I’m a doer. I get antsy after fifteen minutes on a sun-lounger and I find it hard to sit still for long. When I’m travelling I’m happiest exploring, checking out food markets, taking photos or talking to local people. So, when someone suggested a craft holiday in Spain I didn’t need to think twice. A chance to explore a new destination, meet local people and indulge my artistic side with a group of friends. Perfect. Creative Escapes sounded like my kind of trip.
Four of us booked flights to Almeria in Spain; Nicky one of my best friends, Sue, who I’d been on a girl’s trip with years ago, and Lea who I’d not met before. We were off on a Creative Escapes crafty holiday and we couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
Creative Escapes craft holidays are run by Karen and Kathryn, British ex-pats who have lived in Spain for over five years. Karen met us at Almeria airport with driver and minibus and we made the journey, through rugged landscapes and valleys of olive and almond groves to villa Cortijo Alameda about 50 minutes away.
Cortijo is a stylish property in the hills with endless views. Newly renovated, with impressive attention to detail, there are several living areas including tranquil courtyards, a terrace, games room with well-stocked honesty bar, comfortable lounges, dining room and a pool with sun loungers and parasols.
The Cortijo can accommodate up to 8 guests in 4 twin bedrooms. It’s all so gorgeously stylish that I just wanted to go home and completely redecorate. Let me show you around.
The food was outstanding. On arrival, we were welcomed with cava and delicious home-made canapés of Ibérico jamón with sun dried tomatoes, smoked salmon cream cheese, caviar and artichoke with manchego. Hungry, after our early start, we enjoyed this accompanied by stunning views on the gorgeous top terrace (my favourite spot in the villa). Throughout our stay the food, all beautifully prepared and cooked by talented chef Kathryn, was first class. Ingredients are all locally sourced or home-grown.
For our first lunch, we feasted on a salad of crisp lettuce, local cheese, walnuts and potato, a dish of ripe juicy tomatoes, a fabulous frittata and fresh crusty bread served with Spanish wine and beer. In the evening, local resident Simon gave a talk on the region’s history peppered with interesting snippets about the area. Following the talk we had a delicious Indian themed meal, all home-made. We tucked into aromatic lamb biryani, vegetable curry and a selection of accompaniments including mango chutney, lime pickle, a red onion and pomegranate salsa and raita.
Breakfasts were the kind that had me getting up early and there was an excellent choice. Fresh fruit and local yoghurt with honey from Sierra Cabrera and home-made granola; beautifully crunchy but not too sweet. Also on the breakfast table was jamón, goat’s cheese, freshly baked bread and eggs from their own hens. There was, of course, tea, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Our second dinner was melt-in-the-mouth slow cooked pig cheeks in a leek, sherry and mustard sauce followed by chocolate fondants garnished with olive oil pearls and homemade vanilla ice cream. Totally yum! The wine served most nights was a very acceptable Ribera del Duero and Albariño.
On our day at Bedar Arts Centre we had a very good lunch in the town at a local restaurant and on the cooking morning we ate the paella we’d made as our main meal. That evening we enjoyed Spanish cheeses, jamón, pickles, chutneys and fruit washed down with Spanish wine.
Any food allergies and dietary requirements are all taken care of at the Cortijo.
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The craft holidays usually run from Saturday to Saturday but we had a short break of three days so didn’t have time to participate in all the workshops but we still packed a lot in.
Our first creative foray was card-making with Julie using coloured inks and a fine pen. We sat in a shady spot by the pool while Julie taught us simple techniques for creating designs and patterns. It wasn’t long before long we were all amazed that we’d produced two or three pretty good cards. I used mine as birthday cards for special people when I got back home.
Organic soap making can be done at the villa. All the materials are provided to make two bars of Castile soap in a choice of fragrances. The olive oil is from olives in Karen and Kathryn’s garden and is pressed locally.
Precious Metal Clay
One day was spent at Bedar Arts Centre. Our transport picked us up and took us to the picturesque village of Bedar where we met artist, Trina Doerr. First, we got creative with precious metal clay to make some silver jewellery. The clay contains millions of tiny silver particles. You shape and mould it like you would normal clay cutting out shapes and pressing designs into it. The clay is then fired before we burnished and polished it. Here’s my first attempt at the jewellery making. I made a pair of solid silver earrings and a pendant to take home which I’m really quite proud of!
Pottery and Clay Work
After lunch in the village we returned to the arts centre to get messy and have a go at working with pottery clay. We just had an afternoon but a full day is included in the week-long course with tutoring on techniques coiling, throwing on the wheel, pinch pots and slab work. The creations are decorated using different methods including Sgraffito, slip and glazing. After firing, your masterpieces can be taken home at the end of the week.
There’s a new activity on the itinerary since I visited. A day is spent with goldsmith Clare at Castellon de Bedar to learn elementary jewellery making skills. You’ll make your own silver ring from start to finish using traditional techniques. There’s a break for lunch with a delicious meal served at the property.
Cooking Spanish Cuisine
I love learning about local food so our morning spent learning how to cook Paella with Beth especially appealed to me. We learned about local cooking methods and traditions. We made a tasty lunch which we enjoyed with a big jug of homemade Sangria and spent the afternoon sleeping it off by the pool. There are walks nearby along the rambla (dry riverbed) for the more energetic or a pool table in the games room. There are lots of lovely little hideaways around the villa which make the perfect spot to dip your nose into a book or have an indulgent siesta.
Market day falls on a Wednesday in Lubrin and there’s a visit to the typical Andalucian town to explore the market and enjoy a tapas lunch. En route back to the Cortijo there’s a visit to the Olive Press and local honey shop.
Our few days at the Cortijo were spent creating some lovely mementos, memories and having a massive amount of laughs. I found my craft holiday totally therapeutic and relaxing making jewellery, clay pieces and painting and really enjoyed my time at Creative Escapes. We were beautifully looked after by Kathryn and Karen and the food was amazing throughout. Excellent in fact.
More about Creative Escapes craft holidays
Creative Escapes craft holidays are designed to take care of everything from the moment you land in Almeria, Spain.
Airport transfers to Cortijo Alameda and transport to and from classes and workshops are all provided. All tuition and materials are included in the price of your holiday and everything you create goes back home with you as a memento of your holiday.
Accommodation is on a full-board basis. Meals are served either at the Cortijo or at local restaurants depending on the day’s itinerary. Home cooked evening meals using locally sourced ingredients are served with Spanish wine or beer.
For availability and more detailed information including costs please visit the Creative Escapes website.
Flights are not included in the package price and must arrive and depart from Almeria airport. Holidays run from Saturday to Saturday. Check flight costs to Almeria Spain.
Personal holiday insurance is a requirement of your booking.
Have you been on a craft holiday? Which activity appeals to you most?
Many thanks to Creative Escapes who hosted my 3 night stay and mini craft-break.
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Suzanne Jones is creator, writer and photographer at The Travelbunny. When she’s not indulging her wanderlust you’ll most likely find her enjoying coastal walks in her home county of East Sussex, UK.
Suzanne co-writes Sussex Bloggers which showcases the best of East & West Sussex.