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Designed in an Herreran style by the architect Tomás Rico Valarino between 1900 and 1907

I think it's a personal best. On saturday I did eight museums in a day.

Considering that phrase I've realised it contains at least two untruths or, as we Yorkshire folk call them, lies. In the first place they weren't all museums. A guided visit around the Cathedral in Orihuela or a tour around the Modernist Old Town Hall in Cartagena isn't exactly a museum visit. And the last visit, to the Underwater Archaelogy Museum in Cartagena started at around 1.30am on Sunday morning. In spirit though it's true enough.

I have been known to complain about Spanish Museums or rather the Spanish attitude to imparting imformation in displays of one sort and another. The guides, the guide books and the information boards seem to delight in using terminology that means nothing to the layperson whilst missing out the key facts or giving any life to what you're seeing. So we'd get "designed in 1962 and built of a titanium and aluminium shell by British Aircraft Corporation in Bristol and Aérospatiale at Toulouse" rather than "the first and only supersonic airliner ever to enter regular service." I made the facts up.

We went to Orihuela as part of a trip organised by Maggie's school. Amongst other things we did the ancient walls of the city, left intact beneath the foundations of a modern building. Our guide stressed the interweaving of the Muslim culture with two warring Christian Kingdoms and he linked that with what we'd seen in the archaeological museum and how that influenced the ancient buildings that abounded in the town. It wasn't exactly spellbinding but it was good enough for me to want to keep up with him to hear what he had to say about the light dancing on the courtyard fountains in the Moorish houses and the building techniques employed by Visigothic masons.

On Saturday evening Cartagena opened all of it's museums from nine in the evening till two the next morning. The buses were all supposed to keep running too but they very effectively eluded us. Entry, which is usually a paying job, was free and nearly all of the Museums had something going on. We saw Jazz at the town Archaeological Museum, 12th and 13th Century music at the Punic Walls and a Contemporary Combo at the Underwater Museum. There was so much going on that we missed a lot more than we saw which was inevitable but a shame. It was great to see the place bustling with families and we older types well past the time we'd normally have had our cocoa and be counting sheep. No complaints about lack of enthusiasm on behalf of our local museums then.


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