Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Trees and tiles in Andalucia


Alhambra palace, Granada

One cricis follow another. The world is currrently turned upside down.
Creativity, for many, is influenced by the sadness and worry that the news brings.

So it was a welcome break from reality that took me and my other half (OH) away to Spain for a few days. I tried hard not to be distracted by the news, and to enjoy the landscape and history that Andalucia has to offer. The cities of Cordoba, Granada and Seville.

Each has its own beauty. Each has a history of invasions and religious battles.
Palaces and castles in stunning settings, alongside expansive places of worship , a meld of muslim and catholic architecture.

Orange tree, Cordoba

We were lucky to be guided from place by Jimmy; a man with a heart of gold.

His knowledge of the local history was not expansive; but he made up for this in jokes, tall stories and an ability to park in tight underground carparks that I have never seen matched.

I think his best story was the one of an American lady who had never seen a night sky full of stars before.

She asked Jimmy  'Are the stars closer to Spain than New York'?

OH and Jimmy competed in their knowledge of historical facts; they were well matched.

We visited the Dolmen of Menga site at Antequera; a megalithic burial site.
I forgot to take any photos..... imagine a few enormous stones in the side of a large hill.... difficult to photograph in any meaningful way.

I was more struck by the Chinaberry tree in the car park, set against the most vivid blue sky. A masked woman sweeping up the berries to keep the car park tidy. I cannot imagine a similar scene in the UK, and in times to come it will remind me of the pandemic.

Sweeping up Chinaberry tree berries in Antequera

In fact, it was interesting to see what I did photograph in the few days that we were away.

Being 'on tour' is very different from being away by myself with no constraints on time or place. We had a very busy trip and walked miles every day. I carried one very small camera, and mostly used my phone for photographs, so I was definitely 'snapping'.

Jimmy was very surprised when I declined to photograph my churros and chocolate in a famous cafe in Granada.

Seville oranges

I enjoyed the trees, especially the heavily laden Seville orange trees. They are marmalade oranges; very bitter to eat.

The tightly controlled cypress trees in Cordoba were strange and dramatic.
Topiary trees, Royal Alacazar palace, Cordoba
Topiary trees, Royal Alacazar palace, Cordoba

The garden at the Royal Alacazar Palace, Cordoba

I am often struck by the act of pollarding, both in London and here in Cordoba. You can just spot some lemons hanging over the wall in the photo below.

two more trees clipped almost to oblivion

Outside the palace gardens was a more wintry scene, but elegant palm trees ascended towards the sky.

PictureOutside the city wall, Cordoba

In Seville the oranges were gathered up into a skip to keep the pavements tidy.

The other striking thing that I loved about our city visits was the colour and geometry of the tiles adorning the palace walls and floors.

tiles of Andalucia


There is something very calming about the cool colors and geometry of tile patterns lit by spring sunlight.

We enjoyed our days very much. Perhaps one too many castles for me, but the thousands of olive trees in the local fields and the typical local towns were a welcome break from the UK.

The highlight was definitely the cool interior of the Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba with its myriad of columns.

An awe inspiring space that has stayed in my memory since I last visited about 40 years ago.

Mosque -Cathedral of Cordoba

Our flight home was delayed by a day, so we had an unexpected trip to Madrid.

I dragged OH to the Thyssen-Bornemiszna National Museum to see some art. We were tired, and wanting to get home after walking around Madrid carrying our valuables.

It was all a bit overwhelming and busy. But one work stopped me in my tracks and made it all worthwhile. A Rothko, in maroon and green.

Untitled (Green on Maroon) by Rothko 1961

It made me want to paint.

More about that another day, perhaps.

I will leave you with an image of Antequera, the lovely peaceful town where we stayed.

Antequera, Spain