At the moment, available on CD Baby. Soon coming to Spotify, iTunes, Google Music, and every other music programme you could possibly think of. I will post links as soon as they are ready. But you might want to buy it right now from CD Baby and support independent artists.
Give yourself a break from politics and have a listen!
Half the profits from sale of this album will go to the Bairro Pite health clinic, who are doing amazing things in Timor Leste. https://bairopiteclinic.org/
Please share the shit out of this post! Let’s send me platinum!!!!!
Returning to Portugal, Where Fears we Leave Behind was made. Where I gained a second home and a reverence for Irish traditional music steeped in Guinness. Over to one of my favourite men on the planet, Mr. Billy Corcoran, who, between destroying Irish Music every Friday and Saturday night and riding the high stool, has managed to expand and expound in honour of all things Lusitano.
I came to Portugal for four months almost eighteen years ago. That’s pretty much how it works here. One day you’re sitting on a cliff, pondering the sea with a bottle of Sagres, and the next thing you’re sitting on a cliff pondering the sea with a bottle of Sagres and half your adult life has passed you by.
This is no bad thing, by the way. It’s just that your life becomes more whimsical here. That wonderful word amanha (tomorrow) applies to almost all things here. It reminds me a little of how Ireland used to be. Never put off for tomorrow what you can do the next day. For a serial procrastinator such as myself, this is the best of all possible worlds.
It’s the same with coffee. Who knew there was so many ways to have a humble espresso? Normal, full, short, just over half ,almost full, in a hot cup, in a cold cup, with hot milk, with cold milk, weak, or my personal favourite, almost Italian (quase Italiano). And that’s before we even move on to long coffee!
But having drunk coffee in the main coffee countries of Europe I think Portugal wins hands down. It’s the kind of languid café culture where caffeine has absolutely no effect. Which brings me nicely on to those who are serving the aforementioned coffee: the waiters. My, but they surely are a breed apart. In France it’s almost expected to have rude waiters; it’s de rigeur, but here it’s a joy to behold. A class of men whose grumpiness pales to insignificance when compared to their abject contempt for humanity.
It seems to me (now I know I’m wandering, but that’s how this is going to be so try and stay with me) that ‘the momentum’ is with Portugal now; ‘The Momentum’ being a strange invisible force that affects countries from time to time. Ireland had it in the early 90’s, for example. Things are looking up here. Portugal won the Euro soccer championships last year (soccer being one of only two occasions where Portuguese people can lose all rationality). The economy is steadying. Lisbon is one of the hippest cities in the world at the moment. There is a bit of a spring in people’s step. Cautious optimism is flourishing. I mean, they even won the Eurovision song contest last week for the first time ever. The centre left coalition government seem to be making all the right noises. All of this combined with the mysterious ‘momentum’ and Portugal is a pretty interesting place to be right now.
That other occasion where rationality takes a hike is in the realms of driving. Now at the outset I have to say things have improved here over the years, but Mother of God, when I landed here first it was lunacy. It seemed so contrary to the normally mild, laid back ‘amanha’ Portuguese attitude. If there was a gap in the traffic it was essential that everyone went for it as fast as possible. Equally important was driving bumper to bumper at insane speeds in the driving rain. One of the main roads between Lisbon and Cascais, the ‘Marginal’, at one time was considered the most dangerous road, not in Portugal, not in Europe, nay,nay and thrice nay, in the world I tells ya. I used to sit on my balcony and watch the crashes. Outside my apartment alone I was taking in about three per week.
Anyway, I’ve meandered enough for one evening. If Emma ever asks me to write anything for her again I might muse on the bougainvillea, the jacaranda,the night blooming jasmin, ginjinha and the peculiar affinity between Ireland and Portugal regarding ‘Saudades’.
So despite being in penury, I do believe I am one of the richest men in the world.
As the days pass, it becomes harder to translate what is my personal human experience into words.
Where have I been?
My heart has broken a thousand times and I feel more alive than ever. I have travelled to places I never dreamed I’d go to and met people who were kinder than I thought possible. I’ve been inspired and rejected and loved and hated and surprised and insulted and freed.
And what I’m left with is my own face staring back at me in the mirror. I have left behind the dearest travel companion I ever knew; two people with such strong dreams whose paths are drifting apart for a while. Every day I am strengthened by what he taught me. He helped me to set free the strong, fierce warrior I have inside myself and now I’m running free. No direction, but no fear.
I left part of my soul in Panama. Everywhere I go I am blessed enough to meet people who burn with unbelievable passion. Living souls colliding with mine.
I passed through Portugal and made an album of songs which flowed out of me like water. But it wouldn’t have existed at all if it weren’t for a friend I met in the mountains of the Serra da Estrela, who helped me get really comfortable with my creativity. The more you are true to yourself, it seems, the more your kindred people drift towards you. I know that I am who I am partly because of the spectacular people I have been lucky enough to have cross my path.
And now? Timor Leste,
where bravery runs in the blood.
Many more adventures from the Land of Crocodiles to come
Watch this space for the release date of “Fears We Leave Behind”
After a blissful few weeks in England and Portugal, it’s time to sit down with a nice cuppa and reflect on the trip.
I ate pies in their hundreds. I shopped for life changing pants with my best friend, who is starting her own furniture upcycling business. I gazed in awe at my wonderful mum’s new artwork.
I made weird videos whilst waiting for delayed Ryanair flights.
In Portugal, I ate pastel de natas with proper coffee in great company. I drank one too many at O’Luain’s Bar and Sometime Eatery (first mentioned here) and participated in the much missed Sunday night music session. I was reminded of the stunning beauty of the Cascais coast, and of just how enormous a Portuguese toastie can be.
Back in England I was lucky enough to join in the singaround at the Cross Keys Folk Club. What a wonderful night. Secreted away in the tiny back room of this 200-year old pub (not a smartphone in sight), we shared folk songs from all over the world. This was my favourite (extract from lyrics below):
“Oh, roll up, roll up, come and see the fat girl, Forty stone o’ loveliness and evr’y bit’s her own.” Ee she were a big ‘un, Wi’t accent on the big, And all the fellas wi’ walking sticks kept giving her a dig.
All in all a very special trip. I returned to Panama full up with love. And pies.
Below are a few photos from my current location. Bloodshot is out of the water having a well-earned rest in Bocas del Toro
…and I am getting to know my new home: Playa Venao.
It feels great to be teaching again. I had forgotten how challenging and hectic and hilarious working with children is. This is our school and it’s growing. I feel priviliged to be a part of it all.
I’m saying this now. Just wait until the novelty of actually having to work wears off.
School on a quiet Sunday
Skipper gets roped into building a mini skate ramp