Life in rural Spain, swimming with fishes and a community pig!

On the Sunday we were with Ben and Amanda, they took us to the nearby village of Orce, about 15 minutes from Galera. They often go to the market there, as it is a source of the material for their cave house curtains and furnishings, as well as being a beautiful little place to wander round and have coffee.

On the way we stopped off at the local open-air pool, fed by the mountain springs. I was all for a little dip at some point in the future until I realised it was full of fish!

There are over a hundred bream of all sizes in the pool and you just swim amongst them. I am not a very confident swimmer, although I love it, and would not cope with having fish anywhere near me, but it is a lovely place in the summer with picnic areas and a playground.

The village of Orce has so many beautiful houses of all ages so there were lots of balconies and doors to look at, as well as the beautiful square with its ornate lamps.

There is also a large castle with seven towers, again part of the defences from when Moors controlled this part of Spain.

I really loved this window display, the profusion of pots and the beautiful flowers was stunning. I am planning to get some more plant holders for my terrace, not on the windows, but will do something similar there with pots that are all the same colour as I think that looks really good.

The church was stunning, with a lovely bell tower, with very loud bells. We were there during one of the services so just had a quick peek inside, another magnificent altar as always.

Outside the church we came across a little pig, with a ribbon and bell round its neck. It was licking the door of an old microwave that someone had left near the bins. A passing resident told us that this is the community pig, it wanders around the village and everyone leaves food out for it and they later share in the meat from the pig. It was a very cute little thing so I hope it has a happy life.

The centre of the village had a palace which is also a museum. It was closed, but we did get a peek inside and of course there were some stunning doors! The narrow streets and decoration on the houses was lovely, again so different to here where everything is so much newer.

We ended the morning with a drink in a cave house restaurant which was really lovely, and we had some excellent paella as a tapas there. That, and the very large quantities of lunch, a three course menu del dia with wine and coffee for 16 euros, meant that a little siesta was needed before joining Ben and Amanda in the village for our final evening.

A brilliant trip and I can’t wait to go back. I have had a very busy weekend, more house sorting and some entertaining, and a very good night out at a local tapas bar. My cousin arrives with her daughter for a few days this weekend so we will spend time with them and probably visit the market on Saturday.

I have joined a Spanish conversation group that meet on Fridays, so enjoyed that last week, and have found a knitting group, which I am going to go to tomorrow. It is lovely to be making new friends here and I am making the most of my 90 days before I will have to leave!

I have done a little bit of knitting, dungarees for the elephant I have been working on, but not much else. I have made some more masks, we are still wearing them here inside, and when you go into restaurant seating areas, even if they are outside, so needed a few more colours and some slightly lighter weight ones. There is no need to use them to keep your face warm as I was doing this time last year in the UK 😉

I hope that you all had a good weekend. I will be back next week with some more pictures from the UK tour, I think I just have the final part of my time in Wales, and all the museum things to show you. Until the have a good week, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A walk around Galera

Although we were only there for two full days Ben and Amanda took us around Galera, so that we could see the views, and more of the gorgeous cave houses. It is a stunning village, and I can see why they fell in love with it. It is surrounded by hills, where the cave houses are, with some really steep roads up to them. Amanda is an excellent driver but her nervous passengers had to close their eyes at some points.

We first of all went up to the hills behind their house, they are building a mirador, or viewpoint, that will extend out from this hill so they have created a footpath to it.

Their house is in this valley so you can’t see it from here. It was amazing looking down at all of the other cave houses here, there are beautiful roofs on many of them.

The other walk was down from the hills opposite the hotel. I had been looking up at these views every morning from my hotel room and it was fascinating to go and see these houses closer up. We went up to the hermitage that you can see on top of the hill in the left of this picture.

This is the oldest part of Galera and there is a historic trail with information boards about the citadel that was here, and the history of the village during the re-conquest, when this area was taken back from the Moors.

Some of these houses in the street in the photo above are rented out so Ellen and I are hoping to go and stay in one next autumn as she would love to visit the area. I would love to see inside this one, it looks so cute!

The village is very tightly packed in the centre, which makes for an amazing view over the roofs. Like many Spanish villages there are beautiful town houses with ornate doors and balconies.

The architecture is quite different to that here in La Marina in many ways, for a start the place is much older so the roofs have a very weathered look, this area was only built about 35 years ago. Also there are very different types of trees, very few palms and a lot of cypresses and mountain ash trees which give it a very Tuscan feel.

It was also fascinating to see all of the peppers hanging from people’s balconies to dry, most of the houses have them and they look beautiful.

It is still very warm here, but has cooled down a little to the low 20s so I am enjoying riding my bike in the evenings. I am still busy sorting things at the house, a trip to the garden centre is planned for next week so that I can fill all of my beautiful pots and I am hopefully going to buy a new sewing machine as well so that will be very exciting! I can’t wait to make some more Luna rabbits.

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

Glorious goldwork of Guadix

It never ceases to amaze me what you find in the very small village and town churches in Spain, the altars, the icons and the sheer scale of things just leave me in awe, but even I was not expecting to find such exquisite and detailed goldwork in the Guadix pueblo.

The cave house area, although now a very popular tourist destination and with houses selling for well above average prices for Spain, was originally the area where the very poorest lived. Those who could not afford building material literally dug their own houses out of the hills. There is a short article here on more of the history of the area if you would like to read more, we visited Jose’s cave while we were there and it is a fascinating look at how people live. He just asks for a donation for your visit and has a very welcome fridge full of cold drinks for sale and also sells local honey.

Around the area there were various references to a priest, San Pedro Poveda, and I looked him up. He worked in the area providing education and set up teacher training to combat illiteracy in the area. His organisation was named after St Teresa of Avila, who is related to the order that I portray as a re-enactment character. Sadly he was executed for his beliefs at the start of the civil war in Spain. It is lovely to see his name and work remembered here.

We visited the church before the cave houses, I really loved the simple iron cross outside and the shadows that it made against the while walls.

Inside it was amazing, many of the icons that are used in the religious festivals were on display, and as always the costumes were stunning.

Further into the church there is a cave area and a cave house linked to that. They also had a little display of belen, nativities, from around the world. I loved their belen which is all set around cave houses.

Just around the corner from the cave house, in a little hidden room we came across the most amazing piece of goldwork that I have ever seen, even accounting for the marvellous work in Lorca.

I think what made it most amazing was its location. Not only was it so unexpected, whereas Lorca has many organisations creating the beautiful costumes for their Easter parades, but I have no idea why such a piece had been created for this small church. It looked to be very recent, and too large to be worn, though there was what looked like a priest’s cope and mantle beside it in the case.

The amount of work that has gone into this piece is amazing, many of the motifs are lilies, the symbol of the Virgin Mary, and have silverwork and shading, as well as goldwork.

I could not find any further information on its origin, only a small sign that I couldn’t translate so have no idea if it was made locally. A truly stunning piece of work and a testament to the skills of the makers.

I was sorting out my patterns yesterday and I have about 5 other goldwork pieces that I am intending make during retirement. I have only done a few, some as gifts, but one has come with me to Spain, my Tudor Rose.

This was made many years ago, in 2009 according to the blog post, and was based on one in the Elizabeth Hoare collection at Liverpool Cathedral that I blogged about here. This took me about 50 hours so I have no idea how long the goldwork in the church would have taken.

I mean to make a companion piece based on a pomegranate, which was the symbol of Catherine of Aragon, as well as being the symbol of Granada. Happy times with lots of lovely craft things planned! Today is a public holiday here so I am having a quiet day in, going to do my usual Spanish language practice, some knitting and then a bike ride later.

I hope that you are enjoying whatever you are doing this week, I will be back later on with more pictures from the Galera trip. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Cave house inspiration

So where do you go when you are trying to decide how to refurbish your own cave house? The local IKEA, while great for other furniture, may look a little out of place in something that dates back so many years, so Ben and Amanda have spent many happy hours in the cave house museums and open houses in Purellana and Guadix, about an hour from where they have their house.

I have briefly visited the cave house museum in Purellana, as we stopped there on the way to Seville when we did our coach trip. The picture above shows the view from one of the upper terraces of the museum. It is so stunning, you would never get bored of all the changes in the way the light hits the mountains.

It was lovely to go back for a more detailed look, especially as Amanda and the guide were able to discuss specifics, which was really interesting. They are trying to make their house as authentic as they can and so we spent a lot of time looking at the decor.

Although the ground floor of the museum is the house that the family live in, (you enter the museum though their kitchen!), the upper floors are a fascinating museum of artefacts from the 6 generations that have lived in the house. I loved the vintage sewing machine as a roof decoration!

We also enjoyed a visit to the two ceramicas in Purellana, we bought Ben and Amanda some beautiful reproduction storage jars, a little like these below, for their kitchen as a housewarming gift.

I came back with a suitcase full of garden pots and storage jars as I mentioned in the last post. I will show you those later in a separate post once the pots have been planted up. I have been doing a little refurbishment of my own house so will take some pictures once that is finished.

After a delicious lunch in the nearby town of Guadix we went up to the cave house area for a quick look round. This was the free tapas we had and my starter portion of tuna salad, you definitely will never go hungry here in Spain.

There was an open house to tour as well as the most beautiful church with some very unexpected goldwork, that will have a post of of its own as well later.

The views from the mirador, or viewing point, were amazing. As well as all the houses we could see the corral where they would have kept the horses and the wonderful rock formations that give this area such as distinctive look.

A truly wonderful day out, Guadix is definitely on my list to go back to for longer as the cathedral looked amazing, and it is accessible by train so I can go there by myself one day.

I have joined the gym and spa this week, they have the most wonderful array of jacuzzi pools and jets so we are off there again this afternoon, picture below is from their website.

I now have a monthly membership so will be going twice a week. I also got to take my bike out last night as it has cooled down a bit, it is only 22 degrees today which is lovely.

So I am finding lots of things to keep me busy, I don’t think I will at all bored for a very long time! Hope you are going to have a nice weekend and week ahead, I will be back early next week with more Guadix pictures. Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Una habitat troglodita

The title of this post comes from the sign for the the cave house museum which we visited while we were staying in Galera, where Ben and Amanda have their cave house. We went there by coach, from the nearest large town of Elche, a lovely 4 hour journey to their nearest large town of Baza, so we got to see a lot more of my lovely Spain.

Galera is absolutely stunning, I will post more about the village in another post but it is so gorgeous, there are lots of cave house here, and the views from the top of the village over the mountains are amazing. You know how I love a good mountain!

It is situated 140 km from Granada, surrounded by mountain ranges and other gorgeous little towns. It is a very well supplied village with local shops and lovely bars, as well as a beautiful hotel, which we stayed at.

They have owned the house for nearly 4 years, and spent the previous 3 years searching all around the area for a house to buy. The one they chose was previously lived in by an older man who lived alone, but it had been in the family for years. This meant that many of the rooms had been blocked off, so they are slowly re-opening them and refurbishing the rest of the house. It looks amazing and they have spent so much time researching and visiting other houses and museums to get inspiration.

They often get asked if it has a door, which it does, and electric. All of the plumbing is located in the front of the house, in an extension, which is where the kitchen and bathroom are. This is on the right of the photo above, and everything else is built into the mountain. They have a little map on the wall in their front room showing its location.

They have 5 rooms open at the moment, plus the kitchen and bathroom, and have plans for many more as there is an upstairs as well. You can just see the only upstairs window in the picture of the front of the house, and they have two chimneys, for the fireplace in the snug, and the wood burner in the kitchen that they also use for cooking.

They have worked so hard on it, they are very practical people and are really good at woodwork and building. At their house in Huddersfield they have an outdoor eating area complete with bbq and pizza oven, and they are keen gardeners and wood turners. All of these skills have been really useful in this house. They plan to move here full time in about 4 years.

It also has amazing views, as the house next door, and all of the ones across the road, have also been restored. We spent two very lovely evenings sitting on their terrace looking out at the other houses, which are also stunning. The first picture below is their next- door neighbour’s house, and the others are the houses across the road and further up the street.

The front door leads into a lounge/reception area and then they have a bedroom and a room they have recently finished restoring, behind two curtains as those, rather than doors, help with the air flow. This new room has beautiful wooden beams in it, and the plan is for that to be a study.

Going right from the reception you have a snug, which has the original fireplace and built in alcove shelves. They are having the chimney altered this week, and then they will be able to use the fireplace, rather than the gas heater.

The snug is a really cosy room and leads on to the kitchen and bathroom. They have built the kitchen shelves themselves with reclaimed tiles and have a very cute sink with very unusual taps, which is due to be tiled soon.

Leading back from the snug is another room that is nearly finished, which will become a dining room, and then some work in progress rooms behind there. They are having to use lots of different building methods, depending on the condition of the rooms and the original material, as there are lots of different layers in the rock. It is very much like their own geological museum as they have mica and silica growths coming out of the walls and an amazing layer of mini stalactites in the upper rooms.

I particularly loved their damp meters in the rooms that they are working on at the moment, this t-shirt has been hung to check how the rooms are drying out. There is so much that they have had to understand about the physics of all the materials that they are working with.

They have already redone one set of stairs, but the additional ones to the upper floor are still in their original state. The upper rooms are also in their original state and will need complete refurbishment, a job I am hoping to go and help with in future years!

There is access on to the roof, where there is a small terrace. A couple of years ago they were able to buy the adjoining garage, and their plan is to make the top of that into a roof terrace, with the lower area becoming a workshop, outdoor kitchen and garden area.

The whole place is amazing, they are so enthusiastic about excited about their plans and it was so lovely to see it after hearing so much about what they were doing. We had the most brilliant time visiting other cave house places and eating delicious food so I will be back later in the week to tell you about that.

I have a busy week planned, like most recently retired people I don’t know where I found the time to work! I am practising my Spanish everyday, both out and about, and through You Tube lessons and the Duolingo app.

I have some more practical things to do this week as I am having some small alterations done to my house. I also bought some more pots at the ceramica when we were away, so a trip to the garden centre is planned, and there are also a couple of nights out with friends. I have done a little bit of crafting, mainly knitting so must make up the animals that are finished and then get on with the rest of the craft supply purchases.

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

Still in touch with my inner eight year old

One of the things I love about the sea is exploring the shoreline and the rock pools and seeing what you can find. As a child I loved being outdoors, I had a very active childhood and my siblings and I were always climbing trees and rocks. We spent every Sunday out somewhere, usually near water as my Dad was a keen fisherman.

The highlight of our year was our two week caravan holiday in Somerset where we would build elaborate sand creations, examine the rock pools for exciting creatures, and go crabbing from the pier. I love it and still get that sense of excitement now whenever I am near a beach.

My walk the other way along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path took me along the gorgeous Castle and South beaches, and all the way to the end of the stunning Giltar Point. The views from the point were amazing, I could see over to Caldey Island and all the way round the coastline with the most amazing cliffs.

There was so much to see as there were lots of boats going to and from the island. There were also, sadly, many dead jellyfish. I think I counted at least 8, all of the same variety and a similar size. They are fascinating creatures to watch and it was awful to see so many lying on the beach.

A couple of days later I went over on a boat trip to Caldey, the island has a Cistercian monastery and some brilliant walks where you can see more of these amazing beaches and cliffs. I also saw my first ever pair of black swans on the old abbey pond.

The following day I went on a seal cruise back to the island, it was quite choppy and it was only a small boat so there was a free roller coaster ride included! We saw lots of basking female seals, it was difficult to get pictures but trust me that is a seal bobbing up and down in the second picture.

Some truly wonderful experiences, I am so lucky to be able to have done this trip and have the life that I now have. It still doesn’t seem real yet, even after all the years of planning it. I am still very much still in holiday mode here, and still have many practical things to sort out, so have not really got into a normal routine yet. I have started learning Spanish though, I can get by in many situations but wanted to learn it in a more structured way. Luckily 20 years of teaching English grammar and basic linguistics is helpful for understanding how other languages work.

We are off on a very exciting trip this weekend as we are going to visit my brother and sister in law, Ben and Amanda, at their cave house in the mountains near Granada! They have owned the house for about 4 years, but due to the fact that they mainly come to Spain outside the school holidays, and I have not been able to do that, I have never seen it. We were going to meet up there in June last year but we all know what happened to plans in 2020!

So I will be back with you next week and may post about that before I continue with the UK tour posts. I hope that you all have a good rest of the week and the weekend. I am off to a friend’s pool this afternoon, and the beach tomorrow as it is still very hot here. I know, it’s a tough life 😉

Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Tamar trails and of course a waterfall for Jacky!

As you may know my sister is a huge fan of waterfalls so most of our trips involve those. We only saw one this trip but did have a lovely day out doing some of the Tamar trails

There was not as much of a view of the actual Tamar River from the trail but there was a fascinating history of the tin mines in the area on the trails.

The tall chimneys still survive as do many of the old workings, both from the tin mining, and later producing arsenic.

The waterfall we visited was Lydford Gorge and we did just a short walk before it was time to hit the M5 for a slow journey back to Worcester.

It was so good to spend time with Jacky again, she and I have so many interests in common and I love sharing her van life for the odd week or so. She has been away for most of the 6 weeks holidays after the stressful year that she has had as a primary special needs teacher she really deserved the rest.

I am looking forward to more adventures with her next year. Meanwhile I have some very good news, I am finally in Spain! I arrived a couple of days ago and have been spending lots of time with Mum and my aunt Maureen, including a lovely trip to the pool yesterday.

I have lots of sorting to do, not least to put together a new craft space which is very exciting. My lovely aunt and I are going shopping for some storage this afternoon so I can unpack the two large bags of craft stuff I brought with me.

I still have lots of my UK tour to post about so will do as much as I can though things may be a bit slow as I have only a poor mobile Internet signal here.

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

Add yet more boats!

I am currently in my little tent on the very last day of the UK tour. I have been in a lovely little village called Fairbourne, across the estuary from Barmouth for the past few days. It is right on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, so is surrounded by mountains, with fantastic views.

Today, however I am posting about the trip to Plymouth. I have friends who live there, and my cousin Neil lives just outside the city so Jacky and I really wanted to go and explore. We also got to meet up the following day with my cousin and his family at their house which was brilliant. We normally see each other in Spain so have missed that.

As to be expected, given its long naval history, there were lots and lots of boats and celebration of that history. One of the first things we saw was a statue of Sir Francis Drake, who famously encountered the Spanish Armada here.

We were fascinated to watch the large ferry from Roscoff come into port. Hopefully at some point in the future Jacky and I will take a campervan over to France so we’re discussing which route we might take over ice-cream at this lovely cafe perched on the side of the cliff.

We had a wander round the bay and up into the older area of the Barbican. Sadly the Liberty shop was closed which was possibly a good thing as I don’t have room in any of my bags now. We did find a very cute Turkish inspired tea room with a gorgeous garden and had an afternoon tea.

After that we went on a cruise round the bay, past all the naval dockyards which was fascinating. My cousin has been in the Navy for nearly 30 years now so he works on many of these ships and will be sailing again soon for more training.

A very lovely day our and a very impressive city, it seems like a very nice place to live, with lots going on and a beautiful location just across from Cornwall.

We spent the last couple of days doing walks in the area. It was very hot so we stayed to woodland areas and had a lovely time before the long drive back to Jacky’s.

I will hopefully be able to post later this week, I am going back to Ellen’s tomorrow for a couple of nights and then fingers crossed on to further adventures.

I hope that you are all enjoying this late summer, it has been a bit wet here in Wales but that only adds to the scenery with low hanging cloud between the mountains.Whatever you are doing have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A tour of the tors

Jacky and I stayed on a beautiful campsite owned by the Caravan and Camping club outside Tavistock. We spent a lot of time driving round the tors and getting a little bit lost at times but met lots of gorgeous ponies, many, many sheep in the road and had some great walks.

On our first day we took Eva out to the tor we could see from the campsite. It didn’t look very high but was quite a steep climb but the views from the top were well worth it.

We had spotted a group of ponies drinking by a pond and were going to go down to see them when they started up the hill to us. They were very friendly and obviously well used to visitors. I think they wanted some food but we had nothing with us and would not have fed them anyway but the clearly thought the rucksack might have some treats in it.

An amazing day out, finished off with a paddle and a BBQ, which made me very happy as I had been enviously watching other people have them at the last campsite and I don’t have room for one in my little kit.

We went on to Plymouth later that week and did a lot more walking so I will post about that later. I am in Aberystwyth at the moment, having left Tenby reluctantly yesterday as it was a wonderful place. I am currently in a hotel with very lovely soft bed and so much space, a real luxury after seven nights under canvas. It does feel a bit strange as I have been getting very used to my tent but it is nice to have a few quiet days.

I wil try and post again before I leave for the final leg of the tour to Barmouth later this week. I hope that you are all having a good time whatever you are doing. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Beautiful towns, and so many boats !

I am now sitting in my hotel room in Swansea, overlooking the bay and enjoying a quiet evening. I am on the way to another campsite in Wales on Monday but have a little break here and plan to visit the museums tomorrow.

I really enjoyed visiting so many towns in Devon, I really loved all of them, all with very different characters but all with such a focus on seagoing. I love the sea and was amazed by the number of boats in the harbours, especially at Dartmouth.

This was such a beautiful town, with so many gorgeous old buildings, even in the mizzle we had when we got off the steam train. I wandered around the old streets that go up the hill, enjoying the view of the harbour. I had two short ferry crossings and if I go back would love to do another cruise up the river.

My last trip before meeting Jacky was to Torquay, which I had passed on the way to Paignton. It was really hot so I had a paddle, ice cream, a lovely glass of white wine overlooking the marina, and finished the day with fish and chips.

Torquay is very elegant and I was also able to get a good look at the three large cruise ships that have been stuck in the bay since last year. There were so many other large boats in the marina as well. I am used to seeing them in Spain but didn’t realise there were so many here. I spent a very happy afternoon watching them all.

I have sorted out all off the pictures from my week with Jacky so will post next week about our adventures on Dartmoor, we saw so many of the wild ponies there which was amazing.

Until then I hope that you have a great week, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.