Last Christmas, my wish list was slightly different than usual – forget about Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu or YSL: I did not ask for the usual suspects, but a nice warm Winter holiday in the north of Spain. In other words, I only wished to go home for Christmas (sorry about the cheesy cliché, but that’s the raw truth.)
All I dreamed about was some quality time with my family and friends (logging off almost completely), and a bit of old good sunlight. As an expat, one of the things I frequently miss is the privilege of warm weather during the coldest months. Don’t get me wrong: I do appreciate a lovely white landscape in the late December days, but there is something charming in the eternal promise of a golden Winter evening. The little corner of the world I was born in can be kind of rainy. Like, The Universal Flood kind of rainy. (Actually, while writing this I am not in our cozy family house anymore, but counting animal couples in a boat. Now, if you excuse me, I must chase an inattentive racoon…) But the point is that, even under all this rain, you can still see the sun once in a while.
Last week and after a couple of stormy days, the glorious sun raised and we took the chance to go for a walk. It is worth mentioning that our homeland is crowded by ancestral stately houses, where the local nobility established their homes centuries ago, surrounded by miles and miles of wild forest, carefully crafted gardens, and hunting parks. The general vibe is quite similar to the Scottish landscape, filled with beautiful castles made of stone. This may look like some random coincidence, but it is due to the ancient connection between the Celtic culture and the North of Spain (we are proud to be one of the five Celtic nations.)
The property in these pictures is a 17th century castle, rebuilt in the XIX and early XX fashion. The original tower was burnt down after a long war conflict with Portugal started in 1641. The new castle was finished in 1670 and named Pazo de Castrelos (Castrelos Palace.) As a result, the architecture is an interesting mixture of different European styles.
When wandering through the gardens Sebastian and I experienced the feeling of time travel – the silence and peace, only interrupted by the birds singing. At some point, we even started thinking we would cross our paths with Jaime Fraser any time since this place gave us such a huge Lallybroch atmosphere. And YES, in case you are wondering, we have been binge-watching Outlander season four ever since we started our holiday two weeks ago. I will neither confirm nor deny we are calling each other Sassenach these days…)
There is something unfamiliar about visiting homeland when you are an expat, as you begin looking at it through foreigner eyes. To us, this beautiful little corner of Spain magically turned into a greenery paradise, whose stunning landscape packed with mountains, rivers, woods and a wild seaside looks now a bit more like an exotic postcard – a bit less like home.
Fashion-wise, I should probably clarify I am very far from proficient when it comes to dressing up for the countryside. In my too-long-recorded-history-of-dressing-for-the-secenery-mistakes, I have frequently found myself wearing slip dresses on a farm, and knit on a warm July morning, and mortified myself afterwards. However, I like to think I am a bit wiser these days. Usually, I would choose some comfy boots or wellies, but the place is just ten minutes drive from the city centre, which made unnecessary any special arrangements. So instead, I went for a nice skirt and wool shawl to keep me warm ( I swear any reference to Scottish tartan was merely accidental.)
Also, as you might have noticed, red and black is one of my favourite colour combos. By adding a bit of tartan and a touch of gold I felt the outfit was slightly more festive, but still comfortable. This was quite convenient if you take into account we foolishly ignored the Winter schedules and had to rush in order to avoid getting trapped in the park lands but still practical enough to make it through the remotest garden paths.
Our Holiday is over now and it feels a bit too short, but I guess that is the signature of a truly relaxing break. After all, as they say time goes by fast when you are having fun.
Skirt: Steady Clothing