Thinking about heritage

If you are a regular reader you will know how much I love visiting museums, especially where there are textiles involved. My recent trip to Lancashire included a visit to a museum owned by the local council, Towneley Hall, and it was very interesting not just for its collections but also its history.

Burnley has a long textile heritage, much of Lancashire was involved in the wool and cotton trades and there are many mill buildings still to be seen.

This building was a rather grand house however, owned by the same family for many centuries. It had a fascinating mix of architecture, from Tudor long galleries and panelled rooms to a Regency style suite which is now used for weddings and events.

The family who owned the house decided it was too big for them and sold it to the local council in 1901, who decided to turn it into a museum. However they had nothing to put in it so they started taking donations from a number of varied sources.

This has led to a very eclectic collection, some with links to Burnley life and others random. They were no doubt very interesting to the local population when the museum was first opened, who probably marvelled at the mummy case and contents found by an Egyptologist who was a friend of the last owner.

It raises many questions about what are the purposes of museums and what functions they have. There are many debates in heritage circles about what is in our museums, and where it came from, indeed should some things be returned to their original countries?

There were a small selection of textiles from Kashmir which were very beautiful.

How things are interpreted is also interesting, this was very much a ‘things in glass cases’ type of museum, which reflects its heritage. I have been lucky enough to visit many museums of all different types and having a daughter who worked in the heritage industry find all of these questions very interesting.

There were quite a few local exhibits as well including embroidered postcards and banners from the World Wars.

It was a very nice visit and the staff were very knowledgeable and friendly, not only about the collection but also about the history of the hall so well worth a visit if you are in the area.

After Lancashire I met up with my oldest friend, Sue, celebrating 40 years since we first met at Polytechnic. We had a brilliant time catching up, we haven’t really changed a bit!

I have had a quick trip back to Ellen’s to do some car sorting. I got Katy stuck on a gate a few weeks ago but am pleased to say that my car bodywork skills are good enough that I was able to mend the damage, and some more flower stickers covered up the slight difference in paint! Also met up with a few of the medieval group for a day’s event at Nottingham.

I am now at my final campsite of this summer, back in the Peak District for my last week in Katy. I have finally got the cushion inners and have bought a new privacy curtain for when I am sitting in the back reading. I am also trying out Jacky’s awning tent to see how it works compared to my little tent.

I have been having some great walks with stunning views, the drive here was wonderful and I am surrounded by lovely hills again.

I have more museum visits to share with you so the next post will be that or Peak District views. Until next time, have fun, take care stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Millions of needles …

As a keen seamstress I do have my fair share of needles for all purposes but have never really thought much about where they come from. At the Clent Hills camp site there was a brochure for the National Needle Museum in Redditch, just a short drive away, so I thought I would stop off and visit.

The museum was fascinating, it is housed in the original needle factory, dating from the late 1700s when the processes were driven by water. Redditch produced millions of needles, about 90% of the world’s production, and they were exported worldwide.

This meant that there were gorgeous displays made for national and international exhibitions. The companies also made surgical needles and fishing hooks.

There were also some great examples of how needles were used, from the textile group display of current craft on the first floor to examples of vintage craft.

It was fascinating to see the displays of needle packaging and needle cases over time.

If you are in the area it is well worth a visit. We are now back from Whitby where we had a lovely time as always and met some new people. I have bought lots of fab new jewellery for my latest outfits so will put together a post about the event when I can next access good internet.

I am about to leave Ellen’s now and go to my beloved Peak District for a few days. Normal UK weather has been resumed and it is forecast to be around 17 degrees and showers for the rest of the week!

Hope that you have a good week ahead, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Another retirement project

Although I said the last one would be my final post from Spain I managed to find some time to achieve another one of my targets for this stay. It is nice to have targets, personal ones though, not the sort that other people set that are to do with pressure on you.

One of my long held wishes for my retirement has been to do some designing of embroidery and goldwork patterns. I don’t really consider myself a very creative person. I do make things, and I love choosing fabrics and embellishments. Although I think that I have a a good sense of what goes together, I only work with other people’s patterns so I want to develop my design skills as well.

I set myself the target of designing one piece from the many wonderful things that we saw at the Alhambra. I narrowed it down to three pieces in that post and choose this one below to develop into a design.

It is only a very small design, measuring 24 stitches across so it shouldn’t take me too long to stitch. I have very much enjoyed the design process. Although it is quite a simple design it took me about two hours to do, testing out various ways of reproducing the patterns in blackwork.

Notice I have been using my lovely Alhambra design rubber during the process here!

I have had to make quite a few compromises, as blackwork is all straight lines. I did initially try to work out something for the outside edges of the plasterwork, however it ended up looking at bit too messy. I felt it took away from the symmetry of the centre of the plasterwork as well.

The final design will include some filling stitches and some seed beads, denoted by the small circles on the buds.

I used one of my blackwork books for inspiration on design and filling stitches.

It contains a very useful library of filling stitches to choose from.

The design process was helped by using this free gift from a couple of years ago which was very helpful for structuring the motif.

I will be leaving this until I come back to Spain, I am packing some things to take on this year’s UK tour but they will mainly be cross stitch ornaments, got to get ahead with those for this year. I am planning to stitch it on some sparkly Aida from stash.

I am also going to set myself another target for designing for my next stay here in autumn. I am thinking of some goldwork based on the amazing chapel at the Ducal Palace in Gandia or the gate in Exeter cathedral. My inspiration will come from one of these photos.

I am not planning to do the angels in this photo but love the design framing it and am thinking maybe on blue silk with tiny beads for the stars.

I would not attempt the whole of this but maybe just the little motif below would be good to do.

So this really will be my last post from Spain, see you all when I get back across the border! Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The campervan cushions…at last!

I know that I have been promising you pictures of the cushions for the last couple of months and I finally finished the last one yesterday. I have been having a quiet weekend sorting things out and finishing up all my projects so I can finally share them. I thought it would be useful to do a little tutorial as well for the VW van. There are lots of pictures of these cushions available but I couldn’t find a ‘how to tutorial’, so thought I would share one here.

I drew my own template using the pictures I found for inspiration. My cushion cover is 14 by 14 inches so my backing fabric started at 16 by 16 then I trimmed it down. I drew the whole van and then used tracing paper for each individual part of the van. Then comes the fun part of choosing all of the fabrics!

I chose to use double sided interfacing to stick down the pieces onto the backing fabric. You could just sew them straight on but as I wanted to machine zig zag round the edges of some pieces and hand stitch on others it makes it more stable.

I did the ziz zags first, then the hand stitching and embellishments. The hand embroidery is all chain stitch. I have used a lot of different things from stash for these cushions, the cute little flowers come from the haberdashers here and I have them in different sizes and colours. The other laces and ric rac I have just picked up over the years, some of it is from The Range in the UK which always has great lace.

Once it is embellished it is time to make the back of the cushion. I always make envelope backs as they are the easiest method. The backing fabric is from Rose and Hubble, they have now stopped making it but you can still find plenty on Ebay. It comes in about 6 colours.

You need to cut the piece longer then the cushion by about 6 inches the give a generous overlap. I then seam both edges and then stitch the overlap together before stitching back and front of the cushion together. All cushion backs were made the same way.

For the second cushion I used some hexagons that I had in stash and just sewed them very carefully on to the backing fabric. This fabric was actually a cushion cover bought in the local Merca China homewares store. It seems a little illogical to buy a cushion cover then cut it up but it was the easiest and cheapest way of getting fabric.

The final cushion was a caravan pattern. This ended up being only a 12 by 12 inch one as I melted a bit of the fabric as the iron was too hot.. oops!

I have made smaller versions of a similar one from a free pattern by Flamingo Toes as embroidered hangings but this was a free pattern for a pot holder from Sewing4free. I combined elements of the two designs they had, and used the same tracing paper and applique technique as before. The only difference was the machine zig zag was done as the final step before making up the cushion.

I am so pleased with them and can’t wait to sort out the van when I get back. I also have bunting and fairly lights and a pretty throw that will double up as an awning/sunshade over the back doors. I have been looking at drive away awnings but they are really expensive and as I will have my tent with me for this year am going to wait and think about whether I really need one.

I will be back soon with a post about the new Steampunk outfit, am very pleased that everything is finished and I still have a week to go! Felling very organised 😉

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

The stuff of legends

The festival at Caravaca celebrates a legend that dates from the 1200s, the period in which Spain was occupied by the Moors and there were constant battles. This legend says that the people of the town were trapped in the citadel by the Moors and they had run out of water. The Knights Templars at the bottom of the hill in the town, couldn’t find any water that hadn’t been poisoned, so they tied skins of wine to the horses and they ran up to the citadel. The people there dipped the Holy Cross in the wine which cured all the sick and dying.

Caravaca’s full name is Caravaca de la Cruz as there is still a cross there, Vera Cruz, the True Cross and it has been designated a holy city by the Pope. Approaching the city by coach we had some amazing views, the citadel and the basilica stand on the top of a mound, dominating the landscape. Since I don’t have a drone I have found this picture to show you what it is like.

I did get a nice shot from the car park though.

We did not have chance this time to visit the citadel or the basilica so a return visit is definitely something we will do as I would love to wander around the town a little more. There were some stunning squares and churches and I always enjoy visiting towns outside of their fiesta days.

The first thing that we encountered was the parade of the horses, accompanied by lots of very enthusiastic supporters and bands. The fact that they sell a special wine for the occasion and there are lots of stalls selling beer obviously helped with the general mood, so I had a can of Estrella just so I blended in with the locals 😉

The horses are decorated with beautiful coats, I am not sure if they are embroidered or some other technique, but many featured people. The horses, around 60 of them, parade through the town and up to the citadel. We watched a few come through and made our way up the back streets to the base of the citadel to get a good view.

We were a little concerned to see so many ambulances arrive a bit later, unusually for a Spanish fiesta there were warning notices so we knew it could be dangerous but the ambulances were thankfully just kept busy with people passing out from the heat. We were waiting for people to fall off the hill just below the citadel in front of us as it got more and more crowded.

Before the horses run there are parades of the monarchs and their armies up to the citadel. As always this is wonderful, I do love a good Spanish re-enactment, with marching and swords! I wasn’t able to get any clear pictures of the kings and queens and their armies in the parade. Next time we go I will stay at the bottom for a bit longer to see these as it was fantastic to see them all parade up the hill to the finish line. The Catholic queen looked as if she was wearing a similar outfit to the painting of her retaking Granada that I shared in a previous post. You can see the outfit more clearly in in this news report.

The Moorish king and queen were equally splendid, there are some more detailed pictures of them in this blog post. We will see more of this type of fabulous costume when we visit the Moors and Christians festival again in Alcoy next year.

The horses run a 80 metre course up to the citadel, one team at a time and their time is recorded. The team of four have to keep one hand on the horse at all times so we could hear the the groans of the few teams who didn’t manage that. We were helpfully right opposite the film crew who were display live footage and all the team times on a big screen. We then had a quick wander back through the town before getting on the coach.

The journey back was quite eventful as we had a hailstorm fiercer than any I have ever encountered in Yorkshire as we came back through the mountains. Luckily we had a great driver who kept on going, though many people were pulled up on the hard shoulder it was that severe.

A brilliant day out and I am so glad I have been able to see it, it is one of the fiestas that Mum has always wanted me to go to, but it was never the right time of year for me to get leave. I so love the way that the Spanish celebrate life and it was brilliant to be in the middle of things again, as obviously most fiestas haven’t run for a couple of years.

I have been busy this week with working on cushions for Katy, I have still got to do some hand sewing on the last one and then I can share those but I am very pleased with them. I also ran a little workshop at my sewing group on English Paper Piecing which everyone said they enjoyed. They are such a very talented group of people and it is lovely that we take turns sharing our skills.

I had my first sea swim at the weekend, it is a lot hotter now, about 28 degrees so it will soon be pool time as well. Bike rides are having to be done only in the evenings now as it is too hot for me otherwise, but I have had fun discovering some new routes along the back roads that run next to the irrigation canals.

Hopefully this weekend I will get chance to work on the outfit for Whitby that I started last year, in January as it turns out, before life got very busy with driving, doctoral submissions and house selling! There are now only five weeks until I return to the UK, away from my sewing machine so I really need to crack on! I hope that you have all got some nice things planned, whatever you are doing, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Sewing with a view of the sea!

I have had a very lovely first week back in Spain. I have been out a lot as we have had family visiting from the UK so have spent a few evenings with my cousin and her children and been busy sorting the house and garden. It always takes me a while when I get here to remember where everything is, as I keep discovering things I had forgotten I owned !

I spent yesterday sorting out my new sewing space in my bedroom, and had a lovely afternoon using the new machine with a view of the sea and the windows open so that I could smell the orange blossom. It is a beautiful time of year here, they have had a lot of unseasonal rain and some dust storms over from the Sahara but that has meant that many more wildflowers are in bloom.

I do need to buy some more furniture for storage but have just got this lovely little drawer unit which is perfect for when I am at the machine as it holds all of my threads and tools and has enough space for the essentials on top.

At the moment the wardrobe on the left of the first picture holds all of my sewing and knitting supplies in some plastic drawers and hanging units but I would like something more custom with easier access so that I can keep everything tidier.

I am currently using my table from the dining area which is brilliant as it folds out to a really large space which is perfect for cutting out so I will buy another one for the lounge and move this one permanently into here.

The first job was to make a new pincushion for this area, I gave most of my sewing supplies to Ellen for her upcycling project, including nearly all of my pincushions which is a great excuse to make some more! I found this piece of applique when I was sorting my WIP pile.

I stitched it last year as a postcard for the Crafting During Coronavirus research project that I took part in but due to the general busyness of life at that point never managed to finish it and send it off. I just backed it with one of my favourite Liberty prints and stuffed it with cushion filling, et voila a nice big pincushion! It is pictured here next to the little scraps basket Facebook helpfully reminded me this morning that I made 6 years ago.

I think the sentiment I stitched is perfect for my new sewing room. I have been thinking a lot about that time as we have just had the second anniversary of lockdown. I was so worried that my family would be badly affected and that all my plans to retire and move to Spain could go wrong, so it is good to have a reminder of not to lose hope when things look difficult. I am so grateful to be here and for everything that has happened in the last nine months.

I have also kept some of the stitched gifts that I have been given over the years and this beautiful needlebook is now in place to hold all my hand stitching needles. It was made for me many years ago by a very talented friend, Barbara, at my old embroidery group.

I am working on a new outfit for Luna at the moment. I really enjoyed making the Luna and clothes last year but then got a bit stuck as to who to give them to. My cousin’s children are a little too old for those kind of gifts and though the newest member of the family is expected any day now, it will be a while until she can have one.

Moving to Spain and joining a new knitting and sewing group has meant that I have whole new outlet for things in terms of donations to charities that other members support here. This Luna will be going to raise funds for the local food bank in a ‘name the rabbit’ competition to be held at the Jubilee celebrations in June. She therefore needs a new outfit in red, white and blue, which I am hoping will be finished this afternoon. Having all the windows open made it a bit breezy so I was glad of my pattern weights that my very talented daughter Ellen made last year.

I have also been replanting all of my pots so the terrace is looking bright and colourful again. I have spent the last two evenings sitting out there reading with my candles and solar lights lit. It really is my happy place and I love the quiet and peace there in the evenings, especially after all of the excitement of the last month!

We are hopefully off on a trip this coming week, it is my wonderful Mum’s birthday tomorrow and this is her birthday trip, to Granada. We will be going by coach so will get chance to travel through the mountains again which will be wonderful. I will of course take lots of pictures and will have so much to share with you when I get back.

My next post is going to be a very special one, over two years in the making but everything finally came together this weekend so I can share that with you now. More will be revealed next time!

Until then I hope that you have a lovely weekend, and enjoy the celebrations and Easter Bank Holiday if you have one. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Spiritual stitching

One of the things that was so brilliant at Exeter was the level of information given about all of the textiles on display. As well as a dedicated display of ecclesiastical garments in the centre of the cathedral there was information all around the site about the work.

The Company of Tapisers was formed in 1933 and although the individuals are anonymous there was a real sense when visiting of the human hand behind the work.

Some of the interpretation was very poignant as with this beautiful banner piece of the Virgin Mary.

This was a stunning and very unusual piece, seating along the length of the chapel telling the history of Exeter.

Everywhere there was so much lovely work, from kneelers to altar frontals. It really enhanced the experience for me to be able to read the additional information and I gave my thanks to the staff after the visit.

One thing that I am passionate about is the human story behind textile creation. The novels that I am writing are all based around individual pieces of textiles and the women involved with them. The history of textiles is the history of people, whether it be to celebrate, or simply to keep us warm. It is just so fascinating to me how all of these things are made, and why they are made.

I am so pleased that I have so many friends that share my passion for textiles, and that Ellen is so keen. She has made some stunning things recently, one being a very lovely crochet cushion cover that I am keen to learn how to make as I think it would look great in my new van.

I went to her crochet group last night and that was lovely. She is helping to run workshops with a friend of hers, Vic, who is a very talented creator so are you are in the Nottinghamshire area I can thoroughly recommend Made by Torty B. Her workshops can be found here and are great for beginners or more experienced crafters.

It will have to have a very good sort out of all of my new craft space soon as the machine will have to be found a new home and there might just have been a few purchases made while I have been in the UK. Some storage shopping is on the cards I think!

I hope that you are all enjoying life. I am so looking forward to the next few months of beautiful spring and summer weather. I have promised myself that there will be a new outfit for Whitby and a new dress for Tewksbury so need to get organised and fit all that in.

Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting and commenting, it is always lovely to meet my readers!

The delights of Worcester

Kerry came down to visit me so we had a jam packed weekend visiting the majority of what the city has to offer in the way of historical and heritage properties. There is such a wonderful mix of architecture here, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian, as well as the riverside walks and the canal heritage so it is well worth a visit.

Saturday was mainly Tudor at first with the Tudor House Museum and Greyfriars, both on the same street where there are other wonderful Tudor buildings, including some lovely places to eat. The Tudor House Museum was originally three cottages and the displays concentrated on the importance of the trades in Worcester, very much textile related with the production of broadcloth and glove making dominating.

The museum has been extensively restored as it has been a pub, and café owned by the Cadbury family in recent times, so there is a nice mix of history in the small space and some lovely reproductions of costume and artefacts as well as the historical collections.

I have previously posted some pictures of the Tudor group at Greyfriars but this visit was for a tour which told the history of the property throughout its 400 some years. This was very interesting as it ended up being used as slum dwellings, with other tenement housing built within the garden. The restoration in the later 20th century was by a brother and sister, Elsie and Matley Moore, who were passionate collectors and she was a keen needlewoman. Therefore there is an extensive collection of beautiful textiles.

This is one of my favourite pieces, above the fireplace. I love the colours used in this piece. I think this is one of Elsie’s own embroideries.

I also really loved seeing the little touches of her life, such as the worn pincushion next to the chair, and the collection of needlework tools in a display case.

The library was also beautiful, in a different way to the libraries in other Trust houses. This was full of well loved books, but still with some beautiful decorations on the spines. I wish all books looked like this today, rather than just name and title on the spine. I think that they look so exciting!

We had a quick look around the city museum as well, where they have a display devoted to Worcester Sauce, as well as some lovely military costume. We were very admiring of the braid on the tunics here.

I loved this painting of a Spanish girl, making me homesick for my adopted country as these type of outfits are still worn for fiestas.

I have been busy booking lots more coach trips with mum so will have more adventures to share with you in May and June, the Spanish do love a good costume and I will be there all over the Easter weekend which is always exciting.

Our last heritage venue was the amazing Georgian Guildhall built in 1721. This is a beautiful public building in the centre of the town which is free to enter, and is used for weddings as well as official business.

The ceilings in the Assembly Room and the Council Chamber were stunning and I can imagine there must have been some amazing events there in the Georgian era. I am of course channelling my inner Bridgerton here as we eagerly await the second series in a couple of weeks!

After a quick stop for tea and cake at the same vintage café I visited last time, we had a lovely wander around the canal basin. We then had a drink in the oldest pub in Worcester, and ended up in a very lovely restaurant called Bill’s. I must admit to choosing it partly based on the décor, (as I did in Edinburgh), but the food was delicious as well.

A very lovely day out and it was brilliant to catch up with Kerry. We will next meet at my first re-enactment event of the season in July. I do have more pictures from Sunday to show you as well, but I will leave that until next week.

I am pleased to tell you that the moses basket is done, and to confirm that I intend never to work with jersey ever again 😉 It is too stretchy and slippery so I am going to confine my future makes to my favourites of linens, denims and Liberty, as well as some nice, non slippery fabrics for Steampunk, and no velvet.

I have already mentioned that I have been spending lots of time reading cross stitch magazines through my wonderful Readly app and I have been inspired by one article to buy a gorgeous pattern to stitch for my sewing room/bedroom in Spain.

It is from a French Company called Jardin Prive and is called ABC de la Brodeuse, pictures from their web site. It is so cute and I love all the Quaker inspired motifs.

It will take a while to stitch but I have also ordered the band to stitch it on from Willow Fabrics as I needed a metre of it.

I also treated myself to this lovely Christmas design to use the individual motifs for future ornaments. I am going back with all sorts of wonderful things to add to my craft stock so will definitely have to sort out my storage as soon as I get back!

This week’s task is to make up the knitted rabbit as we are meeting with my niece at the weekend for a little do, not really a baby shower, but more a family lunch. There will be some baby related gifts though and I am making the nappy cake, out of real nappies and lots of ribbon and cellophane.

I hope that you have all had a good weekend. Have a good week ahead whatever you do and as always, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Ashmolean treasures

In the summer when we went to Oxford we visited various museums including the Ashmolean and I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful textiles there. There were various exhibition sections and one of my favourites was Mediterranean Threads, showcasing 18th and 19th century Greek embroidery.

The light was understandably not good enough to take many detailed pictures, but they have got a detailed look at the exhibits at this link here. This was one of my favourite pieces, there is so much detail here.

There was also some stunning Japanese silk embroidery, the sheer scale of the pieces and the fine work never ceases to amaze me, I was lucky enough to see an exhibition of this on one of my visits to China and it is incredible work.

I have been really enjoying reading the theses about Bess of Hardwick and the museum had some treasures from that era as well.

The sweet bags I have seen before but the most interesting was this set of wooden serving boards for sweetmeats, that had verses on the back that could then be read aloud.

This set comprised 12 boards in a storage box and dated from 1600. I can imagine that Bess may have had something similar for her table at one of her many houses.

We ate at a stunningly decorated restaurant one evening, Comptoir Libanais, that we found by just walking past. The food was as stunning as the décor and you can see more at their Instagram. I can heartily recommend a visit if there is a branch near you. I love the use of colour and tiles everywhere.

Craft wise I am still knitting, am onto another rabbit at the moment, but have plans to do some more cross stitch soon. Last summer I discovered Readly, a fantastic app that gives you access to lots of digital magazines for one small monthly fee, so I have been enjoying looking at lots of embroidery and cross stitch magazines. I used to do mainly cross stitch when the children were young but have not done much for years apart from the Christmas ornaments. I have found some gorgeous little caravan and camper patterns in one of the magazines so am planning to start that soon.

We have spent part of this weekend preparing the campervan as we are off on a little jolly to the Peak District tomorrow. I was looking back at the other post that I did about Oxford earlier and was reminded that was my very first retirement trip, although it took place before had officially finished work for good. This upcoming one will be my seventh adventure, (counting all of the camping ones last summer as one big one), not bad for just over 6 months of retirement! It makes me very, very happy to be able to do the things that I had planned and I am very grateful to be able to do this.

We have various walks planned including one to the Dragon’s Back, near Buxton. I doubt the weather will give us views like this but we are excited to be away and outdoors anyway. Picture and walk details from here.

I hope that you have all had a good week and have not been too battered by storms if you have been in the UK. It was interesting having a driving lesson in high winds yesterday but everything was fine here. Have a good week ahead, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Caceres – traditional costume and incredible embroidery

As I have mentioned there were many palaces in Caceres that have been turned into museums. One of the first that we visited was the Fundacion MCCB, set up by two local residents Mercedes Calles and Carlos Ballestero. As well as some great photography and paintings by local artists about fiestas within the city, there were also some gorgeous artefacts and paintings.

The one that I loved the most was a painting of a young girl, wearing the most amazing traditional costume, she looked so happy that I was thrilled when I managed to buy a small mirror with the image on in the gift shop.

There was also some information and personal items from the couple, Mercedes was born in 1915 and clearly had a very interesting life. I would love to find out more about her, and as I am planning to write a book set in Spain one day, may research more about the area in the future.

One of the other palaces held a brilliant collection of traditional costume from the surrounding area. What was especially lovely was that there were photos of people wearing the costume next to each item.

This was particularly interesting when looking at how they sat wearing the very full skirts. This is where ethnographic sources like this are so vital.

This wonderful hat was used for everyday wear to shade workers from the sun, rather than just being for fiestas.

This photo shows the local people at the opening of the museum in the early 1920s. Even though the picture is blurry it is wonderful to see them all in their best clothes for the occasion.

There were so many lovely embroidered costumes from the surrounding villages, each one slightly different but all with an emphasis on colour. It was really interesting to see this, as previously I have only seen the sorts of costume that are worn at the large fiestas, which are more based around what looks like more formal hooped dresses.

The following day we were lucky enough to see the local folk group who still wear versions of these costumes, complete with matching masks at the moment!

The linen work was incredible, I could have been there for hours just looking at these pieces. They were so finely done and it was very interesting to see the same motifs come up as I have seen in many other countries, and reinterpreted in a lot of Quaker inspired cross stitch designs.

As well as other displays of weaving, spinning and embroidery, there was the ubiquitous Singer sewing machine.

I love seeing these in museums, it always makes my little heart so happy to see them and to think about the women who may have used them. I have more pictures from another Caceres museum to show you but will save those for a later post.

Life here with my sister has settled into a nice routine. I have finished two creative writing courses and have started two more. One is a group class with the WEA using Zoom and I am really enjoying it. I never wanted to have a Zoom meeting ever again, after last year’s teaching. However, it is much more fun when you are a student, rather than the teacher worrying about losing people in the ether. There are lots more courses that I like the look of so will do more in the future. It is lovely to study informally with no deadlines or pressure, and I am finding that it is really helping with the progress with the first book.

It has been very cold here, though sunny, so apart from trips to the gym I have been cuddling up with cat, writing, knitting and sewing and generally enjoying the peace and quiet. Jacky and I have just booked an amazing trip to Scotland for August, we are going to Loch Lomond, Skye, Harris and Lewis, and North and South Uist, following in the footsteps on many of my favourite travel vloggers. We also have camping in the Peak District booked for February half term. So we have lots of exciting adventures to look forward to!

I hope you are managing to stay warm, or cool, depending on which season you are in. Have a good rest of the weekend, and a great week ahead. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.