Caceres, the cathedral and church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope that you have all had a good week, and are looking forward to the festive season if you are celebrating. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Caceres – a step back in time

I organised the trip to Caceres myself, rather than it being a coach trip, which meant a journey across Spain via Madrid on two of their marvellous and very comfortable trains. I love Spanish trains as they look often like birds which I think is deliberate given the name of the train company.

I found our apartment on Booking.com and it is called Apartmentos Turisticos Caceres if you ever fancy a visit there yourselves.

I have visited many old cities but none with the very unique character that Caceres has. As it was built as a walled city it has not been altered within the walls and so you get a very unique sense of what life would have been like. The centre of the city is crammed with churches, palaces and other historic buildings. There are 98 listed on the tourist map, though not all of them are open to visit, some being used as offices for the city. There are 1300 pieces of heraldry on these buildings, like the one below, which is partly why it is a World Heritage site.

We were staying inside this walled city so every step outside our apartment was like being back in the 1500s when the city was being built. The apartment was not decorated in a medieval style, which I would have loved, but was very impressive anyway, with huge thick walls and views across the city. These photos show the view from the apartment and the narrow streets that surround it.

It is also the perfect setting for a medieval market and I will post some pictures of that next time. We love these markets, and have been to many in Spain and this one was huge with lots of stalls and entertainment.

As well as wandering the streets, just soaking in the atmosphere, we also visited some of the palaces which have been turned into museums. I have some gorgeous textiles to show you as well in a later post, from the cathedral and the city museum which had a brilliant section devoted to traditional dress.

One of the palaces had a beautiful garden to visit, with this amazing old tree. I think it might be a fig tree.

We also spent time in the main city square, the Plaza Mayor, which is just outside the walled city. You go through an archway from the walled city and down the steps, past one of the many defensive towers which you can visit to walk round part of the walls.

As with many Spanish cities, the plaza was so lively with bars and restaurants, as well as entertainers who were with the market. We found a lovely tapas bar just off the square, which we visited twice to sample everything on their menu as it was so good.

It was all so beautiful and more than lived up to my expectations for the trip. You know how much I love medieval art and architecture. Although much of the ironwork was quite utilitarian, being defensive, I did find this beautiful door at the first tapas place we ate at, in the palace round the corner from our apartment.

I am now back in the UK, slightly earlier than expected due to a change in travel regulations, so am making the most of my time here at Ellen’s stitching the last of my Christmas ornaments and having a quiet week. Fingers crossed, (if the Day 2 PCR test comes back negative!), I will be off back to Huddersfield at the end of next week for a catch up with friends.

Meanwhile I will be making the most of time here, Ellen is going to try and teach me to crochet a snowflake, which is something I have wanted to do for ages, so watch this space! I will also be back with more of wonderful Caceres soon.

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

November sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mi casa bonita

I am trying to use as much Spanish as I can every day, as well as using my Duolingo app and watching You Tube videos for grammar information, hence the title of my post, as my house is looking very pretty now. I have not had a huge amount to do to it, as I did a major declutter at Christmas, but I have got some new white goods which makes the living area look much more spacious and tidier than before.

The previous layout had a large and very old fridge freezer with a microwave on top, at the end of the lounge units, and the lounge storage was scattered around the room. This really made the place look more cluttered and I was determined to try and get a more streamlined space.

I also had an old bulky TV there which I only ever used for the occasional DVD. Now I have lovely Spanish internet I am back to using my laptop for Amazon and Netflix so have done away with that.

I moved all of the units together onto the one wall and replaced the old fridge with a smaller fridge freezer where the washing machine was. I now have a top loader near the entrance to the bathroom, which works brilliantly. I also found some lovely stickers to go on the kitchen tiles which go perfectly with the new storage jars I have.

The coffee table was from my Mum. She and my aunt often give me furniture and it is great space for crafting as I have my WIP projects and sewing box on the lower shelf.

I was looking for something to go on the wall above the new washing machine, as I have picture hooks in the wall there, and came across this gorgeous door picture at one of the local home stores.

It is the perfect colour and you know how much I love beautiful doors! I am not sure where it was taken but would guess Morocco, although it could be Southern Spain, as it is very similar to many in the cities there.

I got some new serving dishes from the ceramica at Purellana so they are displayed in the cabinet at the end, and I have brought some of my lounge decorations from the UK as well, so it is all looking very much like home now.

In my bedroom I brought over a new duvet for the bed, which matches the craft room things that I brought from the UK as well.

I had to choose only a small selection from the whole of my old craft room to bring, so the whole stash now fits into one wardrobe, in these three drawer units, two wardrobe drawers below those, and the hanging storage.

The Barbie crew are making themselves at home here, eagerly awaiting some proper storage units so that they can come out of the wardrobe!

We have been to the garden centre twice this week so the terrace is looking very lovely and colourful.

I bought 5 new pots when I was in Purellana, the three fully glazed ones that you can see in the pictures above, and two more of the decorated terracotta ones. I have a lovely selection of my favourite geraniums, some cyclamen, gerbera, kalanchoe, coleus and petunias, and some others that I don’t know the name of.

It is all looking very lovely now, just a few more pots and a firepit/bbq to add to it, and maybe some more solar lights. I do love to sit out in the evenings reading surrounded by solar lights and candles. The above picture also shows the new candle holder that I bought in Purellana, on the right here, which goes beautifully with one that my aunt bought me many years ago for Christmas.

It is very hot again today, it has gone back up to the high 20s and after a very busy few days I am having a day at home, as we will be busy all weekend with my cousin. The knitting group on Tuesday was very lovely, a really nice group of very welcoming people, as knitters so tend to be. There is also a sewing group that meets on Wednesdays that I am going to as well next week. It is lovely to meet people here who share my interests and I am looking forward to getting to know them better over the next couple of months.

I am planning to do some more making up of the latest Little Cotton Rabbits elephant this afternoon, and maybe a bike ride if it cools down this evening. I have Spanish conversation group again tomorrow so that will be a good opportunity to see if I can remember how to say the new things I have learned. Still I am having fun doing it and it is making sure that my brain is not turning to mush in retirement 😉

I hope that you enjoyed the little look at my new things, I am slowly getting the house sorted and getting into a nice routine with lots of fun things to do. I think the whole thing is becoming a little more real to me now, it feels less like a holiday and more like real life now. Especially when I consider that this would have been the start of the really busy marking period at work. To know that I never again have to read any 6,000 word essays is wonderful!

Have a good weekend ahead, hope you have something nice planned. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

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.

A Christmas Miracle

Well dear reader, you may have realised from the lack of recent posts that I made it to Spain! It was indeed a Christmas miracle as I landed, with my lovely negative test certificate, the day before Spain stopped letting people from the UK in, and came back just before the UK started asking for the same tests on return. Phew! I am now safely ensconced in a snowy Marsden, self-isolating for the next two weeks.

As we are now online only at work and likely to be so for the foreseeable future I may not leave the house again for many months! Although I am determined to try and get out and do some exercise once the weather improves (and the pavements are less slippery) as I have had a very lovely time in Spain walking and even doing some cycling 🙂

I have not used my bike in Spain for about 4 years, since I started having more joint and back problems. My fitness has declined so badly during last year due to lockdown and working from home that I really wanted to do something to try and improve things. I started doing an online fitness programme a few weeks before I left, based on Salsa dancing, and really enjoyed it. So I got Rosie Raleigh out of my Mum’s basement and we had some fun adventures together.

I was determined to do as much walking as I could while I was in Spain as it is one of my favourite things to do. I started off with just an hour an evening to go and watch the amazing sunsets. I was later able to take the bike out a few times, culminating in cycling all the way to the beach, about 6km in total, there and back.

I was so pleased. Not only was it really lovely to be out in the sunshine and have the freedom to roam around some of my favourite cycle paths but it also gives me the independence that I need for when I move there full time. My relatives are very helpful with driving me places but I want to be able to travel myself as well and my plans for passing my driving test have been on hold since May and are no nearer completion.

I had great fun exploring some of the areas of the urbanisation that I have not visited before, including some of the smaller squares of older properties. They have lovely little green areas in the middle with palms and bougainvillea decorating the houses. There are also quite a few more refurbishments, and makeovers of the older properties into the newer white modern style are in evidence all over the area.

On one of my rides I went out towards the mountains. There are a number of paths alongside the irrigation canals that have been designated as cycle paths and the views were beautiful as always, especially with the sun shining through the rushes that grow at the sides of the water.

I also spent a lot of time on my terrace. Mum gave me some more money for plants for Christmas so I redid all the pots which gave me something pretty to look at while I was admiring the blue sky and the lovely sunrises. I also added a couple of beautiful ceramics to the wall. I am looking forward to having more tiling done when I am there full-time as I love Spanish tiles.

I also spent quite a few evenings sitting on the terrace reading as well, wrapped up in a fleecy blanket with all of my candles lit and solar lights. It was so peaceful and relaxing.

My Mum had her little candle tree up with all of the ornaments I have made over the years, all but the green tree at the top and the cross stitch to the left of that are ones that I have made for her. This is also useful for checking what I have already made for her for planning future creations.

The flight back was lovely though I was very sad to be leaving. It was raining when we left Spain but we flew over the Pyrenees in sunshine so I was able to get some shots of the mountains in the snow, I do love mountains!

So it is back to life in lockdown for the next few weeks, however I have plenty to keep me occupied. I am not working many weekends this term (hurrah) so am planning some more Barbie couture as my younger relatives loved their Christmas gifts and still have bunny knitting to finish. I have also been watching the wonderful Bridgerton and am taking inspiration from the amazing costumes there for more Steampunk plans for the future.

I hope that life is ok for you all at the moment, it does seem like a long time until brighter days, as it often does in January, but hopefully things will get better very soon and we can have some return to that wonderful weather we had last Spring. I have been so lucky to be able to enjoy the sun in Spain and will stay warm and await it’s return here. At least Marsden looks very pretty in the snow.

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.