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.

Spanish design – old and new

I love architecture and spend lots of time taking pictures of beautiful buildings wherever I travel to. One of my favourite things when I am in Spain in La Marina is to wander round looking at all the different houses and gardens and admiring all the alterations that people have made to them.

The urbanizacion is about 30 years old now and the original properties were mainly bought by retired people or as holiday homes so that, combined with the lack of planning regulations in the early years of the development, has led to some wonderful, and some truly bizarre adaptations, of the original house builds.

This beautiful house backs on to an area where the owners have built a private pool with other neighbours.

Spain - houses 1

It is amazing to think that this would have started life looking something like the house below that I photographed a few years ago and has been re-modelled into this beautiful place, I love the fairy tale castle turret.

Spain original Lola

Whatever your choice of property most people like to have a view and since La Marina is on a hill there are lots of choices for sea views or those of the mountains. This first picture was taken on my walk and the other two are of the views of the mountains from my Mum’s house, one of the main reasons she bought it as they have the most amazing sunsets over them every evening.

Spain - houses 11

Spain - houses 2 Mum's view

Spain - houses 3 Mum's view 2

There are so many different varieties of house design to choose from and some gorgeous architectural features like balconies, turrets and sun terraces.

There are lots of new builds now and as the area has become more established there are lots of Spanish people who live there full – time but it still has a real mix of nationalities as there are German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Hungarian who live there both full and part-time. On my latest visit I met a lovely Danish couple who are retired and travel down in their caravan through Europe every September to spend until May in the sun, then go back for spring and summer at home.

Some of these new builds are very different to the traditional Spanish style of housing and over the last couple of years more and more of these very modern types of houses have been built. I photographed these just down the road from where I live and there are lots of different styles of these houses being constructed.

They are proving very popular with buyers, many have been bought by Scandinavian owners. You can tell this from the name plates outside as they are built to order which avoids the problem as in other areas where developments have been started and then left half finished due to a slump in the property market and the developers going bust.

One of the key things about them is the privacy, all have their own pool and high gates surrounding them, unlike the older properties with wrought iron gates they are very much enclosed.

Spain - houses 21 - new builds 6

The other very different thing is the large expanse of glass in their design, traditional Spanish architecture is designed to keep the heat out so these huge windows make the properties really stand out. If I lived in one my main concern would be keeping them clean, the area is very dusty and my small windows are permanently dirty. They are also going to need repainting quite often to keep them so white, there is a good reason most of the houses in the area are painted yellow!

Some people don’t like the newer properties, or don’t like the fact that they are being built very close to the older ones but I really like the mix of styles. Spain has a reputation for modern architecture and I am sure that what Gaudi did in Barcelona probably horrified some of the locals when he first built his apartment blocks.

I think that we should value both the old and the new, the Alhambra in Granada is very beautiful but I also love the science and technology area in Valencia as well. The picture below is from Google but the one of Valencia is mine taken a few years ago on a very hot visit when I had a sneaky dip of my feet in the water!

alhambra-exterior-xlarge

Valencia

My house is in one of the older areas and is a very little house that has not been  modified much at all , it sits between two neighbours that have been extended to be two storey so looks very tiny in comparison but it is just perfect for me.I love the fact that it is so compact, very little cleaning to do and I have a lovely terrace to sit on.

When I bought it the house had most of the original furniture that it had first been sold with 30 years ago so I am gradually replacing things and adding personal touches. My latest buys are the cute little lizards for the front wall, some curtains and thanks to my very generous Mum and Aunt Maureen I now have a new coffee table and an indoor dining table.

House - lizards

One of the best things about it is the view, the houses opposite it are lovely with gorgeous gardens and the sun sets each evening over them with the most wonderful shades of pink and gold over the sea.

Spain - houses 4

Spain - houses 30 my house 7

The view is great even from inside, I love sitting on my sofa reading or stitching and looking at this view.

Spain - houses 29 my house 6

I am very lucky to be able to live there, albeit part-time at the moment, and to be able to wander round in such beautiful weather, all of these house pictures were taken on the 6th January, look at those beautiful blue skies!

I hope that you have enjoyed looking at all the pictures, I am going to share some more of the lovely gardens in Spain a bit later then update you on the latest stitching finishes. As I mentioned yesterday I am itching to get creative with but first I have some marking to do. It may be the weekend but I have just been on leave for 2 weeks so I am going to have do a little bit of work before play this weekend.

Take care, see you all soon and thanks for visiting.

Happy New Year and the giveaway winner

Happy 2018 to you all, I hope that you had a lovely New Year, I was enjoying myself far too much in sunny Spain and arrived back yesterday full of good intentions to do lots of lovely things in 2018.

I have some great photos for you from Spain and some new projects to work on inspired by one of my Christmas gifts but first I need to tell you who won the giveaway for my ten year blogaversary.

Thank you all so much for the likes and the lovely comments you made on all the posts. The winner, as picked by the random number generator, is Daisy Debs so please could you e-mail me at alisonmryan@yahoo.co.uk and let me know what you would like as your giveaway gift. It is totally up to you if it is a pouch, stitching basket, knitting accessory, pincushion and needlebook etc, just let me know what sort of thing you would like.

I will leave you with a picture of how I spent part of New Year’s Day, on the beach having a picnic as is now traditional with us, a shared bottle of fizz, some lovely food and the happiness of being with family and feeling very lucky to be able to be there with them in such a beautiful setting.

Spain - Beach New Year

Will return soon with more pictures for you, thanks so much for visiting as always.

Fiesta Days

One of the things that I absolutely love about Spain is the number of fiestas they have. This is a nation that knows how to relax and have a good time! From the religious celebrations at Christmas and Easter through to all the little carnivals and local fiestas it seems that there is always something going on. Even little La Marina where Mum lives has a 3 day festival in August with live bands which is great.

I was lucky enough to visit two on my recent trip, the first the Easter Parade of icons in the tiny town of San Fulgencio, near La Marina and then the largest and most spectacular Moors and Christians celebration in Alcoy, a mountain town about an hour away, near to Barcelona.

I have been to both before but was very happy to return, particularly to the Moors and Christians one as I last went about 10 years ago, it falls on St George’s Day so I can only go in years when Easter is very late.

There is the usual lovely goldwork to look at on the icons and banners.

Aside from the two icons of Jesus and the Virgin Mary that get paraded from the church round the town, accompanied by a band and the usual gowned and tall hatted celebrants the main draw for me is seeing the beautiful Spanish women in their suits and lace mantillas. They look so stunning and I managed to get a couple of close up shots as well.

Spain Easter Fiesta 6

 

Spain Easter Fiesta 7

We went on a coach trip to Alcoy arriving just near to the end of the Christians parade so there were lots of people relaxing and refreshing themselves in the bar after their part of the parade.

The costumes are brilliant, such detail with everyone from each group dressed in the same outfit, even down to shoes and bags. there are mini versions for all the children as well, even the babies were dressed up.

We saw these lovely princesses in the parade and managed to get some close up shots as well, love that fabric!

Spain Alcoy 5 - princesses on float

Spain Alcoy 6 - princesses 2

Spain Alcoy 6 - princesses 3

We then had a couple of hours to wander, take photos of the gorgeous Art Deco buildings and then got a great spot to watch the second half of the parade when the Moors arrived.

They are a lot more flamboyant with sultans, dancing girls, camels and lots of riders on horseback showing off their skills.

There was just time for a few more pictures of the architecture on the way back to the coach.

Spain Alcoy 17 buildings

Spain Alcoy 18 buildings

I hope that you have all had a good week. Mine has been mainly full of marking and meetings as most of the teaching is over now. Saw Ellie briefly as she stayed overnight on her way to Spain, she is there now for a little break in between her busy Easter schedule and the start of her summer activities.

I have more marking and meetings ahead this week and weekend so I think it will just be a case of making a few more hexagons when I can, I am up to 47 now though so only 13 to go then I can start the process of removing all the papers and deciding on the layout.

Take care, have a good week ahead and thanks for visiting.

Mainly Sky

Hello and a Happy New Year to you all. I have had a lovely time with Ellie and Jake and then my Mum in Spain and hope that your festive season has been good as well.

I love looking at the sky, I love the way it changes and provides us with the most beautiful colours, one of the things that I love most about Spain is the wonderful sunsets every night, pink and orange as the sun goes down over the mountains.

Here is a gorgeous sunset behind the palm trees from one of our trips out.

spain-2017-2

 

We went to Clumber Park on Boxing Day as Ellie was working, she and I had been for the morning service on Christmas Day which was lovely but this was Jake’s first visit to Clumber.

We went to see the Kitchen Garden which is part of her responsibility as well as the Chapel and I took lots of pictures of the sky above and through the beautiful greenhouse.

 

These pots are also her responsibility, at some point she has to sort and catalogue them all!

 

clumber-10

We then went on the fairy trail, just as the sun was setting, there were lots of different parts of the woodland decorated with clues for children to find treasure and it looked beautiful in the winter light.

I also took this picture with the Chapel in the background which I really like.

clumber-15

I did try to get ‘seven swans a swimming’ but alas they were too quick for me but here are a few on the lake anyway.

clumber-17

It is very dull here today but the mists over the moors look beautiful, good job I am not planning to go out but instead to spend quality time in the craft room before I am back to work on Monday.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

 

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside….

Hello everyone

I have come back very brown and happy from a lovely week in Spain with my Mum, a brilliant winding down week consisting mainly of sleeping, reading and walks along the beach with not only paddles but one actual swim in the sea.It was very warm all week, in the high 20s so I wore shorts for most of the time and now actually have brown legs for the first time ever in my life.

We went on a boat trip to the island of Tabarca on one of our days out, I have been a few times before and love it, it is a tiny island about 3 miles from the mainland which was fortified during the 1700s so has the remains of the walls and a little fort.The sea was such a wonderful colour.

It is a very different landscape to the mainland beaches with lots of rocky inlets and sea grass that has dried into huge clumps on the beach, very much like the Cornish coast and there are some great views and walks at the uninhabited end of the island.

This was the little graveyard right at the end of the island. At the other end near the village is the church, we have never been able to go in it as it has been being restored every time we have visited over the last 10 years but it makes a very imposing sight at the edge of the island and the stone looks amazing next to the sky and sea.

We stopped for a coffee so I got the chance to take an arty shot of these stools outside the bar.Love the colours against the sea.

tabarca-1

Later on we had lunch overlooking the sea with lots of cute stray cats begging for food, we saved some of our tuna for them and I got a quick picture of another  island stray for you, because there aren’t enough pictures of cats on the internet are there 😉

tabarca-8

We walked along the restored fortified wall to the other end of the island to peek through one of the defensive towers.

tabarca-15

It was such a lovely day with the sun sparkling on the sea, hard to believe that in the UK it was Autumn and it has been a bit of a shock to find myself back in winter time zones with it now getting dark at 5pm. Luckily the festive season is fast approaching, so I seriously need to get my act together with ornament making and I am very glad I have mulled wine and candles to keep me sane 🙂

Also I have all the Christmas events to attend, am really looking forward to spending Christmas with Ellie in Worksop as she has to work on Christmas Day so I get to go to the church service at Clumber Park chapel.

It will be the first time we have been to a Christmas Day service since our trip to Prague in about 2006 when I, ‘persuaded’, the kids to come to Mass with me on Christmas morning. It was a very cold cathedral and the hour and a half service was all in Latin, for some reason they were not inspired to ever let me repeat that experience. I call it character building!

I did sneak a Christmas Eve service in last year in Oslo cathedral which was lovely. Ellie is now quite happy to attend any church service in any country but Jake is still not amused by trying to sing hymns or carols in other languages.

Hope that you all have a very nice week, will be back soon with the Liverpool goldwork pictures and more lovely pincushions! Take care and thanks for visiting.