Seville – The Real Alcazar

By that I don’t mean as opposed to the Hotel Alcazar where we stayed, I mean the Royal Alcazar, as that is what it means in Spanish. This was an eagerly awaited visit, I went to Granada 15 years ago and saw the Alhambra and this was just as beautiful.

It was also used as a location for Game of Thrones as the kingdom of Dorne and when I saw those episodes I put this on my wish list to visit.They used some of the gardens and interior rooms.

Seville Alcazar gardens 1

Seville Alcazar gardens 2

Seville Alcazar gardens 3

It is amazingly beautiful, the Moorish place at the centre being surrounded by a later period palace and gardens and there was just so much amazing pattern everywhere.This ceiling in one of the state rooms was incredible.

Seville Alcazar ceiling

Lots of inspiration for the book of designs I am going to do one day!

Seville Alcazar patterns 1

Seville Alcazar patterns 2

Seville Alcazar patterns 3

Mum had been looking for a new travel shoulder bag as the one she bought in Florence was getting old so she decided on this lovely print from one of the gift shops. The following day when we visited the Alcazar we could see the original tiling!

Seville Alcazar Mum and bag

The work that went into this is just incredible , everywhere you turned there was more beauty.

I am pleased that I managed to get so many photos without people in as it was very busy as is to be expected in the height of the tourist season.

Top tip if you are going to visit, book in advance online, or as we did get there very early. Pre-booked tickets get let in first, we did not organise that before we got there so went very early, we got there at 9.10 and were let in at 9.50 so not too much of a wait but by that time the queues behind us were really long.

A truly amazing place, one of my favourite visits, I so love Islamic art and decoration.

I am looking forward to a very good weekend, it is a Bank Holiday here so three whole days in the craft room working on Liberty churn dash blocks and pouches! Plus a bit of clearing out the pots and hanging baskets if the weather is good. Everything has died over our very long winter so I need to but lots of new plants.

I hope that you are all going to have a nice weekend as well, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

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Seville – a very Spanish city

That may sound like a strange title for a blog post because of course it is in Spain but when we were wandering around Seville it felt very different to the other cities we have visited in Spain. Many of them have amazing architecture but it is often Art Deco or Modernista and while stunning is very similar to other things we have seen in places like Budapest.

Seville has a very unique character and it felt very much like old Spain, real Spain, the Spain that the Moors had a huge influence on. An amazing culture that had a very significant impact on the rest of the world. A friend messaged me when I said I was going and told me it was the most beautiful city in the world. That is a difficult one to judge having been lucky enough to visit some of the most beautiful cities in Europe and I don’t know if this is more beautiful than Venice, Florence, Prague, Paris, or any other of the places I have been.

It is certainly different and stunningly beautiful as these pictures show.I loved the fact that there were still the very narrow lanes everywhere with no cars and the possibility of getting lost.We decided on the last night to take a different route back to the hotel down some of these winding little lanes, past crowded bars where lots of people were sitting outside, not really knowing where we were until we turned a corner and realised we were only a short walk from our hotel.

A really lovely place and and a city and a region that I would love to return to one day.I still have so many more pictures of the things we saw, I went a little snap happy in the palace and took so many pictures so will have to just choose the best ones for you.

My teaching has generally finished now so I have had a very nice week with my students doing tutorials, most of whom I won’t teach again now but will see at their graduations. I am very lucky, I have a job that I love, despite it being sometimes a bit stressful, I get to go on brilliant holidays and have the prospect of 2 and a half days crafting coming up as I am planning to finish work early tomorrow 🙂 Life is very lovely.

I hope that you are equally happy with your week, take care and thanks for visiting.

Seville trip – from cuevas to alcazars

As most of you will have guessed by now I love travel. Not just the being there at the destination but the planning the research and the whole of the journey. I never want to just get there I really enjoy the process, however long it takes. For me the journey is about sitting back and relaxing and savouring the moment.

I have been lucky enough to have some great views flying back from Spain when we have gone all along the coast in clear weather but especially love coach journeys like the trip to Seville.

It took 10 hours in total, 2 of which were 3 stops and made me realise just how small the UK is compared to Spain, we only travelled a short way across the country from just below Alicante, which is near the pointed part of Spain on the right of the map, to Seville which is above the Morocco label a little way inland. Such a huge and interesting country, I have so much more to explore!

spain-simple-map-large

We traveled through the Sierra Nevada which I visited about 15 years ago on a trip to Granada and saw beautiful landscapes with snowy mountains, misty peaks, amazing rock formations and little villages with monasteries and hill top castles. I would love to do that trip again and stop off and explore some of these places one day.

One of the stops was to a cave house (or cueva) that the owners have opened as a museum in Purullena, they still live there so you enter and go through their kitchen into the rooms.

They have owned the house for generations and it now consists of 24 rooms over 3 stories. There were lots of pictures of how they had dug out the rooms and made the stairway and they had filled the upstairs rooms with antiques including to my delight examples of linens, lace and stitching including the always present Singer sewing machine!

Seville Trip Cave House 5

Seville Trip Cave House 6

We were particularly interested as my brother Ben and his wife Amanda have recently bought a cave house in Spain, in the mountains about 2 hours from my house towards Granada. I have yet to visit but have seen pictures and video.

It has 4 useable rooms so far plus a kitchen and bathroom, these are on the front due to the issues of supplying water and power and as estate agents say, ‘room for improvement’ literally as there are some rough steps hewn and some part dug upstairs rooms.

The Guadix landscape around the cave house was amazing the rocks are very soft which is why there are so many cave houses in that area and they have been shaped into all sorts of formations.

Seville Trip Cave House - landscape 2

Our hotel in Seville was very lovely, we went on the trip with a local Spanish company so the hotel was included and it was very much more luxurious than our normal lovely but budget bookings.

The Hotel Alcazar is very near the gardens that border the Alcazar (Moorish palace) and as you can see from this picture very close to the cathedral, (not one of mine but from Google), taken from the roof of the hotel.

Seville trip hotel-alcazar-view

We particularly loved all the antique textiles on the walls so an excellent location with beautiful rooms, lounge and breakfast area.

I have lots more pictures for you of everything we did but am going to have an early night tonight as we have just had our first Swords of Mercia show for the year and so I have returned tired but very happy. We had great crowds and lovely weather, only a very little bit of rain which we were all very thankful for.

I love this picture from yesterday of me with the boys during the fashion talk, particularly like Alex’s very fetching pink outfit!

Bolsover 1 - Fashion Show

Until next time take care, have a good week and thanks for visiting.

Seville – a feast for eyes and palate!

I have had an absolutely wonderful time away and not only did I get to relax and do very little except read, spend time with my lovely family and go to the beach, mainly for drinks but also an afternoon sitting in the sun, but also got to visit Lorca for the Easter celebrations and a mini break to Seville.

I saw all three of the girls and gave them the dolls, they were very pleased and Emily, Lola and Ruby- Rose, as they were named, have gone back to England with their new owners.

I will post lots more photos as I sort them but here is a little montage that sums up some of the highlights.

Unlike Budapest where sometimes our options for food were sometimes a bit limited due to me being gluten free and Mum being not eating meat there was an abundance of choice for food. We both love tapas and there were so many wonderful tapas bars and we were determined not to order the same thing twice so over 2 lunches and 3 evening meals we had 19 unique dishes and came back with some wonderful recipe ideas.

The other three pictures in the montage are of one the beautiful courtyard gardens that are such a feature of the architecture of the city,  some of the tiles in the Real Alcazar and the ceramics and tiles at the Plaza de Espana There were tiles everywhere and we could have bought so many wonderful reproductions of these designs.

I was catching up on blogs when I got back and was very inspired by a post by Crazy Mom with a Scrappy Churn Dash Block tutorial. I am not very confident with quilt blocks and this looked a bit complicated and I was going to finish off a pouch I have been stitching while I was away but my zip order has not arrived yet. So I just thought I would try one and made two on Saturday afternoon as they were very easy to do thanks to the excellent tutorial.

Churn dash block 1

 

Churn dash block 2

I have so many tiny Liberty scraps from all the hexagons I have made so used that for the scrappy parts and love the way they have come out. I decided to put borders on them as well and have turned one into a basket and the other will be used on a pouch.

Meanwhile it is back to work tomorrow and our first re-enactment of the year next weekend, Bolsover Castle for St George’s Day, the dragon will be back!

I will hopefully get a chance to post more pictures this week, hope you all have a good week ahead. Take care and thanks for visiting.

Teeny tiny stitching

I have decided to carry on with the Christmas cross stitching, my aim is to do one a month and then by next December I will have all twelve I need and it won’t matter if I hurt my arm or am really busy!

They are mostly very relaxing stitches but the one I am working on at the moment is quite a challenge as it is so very tiny.

Plum Pudding Cross Stitch 1

I am stitching this on evenweave linen so I don’t know exactly what count it is but here is my little finger for size comparison.

Plum Pudding Cross Stitch 3

I have stitched this one before and it is lovely if a little fiddly to do, especially the white topping to the pudding which is difficult to see in the evenings, am just onto that bit with a second one now.

Plum Pudding Cross Stitch 2

Plum Pudding Cross Stitch 4

It is a JBW Design called Plum Pudding and I don’t know if I will carry on and make 6 in total for the friends who I give to as I group or stick to two or three, we shall see.

I have also been doing some not so tiny stitching with another of their designs which I have not done before, a snowglobe one.

Snow Globe Cross Stitch 2

That is a much more manageable size, here is another shot with the little finger for comparison and it is stitched on sparkly aida for extra festiveness.

Snow Globe Cross Stitch 3

Snow Globe Cross Stitch 1

It still features the same lovely little motifs as well as part of the design which make them really special. I usually buy these designs from Sew and Sew , who have a sale on at the moment but Wye Needlecraft also have a good selection including this one.

In other exciting news Mum and I have booked a mini break to Seville for when I am in Spain at Easter. I has been on my wish list for a long time and can’t wait to go, it looks amazing! Pictures from Google.

Alcazar-of-Seville

Seville-ES

I have been writing a chapter of a book for work this weekend so have not had much time to sew but here is a sneak peek of what I have been working on, a new venture for me, a little doll for a special little girl who will be one next week.

Doll in progress 1

More on this when she is already to meet the world.I hope that you have had a nice week and a relaxing weekend, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

 

 

 

 

Spanish rural life

A little further inland from La Marina there are lots of small towns and villages that have been mainly  untouched by the development that is common along the coast. There are still inland urbanizacions but there are also lots of farms and little fincas or smallholdings. The area is very rural and on my cycle rides I can often comes across people moving their sheep or a man with a donkey and cart.

One of the great things about this is that the markets in the area are packed full of fruit and veg sold very cheaply and all very fresh, I love going to market and plan to do most of my shopping there when I move full-time.

Mum has recently discovered a beautiful little museum in the countryside, it is next to a local school near a small village called Matola and is absolutely gorgeous. The school help look after the museum which is an absolutely brilliant idea. It is called Museo Escolar de Pusol  and was set up in 1969.

They have lots of displays of rural life and craft including pressing olives to make oil, making wine, weaving baskets and espadrille shoes and also displays of rooms as they would have been in the 1940s and 50s with my favourite museum things, lovely vintage artifacts and textiles!

Museo Escolar 1

Museo Escolar 2

Look at the vintage shelf edgings with lace in this glass cabinet.

Museo Escolar 3

The room also had a lace making pillow and a knitting bag.

Museo Escolar 4

Museo Escolar 5

I was interested to see a log cabin quilt on the bed, from what I can tell there is not a current quilting scene in Spain as there is in England and the USA, there are a couple of shops in the area that sell fabric but we have only found one quilting shop in a 100 km radius so it seems it did not become popular again as it did here.

The washstand and mirror is beautiful as well and there is a little fretwork shelf next to it with a towel and other toiletries.

There were lots of displays of tools and equipment including a cart workshop and this wooden cart and embroidered rug.

Museo Escolar 10

Museo Escolar 11

I also loved the recreation of a street in the local village with lots of shops as they would have looked in the 1950s and 60s, some of the toys and artifacts I remembered from my childhood.

Museo Escolar 12

I really liked the beautiful tins on display in the grocers.It was interesting to see the different sorts of advertising motifs on tins of biscuits and tortillas, bullfighters and lots of religious images as well as packaging I was familiar with.

Museo Escolar 13

There was haberdashery as well, buttons galore and some vintage punto de cruz, cross stitch, booklets.

Museo Escolar 14

Museo Escolar 15

Museo Escolar 16

The area is famous for its palm trees and one of the displays was of decorated hats.

Museo Escolar 17

Elche, the nearest large town, is famous for its palm weaving – there is lots more information and pictures of this amazing craft here at this blog post. Below is an image from Google of some of the palm weavings in the Palm Sunday parade.

Elche Palm weaving

I love the fact that all of this heritage has been preserved for the village and the children. I don’t think they get many visitors but do go if you are ever in the area, 3 euros very well spent and such a beautiful collection.

I have had a very busy week at work so far and am too tired to stitch anything tonight so I think that I will catch up on a few blogs and have an early night. We have had snow disruption again which meant getting home late last night and getting up very early this morning as the buses were not running at all yesterday evening so I needed to ensure I could get to work this morning. More snow is forecast for this evening and early mornings so fingers crossed I can get in ok tomorrow!

Will catch up with you all at the weekend, take care and have a nice rest of the week, thanks for visiting.

Secret gardens in Spain

I remember reading the book The Secret Garden when I was younger and loved the idea of an undiscovered garden. I have discovered some secret gardens in Spain on my walks and have taken some pictures this time for you.

The older properties in Spain were built in square blocks with the space in the middle of the blocks left undeveloped, known as verdes which means greens in Spanish.

In some places these verdes are also on the outside of the properties in between blocks of houses but in others they are in the middle accessible by footpaths between the houses but not obvious from the road unless you go exploring like me!

Left undeveloped they are just scrub and self seeding trees but quite often people choose to plant areas of these verdes outside their own gardens and create beautiful areas with stones to make beds and succulents and small trees. Often they use bits of pottery, broken flower pots or left over bricks and stones to make things like the bench in the first photo as well.

Spain - gardens 2

Spain - gardens 6

One of my favourites is just up the road from me, there is a large area of secret garden behind one house and smaller areas behind some of the others. The first house in the picture above has a large terrace that overlooks the garden which stretches for quite a way into the verde, the other house below it is just outside their garden wall.

Spain - gardens 3

 

I love the fact that people do this, in most cases it isn’t really seen either by them or other people but it is lovely to come across these unexpected areas of planting. In this picture below you can see the contrast between the planted area and the untouched bit in the foreground of the picture.

Spain - gardens 5

The plants in La Marina are so different to what we have here in Yorkshire, the area is so dry, it hardly ever rains and so most of the vegetation is palms and cacti with colour mainly coming from bougainvillea which have the most beautiful papery flowers and seem to survive in no water at all.

Spain - gardens 1

Spain - gardens 7

These are some pictures that I took while coming home one day, there was the bluest sky and I love the contrast between that and the green of the plants and the pink of this perfect little branch of blooms.

Spain - gardens 8

Spain - gardens 9

There is such beauty all around us and it is good to stop and look at it and really appreciate it.

Take care and thanks for visiting.