21 July 2014

Monday Morning Photo - My Favourite Cordoba Flower Patio

Detail stone mosaic from my favourite patio from this year's Cordoba Flower Patio Competition. There were of course many fabulous patios open during the competition and I only get around a fraction of them, 19 I think, a post will be happening shortly.

This year hubby (who is no fan of pots or flowers) came with me and admitted that on the whole he enjoyed the experience and it had made him aware of space and the importance of architectural features. Since then he has made me a long-wanted arch and I'm more likely to get my fountain now as well.

08 July 2014

Monday Morning Photo - Cordoba, Patio and Pots

Typical Andalusian courtyard with pots. Last courtyard visited during the Cordoba Patio Flower competition this year at dusk.

See the complete list of Monday Morning Photos

19 June 2014

Spain's Top Landmarks

Spain tops the list, along with Italy, for the having the most monuments on the TripAdvisor Top 25 Landmarks of the World List.

Both countries have three landmarks on the list.

Spain's Landmarks

No. 5 - The Mezquita in Cordoba

No. 16 - The Alhambra in Granada

No. 20 - Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

12 May 2014

Monday Morning Photo - Perfect Pose in Cordoba

I couldn't miss the opportunity for this shot when in Cordoba recently to see the Patio competition. A horse rider wearing typical a typical Cordoba hat and outfit posed briefly in front of the Alcazar.

07 May 2014

CBBH Monthly Photo Challenge - Full Circle

It's been a while since I took part in Marianne from East of Malaga's CBBH Photo Challenge. The title 'Full Circle' took my fancy, having just been looking through some photos I instantly thought of these.

Every olive tree as far as the eye can see and beyond has a circle of land underneath prepared for the olive harvest to start in December. These pics were taken from a walk along the Via Verde de Aceite between Martos and Alcaudete which we walked in early December to see the Roman Bridge.

Then on completing the post I realised I'm a month behind! I thought I'd publish the post anyway. Enjoy the ocean of olive trees in Jaen province and if you'd like to visit the area check out my holiday rental home Casa El Reguelo.

05 May 2014

Monday Morning Photo - Renaissance Baeza

Renaissance Baeza, my favourite UNESCO town twinned with Ubeda.

Other related posts.

Hotel Review Hacienda La Laguna, Baeza.

See the Monday Morning Photo List

Other UNESCO sites in Andalucia

What to do on a Weekend in Jaen

01 May 2014

Epic Adventure Photo Competition Entry

These are my entries for the Blacks competition in collaboration with Explore.co.uk for budding photographers and bloggers.

The four categories are: Wild, Fast, Panoramic and Epic.


Serrania de Ronda




28 April 2014

Monday Morning Photo - Spanish Bull

The Spanish roadside bulls are a much loved sight when travelling and never fail to draw out my camera hoping for a decent photo to add to my collection and to tick off those that I have seen. When a passenger of course.

So when my son made some pallet wood bulls for a craft fair I had to hang and snap one.

See other related posts.

Black Bulls and Guitar Playing Bottles

Recycled Pallet Wood Furniture

Spanish Black Bull Monuments

For the Love of Spain

For the Love of Spain - Guest Post by HSBC Expat

Spain has typically been a very popular country for expatriation and … it’s obvious why. Hats off to the Spaniards; vivacious, welcoming and fun, they’ll ensure your time in Spain is truly memorable. Work life and free time harmoniously intertwine to create an enviable quality of life. Here we share some tips to get you started in this wonderful country.

Places to go in Spain

In Madrid, the enchanting neighbourhood of Chueca is where you will find a swarm of expat activity. It’s a great area for nightlife and Spanish gastronomy including some of the best tapas restaurants.

The Basque country has a strong economy with many important national and international organisations based here. Casco Viejo (Old Town) in Bilbao is a popular spot but you may not want to live there. The area of Indautxu has been recommended as cool, but a little pricey sometimes.

Barcelona’s Barrio Gotico (Gothic Quarter) or Barri Gótic in Catalan is a maze of winding streets brimming with mystifying history. To socialise with an artistic crowd, go to the district of Gràcia which feels much more like a village—but it’s a village in a city, since Barcelona ate it whole!

Cadiz in Andalucia (the south of Spain) is a famously hospitable city for expats, but do not expect an expat-overloaded locale because the andaluz culture is still very much intact. The area round Seville in Andalucia is known as la sartén de España (Spain’s frying pan) as it gets so hot there that you could cook an egg on the ground, so beware of the summer heat!

Seville Oranges

¿Por qué no?

Make sure you extend your reach and get as much access as possible to the Spanish language — a great way to do this is by setting up a language exchange. Find a Spaniard looking to practise English, then spend one hour both speaking English, the next with you getting to grips with Español. There are language schools dotted all over every city, but you should definitely book yourself into a group class to meet other like-minded people in the same boat.

Language mania

You should note that, however, Spain is a linguistically diverse country. Residents of Catalonia (encircling Barcelona) speak Catalan and in the Basque country they speak Basque a.k.a. Euskara. Euskara is in fact unrelated to any other language and so can prove difficult to learn but if you move to this area you should definitely try to learn it as the local residents will very much appreciate your attempts.

For more information on moving to Spain, you can check out the HSBC Expat Hints & Tips Tool for top information from other expats.

This guest blog post was written by Expat Explorer, brought to you by HSBC Expat.

21 April 2014

13 April 2014

Andalucia has 5 out of 10 of Spain's Best Tourist Destinations

Andalucia, my home, is also home to half of Spain's top 10 destinations, according to sixth annual TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards 2014.

With three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Seville was the top destination, coming in as a national third. Cordoba, Granada, Malaga and Marbella also made the top 10 list voted for by TripAdvisor during the last year.

This is the first time Marbella has made the list which was revealed in an awards ceremony in Madrid this week. Spain's top ten destinations making the list are:


Do you agree with this list?
If not why not and which destination would you add?

11 April 2014

Thrilling mini breaks

What with budget airlines, package holidays and low-cost tour operators, these days Europe is easier to explore and discover than ever before.

So whether you live in the centre of London or the wilds of Andalucia, there’s no excuse not to get out and experience some thrilling European mini breaks. Check out here for some great ideas on places to go and things to see.

Feria de Abril in Seville

Two weeks after the Holy Week or Easter Seville sheds off the winter blues with one of the biggest parties around, its April Fair.

From midnight on the Monday until the following Sunday, thousands of people descend on the city to drink, dance and be merry in the streets with specially-erected party tents that give the whole place a unique and magical atmosphere and provide the perfect setting for an unforgettable weekend away.

Sahara Desert, Morocco

If you prefer a less hedonistic approach to thrill seeking, why not head to the Sahara Desert in Morocco and experience some of the biggest extremes that Mother Nature has to offer.

Easily accessible from both southern Spain and the rest of Europe, visitors to the Sahara can see what it’s like to sleep under the desert stars, ride camels through the sand dunes and trek under the African sun.

Spain to Portugal bridge, Ayamonte

Silver Coast, Portugal

If your idea of a thrilling mini break involves rugged coves, adrenaline-inducing activities and fantastic food, then Portugal’s Silver Coast is the place for you.

Less crowded and less developed than the Algarve, the Silver Coast stretches from just north of Lisbon to just south of Porto and provides some of the country’s best surf spots and least spoilt beaches along the way.

Try your hand at surfing, kite surfing, paragliding and wind surfing or for those who like to keep their feet on dry land, horse riding, mountain biking and trekking are also available.

The Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Like the coast of Portugal, the Inner Hebrides, off of the west coast of Scotland, are ruggedly beautiful and provide lots of opportunities for adventure sports and activities.

Their clean, clear air, breath taking landscapes and otherworldly feel will also help you to feel fully revitalized and energized following your long weekend away.

With a little bit of imagination you’ll find a wealth of exciting mini-breaks across the European Continent. So why not book yourself a few days away and see how many thrills you can find.

This is a featured post.

23 February 2014

Monastery, Fire and Microlight Weekend

Unbelievably a year has flown by since my first birthday escape with hubby, there's been many a road trip in between, but birthday escapes are more special, don't involve work and aren't press trips. His birthday month isn't my favourite by a long way, but we did escape again, a week later on 1st February.

This time we headed east of Cordoba to Palma del Rio, not particularly for the town but for a hotel I'd had my eye on for quite a while - Hotel Monasterio de San Francisco.

Founded, in 1492, the same year as the Catholic Kings rode into The Alhambra taking possession of it from the Moors in Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, and from their gains funded the first voyage of Christopher Columbus.

Our bedroom was ample and very nice, a little austere but not cold in temperature or feel. The weekend was grey and chilly but at least it wasn't wet as it had been for weeks maybe even months, and the outside of the building as well as some parts inside showed signs of damp.

The monastery, once inhabited by over 500 monks, oozes history and touches of charm and being a sucker for antiquities, patios and wooden beams I loved it.

The hotel is only 3* an there isn't bar, but a welcome and very nice 'fino' sherry was a welcome treat before dinner after a wander through the town and sampling a beer or two. We went back to prepare for dinner and relaxed wine in hand under an amazing huge wooden beamed ceiling.

Dinner in the hotel was very good, included in our D,B&B (special offer) price, we had homemade pate then Salmorejo followed by pork loin with scalloped potatoes a nice bottle of red and waiter service. A previous 'Plato de Oro' winner, it was a rare and enjoyable treat having a silver-service three-course meal as tapas in bars have become the norm.

The monastery gardens complete with individual kitchen garden beds, rows of orange trees and a pool I could imagine a necessity in the heat of a Cordoba plains summer. The bell tower complete with storks overlooked all and I could visualize it ringing, calling the barefooted leather-shod gardeners in for mass.

The next day dawned bright and sunny, we didn't feel quite the same but wanted an early start to make the most of our escape, and having been told of a nearby air display we headed away from home and into Sevilla province, land of holm oaks, black pigs and orange groves.

First stop was the town of La Puebla de los Infantes which we had to stop in because bonfires lined the streets .............
next installment coming soon.