Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Ciao TO Italia…..Bonjour France and Earthquakes

Regretfully, but with a Motorhome full of memories, we left Italy behind and struck out for France, aiming
to spend some time by the sea for Miki’s birthday. Studying the map, she decided we should pull up
in Gruissan, by the coast, just south of Narbonne. A great decision, as the unusual coastline, waterways
and mix of new marinas and old town haver kept us here for three days. The biking here is great too, and
once again, as we did so often in Italy, found a great local swimming pool.

Miki’s birthday celebrations were muted somewhat by the news that Lorca, a toiwn we know well and just an
hour from our home, had been devastated by a huge earthquake. I was aware that we live near a fault line, but
the Western mediterranean is usually much quieter than the East, tectonically speaking. One can only imagine
the shock to the people there. There is something fundamentally, almost primally, reassuring about the
solidity of the Earth, and when that is shattered, I imagine the fear buries itself very deep within the psyche of
those who have experienced such a catastrophe.

We have to drive through Lorca as we head home in a couple of days. It will cast a very strange pall over the
journey until we reach it, I imagine. Our thoughts go out to all the people of Lorca, the victims, and their
families.

Kev Moore

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May 13, 2011 Posted by | Art, travel, writing | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ciao from Italia! – 7 – Bike Rides around Borgo a Mozzanno….

Looking out from the Devil's Bridge


The relief having gotten away from the city streets was palpable, as, after a brief stop in San Marcello,
we came to rest in Borgo a Mozzanno. An unassuming village on the Western bank of the Serchio
river, it boasts the spectacular ‘Devil’s Bridge’ as you enter from the North. Commissioned by a
local Contessa in the 11th. century, it bestrides the river like a huge lumbering stone brontosaurus,
comprising a number of assymetric arches – just wonderful!

The Devil’s Bridge

Quite by accident, while investigating the possibilities of a pool (unsuccessfully) and trying to navigate
our way out of the one way system (distressing) we stumbled upon a spot for motorhomes.

Deciding to empty some of the tanks, we entered the area, which was not really clearly marked, and on our way out
I noticed a grey plastic installation by a picnic table. I pulled over to have a closer look.

Home from home

To my amazement, it was a power point with 4 outlets, and 4 water sources – all free of charge! Suffice to say, being
familiar with the saying ‘never look a gift horse in the mouth’ – we installed ourselves, intenduing to stay here
for three days. The most surprising thing is, hardly any other motorhome has appeared while we’ve been here.

I'm pedalling as fast as I can.....

We soon discovered, uniquely situated as it is , Borgo is an ideal starting out point for 3 great bike rides around the
local area. The first we did was up to Bagni di Lucca, and back down the Eastern bank of the river.

Yesterday, we tackled the run down to Ponte a Moriano, criss-crossing the river, and found ourselves involved in
what appeared to be the Tour d’Italia, or at least something very similar. The route we’d chosen appeared to
be their route too, and they were whizzing past us at such a rate and with such regularity that I began to feel
like some old dear on a penny-farthing!

Idiot on a Bicycle

But it made for a great afternoon, as we took time to have a latte in Ponte a Mariano and watch the riders fly past,
Miki capturing them on film for later use as painting subjects.

By the end of the run, we’d covered at least 30k, and we knew it, as we hit the home stretch back to the motorhome.
That evening, we wandered out to the Devil’s bridge, and were rewarded with a great view of it as the lights came on
and bathed it in an unearthly glow.

Miki checks the map

Borgo a Mozzanno, and its surrounding area must be one of Italy’s best-kept secrets.

Kev Moore

May 9, 2011 Posted by | Art, travel, writing | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ciao from Italia! – 6 – Florence and the Tourist Tidal Wave

By the River Arno

The Big City. Michealangelo’s David. The Renaissance of Learning. We’d been saving it up until this
point in the trip.

Amazingly, we found our way to the stadium and swimming pool part of town (always a good bet with a motorhome)
and admist street after street of pay by the hour parking, we found a huge, mostly unoccupied sprawling car park
for free. It was within walking distance of the town, via a bridge across the second biggest train station in Florence.

Almost immediately, we were stunned by the sheer volume of people. Bear in mind, this was a mid-week, and after the
Easter holidays. Great swathes of tourists, a gabbling United Nations, getting in their own, and everybody else’s – way.

There's some statues in there somewhere.....

A plethora of flag -waving blue-toothed tour guides leading packs of kids and pensioners this way and that, commanding
them to ENJOY the wonders that Florence contains, should you care to join the unfeasibly long queues. – and they’re
just to get an ice-cream – the prize for doing so being the pleasure of handing over four euros for the privilege.

Don’t get me wrong, the buildings, the Public Statues (or should that be pubic statues?) are amazing and awe-inspiring,
but so, in an entirely different way, is the carpet of humanity that is so indecorously lain across it all. Before you say it, I know
– we’re part of the problem, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  This poem formed itself in my mind as I reflected on our day
in Florence:

People like pigeons
with their tat and their crap
Alighting in millions
Adjusting their hats
With Florentine logos
Pinocchio brims
and 5 bucks a latte
For their touristy sins

Like human patina
They’re spread everywhere
Spreadeagled on walkways
For want of a chair
Defiling the beauty
They purport to enjoy
They queue round the block
For Michaelangelo’s boy

I know it can’t happen
Firenze tranquil
But body on body
Is making me ill

I longed to enjoy it
Together, alone
But people like pigeons
Are driving me home

Kev Moore Florence May 2011

We visited the San Lorenzo market where I fully intended to treat myself to an Italian leather jacket if I found the right style, but the incessant,
andf I DO mean incessant haranguing by the stallholders drove me to my knees. Now, Miki, unlike myself, is not a natural shopper, but I
can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of ’em. If we’re looking at shoes, I leave Imelda Marcos in the dust. But here, my God, they wouldn’t
even let you so much as glance in their direction and they were on you like a rabbit in heat. I wanted to haggle to bargain, but after just 30 minutes
amid the stalls, all I wanted to do was RUN.  A word to these master salesmen: I don’t know if it works with other nationalities, but as a Brit, LEAVE
ME THE HELL ALONE WHILE I LOOK AROUND AND MAKE UP MY EFFING MIND!!!!  By the end of the day, given a choice between losing an arm
and trying to look for a jacket, I would have begged to use the saw myself.

People-watching...not a hobby in Florence, more of a compulsory discipline...

Bizarrely, after managing to get back to The Boomobile, we had a really peaceful night’s sleep, right there in the Stadium car park.
The next morning, we decided to quit Florence and head for the hills. I thought I knew the way. I spent around 2 hours wandering around the same couple of
streets, bottlenecked, with cars, scooters, piaggios, pedestrians, all moving at a snail’s pace. Well, the people were positively sprinting compared to the
traffic. Eventually, fearing a traffic-induced embolism, I just followed the first major signpost I saw, regardless of direction, just to get out of town.

Thankfully it worked, and I live to tell the tale, dear reader. But it does make you think, having wasted an entire morning going round and round
and round. One of the main characters in ‘The Magic Roundabout’ was called Florence…….

Kev Moore

May 8, 2011 Posted by | travel, writing | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ciao from Italia! – 5 – Anything on Wheels

Rock, and furthermore, Roll...........

We’ve certainly come to discover during this trip that the Italians love their cars, but they also love pretty much
everything on wheels. Here’s a selection of a few, just from the towns of Cortona and Greve di Chianti, covering
the whole shebang, from a Quadrophenia-inspired turquoise scooter and a beautiful blue rock’n’roll Harley, to
matching Pink Vespas and a vintage bike in pristine condition with matching hand tooled Italian leather saddlebags.

What's better than One pink Vespa? Two, of course!!

All Mod Cons

Italian class in a bicycle

Cortona was a revelation (if you’ll pardon the biblical pun) we ascended a precipitous path which turned out to be the stations
of the cross, the twelfth being the Crucifixion. The thirteenth appeared to be a discarded wine bottle, the message appearing to
be that that amount of suffering would drive anybody to drink. I reckon that’s why they use wine in the Communion.

Atop the fort in Cortona

We mistakenly thought we’d reached the summit, but discovered a huge fort overlooked the Cathedral where we now stood from
another 200 feet or so, so like the idiots we are, we had to get to the highest point – but were rewarded with a breathtaking view
across Tuscany back into Umbria and Lake Trasimeno, scene of our recent cycling triumph.

Kev tries to get to grips with his drinks problem.....

Currently chilling in Greve di Chianti, surrounded by bottles of its namesake, we are quietly girding our loins for an assault on
the city of Florence some time tomorrow.

La Dolce Vita....

Kev Moore

May 4, 2011 Posted by | fun, humor, travel, writing | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Caio from Italia! – 4 – Lake Trasimento by bike (and boat)

Well, if I’m to be honest, we biked two thirds of the lake, but let me tell you, that’s enough
for anybody!  Clocking up a minimum of 31 kilometers, we set out from Castigliano del Lago
and followed the shoreline counter-clockwise, skirting the nature preserves and visiting the towns
of Sant’Arcangelo, La Frustra, riding through the Oasi la Valle preserve, San Savino, stopping for another
great value and tasty Machiatto just outside San Feliciano, up through Monte del Lago, Torricella and finally
Passignano. With the wind in our faces most of the time, we were dead beat by the time we reached
Passignano, having completed the aforementioned 2/3rds of the Lake.

We decided to check out the delightful ferries that plied the waters, and found one was leaving in 30 minutes
that could talke us to the largest of three islands, Isola Maggiore. (Imaginatively named – ‘biggest island’)
We grabbed another coffee before boarding the boat to the island, which proved to be a little treasure.
It housed an entire village, which, at its largest in the 16th century, housed 600 inhabitants. Now little more than
a collection of tourist shops, restaurants and folorn churches, it nevertheless has a delightful charm.

We then hopped another boat, bicycles in tow, which took us back to Castiglione, where we’d started in
the morning. By now the wind had really whipped up and the waves crashing oin the shoreline as we cycled back
to the Boomobile made the Trasimento look more liuke an angry Ocean than a lake.

Totally exhausted – but a greatr day out!

Kev Moore

May 1, 2011 Posted by | fun, travel, writing | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ciao from Italia – 3 – Pienza and Montepulciano

We spent a day and night in Pienza, a sleepy little town which very nearly played host to a huge Papal palace when when of the old
Popes who hailed from here got a severe case of megalomania and laid foundations to relocate from the Vatican!

The town itself had a few great motifs for Miki’s painting, and we managed to park up for the night just outside the old city walls.

Then it was on to Montepulciano, which seems to have made it’s primary trade that of shoemaking, and leather work. There were
outstanding examples of this classic italian craftsmanship in almost every other shop. Once more we encountered the almost
unexplainable disparity in the price of a Latte Machiatto. We visited a beautiful cafe, caterering to the public with several smartly uniformed
waitresses and waiters in opulent surroundings. We were served a lovely large Latte and charged just 1.10 euros each! Go figure.

It was an interesting and diverse town, and we decided to stop the night here too. Today, we’ll make around 40 to 50 kilometers to
reach Castiglione del Lago, where we hope to stay by the lake for a few days

Kev Moore

April 29, 2011 Posted by | fun, life, travel, writing | , , , , | 3 Comments

Ciao from Italia -2 – Volterra, San Gimme Gimme & Siena

The wondrous cafe in Volterra

I humbly submit, dear readers, another snapshot of our Italian trip for your delectation…..

Volterra was a wonderful medieval town, walled, and perched atop a hill where one could survey the rolling Tuscan countryside. The town even incorporated a State prison within the walls of its Ancient fortress, the first time I’d really seen a correctional facility in the guise of a tourist attraction!

Just inside Volterra's walls

They seemed to get the mix right here, lots of shops selling wines, pasta, local produce, and lovely cafes, but the town still had natural ambience about it. One thing that’s amazed me is the amount of great swimming pools. Even the tiniest towns have them, and everything points to Italy being quite a wealthy country, certainly when compared to Spain. We enjoyed a great couple of days in Volterra, getting in a couple of kilometers in the pool, too.

San Gimignano - Manhattan's inspiration?

San Gimignano, or ‘San Gimme Gimme’ as I preferred to call it, was a different kettle of fish altogther. Another classic medeival town, boasting no less than 17 towers (there used to 72!) it rose above the hills like some kind of renaissance Manhattan.

About 2k outside the town, on approach, I spotted a HUGE gathering of motorhomes – at least a hundred, in an official parking area.  These places charge the earth, and we avoid them like the plague – our logic being that if you’re shelling out big bucks to buy a motorhome, you sure as hell don’t want to be paying the price of a hotel room to park it. Unbelievably, a geezer at the gate tried to wave us in! He looked like some kind of hooker, touting for business. I drove on. We came upon another motorhome  park, asking a euro an hour, meaning a day’s stay would have been 24, with no electricity, water, nothing. We gave that a body swerve too.

On the walls of San Gimme Gimme...coach trip with flag-waving leader just out of shot....

I did like this bell, and the Frescos surrounding it

Eventually, using the tried and tested method of heading for the local football stadium, we found a lovely quiet spot, completely free, within walking distance of the town.  The town seemed drab, a collection of greys, perhaps the overcast weather didn’t help, but neither did the legions – and I mean LEGIONS of tourists scrambling over each other to photograph the many towers, each other, or both.  We normally gauge the TROQ – Tourist Rip-off Quotient by the price of a Latte. Portofino won hands down  – 5 euros for a singularly unimpressive cupful.  Volterra was 2.50,  a lovely one, served with a smile. In San Gimme Gimme, they wanted 3.50, and we didn’t even get any frickin’ froth.  Musuems (door charge) Churches (door charge) all were ignored by us, as human snakes with a guide at the head waving what often appeared to be a white flag of surrender “and we’re waalking, we’re waaalking…”

Unfortunately, my lasting impression of San Gimignano is one of a Medieval shopping mall, built to cater to the Americans.

Anyone who has listened to my track “The Heretic’s Song” will know my views on being charged to enter a so-called house of God. I also found it mildly amusing that San Gimme Gimme was also falling over itsalef to sell ever piece of tourist tat and then some on Easter Sunday. Noew, I’m no Christian, but wasn’t JC seriously pissed off with the merchants on the steps of the temple?? and this, on the day he did the big Houdini thing???  (Cue Mott the Hoople’s ‘Roll away the Stone’) Seems like a serious faux pas to me, if you believe that sort of thing.

If in doubt - Mangare Gelato!

 Siena we were looking forward to – James Bond rooftop chases, etc. – But once again we were confronted with 20 euros to park. Eventually, I found a place just outside the town where we could park for free until 7pm, at which time I assume we would have been machine-gunned.  We walked up the steep hill to what we thought was the town, but in fact turned out to be a fort, built by or for King Leopold, who had a stab at being King here a while back.  It turned out to be a good move however, because as well as giving us a nice walk around the battlements, it also gave us the chance to check out at least 30 pristine Ferraris parked out on the gravel in the courtyard, awaiting their appearance at a weekend car show. Cue boyhood enthusiasm! Actually, without wishing to offend the Ferrarinistas, if a Lamborghini Miura had been parked there, I’d have nicked it, and hang the consequences!

“My other car’s a Skoda….”

From the walls of the fort we looked out to see the huge Cathedral and clock tower in the distance, and set out for it in the sunshine, me tempting fate in a vest and shorts.  We’d managed to see both monuments when God, clearly aggrieved at our failure to purchase tickets to see the inside of either, sent down a deluge of biblical proportions.  The upside of this was I got another ciocolatte calde in the cafe we had to shelter in. Every cloud, etc.

Siena Cathedral, imposing, with gathering stormclouds behind....

Suffice to say, our Siena trip was brutally cut short, so we headed off for Buonconvento, a small town on the road to our next destination proper, Montecino. We got parked up for free next to..the local swimming pool!  After spending the night, we got a swim in, and were on the verge of giving the town a minus score after shelling out 6 euros each to swim and finding you needed to pay extra if you wanted to shower after, plus getting moved along by the Carabinieri  because we were incorrectly parked. But that soon turned into a plus, as I found internet that has enabled me to write this article, and a lovely friendly Cafe which has currently got the record for a Latte Macchiato – only 1.10, and extra foam and chocolate sprinklles. Eat that, San Gimme Gimme!

Kev Moore

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Art, coffee, Easter, travel, writing | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ciao from Italia!

(This article was previously published in moore:music)

Coffee stop en route through France

The more ardent moore:music followers amongst you will perhaps have noticed the dearth of articles on here of late.

This is because we’re off exploring Italy in The Boomobile, our home from home on wheels. Having followed the coast from the French-Italian border, seeing the amazing Cinque-Terre, Portofino, Santa Maregherita and Pisa, we have turned inwards today, about 20 k south of the port of Livorno, and come to rest in the Medieval Tuscan town of Volterra, a wonderful collection of churches and buildings within walled defences, and views across the Tuscan countryside to die for.  The trip has been a strangely reminiscent one thus far, as we ‘ve called at many places along the French and Italian coasts that I visited when I was touring my solo show on Ocean Village. I even got to fly from Genoa again, as I nipped to the UK to fulfill a BC Sweet gig commitment!

Have bikes, will travel…now, where’s the padlock key?

At one point, I was flying into Pisa every fortnight, via Munich, and across the Dolomites, to rendezvous with the ship, and often saw the leaning tower on our approach, but this was the first opportunity I’d had to get up close. It’s open to the public again now, but at 15 euros a go, I find the prices even steeper than the staircase, and went with the ‘Karl Pilkington’ philosophy: it’s better looking from the outside in, than the other way around.

Shock discovery: Jeff’s song is Italian!

We’ll probably hang here for a day or so, then explore a number of other Tuscan towns, with plenty of motifs to keep Miki busy painting here in The Boomobile. Stay tuned for more updates!

Danger: Artist at work!

Kev Moore

April 21, 2011 Posted by | drawing, events, fun, painting, photography, travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Misty Mountain Hop – Part the Second

Bare on a Night Mountain.....

So, leaving Trevelez behind, we made our way deeper into the Sierra Nevada, eventually parking up at the top end of a village called Capileira. As we came around the Mountainside and caught sight of it, and its ‘sister’ village, Bubion, clinging to the slopes above, it was breathtaking. Even higher still, towering above at some 11,000 feet were the snow-dusted peaks themselves, defiant in the July sunshine.

The two villages high on the slopes

We spent several nights here, walking around the village, enjoying the shops and cafes, and going on huge walks up and around the mountainsides. The village, while beautiful, had a faint air of superiority that clung to many of its inhabitants. Don’t get me wrong, there were some smiles, but there was a snobism prevalent amongst many that lived here (I’m not necessarily talking about the Spanish here) for instance, there was an Irish guy on the phone in a cafe we visited. I’m pretty sure he worked in some capacity for a TV production company or similar, and his phone call was conducted almost like a speech to the surrounded table, bursting with pomposity and self-importance. It was very hard not to stop what I was doing and in gradiose fashion announce “my WORD, you’re an important fellow, aren’t you?”. I feel sure that’s what he would have wanted.

I think that was him, over my shoulder!

High above Capileira (and out of breath!)

"It's good 'ere, innit?"

Tiring work, this sketching business.....

Nevertheless, we enjoyed both villages immensely, and we were hoping to extend our stay in the area as we set off along a route that would gradually take us home. Lamentably, we seemed to be on a road that offered little in the way of stops (save for the spectacular scenery) and in short order we began to enter the area I call Plastic city, where the huge sheets of plastic stretched for miles across poles to grow food beneath have blighted the area and bring a whole new meaning to the word ‘eyesore’. I know it’s probably necessary for food production, but it sure makes you wanna join Greenpeace!  I just feel lucky that we live further along the coast, where the natural beauty (thankfully) remains relatively untouched. If you want to understand the scale of the problem, just take a look at this NASA photo of the area below:

Obviously this is where the singer Yazz got her 'plastic population' from then...

So, we ended up coming home earlier than planned, but resolved to go back and unearth some more undiscovered gems in the mountains at a later date.

Kev Moore

July 30, 2010 Posted by | Art, fun, life, nature, photography, travel, writing | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Misty Mountain Hop – part the first

I know we only seem to stay in one place for a nanosecond before flitting off again, but believe it or not last year we felt we hadn’t really used the Boomobile enough, so we’ve made a point of remedying that in 2010. Our latest jaunt was up into the Sierra Nevada, mainly for Miki to sketch, but also for me to get a little distance from the album, and read some books.  Two of them were music related, of course, a wonderful biography of the legendary Who drummer Keith Moon, by Tony Fletcher, highly recommended, and Jools Holland’s Barefaced lies and Boogie Woogie boasts, a witty and informative autobiography by a great musician and presenter. I also managed to cram in the actor Robert Lindsay’s autobiography, Letting Go, which he kindly signed to Miki and I following Miki’s superb portrait of him, and perhaps the fact we’re both Derbyshire lads who support The Rams and have sang about them!

Rolling Stones on tour....

Anyway, as we journeyed away from the coast and up onto the winding mountain roads, our route appeared to quickly become ever more vertiginous. Miki was staring to get nervous (which is when I , perversely, start to enjoy myself) Added excitement was provided by: 1) The rock falls onto our carriageway, and 2) the disappearance down the mountainside of huge chunks of the opposite carriageway. We were encountering these at such frequent intervals, I can only marvel that we didn’t ever encounter both at the same time, thereby rendering passage impossible. This happy circumstance notwithstanding, I was glad to have brought copious amounts of underwear…..

"Here we go loop de loop...."

From the signs we saw everywhere, it appeared that many millions of European funds were being allocated to fixing these death traps roads. It seems to me that the money would have been better spent on teaching the Spanish how to build them properly in the first place.

Following an unfortunate right hand turn that almost resulted in me inadvertently making off with an entire village’s supply of fiesta bunting, not to mention a couple of old ladies wrapped round the wing mirrors, we finally entered the village of Tevelez in a more appropriate manner. The sign at the entrance proclaimed that the village ‘touched the sky’ and as we looked up from the valley road at the white buildings disappearing into the mountain mists, I felt inclined to believe them.  By sheer good fortune, we ended up beautifully parked within the village, adjacent to a waterfall and mountain stream.

The artist at work. I was making the coffee......

We spent a lovely couple of days there exploring the steep village streets and houses, and embarking on one of the mountain walks that circumnavigated the area. Miki of course, began sketching the sights around her. You can read about her thoughts and see some sketches from our trip HERE.

Working up an appetite on the slopes

....and a raging thirst

Perhaps the most staggering sight for me was that of the great swathes of pristine white snow still stubbornly clinging to the higher peaks, even in mid-July! Hiking around shirtless in the summer heat and gazing up at the snow was distinctly surreal.

Nature boy

Just having fun

One interesting event was when we heard some strange crackling sounds, and looked out of the window to find that a mist had descended all around the Motorhome – Except we soon discovered it was smoke, and where there’s smoke, there is inevitably fire. Jumping out of the Boomobile we could just about make out two figures trying to control a blaze of their own making. Health and Safety. Two words completely anonymous with each other in Spain.

"I told you not to smoke on the job, Manuel..."

"Aaahh! The cool, crisp, clean mountain air....."

The village also seemed to be famous for its Jamon, though we saw hide nor hair of a single pig on our whole trip. I could only conclude from this that the entire population had been slaughtered and now hung unceremoniously in the shops.

Nice legs, shame about the face.

Having enjoyed a wonderful few days in Tevelez, we filled our bottles from the fresh mountain water and headed off to find some more of these fairy tale villages, tucked away beneath the Spanish peaks.

Kev Moore

July 29, 2010 Posted by | Art, life, nature, painting, photo, travel, writing | , , , , | 3 Comments