Caravaca, close up

The trip we made to Caravaca on Monday was brilliant for getting to see more of the town without the many people that there were for the fiesta in May. Although it was a medieval market, we went the day before a public holiday, so it was lovely and quiet and we had great weather for wandering round. The town looked so beautiful with all of the flags and bunting for the market.

We went up to the citadel and the cathedral first of all, meeting some very cute kittens on the way.

This is where the famous cross is located, in a tiny chapel at the side of the cathedral. There were no pictures allowed inside but there is a large model of the cross outside.

The cross itself is tiny, only about 8 inches high and was said to have been delivered by angels during one of the sieges in early 13th century It may also have been brought back from the Holy Land by the Knights Templar. However the original apparently disappeared in 1934 so the one currently on display is a replica. Whatever the origin the cross has meant that Caravaca is considered a holy site.

After visiting the citadel we had a wander down through the medieval barrio surrounding the area. There are beautiful views across to the mountains and you can see the old bull ring from here.

I love old Spanish cities, the stonework on the buildings and pavements is just gorgeous.

There were some derelict houses but thankfully some newly restored. It must be very difficult to do this as the streets are so narrow with no vehicle access and all the houses are on top of each other.

We were also able to visit one of the churches, with some very impressive embroidery and icons, unusually some in silver which I don’t often see.

The other great thing about the trip was getting to see some of the horse barding they wear for the running of the wine horses festival up close. There were two on display in the main square.

The above photo shows the tail decoration, which I think is made in the same way I make my Christmas ornaments, using polystyrene balls as the base.

The detail of the stitching is fantastic, not only abstract designs but wonderfully executed faces and detailed costume.

I think this one below was my favourite, it reminds me of all the Tudor costume I have been looking at recently.

Today is a little cooler and damp, after a very lovely sunny and warm week so I am going to spend the rest of the afternoon knitting on the sofa.

I have had two very enjoyable cycle rides this week, totalling 40km. I went down to the beach yesterday, where there were some wonderful cloud formations over the sea and the mountains.

I will hopefully be able to share my new knitted doll with you next week, it has been a really quick knit though doing the hair took a very long time. I re-did the plaits about 10 times! Until then I hope you are all enjoying life, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Caceres – a step back in time

I organised the trip to Caceres myself, rather than it being a coach trip, which meant a journey across Spain via Madrid on two of their marvellous and very comfortable trains. I love Spanish trains as they look often like birds which I think is deliberate given the name of the train company.

I found our apartment on Booking.com and it is called Apartmentos Turisticos Caceres if you ever fancy a visit there yourselves.

I have visited many old cities but none with the very unique character that Caceres has. As it was built as a walled city it has not been altered within the walls and so you get a very unique sense of what life would have been like. The centre of the city is crammed with churches, palaces and other historic buildings. There are 98 listed on the tourist map, though not all of them are open to visit, some being used as offices for the city. There are 1300 pieces of heraldry on these buildings, like the one below, which is partly why it is a World Heritage site.

We were staying inside this walled city so every step outside our apartment was like being back in the 1500s when the city was being built. The apartment was not decorated in a medieval style, which I would have loved, but was very impressive anyway, with huge thick walls and views across the city. These photos show the view from the apartment and the narrow streets that surround it.

It is also the perfect setting for a medieval market and I will post some pictures of that next time. We love these markets, and have been to many in Spain and this one was huge with lots of stalls and entertainment.

As well as wandering the streets, just soaking in the atmosphere, we also visited some of the palaces which have been turned into museums. I have some gorgeous textiles to show you as well in a later post, from the cathedral and the city museum which had a brilliant section devoted to traditional dress.

One of the palaces had a beautiful garden to visit, with this amazing old tree. I think it might be a fig tree.

We also spent time in the main city square, the Plaza Mayor, which is just outside the walled city. You go through an archway from the walled city and down the steps, past one of the many defensive towers which you can visit to walk round part of the walls.

As with many Spanish cities, the plaza was so lively with bars and restaurants, as well as entertainers who were with the market. We found a lovely tapas bar just off the square, which we visited twice to sample everything on their menu as it was so good.

It was all so beautiful and more than lived up to my expectations for the trip. You know how much I love medieval art and architecture. Although much of the ironwork was quite utilitarian, being defensive, I did find this beautiful door at the first tapas place we ate at, in the palace round the corner from our apartment.

I am now back in the UK, slightly earlier than expected due to a change in travel regulations, so am making the most of my time here at Ellen’s stitching the last of my Christmas ornaments and having a quiet week. Fingers crossed, (if the Day 2 PCR test comes back negative!), I will be off back to Huddersfield at the end of next week for a catch up with friends.

Meanwhile I will be making the most of time here, Ellen is going to try and teach me to crochet a snowflake, which is something I have wanted to do for ages, so watch this space! I will also be back with more of wonderful Caceres soon.

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

Finding my people

Long time, no blog! I hope you have all been having fun while I have been away. I had a wonderful time at the Leeds International Medieval Congress, both in the sessions and in meeting wonderful people and socialising. It was so lovely to meet people who were interested in the same things that I am. I made some very useful contacts including some people who sent me their research which was very kind of them. It is brilliant to know that there are people out there interested in the same things that I am and I came home very enthused about my doctorate.

It was wonderful to be in such a lovely environment. I stayed in student halls which took me back a bit, though they were much more sophisticated than in my day, more like Travelodge rooms. Leeds University campus is very similar to ours with a mix of different period buildings and these were my favourite ones. Quite fitting given my interest in textiles as they were the Clothworkers’ Court.

IMC Buildings 1

IMC Buildings 2

IMC Buildings 7

In the lobby there was a display of dyeing samples. I can just imagine the workers in the local textile industry coming to have lectures all about the different processes.

I went to quite a few really interesting presentations on textiles as well as ones on pilgrim badges and manuscripts. In total I attended about 36 separate presentations so I had a very busy week.

One of the most fascinating was about how they make facsimile manuscripts. There was a presentation and display by a company based in Germany, Zeireis Facsimiles,¬† where they showed the very complex process which was really amazing. They had some gorgeous reproductions including one of Mary Stuart’s book of hours below in the velvet cover.

IMC 6 Manuscript

IMC 1 Manuscript

IMC 3 Manuscript

IMC 2 Manuscript

There were also displays every lunchtime from the Brotherton Library, which is based at Leeds University. Those were fascinating, though some were not as ornate as others, but just amazing that they have survived this long.

IMC 10 Manuscript

IMC 9 Manuscript

I would love to go over and look at some of the manuscripts there so will try and factor that in to some free time after completing the doctorate.One other interesting thing was that they hold the collection of drawings from one of the major sources we use for costume research for re-enactment, by Herbert Norris, so I would love to look at those.

On the last day there was a medieval market with displays and stalls including one of my favourite textile people, Tanya Bentham from Threads of Time. She has the most amazing embroidery on her blog, Opus Anglicanum.

IMC Market 10

I also saw the lovely Jim of Trinity Court Potteries who I buy all my medieval ware from as well as one of my favourite thread suppliers, the Mulberry Dyer, who were doing a rope making demonstration. There was also book binding and falconry, it was just like being at a re-enactment event!

IMC Market 9

IMC Market 1

IMC Market 8

The combat displays were done by a very good group called Three Swords, you might recognise the heraldry on this shield as Jamie in our group also portrays De Warrene.

IMC Market 6

IMC Market 7

I loved the outfits that the Eran ud Turan group were wearing, such amazing fabric! They have a blog here which I am going to devote some time to as they have information about all the wonderful places that I want to travel to when I retire.

I have had a busy week since getting back from the conference, I made a shirt for Jamie as well as doing lots of sorting out and catching up from being away for nearly three weeks and then was off to the wonderful Tewkesbury event for last weekend. I will post about that next time as I need to collect some more pictures of the event first.

In other news the boiler has been poorly, it is nearly fixed but it is going to be quite expensive so I am glad that I have not got much else planned to do this summer. Jake is off in London today sorting out his visa for Japan which is very exciting, fingers crossed all will go well and he can start getting the final arrangements made.

I hope you all have a good week ahead, I shall be mainly working on the doctorate with a bit of work admin thrown in but plan to have some time at the weekend to craft. I seem to have quite a long to do list and really need to decide on an outfit for Lincoln at the end of August.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

 

A step back in time – Rothenburg

Our last trip while in Germany was to Rothenburg ob de Tauber, a gorgeous medieval walled town on the Romantic Road. Not only was the setting perfect, surrounded by forests and rolling hills and fields, but the town itself was so pretty.

I felt severely underdressed and should really have been wearing traditional dress at least if not a Belle outfit, it really was like stepping back in time.

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg 2

Not only was it gorgeous but there were so many lovely shops, food, gifts, weapons and armour (and embroidery and Christmas shops as I mentioned in my earlier post). We spent so much time shopping we didn’t get to see all of the town so would love to go back someday for longer.

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg sausage shop
Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg 1

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg 4

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg 3

All of the shops and hotel had beautiful signs outside them as well, this was the weapons’ shop sign.

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg weapons sign

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg town hall

The wells in the town had all been decorated for Easter, these were all real eggs, hand painted and they looked beautiful.

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg eggs 2

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg eggs 1

Bavaria 2014 Rotenburg eggs 3

A wonderful sunny day out and a perfect end to our trip.

Thanks for visiting.

All shiny and bright!

Sorry I have just found this post in drafts from a couple of weeks ago – thought I had published it – oops senior moment!

Hello there, how are you all?

I have had a lovely weekend visiting Leeds Royal Armouries and going to the Imbolc Festival in Marsden so have been looking at lots of lovely shiny armour and watching fire juggling and fireworks.

It has been very cold and windy but we have had a lovely time nonetheless and kept warm by visiting some nice hostelries and sampling lovely ales and ciders on our way round.

Have got a few pictures for you, the Leeds Royal Armouries is free to visit and well worth it if you are into history.

As well as the medieval collection (which is very good) they also have Oriental armour, a tournament section with Tudor armour and hunting and gun displays.

Armouries

Armouries 2

Armouries 3

We also watched the sword fighting display and had to smile when the very nice young man taking part asked us if we wanted to feel the weight of the sword – we didn’t tell him what we do for a hobby ūüôā

Imbolc is a festival that celebrates the coming of Spring, there is a procession led by lanterns then fire juggling accompanied by drumming and it culminates in Jack Frost being chased away by the Green Man. Then there were lots of fireworks which I love.

Imbolc

Imbolc 2

Apologies as pics are not brilliant quality – there are some brilliant ones at this person Gary’s Flicker site

I am looking forward to the start of the re-enactment season now – all that armour and fire has made me long to camp in a field and sit round the fire of an evening with friends.

First show is in 3 months so not too long to wait. Better make a start on all that kit I have promised people for this season ūüėČ

Meanwhile I have a couple of bunnies to finish!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

More kit and castles!

Hello there

Thought I would post a picture of kit I have made recently and tell you about my latest castle visit!

This is my friend Jamie in the shirt I made him, I have lots of requests for shirts now so will be busy in the off-season and will get lots of practise at making holes!

Jamie - new shirt

We did a lovely show this last weekend with some friends, it was a countryside show just outside a town called Bewdley in Worcestershire.

I was dressed as a lady all day (a very rare sight and I didn’t get any pictures!) and Kerry and I did head-dress talks and the boys had a tournament. Luckily the weather was great.

After the show I stayed on for a bit and went castle visiting. This is Stokesay Castle in Shropshire which has been on my wish list to visit for a while.

It is a fortified manor house in most beautiful setting and we had a lovely day.

Stokesay Castle outside 1

Stokesay Castle outside3

Stokesay Castle house

Stokesay Castle House 2

Stokesay Hall

Most of the rooms were bare apart from this very lovely 17th century panelling in the tower.

Stokesay - room 2

Stokesay - room 3

There is also an old church next door with beautiful wall paintings – sadly none of my pics came out well as it was dark.

We did find some old graves with lovely textures on the headstones where the lichen had grown over them

Stokesay church 1

And we finished the day having some very nice cider in a pub in the centre of Bewdley, these are the views of the River Severn.

Bewdley 2

Bewdley 1

I do not have any shows planned for a few weeks now so will be getting on with rabbit knitting, shirt making and some house fettling, I have some bits of painting to do.Will have a new rabbit to show you at the weekend!

Thank you as always for visiting.

Medieval art anyone?

Well the trip to Florence with my lovely mother was fantastic!

I think this has to be my favourite city so far – the churches and palaces full of frescos and medieval art, the Uffizi Gallery with even more medieval art, the beautiful buildings and views over the Tuscan hills and the gorgeous food.

View from the Ponte Vecchio looking at the Arno River.

View from bridge

Some of the 80 ice cream flavours to choose from in the shop near our hotel.

Ice cream

I loved the display at this shop in one of the side streets, We came back with pasta, herbs and oils, yum, yum!

Fruit and veg

And there are also lovely shops if you are into that, personally I am not going to pay 10 times the price I can here for a pair of designer sandals but we did a little window shopping and marvelled at what some of the so-called fashions were priced at.

We stayed at the Albergo Firenze, another one of my fantastic finds from Expedia. Although it was rated only 2 star it was a gorgeous room, really good value for money and the location is excellent – 5 mins walk either way from the Palazzo Vecchio and the cathedral so exactly where you want to be.

Hotel

I have put a tiny selection of pics here, as there was so much to see.

Angel mosaics in the Baptistry.

Baptistry 8

Detail from one of the Madonnas in the Palazzo Vecchio.

Palazzo Madonna 2

Detail from one of the Annunciation frescos in the Santa Maria Novella church.

SMN angel detail

One of the chapel paintings from the same church.

SMN chapel with polyptych

We also saw some beautiful silver and goldwork, this was an altar piece frontal in the museum of the Santa Lorenzo church dating from the late 1700s.

Goldwork at St Lorenzo

Goldwork 2

Goldwork 3

Goldwork 4

Goldwork 5

I also loved this ceiling painting from the Plazzo Vecchio with its depiction of women spinning, weaving and sewing.

Palazzo ceiling crafts

Palazzo ceiling crafts 2

I had seen some of the fresco paintings from the churches before as many are in medieval costume books – look at these two beautiful gowns from frescos in the Santa Croche church.

SC Fresco - gown detail

SC Fresco - gown detail 2

I have come back with loads of prints and a new icon with one of my favourite Madonnas by Filippo Lippi so have put up some new art in my bedroom to remind me of the trip!

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

A lovely day out in Derbyshire

Hello everyone

I hope that you have been having a lovely and happy week in this run up to the festive season. This has been my last week of teaching for the year so we have had some Christmas dos and I have now finished teaching for the next few weeks ūüôā

I have been spending this weekend with my lovely friend Kerry, we had a very nice relaxing night in last night having a few glasses of wine and a catch up and today visited a Tudor house, Haddon Hall  near Bakewell, that we have had on our wish list for while.

It was absolutely beautiful, not only was it a gorgeous day but the house itself was so lovely, a wonderful place with a great hall and plastered long gallery as well as a wonderful chapel with original wall paintings and the  kitchens had been restored and really well interpreted.

Since Ellie started working for the National Trust I have paid even more attention to how things are displayed and labelled in the historic places I visit, listening to her has made me think more about all these issues about the visitor experience.

I think Haddon Hall have done a wonderful job, especially of the Christmas decorations – we loved them, see what you think in these pictures.

As well as all the Tudor things the drawing room had a lovely old hexagon quilt which I think dated from the 1920s.

Haddon Hall 1

Haddon Hall 2

Haddon Hall 3

Haddon Hall 4 jpg

Haddon Hall 5

Haddon Hall 6

Haddon Hall 7

Haddon Hall 8

Haddon Hall 9

Haddon Hall 10

Haddon Hall 11

Haddon Hall 12

Haddon Hall 13

Have not done a huge amount on the crafting front this week due to all the festive dos, had a lovely meal out with my Marsden Knitting group this week where we all exchanged hand-made ornies Рneed to take a good pic of the lovely ornie I got on my tree.

Still working on the knitted hat and on an Xmas gift for a family member. I finished another gift this week but can’t reveal that till after Xmas.

I am spending this week working from home then we go to Powis Castle for Xmas Рam very excited and am hoping for snow! Jake has just arrived home for the holidays so we both have a few more dos this week then we shall be off!

Will post next weekend to wish you all a Merry Christmas – till then thanks for visiting.

My daughter’s blog

As regular readers know my lovely daughter Ellie has just started a year-long internship with the National Trust at Powis Castle in Wales. She was asked by her boss to write a blog of her adventures this year and I have been meaning to post a link to it for a while.

I have just been reading through her recent posts and I know I am biased being her Mum but it is really good, full of loads of details about her work with such beautiful pics of all the objects.

The blog is called A View from my Attic  Рdo please go and visit and leave a comment, as you know when starting a new blog it is lovely to make friends!

To tempt you here are a few pics of her walk to work that she sent me recently – she has inherited my love for photography and these are beautiful pics.Can I just say again how really proud I am of her. She worked so hard at Uni and it is so lovely to read about all the exciting things she is doing.

Powis 1

Ellie’s attic bedroom is one of these windows.

Powis 2

Powis 3

Powis 4

The castle in the background – I can’t wait to go and visit!

Powis 5

This is my favourite picture – what a beautiful gate!

I have had to buy a new camera this week,¬†unfortunately the old one could not be mended and I can’t live without one! Will be testing it out this weekend, ¬†not going anywhere sadly but will take some garden pics as the clematis is looking very lovely!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Pretty things from Tewkesbury

As well as the lovely battles there is also the market at Tewkesbury which is always the biggest and best re-enactors’ market of the season. My lovely friend Kerry bought me this new bag as a birthday present.It will hang from my belt.

Tewks - new bag

It is from Phil Fraser’s stall ¬†– Phil also sells pewter badges and I bought some with my initials on.

tewks - badges 1

I also treated myself to some more pilgrim badges from Lionheart Replicas Рthese are the Virgin and Child and St Albans badges.

tewks - badges 2

The thing I love about buying things for re-enactment is that you almost always know who has actually made what you have bought. Some things are imported but most of the time you know the person that has made your boots, your sword ¬†and your drinking mug etc. In today’s mass market economy that is very special.

Thanks for visiting – see you soon.