A plate of artichokes

A plate of artichokes

The food situation over the past few days has been diabolical. On Sunday the choice was omelette or meat balls, on Monday night it was steak or fish, and lunch today was steak or pork loin. They look at me with horror when I say I would like something without meat. It seems to take a while to process and they don’t really understand veganism. It’s quite simple really. I eat plants. All plants.

There are 20,000 species of edible plants in the world and when I told the restaurant today that I can eat any plants they brought me this:


It’s a plate of artichokes. Nothing else; just artichokes. Don’t get me wrong, I like artichokes but a whole plate of them is not particularly appealing.

At the restaurant last night they brought out several plates for everyone to share and every single one had meat on it. First there was ham, followed by prosciutto, then balls with some kind of meat in them, and then octopus. Why is it so hard to produce a plate without animals on it?

There are vegetarian restaurants here and we’ve been to two of them and they were great. But it would be nice if there was something I could eat at regular restaurants also.

Today we went on a winery tour which was lovely. We visited three wineries. Here are some photos.




This is the royal family summer house.








This next winery was quite interesting. They ferment white wine in huge century-old clay pots. I’ve never seen that before and apparently this is one of only a few wineries to do this.











Photos from Madrid

Photos from Madrid

We wandered around El Retiro Park in Madrid yesterday. I took some photos on our walk there and in the park. I have been to Madrid before, some 12 or so years ago now, and I remember this park and the glasshouse. The glasshouse is beautiful but completely empty. I suspect if they put plants in there they would suffer from overheating since it gets quite hot and glasshouses are not really needed in this climate.






Last night we ate an Indian Restaurant and it was one of the best Indian meals I’ve ever had. I had a vegetable and lentil curry and it was so fresh and full of coriander which I love. Some of the others in our group complained after dinner of feeling a bit sick from the rich food but this never happens to me on a plant-based diet. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it’s the saturated fat in animal products that give you that sick and bloated feeling after a big meal.

I always seek out Indian restaurants in places hostile to vegetarianism since India is around 30% vegetarian and there are always plenty of lentil and chick pea dishes for protein. Asian cuisine in general tends to be much better for vegetarians. In Spain they put ham in everything – ham for breakfast, ham for lunch, ham for dinner. I don’t know how people can stand that. What’s wrong with vegetables-only every once if a while or even just for a whole meal one day? A plant-based diet is better for our health, better for our environment, better for animals and apparently women are more likely to contact you on Tinder if you’re vegan. Why not eat meat once a week and plants the rest of the time or even plants for just one day a week and meat the rest of the time? Humans in rich countries eat too much meat. It seems like a no-brainer to me but then I’m told I’m eccentric so perhaps I’ll never understand how the rest of the world thinks.

On the bike tour we had the other day I spoke to our guide about Spain’s tradition of bullfighting. Like me, he does not approve of it but he is from Belgium and maybe not as invested in the Spanish culture as others who have grown up here. I believe the argument made by those in favour of bull fighting is that this is their culture and tradition. This is not a very good argument. In some cultures it’s tradition for men to beat their wives. Is it acceptable for them to say, “It is right for us to continue beating our wives because this is our culture and tradition”? No.


Temple of Debod

Temple of Debod

The Temple of Debod is an ancient Egyptian temple in one of the parks in Madrid. It was moved from Egypt to Madrid in 1968 to save it from the threat of construction of a dam. It was built in 200 BC. We went and took some photos there at sunset last night. It doesn’t look busy in my photo but it was packed with people. There are people everywhere in Madrid on a Friday night. You can barely walk. I don’t know how they stand it.


Madrid bike tour

Madrid bike tour

We went on a fantastic bike tour today of Casa de Campo Park which is the largest park in Madrid and absolutely enormous. We barely touched the surface of it. Bravo Bikes provided bikes and a very knowledgeable and friendly guide. I can’t fault them at all and it’s one of the best meetup activities I’ve had. Here are some pics.






Donncha took this next photo.


Some photos of our working space.




I’m having a very nice time here despite my reservations about coming to Madrid. It’s not as hot as I feared and I’ve been managing to find vegan food. I work with a lovely bunch of people and we have a fabulous mix of nationalities. We are Australian, Irish, Italian, Greek, American, Canadian, and French. The accommodation and work space is also very comfortable and I’ve had none of the dramas of my last work trip to Spain, thank goodness.

Population crisis and hairy legs

I’ve got a population crisis in my stick insect habitat. It’s swarming with them now and there’s a range of sizes so this is more than just one lot of offspring. They’re breeding like rabbits and I’m not sure what to do with them all. There are so many that I can’t take the dead leaves out because there are stick insects all over them. I’ve thought about releasing some into the wild but it’s still too cold outside for that. Maybe over the summer?


I’m off to Spain next week which means I have to shave my legs. I hate shaving my legs. It’s cool enough here to wear tights virtually the whole year round but where I’m going the weather is already in the mid-twenties during the day which means summer clothing and stinky armpits. I could just brave it with hairy legs but I’m not prepared to deal with the backlash. Society expects women to shave their legs and I obediently obey. I’m just a pathetic, self-conscious sheep in the flock.

Good news! The apple tree I rescued from the school playground has buds.


When is a reasonable time to eat dinner?

I’ve got a work trip to Spain coming up and I’ve been looking for places to book for dinner since we’ll be a large group. However many of the restaurants don’t open until 9pm which is ridiculous. I’m usually in bed by that time. One place said they’d open early especially for us but even then it’ll only be 8pm which is still ridiculous. I can’t accept that this is a cultural thing because what did they do before electricity was invented? I do not believe that they waited until 9pm and then ate dinner by candle-light. That’s absurd. What do families with young children do?

Some good news: my efforts to like the taste of whisky are starting to pay off. I had some on the weekend and it did not remind me of industrial cleaner which is definitely progress. All this hard work of constant tastings is returning dividends, at last.

I’ve replaced my chocolate addiction with a halva addiction which is surely an improvement. Halva is probably better for me, especially the ones I buy which do not have any processed sugar added. Halva is delicious. I never knew it existed until recently. My life is complete.

La Sagrada Família

This is the reason visitors come to Barcelona: to see the church of Sagrada Família. It’s an unusual building that is not of this world. It looks more like something from an alien planet and would look right at home on the set of a science fiction film. It’s the work of Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí. Construction began in 1882 and is still ongoing. The admission fee from the two and half million visitors who visit the church each year is what pays to complete it.

Antoni Gaudí must have had an appreciation of the natural world as various plants and animals have been carved into the outside of the church. This gives it a unique texture which from a distance makes the building looks alive.






We went up to the top of one of the towers where there were some wonderful views. They take you up in a lift and you can walk down a spiral staircase. It’s definitely worth doing.




Note the penis building on the right in this next photo:


I slept in complete darkness and silence last night and so I slept really well. I’m feeling much better today.