2010

New Year’s eve would normally find us partying with friends and seeing in the New Year in a drunken stupor – although the level of drunkenness has decreased as the years have gone on due to my recovery time now being about a week!!

We are not too sure what we are going to do tonight and aren’t actually that bothered if we go out or not. A glass of champagne over a nice meal and some thoughtful reflection of our year going by seems like a nice gentle way of easing 2011 into our live’s.

For the last few years I have made a ‘vision board’ for the things that I want to focus my attentions on in the New Year. I don’t like the term ‘New Year resolutions’ as to me that says that you have been doing things wrong and need to change them in the coming year. I would rather focus on the things that I would like to manifest over the next 12 months.

So, at some point today I will take some time to sit quietly and draw out my vision board. It will have to be smaller than usual so that I can stick it to a cupboard (and we only have small cupboards in Bessie!!) and then I can see it everyday.

Much has changed for us this year and I didn’t for one moment think when we sat welcoming in 2010 in that I would end the year sat in a caravan in Spain!! I am still having to pinch myself that we are really here. It just goes to show that when you truly desire something it will find its way too you no matter what obstacles you think may stand in the way. We packed up our lives in the UK and made this move in 8 weeks total. It wasn’t easy and we had many sleepless nights but it was sure worth it. Every time I step foot out of Bessie I am blown away that this is my journey.

For each and every one of my family and friends I wish that all the things you desire come to you in 2011.

Próspero año nuevo


Off road driving……

I started my yoga teacher training course on Tuesday. There is just me and one other lady (Maria) at the moment so we are starting off the lesson’s at our teacher’s house. On the first day we met Maggie and followed her down to her house as it is ‘off road’. The drive down was interesting as it was a lot like this picture (no kidding) and my knuckles were white by the time we got to her little cottage.

At the end of the first day I drove Maria back up to the main road to meet her husband and arranged to pick her up the following morning.

This I did with no problem and we started along the track to Maggie’s house. This is where it all started to go horribly wrong. Maria and I were chatting – she is from Argentina and although her English is good it is not her first language and so we were both concentrating on the conversation – a bit too much it would seem!! After a while we realised we had overshot Maggie’s turning and now weren’t really sure how far along we had come. I managed to turn around with no problem and we headed back down the track looking for the right turn off. We thought we had found it but this track quickly became bumpier and steeper and we knew we had taken the wrong turning. Trouble was there was no way to turn around and so the only option was to continue to go down.

I was getting worried at this stage as the track was very rocky and very uneven and I wasn’t sure if we would get back up again!! We got to the bottom and I turned around and we started back up the hill. All went well until the first corner which was also the rockiest. The car literally had no traction and we started to slide backwards. I managed to stop but there was no way we were going any further which meant reversing back down to try again. Unfortunately by this stage the two wheels on my side of the car were in a gully and although I could reverse back I couldn’t get them out of the gully. Eventually we were getting closer and closer to a bank of rock on one side. I couldn’t go forward as no traction and I couldn’t go any further back – we were well and truly stuck.

I’m so glad I wasn’t on my own although I am pretty sure Maria wished she wasn’t with me!! We phoned Maggie and I managed – in between bouts of panic that we wouldn’t get the car out – to explain to her what had happened and she set off to find us. We left the car and walked back to the main track where we finally met her. Hugs and a few tears later we made it back down to the car. Maggie immediately knew that this track wasn’t a good one but she had hopes that we could get us out ourselves, until she saw where we were!!

Once she had assessed the situation we headed back to her house to try to find someone who could come and rescue us. My car is big and very heavy so it was going to take some doing. She phoned her ex-husband who lives 5 minutes away and immediately he sorted out a rescue mission. There was a chap at his house digging out his drive which had been impassable for a few days. We could have Raphael and his caterpillar digger once he was finished.

An hour later we were back at the car and Raphael made easy work of pulling me out of the gully. But then he had to pull me back up the hill. We got almost to the corner but then the little caterpillar couldn’t manage any further. So, I had to start my car up and between us – him pulling and me inching forward very gently we finally got back to the top. I was SO relieved. It cost me 10 euros and he got a hug as well as I was just so happy that the car was still in one piece and had suffered no damage.

So, the lesson to be learnt here………don’t drive down an unmarked track in Spain if you don’t know what is around the corner…..but if you do then make sure there is a Raphael on hand to pull you out.

Our Different Christmas

We know from living abroad before that you can’t recreate an English Christmas in a foreign country. It just doesn’t work so we knew that this Christmas was going to be and feel very different.

We decided that we would take 3 days off from Christmas Eve until Boxing Day and just go and do the things that we enjoy the most in those three days. For us this generally means getting out into the fresh air, walking and for hubby the most important factor – picnics!!

Christmas Eve saw us up bright and early to decorate the caravan, eat some mince pies and listen to some Christmas CD’s – all very traditional so far. Then we made up a picnic and headed off to find a little village called ‘Comares’ that is stuck up on top of one of the mountains behind us. Every night we look up at it from the campsite. The lights twinkle in the night sky and are so high up that you wonder just how anyone gets up there.

Christmas Eve was a perfect day, clear blue skies and sunshine so we knew the views would be stunning. It took about an hour to drive up, climbing and twisting along little lanes with ears popping every few minutes. We parked the car near the top of the village and got out to explore. It felt very old and medieval walking around the little streets. Once again we marveled at how fit you have to be to live in one of these villages as the alleyways are so steep and windy. Once at the top the views around us were as stunning as we had imagined and you could see straight out to the sea in one direction and across to the mountains in the other. We walked around for quite a while before making our way back to the car. As we got close we happened to look up and there were four eagles circling around overhead. We had read that they are quite common in this area but we never expected to see one let along four. They were amazing, just gliding around, never flapping their wings once, and sooooo big………

Back in the car we started to head off in search of a good picnic spot when we saw an old man and his donkey coming up the road. The donkey was laden down with sacks and bags just plodding along. I love donkeys and so out came the camera!! The man looked at us quite oddly as he went on his way.

Picnic over we headed back home to prepare for the following day.

Christmas morning dawned bright and sunny and after a hearty breakfast we got on the internet to talk to family back home via Skype. First up my parents and then one of my sister’s and her family. It was lovely to see my nephews who were full of excitement and been up for some hours it would seem. Then a chat with my best friend before we closed it all down and started to prepare lunch. We cracked open a bottle of champagne to get the celebrations going properly and enjoyed a day full of food, drink and relaxation. Perfect.

On Boxing Day we headed down to the beach and walked along the promenade for a few miles. Again it was a lovely sunny day and their were lots of people out and about, running, cycling and helping children with new bikes, roller skates and skate boards. Another picnic followed before we headed for the mountains and had another little walk around a reservoir. We parked up in a lovely wooded picnic area and laughed at the fact that there were loads of brick build bbq’s – health and safety back in the UK would have had a field day but here the attitude is more relaxed and it seems people are encouraged to enjoy the outdoors more.

So, we had a lovely few days enjoying the great outdoors with a smattering of festiveness added for good measure. Not our typical Christmas for sure but good fun just the same.  Here a some pictures of our exploits…..

Christmas decorations

Comares

Eagles and Donkeys

The Beach

The Lake

 

 

 

When everything just falls into place…..

Before we decided to come to Spain I had booked myself on a yoga teacher training course to be held over about six or seven weekends in Norwich near to where we lived in the UK. The lady who taught the course lives in Spain!!

Then of course all our plans changed and so I quickly emailed my teacher to see if there was anyway I could train with her in Spain instead. She was amazingly accommodating and said of course no problem, come to where I live in Spain and you can do the course there instead as a one month intensive.

So, that is how we found ourselves in Iznate and today I met with my teacher, Maggie, ahead of the starting day next week. We met for a coffee in a bar in the village and I am now soooooo excited to be training with her.

We hit it off immediately, and her philosophy and way of training is so up my street. Everything is falling into place. She likes to teach in the traditional way i.e. in small groups or 1-2-1 and for the first few days of the course at least I will be getting her individual attention – how great is that!! After that there maybe another 3 or 4 people but no more than that. I don’t need to learn how to teach as such as I have been teaching people for the past 6 years with my Personal Training and I know how to teach safely and within the limits of myself and my clients so to have this style of teacher training is just perfect for me.

I started a teacher training course about 2 years ago that I ended up not finishing because the style of the teacher and his methods of teaching just didn’t work for me. In that course if you couldn’t do all the postures then you didn’t pass the course simple as that but this time around it is more about giving you the tools you need to go out and develop your own style and find your own way. Yoga to me is very much about the individual experience, which will differ from person to person and not about having a whole room full of people all doing the same mechanical moves.

So, to say that I am excited about beginning this course is an understatement and I am marveling again at the power of the Universe that I find myself in the right place, at the right time and with the right teacher for me. Love it!!!

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and hubby and me have agreed a three-day computer shut down – except when we power up the laptop to Skype family on Christmas Day that is – so this is the last post before the festivities start. I was planning another post for today but just had to share my excitement about my yoga first!!

What I was originally going to share is the following – it makes for a long post but this poem evokes in me all the excitement that I used to get for Christmas as a child. The sleepless night waiting for Santa to come, the excitement waiting for the presents to arrive and then the seemingly never-ending wait to be allowed to get up and open them………..enjoy and FELIX NAVIDAD……….xxxx

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St.Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap;

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled and shouted and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew

With the sleigh full of toys and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes – how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,

HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT

My Year in Pictures

As the year fast draws to a close I took a look back over the events of 2010. It’s been quite a year and I’ve had a lot of fun and giggles along the way. Here are just a few of my highlights….

We saw the New Year in with friends and then just made it home in time on New Year’s day before more snow descended. A pretty start to the year though….

Early February saw a visit from hubby’s sister and our two gorgeous nieces. A quick, icy blast around Southwold pier and then a well deserved hot chocolate in a warm, snug cafe…

Girlie night out

Annual Easter ‘jolly’ with my parents.

A few days in Brighton with my best friend…

20th Anniversary celebrations in Bruge, Belguim

Family get togethers..

Night’s away camping

Summer visitor’s

Abundant gardens

Spanish Madness

And finally Christmas ‘Fun in the Sun…..’

It’s been quite the year – can’t wait to see what next year brings……..What have you enjoyed most about 2010????

Gratitude

I’m a strong believer in manifesting your reality and several month’s before we decided to come on this crazy journey I placed a ‘dream board’ above my desk back in Diss. It consisted of lots of lovely glossy pictures of sunny beaches and mountain hideaways in Europe and in the middle was a motorhome. I looked at it everyday and put my faith in the universe that if it was meant to be then it would find its way too me.

Fast forward a few months and here we are. Not in a motorhome granted but I think I like Bessie more and it’s a lot easier getting around in a car than it would be in a big cumbersome motorhome that’s for sure.

I am astounded and filled with gratitude at the power of positive thinking and letting dreams come to you instead of thinking that it’ll never happen because……….

Here I am living in such a beautiful area and for a nature loving girl like me it really does take my breath away every time I walk out the caravan (yes even when it is raining!)

I have no idea how long our journey through Europe will last – 6 months, a year, 6 years – we haven’t put any limits on it and so it makes it all the more important to enjoy every second that we are spending here.

I took a few pictures around the campsite today that I hope will show how beautiful it really is.

How blue is that sky???

What a difference a year makes..

This time last year with two weeks to go until the big day, this was the view from my back garden. Fast forward to now and…..well I won’t torment you will more sunny pictures but today we went out and I had on a thin long-sleeved t-shirt and I was hot so you get the idea.

We have been here just over a month now which doesn’t seem possible at all and the build up to Christmas is just getting going. The Christmas decorations didn’t go up until the beginning of December which was refreshing as the shops were in full swing even before we left at the end of October back home.

Everywhere you go there are children being coerced into having their photo taken with Santa – some willingly and some definitely not so. They are also big on huge models of the Nativity scene. The one we saw today was massive and had the whole town of Bethlehem in it. Some things are the same as home – all the lights and decorations – although no trees in the shopping malls or any public places come to that – and some things are very different.

There are the usual aisles full of chocolates and toys and it is interesting to see what foods they traditionally eat over the festive period. Lots of cakes, wrapped sweets and sweet breads. The other thing they are also big on is their meats – not good for a veggie like me. They have whole areas set aside for great big legs of cured meats. It is quite gross and they even have their own special bags that they bring along to put them in. We passed someone coming out today who had four trotters stuck out from amongst all his shopping – yuck!! Needless to say we avoid that aisle like the plague.

I must say it really doesn’t feel much like Christmas to us. All our associations with the holiday season are for snow, roaring log fires and glasses of mulled wine. 27 degree sunshine like it was last week makes us think of sun tan lotion and summer holidays and not Father Christmas coming down the chimney – I mean we haven’t even got one of those!!!!

That said, we will be celebrating in our own way, decorating the caravan and spending the day in a food and drink induced stupor.

We are discovering lots about the Andalucia area that we like. We went up into the hills on Saturday looking for a farmers market that had promised organic produce. We went to a town called Antequera about 30 miles north of Malaga. The autoroute went through the mountains and then opened up to a vast plain. We were quite surprised that it was so flat given the mountain ranges around here. We weren’t expecting the town to be very big but were really surprised when we got there. It had a lot going on and was a really pretty town with quite a medieval feel to it. Apparently there has been a settlement there for some 5000 years dating back to the bronze age. We fell in love with it and with three campsites it is high on the list for the next stop off.

We are also about 60 – 80 miles away from the start of the Sierra Nevada mountains. In the summer there is plenty of walking, mountaineering and cycling to be done there and then over winter you have ski-ing. Neither of us has skied for a long time but we are both looking forward to reacquainting ourselves with the skill and this area is one of the highest in Europe and most snowsure with a ski season running from now until the end of March – April. Being so close means that we can head up there early in the morning, get in a days skiing and then head back to the coast for a beer by the sea in the evening. How cool is that??

So, I have a feeling that we may be spending a little longer in this area than we originally thought. Maybe not at this campsite but I don’t think we will be going far when we do move on.

What happens when domestic cats meet a feral cat??

Move over, there’s a new kid on the block. Well strictly speaking my three fur babies are the new kids on the block but they have been undisturbed since we have been here. There are a few feral cats on site but have pretty much kept themselves to themselves since we arrived with the exception of missy here in the picture.

I fed her a handful of times when we first arrived – I know but I’m a sucker for a cute furry face – but I then decided that maybe I was biting off more than I could chew and so stopped. Last week we had a few Spanish on site and so it was a bit noisier than usual and so I didn’t see her all week but then two days ago she reappeared and pretty much decided that she wanted to move in!!

I am still not feeding her but that hasn’t dissuaded her from turning up several times a day and requesting attention!! She is very sweet but I was getting concerned as to the reaction of my guys when they saw her so close to their territory and home. This morning I got my answer as they meet face to face outside the tent. She seemed completely unfazed by the meeting happily sitting and watching what was going on. Oscar was quite perturbed to start with – some hissing and growling to make it known that he was boss. Then he slunk away and sat under the drying washing – sending mixed signals there Oscie!! and finally a lot of sitting and staring at each other ensued.

They were joined by a rather shocked Molly who went and sat in her usual spot under the bush not realising that Daisy (yes I have named her) was sat on the wall above. Cue some rather startled stares – ears back in the I’m not impressed position and very fat tail. She also growled but not until later when I had picked her up and she felt brave enough to voice her displeasure.

For the most part they all just sat in a circle staring at each other as if daring someone to move first. It was quite comical. In the end they all got bored and Daisy wandered off. I think things will probably be ok and they will get used to each other.

Spot Molly on the right hand side crouched down by the wall – she sure wasn’t expecting Daisy to be there!!

Damn – how did I get into this predicament???

The big stare out…..who moves first, it’s a matter of pride you know!!

So, no big scuffles or rumbles, just a fairly dignified acceptance of each other. Maybe we could learn something from our furry friends……..

 

 

Arabian nights and christmas decorations….

Living in a very small space with three cats was always going to take some getting used to. We have never let them sleep on the bed overnight (well I did if hubby was away!!) but usually they slept in another part of the house to us at night – in their own baskets and beds of course. So, to have to sleep all together on one bed – well that was going to take some getting used to.

We tried putting the bottom bunk down at night and placing them all on it before lights out in an attempt to encourage them to stay put. Cats being cats however, they would quite happily sleep on the bunk all evening but as soon as the lights went out over to the bed they would come. Molly was the best behaved and tended to stay put all night, followed by Tinker who held it together for the most part but bringing up the rear was Oscar who couldn’t for the life of him keep still. He would quite happily snuggle up to me for a few hours and if at all possible try to get his paws on my pillow!! but that was pretty much his limit and then the walking back and forth across the bed would start.

Another solution was obviously needed and so we came up with the idea of ‘curtains’ to divide our bed area off from the rest of the caravan. That way we could have our bed and the cats could have their’s.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on buying curtains as we weren’t entirely sure it was going to work. Our guys are nothing if not persistent and if there was going to be a way through them then they would find it. So, I brought two flat sheets in a burnt orange colour or ‘naranja’ as they say here. We fitted a curtain pole and attached some hooks down either side of the caravan so I could hook the curtains to the wall and hopefully stop them coming in that way. The sheets are long enough that the excess can be tucked under the bed stopping them coming in from the bottom and I clip the two sheets together in the middle so that route is sealed as well.

Two nights in and they are working really well. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night but that was due to thunderstorms and VERY strong winds that threatened to blow the caravan over and not the cats. Tinker has tried valiantly on both nights to get through our defences but she hasn’t been able too (yet!!) and she soon settles down on her bed instead.

I didn’t get any time before we left the UK to ‘redecorate’ the interior of the caravan and so it still has dusty pink curtains and carpets. Nothing wrong with that but I want a brighter more funkier colour scheme. We are trying hard to find some lino to put down on the floor to make it easier to keep clean and I want to replace the existing curtains at some point. We have a bright pink duvet cover on the bed and that along with the orange curtains is in keeping with my ‘bright theme’. I think the orange curtains actually give the caravan a bit of a ‘Arabian nights theme’ so I may add some gold accessories into the mix as well??!!

With Christmas now only 3 weeks away my thoughts have also turned towards decorating the caravan with our christmas decorations. I would normally have my 7ft tree up by now swamped with decs, but obviously I had to leave that behind:(( I had to sort through everything and brought my favourite pieces whilst bequeathing the rest to my sis. I set aside some time at the weekend to put the decorations up, accompanied  by a glass of sherry, some mince pies (raw of course) and our Caribbean Christmas carols CD. Everything looked really good and it felt like santa’s grotto but unfortunately the following day we realised that a month spent banging our heads against decorations every time we moved was going to drive us both potty. So, I took them down and we vowed to start a new tradition this year. The decorations will go back up again on the morning of Christmas Eve when we can enjoy them properly.  It’s all a learning curve this caravaning malarkey!!!!

Two posts in one day!!

Not content with just the one blog I actually have two. The other one is attached to my main website – see here and up until now I used it to highlight things in the health arena that caught my eye or irritated me.

I haven’t used it for a while as due to the move it was all I could do to blog here, but I have started to blog there again from today. I have changed my approach though as I am also developing the website and creating a more online business.

So, from here on out this blog here at Helen’s Raw Food Journey (or as it will be known from here on out ‘Helen’s European Journey’ will be more about our adventures as we travel around Europe. The blog over at my website will be dedicated to the food I eat and the exercise I take. It just made more sense to me to keep that stuff under the umbrella of my business and have this place for the more fun stuff that I hope we will experience. Hope that doesn’t confuse anyone – especially as I have changed the name of the blog here but not the address………!!!!!