Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

In Camera, In Absentis – Part 4

We left Molina de Aragon with regret, and began to eat up our Wednesday making for the highway near Teruel, thus completing an enormous circuit that looped up into the Pyrenees and back down again.

As we left the National street for the Highway, I saw a huge, rusted metallic sculpture of St George spearing the dragon. It was quite stylised, but beautifully so; St. George in crusader helmet and crossed shield, and the dragon’s tail whipping in a high arc, disappearing into the cutting that ran along side the road. He is, of course, England’s patron saint, sadly ignored due to an ingrained fear of being “nationalistic” whatever that means. There’s more celebrating on St.Patrick’s day, and that REALLY pisses me off. I got to thinking; a) why is this monument here? and b) there should be monuments like this all over England. We have an unoccupied pedestal in Trafalgar square. It’s used, basically for crap art. Once, on the pedestal they mounted….an inverted plexiglass copy of the pedestal. Bloody mental. Another time, a sculpture of a pregnant thalidomide victim. I’m not kidding.

That avoider of good taste, the barking mad Mayor of London, Ken Livingston, reckons the statues of our old heroes are “irrelevant” to todays go-ahead multi-cultural society. What crap. What we need is a hands-across-the-ocean thing with the Spanish, where they get the sculptor to come over and put St.George up there where he belongs. At least the Spanish know how to honour our Saints.

Where was I? Oh yeah, happily driving along. It was nearly time for a refuelling stop, and we espied the charming skyline of a little town called Sarrion just off the highway. Fuelled up, we drove to the outskirts for a coffee break, and to allow Miki to work her magic in her sketchbook.

Suddenly, a beautifully tuneful voice drifted in through the open windows on the warm afternoon breeze. It carried with it freedom from inhibition, and innate musicality, like the chirruping of cicadas.

We looked to the window to see an old man, perched atop a donkey, ambling past. This tanned and weathered shell, bursting with song, his fountain of youth within. Perfectly in harmony with his day, his surroundings. Utterly, utterly charming. He took his faithful friend to the water.

This scene rendered the village timeless to me. I began to wonder how the inhabitants viewed the coming of the highway, an ugly scar, or a conduit of new wonder? I suspected the former. Sketches completed, Coffees drained, back to the highway we headed, like a time machine re-setting for the future.

Now, I’m a big fan of highways. They get you from A to B in short order, and they are generally straight as an arrow. For both of these reasons, and a host of others, Miki likes to steer clear. So it came as no surprise when a few kilometers down the road Miki decided we should abruptly detour onto the CV-25. Except it was called something else. And there were no signposts. Within five minutes, guess what? Switchback city again, though admittedly through stunning vineyards and lush green hillsides. Steep hillsides, with winding, ever ascending roads. Yes, that’s right, through sheer endeavour we had managed to attain a height of 800 meters once again! We were in fact, driving through the beautiful Parc Natural de la Serra Calderona, boasting two peaks of 844 and 798 meters respectively. We were virtually the only vehicle on the road, save for a few kamikaze cyclists. A good job too, as passing another might have resulted in a Death Race 2000 moment. About halfway through this serpentine route through the park, we discovered the town of Gatova, with its incongruously extensive municipal facilities (communal outdoor pool, sports centre) in the middle of nowhere. The town, on first glance, wasn’t pretty, but there were several strange, individual houses that stood out, covered in brightly coloured tiled mosaics, almost a homage to Gaudi. On the far side, we discovered a great sleep-over lay-by and parked up for the night. We were rewarded with a view back to the town that was quite lovely. Miki immediately set up outside to paint and sketch and was soon at the mercy of the locals. Tractor drivers returning from the fields waving to her, and a woman from the town whom I heard going “ooo! ” and “aahh” in animated fashion as Miki explained our presence there. Elsewhere, Miki tells of how the woman explained that there are 365 curves in the road that bisects Gatova. Convenient! But by my reckoning, I think its nearer 500!

The inland Spanish are a welcoming, friendly and curious sort. It is a sad fact that the tourist industry, and moreover the tourists themselves have caused many of those in the coastal resorts to become surly, resentful and uncommunicative. It’s such a pleasure to see the opposite.

We spent our last night on the road immersed in the pleasures of the excellent Jeremy Brett in the definitive portrayal of Sherlock Holmes and my own elementary Spaghetti Bolognese.

The following day saw us resolutely avoid the highway until Gandia, whereupon we put quicksilver on our heels and were home for tea-time Thursday. So all that remains is for us to put the kettle on, and thank you for your company on our journey, and I’ll let Miki raise a mug and say : “Cheers, Cafe Cremers!”

Miki raises a mug

You can see some watercolour travel sketches from Miki in her blog

Travelogue by Kev Moore

Photos by Miki and Kev


April 9, 2008 - Posted by | Art, coffee, fun, life, painting, personal, photography, random, travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Cheers Kevin, and thanks for the great travelogue! I enjoyed reading it and reviving our adventures very much.

    Comment by Miki | April 9, 2008

  2. Thank you Kevin for the trip and thank you Miki for the paintings that Kevin included links for.
    It was so great to get to see into your lives and to share a wonderful journey with you.

    Hey Miki. Did you get my email that answered your question what I miss? etc. Sorry if it was long winded but it just came.

    Comment by Michael | April 9, 2008

  3. Michael, I got a lot of pleasure out of doing it and sharing it with everyone. It also seems to make the trip itself a richer experience, and remain rooted in ones memories.

    Comment by kevmoore | April 9, 2008

  4. Good morning Canada!
    Yes, Michael, I got your mail, I read it, and I have some thoughts about it which I will write to you soon. I am just a little be pushed for time right now, I have to prepare 2 exhibitions until Monday… but I’ll find some time soon.
    Quite explosive material by the way! 🙂

    Comment by Miki | April 9, 2008

  5. @ Kevin. I also wanted to say now I found the words hahahah god! do you realize that what you did changed me. Like a writer who writes a line a singer who woes us with a moment in between the silence a painter who teaches one about how hunger is good for great painting! a quote by Hemingway about Cezannes paintings. These moments change us and I suppose you changed too in some way that is only known to you. This is the beauty the wonder the magical of your hard work and the knowledge gained as a result hard won.

    @ Miki. Paintings do not care who you are when we look upon them. They do not judge. They give and give over and over and this is the synergistic elemental state of mind that has touched me with your paintings. The trip went deep and the repose I presume I gave in my postings were stirred by the paintings and the story here.

    Yes to both of you my soul has been stirred and really revel in that and reflect on that. Imagine if you were not in this world what might have happened to me. My mind is chaotic but I know that’s because I finally found two real people who can stir me deeply inside and this is the best thing that could have happened to me. I really hope people wake up to the fact that they don’t think about the real things in life that are right in front of them and how they could be stirred inside so deeply so profound that you go crazy for awhile until you have a chance to find the words to explain what you think happened.

    You see this power is subliminal. Kevin reached deeper that ever as I have seen and Miki has harmoniously integrated her magic spell on all who can see it.

    Comment by Michael | April 9, 2008

  6. If an artist, musical , literary, or otherwise, manages to stir someone’s soul, I’d say their work is done. One can ask for no greater praise. Speaking for myself, it’s oil for the creative engine and spurs me on to greater things. If I may Michael, I think successful writing starts with the truth. I think your book, THE book, is YOUR story. It’s compelling, real, and people will, in equal numbers, empathise, take comfort from it, and devour it. It is the truth.

    Comment by kevmoore | April 9, 2008

  7. And he is daringly looking at you, like saying: Take my photo, look at me, I am what I am and I am happy

    Comment by Yoalnda | April 9, 2008

  8. Exactly right, Yolanda! I feel that from him too.

    Comment by kevmoore | April 9, 2008

  9. Kev; your writing style is a joy to read!! I’ve really loved ‘travelling’ virtualy with you and Miki. The only thing nicer would have been to sit in a cafe somewhere with you both and talk (and maybe even sketch a little, too.)

    Come see where I’ve been – and where I’ll be going back to – in 2 weeks at my primary Blog:


    Comment by Bonny | April 10, 2008

  10. That “tanned and weathered shell bursting with song” and many other juicy phrases you turned made it such an enjoyable trip you invited us on! I have almost gotten over my car sickness at all the twists and turns. Such a pang in my heart that I couldn’t be there sketching with Miki by the side of the road, waving to the farmers and explaining to the locals (Miki, that is – my Spanish comes soooo slowly)

    Comment by Susan Cornelis | April 10, 2008

  11. @bonny: hello again! Thanks for your lovely comments. Who knows? I can see us all sat in a REAL Cafe together one day! I’ll be sure to check out your own travels on your main blog.

    Comment by kevmoore | April 10, 2008

  12. @Susan: I for sure see the day when I look out of the Motorhome to see you and Miki sat sketching together. And don’t worry – My Spanish stretches to asking for coffee and thanking people!

    Comment by kevmoore | April 10, 2008

  13. Hello Bonny, how nice to see you again!
    I will definitively travel with you too, at least in typepad!
    I hope you will share your next travel with us. In the meanwhile enjoy it!

    Comment by Miki | April 10, 2008

  14. Had to come back to re-visit.
    I don’t know.
    Just had too that’s all.
    Makes me feel good.

    Comment by Michael | April 11, 2008

  15. You are welcome on our journeys anytime Michael. I think there is comfort to be had from sharing moments with friends. I’m not a great Christmas celebrator, for example, but one of the best I ever spent before meeting Miki was thousands of miles from home, in the middle of the Caribbean sea, having Christmas lunch with all my entertainer friends, and my son. We’d even met in Charlies Bar (remember, Michael? from Cafe’s of the World?) that morning and had a “Dickensian” swapping of small gifts for each other. It’s like wrapping a warm blanket around you.

    Comment by kevmoore | April 11, 2008

  16. Hey, cool tips. I’ll buy a glass of beer to the person from that forum who told me to go to your blog 🙂

    Comment by Pirsey | April 24, 2009

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