Driving through mountains

Many years ago, before I had even thought of moving to Spain I read a book called, ‘Driving over Lemons’ by Chris Stewart, in which he talks about his life in Andalucía on a farm. It is a wonderful book, full of humour and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to experience more of real Spain.

We have spent lots of time over the past few weeks driving through Andalucía on the way to and from Granada and I am looking forward to returning to the area one day. These latest coach trips have been more local, and more about driving through some spectacular lower level mountain scenery than the Sierra Nevada. There haven’t been any lemons but some wonderful views!

It is hard to get good pictures from the coach, I have tried to capture the scale and the beauty of the mountains but to see the splendour for yourself you can look at the following websites that have the most glorious photos. We visited the town of Javea (or Xabia), which is a really beautiful town set on some stunning coastline. I would love to return to the area for further exploring, hopefully in Katy someday, as there are some amazing natural parks in the mountains.

The first trip was to visit the gardens at L’Albarda, set high up on the hills overlooking Javea. This is a new coach trip that the local company has just started doing and we passed many stunning villas on the way there.

The house is closed to the public but we were able to wander around it and it is absolutely stunning, with a very inviting pool. It definitely looks like a film set for a very glamourous Hollywood movie.

The gardens themselves are a beautiful mix of formal and more wildflower, with lots of shady spots, really appreciated as even though it was only 17 degrees that day, it felt hotter. There were the more formal water features that reflect Spain’s Moorish heritage, as well as more natural looking pools and waterfalls.

The views from the gardens over to the mountains were amazing, there was one stone seat in a shady wooded spot surrounded by lavender with the most stunning view, I could quite happily have stayed for hours with a good book!

We particularly loved this amphitheatre, within what we thought was an ordinary conservatory. The symmetry of the pots, plus the beautiful cascade waterfall, was really unusual.

After the garden visit we went to Javea itself for a delicious lunch with the prettiest salad I have seen for a log time, and a rather nice sea view.

We just had time after lunch for a little wander along the seafront and some fabulous Spanish ice cream, I always have the fruit flavours then it counts as one of your five a day 😉

The sea was the most wonderful turquoise. Javea is a very beautiful town, and is very unspoilt, with few high rises, possibly as it has a pebble beach so has not suffered the fate of other places on this coast that have been very overdeveloped.

It was a truly wonderful day, another one of those I keep having where I have pinch myself that this is actually happening, and on a school day as well! I have never been able to be here at this time of year and it is lovely, just the perfect temperature for me. It is around 23 degrees, so I have been able to take the bike out and sit on the terrace in the evenings reading. I did get some very bad mosquito bites the night I was out with friends, so it is not all perfect in my little paradise, but thankfully a friend from sewing group gave me some good spray to take the swelling down.

We are now going to have a few quiet weeks before our next trip. I have spent a lovely weekend, apart from a quick trip to the beach and a deep paddle, (it is not quite swimming weather yet), making the first of my campervan cushions for Katy. A few more bits of hand stitching and then I can show you the results. I have had great fun doing it and so will be making a couple more at least. I am taking them back flat so they won’t take up much room in the luggage!

We have had exciting family news as well as my latest great-niece arrived safely on Friday! You may remember I posted about her baby shower and the rabbit and Moses basket covers I made. Willow is home from hospital and safely tucked up in the basket. We are all very happy and can’t wait to meet her in July.

I will be back soon with another fiesta, this one involving horses with the most stunning embroidered coats and head dresses. Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Poetry in plaster

The Alhambra, in particular the Nasrid Palace section, is such an amazing place. This was my second visit and to be able to go again, and to see the exhibition in the museum there, answered some of my questions about how the palace was decorated and what some of the designs mean.

I found this very informative post which talks about how the building was designed and what some of the inscriptions mean, many are poems or sections from the Koran.

The ‘muqarnas’ in the ceilings, which you can see in the middle picture in the bottom row, are fascinating and the museum had a display of how they are put together, an eight piece 3D jigsaw of plaster pieces. The relief plasterwork, as seen below, was so regular, we wondered if that had also been done using moulds.

The sheer scale of the carving, mosaics and woodwork is incredible and you get a real sense of the work that goes in to conserve it as there is live conservation going on everywhere, which is fascinating.

We were really lucky with the weather as well, although rain was forecast it was just dull and we were able to see the Generalife gardens, where I tried some ‘arty shots’ looking past the flowers to the palace.

An absolute must see if you come to Spain, such an important part of the history of this region.

Now for my very difficult task of choosing something to turn into a design. One of the aims I had for retirement was to create some designs based on the many architectural features I love to take photos of, and I have challenged myself to do one by the end of this visit to Spain. I have lots of ideas for possible blackwork, goldwork and quilt designs but have narrowed it down to three pictures. I think I would like to do blackwork as an homage to Catherine of Aragon, and as I have not done any blackwork for a long time.

These are some of my favourite blackwork makes from previous times. The first two are a picture I made for my aunt, not sure where I got the frame but love it. The last one is a needlework set I made for a re-enactment friend. These were all patterns from stitching magazines so I would really like to have a go at designing my own work this time.

So I am thinking of turning one of these plaster motifs into a blackwork design. For the first picture it will be the bottom motif. The second picture it would be the central one with star and fruits. The bottom picture it would be motif on the lower left (or right as they are both the same).

I can’t promise to have the whole thing stitched by the end of June, as I have costumes to make for re-enactment and Steampunk, but my aim is to at least have the pattern drafted. If you have a favourite please let me know in the comments.

We have lots of exciting textile related things coming up with my sewing group as well, the group are having some outings and social events which is lovely. I am so happy to have met another group of like minded people who are so enthusiastic about all things textile related!

It is looking as if it might be a sewing day tomorrow along with the second session of my writing course. I am working on one of my quilt WIPs as well as costume so am looking forward to a few crafting days in over the next week. I will be back soon with the coach trip to the gardens. I hope you all have something nice planned for the weekend. Whatever you are doing have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Two kings and two queens

It is easy to forget how closely linked England and Spain have been throughout the years. Especially in today’s political climate when the UK has left the EU, when many people may be feeling that we have less in common with Europe than ever before. However, things change constantly throughout history and a longer perspective is often helpful.

I remember watching the Michael Palin series, and reading his book, ‘New Europe’, about all of the changes in both membership of the EU at that time and the changes in countries such as the former Yugoslavia. I was reminded of this again during my new writing course this week as we were reading an extract from a book written about memories of that country by a former citizen living in Germany. The course is all about writing about place and identity and we have started with thinking about our own identity.

At the weekend I was out with a French friend, who now lives here in Spain, and a Dutch friend of hers. We were talking about all sorts of topics, including our own identity, empire, and how we had all ended up here, in a little bar halfway down the Spanish Costas. I love the very multicultural nature of my new life. Yorkshire was also very multicultural, but in a different way, and I like the fact that I am spending time with people from lots of other parts of Europe as well as Spain. It is so nice to meet lots of different people here as well as on my travels.

Our recent visit to Granada really brought home how closely England and Spain were connected, and in particular, for me, the very fascinating period of the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, and their daughter Catherine of Aragon and Henry the Eighth. You will know if you have read some of my previous posts that Catherine is someone I am very interested in, both from a historical viewpoint and from a textile one as she is credited with bringing blackwork to England.

I know less about Ferdinand and Isabella and need to read more, but Granada is so important to their story, with their reconquest of Southern Spain in 1492, when they captured the city from the Moors. The ‘Reconquista’ is celebrated every year in Spain in many places and we have been lucky enough to visit several of the spectacular fiestas that celebrate it.

Our final day in Granada was all about catholic heritage, with a visit to a monastery, the cathedral and the chapel where Ferdinand and Isabella are buried. The chapel is so beautiful, an amazing testament to the stonemasons who built it.

No photos were allowed in the chapel but I have managed to find some information and pictures from various sources. This blog has some additional information and a copy of this painting which was at the entrance to the tomb.

It shows a glorious depiction of Isabella and Ferdinand as they have the city surrendered to them by Bobadil, the Muslim ruler. The first day of our visit we went to Bobadil’s mother’s palace and the Alhambra visit and the chapel tour completed the story. I think it is a wonderful piece of art, so full of detail, from Isabella’s gown to the Alhambra and the Albaicin in the background.

The chapel itself is wonderful, the tombs are very impressive, as to be expected but there is also a very good interpretation and a wonderful collection of medieval art there as well, which we loved. There is lots more information and pictures on the chapel web site.

The most amazing thing for us was that underneath the marble tomb there is a crypt with the coffins inside, picture from Pinterest. There are also the coffins of their other daughter Joanna and Philip and the Prince of Asturias. I think this was the most amazing thing about that day for all of us, the tombs and the gold altars were all stunning but this was very poignant and something that I have not seen with other memorials.

The monastery, Cartuja de Granada contained many paintings detailing what happened to Catholic monks in England after Henry’s split from the church while trying to divorce Catherine. I didn’t take pictures of them as it was rather gory but the architecture of the monastery was beautiful. I loved the simplicity of the cloisters and the refectory buildings.

The chapel there was just unbelievably ornate. I don’t think that we have ever seen anything like it and we have seen a lot of Catholic churches! There was a main larger chapel area and then behind the mirrored altar a smaller chapel.

Our other visit, to the cathedral, was also stunning, as much for the many books of music on display with their gorgeously illustrated pages, as for the altar, organs and other grandeur.

I loved the ceiling of the cathedral altar space, not my best ever Spanish cathedral ceiling, as that honour goes to the one in Valencia with its musical angels, but still very beautiful.

My next post will be about the Alhambra itself, once I have decided which of the many pictures I took to include! So much wonderful architecture and decoration in the place it is a difficult decision.

We have also just been on a couple more day trips, to a wonderful garden on a lovely sunny day, and to another fiesta, so will post about those soon as well. The weather has been variable, so one of our trips has not been able to take place, due to the event being cancelled, but we still have one more to come this week.

We are then going to be having a quieter few weeks, which gives me chance to get out on the bike and visit the outdoor pool when its sunny. If it does rain there is the opportunity for more sewing days, watching the clouds!

I hope that you have all had a good week. Whatever you are doing have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Granada, mother nature and man

I am firmly convinced that one of the reasons that Granada, and specifically the Alhambra, is so stunning, is due to the contrast between the man made splendour and the amazing beauty of the Sierra Nevada backdrop.

This is the second time I have visited the city, both in the same season with snow on the mountains and it is the most amazing sight. My first trip, around 20 years ago, was going to be my only trip to Spain as an adult but I fell in love with the beautiful houses and coastline here and the rest is history!

We stayed in a beautiful apartment, Apartamento Capitania found on Booking.com, in a fantastic location near the cathedral, with shops, tapas bars and taxi and bus stops all minutes away. It was also excellent value for money, costing us each 30 euros a night. It had a gorgeous view of a small church and a square with a few bars around.

As always the architecture was stunning, so many beautiful ‘wedding cake’ style buildings, balconies and wonderful doors!

On our first day we went to the Albaicin, in itself a World Heritage site for its steep winding roads and Moorish architecture. This trip was for Mum’s birthday so she had planned everything that she wanted to see.

The houses are, as often in Spain, amazing in the way that they have been constructed on top of each other up the hillside, with beautiful roof gardens and lots of wonderful tiles and doorways. We were aiming for one of the royal palaces but stopped off at the numerous miradors, or viewing places to get closer and closer to the views of the Alhambra with the snowy mountains behind it.

This was the view from the restaurant where we had a delicious mango and goats cheese salad and fried aubergine with honey.

The Palacio de Dar al – Horra was lovely, a very understated version of the Alhambra, with again amazing views across the Albaicin and the Alhambra.

After that we wandered down into the valley, with the assistance of Google maps, and around the mountain to the area of Sacromonte, famous for its cave houses and the flamenco venues that the gitanos or gypsies who have been here since the 1700s developed. We are now quite knowledgeable about cave life since our visit to Ben and Amanda so really enjoyed looking round the cave house museum there.

The best bits were all the textiles and the old photos of the people who lived in this complex. There was a perfect little one person cave that I would be very happy living in, complete with sewing area! In this cave there was the most fascinating rag rug, made from triangles, unlike the other strip ones I have seen and it was wonderful to be able to see all the different fabrics that had been used.

An amazing day and a perfect start to our trip. We had pre-booked tickets for the Alhambra for the following day so to see so much of it beforehand was just perfect.

I will be back with part two of the trip soon. I have made a promise to myself that I will develop a design from one of the Alhambra pictures so if you have any favourites in the next post let me know in the comments.

As always 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.

Caceres – Moorish influences

One of the things that I love about Spain is the history and architecture inspired by the conquest by the Moors. I have only visited Morocco once, (so far!), but love the art and design elements that come from there, and the influences on ceramics and particularly lanterns. If I had the space my little house would be full of hanging lanterns as I love their designs so much.

We visited a small museum in Caceres called, ‘The House of the Arab’, a small building which has been owned by the same family for centuries and which displayed Arab life and culture.

Many of these things have been absorbed into Spanish culture, particularly the use of water and beautiful secluded and tiled gardens. This house was a lovely collection of rooms that demonstrated life before modernisation, including the original well and underground bathing chamber in the house. Absolutely fascinating and well worth the 2 euro entrance fee.

The house was located near to the Jewish quarter so a wander around there led to an encounter with some of the re-enactors who were at the market. We had a lovely chat with them about what they did and watched their fight demonstration later in the day.

There were also several visits to the Arab tea tents, these are always a very popular feature of any medieval market, serving sweetened mint tea, and you get to keep the little glasses they are served in. I love mint tea and have been drinking more since my visit. I use the little glasses as wine glasses as they are so pretty.

We had an excellent journey back from Caceres, I love just sitting watching the scenery and there were some brilliant mountains to look at, some of which I managed to capture in photos which were not too blurry. We also had a beautiful sunset on the way back past our local salt lakes, with my lovely mountains in the background.

I am so looking forward to more adventures on Spanish soil when I return in a couple of months. Today marks my six month anniversary of being retired and it is so much better than I ever thought it would be. One of the nicest things, aside from planning and going on all of these trips, is knowing that I don’t have to come back to lots of e-mails and piles of marking, it makes it all the more pleasurable! I am very, very lucky to be able to have this lovely life.

I am still doing a bit of crafting in between everything else, I have made some Barbie dresses for my great niece and am still working on knitted foxes. My new machine is very lovely, I have not had chance to do much with it yet as I don’t have much fabric here but am looking forward to doing a lot more with it in the coming months.

I hope that you have had a nice week and have an enjoyable week ahead. We shall be carrying on with a little bit of swimming and increasingly more social events as the weather gets warmer.

Whatever you are doing 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.

Caceres, the cathedral and church

Unusually for us on a trip to any European city we only visited one church and the cathedral. There were so many other things to see in our three days there so I can share only a little bit of Catholic bling and goldwork with you 😉

The cathedral was in the main square where the market was and was beautiful inside, the light on the stonework was amazing. In contrast to most Spanish churches the main altarpiece was not gold, but a stunning wooden one with a painted ceiling above it.

There was a side chapel with a gold altar and some gorgeous icons, including one with lights which is something I have not seen before.

The museum had some excellent examples of gold work on the priests’ robes and icons. There were also some unusual painted robes, which were done on white satin, and the under robes had beautiful lace edging.

We climbed up a very narrow, twisting route to the bell tower where there were great views over the city. We did happen to be up there as the bells struck, but luckily it was only 1pm, it was very noisy but I love seeing bells in towers like this.

The other church we visited had an extensive collection of belen, nativities, from around the world and was in the process of building their belen, in the middle of the church. Although this was just a small church there were again some beautiful examples of lace and painted ceilings.

I will post about the museums and all the fabulous costume at a later date. I am going to be doing some volunteering this coming week at the food bank with Ellen and then hopefully on Thursday going to visit various friends in Yorkshire. It will be lovely to be travelling again, I have had a whole week in the house as I have been isolating until my Covid test result came through, which is very unusual for me nowadays. I am really looking forward to getting out and about again, though I have enjoyed doing lots of cross stitch for my ornaments this year.

I hope that you have all had a good week, and are looking forward to the festive season if you are celebrating. 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.

November sun

I am still getting used to the fact that it is so bright and sunny here, even with the clocks going back we still have daylight until about 6.30pm and the temperatures have been back in the high 20s this week. Ellen has been here and we have had a lovely week, we have been for a walk around the salt lakes to see the birds, including lots of flamingos, had a swim in the sea, been on a couple of coach trips and to the spa.

The sunshine makes me feel so good, although I don’t like it really hot as I burn easily, waking up to blue skies is wonderful. We have had a couple of very impressive thunderstorms with really good lightening, so it does rain sometimes here, but mostly at night.

It was a beautiful day for both our coach trips. We went to the medieval market in a little town in the mountains and to the old town in Altea, which is a beautiful little coastal town with a famous church. The sky was so blue all day and we had wonderful views across to the rock at Calpe.

We went to the church after a delicious tapas lunch at this restaurant in one of the old town houses. We just came across it on our walk up to the church, and it had the most beautiful decor and really delicious food, these are one of our favourite tapas dishes, croquetas.

The church is stunning, both outside and in, the tiles on the roof are very traditional on churches in this area and there were a beautiful selection of statues in the alcoves.

We loved wandering around the streets up to and beyond the church and there were some beautiful little houses . The views of the mountains and the sea were brilliant.

There are some really lovely shops with quirky displays, the umbrellas on this one are gorgeous!

As always there were some stunning doors, I think that this first picture is my all time favourite door, so far.

Ellen left today so I have been busy with some gardening, all of the cacti at the front of my house have been removed and instead I now have beautiful pots with geraniums in. I need to get on with some more decorating as I only have five weeks now before I return to the UK.

I plan to go on a longer bike ride tomorrow as it is going to be about 19 degrees so am looking forward to that. I have also almost finished putting together my latest knitted elephant. Ellen has attempted to teach me to crochet as well, while she has been here so I am going to fit in a bit of practise with that each day as well.

I hope that you have had a good week and are having a nice relaxing weekend. I will be back later in the week with some more of my UK tour pictures. Have fun whatever you are doing, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.