I lap danced a pot plant.

Thus concluded Liverpool...

Me n Laurel

Friday, 13 June 2014

The Boy On The Naples Train

The Boy on the Naples Train

I decided to do Pompeii as a post on its own because this seemed like such a significant happening at the time that I felt it deserved a detailed write-up.

Pompeii was pretty dull in itself, especially after Ephesis with Grace last year, but was worth the train ride. I didn't see however the plaster people which was a big point of going, because we had to catch the train back. What was particularly important about this trip for me was the train journey.

Naples station was full of beggars. What in retrospect struck me particularly about these beggars were the number of women, especially those with young children in tow, sometimes babies. It has only occurred to me as of now the disproportionate amount of male beggars there are in the UK. Maybe UK society is less sympathetic towards the stronger sex, who knows.

The train was packed to the point where we couldn't move. Two of my friends were sexually harassed et the stray hands of a smelly Italian man, who clearly thought a lot of himself. The girls ended up hiding behind the guys to keep away from this asshole. I’ve never seen anything like it apart from maybe the 11X bus on a busy school night. Somewhere in the two hours of this cramped sweaty endurance test, we had out first train busker.

She was an elderly woman, with a small kid in tow. She had a cheap old accordion, and she clearly had no idea where to play it. Through trial and error and hours of riding the trains, she had found a button and a set of keys with which she could make a sorry excuse for a tune with. She squeezed up and down the train as the small boy went around with a little cup. I put a euro or two in. It genuinely made my day when he gave me a fist pump and a hi five. This kid made my day.

On the way back an experience so strange happened that it has left an impression on me that will never go away.

A boy and his father walked onto the train, the boy with a drum and his father with an old trolley with a speaker on it. He triggered an mp3 player, and cranked up the music real loud. This tiny tiny boy began to drum. I disagreed with his age with my friend later, I thought he was younger, he thought a little older, and being skin and bone he may have been right. The kid looked starving and so did his dad. Still, he can't have been younger than seven.

He kicked ass. He was amazing, he had natural rhythm and flourish, the marks of a natural performer at an age when it rarely shows that well. His eyes however looked tired and betrayed the fact that he'd been on the trains all day. His Dad shook a tambourine, but couldn't hold a beat, let alone a rhythm, and it was clearly just a token gesture of performance.

The boy drummed for another three songs, which were long and loud and pissed off everyone in the carriage. The boy would have done better playing alone. Afterwards he looked up at his father, who said to him in Italian 'You know what you have to do – take the cup around'. The kid was shy, but he did it anyway for his Dad.

The kid didn't come to me. He didn't ask me. I wanted to approach him, but something held me back. Here was my thought process:
a) This child shouldn't have to work
b) His Dad was pushy, and will take all the money he's earned at the end of the day.
  1. That kid is scared, tired and unhappy. It's not fair.

Nobody on the train gave him a cent. For some reason my feet were glued to the floor. Some deep inbuilt etiquette, some social fear, the same one that stopped me buying lunch for a homeless man in Greece put the brakes on a naturally good gesture. Here was my thought process.
a) That kid was amazing.
b) He's playing to the hardest crowd anyone could play to.
  1. I know what it's like to be a performing monkey in front of people who don't want to know – especially if they're all glaring at you. At 24 it can break me down emotionally. This child is having to deal with continuous rejection at the age of below seven.
  1. If I give this kid money, at least he'll eat tonight. He'll have to work anyway, money or no money...

Then he was gone, him and his dad hopped off at the station, with my feet still glued. I watched the slums and shanty towns rush by the window and I ached with guilt. I’m earning more money than I ever have done in my life and I couldn't put fifty cents in a cup for a starving kid. I’m a wanker. There, it's said. I know that boy will never read these words, probably never even knew I existed, but If I could say something to him, this is what I'd say.

You're amazing. You're a real star, you work through the pain and fear for your family. I could see the fear in your eyes as that train full of people glared at you, but you played on and your held your head high and you passed your cup around. In a grown up world full of rules and conventions, you weren't shown the appreciation you deserved, maybe you never are. It wasn't your fault, it was the grown ups who had their priorities fucked up. But somewhere in the world you have a fan, who loves your playing, and if he'd pulled himself together you'd have had twenty Euros in your cup.

Some of you might be reading this and thinking that I’m pretty soft. Maybe too soft for travelling around the world, where poverty is a daily encounter and something that is to be come to terms with. Well, I say to you that if a child working, or a begger with a baby in her arms doesn't give you pain, then you're dehumanising yourself to cope with a broken world. The minute that poverty becomes an acceptable fact of life to you, you become part of the problem. That's the kind of thinking that lets condos and shanty towns share the same beach.

Here's a conversation I had recently with a colleague. I gave a coin to an old wizened lady, begging.
Him: Did you just give money to that beggar?
Me: Yeh.
Him: Bad idea!
Me: Wha?
Him: I used to give money to beggars, now I know better. If they have two hands they can work.
Me: Well, I disagree.
Cowardly me. What I should have said was this:
Me: 'That analogy is stupid. It ignores the concept of unemployment which has to exist for capitalism to function. Also, what about the mentally ill, or disabled? Have you never depended on the charity of another?'
Another colleague told me this:
Her: Lots of beggars fake it anyway – they pretend to be poor, but have iPhones and stuff under their blankets.
Again, I kept quiet. What I should have said was this.
Me: That's crazy. If they're hidden how would you know about them? Anyway, the whole benefits system works on the internet now – surely it makes sense that the first thing a homeless person would need would be internet connectivity? Also, even if these people do exist, why should you let the genuine beggars suffer?
Another colleague told me this:
Him: Didn't you hear about that beggar who was actually really rich, and drove a Mercedes? He had a really good job, he just did it because he was greedy?
Me: That's the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
Well, at least I got it right once.

These are first world defences against a sick worldwide wealth gap. Nobody chooses to be a homeless beggar, to live in the freezing cold and demean themselves to every person who walks by them just to earn enough to carry on. Begging to people every day would kill every last ounce of ego someone possesses, and how do they pull themselves together and get a job?

I think everyone who grew up in a first world country has some degree of 'fat wallet guilt' when they look the living conditions of a world of which massive chunks are still below the poverty line. There's two ways to deal with this – come up with some crappy false logic chain to justify your wealth, and your greed in not giving it to someone in need – or to give some tiny act of charity to try and sooth that guilt a little bit. The charity probably isn't going to get rid of your guilt, and it probably isn't going to solve the problems of the person in need, but it will help. The only alternative is becoming an ass-hole, so probably best to embrace it.


Like the butterfly effect, one small good deed can spread out indefinitely, like falling dominoes throughout the world. Sooner of later, somewhere along the line it will come back to the boy on the Naples train.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

EEK! I can't blog fast enough...

22/04/14

OK, so I haven't written anything for over a week now, and I need to catch up on some stuff. There are two reasons for this: firstly, like anything wonderful and beautiful this cycle of ports has become a little routine. I’m getting to know these places better and starting to enjoy them without feeling the need to gush so much. The other is my determination to finish reading Bleak House by the end of this trip and to finish my book, which I’ve been writing for years and I want to ensure is complete, although I’m sure it's nothing publishable it would be nice to say I’ve written one.

So where did I leave you? Ah, the day at sea!

So we pick up in Lisbon. With hindsight, I think Lisbon is one of three unmissable places I’ve been on this trip. I'll point them all out as we go. I went around it's wonderful flea market and bought a reel of 8mm film of unknown content – I’m excited to see it!

Then I met up with L and we wondered around the beautiful mosaic pavements for a while, nipping in and out of shops. Nothing much happened while with L, but the conversation was good and the surroundings were perfect. The feeling is really impossible to describe, but taking in the little unremarkable features of a place together make a beautiful whole which all the words in the world can't recreate.

Then came Portimao – I went to the beach, which I found to be bright, long and empty for miles. All the shops and cafe's were shut so I wondered taking photographs and writing poetry. This is when I started to feel quite lonely, and the feeling is sticking. I’ve never needed a day off so bad before! Well, only two more months.

Ah! and that's the next piece of news. I’ve been offered another month on my contract. I’m unsure whether to take it or not, but I’m probs going to. I’ve talked it thru with the band and they agree.

Next came Casablanca. I woke up a poor man and became a rich man as I walked deeper into the souk. I saw new things today, the fresh fish on Ice, straight from the ocean just hours before. The giant slabs of meat hanging, flies buzzing around and the hundreds of chickens, looking half dead crammed in cages. Everywhere smelt of effluence. I brought two of round loaves of bread I love so much and gave one to a man I met in the park called Mohammed. He'd travelled to England through France and loved London greatly. He spoke pigeon English and I spoke pigeon French, so communicating was a fun challenge.

I’m going to say while it's happening that I’m listening to 'The Storm' from local band 'That's Not Me' – it's really a solo by Ellie Shutie from their album 'The Road Ahead Is At My Feet'. I really like the album which is still growing on me greatly. Initially I liked a few tracks on it, but the more I listen to it the more I love their unique sound and writing. Their lyrics are incredible, and very relate-able in my current situation. With music like this, the whole Long Haired Music project is so worth it.

Before I left Casablanca, I stopped to buy a packet of cookies from some young girls looking very bored at their family store. 'How Much?' I asked them in bad french. 'One Dirham'. That's ten pence for a packet of cookies. I bought three and gave two back to the girls. 'These are for you' I said. The girl snatched them to her chest and her eyes lit up. 'MERCI BOUCOUP MONSOIR!!!' she shouted after me in abject delight. It's easy to play the good guy when your a rich man. Then I left the souk and became poor again.

Next came Cadiz, a city completely unmemorable to me in every way. I spent the whole day searching for a post office and nothing really else happened. I bought a tambourine for my favourite waitress to beat if it takes her fancy.

Then finally, Gibralter. Finally I got to climb the hill with L and get into the moutain park. It turned out the 18 euros we'd been unable to afford the previous day got us none of what we wanted to see and it would be in fact 23 Euros to see everything in the park. However, we could walk around the whole park for a Euro each. The decision was made. We spent the day teasing the apes, which kept swiping at our cameras. They jumped on the back of one lady. In a moment lacking in empathy we both asked 'hey can we photograph you?'. She said 'Sure, but can we get it off me?'. The moment the ape realised it was being photographed, it jumped down and ran off. L was delightful as usual, and the day was sunny and perfect. I with we could have every adventure together, but out schedules are crazy manic!

Then came Malaga again. This time it was kind of weird. There was some sort of procession going on, with marching bands, brass bands and all these childen and adults in robes that looked like Klansmen, but in different colours. I know these outfits had their origins in Spain, but I don't think the white ones are worn so much now. The kids were all in black or dark red robes, and it looked like a Hogwarts graduation parade as they meandered back through the streets, hoods in hand. I tried to find out more, but all I know is it had something to do with soldiers.

Toulon was fairly dull. I got rained on, had my hair cut on the boat by the genius of Uros, went back out into the sunshine and sowed a patch onto my Uke case while being started at and bothered by teens asking me 'Cigarette? Cigarette?'. Je ne fumer pas, poulet tetes. I really need to learn some more French.

Yesterday I got off in Mahon, and did some clothes shopping with one of the dance team. I’ve not really got to know him yet, but he turned out to be pretty sound. I bought just one shirt, but a really nice one from a designer suite shop. Now I can look good one more day of the week! Was really chuffed with this.

Emily Morgan, an awesome young songwriter from Stamford received my tape in the post. Her tape lives in my van and is my favourite driving music. Check it out if you can find it! I think its called 'Unravel'. Maybe we can bring back the cassette tape! Er, nah.

Today, I spent the day on the outskirts of Valencia with J the ents host. Had a wicked day, grabbed some wifi, and now here I am.

Tomorrow Cartegena and then a new course – Thank goodness! Never thought I'd get bored of Spain, and I probs wouldn't if I had more time in her, but I’m looking forward to some new places. Italy next weeeeeek!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

'Travel is like flirting with life. It's like saying 'I would stay and love you, but I have to go' - Lisa St. Aubin de Teran.

Thanks to Grace for that one.

Miss you England, you have my heart!

xxx



Monday, 5 May 2014

Valencia, Cartegena, Malaga, Day At Sea

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Valencia, Cartegena, Malaga, Day At Sea

Tonight, there will be a masked ball. It will be, Unlike the stately Masquerades of old, held in the grubby smoke filled crew bar, where loud repetitive pop music will drown almost all conversation. Unfortunately, with my crew card blocked as I can't pay my bar bill, I have to deal with this environment sober, unless one of the passengers of crew makes a gesture of unprompted generosity. Still, I'll dance my legs down to the knee if L is in the bar.

Tonight, L will not be in the bar. Still, rationally, I can't spend my every waking moment with L, and maybe tonight will be a good opportunity to, if not pull than at least to catch up with my friends I’ve somewhat abandoned in this last week.

Valencia was pretty dull. L didn't want to go out in the cold, as it was fairly nippy that day, so I left her to Skype her devoted boyfriend while I spent an hour exploring the dirty port end of the town. I found a mask for the ball, and some 'Adventure Time' crisps. The rest of the day I spent just chatting with her.

The next day in Cartegena I became extremely miserable. The ship left port at 15.00 and I managed 20 minutes in the port through oversleeping. That day, the cabin got smaller and smaller until L knocked on my door to say hi in between shifts. This is when I started to clock the fact that I had a problem. Having only a few friends on the boat I'd been quite content to take as much time to myself as possible, reading, writing and listening to music. Now with L and her lush conversation I’m starting to resent the time I’m spending alone. I really, really needed a days grace from this ridiculous routine. I said goodbye to an amazing set of passengers today. But then I said hello to L and my head set straight again.

Malaga. More and more this city becomes a breath of fresh air. The day was spent rambling with L. Exploring, climbing, laughing and joking through the rich and colourful hillside gardens up to the castle. On the way up some horrid guy picked my pocket of 20 Euros. By this point I didn't care though, I was too relieved to be out in the sunshine. I simply stripped off my shoes and socks, rolled up my jeans and walking into a fountain, smiling splashing and loving the city.

We walked back along the beach to the ship, and took in the fun. I taught her tongue twisters, and she taught me basic Russian and Latvian. I’m getting better – My Latvian includes 'Sveki', hello and 'Atah', bye. My Russian consists of 'Breviate' hello, and 'Spokonay Noiche' goodnight, although that's probably nowhere near the right spelling. L and another are the ony two Latvians on the ship, but shared with the Ukrainian is a common language of Russian, which I believes shares a lot with Ukrainian. So Russian is more practical to know, but proper Ukrainian will curry favour from the waitresses. I went back out later, just to soak up as much fresh air as possible, and changed in the nick of time for passenger drill. Tying peoples life-jackets up has gone from being terrifying to kind of theraputic.

I’m always nervous with a new set of passengers, but I one these guys over by the end of the night.

Now day at sea, I’ve read a chunk of Bleak house and might have some food. At least I got change to sleep!



Sunday, 4 May 2014

Cadiz, Gibralter, Malaga, Barcelona, Toulon, Mahon and why I’ve been so Lazy with my blogging..

OK, I’m stalling with this blog. I started letting my one-post-per-port system drop in Cadiz.

Cadiz was a port where second time around, literally nothing happened. It was extremely boring, I only had two hours off.

Then came Gibraltar. The problem with Gibraltar was is was far, far too interesting.

In crew bar the night before, I'd overheard a conversation between two people I vaguely know, talking about finding a camera shop in Gibraltar. Ears burning, I butted in and said 'hey, I know where there's a camera shop in Gibraltar'. The girl who was asking, I'll refer to as L, as I’ve been trying not to name people in this public blog. The result was we went into Gibraltar together the next day to find the camera shop where I bought my card reader.

The shop was shut, so we started walking up the hill to find some monkeys (or Barbary Apes as they really are). We found some, but the castle turned out to be too expensive for either of us. By means of apology for dragging her up and down a small mountain, I bought L a coffee. On the way back down, I walked her down the main street, which, as I now know, is thick with pro camera shops. I'd made a friend for life.

First day I didn't know what L made of me, but considering we've spent most of our time together since we became firm friends that day.

I don't really want to bring any other characters into this blog besides myself, but as I’m barely leaving the boat without L at the minute, it's impossible to leave her out.

Malaga I spent the whole day trying to find an HSBC bank to register my pin with. After walking miles down a road tourist info said there might be an HSBC down, and finding nothing but Santanders I began trying my card with it's brand new pin in every machine I could find. Finally, I came up trumps. 'La Caxia' would not let me see my balance or change my pin, but it would give me cash. Nice to know that if my card was pinched they couldn't do anything with it – except steal all my money.

Barcelona, I overslept. Probably because the night before I'd spent several hours dancing with and chatting to L. Without making this into something it isn't, I’ve genuinely found one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. Anyhow, I only got to see a couple of hours of the city, and with the boat moored a half hour walk away from the city it took me an age to get there, but I ended up at the second hand market in the bottom of Los Rambles. I got a few pressies and a patch for my Uke case. It reads 'Cat Power' who are a band I saw at Glastonbury, but somehow I don't think this patch was made for them. I have to find out what it means.... it makes me uneasy knowing its on there without knowing its other meaning.

In Malaga I'd bought rope and thread. I'd already found a needle in the carpet of my cabin and I set about making an adjustable carry-strap for my ukulele case. I’ve realised in previous blog posts that the Ukulele is a flirting master-tool. Sorry, friend-making master-tool I mean. Now my uke travels with me to every city.

The next day was Toulon, and I got up mega early with L to hit the port before she stared work. We accidentally found a rock festival, and listened to this amazing French jam band, a bit like Santana, but funkier, with two gorgeous dreaklocked girls singing and playing guitar. We walked around the port, L with her SLR, talking and occasionally she'll freeze, turn the camera on and photograph something inane. When I look on the view screen at the back, the mundane has become beautiful. It's weird.

My sets have been getting better and better this week. My playing's just dropping into place, mainly thanks to Steve, who's back on board today, raving it up with us in Crew Bar. Today L heard me properly for the first time, be it from around the corner where she was photographing passengers in front of a giant fake sunset. 'It frames you nicely!' I told her as we chatted, her SLR in her hands as always, like an extension of her body.

It was Mahon today. I love Mahon.We wondered up through the town, and walked out in the non-obvious direction, right from the port. We found a track leading out into idyllic countryside, unfamiliar plants and wildlife. We walked out as far as we could, both photographing everything. We were rewarded by a few of true rural Spain. This is what Laurie Lee must have seen and experienced, and a side of Spain neither of us had seen before. On the way back we got wonderfully lost, and climbed down the giant port wall by a different method. Tiered with gardens and wonderful views, L climbed over the wall, thrusting her camera at me. 'Hold please'. So as L climbed precariously out onto the port wall, photographing the perfect abyss of the harbour, with silt diggers on barge penetrating the blue, I sang her songs on my ukulele.

We came back down to find L's Indonesian colleague, a cheerful photographer, also with a permanent SLR addiction. Only N is most commonly found deeply lost in her phone. We played on the swings, taking turns and crazy pictures with all three cameras. I lay on the floor singing nonsense songs.

'We're sailing in the Majesty
On the Mediterranean sea
If only had wifi for free
You would be our heaven'

All to soon we had to get back on board ship, but things are changing. I was wondering how I was going to get through 3 months of solid Majesty ship life, now I don't know how I’m going to leave it behind.

'Two months was a very long time now
Two months is a very short time
Toulon is-a bright sunshine and
Gibraltar is a very long climb'

Well, at least I’m writing again.

Love you and miss you all,

Sam xxx

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Casablanca, Here's Lookin' at You...

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I keep hearing from passengers that they didn't enjoy Casablanca. I can understand why, but at the same time I can't.

Casablanca is really alien. I was prepared for it after Marrakesh, but it was a hyperactive version of the same. On my second visit I had an even better time.

I went to look for Rick's Bar, of movie fame. It isn't real, but I guess that's the done thing to do in Casablanca, and I figured I'd try. God knows where it was, I couldn't find it. Anyway, I found myself lost deep in the Souks miles away from the tourist track, where nobody spoke any English, or accepted Euros. The streets were dirty and smelt of everything under the sun, crowded, ramshackle and an impossible maze. Exactly where I wanted to be.

My first stop was bread. The Morrocans have this round flat bread, backed in stone ovens on wooden paddles over a wood fire. I’ve seen it made and it tastes like nothing you can possibly buy in a shop. I struggled for a while to find anyone who would sell me a loaf of bread. Be it the quantity of one loaf, or the Strange foreigner money I was trying to pay in, some just got annoyed. Eventually a man took my money. The bread tasted sweet, rich and refreshing, and could have been my meal for the whole day. For many people it would be.

I passed fish cooking on what looked like thick black garden barbecues, the smell was insane. Men with sheets on the floor sold electronic goods, multi-adapters and phono to scart leads. Surprisingly, SD cards were easy to obtain in Casablanca. One man even offered me Argon Oil, ceramics or some quality marijuana. Judging by the quality of all their other plant produce, he probably wasn't lying.

My big scoop came from a table chock full of strawberries. There weren't any flies around it, and the guy looked friendly, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Now Morrocan strawberries are nothing like English strawberries. You know when you really fancy some strawberries, you have that sweet sweet taste on your tongue, you go to the supermarket and buy a pack and that taste like misery objectified, all sour and yucky? Not in Morroco. And not just because the only supermarket for miles is the street itself. These strawberries are big, juicy rich and red, each one like a small heart, with two swelling chambers. You bite into it and receive a little head-rush from a taste so rich you believed it to be a mere fantasy of sugar and e-numbers. How could such a dry and barren land yield such glory?

I digress, so I found a strawberry seller. I asked him how much I could get for two Euros. He took it and looked at it suspiciously. He shouted over his friends, and before long a huge crowd had gathered, to watch the strange tourist buying strawberries. He loaded a Kilo of strawberries into a bag, while his seniors discussed the exchange rate. When they finally worked out what I was paying them, the shop owner crammed even more into the bulging plastic bag. As I left he clutched my hand and looked at me with delighted eyes and said 'My house is your house'. I had to smile. That's what I love about Morocco, it pokes you and reminds you how lucky you are.

On the way back to Majesty, two young Muslim women demonstrated to me the key to pulling in Casablanca. 'La Frais'.


Au Revoir x

Wet Portimao

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I woke up with only an hour in this little port. I basically walked around in the pouring rain for an hour photographing all the things I couldn't last time having left my camera in my bag.

Because of this, I’m going to tell the story of the last time I went to Portimao which I seem to have saved over and doesn't feature on my blog.

I got off in the port, the first building I saw was a very old ramshackle, tumbled down fort. It was open to the sky, but gave the appearance of being lived in.

I went further into Portimao to discover that it was probably the poorest port I’ve been to. The shops were closed mostly, the ones that were open were often understocked. I bought my lunch there from two young kids who looked so surprised at having a customer and excited. They spoke brilliant English, and the younger boy was watching loud English cartoons on a laptop.

I ate my lunch on a bollard, and a beggar came over and asked me for money. I gave him what I had, and my apple. I was starting to think Portimao was in a bit of a rut.

Then on my way back I found the Musee De Portimao. It was a massive old Tuna factory (I think) on the waterfront, converted into this incredible museum. There was loads I took away from this, including the whole Tuna processing room exactly as it was.

There was even a picture of this beautiful old ruined hotel when it was new. I'd seen it in the square! There were two hotels in this picture, both brand new. In the square, one was in ruins, one was immaculate. It left a big impression on me.

The one thing I couldn't believe was that there was a giant sound and lighting shop! That made me laugh. Also a socialist cafe, with murals.

Anyhow,


Adios! xxx  

Lisbon – The second time around

Oh, Lisbon you are so beautiful! Out of all the ports I’ve been too, I’m not sure if your my favourite, but your definitely a grade A fitty. Straight off the boat and right into the rambling hills and back-streets.

This time I went much deeper in and found just beauty on beauty. My favourite part was the trams – now only reserved for museums in the UK, Lisbon's trams are the antique 8-speed kind, still rattling through the streets functionally and practically. I loved watching the wheels on rods that skim along the wires, sparking and providing power to the motors. When the trams turn around, the conductor pulls it down with a rope and manually drags it around until it face the opposite direction. I love it.

I bought a few things in Lisbon, for fifty cents I bought a 1950's pulp fiction story book – by which I mean it's a cheap throwaway thing with beautiful 50's illustrations, and all in Portuguese, which I found fascinating.

The next thing I found was a sort of retro-vintage shop, run by the coolest looking guy ever. This gave birth to my first international vinyl scoop. Only the PATTI SMITH GROUP!!!! Radio Ethiopia. I can't wait to get this on my turntable.

I then bought a postcard made of cork. In a stroke of luck on my way back I deviated to kill some time, and found a street market selling everything – including guitars! I bought a cheap one for Joe, our entertainments manager, as he'd asked me to keep an eye out.

I wont even try to describe how wonderful Lisbon is. Around every corner is another bit, but it's built so high, you can't tell where you are, or how long it goes on for. All I know is that I could spend days there.


Sets were really good today! A lovely guy tipped me for playing Moonlight Sonata which gave me a lot of confidence with my piano.  

Hey Malaga, Do You Play Ukelele Too?

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Today, I found out how to make friends in Spain. With my ukelele.

The day started with a birthday meal, in a little restaurant in Malaga. I went back to the ship, fetched my ukelele with bag, and set off exploring with the intention of practising a little later on the beach. I also had a package to post to England, so I was inclined to find a post office. With no idea of the spanish for post office, I felt I would wander until I found something that resembled said shop.

At the crossing from Malaga's beautiful green parks into the city shopping district, I met a girl and her boyfriend carrying of all things, a ukelele. So, I introduced myself to them, and the girl spoke perfect English. I was a little bit shocked when she kissed me on both cheeks. This is a custom I approve of. I wish I had the bollocks to do this every girl I met.

Anyway, I got chatting and found out quite a bit about her, she was from Madrid, I can't remember where the guy was from. They ended up walking me half way across town to a post office! Two nicer people couldn't have been met.

After that, I had an explore and ended up in a shop trying to buy prit stick. I succeeded. I also met two guys, one of which was holding a Spanish guitar and plucking out little funky licks. I started chatting to him, and he offered me a beer and to show me Malaga. Turns out he's English and his friends Dutch, and a wicked skateboarder, although currently nursing a broken wrist from a particularly bad fall.

We jammed on a bench for ten minutes, guitar and uke, then they offered to take me to a gig, to see his girlfriend's band, playing at six at a club in town. I had to be back on the boat at Eight, so like a fool I said yes.

'Malaga's beautiful', he said. 'There's something about it that attracts amazing people. Assholes do come here, but they don't survive in this enviroment, they have to get out.' It struck me as a really strange thing to say, but everyone in Malaga did seem to be pretty amazing. On the boat I feel a bit bumbling and awkward, in the alien languaged city I’m completely at ease. Both of the guys had come for a week and stayed for years, as had the two they live with.

The gig was amazing. The band are called Los Negrados, I think, and the singer Julia, on seeing my uke asked me to get out and play for her. I played her a couple of verses of Something by the Beatles, trying doggedly not to notice how beautiful and engaging she was. She immediately invited me up on stage to sing a song in the break.

When Los Negrados began to play, I was transfixed. I’ve seen a heck of a lot of bands in my time, but I don't think I’ve seen hardly any as engaging as these. Stand up bass, congas, guitar and three way harmonies made a sound as dark and lush as their name, 'the Blacks' in English. Their version of 'I shot the sherrif' was a kind of latin reggae mixed with rock-a-billy, but so smooth you couldn't see the seams. That's when I realised I have a lot to learn from Spanish music. I have to see more of it if I can. Unfortunately, I didn't get to sing with them, as I had to dash for the boat.

The guys invited me to hang out with them when I’m next in Malaga, and see some of the good bits. I’m hoping it happens, although my phone wont work their Spanish numbers. Either way, My uke is coming with me now to every port - It seems to be a passport to fun!


Oh, I forgot to mention about Steve V King! He sat in with me on my gig last night – he's the guest singer for Thompson, and the 64th member of the Drifters. His voice was out of this world, and he went out of his way to give me tips on taking care of it. We had a few drinks together, and he came and sat in on my gig, and together we made a double act to die for. We bashed out 45 minutes of incredible performance, and he brought out vocal support I didn't know was in me! I was on fire, it was such a rush. Steve did harmonies, and sang a few songs, and he was incredible as always. After feeling very small and down on this boat full of incredible singers, Steve's advice and support has showed me that I do have something different to bring to the passengers that nobody else has. Tonight's gigs were far better for it. I love this boat!

Cartegena – The escalator to nowhere, and the sound advice of Christobal Colon.

This port was such a weird experience. At first, I thought it was going to be pretty boring, although very beautiful from the mountains surrounding it, flanked by huge industrial dock cranes. The further I got into the city though, the more the oddities struck me.

Firstly, I found a music shop and bought a new guitar tuner on impulse. I do really need one for what I’m doing right now. Unfortunately, my time here was limited to a couple of hours as the boat departed at three and getting on the crew list had taken me ages.

I started plodding back to the ship, which I saw a really slow moving escalator, seemingly going just up into the sky. I decided to mount it. As I did, it sped up alarmingly, elevating me quickly to the top of a hill. Expecting some kind of shopping complex at the top I found – nothing.

Well, there was a bit of ruined wall, and a view over the semi-demolished city, acres of wasteland. I did find as I went around this wall, there was more ruins on the other side, but I’ve never seen anything as bizzarre as an escalator up a hill to a ruined building. It made me very happy. From this elevated position I saw my next treat.

On the nearest standing building of the next block, and more further up, spanning four stories, was an astonishing mural. The sheer scale of this graffiti, public art, whatever it was is indescribable. Either someone had a crane or risked their life on some insane ladder assembly – or worse, climbed it freestyle. I don't know, it just blew my mind.

Next treat was the facade of a building, standing completely independantly in its own scaffold, like a movie set. The crumbling building didn't look particularly special, just old and dilapidated, along with it's neighbours in this dusty, unkempt but startlingly beautiful part of town.

By this time I was lost an desperate to get back to the boat by curfew, so I decided not to photograph the random plane on a pole, but I couldn't resist some more brilliant street art.

When I finally found the boat there was a stern looking statue of a man named 'Christobal Colon' pointing towards it as if to say 'Get a jog on boy, the Majesty awaits!'


Good day. Now, gig time. Cyas! x

Oh! Valencia

Valencia is an extremely beautiful city. It's beauty hides behind corners and jumps out at you. It also gives you an extreme compulsion to take photographs. It also makes 'Itchycoo Park' by Small Faces play around in a loop in your head. 'It's all too beautiful'.

At the minute, to avoid that loop I’m listening to that amazing record I’ve already gushed so much about on this blog 'Lizzy Sawyer' by herself. If you haven't got it on your iTunes already, its £1.79 for heavens sake man, go get! You're missing out on so much if you don't, and the label & artist need money.

Valencia, sadly took a shuttle bus to get to, and the whole trip was marred by my fear of not finding the shuttle bus again. Luckily, I did and all was well.

I came in on a bus with one other passenger. A security fellow, whose name I couldn't pronounce when he told it me, and I certainly can't reproduce here. Anyway, his English was very poor, and mines pretty poor at the best of times, so we struggled, but made a day of it. That is, until we got separated and I couldn't find him again. I felt really bad that maybe he thought I was trying to loose him, but we chatted the next day and I think we're all cool.

Anyway, I’ve no idea what I saw, but I know it was very beautiful. Architecture to dwarf the best I’ve ever seen seemed to be part and parcel of everyday life, and going away I felt I hadn't seen an nth of what there was to see.

I new the bust left from by a river, so I found that river and and followed it up, but all the space beside it looked the same. I went down to look at the river, and it turned out to be a massive strip of parkland. Maybe the river had dried up or something, but the whole thing was just full of green space, parks, swings, trees, picnic places. It was pretty inspirational, and my next day in Valencia will be spent there.


Later that night I played with Steve in the audience, the guest singer and 64th member of the Drifters. The next night he'd join me on the piano for my set! I got bought so many drinks tonight, even full bottle of wine! Love this job.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Mamon

Mamon

OK, so this place is possibly the most beautiful I’ve been to. I loved it so much, and I can't entirely place my finger on why. It left a deep impression on me.

This port is on the island of Menorca, of Spain. Its in an estuary? Is that the right word? The giant mouth of a river. There's islands in it, one of which has a peculiar building on it.

The town was beautifully Spanish, and unspoilt for once by the host of yuppie yacht owners who've migrated there to fritter there fortunes in its idyllic beauty.

I spent the day hanging out with some of the crew, and had a pretty cool time, although without really doing much. In the last hour or so I split and went to investigate the rest of the town. There were so many things that clicked with me. I love this town.

To describe it best, it had a ramshackle Spanish beauty. Nothing was too big or too modern. Even it's supermarket was hidden inside some ancient building.

I walked along the harbour front marvelling at the colour of the sea and the hills and the houses beyond. I met a mermaid made of brass, and on her plinth was the word 'Mo'. You see, everyone kept calling this place Mamon, but every postcard called it 'Port de Mao' and I think occasionally just 'Mo'. I’m really confused. I’m gonna get on google when it's freer and less of a bad satellite link.

I then walked up through the town. The view from the harbour wall was immense. I met a German lady, a hiker, who was walking all around the island. She told me the building on the island was a fortress, and recommended I go see it. I hope I can!

Another beautiful day in paradise. It ended with singing song with the crew on the ukelele on the aft deck. Nothing like a ukelele party with donuts at three in the morning! Love this boat. Would love a day off tho!

Miss yas all


Sam x

Toulon

My first impression of Toulon was that it was insanely beautiful. The harbour, the buildings, the ramshackle French streets.

I got so psyched about speaking French! It was a Sunday, so the shops open were very limited. All the same, I did some shopping. I bought a cooked sausage from a street vendor, speaking only French. I felt very elated at this.

I also got a text from someone I really didn't expect. In fact it made my day so completely, the whole world feels a little bit lighter. I can't go into more detail than that, but it was the most significant part of this port.

I then walked further out, and the beautiful port became big concrete tower blocks and lots of roads. I did however find a few very beautiful bits. I met two lads busking in the street, who appeared to be completely incapable of playing at all. They were playing smoke on the water very quietly, and actually asked me for money. I gave them some, and asked if I could play their guitar. The lad said 'yes, but be careful. I took it, and found it was ridiculously out of tune. It was the kind of cheap Argos guitar that a beginner has. These kids were clearly seriously broke to be out playing and making next to nothing. They didn't even have a hat for their money. I tuned it roughly, and played a little bit. The guitar played badly, but it did sing. I told them they had a beautiful guitar, and thanked them. They looked at me like I had some kind of superpower. It was a really nice meeting, and I got more chance to practice my french.

The further I walked up the hill, the more grey and concrete it got, although there was one more treat in store for me. I saw my first ever properly painted train. It was the same kind they have on the New York overground, that Fab Five Freddie and all those people would have painted. At first I thought it was actually pulled into the Garre Du Norde but it was actually just in a siding. Insane in the membrane, paint the train, paint the train!

Later that day I was properly suffering. The storm was ridiculous, and had glasses sliding off tables and smashing. The piano was rocking so hard I was hitting bum notes. Everyone felt queezy, including me. Well, just dizzy really. I had to lie down. It was a crappy time, and I went straight to bed.



Barcelona! What a beautiful horizon....

And it was beautiful. I think I had too higher expectations of Barcelona, after being bowled over by the beauty of Malaga. Thing is, Barcelona is a huge and thriving wealthy city, and I’ve gotten so used to seeing cities packed with ancient relics and oddities in the past few weeks I wasn't as stunned as I could have been.

Some of the back alleys were truelly stunning, with huge old spanish appartments towering up like warm tombstones, little balconies on every floor with ornate iron railings running down to tiny shops, selling everything from phones to paintings to records. But mostly tourist tat.

I set out to look for Los Rambles as I new it was near. I found it. Having been promised street artists and performers, I was disappointed to walk up it and find it bare of anything but tourist stalls, flower stands and the like.

Just as I type we're in the middle of a massive storm. Waves are buffeting the ship and the whole cabin is shaking like a leaf. It's quite exciting. Every time a wave hits, the hull booms like a kettle drum somewhere out to my right. My cabin's one away from the wall of the ship, so it must be even worse for them. Oh my good lord! It's like being in the aluminium shell of the old caravan at home when some-one beats their palm on the side.

I head down a side street, nip in and out of a few shops, but everythings out of budget for me. Eventually I find the Barcelona museum of contemporary arts, and outside on the wall there is a girl playing ukelele! I really want to strike up a conversation, but as soon as I approach her friend starts shouting at her in Spanish. I decide to make an exit, but I wanted to have a bit of a multilingual skill-share. I also wanted to play her ukelele. This sucked.

The museum was closed, so I set in search of Gaudi's catherderal, and found my self back on Los Rambles (holy sugar this ship is shaking!) and outside the Museu De L'erotica. Well, I asked the entry and it was nine euro. I walked away, but felt guilty that I was opting to view relegious art over sexual art which is in every way more wholesome, so I went back and got in. It was undoubtedly worth the money to realise there was a women dressed as Marilyn Monroe stood in the window having her skirt blown up and waving at passers by. I wouldn't the museum was a massive eye-opener, but it was very interesting. It's somehow comforting to know that in this recent age of sexual repression and beating down of a very fine and beautiful natural impulse, that the same things have been drawn, etched and sculpted for thousands of years. It's not the decline of civilization, it's just rejoicing in nature. It was also apparent that artists of yesteryear saw no need to depict the body in the way we see it now. All shapes and sizes of women, labia, pubis all that jazz. That's how it should be in my book.

At the bottom of Los Rambles I finally saw the street artists, and the human statues. There was one women dressed as a scary green sort of witch queen, with ten inch fingernails, caressing those who sat on her lap. The sort of thing that terrifies children for a lifetime. So cool.

Back to the ship, for some very fine meatballs in the public diner. I prefer it to the crew mess just because the airs fresher and I can look out to see. Most people don't have this privilege.

I’ve had such a weird day today. I didn't feel quite right from the beginning but it was really this old guy that did it. Because I don't know so much piano instrumental music, I have to pad a little with improvisation between songs. Nobody really cares, because when I’m playing there's usually a really loud band playing next door so you can't hear me playing anyway. But this guy gave me a right dressing down. 'I spent seven years playing piano, and I can do that what your doing. I want to hear some melodies, some songs that we know!'. I told him I was sure he could play what I was playing, it sounds like he's a very accomplished pianist, and started to play some melodies, but with 1 hour fifty to fill with instrumentals, I was gonna be repeating. Just when I was starting to get really adept at playing the stuff, he just went and pissed on all my confidence.

But then in my first full vocal set, which is going really well, these young women in their late twenties start requesting songs, and getting really chatty with lots of eye contact. I presume this to be flirting. Snag is I’m not allowed to fraternise with the passangers. At least not in the good way, so I have to be careful. Still, felt good.

Weird thing is, Although I’m having the best time of my life, there's still a part of me that just wants to be home. When me and grace were making our scrapbook, we had a page in it that said 'by this time we should have been abroad at least twice'. How could we possibly now how it was going to turn out? I’ve been to more countries in a week than I have in my entire life. France tomorrow – Toulon. Where the heck is that?


Au Revoir!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Malaga and Spanish Castle Magic

Well, today I really started enjoying myself. I was ecstatic.

As I walked along the harbour road the shore spread out to my left and right. To my left, the harbour and the city, stretching out into the distance. To my right glorious sparkling beach for miles and miles, and more city behind it, as far as the eye can see. This was gonna be a big cookie to swallow. Where do I start?

With lunch. On the beach. I was tempted to bring my ukelele on my Malaga adventure, but its weight put me off. I regretted this at once, because playing a ukelele under palm trees has to be done at some stage. I’m going to befriend the costume tech and make a strap for it's case. Still, it made for a good chill. I stopped for at a cafe for a drink and texted home. Then I started to walk upwards towards what looked like a castle.

Below the castle was a winding steep zig-zag pathway up the hillside intersected with the most glorious gardens imaginable. I was absolutely awestruck. The view was stunning. The city, the bullring and the pier stretching out ahead of me, capped off by the Majesty, waiting for me in the distance, funnels smoking.

About half was up I met a classical guitarist, busking. His playing was splendid, boisterous and soulful, yet completely completely relaxed. We started chatting. He asked me if I played – I said I did, and he handed me his instrument. I said I played pop, but picked out my wobbly version of Angie. He was gracious about it. He told me to look up Paco De Lucia, that he was the No. 1 flamenco player in the world. He also wrote on my gpad envelope 'Entre Dos Aguas'. No idea what that means, but when I get google, I'll check it out.

The graffiti on the leaves of the plants in the garden was one of those little things that really sticks with me.

After that I climbed up to the castle. It was breathtaking. I see what Jimi meant with Spanish Castle Magic now. Amen brother! The view was a stunning panorama of the whole city, most intriguingly into the most enticing private swimming pool I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, back down the hill, I decided to find a post office. Asking for directions, I failed pathetically. Still, I did find a tourist tat stand that sold stamps and had a baby post box. I popped a birthday postcard in for mum.

Ah crap! Another camera fail. All the pics I took today went onto the internal camera memory. I don't have a lead for the camera. I can't find a way to copy them! GAAAAH!

Anyway, then I went for a long walk around the town and saw heaps of bits and bobs that I just thought were fab. The dry river down the centre of the city was particularly beautiful, I have to find out what the graffiti on it reads.

Last nights gig was a belter. Loved every second. Thank god I’m back on form. Or someone at least :-)


Adios! xxx

Monday, 24 March 2014

Gibralter - and Monkey Business There-in...

What a day! I’m exctatic.

Firstly, yesterdays gig was boss. I aced it fully for the first time. I didn't actually want to stop athe the end of my 3 hours and 45 minutes of sore playing!

Gibraltar is a beautiful island. From a distance it looks like a giant's split a box of lego down a mountain. From the midst of it, it makes even less sense, but this is what makes it.

Unfortunately, the place is clearly very wealthy and cosmopolitan, which comes with the usual Armani clad idiots with briefcases strutting up and down looking at watches like they're late for an appointment with an anal spoon removal specialist. Nevertheless, higher up the hill the streets get more ramshackle and interesting.

There's no pavements through half the town, and if a scooter scoots by you have to duck behind the nearest object with haste. It's like a cross between Cornwall and Turkey.

The best bit though were the monkeys. Sorry, Barbary Apes, as a gentlemen corrected me on last night. You see, monkeys have tails it seems. 'Have you ever seen a chimpanzee with a tail?', well, no, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a chimpanzee.

Anyway, I didn't think I'd see them without going up into the mountains, but there were a bunch just chilling in the city! I photographed a few, but I didn't get too close as my bag was packed with snacks. I’m gonna play with them properly when I go back!

I found some records on the way back – one by Feliciano! Another called the twelve greatest hits of the San Remo Festival 1966 (recorded in Italy). I think the girl on the cover must have been at the festival. Dropping her keys maybe. Lucky they caught that really...


Cadiz - Spain, oh you are so beautiful....

Olah Cadiz!

Oh how beautiful you are!

I can see why Jimi Hendrix wrote Spanish Castle Magic now. Well, he wrote it in Morroco. You're walking along the road, you pop out, and suddenly your next to a bit of Castle! Well some fortification anyway.

I found some more stickers for my guitar case here, almost straight away. Then I just wandered through the streets. Cadiz was less ramshackle than previous ports, this time it was stately and upkept. Unless we were just in a richer part of the city. None of Laurie Lee's Cadiz remains, from the book 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning'. But still, the giant stone statues and suchlike must have been there in his time – I wish I'd bought the book with me to re-read.

The city was so multi-coloured , bustling, busy and confident. The biggest thing that struck me were the Zebra crossings. No button to push, just stand and wait. Then, a countdown clock tells you exactly how long you have until the cars move again.



Mopeds were everywhere. I saw a beautiful girl in the middle of a crowd of parked mopeds putting her helmet on clumsily. It could have made a poster for a teenage boy's bedroom. Palm trees everywhere, and sudden green spaces jumping out at you from behind the tall buildings. Even the modern tower blocks had a kind of technicolour beauty.

I bought some lemons from a greengrocer for honey and lemon. My Spanish was pretty poor, especially as I thought I was in Portugal when I landed! Smooth lol.

Luckily 'Olah' is pretty universal.

I met some lovely Canadian chaps who led me to phone shop, where they might have an SD card reader, but it was closed. I still need to ask on the boat, but I doubt they'll have one.

I finally found diet coke! Or at least coke light. For the first time in four countries! I’m not looking on the boat, I’m pretty pleased I’ve stopped drinking it.

The last thing that really blew my mind, is I got so deep into the city, I became to doubt the direction back. I followed the road I thought led to the seafront, and boom! The most amazing view I think I’ve ever seen. The docks, the train tracks, the ships, the city, the ocean and the sky in one mad explosion of complexity. My camera just wouldn't do the justice!



Anyhow, gotta de-smelly before work.

Last night I got my voice back fully! Then it went again. Boo.


Adios lovely peeps!