Words/photographs/illustrations© 2019 Helen  Lewis

We're back!


Well, what an adventure – oranges, flaming coffees, snow, storming Gloria, more oranges and all before breakfast!


Valencia is a gorgeous place to visit – a vibrant city seamlessly combing ancient culture, futuristic science parks, glorious beaches, restaurants and markets. I loved it!


M: Valencia, it's totally amazing, I tell you. When I was a girl, growing up in Alberic, I thought Valencia was the whole world! The Whole of Spain.

H: The oranges! I couldn't get over the oranges! They're everywhere. They grow like...like vines in France! There are oranges on buildings, on signs, in your salad and your drink. Delicious!



We met some amazing people...


H: Your family and friends were so friendly and welcoming, even if we didn't understand a word we said to each other!


M: But of course!


Together we had a whistle-stop tour of Maria's home town of Alberic, a glance at Valencia and a stormy trip to Vallada, a mountain town that Maria lived in for six years and where she met her husband Paul, over a fountain in a church square.


H: That's so romantic, Maria.

M: Love at first sight!! Hahaha.



M: Paul came to Vallada on business. He stood out because he had a camera, no one had a camera in Vallada in those days. He took pictures of us by the fountain. I was intrigued by this tall man. I thought he is beautiful! So different, very...foreign. He stayed for one week and when he left he asked if he could write to me. And he did, every day from Oxford!


He asked my Father if we could marry in 1963, but my father, he said No! I was only 17, we had to wait until I was 19.


We married in the church of Our Lady of Miracles, in Alberic.





This is the fountain in Vallada where Maria met Paul




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