Monday, 26 August 2013

Murals in medieval churches in Spain

At a gathering of Artists and Poets friends, the owner of the restaurant where we stopped for a long (perhaps 4 hours) lunch, which is typical in Spain due to the after meal conversations called the 'sobremesa' literally 'over the table', offered to show us around the local medieval churches which are dotted around everywhere, and some of which are now not in use and being conserved as tourist attractions or national heritage. 
Everyone knew how good these old churches can be and often house visual treasures only to be found in Italy and Spain. So everyone agreed and off we went on out of the way roads and tracks. We were not disappointed..'you will be surprised by the interior' he said. Both the churches we visited contained frescoes which were both visually stunning and very different from the usual church material in their representations.
Here are a few pictures to illustrate..the churches we visited were the Santa Olalla de la Loma and the San Juan de Mata de Hoz, both near the little town of Olea a few kilometres south of the hill station known as Reinosa in South Cantabria.

The San Juan Church Murals

Santa Olalla Murals

The Mural with the Last Supper (including fish)

Thed Mural depicting Hell!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A stroke of luck - or five - on the same trip?

It maybe that once in a while one might have a stroke of luck when on a long haul trip, although its more likely that it is the other way around, but to have a series of lucky breaks on a single trip with couple of babies in tow, then the angels are looking after you and you would be forgiven for buying a few lottery tickets on the day (although I do have my own view of lottery tickets which will have to wait for another post). This was the case for Manjeet,  Almu and our two grandsons Jito and Nico on a recent flight from the beaches of Spain back to Austin, which involved three different flights and some tight connections!

All went well until the Madrid-Dallas flight which was delayed an hour, but on arrival it turned out that there were severe storms in the area, and all flights in and out of Dallas were affected. While queueing for an hour and half at the immigration, our gang discovered that all flights to Austin had been cancelled, except for some reason the one they were on. At the end of the immigration control they discovered that their flight had been delayed but scheduled to leave in a few minutes. With the prospect of spending a night in Dallas with a big count of luggage and babies and more, they decided to have a go at catching the flight which was in another terminal with a security check and a check-in of their luggage with potential queues on the way.

First the check-in, where they needed to convince the staff that they could still make the flight, something the counter agents found doubtful. Somehow they convinced the check-in agent to check-in their bags. Next up was a security check which looked like a half hour wait in a queue, but Manjeet eyed a fast-track lane and Almu turned into a Hollywood star and pretended to be a lost, tired and confused mother of two who needed help as she walked up to the fast-track. The security guard at the entrance to the lane was convinced and let her in, with the last second addition of the suddenly materialised Manjeet.

Next up was another queue which also had to be negotiated, and again at the merciful fast-track the agent happened to be arguing with another passenger while our (not that easy to miss) gang of four slipped past! At the gate of the flight they arrived just in time to find that not only had their seats not been assigned to someone else, which would normally have been the case with so many cancellations, and that they were still in time to catch the only flight to Austin that evening.

The final piece of a blessing in disguise was that their luggage did not make it on to the Austin flight. Manjeet and Almu had worried about how they would manage to get their two kids, several large suitcases and two push chairs and car seats into their car to get home. As it happened because the luggage arrived the next day, a nice man from the airline took their luggage in a van to their doorstep the next day, just like the doctor ordered.

Some folks are born lucky, or perhaps the collective prayers of the family and friends create a protective aura that looks after us when we most need it.