A walk around Galera

Although we were only there for two full days Ben and Amanda took us around Galera, so that we could see the views, and more of the gorgeous cave houses. It is a stunning village, and I can see why they fell in love with it. It is surrounded by hills, where the cave houses are, with some really steep roads up to them. Amanda is an excellent driver but her nervous passengers had to close their eyes at some points.

We first of all went up to the hills behind their house, they are building a mirador, or viewpoint, that will extend out from this hill so they have created a footpath to it.

Their house is in this valley so you can’t see it from here. It was amazing looking down at all of the other cave houses here, there are beautiful roofs on many of them.

The other walk was down from the hills opposite the hotel. I had been looking up at these views every morning from my hotel room and it was fascinating to go and see these houses closer up. We went up to the hermitage that you can see on top of the hill in the left of this picture.

This is the oldest part of Galera and there is a historic trail with information boards about the citadel that was here, and the history of the village during the re-conquest, when this area was taken back from the Moors.

Some of these houses in the street in the photo above are rented out so Ellen and I are hoping to go and stay in one next autumn as she would love to visit the area. I would love to see inside this one, it looks so cute!

The village is very tightly packed in the centre, which makes for an amazing view over the roofs. Like many Spanish villages there are beautiful town houses with ornate doors and balconies.

The architecture is quite different to that here in La Marina in many ways, for a start the place is much older so the roofs have a very weathered look, this area was only built about 35 years ago. Also there are very different types of trees, very few palms and a lot of cypresses and mountain ash trees which give it a very Tuscan feel.

It was also fascinating to see all of the peppers hanging from people’s balconies to dry, most of the houses have them and they look beautiful.

It is still very warm here, but has cooled down a little to the low 20s so I am enjoying riding my bike in the evenings. I am still busy sorting things at the house, a trip to the garden centre is planned for next week so that I can fill all of my beautiful pots and I am hopefully going to buy a new sewing machine as well so that will be very exciting! I can’t wait to make some more Luna rabbits.

I hope that you have a nice weekend ahead, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Glorious goldwork of Guadix

It never ceases to amaze me what you find in the very small village and town churches in Spain, the altars, the icons and the sheer scale of things just leave me in awe, but even I was not expecting to find such exquisite and detailed goldwork in the Guadix pueblo.

The cave house area, although now a very popular tourist destination and with houses selling for well above average prices for Spain, was originally the area where the very poorest lived. Those who could not afford building material literally dug their own houses out of the hills. There is a short article here on more of the history of the area if you would like to read more, we visited Jose’s cave while we were there and it is a fascinating look at how people live. He just asks for a donation for your visit and has a very welcome fridge full of cold drinks for sale and also sells local honey.

Around the area there were various references to a priest, San Pedro Poveda, and I looked him up. He worked in the area providing education and set up teacher training to combat illiteracy in the area. His organisation was named after St Teresa of Avila, who is related to the order that I portray as a re-enactment character. Sadly he was executed for his beliefs at the start of the civil war in Spain. It is lovely to see his name and work remembered here.

We visited the church before the cave houses, I really loved the simple iron cross outside and the shadows that it made against the while walls.

Inside it was amazing, many of the icons that are used in the religious festivals were on display, and as always the costumes were stunning.

Further into the church there is a cave area and a cave house linked to that. They also had a little display of belen, nativities, from around the world. I loved their belen which is all set around cave houses.

Just around the corner from the cave house, in a little hidden room we came across the most amazing piece of goldwork that I have ever seen, even accounting for the marvellous work in Lorca.

I think what made it most amazing was its location. Not only was it so unexpected, whereas Lorca has many organisations creating the beautiful costumes for their Easter parades, but I have no idea why such a piece had been created for this small church. It looked to be very recent, and too large to be worn, though there was what looked like a priest’s cope and mantle beside it in the case.

The amount of work that has gone into this piece is amazing, many of the motifs are lilies, the symbol of the Virgin Mary, and have silverwork and shading, as well as goldwork.

I could not find any further information on its origin, only a small sign that I couldn’t translate so have no idea if it was made locally. A truly stunning piece of work and a testament to the skills of the makers.

I was sorting out my patterns yesterday and I have about 5 other goldwork pieces that I am intending make during retirement. I have only done a few, some as gifts, but one has come with me to Spain, my Tudor Rose.

This was made many years ago, in 2009 according to the blog post, and was based on one in the Elizabeth Hoare collection at Liverpool Cathedral that I blogged about here. This took me about 50 hours so I have no idea how long the goldwork in the church would have taken.

I mean to make a companion piece based on a pomegranate, which was the symbol of Catherine of Aragon, as well as being the symbol of Granada. Happy times with lots of lovely craft things planned! Today is a public holiday here so I am having a quiet day in, going to do my usual Spanish language practice, some knitting and then a bike ride later.

I hope that you are enjoying whatever you are doing this week, I will be back later on with more pictures from the Galera trip. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Cave house inspiration

So where do you go when you are trying to decide how to refurbish your own cave house? The local IKEA, while great for other furniture, may look a little out of place in something that dates back so many years, so Ben and Amanda have spent many happy hours in the cave house museums and open houses in Purellana and Guadix, about an hour from where they have their house.

I have briefly visited the cave house museum in Purellana, as we stopped there on the way to Seville when we did our coach trip. The picture above shows the view from one of the upper terraces of the museum. It is so stunning, you would never get bored of all the changes in the way the light hits the mountains.

It was lovely to go back for a more detailed look, especially as Amanda and the guide were able to discuss specifics, which was really interesting. They are trying to make their house as authentic as they can and so we spent a lot of time looking at the decor.

Although the ground floor of the museum is the house that the family live in, (you enter the museum though their kitchen!), the upper floors are a fascinating museum of artefacts from the 6 generations that have lived in the house. I loved the vintage sewing machine as a roof decoration!

We also enjoyed a visit to the two ceramicas in Purellana, we bought Ben and Amanda some beautiful reproduction storage jars, a little like these below, for their kitchen as a housewarming gift.

I came back with a suitcase full of garden pots and storage jars as I mentioned in the last post. I will show you those later in a separate post once the pots have been planted up. I have been doing a little refurbishment of my own house so will take some pictures once that is finished.

After a delicious lunch in the nearby town of Guadix we went up to the cave house area for a quick look round. This was the free tapas we had and my starter portion of tuna salad, you definitely will never go hungry here in Spain.

There was an open house to tour as well as the most beautiful church with some very unexpected goldwork, that will have a post of of its own as well later.

The views from the mirador, or viewing point, were amazing. As well as all the houses we could see the corral where they would have kept the horses and the wonderful rock formations that give this area such as distinctive look.

A truly wonderful day out, Guadix is definitely on my list to go back to for longer as the cathedral looked amazing, and it is accessible by train so I can go there by myself one day.

I have joined the gym and spa this week, they have the most wonderful array of jacuzzi pools and jets so we are off there again this afternoon, picture below is from their website.

I now have a monthly membership so will be going twice a week. I also got to take my bike out last night as it has cooled down a bit, it is only 22 degrees today which is lovely.

So I am finding lots of things to keep me busy, I don’t think I will at all bored for a very long time! Hope you are going to have a nice weekend and week ahead, I will be back early next week with more Guadix pictures. Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Una habitat troglodita

The title of this post comes from the sign for the the cave house museum which we visited while we were staying in Galera, where Ben and Amanda have their cave house. We went there by coach, from the nearest large town of Elche, a lovely 4 hour journey to their nearest large town of Baza, so we got to see a lot more of my lovely Spain.

Galera is absolutely stunning, I will post more about the village in another post but it is so gorgeous, there are lots of cave house here, and the views from the top of the village over the mountains are amazing. You know how I love a good mountain!

It is situated 140 km from Granada, surrounded by mountain ranges and other gorgeous little towns. It is a very well supplied village with local shops and lovely bars, as well as a beautiful hotel, which we stayed at.

They have owned the house for nearly 4 years, and spent the previous 3 years searching all around the area for a house to buy. The one they chose was previously lived in by an older man who lived alone, but it had been in the family for years. This meant that many of the rooms had been blocked off, so they are slowly re-opening them and refurbishing the rest of the house. It looks amazing and they have spent so much time researching and visiting other houses and museums to get inspiration.

They often get asked if it has a door, which it does, and electric. All of the plumbing is located in the front of the house, in an extension, which is where the kitchen and bathroom are. This is on the right of the photo above, and everything else is built into the mountain. They have a little map on the wall in their front room showing its location.

They have 5 rooms open at the moment, plus the kitchen and bathroom, and have plans for many more as there is an upstairs as well. You can just see the only upstairs window in the picture of the front of the house, and they have two chimneys, for the fireplace in the snug, and the wood burner in the kitchen that they also use for cooking.

They have worked so hard on it, they are very practical people and are really good at woodwork and building. At their house in Huddersfield they have an outdoor eating area complete with bbq and pizza oven, and they are keen gardeners and wood turners. All of these skills have been really useful in this house. They plan to move here full time in about 4 years.

It also has amazing views, as the house next door, and all of the ones across the road, have also been restored. We spent two very lovely evenings sitting on their terrace looking out at the other houses, which are also stunning. The first picture below is their next- door neighbour’s house, and the others are the houses across the road and further up the street.

The front door leads into a lounge/reception area and then they have a bedroom and a room they have recently finished restoring, behind two curtains as those, rather than doors, help with the air flow. This new room has beautiful wooden beams in it, and the plan is for that to be a study.

Going right from the reception you have a snug, which has the original fireplace and built in alcove shelves. They are having the chimney altered this week, and then they will be able to use the fireplace, rather than the gas heater.

The snug is a really cosy room and leads on to the kitchen and bathroom. They have built the kitchen shelves themselves with reclaimed tiles and have a very cute sink with very unusual taps, which is due to be tiled soon.

Leading back from the snug is another room that is nearly finished, which will become a dining room, and then some work in progress rooms behind there. They are having to use lots of different building methods, depending on the condition of the rooms and the original material, as there are lots of different layers in the rock. It is very much like their own geological museum as they have mica and silica growths coming out of the walls and an amazing layer of mini stalactites in the upper rooms.

I particularly loved their damp meters in the rooms that they are working on at the moment, this t-shirt has been hung to check how the rooms are drying out. There is so much that they have had to understand about the physics of all the materials that they are working with.

They have already redone one set of stairs, but the additional ones to the upper floor are still in their original state. The upper rooms are also in their original state and will need complete refurbishment, a job I am hoping to go and help with in future years!

There is access on to the roof, where there is a small terrace. A couple of years ago they were able to buy the adjoining garage, and their plan is to make the top of that into a roof terrace, with the lower area becoming a workshop, outdoor kitchen and garden area.

The whole place is amazing, they are so enthusiastic about excited about their plans and it was so lovely to see it after hearing so much about what they were doing. We had the most brilliant time visiting other cave house places and eating delicious food so I will be back later in the week to tell you about that.

I have a busy week planned, like most recently retired people I don’t know where I found the time to work! I am practising my Spanish everyday, both out and about, and through You Tube lessons and the Duolingo app.

I have some more practical things to do this week as I am having some small alterations done to my house. I also bought some more pots at the ceramica when we were away, so a trip to the garden centre is planned, and there are also a couple of nights out with friends. I have done a little bit of crafting, mainly knitting so must make up the animals that are finished and then get on with the rest of the craft supply purchases.

I hope that you have had a good weekend and have a nice week ahead. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.