As far as blogging goes, I’m still in Barcelona: though in reality I’m snuggled in a cosy jumper looking upwards as a grey sky turns greyer.
In Barcelona, we visited the Monasterio de Pedralbes. It’s not actually a monastery, because no monk has ever lived there. It’s a priory, built in 1326 by King James of Aragon for his wife Elisenda de Montcada, who wished to found a community of Poor Clares there. Poor Clares? These are nuns who devote themselves to a life of simplicity and prayer, and in Elisenda’s time were almost always drawn from the ranks of the aristocracy. She herself never became a nun, but she was very real presence in the life of this community.
And what a fine place it is. A graceful three-storied cloister surrounds a peaceful garden. Here is a fountain, topped off with a rather cheeky looking angel. This is where the nuns would wash their hands before dining in silence in the refectory, while devotional works were read to them from a pulpit.
But it’s the kitchen I’d like to show you. In its day, this was a state-of-the-art workroom. Who wouldn’t like to cook at this unusual kitchen range, supervised by Saint Anthony? Look at these fine sinks, dating from about 1520. There are bread ovens, tiled worktops, and it was here that the simple diet of the nuns was prepared: fresh and salted fish, pulses, rice, vegetables and fruit. Meat was reserved for festivities.
This is another of Barcelona’s hardly-discovered treasures. Just a couple of school parties there, and once they’d gone, we had the place almost to ourselves. Put this on your must-visit list too.
Yesterday, we left Barcelona. As we walked from our hotel to the metro station down a quiet calle, we noticed these accidental collages: walls whose damaged plaster work revealed the original brick beneath; damaged multi-surfaced walls where graffiti had been added; brick walls juxtaposed with stonework, with decorated tile work, or with handsome brick decoration; a nursery school whose facade had been decorated with a festive collage of coloured streamers and children’s drawings.
We were in Seville two years ago. Just like every other tourist, we wanted history, the sights, tapas.
Torre del Oro
The gardens of Alcazar Palace.
On our walk from the station to our hotel, down narrow back streets, we discovered Seville has other less publicised art works. Almost every garage door that we passed had been decorated: graffiti style, country scenes, market scenes and cars, especially cars…..
A few however, bridged the gap between the narrow back streets of our first walk just beyond the city centre, and the discoveries we’d make in the next few days, by depicting views of a city we came to love in our short visit.
It was a couple of days before Good Friday when we first saw them. Mrs. Mallard swimming on the village pond with her eight tiny ducklings. We kept a proprietorial interest in them, and were dismayed when over the next few weeks they became seven, then five …. then only two balls of fluff. These two kept growing until they were, in duckling terms, almost teenagers. Then they too vanished.
No more ducklings on our pond. Just a single baby coot.
Last week though, walking along to a friend’s house, I spotted them. Mrs. Mallard had hatched another brood. Seven this time. I wonder whether this little lot will make it? It seems as if there have to be an awful lot of ducklings put upon this earth even to maintain the population at replacement level. Both male and female mallards will attack and kill ducklings who are not their own.
It’s eleven weeks since we first saw those baby ducklings. Mrs. Mallard is still no nearer to successfully rearing the next generation of mallards to replace her. In some ways, time has stood still.
WordPress Photo challenge: Delta. For this week’s photo challenge, share a picture that symbolizes transitions, change, and the passing of time.
It was the summer solstice this week. It was also, for three days only in the north of England, summer.
So let me whisk you back eighteen months, to a crisp and clear January day when I took myself off to walk for a couple of hours or so, looking upwards rather than at my surroundings. Skyscape succeeded skyscape. These changing skies perfectly illustrate this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: transient.
Constructing these walls is an ancient art which seems in no danger of dying out: younger generations continue to learn the skills needed. Large stones are carefully jigsawed together into 5′ to 7′ high walls. Here are some instructions:
‘Gather and sort the stone by size in a type that complements and harmonises with the landscape such as limestone, grit stone or sandstone. Make foundations level and about a yard wide. Large stones go at the bottom butting against each other. All other stones must make contact with others and have the weight back into the wall and the face facing. With each layer of stone fill in void spaces with smaller stones to ‘bind’ the wall. The wall should taper like a flat topped ‘ A’, this slope is called the batter. ‘Throughs’ are the large heavy stones laid across the wall at intervals for extra strength. Topping stones as the name suggests are the icing on the cake also called coping, cap or comb stones. Cheeks or Heads are the end stones. A Cripple hole is a rectangular opening at the base of a wall built to permit the passage of sheep. Also known as a hogg hole, lonky or lunky hole, sheep run, sheep smoose, smout hole, thawl or thirl hole. Smoot hole is to allow Rabbits and Hare to move through or even small streams.’