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Following the beet lorries

Dark skinned maidens trailing their hands through fields of sunflowers, their laughter as free as their hair. Sturdy farm boys in waistcoats and white shirts joking with their friends as they beat the olives from the trees. Sun hardened old men, grinning with their one good tooth as they pluck juicy oranges straight from the branch. Harvest time in Spain.

Today in a village just outside Cartagena, in a flat landscape where the electricity pylons march, we were a bit lost. A tractor rolled past, a big tractor, a tractor to make a Cambridgeshire arable farmer proud, a tractor wearing the mud like battle honours. In the green fields gangs of Ecuadorians or Moroccans wading through quaggy soil cut the crops and loaded them into green, plastic fruit boxes. Cabbage, celery? - I have no idea, lots of green, lots of leaf, lots of mud but not a dusky maiden in sight.

Today the fields of Murcia. The day after tomorrow a Tesco's near you.


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