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.

A bit of Hungarian stitching

Don’t get too excited, this is not anything I have done, just some wonderful inspiration from our week in Budapest and another thing to add to my wish list!

I am still working on the little dolls, progress has been very slow as I got a chest infection on top of the flu so have been in bed for most of the last week and doing nothing!

I am getting a bit fed up of being ill, I really want to be young and sprightly but my body seems to have other ideas and it is seriously affecting my crafting productivity 😦

Anyway no doubt once the weather is better, and I have come back from nearly three weeks in sunny Spain things will be a lot easier and work calms down a lot after Easter as well.

We saw some beautiful vintage work in various museums, 17th and 18th century gold work and 19th and 20th century needlepoint and redwork along with some wonderful pictures and candleholders. Sadly the Ethnography Museum is closed for renovation as I would have loved to see more traditional costume.

There were some lovely historic costumes in the National Museum, these were from the late 1500s with delicate blackwork on the linen shift and shirt and embossed velvet.

Budapest embroidery 5

Budapest embroidery 4

Budapest embroidery 6

This beautiful beaded cap and embroidered bodice was from the late 1800s and the outfit below from the early 1900s, some Steampunk inspiration!

Budapest embroidery 8

Budapest embroidery 11

There was some of the traditional Hungarian embroidery in the museum as well, this beautiful cloth was about 200 years old.It was really interesting to see the Elizabethan style motifs such as the central flower, very similar to ones that I had made previously

Budapest embroidery 7

Then there was a little display case full of ‘modern embroidery’ and knitting items from the 1950s, the sort we were seeing in all of the gift shops.

 

Budapest embroidery 10

I love these kinds of displays, always makes me wonder who owned the things in them.

I have collected some beautiful inspiration from Pinterest on my Sewing Inspiration board and I am planning to do a small motif for a pouch. I love the bright colours of the traditional work, there were some lovely blouses with these on in Budapest, especially for children.

A lot of these remind me of Jacobean crewel work, there are some very similar motifs.

I am hoping to find some time this weekend to finish the dolls, have nearly finished the stuffing and sewing up, just need to make 9 little skirts as I wanted each doll to have a choice of outfits so wish me luck!

Hopefully I will have some pretty little people to show you next week, just in time to take them to Spain for all the little girls in the family.

Take care and I hope that you have a nice weekend planned, thanks for visiting.

 

 

 

 

 

Learning Hungarian

Whenever we visit a country I always try and pick up a bit of the language, as someone who teaches about language the process fascinates me and I also love to see if I can work things out from the context of being in that situation, so much easier than learning in a classroom.

Mum and I learned quite a few words from just walking around looking at shop signs and street signs and picked up some useful words such as ‘tolni’ which means push, ‘forro bor’ which is hot wine or mulled wine which we had quite a few of, ‘etterem’ which is restaurant and our all time favourite ‘Szombat’ which means Saturday!

We visited Buda Castle on our first day which is a Baroque palace rather than a medieval castle which involved a ride up the hill in a funicular railway.

Budapest castle 2

Budapest castle 7

Next on the itinerary was the Fishermans’ Bastion next to the amazingly beautiful St Matthias church.

I am one day going to write a book of embroidery and quilting patterns based on my travels and all the wonderful patterns I have seen and this roof needs no explanation, look at those lovely hexagons!

Budapest St Matthias 2

I enjoyed taking arty shots through the Bastion windows and this reminded me very much of the cloisters we saw in Lisbon.

We also visited the Vajdahunyad Castle on the same day that we went to the fantastic Széchenyi thermal baths. These pictures are of the entrance foyer of the baths in wonderful mosaics, a real cathedral to glamourous bathing!

This is what the baths look like inside, picture from Google as we were in cossies and not carrying cameras, although there were some very silly people with their phones in plastic bags taking selfies!

It was gorgeous and wonderfully warm, the water was 28 degrees while the outside temperature was 11 degrees.

Szechenyi-Spa-Baths-Press-Photo-Outdoor-Pool

The castle was built in 1896 for the millennial exhibition and is based on lots of different architectural styles. We had a little picnic by the castle lake after our swim as it was a lovely sunny day.

Budapest H castle 1

On the way there we spotted this beautifully restored art deco house.

Budapest Art Deco House

Budapest Art Deco House 2

This one was sadly not open to the public though we did visit another art deco museum later on in the week that not only had gorgeous furniture and paintings but also gluten free cake! That was so nice after 3 days of wandering past coffee houses and bakeries just drooling over all the lovely things!

Budapest cake

A very, very lovely trip to somewhere we have wanted to visit for ages. I have some more pictures of textiles from the museums to show you in a later post, it wouldn’t be one of my holidays without a bit of textile exploration would it now 🙂

While we were away Mum and I were discussing our trip for next year. We are going to Seville at Easter but would like to visit another city next year. On the shortlist are Istanbul, Tallin, Moscow, Krakow, Dubrovnik and St Petersburg. I do love planning holidays almost as much as going on them!

Have a lovely week ahead, take care and thanks for visiting. We are in for some severe snow this week so hopefully it will not cause too much disruption, it seems to have been going on forever this winter, roll on spring!

 

Budapest, lots of snow, lots of goulash!

We got back from Budapest late on Thursday, having been slightly delayed due to snow which we had lots of during our stay. It made for a beautiful visit, some of the time it was very clear with blue skies and thankfully the day we visited the thermal baths it was like that, others it was grey and blizzardy but it was really lovely.This one of the most famous views of the city, of the Parliament building taken from the castle area.

Budapest view

We packed so much into our 4 days and as usual I have lots to show you. We stayed in a very lovely studio apartment, Nova Apartments which was really spacious, well equipped and very warm, another great find from Expedia.

It was 20 mins walk from the centre of town and in an area full of bars, restaurants and ruin pubs so we had some really great meals out.I am gluten free and Mum is a vegetarian so main meals were easy to find but I did eat a lot of goulash for lunches which was really lovely and kept me warm for sightseeing.

Budapest tram

We spent so much time just wandering around looking at the beautiful buildings, there is lots of Art Deco there which I love, as well as Gothic architecture, amazing churches and castles, an feast of wonderful architecture.

The street where we stayed had some tailor’s shops and I loved these adverts.They reminded me of all my vintage print fabric.

Budapest Tailors adverts 1

Budapest Tailors adverts 2

Budapest Tailors adverts 3

I will be back later in the week with some more pictures for you, I am having a nice relax this weekend finishing of embroidering doll faces and am hoping to be able to make some progress with these tomorrow afternoon.

Take care and thanks for visiting.