Retreats

Whoo hoo…..our Yoga and Raw Food retreats have gone live today. SO exciting to be finally organising these retreats, they have been on the drawing/vision board for quite some time.

The first of our retreats will be held in the beautiful countryside surrounding Granada from 21st – 27th May – think olive groves, rolling pine forests and lots of sunshine. For all the details follow the link here.

Feeling very grateful, everything is as it should be.

Namaste.


More cat woes and a taste of summer…

It’s official, my cats are on some sort of campaign, each taking it in turns to be poorly and leading me to losing both sleep and money down the vets. Is this their revenge for dragging them all the way across Europe me thinks??

Oscar started the ball rolling as he usually does by throwing up in the middle of the night when we first got here, this went on for about 2 months and got to the stage where we had to put bin bags down on the floor every night. Thankfully this seems to have stopped now but the bin bags still go down as a precaution. Then Tinker was ill on New Years Eve with D&V – nothing like welcoming in the New Year whilst holding a vomiting cat!! After New Year it was Molly’s turn with the mystery illness that had us down the vets three times in one week. Then it was Oscar again doing a very good impression of a dying cat for about a week before recovering in miracle time – he is now back to normal and some!

Tinker then decided it was her turn again and was dribbling a lot and had breath that could floor Mike Tyson.  So assuming it was her teeth we made an appointment and took her down the vets on Tuesday evening. The vet had a look in her mouth and her gums were fine. The problem was not her teeth but a very nasty looking growth under her tongue. It is ulcerated and infected where she has bitten it whilst eating and obviously causing her a lot of discomfort – it did me just looking at it. She is on antibiotics and cortisol to reduce the swelling and we have to take her back next week so they can have a proper look once all the swelling is gone. These growths are normally cancerous though and fairly aggressive and I think the vet was trying to prepare us for the fact that there is not a lot they can do. At 17 she is considered an elderly cat and as having a good innings etc etc……

Not so to us, she has years left in her yet and so when we got her home I got on the internet and started to see what we could do naturally. One protocol that kept popping up on all the sites is that of a Dr Johanna Budwig. It combines either cottage cheese or quark with flaxseed oil. The oil is rich in omega 3 and a protein in the cheese converts this oil from fat soluble to water soluble therefore by-passing the need for the liver to convert it, which is often under stress when someone is ill.  It has been used for both humans and animals and has had a lot of success having been around since the 50′s – so simple; funny we never get to hear about these things isn’t it??!!

So, I went down to the health food shop and got some flaxseed oil and then to the supermarket where I managed to get some quark. Tinker has been lapping it up and begging for more so hopefully we will see some improvement by next week. I’ll keep you posted.

At the beginning of this week we were promised a mini heat wave!! not likely I thought as we were still getting some really strong winds – strong enough that the towels I washed without the spin setting (I didn’t notice it wasn’t on and couldn’t be bothered to use up another token just to spin them) dried in about 2 hours, from dripping!!

Well I was wrong and yesterday and today have been gorgeous. Trouble is when it gets hot outside the inside of the caravan turns into a sauna. I am working in the awning so I’m ok!! but poor hubby is sweltering. All the windows are open, the door and both vents but it’s not helping much. Last night I cooked hubby and the cats their meals (separately they don’t eat the same thing) and was down to my undies by the end of it; slightly dangerous it has to be said. Hubbie’s tea for tonight is in the slow cooker instead to reduce using the cooker as much but I’m thinking that if this is only February what will it be like in the height of summer; only one thing for it he will just have to become raw like me!!

Oscar on the other hand is making the most of the sunshine, he’s a freak of nature this cat. Being a Maine Coone with lots of long fur you would think he wouldn’t like the sun but Oscie is a bigger sun worshiper than me!!




Fleas and munchkins!!

Fleas……..the scurge of pet owners world-wide. In the 17 years that we have had the cats we have had exactly ZERO infestations of the horrible little critters. When we first got the cats I was careful and used flea collars and then later Frontline which is a liquid in a pipette that you put on the back of their neck. Me being me though I wasn’t always regular about the application and over the years stopped bothering at all – especially when they weren’t getting any visitors. Even when we lived in France we got away with it and I assumed that they must have built up some immunity to them over the years. Wrong……

Oscar started it all off a few weeks ago by scratching and when I took a closer look I found the tell-tale ‘flea dirt’ around his neck. I decided to try and approach their treatment in a natural way and got on the internet to see what I could do. Diluted lemon juice, white vinegar, citronella and lavender essential oils are all supposed to keep fleas at bay and so we tried each of them – except the white vinegar which you can’t get here!

It seemed to help for a while and the situation certainly got no worse. I saw one flea on Oscie but other than that my daily inspection only found the dirt. Not to be left out though Molly and Tinker started scratching away this week as well and after I found another lone flea on Molly we decided that perhaps we did need to take some more action. A trip to the vet yesterday and we picked up a 2 month supply of Frontline which was on special offer – just as well as at 30 euros flea extermination is an expensive business.

So, yesterday afternoon they were all ‘frontlined’ and hopefully we have contained the situation.

Shame we can’t contain the other situation that has arisen – the invasion of the munchkins. Weekends on site are getting busier as the Spanish come to enjoy their two days of free time. Trouble is they brings their munchkins (kids) with them. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate children: the child catcher from Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang scares me as much as the next person (and is it wrong that we have that film in our DVD collection!!?? I have no problem with kids that I have a common interest with – ie their parents – it’s the ‘other’ kids that I don’t much like. Especially when they are given free reign as they are here on the campsite. It is obviously great fun here if you are a kid as there is tonnes of space to run wild in which is something that they take very seriously.

They hurtle around the site in packs, squeaking at the top of their voices like mickey mouse on helium. They appear as if from nowhere and are scarily fast. The thing that disturbs me the most though is that I can’t understand them – it’s as if they have one over on me as I don’t speak their language and therefore they know absolutely that they can do whatever they want and get away with it.

We were sat outside for lunch just now and two of them appeared on bikes and cycled right into our little plot, got off their bikes, stood them up against the awning then ran off for something. Hubby spluttering over his lunch tried desperately to think of something to say in Spanish to make them leave but the best he could do was ‘por favor – ****off’

We probably sound like a couple of old bears and we probably are, but having decided not to have kids of our own we are sometimes less than enamoured to put up with other people’s. Its something that we need to get over before the summer because the campsites will be teeming with munchkins of all shapes, sizes and nationalities by then.

Unless of course we find an adults only site……..trouble is the only one of them around here is a nudist site and I don’t think we dislike kids quite that much yet……….

To market….to market

Those of you who have been following my little ole travel blog will know that we have been having difficulty finding a market on which to buy fruit and veg. Not sure why or how these markets has been escaping us: I do sometimes wonder if hubby and I are living in a parallel universe whereby much of the ordinary world just passes us by unnoticed, but there has been much angst and gnashing of teeth on our trips out to find them. Either they weren’t where they were supposed to be, or there were plenty of other things at the market and no produce, or (and this happened several times) we couldn’t find them at all.

We decided to give it another shot on saturday and head down to Caletta where one of our neighbours had told us there was a big market. To be fair to him he did tell us when we first arrived but for some reason we never went (I know!!) Anyway, we trundled off not really expecting to find anything and not knowing whereabouts in Caletta it was. We got to Caletta, which is about 15 miles from us and were driving along the main drag wondering where it was and also wondering why it was so busy!! when hubby looked to my side of the car and said ‘oh there it is’. Yep there indeed, a big old market stretching along the side of the road – we had already driven past half of it before we realised it was there!! – see this is what I mean about living in a parallel universe.

We parked further down the street and headed back bags in hand enthusiastic about what we would find. It sold all sorts, much like the big saturday morning markets back at home. There were plenty of fruit and veggie stalls and we found just what we needed and the prices were great.

Bonatas (sweet potatoes) at 1 euro a kilo, calabacin (courgettes) also 1 euro a kilo, 2 big lechugas (lettuce) and 4 large limons (lemons) for 2.25 euros, 3 big bags of spices for 3 euros, a big basil plant for a euro and a kilo of organic avocados for 1 euro 50.

We got to practice our Spanish, asking for prices etc and I understood everything except for the reply I got from an old lady when I asked the prices of her courgettes – no idea what she said and also no idea what the German man stood next to me said who very helpfully translated her reply into German for me!! Andalusians speak a different version of Spanish to the rest of Spain (trust us to pick this area!) A lot of the letters are pronounced as different letters, there is a VERY strong lisp, they miss the s’s out of words a lot and of course they speak so fast. We are picking up bits and hand gestures/miming is coming in very useful; I reackon I would be hard to beat at charades at the moment!

Hubby also brought me a rose – who said romance is dead!! and then we went and had a coffee in a little cafe and watched the rest of the market goers walking up and down for a bit. Coffee is something that I haven’t given up completely. I only have it now and again and it has to be proper black coffee – none of this instant malarkey. Saturday’s coffee was delicious, just the right side of strong and nice and hot. I enjoyed.

So, finally a market, just as we are thinking about moving on – typical us, but I can see what we will be doing every saturday until we do go!!……..

 

Scuppered by a car park!!

We had big plans for this weekend, we were going skiing up in the Sierra Nevada ski resort. I had dug out our ski suits, found our ski socks, hats and gloves and was really looking forward to a day messing around on the pistes.

I started to do some research yesterday so we would know exactly where we were going and what we needed to do when we got there.

Weather forecast – check, that all looked good with lots of fresh snow over the last few days.

British Ski School – check, yep that looked good as well, somewhere to get our boots, skis and passes from.

All looking good so far, now how do we get there. Roads looked direct enough and although the road up to the resort was listed as ‘windy and narrow’ all of the reviews seemed to think that unless it was snowing there would be no problem getting the car up there without snow chains.

We were advised to steer clear of the weekends as they are very busy and you can spend hours queueing in the car to get up to the resort and then more hours wasted at the ski lifts so we decided to go on Monday instead. It will be Valentines day and although we don’t usually buy into all the mushy very expensive cards and flowers we do always make an effort to go out and spend the day together so this was perfect.

I then caught sight of a thread on a forum that had a lot of responses on it and started to read through. Things were looking good with most people impressed with the skiing…….but then……..someone mentioned car parking. This got my attention as since we have been in Spain we have had a problem parking our car in places. Most car parks here have teeny tiny parking spaces and unfortunately we don’t have a teeny tiny car. Its a people carrier and so quite long (and has a towbar) and rather tall as well. So usually we have to park diagonally across two spaces to make sure our ‘bum’ is actually in the space. The second problem we have is height restrictions. Underground car parks are a no-no for us as they always have a height barrier and we can’t get under it.

So, you can imagine my dismay when I read that the ONLY car parking in the resort was in an UNDERGROUND car park. NOOOO……surely this couldn’t be the only parking. I spent the next hour or so searching around and looking at different reviews and comments and it would seem that yes this is the only car park. You can sometimes try your luck and park on the approach road to the resort but there is no guarantee that you will find space and it did advise to push side mirrors in as the road is narrow. Ummmmm didn’t fancy that option, it’s a long way to go to find that there wasn’t any space and a big chance to take that the car would still be in one piece when we returned.

For now then the plans to go skiing are on hold and we will have to find somewhere else to go on Monday. I am trying to find another way of getting up to the resort – maybe parking somewhere else then getting a bus up but I’ve yet to have any success. I don’t quite understand what it is with the car parking spaces and why they ALL seem to be so small. It’s not as if it’s just one or two places that are like it but everywhere. They seem to be very discriminate over larger cars and especially those with big bums!! Then again there are a lot of things about Spain that I just don’t get; but that is another post for another day.

Hasta luego mis amegos

Cold Showers

I’m sitting here typing this because I am trying to pluck up the courage to go and have a shower, and they are cold; again. It has been an on-off problem since we got here, a lot more off than on it has to be said or we wouldn’t still be here. But it is still a problem. It is usually either because the gas has run out or because the thermostat has been (over zealously) turned down, which always seems to happen on a Monday after the Spanish have left for the week.

Sometimes I can bear a tepid shower but at other times, when it is a little cooler and you are standing buff naked in a unheated shower block – well those times there is just no way. Yesterday was one of those times and I grumpily got dressed again and stomped back to the caravan. Hubby has had enough of complaining so I was dispatched down to reception clutching my piece of paper with the right words on it to deliver the complaint. ‘Las duchas tienen frio – no butane’. All went well and Maria understood what I said but unfortuntely although the gas is now back on (hubby can hear the boiler) the water is still at best tepid.

Now I can go a day without a shower but two days is pushing it a bit and the hair needs a wash so I am just going to have to be brave and go for it. Hubby thinks that it is all a conspiracy to get us to leave (he has an overactive imagination for sure!) whilst I just think that they turn it down to save money and turn it back up when we complain – we are the only ones here using the showers for most of the time after all.

So, hubby will have to go and complain once more and I really do need to get up and get in that shower. I mean I have done worse, skydived, ran marathons, stood up in public and spoken, driven 1919 miles in a caravan……it’s just a little cold water…….how difficult and scary can that be………..aaarrrgggghhhhhhh…….

Inspired

It’s hard not to feel inspired when this is the view awaiting you when you step out the caravan every morning. Sunrise and the promise of another hazy day stretching ahead….

Now, I know that along with the cats my other favourite topic of conversation is the weather and in particular the sun, BUT, I can’t help it.

Today I am back out working in the awning – I have been inside for the last two months working off the bed with the cats sprawled around me. The cats are back outside now though – even Tinker ventured out so it occurred to me that maybe I should be working outside again too. So, I am sat in my little makeshift office with a breeze blowing in through the awning door and the heady scent of almond blossom in the air and it is just so perfect and such a good environment to be getting creative in. I am doing lots of work on the website and our retreats at the moment and it is all coming together.

The weekend here on the campsite was somewhat noisy and propably a good indication of what we can expect in the summer months. The Spaniards are here most weekends now arriving on mass Friday night and then leaving as quickly as they came on Sunday night. The Spanish; like the Italians are a very expressive and loud people – why say something when you can shout it right and it is taking some getting used too. Hubby and I like the quiet – sometimes I think we like it too much and worry that we are becoming a tad reclusive??

We don’t venture out that much – which doesn’t make for a very exciting travel blog I grant you – so I have decided that we need to do something about that. Next weekend we are going to take a trip up to the Sierra Nevada mountains and try our hand at a touch of skiing. It has been 17 years since we last strapped large planks of wood to our feet so it should be interesting to see if we can remember anything about it. Hubby asked me last night if I remembered how to parallel ski and turn and I gave (what I thought was) a not too bad demonstration in the middle of the caravan – well it wasn’t too bad until we both collapsed laughing!! We may have bitten off more than we can chew but at least it will make for an interesting and fun blog next Monday!!

Until then you will just have to make do with more blogs about the cats and the weather!!!

Oh, and update on Oscar – he seems a little better today. Still sleeping loads but he managed a few ‘meows’ this morning; his first in a week and had a little cuddle yesterday morning. So, definitely no worse. There’s life in the old guy yet….

Oscar

You can tell how much our cats mean to us by the number of posts that they appear in. It is not ridiculous to say that they are like ‘children’ to us – never having had any of the human variety that is!!!!

Oscar – pictured to the left this morning – was brought for me by hubby on my 26th birthday (18 years ago this year!) and came complete with his own furry friend in the form of Tinker. Whilst Tinker was a very small, cute 10 week old kitten, Oscar was 6 months old and although not fully grown (as a Maine Coon he wouldn’t be fully grown until about 3 years of age) he was already quite large and very fluffy.

Hubby said that Oscar had ‘performed’ tricks for him when he went to see them at the cat sanctuary, rolling around on his back and generally larking about. Maine Coons are like that; big old fluffy clowns with a desire to play and join in on whatever is going on around them. Oscar has certainly had his fair share of  ‘larks’ over the years and we love him too pieces.

Oscar has enjoyed good health all his life and at 3 months shy of 18 years old is doing remarkably well for ‘an old boy’. Well he was. Unfortunately over the last 5 days or so we have watched our big fella go down hill quite rapidly. He is lethargic, sleeping most of the time, has a distinct limp on one of his back legs, and has lost his voice (the most disturbing symptom of all as he is usually the most talkative of cats).

Investigation on the web would seem to point towards the cause being HCM – Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy a form of heart disease. He has many of the symptoms and we know from a vets appointment last year that he has a heart murmour. Cats are masters at disquising illnesses and normally if they are showing symptoms then it means the condition is advanced and the prognosis even with treatment does not make for good reading – about 3 months.

Oscar is still eating and drinking – little amounts but regularly. He is still using his litter tray and he is still enjoying being outside in the sunshine or under his favourite bush. I can see him from where I am sat in the caravan and he is alert and watching the world go by around him in his usual ‘manana’ style. We are being careful that he doesn’t jump from up high or do anything that may put strain on his heart in any way.

We are ready at a moments notice to take him down to the vets should his condition deteriorate, but at this point I am loathed to drag him out on a car journey of 30 minutes or more and into a crowded vets for tests and prodding and poking that would stress him out and possibly make his symptoms worse. Its a dilemma and I hope I am doing the right thing but I would rather see him sitting under his bush outside enjoying his surroundings and his day with a little dignity.

I’ll keep you posted….

She’s back……

Daisy Duke – I know, I know – is back in the fold this week. As you know she went missing for about 5 days, reappeared for a brief visit one evening and then vanished again. We assumed she had produced kittens and kept our eyes open for any signs of her.

Then one day last week I decided to go and see if I could find her. I went up to the main portion of the campsite where all the permanent caravans are and stopped at the first plot that I came to. I called her name (she actually responds to anything but!!) and she immediately popped up from underneath the caravan. What do you know. I rushed back to fetch her bowl and some tuna which she devoured with gusto. She followed me back to our caravan and stopped for a while and then disappeared again.

The following morning she was back however and hasn’t left us since. So, no kittens – or any live ones anyway. We still suspect she had some but we had some really cold, cold nights and she is a very young cat herself so think that she may have been too inexperienced for them to have survived.

Anyway, she is a constant presence again and our cats have had to get used to her all over again. Oscar seems unfazed by her and even gave her a quick peck on the nose the other morning – I think he quite likes her. Molly is still growling and hissing although less so and Tinker – well she doesn’t go out much anyway so isn’t really that fussed.

I am worrying about how I am going to be able to leave her when we move on as she really is a sweet little cat. She comes and sits on my yoga mat when I practice and leans in on me and purrs whilst I meditate. So cute.

I predict lots of tears ahead……..

Farmers Markets

Before we left the UK all the fruit and veg that we ate was organic. I used a local farmer for much of it and topped up at the supermarket or health food shop for the rest. No problems as there was an abundance of organic produce available.

When we arrived here though it soon became clear that there wasn’t really much of an organic market especially for fruit and veg. They say that they don’t spray as much here as in the UK but I’m not so sure I agree with that as I often see men walking up and down the avocado groves with their spray tanks strapped to their backs. We tried a few local markets but with no success. They either sold just ordinary produce or we could never even find them. One supermarket does sell a few organic items of fruit but it is over in Malaga so hardly convenient. So I have been getting by with ordinary produce whilst trying to keep me eyes peeled for any organic markets.

You can imagine my excitement then when Harold appeared on the scene. He was another student of Maggie’s but was doing the training at a much slower pace as me and Maria so wasn’t with us all the time. Over one lunch though he told me of an organic farmers market about 10 miles away from us that he went to every Tuesday. He got all his greens there and lots of fruit as well. Woo hoo…..at last I thought. We couldn’t go whilst I was on the course but this morning we were on for it. Harold had said get there anytime after nine and so we left here at about that time and drove the 10 minutes or so across there finding it very easily. We parked up and out I jumped with bags and camera ready to ‘film’ and ‘photograph’ all the lovely organic produce I was about to buy………or not.

Sadly there was not a potato in sight, lots of artsy crafty stalls, a smattering of clothes stalls, a pet stall, a car parts stall……..but no fruit and veg. To say I was gutted was an understatement. Hubby naturally homed in on the car parts stall and struck up a conversation with ‘Colin’ (yes English as most of the stall owners and people wandering around seemed to be) Oh yes there will be some organic produce he said but they are not set up yet as he pointed over to the corner where a stall stood empty. Oh, just the one then I thought – hardly what I was expecting. Colin also explained that whilst it was called a Farmers Market it was mostly craft stalls and odds and ends.

It was ten o’clock by this stage so I’m not sure what time the lone veggy stall was due to arrive but we didn’t wait. I slunk back to the car dragging my empty bags behind me and off we went to Malaga for the rest of our shopping excursion. We hit Hipercor where we go to stock up on more specialist items of food and got hubby some organic apples so he was happy at least.

Then we hit Bauhaus which is just like B&Q back home. It’s my least favourite place to go as hubby morphs into a little kid at Christmas time as soon as we enter and has been known to spend HOURS in these places. I explained to him that I didn’t understand what it was that men found so fascinating with these stores. ‘Ahhhh he said, you can find all sorts of bits and bobs that will come in really useful’ – ‘yeah, right that you won’t ever use you mean’ was my response. But then I thought……bit like us girlies and clothes shopping. You can find all sorts of goodies that look so pretty and appealing in the shop but when you get them home they just don’t look the same and so get consigned to the back of the wardrobe very often still in the back with the price tag on!!! Touche…..

Anyway, items purchased we started to return to the car and walked through the exit door straight into the bar – A BAR, how cool is that. So now every time we go I will deposit myself in the bar for a coffee or a beer and hubby can take as long as he likes. Not so bad after all.

We then headed back home, stopping of at Carrefour on route to get the rest of our food shopping. We don’t come here every week as again it is a little further out for us but we were very pleasantly surprised to discover that they had added a Bio section (organic ) since the last time we were in there. Not a bad selection and reasonably priced and very popular as well by the looks of things so maybe the organic fruit and veg situation is looking up after all………