10 things we learnt in Spain

After spending 2 months in Estepona it’s time to reflect on what we learnt in our time there. We had a very relaxing time but it also gave us time to do things we wouldn’t necessarily do at home, like thinking instead of doing 🙂

So here’s some of the things we learnt :

1. We can speak a bit more Spanish 

We continued to learn Spanish by completing 10 minutes a day of the free Duolingo online course everyday. We also used what we knew when shopping, ordering food and meeting people. We learnt more words from shops, signs, listening to people etc

2.Barking dogs get on your nerves

The sound of barking dogs is commonplace in Estepona. It seems that everybody has a dog or five.  They appear to be more guard dogs than pets. Every time you walk by the gated houses, they appear menacingly at the fences or gates. Most nights there was a cacophony of barking dogs at some stage, during the night. It was more than a bit annoying. The locals tell me that you get used to it. It doesn’t seem to bother them.

D4CA6C74-9D3A-4E43-8A40-2BDF84135A35.jpeg

3.Red peppers are so delicious

A bit obvious this one but red peppers are cheap and delicious in Spain. Oiled and grilled, skins removed, they turn into a sweet and delicious thing. I will be growing some this year and using them a lot more in my cooking.

4.You need never buy Oranges, Lemons or Avocados in Estepona

Everyone seems to grow them and they always have too many, so they give them away!

10BC43C0-C2FD-4B30-9CCB-59F66E380885

5. Almonds are expensive! 

I use a lot of almonds in my cooking. I use them to make granola, bread and almond butter. I assumed, that as almonds are grown in Spain they would be cheaper. However, they are more expensive in Spain than in the UK. They do sell some delious salted and roasted almonds in Lidl (Spain) which we ate a lot of and bought some home too.

5D9002D1-1278-44CC-B8EB-05524D420B3B

6.  Motoring is a pleasure in Spain 

There are very rarely road jams or road works in Spain. Tolls roads are a pleasure to drive on. Fuel is at least 15p a litre cheaper than the UK. Ok, so they drive on the opposite side, but I got over that.

0F9F5741-081A-451E-8EF9-1D604086651D

7. Family time is important 

Spanish families like to spend time and relax with each other, especially at the weekends. All the shops close on a Sunday so friends and family gather together. Some of them go to their Fincas in the mountains and others meet for lunch near the beach. It was a real pleasure to see. I am sure the sunshine helps!

8F2E14FA-BF19-4D3A-B27B-D7049F3BC1D8

8.There are some really delicious Spanish cheeses 

We tried a few from this list. The choice is a bit overwhelming though so it’s a work in progress job!

http://i-live-spain.com/gastronomy_from_spain/spanish-cheese/

 

62BDF0D9-57E1-4D76-941B-AE4B0F023384

 

9.We can salsa 💃🏻

So continuing on the theme, of learning something new to keep your brain stimulated, we went to Salsa lessons every Wednesday evening at a pub in La Puerta de Duquesa. I’m not sure we have mastered it – but it was fun trying.

10. Mark loves Sherry! 

I knew this already but I am including it anyway! The sweet Spanish matured sherry  is  like liquid raisins. Mark had a tipple most nights.

Superfood Gluten Free Bread

 

As I don’t eat gluten, I am always on the look out for new bread recipes to try. Many of the GF recipes are made with white rice flour and tend to taste very bland and have no fibre content. I don’t eat sandwiches much any more but eat bread as toast, to get a bit of a crunch. Using seeds and nuts helps with the crunch as they crisp up when toasted. 

This recipe by Ella Woodward from “Deliciously Ella’ is full of wholesome ingredients. It requires no kneading, no tin and just a bit of effort for a great loaf.

I usually make it and have a few slices warm, keep a couple of slices out for the next day to toast and freeze the rest in slice portions, ready for a toasty breakfast. 

When I fancy a change from granola, I know there is some good and wholesome bread. It takes a while to toast but when its ready, I slather in butter and peanut butter (I  know…) or marmite or jam if I feel like it. 

Please have a go, you will be surprised at just how nice it is. 

When we arrived in Spain, I knocked this loaf up. I hadn’t got any almonds so used pecans and macadamias instead and it worked just as well. 

The ingredients you might not have in your cupboards are psyllium husk powder and chia seeds.These are the ingredients that bind it together. Both of these ingredients, can be bought on Ebay and health food shops. Chia seeds are now available in most supermarkets. 

Please let me know how you get on. 

Ingredients for 1 loaf

200g almonds

260g pumpkin seeds

200g brown rice flour

85g sunflower seeds

3 tablespoons psyllium husk powder 

3 tablespoons mixed herbs

2 tablespoons chia seeds

600ml cold water 

Salt and Pepper 

Method

Blend the almonds and half the pumpkin seeds in a processor until a flour forms 

Add the ‘flour’ to all the other dry ingredients in a large bowl

Add the cold water and mix together

Leave for 1 hour

Pre heat oven to 200 c

Turn the dough onto a greased baking tray

Shape into a loaf shape with your hands – don’t make it higher than 5-7 cm tall

Bake for 45- 50 mins until it turns golden brown and you can pull a clean knife out of the middle. 

Let it cool on a wire rack. 

Our Spanish Adventure

1f011c47-611e-434c-b4b3-161722a9d40aOh it’s great to escape the British greys skies in winter for the blue skies of Spain. Even when it’s cold here the sun shines and the air is dry. Eating salads instead of soup, sitting outside the cafes for coffee instead of moaning about the weather at home.  You just can’t beat it!

We love space, so when we come to Spain we hire a large villa. The one we are in this year, in Estepona, is HUGE. It can sleep 14! It’s got loads of space inside and out and has the most brilliant kitchen with everything I need to cook. However, I did bring my Magimix though because I could!

The supermarkets here are so good. The variety of fresh fruit, veg, meat, cheese, fresh fish and seafood is immense. A lot of the fish is caught locally. I am going to make it my mission to try some of the fish I have never heard of before.

Today we stocked up and also bought fresh prawns and merluza (hake) which is filleted for you. They even give you the fish heads to make stock. Avocados and tomatoes are plentiful, ripe and full of flavour. There are large bunches of fresh herbs such as parsley and mint at a fraction of the cost at home.

The garden here has oranges, lemons which we can pick and use and there is even an avocado tree with fruits on.

Although we are planning to do lots of walking, we will also be doing lots of cooking with all the local produce. I am planning Tapas Thursdays to replace Curry Friday’s for a while.

What you need to take on a long road trip.

Well, it’s been planned for a long while and now it’s nearly here. We’ve had more than a few hiccups with regard to the car, but I will save that for another day! Be prepared for a long complicated and frustrating story…

As a lover of LISTS, this trip has given me the opportunity to go a bit crazy 😜

I have all these lovely lists on the go …..

Dog Stuff – for Queen Mollie – harness, lead, blanket, crate, cushion 🙄 toys, treats, food, coat and poo bags! 

Clothes/ Shoes and Accessories – we will be taking winter and spring clothes.The journey through France and Northern Spain will most probably be cold and wet. However, when we get to Estepona, we are expecting Spring like weather and therefore hope we will be able to wear lighter clothes and maybe even t shirts and shorts!

Toiletries and Medicines – The usual stuff. At the top of my list is wet wipes. Multi- purpose and multi- functional. We don’t have to take any prescribed medicines but I think it’s good to take a stock of painkillers, ibuprofen gel and some Buscopan for my delicate tummy 🙂

Food for the journey – this is when you are allowed to buy sweets! Obviously we need food too … We will be staying in 4 apartments between home and our destination. They all have cooking facilities so we need to take some basic foodstuffs like granola, tea bags, milk, pasta, tinned tomatoes, rice, fruit, marmite, corn crackers, snacks etc

Food to take for the destination as we are self catering – our experience tells us that we can’t always buy some of the ingredients/food we use, so I will be taking things like tamari (gluten free soy sauce), tea bags (can’t beat Yorkshire Tea), maple syrup, black treacle plus moong dhal for when we fancy a curry. I am looking forward to wandering round the European supermarkets and trying out new ingredients and recipes. 

Paperwork – you know the stuff – Eurostar tickets, passports, EHIC cards, hotel info, insurance docs – (travel, car, pet, breakdown) I know a lot of these docs are in my email boxes but we like to print off copies too. I’ve told you before of my OCD tendencies 😂

Car Stuff – if you are driving in Europe you need some odd bits and pieces such as warning triangle, high vis jackets, first aid kit, breathalyser kit, GB sticker and light adapters for the headlamps. We have maps and sat navs, sunglasses, specs, water bottles, flasks, windscreen wash and a new number plate for the trailer as I am taking ‘the kitchen sink’

Things for the house minder – Mark’s detailed instructions as to what to with the boiler – I’m keeping away from that one! Keys, keys, keys… 

Sewing Stuff – I’m taking sewing machine, patterns and fabric as I plan to do lots of making whilst we are there. 

Books – Spanish Language Books and CD’s – We’ve been learning Spanish since September but we need to keep practising. 

Tech Stuff – iPads, phones, laptop, kindles, sat nav, binoculars, camera, portable bluetooth speaker. 

Money/Cards – Credit cards, Debit cards, Revolut cards, Euros, Sterling. 

This list list is not exhaustive, I’ll probably think of another In the next few days 😀

 

 

 

 

How to be beautiful but naturally!

Natural beauty products
A few examples of my homemade toiletries. 

I have always been careful what I put on my skin. I don’t think you need to spend a fortune to enhance your natural beauty. For many, many years the only thing I ever used on my face was baby lotion (as it was cheap mostly!) and I have never used soap on my face. 

Even when I had a bit more cash I still refused to spend loads of money on expensive lotions and creams. I prefer to use simple and natural products with a bit of UVA protection in the stuff I use for my face. 

Over the last couple of years,  I have started to experiment with home made toiletries, with some success and some failures. 

I bought a couple of books to get me started Natural Beauty and Neal’s Yard Beauty Book . I then bought some bits of equipment and some ingredients, so I could get started.  Of course, I then I needed another  cupboard to keep it in! I moved some stuff around ( I’m good at that!) and found a place to store the lab! 

It’s a bit like doing chemistry at school, hence Marks nickname for this activity. ‘Hey Mollie, (our dog) the lab’s open’ he says each time I have the urge to make a potion.  

Equipment 

You don’t need anything too expensive, just some house;d items mainly but best to keep them just for this. 

  • Jugs – I prefer to use glass ones – it will only be a matter of time before I break one though – got a couple from Ikea
  • Spoons – pinched a couple of odd teaspoons from the kitchen – you could use some plastic measuring spoons 
  • Milk frother – for mixing oil and water ingredients – I got a second hand one from eBay 
  • Double boiler for melting oils and waxes – eBay
  • Thermometer – I already had a food one 
  • Jars, bottles and atomisers- I bought some from EBay and used some I already had 
  • Small funnels – to pour the lotions into the bottles or jars 


Ingredients – I have bought these a few at time to build up a small collection

  • Solid Oils – Coconut, Cocoa butter, Shea butter, Kokum oil, Mango butter – again I bought a few to get me started from The Soapery
  • Liquid Oils – Almond, Borage, Milk Thistle, Jojoba, Avocado – I collected these over time. 
  • Essential oils – Too many to list but I started with the obvious ones like lavender and rosemary and found lovely new ones like geranium – (one of my favourites) lemongrass, orange, ylang ylang – there are loads to choose from. You might find it helpful to get a book on Aromatherappy to help you decide what essential oils to use
  • Beeswax – this is used in lots of recipes including lip balms and body lotions 

Recipes 

I started by making bath oils and liquid perfume, which is simply adding essential oils to almond oil. 

The next easiest thing I found to do is making lip balm – I would never buy this again as its ridiculously easy to do. 

Next came foot balm and other moisturising products – some a bit more tricky as you have to make an emulsion which is a bit more tricky. 

They don’t last as long as shop bought products and some need to be kept in the fridge. However, you only need to make small amounts. 

My friend and family have been ‘willing’ volunteers to try out some of the products. The quality has improved and my skills have developed. I am not an expert by any means but I enjoy having a go and using them myself too. 

So why not have a go? 

Why a massage is good for you

In my previous life as a frazzled Project Manager, I used to drive between 20,000  and 30,000 miles per year.  As a consequence of all that driving and long hours at the computer, my shoulders were tense most of the time. The job had its own stress and managing a big team isn’t for the faint-hearted! In order to manage the stresses and strains and alleviate this tension, I began to have a monthly full body massage which eased the shoulders and made me relax- a little!

I was  so lucky to have found a lovely masseuse called Linda, when I moved to Northampton, who provided the service from her home. Linda has now become a great friend and not just a therapist. Once a month, late on a Friday afternoon, I would have my stress wiped away and my muscles massaged. Sheer bliss.

Unfortunately when I retired, I had to cut out some luxuries and this was one of them. If I wasn’t driving all this miles and sitting at my computer all day then I wouldn’t need it. Sadly I had to forgo my monthly mssage therapy for a year.

During the year I did not have massages, I began to realised how much I really missed it. Actually,  my emotional me and my physical me missed it to be honest. I realised then that it was not a luxury. I truly didn’t feel as good.

After a year, I knew I would have a bit more cash and decided that I would start the sessions again, if my budget allowed it. So I am back to monthly massages. Today, was a day I look forward to each month. A quick chat and catch up until Linda gets to my stomach, and then she cuts the lights and I zone out and enjoy the massage. Sometimes my shoulders are still a bit tense but she soon sorts that out. From my head to my toes, she ensures all is ….. There are so many benefits of a massage. From improving circulation, relaxin muscles, improving flexibility and joint movements as well as releasing those feel good hormones.

I enjoy the whole session and try to focus on the feeling of my skin and muscles being manipulated and soothed. I come away feeling relaxed, calm and grateful that I am able to afford a little bit of heaven once a month. Together with my weekly yoga session, I am possibly as relaxed as I will ever be.

 

Frustration

I know I am new to this but some things just don’t make sense. I can show and tell you things about my life okay, but trying to understand how to make the blog look its best is really challenging me.  I am laying awake in bed thinking about the layout and content for crying out loud! Its supposed to be enjoyable I keep telling myself. As ever, I want to run before I walk. Getting to grips with the terminology is testing me. I mean what the hell is a ‘slug’? I see lots of professional looking blogs out there and I want mine to look like theirs. Perhaps I should just settle for ‘rustic’ looking hahah

So I still don’t understand what the difference is between the menu content thats runs across the top of the page and the categories.  I prefer to work these things out for myself but I am defeated. I know it all takes time, but I want it right now!

So ignore this rant – I am categorising this blog it under ‘Health and Wellbeing’ as it is slowly driving me a bit mad.

 

 

Living to be 100

9D950B15-586E-475D-9669-35D26E44A9E0

I want to be around to see my grand children and great grandchildren grow up. I want to know what’s is like to be an old lady but not an ill old lady. I am going to try my best to make this happen.

This is what I figure I need to do:

1.Be Positive – it’s good to have an optimistic outlook – not always easy I know 

2. Don’t smoke or take illegal drugs – I don’t

3. Drink alcohol in moderation – I don’t enjoy alcohol as much these days anyway so not difficult 

4. Don’t eat too much sugar – this is a challenge…

5. Keep physically active – I garden, walk, cycle a bit and go to a yoga class once a week. http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20181210-gardening-could-be-the-hobby-that-helps-you-live-to-100

6. Keep my brain active – browsing, reading and talking does it for me

7. Keep learning new skills – we are learning Spanish and Ballroom dancing just now 

8. Keep smiling – can’t help myself!

9. Have fun – These days I only spend time with people I like and only do the things that make me happy!

10. Stay at a healthy weight  – my love of cooking makes this a challenge too…

It’s World Menopause Day!

I was in my 40’s, when I started to think about the ‘dreaded menopause’. Sadly, I  couldn’t ask my Mum as she died in 1989, aged 52 from breast cancer. This fact has always influenced my decisions about the menopause and its symptoms. 

I knew that I would never take HRT, but at that stage, I never knew what I know now. I still have never taken HRT but I have been tempted. 

In my peri menopause days I used Serenity Cream which I thought had bought me through the menopause symptom free. I faithfully used it through what I thought was my menopause. Then BANG when  I was 52, I really started my menopause which came as a great shock. I started having lots of hot flushes in the evenings from precisely 7pm, about every half an all through the night every night. I read that that SOME women have them for 10 years or more. I told myself that I wasn’t going to be one of them and that it was a mind over matter thing. How wrong can you be … 9 years later I still have hot flushes but thankfully fewer and less frequent and severe. They were a pain in the arse and still are. I can almost conjure one up just by thinking about it! I have a sort of premonition when one is coming, bizarre. I know that it wont last long but sometimes I just have to go outside to cool down as they sometimes make you feel a bit claustrophobic. I have tried all sorts of herbal potions and pills like black cohosh and maca etc over the years and none of them have helped at all with the hot flushes. I now know its just something have to put up with. I dress accordingly in layers and spend a lot of time taking my cardigans on and off! I never wear polo neck jumpers! 

What came on gradually over the the 9 years was the ‘dryness’. Not just skin, but areas of moistness if you get my drift… I hate talking about this but this is the bit which I hate even more than the hot flushes, but just something you have to get used to. 

It used to upset me to think I am not the woman I was and I won’t ever be again, but I have learned to love myself all over again.This new me doesn’t care what people think, she wears what wants, goes out without make up and still has fun! Onwards and upwards! 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑