Category Archives: Places I’ve been

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned

Standard

It had been nearly a month since my last post and I can only apologise.  I’ve just been so busy I haven’t had the time to write about anything, so again, I am sorry.

It’s been a hectic month in our household.  At the beginning of the month my Mother came to stay; the orginal plan was for her to dog sit whilst my husband I went off to Cordoba and then on into Portugal to see my brother-in-law and his wife.  All the best laid plans and that.  Needless to say, that’s not exactly what happened.  As our super speedy builders (more about them later) decided there was no time like the present, we decided that now wasn’t the best time to bugger off on holiday.  Unfortunately my Mum was on no-refund-easyjet tickets so she came anyway.  We felt a bit bad that she’d made a special trip but that her services were no longer needed so we decided that we’d stick with our Cordoba booking and Mum and I would go instead.  Poor old hubby would stay behind to supervise/labour on the build.

Cordoba was BRILLIANT and on reflection I’m glad it was Mum and I rather than Hubby and I.  My husband, bless him, doesn’t do culture at the best of times, but after Mum and I spent about 10 hours solidly walking from one historical wonder to another, I was glad he’d decided to stay at home.   Oh he would have gone, if only to shut me up, but I don’t think he would have enjoyed it.  No doubt he would have been impressed with the amazing Mesquita (Cathedral-Mosque) and the roman bridge, but after five minutes of looking, I think he would have been bored out of his mind.  He is of the opinion that one “load of rubble looks much like the next.”  I suppose he could be right, but I’m bit more romantic than that.

Cordoba truly is a wonderful place to visit.  An Iberian and Roman city in ancient times, in the Middle Ages it became the capital of an Islamic caliphate. There are literally hundreds of historical sites to visit and you spend forever just wondering the streets and inspecting the traditional Andalusian court yards and irregular buildings that look like they’re threatening to fall in on themselves. It really is beautiful.

During it’s Islamic period, Cordoba was thought to be the most populous city in Europe and the impressive Great Mosque of Cordoba was built to house it’s numerous Muslim inhabitants. It was expanded and expanded some more and at it’s height, could cater for 15000 worshipers. Yes that is fifteen thousand – that should give you an idea of the scale of the place. It’s now home to the city’s Cathedral, but much of the original architecture remains and it is a sight to behold. You really cannot visit Cordoba without visiting this great site. It is awe inspiring.   The Cathedral still conducts services and there were several weddings being held in some of the smaller chapels that line the walls – cue lots of people watching and outfit marking!  The tickets are reasonable at about €10 each and you can wonder around for as long as you like; I think we spent a good few hours in there and we paid the extra couple of € to hire the audio guide so we would know exactly what we were looking at. It was well worth the money.

Near the cathedral is the old Jewish quarter, which consists of many irregular streets, such as Calleja de las Flores and Calleja del Pañuelo, and which is home to the Synagogue . In the extreme southwest of the Old Town is the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a former royal property and the seat of the Inquisition; adjacent to it are the Royal Stables, a breeding place of the Andalusian horse. Near the stables are located, along the walls, the medieval Baths of the Caliphate.

The impressive Roman Bridge leading across the river and houses the Torre de Calahorra at the south end.  It’s a pleasant walk across and you can look down the river to the two ancient mills that once served the city.  At night the bridge is alive with locals taking a stroll, musicians and artists selling all manner of handmade jewellery, paintings and the like.  The tower at the end if home to the Museum of Andalusian life and gives you a great insight into the history of Cordoba.  It’s only a few euros to get in, you get a free headset to tell you all about its exhibits and they have an amazing scale model of the Mesquita.

All in all, Cordoba is a fantastic city and well worth the 4 hour, 35-degree-plus- no-airconditioning trip there and back!  I would recommend it to anyone.  The food is reasonably priced, there are hotels to suit every budget and the ice creams are gorgeous!  I recommend a good pair of shoes though – you’ll do a LOT of walking and your feet WILL hurt!

More about the house build next time – I promise!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Do yourself a favour – do someone else a favour

Standard

“As she has planted, so does she harvest; such is the field of karma.”

– Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

I’ve mentioned karma before when I was discussing what happened to me on my Easy Jet flight a few weeks ago.  After what happened at the weekend, I’m absolutely 100% convinced that it exists.

My Mum is visiting at the moment so we decided to go out for the day on Saturday.  We made our way to the beautiful village of Castril in the Province of Granada.  Though it’s (sadly) not the main focus of the post, it is so beautiful there, I had to share some pictures:

    

      .

Breathtaking scenery and some tapas along the way – what could be better?

Anyway, on with the story:  After our lovely walk around the village and a stop for lunch, we decided to make our way back.  Stupidly I let Mum navigate and somehow we ended up on a single track in amongst some seemingly deserted olive and almond groves.  We took it slowly and were enjoying taking in the amazing countryside.  All of a sudden, a little old spanish man can careering out of one of the said groves shouting and waving his arms around like a madman.  Our initial thought was that we were trespassing so we stopped and put our best innocent foreigner faces on.

It transpired that although it wasn’t clear whether we were trespassing or not, he was much more concerned by the flat tyre he’d just acquired.  The poor old bugger had one of those old Renault vans that seem to be de rigueur over here along with a brace and jack set that was probably older than me.  He’d obviously been struggling along on his own for some time judging by his sweating and wheezing as he told me all about the stone he’d run over in order to get the flat in the 1st place.  Add that to the sandy ground he’d parked up on and the fact the jack was sinking into the ground rather than lifting the van up and he was getting nowhere fast.  Now I know I’ve explained several times that I’m not a car person, but I can actually change a tyre and know how to use all the equipment and everything – I usually just choose not to.  In these special circumstances though I had to help.  I told him to stop using his wheel brace which wasn’t actually gripping the wheel nuts – just making a scraping noise and spinning round and set about getting mine out of the car.  I got a flat stone from round one of the trees and put it under my superior jack and set about helping him.  We had a bit of trouble with a few of the wheel nuts and inevitably ended up stamping on the brace to get them moving but we got the old and very flat tyre off in a jiffy.  I was slightly concerned by the state of the spare, but at least it would see him out of his in-the-middle-of-nowhere field and home safe and sound.  New slightly dodgy tyre on and a gap-toothed smiling Spaniard waving us off, we made our merry way back to the main road.

Feeling very pleased with myself and feeling that we needed some sort of reward for all our good deeds, I decided not to go straight home but to head into our nearest town to order a well deserved take away.  2 hours of fairly high speed driving and we arrived outside the one and only curry house in the vague vicinity.  I parked up, we got out and it was then that Mum happened to glance back at the car.  You’ll never guess… or maybe you will.. we had a flat tyre!  It must have gone just as I parked because it was flat as a pancake and there was no way on God’s earth I would have been able to drive it very far in that condition.  Bugger!  Ah well, I’d already changed one tyre today – what difference would another make?

I had to move the car since the flat was against the pavement so I drove very gingerly into a side street and set about getting the spare out of the boot.  I set up my jack and started undoing the wheel nuts.  I almost managed it, but got stuck with the last one.  Lots of huffing, puffing and swearing ensued.  I tried everything – different starting positions for the brace, kicking the brace, kicking the wheel, literally jumping on the brace to get it to move.  Still nothing.  Just when I thought I was going to have to call home and admit that I was too much of a girl to change my own tyre (I was quite secure in the knowledge that my earlier tyre changing experience would not have swayed the judgement) an old man who’d been sitting outside a tapas bar watching me shuffled over to offer his assistance.  Cue a bit more huffing and puffing.  Eventually the stubborn nut wound free and we jacked the car up further to get the new wheel on.  Phew.

Luckily the curry was also ready and since I’d ordered and the run off to change the tyre, Mum was left to pay for it!  Shame!  He he he.

So there you have it.  The moral of the story is “always do someone a favour, you never know when you’ll need one yourself.” (and you might get a free curry thrown in for good measure too!) 🙂

A week in Blighty and Lady Lipman makes it to the ball!

Standard

I’ve been in the UK for a week for work.  Although that allows me to catch up with colleagues and family, I’ve felt strangely cut off with the lack of facebook, goodreads, skype and so on.  It’s surprising since the connection in the UK is about a million times better than what we have here, but I didn’t have the time to check anything online whilst I was there.  It was a strange feeling.  There I was, surrounded by some of the people I speak to online nearly every day, yet I felt I was missing out on the usual rants that make the day go by so much more quickly.  Maybe it’s a sign of the times that we feel more comfortable telling the anonymous world about our day rather than popping round to a friend’s house or picking up the phone, but I for one really missed knowing what everyone in my circle was up to.  Ho hum.  Never mind – as you can see I’m back and merrily telling you all what I’ve been up to.

The journey to the UK was, for once without all it’s usual dramas.  The flight arrived ahead of schedule, I picked up the hire car (the reason I even need a hire car is another, much more irate story) and was in my home town shopping and stuffing my face full of Burger King in no time.  I did however find it a little disconcerting that there were several hundred more people in the shopping centre that there were at our local “international” airport.  I watched smugly as my fellow Brits ran around like headless chickens, scrabbling for the best bargains in Primark and thought to myself “God I’m glad I don’t live here.”  Now don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely brilliant to see everyone, but people were almost maniacal in their determination to grab their shopping with “sod you Jack,” written all over their faces.  I much prefer the slow meander of life over here.  Yes it can be frustrating when deliveries don’t turn up when you thought they would and sometimes the process of things just doesn’t make sense, but it’s all so much more relaxed.  Manana isn’t just a word, it’s a way of life.

So my shopping trip over I made my way down to Devon to the in-laws and the office for the rest of the week.  I am very lucky in that I actually get on with my in-laws and I can use their house as a base when I’m back in the office.  I have to say though that getting up in the dark, having to wear office attire and proper shoes and everything soon lost it’s novelty.  Driving to work leaves something to be desired too!  When I’m at home, my commute takes all of 30 seconds, and I can sit here in my pj’s and slippers if I really want to.  It was great to be back in the office but I wish the makers of Star Trek would hurry up and making tele-porting available to the masses.  It would be much better than having to fit all my make up into one of the stupid zip-lock bags at the airport and then hanging around for hours eating tasteless sandwiches at a fiver a go. I’d also forgotten that with office life comes the office illnesses.  Everyone was coughing and spluttering.  I spent the week holed up in a corner covered in alcoholic bacterial rub hoping I wouldn’t catch anything.  So far so good, but it’s early days.

Whilst I was in Devon it was my father-in-law Reg’s 81st birthday so needless to say there was much merriment, enough food to feed an army and gin and tonics flowing till the wee hours of the morning.  I felt like the guest of honour since everyone wanted to catch up and hear about our life in Spain and waxing lyrical about the Spanish weather.  It was a great night and I know Reg enjoyed having his friends and family around him.  He is impossible to buy for so i settled for a good bottle of Barolo.  I went to Asda to purchase said bottle – an experience I hope not to repeat.  It was bun fight of epic proportions.  Christmas certainly brings  out the worst in shoppers.  Everyone also seems to think they must stock up for a siege because the shops will be closed for 2 days over the holidays.  I’d forgotten all about the madness that is Christmas food shopping.  The woman in front of me at the checkout spend nearly £300 on a trolley full of booze and turkey.  And there I was feeling faint about the price of wine in England!

Lady Lipman

Finally the week drew to a close and it was time for the “End of Year Bash.”  As I’ve said before, it is always fancy dress and you are considered a completely loser if you don’t at least make some sort of effort – even if that effort means you get all Blue Peter and make yourself something out of sticky-back-plastic and an empty Fairy bottle.  This year’s theme was “Medieval Banquet,” and seeing as though they don’t really do fancy dress in Spain, I laboured lovingly over my sewing machine to come up with my Medieval Princess creation.  I have to say, especially as I didn’t have a pattern, I was really rather pleased with my outfit.  It looked the part and didn’t make me look like an idiot, so all in all, I’d say it was a winner.  Lady Lipman finally made it to the ball!  Hurrah!

Sadly all good things must come to an end, so I left the party and made my way back up to Gatwick, stopping en-route in Basingstoke to pick up some pals who were also back visiting.  When I booked this trip, the plan of going to work, setting up for a party, going to a party and then driving to Gatwick for a 6am flight sounded like a genius plan.  It wasn’t.  It was dark and miserable and not fun.  To add to my misery, I got to sit in front of the token idiot on the plane – you know that one you spot at the boarding gate and want to avoid at all costs?  Yeah.  That’s the one.  Added to that, the plane had more ill people on it than a doctor’s waiting room.  Not surprisingly, I slept for the whole flight, but was squished into the window, desperately trying not to touch any of the great unwashed who were sharing my air.  Unfortunately, this included my 2 friends, who are also full of snot, but I’m hoping they were breathing over the people in front of them instead of me.  If I get a cold I won’t be happy.

Back home now, wood burner on, tapas eaten, drinks drunk; Happy Days!