Picasso and his barber

Earlier in the yearin my post Hidden Picasso and his barber, I wrote about the collection Eugenio Arias in a small village 74 Kms. north of Madrid, called Buitrago del Lozoya. Eugenio Arias was, for a long time, Picasso's barber and friend, and the collection is composed of the different works that Picasso gave him since they met in 1948 until Picasso's death in 1973. A very intimate collection, which we revisited recently.


Ikebana in Madrid

On 16th October, we had the pleasure of attending a masterclass of Ikebana, given by Prof. Yasuhito Sasaki of the Ikenobo School of Kyoto, with the assistance of Rikako Yano of the Japan art centre, Arte y Cultura de Japón, at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to Spain, H.E.Mr. Satoru Satoh. The event was part of the celebrations to mark the 550th year since the name Ikenobo first appeared in historic records, in the diary of Unzen Taigyoku, a zen monk at Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto, when commenting on a beautiful flower arrangement made by Senkei Ikenobo, priest of the Rokkakudo Temple.


Autumn colours in the mountains of Madrid

The colours of autumn just outside the village of Rascafria, about 100 kms northwest of Madrid. Also in this small village you can visit the Monastery of El Paular, founded in 1390. Today, the palace that was attached to the monastery is a hotel. The monastery also owned a paper mill that produced the sheets of paper used to print the first edition of Don Quixote in 1604. Opposite the monastery is the Puente del Perdón (the bridge of forgiveness) where condemned prisoners could appeal their sentence for the last time.


Tablas de Daimiel

About 34 Kms. north of Almagro, you can find the nature reserve of Tablas de Daimiel .
I will just leave you the following photographs and videos and hope you enjoy them.


Aubergines and Old Lace

I am sure that many of you, upon reading the title of this post, immediately associated it with Arsenic and Old Lace, a play by Joseph Kesselring, better known by the film adaptation directed by Frank Capra and starring Cary Grant. You would be right, although the setting is not Brooklyn but the city of Almagro in Spain. Almagro is in the province of Ciudad Real, in the region of La Mancha, known for, amongst other things, its pickled aubergines and "encaje de bolillos" or bobbin lace, which was a large industry here until the 18th Century. The city was the birthplace of Diego de Almagro in 1475, who was to become one of the Conquistadores that was involved in the conquest of Peru. He was also in Panama, as was Teddy Brewster in Kesselring´s play (or at least he thought he was). Diego de Almagro was involved in various conspiracies and was killed in Cuzco, though not by arsenic. His servant took the body and buried it under a church in Cuzco, much like all the bodies that the Brewster sisters, in the play, buried in their cellar.
At the centre of the historic quarter of Almagro is its Plaza Mayor, the main square with its Tuscan columns and rows of windows. The square also houses the Corral de Comedias, a theatre dating back to the 17th Century that maintains its original structure and which is still putting on plays. In fact, every year the city is host to the  Almagro Festival of Classical Theatre. The importance of Almagro in the 16th Century is also evidenced by the large number of palaces, monasteries, convents and churches. One of such convents, the 16th Century convent of San Francisco, now houses the Parador de Almagro, which is a good option if you are planning to stay overnight. The local culinary specialties besides the aubergines, which you can buy homemade in a shop two streets down from the Parador, called Morris are the "pisto manchego", a kind of ratatouille (but much nicer) which is sometimes served with a fried egg on top; "duelos y quebrantos" which is scrambled eggs with local charcuterie products; and the "Manchego" cheese.


In a place in La Mancha, whose name I don´t want to remember

You would be right to associate the title of this post with the opening sentence of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Even if you dont wish to emulate Don Quixote by becoming a knight and going around the world with your weapons and horse seeking adventures and solving all manner of conflicts, you may wish to visit some of the places where he sought his adventures. Although there are quite a number of routes you can follow, in this trip we just visited the villages of El Toboso, to visit the home of Dulcinea and of Campo de Criptana to visit the "giants" that Don Quixote fought and that are still standing. You could make this a day trip from Madrid, but I suggest you take a bit longer and, maybe, follow a route staying in one of the Paradores.

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