Monthly Archives: November 2018

Spain, Granada and the Alhambra Palace – two days of gaspworthy sites. (Best viewed on ipad or larger device)

Last time I visited the Alhambra I was in my 20s and it was a very crowded and a very hot day trip with no time to see the town of Granada. This time I travelled by bus from Seville – 3 hours – and spent two nights there (at the excellent Eurostars Washington Iriving Hotel) which gave me plenty of time to explore both to my heart’s content. November is a great time to visit – comfortable walking temperatures, clear skies, far less tourists and snow on the Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance (a place where snow belongs as far as I’m concerned).

From my hotel I could walk through the forest by the Alhambra into town. Autumn comes much later here so the colours were a bonus. Like Seville, although festive decorations are up nothing has been switched on yet – it is after all still November! Very civilised. The town of Granada is a decent size and there are nice walks in the modern parts and the old Jewish and Moorish quarters.

Next on to the iconic Alhambra Palace – right outside my hotel. It is hard to realise that only about 20% of the original palace exists (it is still huge) as the rest was destroyed – a fair bit by Napoleon I think?! Washington Irving’s book Tales of the Alhambra,which I now have to read, helped bring in initial money which was used to restore the place. There is still more that can be restored but Andalucian bureaucracy is slow.

There are so many things to love about this place.

Is it the architecture?

Or the ceilings?

Or the interiors?

Or the views from the inside out?

Or the gardens?

Or staggering up the steep roads of the Albaycin- the old moorish quarter on the other side – to get to the St Nicholas lookout and watch the sun set over the Palace and the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains?

You can decide………

Spain, A day trip to Ronda, Andalucia

Ronda is about 90 minutes from Seville and is famous for its beautiful setting and bridge. The town has been inhabited by everyone who has invaded Spain – the Visigoths, the Moors, the French etc etc and like many places in Andalucia the main church was formerly a mosque, although virtually nothing remains to show that was the case.

First stop was the bullring – a tour only. Nowadays they only have one actual bull fight show a year – the battle between those who worry about cruelty to animals and those who think it is important to maintain old cultures rages on. Seating for a bull fight is great wherever you are – given they are round so the main difference in price is whether you sit in the shade or the sun.Summer temperatures can get to the low 40s so many choose to pay the extra 100 Euros to be in the shade. Love those outfits too and yes there are female picadors and matadors these days – they don’t wear dresses for the fight!

Then on to the famous terrace walk with the amazing view. Ronda is definitely a place you have to see in the sunshine as so much of its pleasure depends on the gasp-worthy views of the valleys below and the famous old bridge that takes you into the well preserved old town. I chose to have lunch outside the Parador for the view – it used to the the old Town Hall.

The photos above were taken from the wall you can see in the pictures below. It is a decent sized area that you are able to walk along. Best of all – amazing weather and much fewer tourists.

In the old town we visited the Bosco house where the retired priests used to get free room and board to live out their days. Typical Andalucia house with interior courtyard for air and shade. Bottom right is the town square and probably the prettiest part of it – the rest is sadly a bit tacky – Ronda is certainly all about looking out from the town not into it!

UK – I’m in the country part 2 and a shout out to all my friends and family who made my visit back so memorable. Last post from the UK.

Another long weekend in the country. First stop with Lorna and Sylvie was Cambridge. We visited Kettle’s Yard – a lovely house in the centre of town with an eclectic art and natural wonders collection. Really nicely put together and timed tickets so limited numbers allowed in at the same time – free though:). Yes that is a Lowry – the guy who owned this place – Mr Ede – was well connected but he chose to not include any labels so people could enjoy the home rather than focussing on the names.

After lunch we walked through Cambridge with Sylvie (who lives nearby and went to university there) as our guide. Such gorgeous buildings and so many famous alumni. Cambridge is well known for its science faculty in particular and it is where Crick and Watson discovered the genetic code (or the meaning of life as they liked to put it). In true British fashion on making this discovery they repaired to the local pub for a pint to celebrate – a blue plaque marks the spot!

Then to finish off the day it was a quick look around the Fitzwilliam Museum which has an impressive collection of middle European art and is housed once again in a fab building. We finished off with drinks and then dinner (with another friend Miriam) at Parker’s Tavern.

Then a long overdue visit to Mayfield in East Sussex to visit my lovely friends Barbara, Reuben and Claire (surprise for me as thought she wasn’t coming out) and not forgetting Billy Whizz (the schnauzer). Being Barbara our first stop was the local Xmas craft fayre – very nice things and I didn’t grumble about Xmas too much (for me). Then delish home cooked dinner at Barbara and Reuben’s beautiful home and nice long country walk on a very sunny Sunday morning before stuffing our faces at the local pub with a traditional Sunday roast. It was a lovely way to spend my last weekend and it is hard to beat the English countryside when the weather and the colours are this spectacular.

And finally the shout out and picture gallery of my friends who made my month in the UK so memorable. Firstly to Lorna who so kindly had me and my two suitcases in her house for the whole time – she is a saint! Then to those who put me up overnight at their abodes – Barbara and Reuben, Susan and Gary, Natasha, Sue, Miriam and Christine. And to all the others who fed and watered me but most importantly reminded me how lucky I am to have them in my life – Cheryl, Rebecca, Becky, Gilly, Chris, Jo, Sylvie, Merrilee, Jill, Mark, Joanna, Len, Jonathan, David, Viv, Peter and Hedy, Alistair and Susanna, Michelle, Nigel and Ellie (and for the eagle eyed, yes that is Yotam Ottolenghi in one photo – best buddies (for five minutes anyway).

And that’s it from the UK for a few months. Next stop – a month in Seville.

UK, Durham and Berwick on Tweed – I’m in the country (part one)

On my visits to London I don’t often venture beyond the M25 so it was time to change that – obviously!

First stop was Durham to visit my friend Christine who is boldly doing an English lit degree there and seems to be loving it. First stop was a quick walk around the cathedral as the sun started to set. This is a highlight of a trip to Durham as it is pretty darn large. The pic bottom left is actually a Lego representation of the Cathedral and miniature poppies.

On the next day Christine took me on a mystery trip which turned out to be lunch at Raby Hunt near Darlington – a 2 Michelin star restaurant. I posted pics of every course on FB and Insta so below is just a sample:)

The Autumnal colors in the road by the restaurant were lovely. And I also loved the transparent representations of lost soldiers from the locations they originally came from which are dotted all over the UK at the moment – with a card giving the name of the person and when they died.

On the Sunday we headed to the local Farm shop and en-route we saw animals! Including cute piglets and the scary boar – Big Dave

Onwards and upwards after that to Berwick on Tweed where my cousin Cheryl lives. Her sister Gilly also came up from London and Cheryls husband Bob and daughter Rebecca were also there. Our family gets together about once every 20 years so this was an achievement – especially nearly in Scotland.

Scenes from Berwick on Tweed. This is where Lowry painted a lot of his most famous pictures.