June 4, 2014



Dear readers, this week, C is for the Chelsea Flower Show, 2014                                              

Even if, like me, you prefer admiring the efforts of others doing the gardening, there’s always something to catch your eye at Chelsea. Here are a few shots from the recent show:

Cactus display:

Rebutia Krainziana

Bulbs in bloom

Brunsvigia orientalis

Protea 'Little Prince'

                          And some of the model gardens:

Renaisssance Garden

Rose Garden

Country Garden

Seaside Garden

And, finally, thank you to all our dear readers who visited, commented or are new followers.



May 28, 2014


Dear readers, this week, B is for Barcelona, Spain (seen from hotel, above) ...    

According to the recent annual Cities Survey from TripAdvisor, which collates the opinions of more than 54,000 travellers to the top 37 urban tourist destinations around the world, Barcelona came #3 in the 'overall experience' category. What's your favorite (vacation) destination?
                            So much to see here, both ancient and modern. 
                            One moment, you’re walking in Picasso’s footsteps
                            through medieval streets:

                                  Not forgetting the famous La Rambla

                 And then you’re confronted with such modernist wonders as these:

                                                        La Sagrada

                                                and these buildings:

And, finally, thank you to all our dear readers who visited, commented or are new followers.


May 21, 2014


Dear readers, this week, A is for Agapanthus which is bursting out all over here in gardens   

And, finally, thank you to all our dear readers who visited, commented or are new followers.



May 14, 2014


  Local crafts in Andalucia include products made from wicker, leather items and intricate lace designs.

                                       Like this lace appliqué waistcoat
                                           Lace making in Granada
                              And a master Cordoban leather worker practising his art
                                               and wickerwork 
                                               Err, fancy a test drive?
Linked to Alphabe-Thursday where Z is for need a little *Z*est in your life? Well, unCORK a bottle of bubbly! 
                                       ORIGIN OF CORKS: ANDALUCIA'S CORK INDUSTRY

If you find yourself travelling in western Andalucia - anywhere from Gaucin to Ubrique, Ronda to Vejer next month between June 15 and August 15 - you might catch a glimpse of the most enigmatic (Legal) agricultural industry in Andalucia: the cork crop. Law forbids the cork oak collectors, usually employees of the cork factories from removing cork from the trees outside this brief priod, as it might damage the health of the trees. The men spend 2 years at college studying their subject before they Are so much as allowed near a tree with one of the array of special cork knives. Outside the 2 month harvesting period, the men all have different jobs in the processing factories for the rest of the year.

The iberian cork industry  - as well as bottle stoppers, it's also used in diverse processes from car construction to aeroplane insulation - is worth an estimated 2 billion dollars. Following the disastrous forest fires in Portugal in 2003, Spain has become the world's biggest single producer of cork.

And, finally, thank you to all our dear readers who visited, commented or are new followers!



May 7, 2014


Animals indigenous to Spain (Part 2) - but which you're unlikely to come across on your hols if you stay on the coast ... However, just a short trek up into the hills above the costas in Andalucía  and you'll notice signs for "la caza prohibida" (no hunting) everywhere!

If you're lucky, you might even come across the lynx below.

The Spanish Lynx is a beautiful creature which, together with the Mediterranean Monk Seal (below), is listed as an endangered species. (However their figures have now trebled over the past 10 years.) The lynx can normally be found in Sierra Morena in Andalusia or in the Donana National Park:

          Not forgetting, the Andalusian Horse or PRE (Pura Raza Española) typical of the Iberian Peninsula

                                       btw The Spanish Black Vulture is the largest bird of prey 
                           indigenous to Europe (there are believed to be more than 400 in Spain)
Linked to Alphabe-Thursday where this week Y is  for do *Y*ou like dressing up in, err, Fancy Dress?
Sometimes an image says more than a thousand words.Think of Audrey Hepburn In that timeless Holly Golightly still from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hugh Grant in that infamous LA police mugshot. Marilyn Monroe in that translucent white dress over the air vent.

But why oh why do images of those gussied up in fancy dress invariably end up making the subjects look absolutely idiotic? (With the exception of Elton John, in his Madame de Pompadour (and other) outfits, whom we accept as just, well, Elton...)

Here, then, are two more who look totally ridiculous. Released after serving nearly half of his sentence for fraud, ex-newspaper tycoon Conrad Black, together with his wife Barbara Amiel, pictured below in happier times resembling Cardinal Richelieu and Marie Antoinette at an 18th century-style ball at Kensington Palace in 2000. You can almost hear her cry to the assembled paparazzi-yokels, "Let them eat bread!”(NB Not my photo – nor my party!)

And, finally, thank you to all our dear readers who visited or commented.




April 30, 2014


                                  ANIMALS INDIGENOUS TO SPAIN (PART 1)
The brown bear used to be prominent in the area, however the numbers have dwindled significantly. The amount of brown bears in Spain 100 years ago was approximately 1,000, while now there are believed to be only 100. If you want to spot a brown bear, you can find most of them in the Cantabria National Park.

The Long Haired Mountain Goat is a bit easier to come across - there are believed to be about 20,000.

 The Iberian Wolf is another which has increased its numbers recently

                            Not forgetting, of course, those bulls and corridas
Linked to Alphabe-Thursday where *X* is for X-tra special dishes...

There are, of course, some dishes it’s probably best to steer well clear of! Like a number of ancient foods, 

for example, the Roman garum and liquamen - pastes made from rotting fish guts and heads. (Handy tip: 

you can always buy a jar of readymade anchovy sauce if you haven’t any rotting fish guts and heads handy!)

And have you ever tasted roasted lambs' eyeballs? No, me neither. They're chewy yet soft at the same time. 

Think marshmallow and shoestring licorice (withot the sugary taste!). Better stick to marshmallow and 


So, there’re some dishes you know you'll never want to eat again, and others, like the oft-repeated example 

of Proust's madeleine, which take you back into another time and place.

                        Which dishes (maybe Grandma’s or those of another family member) 
                      have entered your family's mythology, for either the right or wrong reasons?          

                                             Do you have a particular memory to share? 

And, finally, thank you to all our dear readers who visited or commented.