Saturday, 6 August 2022

And So, Here We Are....

Well, I'm sorry to say that for weeks and weeks,  I've been suffering from a torn hamstring. It has been taking ages to get better, and, on top of that, T. has managed to put his back out.    So things haven't been easy, though we've kept going, more or less.  Like, we went to Spain, and it was very good.  We spent several days in the lovely old city of Malaga, where we have stayed several times before, and which always has something to see....

...like this huge glass box full of potato chips, large enough to hide a man in...


...which seems to me like something fitting a crime novel. I could imagine a villain hiding inside it waiting for the chance to burst out in a shower of fried potatoes to commit his terrible crime.  Could you hide a body amidst those thousands of cheese 'n' onion fragments? ( the idea of that didn't tempt me inside to buy a paper cone of the things...  ) 

I thought of another question each time I passed the shop. How do they get the crisps out if people want to buy some? Does the assistant open the door and get buried under an avalanche of crisps? Or perhaps the crisps are not actually for sale, and are just for show, going slowly stale... Do they attract mice,  or could they be made of plastic?  So many questions.....and now I'm back in the UK I can't even go into the shop and check for myself.  Although that would have spoiled the fun, in a way.

Malaga is apparently one of the cultural cities of Spain, and it does have some great museums. It is also happens to be where Picasso was born.  But during this visit we didn't do very much. We just ambled about and went to only one museum, the Museum of Glass and Crystal.  

Its doors had remained firmly shut last time we were in Malaga but this time it was open, and we found it a complete thrill. It is a fairly new museum in an old palacio, restored by its benevolent-sounding owner,  Gonzalo Fernandez-Prieto, who actually lives in an apartment on the top floor. He has arranged his own large, imaginative and varied private collection of glass, crystal and antiques to feel as if you're taking a tour through a private house.  So, no barriers, few labels, and glimpses of a beautiful garden outside. You also get a guide who speaks your own language, and the overall cost is very reasonable.   This Tripadvisor link  gives a very good idea of what it is like, and if you are interested, I suggest you take a look at the pictures on the link.   I liked far too much of what I saw to show it all here.  But my picture of an 18th century goblet shows how the guide was free to handle it - he held it up just where I asked to photograph it. Not been made to be locked forever in a glass cabinet, but to be handled and held, I like to think Mr Fernandez-Prieto might have had his friends over sometimes to eat and drink off his glass treasures.

 


One of the nice things about it being a personal private museum is that he was able to label the restrooms with incredibly rare Andy Warhol glass to show which door was which.   (That's Andy on the right).

As I said we've been to Malaga often, and on this trip we stayed in the square shown below. It's really central and as we were several floors up in an old apartment block, we could watch life happening below without having to participate in the bustle or noise unless we wanted to.  We mostly did want to go out in the evening - the place was cheerful and lively and very clean - the trucks come round twice a day - and there's a lot of very good, inexpensive food to be had.   

During the day we liked to stop by the cathedral to watch pigeons skimming up and down by the fountains nearby to drink or wash. I like how this one sticks out its head and tucks its little pink claws in as it lands.

The jacaranda trees in  Plaza Merced were in full glory - they only bloom a few weeks of the year but it's magic to see them against a blue sky.  


So Malaga rocks, and we had a day longer than we bargained for when our flight home with Wizz Air was cancelled a few hours before takeoff. It cost us £800 to buy tickets back to the UK next day. We're still trying to get the statutory compensation for late flight cancellation (400 euros each) out of Wizzair for a nightmare fllight experience.  But being in Spain was a tonic. 

Next, a return to Herefordshire, which I mentioned in my last post.  Below is a photo of the excellent lady guide to the Painted Room in the charming town of Ledbury.    The room shown is a local government office, rather surprisingly.  Until the 1980s, everyone had forgotten it ever had been hand painted, but some sharp eyed workmen spotted the designs as they removed old wallpaper during some renovations.  So the conservators were called in and the room was revealed. 

The guide is showing part of a children's project about knot gardens, a type of aromatic herb garden laid out in a maze of little hedges.  That is because the painted wall decoration is based on knot gardens, which were the height of fashion in Tudor times  She told us that the room was apparently designed for a man with the interesting name of Mr. Skull in the 16th century. Back then it was used for public business and meetings, just like now, since Mr. Skull and his family were the building's resident caretakers.

  I felt very grateful to Ledbury's council for letting us have this little glimpse of the past, and providing such a good and enthusiastic guide.   

We also hit the Hellens Music festival. "Hellens" is another very old house, even older than the Ledbury painted room.  In fact, it originally belonged to King Harold II.  (And if you thought at first that you'd never heard of him, think 1066. He was THE King Harold whose eye was put out by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.)     Hellens is now privately owned by a family that loves music.   Every year they run a series of masterclasses for young chamber musicians, culminating in a festival week of wonderful performances, which are held in an old barn.  It's really, really informal, and the atmosphere is quite inspirational. A cat came along to attend each performance I was at.  I am sure it found it inspirational too, and appreciated everything about it, just like we did.    

There was also a charming dog who liked to play ball with the guests on the lawn afterwards.  Hellens really seemed to me to be the kind of house I'd rather like to live in if I was extremely rich. 


The grounds are laid out in a mix of formal and wild, with donkeys and hens, and there are the sounds of musical happiness everywhere.  Click the link if you want to see more about the music festival


Later in June we had a few days in Norfolk.  By then, my hamstring was making things difficult.  But a trip to Wymondham (pronounced "Windham") cheered me up.  It is a nice old town with some nice old pubs and shops, and a reasonably priced local teashop called the Mad Hatter, with home made food (click the link to see their Jubilee afternoon tea - yum).   Wymondham Abbey, the local parish church, was very unusual and well worth visiting the town to see. At first I thought it was ruined but it turned out that the building had originally been a 12th century monastery. at some point, the nave and north aisle of the monastery were hived off to be used as as parish church by the townspeople. 
 
So there were now two rival groups sharing a big grand building - what could go wrong?   Well, of course everything.  The bitter rivalry between monastery and townspeople was finally settled by Henry VIII, who closed all the monasteries in England for his own greedy purposes.    That left the townspeople triumphantly in possession. Unfortunately they didn't have the money or the population to maintain the monastery so they just let it fall down, or else they demolished bits as they needed them for the splendid stone. It was Caen stone, laboriously brought over from France. Which was no mean feat in the 12th century, specially since Wymondham is not on the sea. 
 

So now Wymondham parish church is a slice of monastic cathedral:  immensely tall, with gigantic Norman arches, a clerestory, a dazzling altar, old stained glass, splendid roof, and so on. But there's not much of it, so it doesn't have the paid staff, the offices, the shop, the side chapels or all the other things a cathedral has.  It is left to a handful of local people and their vicar to keep it open and running.


They do a good job. 


 Services are centred on the magnificent nave, but the vicar had used the aisle, with its fine old triptych and ancient carved roof, as a meditation and calm space. (see below).  You can see the comfortable sofas, the flowers, the lights and the beautiful stained glass windows (though unfortunately you can't see the stained glass in my photo).   No effort has been spared to make the atmosphere incredibly peaceful, calm and welcoming.  They wouldn't have been able to do that if it had been a cathedral. So, everything has worked out for the best. 


After this, the various muscle issues kept us in London for a while, and we had to cancel a trip we were going to take to Sussex.  But we haven't been sitting relaxing at home, oh no.  Various events in our wider family have meant that we're seeing more of our  grandkids than usual, not only the twins, who are their usual bouncy selves, but also S, the oldest, who has been staying for a while as he revises for an examination.    It's wonderful - they're friendly, helpful, companionable and full of ideas and enthusiasm.  What's more, there has always been someone around to pick things up off the floor, carry bags, move furniture, (in the case of S) and chat nineteen to the dozen.  I am sure it's good for the health. T. is almost better and I feel I am now on the mend at last. So I hope we can make our next trip,  which is only next week. I'll keep you posted. 

48 comments:

  1. Spain is one of the few places I did not visit with work. I went around a lot of countries with the work I did but took very little in the way of photos. A shame there were not smart phones than or may be it was not. The old church is magnificent and looks to be one well worth a visit. Sorry to hear of your wows but I do know how it feels what with putting my back out a few times and having minor ham string problems. Glad to hear you are back up and writing again.

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    1. I do appreciate my old photos (pre digital). I spent more time planning and organising them. But I regret the places I didn't photograph at all. It was so expensive in those days!

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  2. Sorry to hear of your injuries. I hope you're both well on the road to recovery. You've certainly done plenty of gadding around despite your uncooperative bodies. I've never been to Malaga but it looks rather lovely. Good luck getting the money from Wizz Air. It seems most airlines are doing their best to avoid paying out any money. The Painted Room looks rather wonderful. A shame the Wymondham Monastery was allowed to fall down, but the parish church looks beautifully maintained.

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    1. I think I am going to need good luck to get the money out of Wizz Air. It is frustrating that they paid up for my daughter and her family who were on the same flight as us, and flew back on the same plane too (with a different airline, at vast expense). Of course I am thrilled they got their statutory compensation but not so thrilled that Wizz Air are saying that we for some unknown reason are not entitled to the same thing. I almost wonder if they're just picking people at random or something. Still,I will persevere.... !!!!!

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  3. Ah hamstrings, horrible things. Even top class footballers, with top class treatment take 6 weeks to recover. Glad things are looking better.
    Usual great photos, well worth the wait. Love the pigeon.
    Not sure I would wish to travel to Spain these days, it's full of Brexiteers whining about foreigners surely?
    The vicar has made the most of his building. Lovely place for a visit. I suspect the houses round about are full of Caen stone! The museum looks good also.
    Great post again, well worth the wait, and good you can get about so much.

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    1. Well I am most definitely not a first class footballer but appreciate your good wishes. We did meet and chat to some English people in Spain but mostly they were moaning about Brexit. Not sure what they voted at the time, but I suspect they were sensible enough to put two and two together and realise that Bojo wasn't going to suddenly start telling the truth or doing some work just because he had been elected PM. Yes, indeed, Caen Stone is in evidence in some of the houses. I always think about the logistics of getting a cathedrals worth of stone over from Normandy in the 14th century with those little boats and no roads.

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  4. Prayers for good health
    Wonderful travels. The chips' box is funny fascinating.
    The calming area in the church is interesting in a good thinking idea way.

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    1. Thank you, Pumpkin. The calm church area seemed like a great idea to me.

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  5. So sorry to read about the back and hamstring issues ... not easy. I send my good wishes for your continued healing.

    Lovely to read about your various trips and visits, your photographs were lovely to see.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thank you Jan. I keep hoping the hamstring will get better. I think it is... just a bit.

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  6. My daughter just came back from visiting Spain. She showed me her step app on her phone. She has a busy job that keeps her on her feet and her step chart is impressive. But for touring Spain, it's as if she climbed to the top of a mountain and stayed there for a week.

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    1. I think that's not hard to do in some parts of Spain!

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  7. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the trip. Be healthy in this summer.

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    1. Thank you. The heat is very oppressive, and I believe it has also been very hot in Japan.

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  8. Poor you, the two of you! I hope you get well soon.
    And at least you have been able to go on such varied and wonderful trips before that.
    I don't think I have ever seen a Jacaranda tree in bloom; do they grow on Sicily, I wonder?
    The unusual church looks very much like my kind of place.
    My sister and I have finally been able to go to Yorkshire again. It was wonderful to see my family and friends there after 3 years!

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    1. Oh, that is strange, I could swear I answered this. Please forgive me if I have somehow done it twice. I know that jacarandas do bloom in Southern Europe in Spring and early summer, and have quite a long season. For my money they are the most beautiful flowering tree ever, but perhaps that is because I specially like that unearthly shade of lilac. I have been reading your Yorkshire posts and commented on them all - you've made me want to return there if I can this year.

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  9. I'm glad Jenny that you're back with us on the blog. I'm sorry about your bad knee. I understand you well, because my knees hurt all summer. But I just tire them, and when I move less, they don’t hurt. Wonderful places you have visited this year. I also like Spain, but I have not been to its south. Of course, Malaga is cheerful and life is in full swing there. The collection of glass is amazing, I would also like to visit it. Hope you feel better.

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    1. Thank you Nadezda. I hope that your knees don't make it painful for you to garden. If you go to southern SPain in about March you might see wonderful displays of wild nasturtiums and super wild flowers.

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  10. Enjoyed your post and hope you'll both be feeling better soon!

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad your recent health checkup went okay too!

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  11. Glad to read that you are on the mend. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

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  12. I've been to Spain a few times but not for many years and your post has made me want to revisit, soon. Your thoughts on the crisps cracked me up, I'd be thinking all the same thoughts as you!

    Sorry to read about both your injuries, never fun and the older we get the longer it seems to take to recover!

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    1. It's frustrating both of us at the same time. Neither of us can drive for very long without pain. I think T is healing fairly well now though, but I just touched wood when I typed that......

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  13. Another beautiful trip you shared with us! Perhaps some day you could do a short post about how you pack and organize for a trip like this. Surely you have so much experience and advice to share. I would be interested in that.

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    1. I like that suggestion, and I might take it up - thanks. Main thing is that I try to travel light, not always successfully. And don't take hold luggage unless I really have to. I also make a list beforehand and think about it, adding things as they occur to me. That way I usually remember not to leave my passport or credit card behind!

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  14. I visited Spain many years ago with two children, so did not have the interesting experience that you have, It is always nice to return to familiar and yet exotic places. I also admire that you keep the history in mind when you tour. Hope taht healing is fast for you both.

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    1. Thanks! I hope so too. I think one of the most difficult things about travelling with kids is when they get car sick. I hope that didn't happen to you in Spain!

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  15. I'm so sorry to hear about your injured hamstring. I know from personal experience that they take nearly forever to heal. Your trip to Spain sounds wonderfully relaxing. I enjoyed your descriptions and the photos That 18th century goblet is really gorgeous. My very favorite photo is of the pigeon landing. It is absolutely spectacular - the way the bird is captured in the light. A real gem!
    Take care, Jenny, and thanks for the lovely post.

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    1. Yes, I am learning that from personal experience too! I'm glad you liked the pigeon picture. It was beautiful light for it when I took the photo, and we sat for ages looking at how they were swooping to and fro into the water. It helped that we happened to be in a nice cafe too!

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  16. Thanks for taking us along on your latest adventures. I hope you stay well and continue to heal.

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  17. Thank you for the birthday wishes and lovely comments!

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    1. I'm sorry they were a little late. I'm no good at birthdays at the best of times

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  18. I was glad to read your comment on my post. I still have some books I have not finished reading. I might have unconscious expectations or bias fermented with superficial but attractive reputation.

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    1. I think that to read interesting ideas in a book is always a good reason to continue with it, don't you?

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  19. Thank you for a lovely post, Jenny. I enjoyed all of it, so for someone who's been incapacitated by a hamstring injury, you've managed a lot, and all of it so interesting! I loved the Painted Room (not sure if I've got that right) and the Hellens music festival...also Wymondham church. What marvellous places: the music and the calm both sound incredibly appealing. Malaga looks wonderful too!

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    1. Thanks Val. I wish I had been able to post more - it's been soooooo busy here (or maybe I am just getting less good at dealing with it all, at least in the heat! )

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  20. So nice to find this post, Jenny, and you certainly had a wonderful series of adventures. We hope to visit Portugal and Spain in 2023 and hopefully airlines woes won't be as bad, but one never knows. That airline admittedly has a fun name. And, yes, I too would be interested in reading about what you find as the best way to pack for your adventures. I hope that the injured hamstring is doing better and nice to have family abailable to help out.

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    1. I hope you make it to Portugal and Spain, they are in some ways so similar and yet so very different and it can be fun noting these points. I am hoping airlines will be better by then, too. It's a bit far to go by train even though this can be a very interesting way of getting around Europe. I always feel others do pack better htan me -but making a list of absolutely everything I'll need and keeping as light as possible are the two rules I always stick to!

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  21. Such a lovely post - fascinating information, as ever, and beautiful photos.

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    1. Thank you! And thank you for commenting too. All is coming through loud and clear! :)

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  22. Good to see you back, Jenny. I did write a comment...it's not appearing...it still may do, but just in case.....

    Thanks for your interesting post and the wonderful photos. Take good care. :)

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    1. No, Lee, I can't find your last comment, but I thought i saw one too. In fact I just decided to go over to your blog and comment because I was thinking about it. Maybe I deleted it. But thanks for trying again.

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  23. Wymondham parish church is impressive, as you noted: immensely tall, with gigantic Norman arches, a clerestory, a dazzling altar, beautiful stained glass and splendid roof. But without proper funding, the local volunteers and their vicar will struggle to keep the building and services in top class condition.
    Did I mention that the altar is dazzling? :)

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  24. Now all that's needed is a big glass box of chip dip.

    The Wymondham parish church does look like a cathedral on the inside, I credit the locals for keeping it in such good shape.

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  25. Many thanks for your recent comment on the low carb diabetic.
    We had a lovely short break away.

    Hope you are doing well and your hamstring is healing.

    All the best Jan

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  26. Thank you for your sweet condolences regarding my late great aunt. I hope you are doing well and wish you continued healing.

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