Ragtag Saturday: a Temple, a Church, a Mosque, then a Church…

The Mezquita in Córdoba. It’s been a religious site since before recorded history. Ancient gods were worshipped here. Then the Visigoths came and built a church. Then, round about the 7th century, Christians and Muslims agreed to share this space, until the site was bought by Emir Abd al-Rahman in 784. This was the beginning of the vast place of worship we visited today.

When Córdoba was conquered for Christianity in 1236, the mosque became a Catholic cathedral. But it’s basically a gracious, imposing and immense Arab building with unsatisfactory Christian icing. To walk through the forest of Moorish columns, gazing upwards at Gothic ceilings is a slightly strange experience.

Spanish Muslims are petitioning for the right to worship here once more. With the Mezquita’s long-established history of shared worship and borrowed architecture, I hope they succeed.

Today’s Ragtag Challenge though, is ‘irridescence’. Let me show you a few irridescent details. https://wp.me/p9YcOU-zi

Take off in England: Land in Spain

In December 2017, I introduced you to my Spanish teacher Javi, and the parallels between his life and that of my daughter living in Spain. Fast forward a year, and Javi is still my teacher and our friend, and planning a treat. He’s taking Certain Selected Pupils (two of us anyway) and Malcolm to his home town of Granada for a week. He’ll not only be our tour guide, but will get us behind the scenes of his city in a way that only a native can.

He’ll introduce us to its Moorish history (the Alhambra, of course), and to the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada. He’ll take us to his favourite haunts. We’ll eat together. We’ll meet his mum.

I can’t wait. On Saturday morning, bright and early, we’ll be at Leeds Bradford Airport, then airborne for Málaga, and Granada. Watch this space.

Todays’ Ragtag Prompt is ‘air’ https://wp.me/p9YcOU-vT

Ragtag Saturday: Where did I put that glove (x 11)?

I’m incapable of hanging onto winter accessories.

My drawers are stuffed with odd gloves, almost exclusively left-handed.  I only buy cheap pairs, because they rarely last longer than a month. One famous winter I lost one or both gloves from eleven pairs. I managed to hang onto the twelfth….

This year, I made a stand.  I spent four whole pounds on a  pair of leather ones from a charity shop and vowed I would not lose them.  Shhhh.  So far so good.

So this year, I’m losing hats instead.  Three down, one to go…..

 

This is my entry for today’s Ragtag Challenge: Lost

Ragtag Saturday: Asylum – from Kurdistan to Leeds

Ripon is a City of Sanctuary: one of many cities throughout the UK proud to offer a place of safety, sanctuary and support to those fleeing violence and persecution.

At a recent meeting of the group, an asylum seeker from the Kurdistan region of northern Iran told her story. I’d like to share it with you.

X is an intelligent young woman with a loving and close extended family. After school, she went to University to study, and met the man she went on to marry.

As they began their lives together, they began to question their Muslim faith. They took their doubts seriously. They looked at other world religions, like Christianity. They prayed, they read, they trawled the net in search of answers.

One day, their house was raided. They came home to find their computer taken, their books in disarray, and anything dealing with religion also taken. They knew they were in danger.

Family members rang up. ‘You need to go. Quickly. Don’t bother to get stuff together, or get your affairs in order. Just go.’

So they did. First of all, they went to Germany, then England, where they spent about a month in the prison-like surroundings of an asylum seekers’ detention centre. They were advised to find someone in England who would be prepared to act as a sponsor. Somehow, X’s father found someone in Sheffield, and that’s where they went next.

I don’t really know the next bit of the story: only that she spent a great deal of time under the care of the NHS before they ended up in Leeds. And that’s where they are now. After more than two years, their application for immigration status has still not been heard, so they live on their allowance of £37.75 a week each which covers everything apart from housing: their food, household needs, clothing, transport, fuel and heating…..

They’re intelligent and highly qualified – X’s husband is an engineer, she a business studies graduate, and both of them have learnt English from scratch whilst being here. But neither of them is allowed to work. They would like to. They’d like to be tax-paying and contributing members of British society. Instead they draw their meagre benefit and do voluntary work and eke out a precarious existence, not knowing what will happen next.

X has had a break. The University of Bradford has offered her a place, and a scholarship open only to asylum seekers to read for a Foundation year in medicine. She’s grateful to the NHS and wants to give something back .

I have no photos to illustrate this story. Instead, I’ve chosen a gallery of images from Unsplash to try to help us all imagine what she thinks of when she remembers the life she has lost in Iran: her family, the countryside and townscapes, the culture she has left behind. She must have complicated feelings: grateful on the one hand to be safe; fearful of the future; homesick for her family and former home, and the life she thought she and her husband were preparing for; excited by her new opportunity; worried about money – all the time, and about their asylum application.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is Sanctuary.https://wp.me/p9YcOU-nq

To view the gallery full size, click on any image.

Ragtag Saturday: Three months of trying…..

Maybe it’s time for a Zoë update. You remember Zoë. She was the baby granddaughter who couldn’t wait until her due date of October 25th, and frightened us all half to death by being born on August 7th instead.

She’s getting on for six months old now. Corrected though, she’s only just over three. She spent astonishingly little time in an incubator, was out of hospital before she hit 5 pounds in weight and has been doing well ever since.

All the same. In her early weeks, she did little but sleep, eat … and grow. Her milestones are those of a late October baby. She still spends a lot of time sleeping, eating and growing, but now she’s adding skills daily. She discovered how disarming her smiles could be. And now, she’s putting in energetic sessions trying desperately hard to biff at the toys hanging from her baby bouncer. Such an effort! But so rewarding when she lands the telling punch.

This is my contribution to today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt: effort.

A district and its doors: El Carme, Valencia

When we were in Valencia, we stayed in the old district of El Carme, just within the old city walls.  It had its glory days in the 19th and 19th centuries, but fell on hard times.  By the 1980s, and into the ’90s, people referred to the area as ‘H&M’ – that’s hashish and marijuana.  Anyone with any choices moved out.  As dilapidated buildings collapsed – like here….

…. street artists moved in.  Followed by other creative people, attracted by low rents and prices.  Now El Carme’s narrow streets are vibrant, buzzing, crammed with bars and fashion boutiques.

No bars, restaurants and shops here. But in other ways this is a typical street in El Carme.

And yet its wealthy elitist past lives on, in its doors.  Why did such tall narrow houses have such magnificent doors?  Well, the rich wanted to live here.  They needed to express their individual wealth in some way, since spacious grounds were out of the question.  Doors then.  Doors through which a man on horseback could enter.  Maybe a carriage too.  Stables and servants downstairs.  The noble family above.  No two doors were the same.  Here’s a small selection.

This is my entry – my first – for the popular Thursday Doors challenge, which I first learnt about from Judith’s ever-interesting blog, Beyond the Window Box.

Click on any image to view full size.