Today was Chatsworth House day. It was beautiful. We had to walk 2km to get to the house from the nearest village, Baslow. Most of the walk looked like this:

It rained a bit and sunned a bit, but it was otherwise really warm. Really warm. I haven’t been cold all day.

First view of Chatsworth House (there are some renovations going on):

The reason for going to Chatsworth House was there is a fashion exhibit happening and I wanted to see it. It was good- lots of old things mixed in with modern, all things worn by people from or visiting the house. I should have studied the blurbs more. I have a pamphlet about it I can read later. Here is some fashion:

(I thought the feathered neckline looked nice on the bald mannequin)

After Chatsworth House, we travelled to York on the train, grabbed some Chinese take-away, and now bedtime! We have a beautiful AirBnB in York.

Tomorrow is the start of York adventures.

(Updated Oct 14 to add photos)

I didn’t write yesterday because we were out late. Susan and I watched a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream that included both Shakespeare’s play And incidental music by Mendelssohn. It was a delight. But, as I have watched a few productions of Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as many other plays, I had some notes for them.

It was in the Sheldonian Theatre, which is at the heart of Oxford. Here is my view of the inside:

It was a fun venue, and was originally build for university ceremonies, no not a normal theatre set-up.

Today we hung out in Oxford for a bit, then lunched at a pub called The Crown, before meeting up for a Morse Tour – I got to see lots of places where all versions were and are still being filmed, as well as hear some stories about what it’s like in Oxford when they’re being filmed. The tour guide had some tid-bits from her chats with Colin Dexter, which I liked.

I’ve summarized the above because I’m tired due to the the following:

Right after the Morse tour, Susan and I walked back to our AirBnB, collected our suitcases and headed straight for the train station. I say “straight for” like we zipped there, but it was a bit of a bus adventure trying to find a bus that would drop us at, or even near, the Oxford train station. There is construction on the way, so the bus I thought would get us there wasn’t going there. Lucky there were some helpful bus drivers to get us on the right bus. Also luckily, we had left plenty of time to get there.

So we got to the station, ate pork pies, got on our train, switched trains in Birmingham, and now are in a B&B in Chesterfield.

Chatsworth House tomorrow.

The Ashmolean today, as promised. We spent the morning in the classical era.

Then lunch.

Then back to the Ashmolean to check out all the other eras. We planned to just look at modern art on the third floor, but then I saw there was medieval, renaissance, 17th century, and 18th century art on the second floor as well, and we looked at those, too. I like all eras of art.

We also checked out Blackwell’s bookshop. I didn’t buy anything, but Susan found something for me:

Today Susan and I explored a few of the sights in Oxford. We started by walking a shortcut from our AirBnB to the Natural History Museum. The shortcut took us along a bike/pedestrian path next to fields and over some brooks. Very pleasant. Much nicer and 50% shorter than walking along the roads, like we did last night and got lost. But we had directions from our AirBnB host today and we did much better!

The natural history museum is full of fossils, rocks, old bugs and other natural history things. Susan is keen and knows a lot about birds and animals. I am less interested, but there was an exhibit about brain development that had real human brains! So that was neat.

I’m touching a badger:

Next we tried to visit the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, but it’s closed on Mondays so we’ll go there tomorrow.

The Bodlean library was on our list of things we must see because there is a Jane Austen exhibit on right now. It explores some of her influences: books she read, people she knew, the Napoleonic war. There were copies of her books, and of books she read. There was also samples of her handwritten drafts, and her little lap desk she worked on. I enjoyed clips of adaptations of her works that have been made by the BBC.

Jane Austen’s portrait in the window, me posing for a portrait outside:

Standing in front of an Oxford landmark (edit: which Susan informs me is called The Bridge of Sighs).

It was time for lunch then, but we got distracted by the covered market. After lunch we checked out the Oxford University Press Bookstore, went shopping for snacks at M&S and walked home.

We’re still jet-lagged so the evening is for rest, colouring, and planning tomorrow.

There’s maybe three hours to go on the flight. I’ve slept two-ish hours, which isn’t bad for me but I’d like more. I’m going to be walking around like it’s the middle of the night once we land, which of course it will be for my body. It will be around noon in London, though. So that’s gross.

My movie thing on the plane doesn’t work. I thought this bothered me, but it turns out I don’t care and am more keen to sleep. Also, I have about 30 hours of podcasts on my phone to keep me entertained if needed.

Review of the lacto-ovo vegetarian meal (that means there’s no dairy):

The main dish was pasta, broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes with a sprinkling of small white beans. It had no taste until I added salt, at which point it gained a mild, salty flavour. I didn’t eat the salad because it was corn and beans, but I was full. I’m saving the dinner roll and dairy-free carrot loaf for later. Wisely, Susan and I ate a hearty lupper of hamburgers at the airport. The fries accompanying that were melt-in-your mouth perfection.

Now I try to sleep again

Today Christina and I did a day trip to Cordoba. We saw the Mequita (beautiful), the Roman bridge (beautiful), had lunch at Taverna Las Salina (beautiful and tasty) and wandered around a while (as we do).

It was rainy when we arrived, and cold, and we had not brought our umbrellas because we decided it wasn’t going to rain. But it wasn’t too long before the rain stopped and it got warm. As a result, after visiting the Mesquita in the miserable morning, when it was cold cold cold, we went back to give it a second chance in the glorious afternoon. It was still cold, but less cold when coming in from the sunny warm. (It’s probably a good place to visit in the summer. After a chat with our taxi driver, Christina found out that it can get up to 45 degrees C.) We also had a change to climb the bell tower to take pictures of the sunny afternoon view.


I’m on the train now, going back to Jerez. We took the express train this morning, so it was and hour and 50 minutes to Cordoba. This was delightful. The train back is not express, and not only does it take about *infinity*, it is dark out so there is nothing to look at.

(It actually takes an hour longer. I used hyperbole for effect there.)

On Sunday mornings in Jerez there is a big market/crafters fair/flea market set up by the alcazar. We went to check it out and we’re amazed my the never-endingness of it. Tables and tables of used goods and antiques and crafts and Barbies and books and used clothing and tools and stuff and more stuff. We only saw a portion of it.

On Sunday afternoon, Christina and I left the apartment we’ve been in this whole time, walked our wheelie-bags for 10 minutes or so along ancient cobbled streets, and we are now installed at a fancy hotel. We decided to splurge a little for three nights: there’s a jet tub and bathrobes so I am very happy. We did room service (tuna sandwiches) because we were too tired to go out and get anything and then had hot baths with jets.

Saturday was the last day of the flamenco festival and the last day of my flamenco class. It was sad, but a relief as I was still getting over my cold. I didn’t do as well as I might have had I been well: the week before I had the energy to practice the choreo outside of class, and therefore danced it better in class. Three days of this week were just about resting up for class, then surviving class, then resting some more. On Saturday I was feeling a lot better, so while I didn’t necessarily remember what I was supposed to be doing, I was enjoying running through choreo for the last times.

I’ve been enjoying a lot of good food on this trip. Note that it has all been completely dairy-free thanks to Christina, who helps me read labels in grocery stores, and asks servers in restaurants if things are dairy free. I have learned many words myself, however, and through context, recognize “may contain” and “produced in a facility” warnings.

Between having a kitchen in the apartment, and eating out, food has been easy. My favorite restaurant in the Plaza de Plateros has a menu with a little allergens legend, so that was handy. There are a few things from that menu I’d like to have again before leaving:

1) Meat Pockets (or Empanadillas, as they’re called on the menu, “Argentine Pie” in their English translation) – pastry filled with ground pork and flecks of pepper, or other veggies maybe (I can’t tell because they’re flecks) and herbs. The tapa portion gives you two pockets on a plate. Good size, not too big and they aren’t messy to eat.


meat pockets

2) Meat on a stick (or Brochettas on the menu) are bite-sized squares of salmon, bacon and a date, baked on a stick. SO good. You get two little sticks to a portion, with a little puddle of mayo on the side. I don’t eat the mayo. (There is another meat on a stick option on the menu that has other meat along with a chunk of baked cheese. Those who have tried it say it’s delicious. I prefer the non-cheese date option- OMG when Rachel ordered it she didn’t like the dates and let me have them. I like dates.)


meat on a stick

3) I’ve also tried the Pisto a couple of times, which is described in the English translation on the menu as “ratatouille with quail’s egg.” It’s teeny chopped up veggies and bits of ham baked in a tomato/olive oil sauce, with a teeny quail’s egg on top. I dip bread in the sauce. I like dipping bread in things.

Note that all these things have longer, more descriptive titles on the menu, but I don’t remember them. When they are brought to the table, the server announces them as “empanadillas,” brochetta,” and “pisto” so that’s how I remember the names.

Food, Part 2
On Saturday, in the late afternoon, I made “whatever veggies are left pasta”. You might guess what at this is. It wasn’t bad. Christina and I finished it up; we were hungry after our last class.

Our apartment kitchen was mostly full of veggies and fruit throughout our stay. Eggs, pasta. Easy to make and eat. Oranges are a favorite, as they are amazing and sweet here, and of course, delicious after class.

I’m feeling much better today.

Right now just outside, there is a church function or gathering going on. Many many people mingling and chatting. Families and groups of teenagers. I saw the children’s choir again, too – they were flocking from the church. I don’t know if there is a service going on. There were big crowds of people walking around on my way home, too – big crowds relative to tiny streets, anyway. It was sometimes hard to get past them. I was moving in the opposite direction. It might be like what we saw on Sunday a couple of weeks ago, where everyone was kissing a saint (Christina and Emma saw this on Sunday, as well, at the big cathedral: everyone lined up to kiss Mary’s forefinger). This would account for the flow of people.

I started feeling better today at noon. Nice timing since class was at one. Class wasn’t as miserable today as it has been the past two days because today I had more energy and my nose wasn’t running the whole time! I was doing fine (energy-wise at least) until the very last run through of the choreo when I forgot everything: the footwork, what comes next, not even recognizing what everyone else was doing.  I guess my brain was ready for a nap Right Now. I don’t mind because the rest of the class was fine. I mean, I wasn’t as my most graceful because we did a lot of turns and I got dizzy, and some of the footwork is too fast, but other that that I had fun.

After that, because I restricted myself to the apartment yesterday, I went out and about shopping and looking at stuff. It was sunny and warm until the sun went down, when it got chilly.

Tomorrow is the last day of the flamenco festival and my last class. I am sad/relieved. I like it here, but I also want to go home. Just a few more days.

As much as I wanted the magical powers of the waters of the Hammam to *zap* me back to health, I still have a cold today. Boo.

Dance class when sick is not a good idea and I do not recommend it. That being said I went to dance class today and it was a matter of suffering through. My eyes wanted to close the whole time, and my footwork was pretty shallow (not very stompy) because I didn’t feel like lifting my feet very high. BUT we’re learning a very pretty piece, and despite (or because of?) the weak footwork, I started to get some things that I wasn’t getting before.

After class, Christina and I stopped for some Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice and it was pulpy heaven in a little cup. It’s so orange it looks fake, and I had to chew some of the pulp.

Then reading time – I’m almost halfway through the thick book I brought. Then nap time.

Then some feeling sorry for myself time for being sick on my holiday in Spain. Followed close by some appreciation for having found a nice apartment to stay in and I should be trying to get my money’s worth anyway. Also appreciation for having a lovely sunny room. Also, attempted appreciation for having the time to lie around and do nothing for a day, when really I want to be out exploring Jerez some more. It’s ok: I’ve explored quite a bit.

Then a chat with Emma regarding life, etc.  And now Emma’s making her dinner and practicing flamenco singing.

Note: you can’t escape flamenco in the south of Spain. It follows you everywhere. There’s music playing at restaurants, and random bouts of bulerias (party dance) when the bars close. I heard palmas (clapping) in the street the other day and found a group of boys just doing contra tiempo as they walked.