Monday, 16 February 2015

Pig Pledge


Of the bristly adventure that befell Don Quixote.

(Part two, 1615)

The fact of the matter was that some men were taking above six hundred pigs to sell at a fair, and were on their way with them at that hour, and so great was the noise they made and their grunting and blowing, that they deafened the ears of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, and they could not make out what it was.


It wouldn’t happen like this nowadays. All the pigs would be in prisons and Don Quixote would be trying to free them.

It all began in Brittany. Where were the pigs? We never saw any but people kept telling us stories that you could smell Lamballe before you see it, not to drink the water because it had been contaminated by the pig farms, that the sea was so polluted and full of algae emitting a gas that was killing dogs and horses…..

Because we never saw any pigs we kind of forgot about the pigs until the topic re-emerged in Catalonia.


When sheds like this one kept appearing on our horizon… all day long…


and always a smell of pig in the air…. even in the city centre of the small city called Vic (pronounced Pig)….


In the small town of Avinyo we stayed with a vegetarian who grew up there. He told us about the biggest employer in town, the slaughterhouse, killed 3000 pigs a day. They were arriving by the lorry load. Again we kept seeing them all day.It was the only time we ever saw any pigs, in the lorries .

So we decided to find out a bit more about pig farming. If you also want to read more here is a couple of links to follow.

Cycling past all the pig prisons, as we started to call the sheds, we remembered the other pigs we have met on our travels.

Pigs in peoples small holdings…. the black pigs roaming the fields of the Alentejo and Extremadura…

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And we really got put off eating the pigs from the ‘pig prisons’ and decided we would be happier eating happy pigs.

So Carnavale it is now and we shall take the pig pledge and as best we can find out where the pigs we eat come from before eating them.

We have the consent of this happy howling Devon piggy.


And of course pigs feature quite heavily in our current show. Carmen Munchita and her friend (pictured) are working on their own little show to appear in the up coming Scopi-go-tone show… shhhh! … its a secret!


A book recommendation

The Whole Hog: Exploring the Extraordinary Potential of Pigs
by Lyall Watson

"I have had close relationships with three species of wild pigs, each a chance encounter on a different continent, and all continue to enrich my life in surprising ways. I know of no other animals that are more consistently curious, more willing to explore new experiences, more ready to meet the world with open-mouthed enthusiasm."

and some fun facts about pigs…..

Friday, 6 February 2015

A tale of two mayors

We arrive in Cataluna just before the vote for independence, which wasn’t really a vote because it had been declared illegal. The Presidente of Espana just kept saying no, you can’t have a vote. No, no, no!”. But the Catalunians weren’t having any of it and were being very catalan, flying flags, discussing the controversy of it all, talking about their democratic rights and their wish to rid themselves of the corruption that weaves their way through every bone of national government (and surely the local one two , we would say…). .   


The independence for Cataluna was everywhere. Even the nudrigas expressed their consent yellowly.
We stayed with the ex mayor of Salt and went voting with him, cycling around the houses with Catalan music blasting out from our bicycle. They all voted Yes Yes, but really nothing happened in the end. Or maybe we just don’t know yet, because just after the big day we left in direction of St.Hilarie, into the hills, where there is nothing but hills and trees and they weren’t interested in any of it. Maybe we’ll find out more on our way back to France.


Kevin claims the steps for himself and declares Catalonian independence!

In Vic we stayed with a super friendly bunch of Catalonians who had claimed their independence and were living it at Font Salada, a great little house outside of Vic, the Motorway bridge looming above, a couple of piggies, some horses , a beautiful veg garden .

It’s Kevin again. He claims 1.000.000 points for seeing the first praying mantis. And not only sees it but takes it as a passenger for a couple of hundred metres, before it starts climbing up too much….scaring him a little. It was quite big.

More hills to go up, more trees, lots of water bottling factories.

And then the first views of Mont Serrat! We felt like little Hobbits, cycling through the sunset and then down into Avinyo for the night…


This magnificent mountain accompanied us the whole of the next day. It is like somethig out of Lord of the Rings….

…. as is this weird insect! What is it? The size of a ginger nut biscuit, a shield and a dagger, no wings but strong springs as legs. Kevin gathered the courage to take photographic evedince.
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After a couple of days in the mountains we’re back on the flat again and find ourselves a nice canal to get past Lleida and past the apple, pear and peach trees into Fraga. We must still be in Cataluna, even the trees are expressing their catalunism and are flying yellow leaves.
Bye bye Cataluna!
Hello famous desert of Los Monegros! This is where the Duke and the Dutches made fun of Don Quixcote and made Sancho Panza governor of an island.
Our first desert, we thought we better do the desert thing and crawl towards the Fata Morgana… the lake was full of Bretons… it really was a mirage and we needed water or some desert cheese.

But there was nothing for miles and miles. No water, no cheese , no island, no palace, no dukedom….
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… until finally a promise of cheese!

but in the village they told us the cheese maker had packed it in years ago and the other one down the road had too….
so we bought some vegetables from the veg van and hoped we could make it into Zaragoza without cheese.
And there, the first sign of Ciclismo Ridiculismo on the horizon! We will make it!
We have made it! Zaragoza birthplace of Ciclismo Nudista, the World Naked Bike Ride, home to ciclismo Ridiculismo! We have found you!DSCN6216

Christmas is nearing and it looks like it is not only the cyclists who are ridiculous here but also everyone else…. they are building a life size Bethlehem in front of the Cathedral!
Well we were amussed by it and went to have fun with the fabulous people at La Cicleria Social Club.
We met the soon to be Mayor of Zaragoza who is standing for Podemos and enjoyed the company of our newly found friends….

Monday, 2 February 2015

Col de Panisser

Crossing the Pyrenees with a strong pair of knees without the aid of special Pyrenean boots...

We was very concerned about our crossing from France to Spain and ummed and aarghed and finally decided to follow the ancient route through the Col de Panisser which the Romans made into a road all them years ago. Now it is part of the Pyrenexus cycle route which joins France and Spain in the Pyrenees.
There was little arguments at a lot of these junctions.... "This is where we've been!" " This is where we're going!" "Are you sure?"  ....

So this cycle route we found is part of the Eurovelo 8. We met it somewhere between Maureillas and Argeles sur Mer. It basically follows the D618. We went through Le Boulou to Maureillas and followed the signs.

It's a beautiful ride through the woods and we didn't really notice a climb. It goes gently and steadily up. There is a couple of steep climbs in a village with some stray horses cheering you on, couple of hundred metres or so. And then it's kind of flat along the top and really beautiful all the way up to the ancient Roman Fort, some ruins and lovely views into Spain and France.

We had been forwarned about the Spanish side of the cycle route, that it was rough and steep and not really completed with some bridges missing and rough surfaces. And so it was, here is the border between France and Spain, where the perfect, new cycle path ends and the dirt track starts.

We took one look around the corner and knew it wasn't suitable for us, a well steep track with pot holes and gravel and then two 4x4 came blatting round the corner on a jolly.

So we took the road to Le Perthus.

Downhill! Quite steep, so we were glad we were going down and that we were on a tarmaced road.

In Le Perthus we took the road. It was full of people busy shopping for cheap beer, fags and clothes. What lovely thing to do on a Sunday....

We took the D900, which has a fine hard shoulder. The lorries aren't allowed to drive on Sundays in France so the traffic wasn't too bad. All the lorries were parked up in La Jonquera, waiting for Sunday to end. Here there are 5000 parking spaces for lorries and the whole place was full of truck drivers, sitting on the pavements, smoking, drinking, waiting for Monday.

In la Jonqeira we followed the route through the 'city centre', to get off the main road and then at the end of the long village that it is, we crossed over the main road to Agullana we wiggled our way round the back roads, through the pretty country side to Pont de Molins where we took the main road again into Figueres.
The landscape was a bit weird, due to the fire that raged through the whole region of Figueres a few yers ago.

Here's a map of the route we took on Bike Map. We hope it works, sometimes it does for us and sometimes it doesn't. It's recently been improved, so it doesn't work as well any longer.

Route 2,853,591 - powered by

To go back into France we might look for another route, because we don't fancy that 17% climb up to the Fort and we're curious explorers.