Sunday, 22 September 2013

Friendly Alicante

Whether it's Alicante, the Mediterranean in general, a sunny country, but there was a natural friendliness amongst people we came across in cafés and bars particularly.

We chatted a bit in very limited Spanish (ours) and much better English (the young owner or owner's son) and felt we made a bit of a bond with the family running the local café where we had breakfast, and watched the football on our last night :). They made sure they knew when we were leaving and gave us a friendly greeting and farewell.

This was even without knowing names - apart from the younger man's wife's name which is part of the café title - and without formal introductions in British or German style ;-) (this would never happen in a German café, I think ;)).

It was very touching, natural and really made the holiday.

Location:Back in Birmingham from Alicante

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Alicante warmth

First, Alicante isn't just sun, sand and tourists, bodies baking on the beach and cooling off in the Med. It is partly, and rather pleasurably for those concerned too, but even then there are plenty of Spanish voices to be heard and rather fewer "Brits" than I expected (snobbishness, probably, sorry!)
There are three real jewels of museums - the Archaeological MARQ (Museo Arquéologico) and the modern and classical art galleries MUBAG (Museo Bellas Artes Gravina) and MACA (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Alicante).
Archaeology has rich finds in the area from the Iberic hunter gatherers and boating discoveries. Salt extraction has been an important feature and there was a parallel exhibition about Hallstatt and salt mining in Austria.
The Contemporary Art museum was a pleasant if light excursion though some dark contributions which seemed to jar with the sunny and generally optimistic feel of the town.
The Gravina gallery has some really beautiful nineteenth century Spanish and specifically Alicantean art, echoing realistic art from elsewhere in Europe but with local touches in the settings and costumes and the people portrayed.
Emilio Varela was an Alicante painter (1887 to 1951). Local scenes with Cubist and other influenced, but realist and with the sun-soaked, sandy buildings and parched landscape of the area. Wonderful, and you probably won't see these elsewhere, another reason to go to new places if you can.

Above all of these, as they say quite literally, the Castillo Santa Barbara looms on its rocky outpost looking out to sea. Dramatic and housing history exhibitions and the lift to the top from the rocky underground centre is welcome in the Mediterranean heat.

Location:Back in Birmingham

Friday, 13 September 2013

Moorish Influences?

In historic centres, decorative tiles and gardens -

Location:Alicante & Elche

Thursday, 12 September 2013

And cacti

Elche has quite a few of these too ...

Location:Elche near Alicante


Elche has lots of these ...

Location:Elche near Alicante

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Crazy paving


Sand, palms and sun

Always popular with Brits and Other North Europeans.

I wonder why ...


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The English were here of course

In 1706 the British Royal Navy (?) bombarded Alicante then troops entered the city and took the castle.
In a rather fun video animation however the locals dug a tunnel and planted explosive under the castle and half the hill broke off and sent the Royal soldiers falling into the sea ...
The lift to the castle starts at the end of a long modern metal tunnel into the centre of the hill.


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Art, Folk, Estate, a Park

Had a rewarding weekend catching up on culture with landscapes and folk art at Compton Verney and folk music in Moseley.

Compton Verney has simple but grandly fronted houses which would otherwise belong to a National Trust portfolio, with grands landscaped by the designer-to-the-gentry Capability Brown.

The permanent collections range from paintings of the Bay of Naples, German portraits and Chinese ceramics and figures of horses and riders, through to wonderful folk art from Britain, outsized sheep and cattle, a toothache sufferer having his tooth pulled by s friend with a piece of string, and tools or signs hung from the ceiling, and many other paintings and objects.

Moseley Folk is now established on the festival circuit at the end of August going into September, with big name acts from past and present and plenty of room for up-and-coming artists.
Sometimes it goes so far into the pop/rock mainstream it seems to lose touch with folk, but Sunday this year was definitely folk, starting with accordionist and former Poozie Karen Tweed, taking in Be Good Tanyas, ending with the former Dubliners the Dublin Legends (we'd gone home by then I'm afraid) but already highlighting Kate Rusbie and her band.
Of course, as with Compton Verney, the lovely setting, in this case Moseley's normally private park, is part of the appeal and with a sunny afternoon catching trees, grass and pond then sitting amongst other festival-goers near bead, ale and coffee stalls is really very satisfying, although an Autumnal chill crept in later.

Location:Compton Verney, Moseley Park