For a morning El Real Alcazar of Seville was my garden. The house of Kings, meeting place of conquistadors was for a few hours home to just me. I did everything I would do in my own back garden when I think that no-one can see me. I hummed, whistled, ran my fingers over statues, smelled jasmine and even dipped a toe in one of the streams, running like veins through the hedges.
When I finished, I lay flat out on one of the tiled benches and dreamed.
There are no barriers in the Alcazar, it isn’t a crystallised monument, preserved in neat planting and roped off pieces of grass. From fountains that play music and secret water spouts, it is a garden that is meant to be played in.
And Sevillanos still do. It is free for any inhabitant of that city and they can spend as long as they want under the palm trees. El Real Alcazar is still in full relationship with the living and even the stone lions look friendly.
Maybe that was why it was so easy to slip into believing that it was mine. And why when I passed through a wall of jasmine and saw the pillar in memory of an exile who lived 1,000 years ago, I felt a pang and almost understood.