Tuesday 29 April 2014

Operation War Diary ...

Would you like to become a Citizen Historian?

If so, the good folk at National Archives down in Kew need you now. They're crowd sourcing a project to map out one and a half million pages of war diaries from the First World War. The idea is to mark up dates, names and important details, so that they can be searched more easily by historians and interested amateurs.  You don't need any special qualifications, other than an ability to read and use a computer. You don't need to go along in person; they want your help on-line.

So what are these war diaries anyway? Well, the War Diary or Intelligence Summary, was a diary kept by each unit during operations with a view to compiling an official history of the campaign, and allowing the Top Brass to learn from any mistakes that might have been made for the benefit of doing it all better in future campaigns. They chronicle what took place on a daily basis, and give an immediate and dynamic window into the world of the regular Tommy fighting in the trenches of the Western Front. Life and death is chronicled. Sometimes individuals are named, but mostly it's kept on a general business-of-the-unit level.

Yesterday I volunteered an hour or two of my time to help out.

Recruitment poster for the Seaforths, which I strongly suspect post-dates WWI

After a ten minute on-line tutorial I was let loose on the war diary of the 4th Division, 10th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders. My boys had been mobilised on 23rd August, 1914 and sent out as part of the British Expeditionary Force to lead the charge.

Cap badge of the Seaforth Highlanders
(Their motto translates as "Aid the King")

I was hooked from the start. This was history recorded first hand by an eye-witness as it unfolded. In my mind's eye I could see the movie reel playing as I followed what they were doing, where they were (I was immediately off for my big road atlas of France to understand exactly where they were), who they were with and what the weather and conditions on the ground were like.

Moreover, it was humbling to read such a matter-of-fact account of what took place. There was no self-pity, no hyperbole, just a sense of honest, decent men trying to do their workaday best and get the job done.

Their War Diary was written in a neat, easy-to-read hand. I did not learn the name of the man that it belonged to, but he was evidently a compassionate, well-educated person. I dearly hope that he made it through the war.

Before I got started, I googled around to find out a bit more about the Seaforths. As it turns out they were involved in the retreat from Le Cateau, which was a tactical retreat in late August 1914 by the British to a more strongly defended front further West, where they could make a better stand against the Germans. This became known as the Battle of the Frontiers, and I'm pretty sure it's the background to the War Diary pages that I read.

I took up their story on 25th August, 1914 when they were pulling back from Viesly. They marched "a very tiresome and wearisome march" of nine and a quarter miles through the night to the village of Haucourt, which was serving as Divisional Head Quarters for the tenth and twelfth Brigades of the Highlanders. It was a cold, wet night. The roads were "greasy", and because there weren't any ambulances they were forced to leave the dead and wounded in a cottage near Viesly. When they arrived at half past four in the morning they discovered that their transport supplies hadn't made it, so they weren't able to have breakfast or draw their food rations. I can imagine they must have been cold, wet, exhausted, hungry and demoralised to have lost the comrades who had been left behind.

By this time the village was packed with soldiers. There was hardly room to move. Their supplies eventually showed up at six a.m., but before they could settle down to eat they came under enemy attack. There was some confusion as they had thought the French were watching the front. The enemy moved into position, occupying a ridge to the north of the village. My boys in the second battalion were held in reserve as their comrades came under heavy fire.

"The rest of the Brigade and the 12th Brigade were very heavily engaged in front and lost fairly heavily from shrapnel and machine gun fire - Tremendous artillery duels took place at intervals throughout the day, our gunners behaving splendidly and never ceasing their fire though far outnumbered."

At about 4:30 p.m. they were joined in their trench by 3 French cavalry divisions, who had come to relieve them. Then at 6:00 p.m. they were ordered to retire through the valley between Caullery and Selvigny with orders that the Brigade would assemble at Selvigny. However, in pulling out of the trench, they came under heavy shrapnel fire and were forced to cross ground that had already been blown to bits by the enemy artillery. One officer, Captain KDM Machlachlan and twenty men were wounded in the withdrawal. This was the first time that they had come under heavy enemy fire, but "the movement was accomplished in perfect order and with great steadiness".

C company "with whom were the stretcher bearers" had received orders to withdraw via another route, and as a consequence they were unable to take four of their seriously injured colleagues, who were left behind.

I only completed four pages as I was terrified of missing something. I felt  responsible for ensuring that their tale was told properly, even though each page is checked by seven volunteers to make sure that any mistakes are spotted. Later today I'm going to go back to find out what happened next.

Wherever you are, and however little you think you know about the conflict, I'm sure you'd find the war diaries totally gripping.  If you'd like to help out you can log on here: Operation War Diary.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Monday 28 April 2014

Lucky Monday ...

Today I'm feeling very lucky, and it's all to do with technology. Normally technology and I enjoy a slightly fractious relationship, but not today. Today we are oscillating in perfect harmony, me and my technology.

Want to know what happened?

Well it all kicked off because I didn't frisk the pockets of my jeans very carefully before I did the laundry on Saturday. As a result, when I opened the washing machine door, the remote control for my camera tumbled into my laundry basket along with all the other soggy items that had just been through the spin cycle. Eeeek! I scooped it up feeling certain that it's next port of call would be the recycling bin, but then something made me pause and give it one last chance. I thought I'd let it sit on a shelf above a radiator to dry out ... just in case.

I wasn't holding out much hope. I spent all Sunday in denial, not mentioning what had happened to anyone. It's the sort of thing that my husband loves to take the Mickey over, but I held my peace, and didn't draw attention to what had happened to my little gizmo.

Then this morning, as I was doing a tidy-up, I thought I'd give it one last chance and see if it worked. I fired up the camera, pointed my remote control, pushed the button, and held my breath. Without any hesitation the autofocus whirred into action, the flash bulb lit up and the shutter clicked.

What a little treasure! It had survived the spin cycle!

Now that I'm on a roll, I think I'll go and buy a lottery ticket ... .

Happy Monday!

Bonny x

Saturday 26 April 2014

Chiswick House Kitchen Garden Open Day

Chiswick House has a rather splendid kitchen garden that isn't normally open to the likes of you and me. But today they opened their doors to let us have a look behind the high garden wall that normally keeps us out. We happened to be in the neighbourhood, cooling our heels whilst Emi went to a birthday party down the road, so we popped in to have a look.

For me there's something special about a walled garden: a secret place, where horticultural gems are preserved for the enjoyment of a select few.  And what's lovely about this garden is that the select few, who normally get to enjoy it are the local volunteers who maintain it. It's a place that's available for anyone who wants to enjoy a spot of therapeutic gardening. Today they were out in force, tending the beds, and they seemed to be a jolly little community of like-minded people who'd become good chums through their shared interest.

Now I have to say that the scale of this garden is daunting. It's huge: way bigger than anything I'd want to have to maintain. It was originally laid out by Sir Stephen Fox in 1682 as the garden for his adjoining property, Moreton Hall, which the sixth Duke of Devonshire purchased in 1812. The house was demolished and the kitchen garden was incorporated into the grounds of Chiswick House. So, back in the day, the garden was designed on a scale that would feed the many mouths that had to be sustained on an estate of this size.

What's nice about it is that it still feels very functional; it's a useful place that's also pretty. William Morris, the great mover-shaker behind the Arts and Crafts Movement, once said: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful", and I think he'd be jolly impressed by the way in which the volunteers, who work here, have taken that principle outdoors and applied it to their garden.

There are lots of apple and pear trees that have been pleached to grow along knee-high wires around the perimeter pathway: so pretty, and so useful. There's lots of space behind for growing other things, and the precious wall area is left free for growing figs and other soft fruit that need a little more help from the heat of the brickwork in the sun to ripen.

There's a lovely area for growing all the kitchen and medicinal herbs. Once again, it's not only pretty, it's also full of useful things.

They already have a number of harvestable crops, all ready for the kitchen.
From top left, going clockwise: rhubarb, Cavolo Nero cabbage, asparagus (not quite ready, yet) and Swiss Chard
And then there is a section of the garden given over to flowers: a cutting garden, from which they will be able to fill any number of splendid vases with glorious arrangements of cut blooms. The huge bed of irises will provide fabulous spikes of deep purple flowers for great architectural arrangements, or maybe they'll use their roots to make orris root powder, which is the traditional fixative used in making potpourri.

They have a little shop, where you can buy some of the produce that's in season, and plants that they've propagated in the garden. Today they seemed to be doing a brisk trade in rhubarb. The proceeds go to support the maintenance and further development of the garden.

Dogs aren't allowed inside, so we had to take it in turns to have a look as Maxi couldn't be trusted to behave himself outside on his own.

If you'd like to go along they'll be throwing the doors open on a number of other days throughout the year. You can check out the dates here on their events page: Events. It's a lovely garden to go to and browse for ideas, and it's always good to support a local initiative.

All the best,

Bonny x

As shared on Mosaic Monday

Friday 25 April 2014

Random Friday

I spotted my first rose of summer on Saint George's Day. How appropriate! It's not the most spectacular specimen that I've ever grown in my garden, and it doesn't have any scent, which is always a huge disappointment to me. But, still, it's a start.

I'm missing the wonderful Spanish lavender and the wild rock roses that grow everywhere along the Costa Brava. My own lavender back in London is looking very lacklustre.

One of the really interesting things about our drive home through France was watching the topography and the vegetation change as we drove north. We set off from sunny Sant Feliu de Guíxolls on the Costa Brava with red/ orange poppies waving in the breeze along the roadside.

Then we drove up into the Pyrenees, crossing the French border into Languedoc-Roussillon. As we headed into the higher altitudes of the Haute-Roussillon we took a trip back into winter. The car thermometer suggested that the external temperatures were hovering around freezing. At one point we drove through an icy shower of sleet. Wind blown pine trees, and drab brown grass were everywhere. We stopped for coffee and croissants at Le Larzac, and I shivered as I took Maxi, our dog, to have his toilet break in the wet grass. I was dressed for the Mediterranean, but it felt like I'd landed in the Tundra.

We crossed the truly spectacular Millau Bridge, feeling that the views alone justified the toll money that we had to pay to cross. 

Then, after a bit, as the road started to gently go down again, we spotted loads of little daffodils growing along the grass verges, lost drifts of springtime, blooming cheerfully in the icy conditions. Our daffodils finished weeks' ago back in London, but these little chappies were still going strong. They looked shorter and hardier than ours; better suited to growing in the harsh climate on the shoulder of the mountain. 

We descended further, and the sun came out. The thermometer told us that we were back up into the teens again: proper spring weather. As we carried on past Clermont-Ferrand, the roadsides burst alive with wild lilac bushes: purple, mauve, white and slightly pink. They were glorious, and when you rolled down the window the scent was sublime. Mixed in with the lilac were loads of wild laburnum trees, their yellow blossoms in full bloom. 

As we drove through the Bourbonnais, in the very heart of France, we saw fat, contented Charolais cows, happily munching the clover with their calves by their sides. There were no other types of cows for what seemed like hundreds of kilometres: no black and white Friesians, no black cows, no brown cows, no mixed-up-coloured cows, nothing apart from these wonderful, white creatures looking more pristine than seemed possible for a white cow in a field. 

Carrying on northwards we started to see more and more mistletoe growing in the trees. They had been more spectacular on our outward journey, three weeks' earlier, when the leaves were not in bud, but they still bore an uncanny resemblance to Dr. Seuss's Truffula Trees, straight out of The Lorax: huge pompom trees, like something that had been drawn by a cartoonist rather than created by Mother Nature.

Finally we arrived at Le Tunnel, took Le Shuttle and came back home to Blighty.

The following morning, coffee-cup in hand, and still wearing in my pyjamas, I went out for a look at my own little garden. It's looking a little wilder, and a little shaggier than I'd like it to. My daffodils are history, but my bluebells are wonderful. 

Whatever you're doing for the weekend, I hope you have a good one!

All the best,

Bonny x

Thursday 24 April 2014

Loopy cushion: cushion makeover part 3

Isn't it a bore when you get back from holidays? There's always so much laundry and sorting out to be done. And then we've had the lovely rain to welcome us back. Yippee ... so glad I came home (NOT). Still mustn't complain we've got a bank holiday to look forward to the weekend after next, and I'm already making plans for some long, lazy downtime in the country.

And here, at last, is my loopy cushion. It's a pity that I didn't get him finished in Spain. As I've been sewing him up today I'm sure I've smelt the spray from the sea in his stitches. A lot of the work that went into his creation took place on the beach, with the waves breaking at my feet, and Emi and Maxi jumping in and out of the surf like a pair of crazies. Anyway - ta-dah - here he is:

Don't you think he's divinely loopy? I'm planning a contrasting/ matching jacquard bigger brother that he can lean against on my very boring beige sofa back in the sun. He should look good with my first two cushions. Remember them? Here they are:

Astrakan and Striped Cushions
Believe it or not, this little loopy cushion is the exact same colour and shade as the lime contrast in the striped cushion. What a difference the sunshine makes! You can find out how to make these other cushions if you click here:  Astrakan Cushion Pattern and here: Striped Cushion Pattern

I'm building up quite a little cushion family - and I've still got a shed-load of that wool. As I've said before I may well have to resort to knitting myself a matching/ contrasting carpet to use it all up.

As with the other cushions, this one is super easy to make. My cushion measured 21' (54 cm) x 13.5" (34 cm) and I used about 150 yards of Bonus Chunky in shade 0785 to make it. My crochet hook was 5.00 mm/ American size 7.

If you'd like to have a go, here's how to crochet it.

I chained 56 stitches to start off.

Then I worked a first row of double crochet (American single crochet), starting with a double crochet into the second chain from the needle.

At the end of the first row, chain 1 to turn, and work a double crochet (American single crochet) into the last double crochet stitch of the previous row. Now you need to work a loop stitch into every stitch in the row except the last stitch, which should be a normal double crochet. The idea in not working loops to the very end is to make it easier to sew everything together when you're done.

Here's how to do the loop stitch: insert your needle as though you were about to work a normal double crochet stitch, but instead of winding the yarn around your needle, raise your index finger and wind the yarn around your finger to create a loop, then draw both ends of the loop over your needle as though it were a single yarn, and work the double crochet stitch with the double ends of the loop. This will create a loop that falls on the right side of your work. You will work these loop stitches only on wrong side rows.

I've reworked this part as a sample to show you what it should look as you work the loop stitch.

1. Insert the needle as though you were going to work a normal double crochet:

2. Raise your index finger and wrap the yarn around it to make an extravagant loop:

3. Treat the loop as though it were a single strand of wool, and draw both sides of the loop through the double crochet from the last row:

4. You now have both ends of the loop and the normal loop from the last stitch on the needle (let's say that's three loops on the needle). Pass the wool over and draw all three loops through to finish.

5. You will now have a loop worked on the right side of the fabric like so:

With a bit of practice you'll soon have all your loops the same size. And even if you don't it's not the end of the world: it just makes a slightly shaggier looking cushion.

Now back to the cushion: you need to carry on doing loop stitches all the way along the wrong side row, ending with a normal double crochet stitch to make sewing up easier.

The next row, which will be a right side row, is just a row of double crochets, with a single chain for turning.

Keep on going repeating those two rows until your work is the right length to cover your cushion and cast off on a wrong side row so that you have loops all the way to the top of your cushion.

Next work the back of the cushion. Cast on 56 stitches, and work a double crochet into the second stitch from the needle and into each successive stitch across the row.

Work one chain to turn and repeat on the next row.

Keep on going until your back is the same size as your front.

Cast off, sew up and admire your cushion.

Happy Thursday!

Bonny x

Monday 21 April 2014

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot

I'd hate to give the impression that the Costa Brava was only about the beaches and the lovely turquoise-green sea. It so isn't. There are loads of other places to see and things to do.

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot

And one of my favourite other places is Peratallada, which sits like a little jewel on the flat plains of Baix Empordà, surrounded by rich farmland.

Peratallada has known good times and bad times, and, like many of the other settlements in the area, is heavily fortified with a deep moat and strong defensive walls. You know the old Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times? Well, the good folk of Peratallada have lived through some very interesting times, as is reflected in the town's architecture.

A few days' ago Emi, Maxi and I took a wander round. Would you like to see what grabbed our attention? Come on, let's give you a tour.

Peratallada simply oozes history; it feels like the mortar that holds the whole place together. People have lived here since forever. No, it's true: the place started out as a stone quarry way back in the Bronze Age. The bedrock of the town is solid sandstone, from which it takes its name Petra Tallada - carved stone - in old Catalan. Most of the houses have been built with stone that was dug out of the defensive moat that encircles them. Back in the 1960's when they fixed up the former palace of the Barons of Cruïlles and Peratallada in the centre of the town they found capades de moro, little recesses carved into the stone of its foundations, in which the early inhabitants had placed the funerary urns of their dead. Archeologists dated these to the 4th to 5th centuries BC. So, you see, folk have been calling this place "mi pueblo" for at least two and a half millennia.

The moat and a considerable part of the outer defensive walls have survived.

Here is the Virgin Mary's Gate, which leads into town from the main road.

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
Virgin Mary's gate

And this is how it used to look back in the day:

It's called the Virgin Mary's gate because it once held a statue of the Virgin, in a little niche that faced folk on their way out. From here She conferred Her blessing on everyone as they left the safety of the city walls.

Originally there was a portcullis to close the gate securely, and a drawbridge that was hauled up to keep the bad guys at bay when the occasion demanded.

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
Virgin Mary's Gate with a niche for image of the Virgin
And if you look down as you're going out this way you'll get a really good view of the moat. It's quite a piece of work, especially when you consider the toil involved in hewing it out of the sold rock by hand.

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
Views of the moat at the Virgin Mary's Gate

Can you see how the city walls are sitting on metres of solid sandstone? If you look carefully you can see the chisel marks made by generations of townsmen as they've carved their way down through the bedrock, digging out stones that they would later haul away to build their homes with.

The Virgin's gate leads straight out to the Church of Saint Stephen, which stands just beyond the protection of the current city walls.

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
Church of Saint Stephen/ Sant Esteve

The church dates from the twelfth century with later additions made over the years as fortunes improved. Sadly it's closed unless they're celebrating Mass inside, and, as I've never managed to make it to for the service, I've not seen the interior.


There is, however, an ossuary inside that I'm curious to have a look at. It holds the remains of Baron Gilabert de Cruïlles, who died in 1348. He was actually Gilabert V de Cruïlles, because like many noble families of the day, the Cruïlles clan showed  a marked lack of originality when it came to naming their firstborn sons!

Now, in my opinion, the glory days of Peratallada kicked off in 1250 with the marriage of Gilabert V's grandparents, Gilabert IV de Cruïlles and Guillema de Peratallada.

Guillema had inherited her barony (of Peratallada and Begur) when her brother, Pontius de Peratallada, had died childless. Gilabert IV and Guillema were a bit of a power couple. Both of their families had been important feudal bigwigs who, between them, had pretty much ruled the roost over the rich plains of Baix Empordà, so when they got together they created a dynasty that transcended local, feudal politics and took its place, not just on the national, but on the international stage.

Before he got hitched Gilabert's home had been the village of Cruïlles, just down the road, but it wasn't anything like as well-protected as Peratallada so, after they'd tied the knot, he moved his base here, and Peratallada became his principal stronghold.

By this time Catalan fortunes were also on the rise. Catalonia, a self-governing principality under the Crown of Aragon, was the main naval base for the King of Aragon, and it was largely on the back of Catalan seamanship that James I of Aragon was able to conquer Valencia from the Moors in 1238 founding the Kingdom of Valencia, as a third autonomous state (along with Aragon and Catalonia) under the Crown of Aragon.  

Gilabert IV was one of the Catalan knights who distinguished himself in the reconquista. Then, having impressed the King with his knightly prowess, he was sent as the King's ambassador first to the Holy See in Rome in 1266, then in 1273 to the Kingdom of Navarre, then to Foix in 1278 and to France in 1279. 

Gilabert IV remained loyal to James' successor, Pere el Gran, King Peter III of Aragon, the Troubadour King, during the Rebellion of the Catalan Nobles. He achieved a position of confidence with Pere el Gran, going with him to Bordeaux in 1283 to settle the question of the sovereignty of Sicily with Charles of Anjou after the War of the Sicilian Vespers. Pere el Gran, who'd been tipped off that some derring do was in the offing, went in disguise, thereby thwarting an Angevin attempt to abduct him and decisively solve the question of Sicilian sovereignty in their favour.  

The original plan had been to hold a tournament to decide whether the future of Sicily would be Angevin or Aragonese. Trial by battle, way back then, was regarded as due process for the purpose of resolving disputes. There were to be 6 champions to represent each side, and the tournament was to have been adjudicated over by Edward I of England, who was very keen to sort out any niggles between the Christian princes so that they could all team up and head off on another crusade together. The Pope, however, was not happy that the issue should be determined by any due process that did not allow him to control the outcome, and so, at his bidding, Edward did not show up and the tournament never took place, leaving Pere el Gran and Gilabert IV to come home feeling like they'd been on a bit of a wild goose chase.

Being chums with Pere el Gran, and travelling around in his retinue listening to him do his Troubadour thing was, without a doubt, very exciting, but the relationship also carried its downsides. Gilabert IV was a major creditor of both James I and Pere el Gran. Now being owed money by kings could be a dangerous business way back then, as the Knights Templar found out to their cost a few years' later. Poor old Gilabert IV had a bit of a dilemma. He had to maintain his estates, his grandeur and his feudal obligations as a knight, but he couldn't exactly lean on the King to pay up. As a result his finances hit rock-bottom in 1287 and he was forced to sell his dominions of Vulpellac, Sant Climent de Peralta and Sant Feliu de Boada. 

Happily family finances improved under his son Bernat, who had impressed Pere el Gran, fighting by the King's side in the Conquest of Sicily, and who'd also gone to Bordeaux for the trial by tournament that never happened. He went on to flourish as a Catalan Admiral in the service of the Crown of Aragon fighting in North Africa when Tunisia rebelled against the Aragonese. He was later appointed Governor of Valencia.  

Bernat's son, Gilabert V, was also appointed governor of Valencia and Xàtiva in 1329.  Gilabert V had distinguished himself in knightly service to the King, and by now the family had sufficient prestige for him to marry Constança d'Aragó, daughter of the King of Mallorca. He died on 11th July 1348 and, going back to where I started, his are the bones that are interred in the ossuary that I'd like to get a look at inside the church.

Now, let me show you the palace that these very splendid mover-shaker Barons of Cruïlles and Peratallada called home. Here it is:

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
Palace of the Barons of Cruïlles and Peratallada 
It sits in the very centre of the town, protected by another, inner ring of fortifications. They must have felt pretty safe here. Peretallada was regarded as one of the most strongly fortified towns in Catalonia. Moreover in 1395, when an inventory of the contents of the palace was taken for the widow of Gilabert V's son, Gilabert VI, it recorded a dwelling of great opulence furnished with fine tapestries, and velvet curtains, bedecked with plates of gold and silver. 

The inner ring of fortification that encircled the palace and the keep is still in evidence. There are a number of the fortified gate houses built across the streets that led to the central Plaça del Castell. Their function would have been to halt the advance of any besiegers who penetrated the outer wall, giving the folk in the castle time to get to the keep and wait there, within another ring of fortification, for either assistance from their allies, or for their enemies to give up and go home.

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
Inner ring of defense

And here's the keep, with its own outer protective wall. Built in the 11th to 12th centuries it stands 10 metres/ 30 foot high, and can be found in the very centre of the Castle enclosure. Sadly neither the keep nor the palace are open to the public.

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
The Keep/ Torre de l'Homentatge

Not all of the bridges in town were defensive. Space was at a premium, being limited by the outer defensive wall, so when people wanted to extend their homes they had to do so around the existing public thoroughfares. This led to houses with extensions built on the other side of existing streets and specially built bridges that picturesquely linked the one to the other. Other extensions were simply built above the street on specially created bridges.

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot

Carrying on to the western wall of the city, some of the old watch towers are still intact. 

This is the West Tower: 

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
The West Tower/ Torre Oest

Just look at all those chisel marks on the beautifully made bricks from which it was constructed.

This is how the village looked back in the days when they really had to rely on their defensive walls: 

As you can see there were a number of square and round towers incorporated into the old city walls.

And this is what is left of the last round tower: 

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
The Round Tower
You can still see the arrow slits from which they fired down at the besiegers. 

If you take even a cursory look around there's lots of evidence of the hard manual labour that's gone into building this town. For example if you look down into the moat beside the round tower you'll see lots of the chisel and pick marks left by the people who suffered and sweated, digging out the stone. It's a sobering thought, but, for many of them, these marks are the only physical evidence that they ever lived at all. I wonder how many folk lost their eyesight as a result of rock chips flying off when the the hammer hit the chisel, how many were injured climbing in and out with their hard-won stones, and how many of them were cornered in that moat when the bad guys came calling unexpectedly. If only chisel marks could talk, what a story they might tell... .

And whilst we're talking about marks left on stones, take a look at the way this street, which sits directly on top of the sandstone foundations, has been worn away by the passing cart wheels over the centuries:

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
Calle de la Roca

 But now let's take a look at the bell tower. It had a defensive function as part of the old outer wall. Its arrow slits and small windows were designed to allow the defenders to watch out and fire down on attackers, whilst exposing as little of themselves as possible. Over the years the bell has sounded the alarm when hostile forces have been spotted, summoning those working in the fields beyond the city wall to return, and on other, less fraught, occasions it has simply rung out the passing of the canonical hours.

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
The Bell Tower

One of the most impressive parts of town is the medieval Plaça de les Voltes, which is a wonderful rectangular square with vaulted arches running along one side. Originally more of the square was vaulted, but today only one vaulted side survives.

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot
Plaça de Les Voltes

And there you have them, our highlights of Peratallada, the beautiful stronghold of a powerful dynasty of feudal barons. I hope you've enjoyed our mooch around together.

Peratallada ... the village that time forgot

All the best for now,

Bonny x