Monthly Archives: July 2012

Maeve Binchy. R.I.P.

Maeve Binchy died a few hours ago, aged 72 after a short illness. In her life she brought happiness people around her and to the 40 million people who bought and read her books, and me.

Some 20 years ago, I was at a point where I read quite a bit and my wife did, not at all. I felt that there is no person who doesn’t like reading, just that there are people who hadn’t found what they liked to read. While working away from home, I saw daily a person at reception who was never away from a book. Before I returned home, I asked her what should I suggest to a lady to read – what would be best? Without pause she mentioned “The Glass Lake” by Maeve Binchy. I found it on the way home.

My wife agreed to read it and never looked back. To be sitting beside someone, both reading, and to see her burst out laughing while reading – I owe Maeve Binchy a lot and spent some time buying others of her books.

Some books were made into films, some should have and some could have never been captured by the medium. If you wish to start reading her work, I suggest “The Glass Lake” or “Light a Penny Candle”.

No Photos, no dramatic fonts or borders, just black type. It is a sad day.

Maeve Binchy, sadly missed.



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The last from Seville with a slightly smokey bookish theme

I learned about this place after I blundered into and wandered through it. Its was a tobacco factory, built as a tobacco factory and imho, how all factories should look.


Funnily enough, it was taken over by the university. Good call.


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Seville, aside from books, just this once.

There is more to life than books and their shelves (you know – other stuff) so here are a few pictures from Seville in general.


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The Archives

The General Archives of the Indes is now in a building that used to be the Merchants Guild for Seville and America. The building stands (to show its importance) between the old palace and the cathedral. On an aside, the pillars around the cathedral that are chained together indicate that church law applies inside the chains. The merchants put pillars and chains around their building as well – for merchant law.

To highlight that you are entering the real deal, you will meet something like three security people and a metal detector – on the way in. Upstairs there are one each for each vantage point in the archives – do not attempt to take a photo. Downstairs it’s ok. Now is a somewhat back to front way – what is the “Archives”? It houses all documents that relate to Spain and its interaction with the Americas – from the start to the start of the last century. The documents are sometimes beautiful (some are always on display) but all seem to be actual working papers – so they are in spanish, not latin. The maps and illustrations are of interest to everyone. Would you like to see the original drawn line of Agreement? Everything to the west was to be for Portugal – the east, Spain. Thats where Brazil got its language from. All beautifully done – sometimes illustrated with the writers House coat of arms, scroll work, etc. The shelf uprights are of carved Cuban Mahogany and the shelves themselves are of Cedar – done by a sculptor. The downstairs shelves are of the same shape but of more robust metal. The also have some artifacts of the conquest and just after.

Worth a visit if anyone is passing. I saw three other people. It is also (of course) temp and humidity controlled.

The only picture that needs some explaining (as I see it, feel free to ask) was the artifact picture I will put here. The heads are stirrups and the spur spikes are some 5 inches long.

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There was a time when books were beautiful.

This post was enlightening. Rarely can several examples of an edition of handmade books be compared to discover the versatility of the customers binders and illuminists. Good books should be made to last.


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Before leaving the Cathedral

Before leaving the Cathedral, I feel the need to mention some of the other treasures to be found there. Unless you work in some nations gold reserve building, you will not see more gold in one place in your life than behind the main altar. This was closed off for renovation while I was there. Around the church everyone will see many wonders.

Have to include Colombus, as his son did such a good job. The four figures carrying the coffin are the four kings of conquering Spain (Al Andalus was conquered so its not included). They were the kings of Navarra, Castille, Aragon and Leon. {I haven’t had my laptop for some days now, but will try to repair the pic of the tomb of Colombus when I get it back}

There we go.

Relics were regarded as hugely powerful by the church and great churches gathered them as best they could. Relics of saints were good to get – specially if the saint was a crowd puller, but anything to do with the life of Christ was top league. There was a time when Knights would be given a quest to get some of the True Cross, the Crown of Thorns, the Grail, His last robe, etc. They won fame if they could gain such relics for their church. The crusades caused something of a flood. Relics have been of interest to me since my boys and I had an “Indiana Jones” type half an hour in Piza hunting La Spina. And there it was, the only exposed relic – Espina. The others were covered in purple cloth.

Writing and reading was also central to the church. As the gold poured into Spain, things got a bit fancy.

Finally, just a mention for the timber – mostly “spanish” or Cuban Mahogany. It is so old, it has gone almost black. It drinks in the light and is hard to photograph it, but worth looking at. The carvings of biblical scenes are a wonder in themselves.

Thats not it by a long shot for Seville. The stunning grandeur of the Cathedral, the palace, the archives, the shops, the tobacco factory (nothing to do with tobacco now), the gold tower, the beautiful private courtyards, the lack of crime or litter, the welcome of everyone we met, the carriage rides, the food, the music, the….. Good and bad it is a beautiful place. We went to Cordoba as well so something from there later. Some of these things I photographed. Things like wandering on a beach, driving in a convertable car with the top down doing the ton through the oranges, grape vines, olive groves, mown wheat fields, the old walled in haciendas, (ok, ok, I was on the road, but they were close by), meeting people from home (happens to Irish everywhere in the world), the beggars, tasting different foods, festivals, cycling in Seville, haggling with the leather workers in Mijas (some will not sell to you if you take their first price – you insult them, some need the money), avoiding cyclists on the motorway, shopping in Marbella, finding the best of your favourite food in the array of restraunts, people watching on the streets, night time horse racing, watching the Guardia Civil during an opperation, flamenco displays – you will have to do (and should do) for yourself.  Adios.


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More from Seville

Inside the Cathedral is, among other things, the biblioteca. Christopher Colombus had children. Not his most famous achievement. His tomb is in the cathedral, couldn’t find Amerigo Vespucci though. Anyway, his son made a better fist of his life. He travelled to the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Far East. He brought back some 20,000 books and donated them to the church. This was all done in the first 100 years of printing so most would have been produced by hand. When I asked could I visit I was told in a very nice way that the only people who could visit the books would have “large science”. The above pictures were through some open windows. No climbing was involved. And now – to bed. I am shattered from the diet changes, driving and surviving the heat, the desire not to miss anything and the excitment of seeing all that I did. And the beer. Hopefully more tomorrow. Blogging that is.


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