COMPUERTA DE RIEGO

DAY 12 12 September 2018

 El Golgól Lavadero

El Golgól Lavadero

It’s 10.15am and the builders merchant is bound to be open I thought, so I walked up to the roundabout, but ‘non’; there’s an unadvertised coffee break between 10-11am.

I had not explored this upper, more modern part of town before. Here is the Post Office, pharmacist, Tourist Information, a green-grocer (where I bought some superior looking paella rice and fresh garlic). I also discover the Gimnasio Municipal and am shown round by a lady from the Pilates class. It’s clean and best of all it has a sauna! I have to join at the Town Hall for 10€.

Most importantly I discover El Gorgól. I have now paid my respects to all the Lavaderos; it looks strangely marooned amongst modern flats, but as I step under the whitewashed rafters and hear the sound of the water pouring out of the spout into the pale jade-coloured tank, I know the Naiads are still present.

 Hand cooked crisps, paella rice and garlic

Hand cooked crisps, paella rice and garlic

Then off to the supermarket to buy supper- I’m going to attempt a fish version of paella and then home, via the Chinese Bazaar where I buy a yoga mat.

 Nearly every town has a Chinese Bazaar which stock almost everything.

Nearly every town has a Chinese Bazaar which stock almost everything.

It’s 12.30 and I hotfoot back to the builders merchants to explain to the woman, that I want to buy an irrigation sluice gate- por favor. Of course I have to revert to drawing one and am told I have to buy the whole thing - sluice and gate.

 Sluice gates are an integral part of the local irrigation system, which was originally installed by the Arabs. The channels feed every garden and vegetable plot (campo) in the town and the sluice gates (compuerto) are opened and closed in a strict rota and timetable.

Sluice gates are an integral part of the local irrigation system, which was originally installed by the Arabs. The channels feed every garden and vegetable plot (campo) in the town and the sluice gates (compuerto) are opened and closed in a strict rota and timetable.

There are three sizes and I pick the smallest; it’s concrete and I have to carry it home. I discover that VAT is 25% in Spain.

 This piece sits in the irrigation channel; it’s quite complex when you look at it carefully.

This piece sits in the irrigation channel; it’s quite complex when you look at it carefully.

Me encanta mi compuerta de riego! It’s a truly wonderful object. It looks simple but every surface has been refined and engineered. The gate (compuerta) rocks nicely in its slot.

 The gate is lifted out of the channel to allow the waters to flow.

The gate is lifted out of the channel to allow the waters to flow.

I had thought I might paint my sluice-gate, but I’m going to live with it for a while and have placed it on a shelf surrounded by Naiad prints.

 ‘Ready-made....’

‘Ready-made....’

In the evening it’s yoga in the nearby town of Vilar. Shin, a Korean acupuncturist married to a Basque architect, gives me a lift to the class held in an old people’s community hall. It is a mix of Hatha, Tai Chi and relaxation.

 My attempt at paella, but I’m sure the locals wouldn’t approve!

My attempt at paella, but I’m sure the locals wouldn’t approve!

I don’t think I should call it paella, but it was very nice with a mix of salmon, hake? and shrimps. Traditionally, the best bit is the crispy rice burnt to the bottom of the pan-delicious.

 El Compuerto on the studio shelf

El Compuerto on the studio shelf

LAS MADRES CARMESÍ

DAY 11 11 September 2018

 Piero della Francesca (1416/17 - 1492). The Duke and Duchess of Urbino Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza (detail), 1473-75. Oil on wood. Florence: The Uffizi, Inv. 1890 nn. 1615, 3342. Source: The Uffizi

Piero della Francesca (1416/17 - 1492). The Duke and Duchess of Urbino Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza (detail), 1473-75. Oil on wood. Florence: The Uffizi, Inv. 1890 nn. 1615, 3342. Source: The Uffizi

Crimson is a very old colour. Jars of Kermes have been found in Neolithic cave-burials and throughout the ancient Mediterranean Middle East where the Kermes Oak is indigenous.

The word "kermes" is derived from the Sanskrit krmi-ja (worm+beget), Persian 'qirmiz’ or Spanish ‘carmes’(carmine’).

The dye is prepared from the dried bodies of pregnant females scale insects (Kermes echinatus).

 Madre Carmesí 1. Mono-print on paper.

Madre Carmesí 1. Mono-print on paper.

By the European Middle Ages, crimson cloth dyed with kermes exceeded the prestige of Tyrian Purple “in status and desirability” in the silk-weaving centers of Italy and Spain. Crimson became the colour of kings, cardinals and popes.

 Madre Carmesí 2. Mono-print on paper.

Madre Carmesí 2. Mono-print on paper.

Following the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire (1519–21) Mexican cochineal, which produces a more intense red dye replaced kermes in Europe.

 Madre Carmesí 3. Mono-print on paper.

Madre Carmesí 3. Mono-print on paper.

 Madre Carmesí 4. Mono-print on paper.

Madre Carmesí 4. Mono-print on paper.

ACUEDUCTO

DAY 10 10 September 2018

 On my way...

On my way...

A cooler, cloudy day and so I set off to find the aqueduct about 10am with hat and water this time. I meet no cars at all on the road, only a few tractors and rotivators.

My rudimentary map doesn’t show a footpath so I miss the turning and walk on the road instead; a long winding and undulating route on an un-metalled surface through olive groves. No trickling water here; only the wind and cicadas.

It feels a long way and I realise I’m back in Camino walking mode; slow, measured and without expectation. I’m relieved to see road signs though and realise I’m nearly there when I see two ruined ashlar arches in a olive grove.

 Nearly there. I’m guessing the local terrace walls are the infill stones to the Roman masonry.

Nearly there. I’m guessing the local terrace walls are the infill stones to the Roman masonry.

I’m the only person there when I arrive at the aqueduct; it’s stunning with the added thrill of no handrails and huge drops on either side.

 The Peña Cortada Aquaduct

The Peña Cortada Aquaduct

It dates from the mid C1-2 first AD; its source was probably a Roman dam on the Tuejar River and it served the major town of Lliria.

 Peña Cortada roughly translates as the ‘Painful Wound’ I think.

Peña Cortada roughly translates as the ‘Painful Wound’ I think.

The aqueduct, although modified through the ages is still in use as the "acequia madre" (main water conduct) of Chelva. That I must see!

http://www.romanaqueducts.info/aquasite/chelva/index.html

However, I’m not alone for long. A Spanish family turn up and can’t resist the urge to yodel and make Formula 1 noises, but they soon move on.

 The Tunnels and Windows with their spectacular views into the gorge.

The Tunnels and Windows with their spectacular views into the gorge.

Walking on, I come to a very deep and dramatic gash in the rock- El Peña Cortada. It was a quarry, but also acted as a channel to feed the aqueduct. Followed by a series of tunnels with hewn ‘windows’ looking down into the valley below. Stunning, but it would have needed hundreds of slaves to build it.

 Left. The Peña Cortada from a distance. Top Right. The bed of the aqueduct and Lower Right. The view down into the gorge.

Left. The Peña Cortada from a distance. Top Right. The bed of the aqueduct and Lower Right. The view down into the gorge.

There’s a circular route to walk, but I will tackle that another day. On the way back I see a footpath marked and follow that; it’s a much shorter and easier route home!

 Aloes grow beside the track; they are a very beautiful shade of powdery jade. The yellow and white markings denote a footpath route.

Aloes grow beside the track; they are a very beautiful shade of powdery jade. The yellow and white markings denote a footpath route.

After a siesta, I go into town about 7.30pm. There’s a huge queue of schoolchildren in the stationary shop-it must be the start of term. I enjoy a good fuddle in shops abroad; it’s interesting to see what you can and cannot buy. I found bleach and sponge-backed pan-scourers, but no surface cleaner anywhere. I smile to discover condoms are displayed in the stand with the rubber gloves.

A trip to the Chinese store is an especial delight- like giant Pound Shops they sell everything. I found a selection of hogs hair round calligraphy brushes. Just the thing and I buy one.

 The Chinese Shop and a well earnt caña de cervezza (about half a pint for 1 Euro).

The Chinese Shop and a well earnt caña de cervezza (about half a pint for 1 Euro).

A quick beer in the Plaza Mayor and then home.

PLACES I DIDN’T VISIT

Day 9 Saturday 9 September 2018

 Unexpected Treasures

Unexpected Treasures

I set out late and did what ‘Mad dogs and English’ do, tried to walk in the mid-day sun, which might of been fine except I didn’t have hat or much of a map. I set out to walk to the Roman aqueduct and Peña Cortada (which might translate as Painful Cut). I notice walking through town that many garage doors are open and inside are small tractors and ride-on cultivators - Sunday is gardening day.

 A Chelva Fountain, an old spring and irrigation pond and La Torrecilla- a Medieval Moorish Fortification. 

A Chelva Fountain, an old spring and irrigation pond and La Torrecilla- a Medieval Moorish Fortification. 

I walked for about 20 minutes through town, past a roundabout, petrol garage, builder’s merchants and Municipal Depot until I found a track marked Service Access and took that! Immediately I was in another world of olive groves, an old irrigation pond and cicadas. It’s a slow climb and I eventually see signs of the Peña Cortada and dramatic views of the Medieval Moorish fortified tower of La Torrecilla.

 The walnuts are almost ripe, a horse shoe embedded in the concrete track, sluice gates seem to be dedicated to S. Garcia and an interesting fence post. 

The walnuts are almost ripe, a horse shoe embedded in the concrete track, sluice gates seem to be dedicated to S. Garcia and an interesting fence post. 

After about 50 minutes I decide that it’s a much longer walk than I anticipated and decide to turn back; it’s too hot, but try to find the path up to the Tower - no luck there either! I return home following the route Ben and Helma showed me on the first morning’s walk, but get very lost in amongst irrigation ditches and wild fig and pomegranate trees and eventually have to retrace my steps to the petrol garage roundabout and walk into town from there. A frustrating outing but still full of visual treasures. Tomorrow I will be more prepared.

 Lost

Lost

After a siesta I return to the studio and blog writing, then open a nice bottle of local red wine served with sepia (cuttle-fish) and green beans.

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MARKET DAY

DAY 8 Saturday 8 September 2018

 Market Day in the Plaza Mayor

Market Day in the Plaza Mayor

I could smell the peach stall metres off; stacked high in black crates, he sold nothing else and the  pears on the adjacent stall added to the delicious aroma. I bought six enormous peaches and moved on to the cheese stall and bought what the Basque stall-owner described as ‘suave’ cheese, garden tomatoes and beans from a little old lady and a big bunch of grapes.

 The cheese stall is owned by a Basque (this is definitely a hard cheese),  Horno Panaderia has a wood-fired oven and the fishmonger.

The cheese stall is owned by a Basque (this is definitely a hard cheese),  Horno Panaderia has a wood-fired oven and the fishmonger.

Then to the fishmonger to buy mussels and sepia (cuttlefish), a loaf from the baker and a spinach pasty for breakfast - I’ll definitely get more of those. The lemon and coconut macaroons are good too.

Food isn’t so cheap here especially cheese, but you can buy a bottle of wine for 1.50 Euros. Fruit and vegetables are cheaper and more ‘authentic’ looking than in the UK and very fresh. I didn’t know pears could smell so delicious and I’ve given up buying peaches altogether in supermarkets.

 My fragrant fruit bowl.

My fragrant fruit bowl.

A couple of small boys on bicycles stopped to warn me there was going to be rain and everyone was bracing themselves for a storm, but it didn’t amount to more than a few drops at lunchtime. On my way to the supermarket I met the couple from Bath and had a coffee in the Square.

 Pimiento, pepino, calabacines y tomates

Pimiento, pepino, calabacines y tomates

I spend some time in the studio, several Naiads (I’m beginning to feel I should stop printing them but they keep turning up) and figs from my garden.

 A few of the Naiads

A few of the Naiads

I’m most excited by 'Crimson Lady' and think she has a  lot of potential; scale-insects are not known for their good looks.

 Figs from my garden; best with yoghurt and local honey.

Figs from my garden; best with yoghurt and local honey.

KERMES OAKS

DAY 7 Friday 7 September 2018


 Coffee in the garden

Coffee in the garden

Coffee in the garden and a social visit to Betty the dog who lives next door, is a good way to start the day.

 ‘The Kindness of Strangers’: the gift of 5L of extra-virgin organic olive oil. (Mono-print on paper).

‘The Kindness of Strangers’: the gift of 5L of extra-virgin organic olive oil. (Mono-print on paper).

After a spell in the studio I go for a walk in search of the Fuente de Berra. It says it’s 2.4Km from the Chelva River and after a steep climb with lovely views back to Chelva, I reach an expansive elevated plain of olive groves with a few almond and Carob trees.

  Views across the valley to Chelva and a friend I met on the way... 

 Views across the valley to Chelva and a friend I met on the way... 

The sound of flowing water is ever present, but when I reach the plateau, apart from the breeze it’s silent. I’ve left the sound of water in the irrigation ditches behind. I didn’t find the spring, even though I walked much further than 2.4 Km, but the Ermita San Cristobal perched on a hill looks a nice walk.

I notice low evergreen bushes with small dark holly-like leaves, by the path. I look more carefully and realise they have large acorns in prickly cups. What’s this?

 Kermes Oak (Quercus coccifera) is a favourite food of the cochineal beetle which was/is a source of Crimson dye or Kermes Carmine. 

Kermes Oak (Quercus coccifera) is a favourite food of the cochineal beetle which was/is a source of Crimson dye or Kermes Carmine. 

I return home as dusk falls and discover, courtesy of Wikipedia, that they are indeed a species of oak; Kermes Oak (Q. coccifera). A favourite food of a species of female scale-insect that was/is used to make Crimson dye or cochineal. Prickly Pear cactus is also a favourite food of a different species of South American cochineal beetle. It takes 80-100,000 insects to make one kilogram of dye!

So it looks like there’s a new colour to add to my site-specific palette. Crimson.

One problem. I don’t have Crimson paint  - this is Madder Red mixed with Burnt Sienna and Mars Yellow matched off the Internet!

   Crimson Lady . Mono-print on paper. (42x59cms)   

 Crimson Lady. Mono-print on paper. (42x59cms)

 

NIGHT WALK

DAY 6 Thursday 6 September 2018


 A warm evening to explore the town after dark. Neighbours sit out in the streets and children play in the Town Square.

A warm evening to explore the town after dark. Neighbours sit out in the streets and children play in the Town Square.

I met up with a couple from Bath, an artist and her photographer partner for coffee in town in the morning and swapped stories. They have been coming here for 4 years and are renting a house around the corner in the Old Jewish Quarter. I inadvertently chose a cake which I thought was made of almonds, but was actually called ‘Pork-Fat Cake’ - delicious, but not remotely vegetarian. I’m hanging loose about eating meat in Spain… it’s bound to happen!

On my way home I see that the fish shop is open and buy three baby cod; there’s something jewel-like about them with fine red markings on the face. 

 Then over the road to the bakers; it’s late and there’s not much left - just a few round flat loaves. In the back is the wood-burning oven with its long paddle. The baker is a young man who tells me that he follows his father and grandfather and that the oven is more than 200 years old. He puts in a piece of paper to reignite the fire... the kindness of strangers.

Then over the road to the bakers; it’s late and there’s not much left - just a few round flat loaves. In the back is the wood-burning oven with its long paddle. The baker is a young man who tells me that he follows his father and grandfather and that the oven is more than 200 years old. He puts in a piece of paper to reignite the fire... the kindness of strangers.

I return home with a loaf and fishes for lunch. 

 The wood burning oven is more than 200 years old. 

The wood burning oven is more than 200 years old. 

After lunch I go up to the studio; some more prints of the Kindness of Strangers; tomatoes from Helma’s garden and a jar of unrefined honey- the best ever; it still retains the aroma of the beeswax. I add some bridges to the Turia flood print.

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Then when it’s cooler I walk to the River - it’s evening and there is a family swimming in the pool. A fine medieval bridge ‘Puenta del Realillo’ crosses the Rio del Chelva and a sign posts to Ermita de San Cristobal and Fuente de Berra up the hill; more places to explore.

 The Medieval Bridge spans a lush rock strewn valley with bamboo, reeds and willow herb. 

The Medieval Bridge spans a lush rock strewn valley with bamboo, reeds and willow herb. 

I walk home in the dark. The Plaza Mayor feels cavernous, but filled with chatter and activity. Children ride bikes around the fountain and light floods from the old people’s home in the corner of the square which is buzzing. I enjoy the stark shadows thrown across the streets by the wall-lamps and the chasms of deep blue night-sky visible between the tiled roofs.

 The plaza in the Arab Quarter is deserted; my street is a tiny alley off to the right.  

The plaza in the Arab Quarter is deserted; my street is a tiny alley off to the right.  

WASHING PLACES & SLUICE GATES

DAY 5. Wednesday 5 September 2018.

There is a thunderstorm and torrential rain in the morning and the water falls in huge drops and shoots off the edges of the tiled roofs in a dramatic fashion.

Ben and Helma treat me to the ‘Menu del Dia’ for lunch at the local restaurant: paella, calamaris and the ever popular Flam (Creme Brûlée) with a bottle of Estrella Galicia - a very nice beer that brings back memories of walking the Camino.

 El Piediera Lavadero

El Piediera Lavadero

Most of the morning is spent at the computadora and then in the afternoon I walk to three public washing places; some with lovely views over the fields.

 Lavadero del Querefil

Lavadero del Querefil

Walking back through town I notice that the irrigation channels run adjacent or under many of the streets and discharge into the gardens and almond and olive groves which are the main crops. But figs, pomegranates, oranges and vines grow in abundance. The channels are opened and closed with simple concrete or steel sluice gates that are slotted into position or lifted out as required.

 A steel sluice gate on one of the irrigation channels in the street.

A steel sluice gate on one of the irrigation channels in the street.

 A concrete sluice in my garden- though it’s seen better days!

A concrete sluice in my garden- though it’s seen better days!

In the evening I make a few prints; I’m thinking of making series of Sluices and Naiads (Water Sprits).

 The initial sluice-gate prints

The initial sluice-gate prints

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 On my way home.... a myriad of lovely objects.

On my way home.... a myriad of lovely objects.

EMPIEZO

DAY 4 Tuesday 4 September 2018

 La Playeta on the River Chelva is a local bathing spot. Families come here at weekends to eat Paella and relax.  

La Playeta on the River Chelva is a local bathing spot. Families come here at weekends to eat Paella and relax.  

A wonderful riverside walk with Ben and Helma to start the day. The Rio de Chelva (Rio Tuéjar) is a tributary of the Turia; a fast flowing river which used to serve several old mills along its course. Sadly, I think the Turia is not easily accessible; it runs in a steep gorge in the mountains to the south of here, and feeds a large reservoir and hydro-electric plants along its course. The area is known for its rock climbing so that probably rules out a visit.

En route to the Playeta we visit an American couple who are renovating an old house - a big undertaking, but already it looks lovely with an antique tiled wall behind the hooded-fireplace and an arcaded balcony with a stunning view over the valley.

 Waiting to start...

Waiting to start...

When we return I make a start in the studio. I’m making simple mono-prints off pieces of perspex using acrylic paints. This morning I’m experimenting and find, annoyingly, that I need to return to Valencia to buy better and thicker paper. Also perspex and acrylic paint are rather too smooth and featureless. But anyway I make some initial textures based on Aigua y Fang (Water and Mud) and then start on ‘The Kindness of Strangers’; the gifts I have been given: eggs and olive oil...

 Some initial mono-prints. Top. Angus y Fang Bottom. Huevos.

Some initial mono-prints. Top. Angus y Fang Bottom. Huevos.

Later, Helma gives me some local unrefined honey and vegetables from her garden. And I find some ripe figs on a tree at the bottom of my garden. More gifts for the series...

 Fresh garden vegetables for supper...

Fresh garden vegetables for supper...

In the evening I take my downing rods round to Ben and Helma’s to search for water as they tell that there is a damp patch on their chimney. Indeed it appears to flow under the chimney in the sitting room and in the kitchen too, but that must be very common round here! I’ll dowse my house tomorrow, although I’m not sure I really want to know!

 I delight in my house and garden - it’s full of interesting objects and details and the four flights of stairs will keep me fit.

I delight in my house and garden - it’s full of interesting objects and details and the four flights of stairs will keep me fit.

WASHING PLACES AND RAIN

DAY 3 Monday 3 September 2018

 One of the many washing places in the town. This one dates from 1953 on the site of the Arrabal spring.

One of the many washing places in the town. This one dates from 1953 on the site of the Arrabal spring.

I start setting out the studio. Ben and Helma kindly lend me a lithography stone. I will start mañana!

 I wake to find that the light has transformed the glass of water on my bedside table.

I wake to find that the light has transformed the glass of water on my bedside table.

It starts thundering around lunch time and I set out to explore the town once the rain has stopped. The route of the Washing Places (Ruta de los Lavaderos) meanders around the town; I find a few but loose the route at some point and will have to set out again tomorrow.

 The Ruta de los Lavaderos meanders around the town. The washing places are all fed by different springs. The circular marks we’re to hold jars.

The Ruta de los Lavaderos meanders around the town. The washing places are all fed by different springs. The circular marks we’re to hold jars.

They are all very distinctive; some covered and others simple troughs with wash-stones. The common feature is the ringing sound of water as flows into and then out of the white-washed tanks.

 The Arrabal is a maze of whitewashed streets. 

The Arrabal is a maze of whitewashed streets. 

The town has grown over centuries to accommodate as a series of populations; Arab, Moors, Jews and Christians. The Arab and Jewish areas have steep, narrow, winding streets with steps and overhanging tiled eaves, creating dramatic silhouettes and covered passageways open onto hidden courtyards; some alleys have blue and white painted paving. The old mosque with its porch still overlooks the square with  fountain, but the building is now is a chapel.

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After a second thunder storm I venture out with an umbrella up to the Plaza Mayor to buy food. Tonight it’s gazpacho followed by chickpea salad with garden herbs and tortilla with a glass of red wine. The sound of Miles Davis overlays the gushing of the waters... work starts tomorrow.

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THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

DAY 2 Sunday 1 September 2018

Ben and Helma invite me for a morning walk; we pass several old washing places on the edge of the town; household laundry was once a social activity.

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The Lavadero Del Arrabal II is one of three washing places in this part of town. 

 As we walk Ben explains that the Romans and later the Arabs constructed a network of channels and sluices to irrigate their olive groves and orchards. The sluices are still opened daily with a strict etiquette as to which days and in what order people open their sluices.

On the way home I’m introduced to a man who grows organic olive oil and also had a large stainless steel can of fragrant honey in his hallway waiting to be decanted into jars. I leave with 5 litres of Ecologico olive oil free of charge; the incredible kindness of strangers.

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Organic extra virgin olive oil

I place the canister on a window cill to catch the light; it’s a deep golden-green colour with a strong acidic peppery flavour. I take a big gulp; fiery. Then I sit in my orchard garden and write this blog.

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A secluded garden next to the house.

It’s a wild secluded place with iris lined paths and patches of mint, rosemary, jasmine and oregano. Olive and pomegranate trees. The evening breeze is up and the quince and palm trees rustle, starlings twittering from the chimney tops and a pony snorts in the olive grove.

About 7pm someone somewhere opens hidden sluices and suddenly the gulley in the street roars with the sounds of torrential waters; it roars all night and I’m reminded of a poem by Antonio Machado.

 ‘Last Night as I was Sleeping ‘ which is very evocative in the original Spanish. Here is a translation off the web:

Last night as I was sleeping,

I dreamt—marvelous error!—

that a spring was breaking

out in my heart.

I said: Along which secret aqueduct,

Oh water, are you coming to me,

water of a new life

that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,

I dreamt—marvelous error!—

that I had a beehive

here inside my heart.

And the golden bees

were making white combs

and sweet honey

from my old failures....”

WELL AND TRULY BANISHED BUT THEN...

DAY 1 Saturday 1 September 2018

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The Central Market is one of the glories of Valencia.

 After a slice of tortilla at a local cafe and coffee in the Central Market with friends James and Blanca, I take the Metro to Sant Isidre (patron saint of farmers and peasants) in search of the Turia.

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An unpicturesque part of town; its skyline dominated by high rise flats and the overhead wires of several intersecting railway lines.

On the map it looks like a short walk to the diverted Turia, but when I enquiry at the station the girl looks mystified. “No es posible”; shaking her head when I show her the map. “It’s under the motorways” she says. 

Well and truly banished.

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Photo of a street map at the Metro station showing the diverted River Turia bounded by the Autovia V-30. 

 Screenshot image of the diverted Turia bounded by the V-30. Weep ye Naiads. 

Screenshot image of the diverted Turia bounded by the V-30. Weep ye Naiads. 

At 6.30pm I board the bus to Chelva, after a onerous journey wheeling my too-big suitcase in and out of lifts and several Metro interchanges.

On the bus, I hear a broad Yorkshire accent; I’m sitting in front of a woman from Hull who’s been working as a hairdresser in the region for over 10 years.

As the bus nears Chelva I can see the usual ugly concrete flats on the outskirts, but then a very grand Baroque church tower on a hill nestled amongst terracotta tiled roofs and stuccoed walls.

 Typical View

Typical View

Ben meets me off the bus and we visit a supermarket and then an old man who sells me 8 free-range eggs for the price of six.

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From my kitchen window

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The sound of water is everywhere; it roars up from iron gratings and trickles from spouts in the walls and fountains.

The house and garden are charming and the town a delight of narrow winding streets; an old Arab town, a Jewish Quarter and a grand town plaza overlooked by the cathedral, a large town hall and importantly cafes and bars.

But I discover that above all this is a place famous for its waters!

Over 100 springs rise under the town and the sound of flowing water is an integral part of its soundscape.

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Typical alley in the old Arab area; many of the houses and alleys are painted powder blue.

Ben and Helma invite me to baked salmon accompanied with a very nice red wine.

This is my kind of place.

DAY 24 9 August 2017 Party Time

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The first resident has moved into the new stone wall behind the Yin pool.  

This evening is the public 'opening' event for the Suikinkitsu, so last minute preparations took most of the day. Almost 100 night-lights in brown-paperbags, 20 waxed-paper lanterns and a slideshow of images. George made several sets of divining rods for visitors to try out.

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Party in the studio

The first person to arrive was Victor the 'Rock-Art' expert with his sets of handmade and powerful looking divining rods. He also brought his crystal pendulum. About 20 people turned up plus children and were welcomed with Pimms that I brought from London. 

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A visitor tries out the 'Listening Tube' which amplifies the musical sound of the Suikinkitsu.

I talked about the development of the garden, the importance of listening to the site and not forcing or imposing upon it and demonstrated the divining rods. As expected there was a lot of interest in them and several people said they intended to plot  their gardens with rods; even the development of their land.

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The first walker in the illuminated labyrinth. 

The listening tube for the suikinkitsu was much appreciated and it was heartening to see lots of people delight in it. The subtlety of the suikinkitsu's tinkling-sound meant that the actual piece was barely audible amongst the chatter of the party, so the tube came into its own. 

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A group of friends silently walk the labyrinth

I lit the labyrinth and the Censer just as dusk fell; it was wonderful to see the children engage with it. Three little girls spent a long time slowly walking in line and then crouched huddled together, enjoying the magic of the central space. 

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The centre of the labyrinth  

A delicious 'bring and share' supper was served at 8pm; later when had people left, I walked the labyrinth myself and watched the nearly full-moon rise over the lantern-lit garden. My work is done.

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All done. The Suikinkitsu garden at night. 

DAY 23 8 August 2017 Making the Labyrinth

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Labyrinth laid out with pebbles and sand

I have walked Labyrinths many times; today I set out my first. Because space is limited, I chose a simple 3 path pattern and somehow a short walk seems no less significant.

I used string, pegs and white sand, but the finished version will probably have pebble 'walls' and black pebble and grass 'paths'.

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Tomorrow the labyrinth will be illuminated  

For the event tomorrow evening, the 'paths' will be marked by candles in brown paper bags weighted with fine white sand from site; they glow with a nice soft light.


DAY 22 7 August 2017 Censing a Lunar Eclipse

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A close up view of the censer. The incense and tea-light sit on an Abalone shell from the beach. 

Hard at work with the arc-welder and metal bashing hammer most of the day. The steel is from old oil drum lids and is very rusty and battered which adds to the wildness of the piece. It is hung from a Lucky Bean Tree on the 'Bird Line'.

Claire bought some Indian incense cones in East London and at 6.00pm we had a ceremonial moment: turned on the water to the Suikinkitsu, lit some lamps in the Guava tree and incense in the censer, then poured a glass of red wine.

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Partial Lunar Eclipse

At about 8.15pm there was a partial lunar eclipse clearly visible in the breaks in the clouds. An auspicious day for the inauguration of the suikinkitsu. The Night Jars are singing. 

DAY 21 6 August 2017 Yoga and Lamps

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Yoga in the forest

Up early and off to Yoga in the forest, it was a full class and Cher invited me to say a few words about divining/dowsing; one woman in particular was fascinated as she owns a farm and doesn't know where to build her house...

Class was followed by lemonade and carrot cake at the local Farmer's market. I bought a shell charm-bracelet from a local woman who also made baskets. 

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Traditional basket making

Back to the studio to make the lanterns for the PV to be held next Wednesday afternoon/evening. 

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Lanterns for the Guava tree

George dug in some more steps and then with his help I started cutting the censer from an old oil drum using an arc welder, which was a challenge as I usually use an oxyacetylene torch.

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Making the censer

Homemade pizza and local pineapple for supper. 

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Moon with lamps

DAY 20 5 August 2017 Dipper and Pebbles

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A rainy morning's work

It was cold and raining today so after altering the levels and the final waterproofing the Suikinkitsu was covered and left it to cure. It was definitely a workshop day.

I spotted a piece of bamboo that I thought would make a good dipper (Hishaku) and set about sanding, polishing and oiling it to form the 'cup' and a piece of Wild Olive was sourced from the wood stack for the handle. A collaborative process of discussion and whittling ensued until a nicely 'wild' handle emerged. 

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Finished dipper

We also fixed a post to hold the listening tube. Traditionally it is made from bamboo but this one is partly-polished copper tubing. 

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The listening tube rests in a forked stick. It is positioned at the top of the steps over one of the holes in the suikinkitsu 

After lunch friends arrived for tea and I spread the last pebbles on the Suikinkitsu; the lamp was lit to celebrate as darkness fell.

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The stepping stones and pebble bed

The almost full moon rose and threw twisting shadows on the walls of the Yin pool, reminiscent of rock art Koi-San 'dancers'.

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Moon rise over the lantern

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Sunset 

Curry for supper to celebrate. The moon is reflected in the Yin pool. Magic!