Monthly Archives: November 2017

Real Jardín Botanico, Madrid (Scholarship 2018)

Today I visited Real Jardín Botanico, Madrid – one of the gardens we hope for our REEP McLAREN Scholars to visit next Spring. These lovely botanical gardens were opened by King Carlos III in 1781, with the aim of creating a garden in which to grow and display plant species from every corner of the Spanish Empire. They were also intended to be used to grow medicinal plants to supply Madrid’s hospitals. Today, over 30,000 plant species are grown in the botanical gardens, with the most notable collection being of Mediterranean flora.

You can see photos of my visit to the botanical gardens on the rhiannon@reep Facebook Page

For more about Real Jardín Botanico, Madrid visit

Real Jardín Botanico, Madrid (Scholarship 2018) 2017-11-17T08:57:04+00:00

Casa de Pilatos (Scholarship 2018)

I am in here in Seville with Inés to plan Round 2 of the REEP McLAREN Scholarship, which will take place in Spain next year. This afternoon we visited Casa de Pilatos to see the beautiful patios and gardens of this Renaissance/Mudéjar-Gothic palace. We hope to take our 2018 Scholars to visit here.

Casa de Pilatos is a gorgeous Andalucían palace which was built in the 15th-16th centuries by the Enríquez de Ribera family. Influenced by 16th century Italian design, the ducal owners gradually added flourishes of the Italian Renaissance to the Palace, seamlessly fusing it with the the traditional Andalucían Mudéjar-Gothic style. Sadly, the family lost it’s titles during the 17th century and the architectural importance of the palace was largely forgotten until the 19th century Neo-Mudéjar craze, when the Moorish style became popular in Andalucía once more. Further Mudéjar features were then added to the palace and it is today celebrated for its harmonious blend of mudejar-Gothic, Renaissance and romantic styles, and for its beautiful patios and gardens.

* Mudéjar is the name given to individual Moors or Muslims of Al-Andalus in Spain. Mudéjar-Gothic is a term used to refer to the incipient Gothic style and the Muslim influences that were integrated with it.

You can find photos of my visit here on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page 

For more information visit

Casa de Pilatos (Scholarship 2018) 2017-11-16T12:56:34+00:00

SHINTOISM | Shichi Go San

15 November

Meaning literally seven-five-three, Shichi-Go-San is the festival at which families pay their respects to Kami (spirits) for the good health, success and prosperity of their children. Families visit a shrine where special Shinto blessings are bestowed upon girls (aged three) and boys (aged five) to welcome them into the community. For seven-year-old girls, it is a time to be welcomed into womanhood and to wear the obi (a broad sash worn round the waist of kimono) for the very first time. As the day is one for families, Shichi Go San usually takes place on the Sunday closest to 15 November when most parents do not have work obligations.

For more information about Shichi Go San please click here

SHINTOISM | Shichi Go San 2017-09-12T10:32:07+00:00

Hotel Las Casas de Judaría (Scholarship Round 2)

I am in here in Seville with Inés to plan Round 2 of the REEP McLAREN Scholarship, which will take place in Spain next year. This evening we visited Hotel Las Casas de Judaría to see the famous patios within. We hope to take our Scholars there during the Scholarship next year.

At the heart of the hotel is a labyrinth of 27 small, traditional Andalucían houses, each with its own plant-filled patio. Every patio is unique in style, with lush planting, fountains and decorative tiles, and balconies bursting with hanging potted plants. The patios are connected by a network of underground tunnels, so wandering around the hotel is like wandering around a little Spanish village. The hotel’s history began when a Spanish Duke bought a small house in Seville’s Jewish Quarter – it expanded as he gradually added more and more of the neighbouring houses to his collection.

You can see the photos of my visit here on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page

For more about Hotel Las Casas de Judaría visit

Hotel Las Casas de Judaría (Scholarship Round 2) 2017-11-16T13:12:59+00:00

2018 REEP McLAREN Scholarship in Spain

This week I’ve joined Inés in Spain to plan the 2018 REEP McLAREN International Gardening Scholarship which is due to take place in Andalucía and Madrid next Spring. Keep an eye on the news page as I’ll be posting about some of the gardens our Scholars may be working and gardening in.

For more information about the REEP McLAREN Scholarship please visit the Scholarship section of the website

2018 REEP McLAREN Scholarship in Spain 2017-11-15T13:38:46+00:00

SIKHISM | Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav

04 November

Also known as ‘Gurpurab’ or ‘Guru Nanak Jayanti’, this festival celebrates the birth of the first Sikh Guru and founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Jayanti. Born in 1469 near Lahore, in modern-day Pakistan, Guru Nanak Jayanti received enlightenment in 1496 and began preaching to the world about peace and religious harmony.

Celebrations begin two days in advance, with the commencement of the Arambh Path – an unbroken recitation of the Holy Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, which takes forty-eight hours to complete. On the day before Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav, naga kirtan (processions) take place in the streets, with singing and dancing to spread the message of Guru Nanak Jayanti. Processing barefoot, the procession each carry a Nishan Sahib (Sikh flag), following behind the palanquin (ornate float) on which the Guru Granth Sahib is ceremoniously carried. Gatka (Sikh Martial Arts) often take place as part of the procession too.

On the day of Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav itself, observances last all day, beginning in the gurdwara (Sikh temple) with Prabhat Pheris (early morning processions) and Asa-di-Var (devotional hymns). These are followed by a Katha* session, where the teachings of Guru Nanek Jayanti are read from the Guru Granth Sahib. Kirtan (devotional songs) are also sung in praise of the Guru, and Langar (sacred free food) is provided at community lunches.

* Katha is the verbal explanation/discourse of Gurbani (the utterings of the Guru’s) and our great history. Katha has been an integral part of Sikh practice since the revealed inception of Sikhism by Sri Guru Nanak Dev. Many Sikhs believe that through Katha they will gain knowledge about Sikhism and become enlightened. Katha is both a spiritual and historical discourse, endowing the listener with spiritual and worldly knowledge.

For more information about Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav please click here

SIKHISM | Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav 2017-09-12T10:32:14+00:00


02 November

Taking place the day after All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day is a time for Christians to remember and pray for the souls of departed friends and family. Many Christians attend church services and pay their respects at the graves of family and friends. All Souls’ Day is closely associated with All Saints’ Day; the two days are collectively known as Hallowtide.

All Souls’ Day was initiated in the late 10th century by (Saint) Odilo, Abbot of Cluny in France. Saint Odilo proposed that the day following All Saints’ Day be dedicated to the remembrance of the deceased, particularly those whose souls were still in purgatory. The tradition soon spread throughout the Christian World, where it became custom for poor Christians to offer prayers for the souls of the dead in exchange for charity, in the form of money or food, from the wealthy. In 19th and 20th century Britain, children would go ‘souling’ – singing from door to door in return for alms or soul cakes. As many people held the belief that the dead would revisit their homes on All Souls’ night, they would light candles outside their homes to help guide the deceased souls.

Today, one of the most famous observances of All Souls’ Day takes places in Mexico where Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a national holiday. As many Mexicans believe that the souls of the dead visit friends and family on this day, people visit cemeteries with gifts of candles, flowers and food. Mexican children eat tiny chocolate hearse, sugar funeral wreaths, and candy skulls and coffins. There are often festive parades in the streets and it is traditional for performances of José Zorrilla’s 1844 Spanish drama, Don Juan Tenorio, to be staged.

For more information about All Souls’ Day please click here

CHRISTIANITY | All Souls’ Day 2017-09-12T10:32:23+00:00

CHRISTIANITY | All Saints’ Day

01 November

On All Saints’ Day, Christians honour all of the saints in Christian history, especially those saints who do not have their own dedicated feast day in the Christian calendar. It is a time for both Catholic and Anglican Christians to remember the saints and martyrs who dedicated or sacrificed their lives to Christianity. Special services are held in churches, while many Christian schools organise activities to educate students about the role of saints in the history of Christianity.

All Saints’ Day was made an authorised holiday on the fixed date of 01 November by Pope Gregory IV in 837. However, celebrations began long before this date, possibly as early as 270 CE. For more information about All Saints’ Day please click here

CHRISTIANITY | All Saints’ Day 2017-09-12T10:32:30+00:00