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What were you doing last weekend

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WABAS2017 in Vélez-Blanco – WITH PHOTOS!!!

From November 4 to 6 2017, a group of writers and bloggers from around Spain gathered for WABAS2017 in Vélez-Blanco. For two days they enjoyed presentations and each other’s company at the group’s sixth annual retreat. Previous retreats have been held in Valencia, Malaga, Granada, Antequera and Valladolid.

WABAS2017 in Vélez-Blanco

WABAS (Writers And Bloggers About Spain) began life as a small but proactive Facebook Group. Its members all had one thing in common – they all produced written content about Spain in one form or another. Since that date, the scope of the Group has expanded and now included people that are based in Spain but may not perhaps write about it. However, the focus remains the same – to actively support each other, providing a trusted and honest place where we can help each other in business and personally. I have been a proud member of WABAS for four years now and have made some amazing friends and business contacts, many of whom I have met offline too.

The retreats began in 2013 and consist of some classroom time with various members contributing workshops and presentations, amply packaged in between some serious social time! This year was to be no exception, with the gathering kicking off on the Friday evening with drinks and tapas at a couple of the town’s hostelries.

WABAS2017

Alan and I had volunteered to host this year’s retreat in Vélez-Blanco, the gorgeous little mountaintop town that we call home.

For me personally, it was the first time I’d attended a WABAS event (although Alan had been before), and I was extremely excited about meeting up with this people that had become close to my heart and so supportive during the last few years. After the success of this one, we have promised that either Alan, I, or both of us will be at every event in the future. Alcala de Henares (just outside Madrid) has been suggested as a potential location for WABAS2018.

We gathered in the Plenary room at the Town Hall at 9am the following morning, eager to get started.

In attendance at WABAS2017

Alan Gandy
Photographer, writer, web designer and co-owner of SpainBuddy.com. Lives in Vélez-Blanco – Almeria
Twitter: @Alan_Gandy
www.alangandy.photography | www.spainbuddy.com | www.gandy-draper.com

Elle Draper
Travel writer, freelance journalist, web designer and co-owner of SpainBuddy.com. Lives in Vélez-Blanco – Almeria.
Twitter: @elle_draper | @spainbuddy
www.elledraper.com | www.spainbuddy.com | www.gandy-draper.com

Graham Hunt
Founder of Valencia Property and writer. Lives in Valencia
Twitter: @grahunt
www.valencia-property.com

Bev Townsend
Blogger, Property Finder and co-owner of SpanishDreamProperty.com. Lives in Norfolk and Costa Blanca
www.spanishdreamproperty.com | www.house-by-the-pool.com

Dave Townsend
Social Media Manager and co-owner of Spanish Dream Property. Lives in Norfolk and Costa Blanca
www.spanishdreamproperty.com | www.house-by-the-pool.com

Diana Berryman 
Social media manager | Writer | VA
Lives in Salinas – Malaga
Twitter: @soc1albutterfly
http://thesocialbutterfly.org.uk/

Shaheen Michelle Samavati
Ex-newspaper reporter, but still a journalist at heart. Co-founder and director of VeraContent, a multilingual copywriting agency and publisher of Naked Madrid and SpainGuru. Previously on the founding team of Spotahome. Lives in Madrid. Twitter Twitetr: @shaheensamavati | @veracontent | @nakedmadrid | @spaingurues – www.nakedmadrid.com | www.spainguru.es | www.veracontent.com

Gaile M Griffin Peers
Publisher (print /e-books /e-magazines), Graphic Designer, website builder, member of NUJ (writer/ editor), illustrator, photographer – owner U P Publications and Javea Grapevine. Lives in Jávea, Marina Alta, Alicante
Twitter @GaileGP | @UPPub | @JaveaGrapevine
www.gmgpspain.com | www.uppbooks.com | www.javeagrapevine.com

Jason Newton
Songwriter, musician, confidence coach, English & Spanish teacher and writes a blog about travel and life in Spain and another based on positive psychology. Lives in Lucainena de las Torres, Almería
Instagram @jason_joseph_newton | Twitter @cortadoingles
www.jasonjosephnewton.com | www.awayfromthenoise.com | www.cortadoingles.wordpress.com

Sandra Piddock
Writer, editor and proofreader. Owner of Sandra in Spain, a website about my life in Spain, my travels in the motor home and anything else I think of. I’m also promoting a locally made independent film, The Cucaracha Club, and have been lined up to appear in the sequel. Exciting times ahead! Lives in Algorfa on the Costa Blanca.
Twitter @sandrainspain.com
http://www.sandrainspain.com/

Alicia Shelley
Blogger/writer at www.andaluciainland.es (currently on hiatus) based in Antequera, Malaga
Twitter @Alicia_Shelley
Projects & Services Officer at the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (www.iasp.ws)

Arpy Shively
Copy/content writer and blogger. Events organiser
http://www.womanworks.org.uk/
Twitter @WomanWorksWeb; Facebook: WomanWorks

Fred Shively
Freelance communications strategist, creative director,
writer, photographer. Lives in Malaga.
fredjshively@gmail.com
https://500px.com/fredjshively
http://www.balkancaffeination.com/

Russ Pearce
Blogger, EFL Teacher and Photographer
Lives in Guardamar del Segura, Alicante
www.anythingbutpaella.com
Twitter: @rrruss_ @sinpaella @learnrtenglish

Maya Middlemiss
Copy and content strategist; Management 3.0 consultant
https://www.linkedin.com/in/mmiddlemiss/ @mayamiddlemiss

Richard Middlemiss – British
Valencia Property Denia,
http://valencia-property.com/denia/ Facebook: Denia Property

Mai Griffin
Author and renowned international artist
Lives in Jávea, Marina Alta, Alicante
www.maigriffin.com | www.maiwriting.com

Dietmar Roth
Deputy Mayor and Councillor for Culture.
Vélez-Blanco.
www.ayuntamientodevelezblanco.org

Other attendees

Trish Pearce
Shaun Berryman
Cass Middlemiss
Tony Piddock
Catalina Casanova

WABAS2017 Speakers / Presenters

(Photos to follow for Gaile Griffin-Peers and Alicia Shelley)

Images ©Alan Gandy and Russ Pearce

A whole range of topics was discussed – everything from “Be more Dog” to “Productivity Apps and Hacks” plus “The Attention Economy” and “The Power of the Network.” We had presentations and we had group interaction. Unfortunately (due to technical breakdowns and a lunch taking way longer than we expected) a couple of members were unable to present – our heartfelt thanks got to Diana Berryman and Alicia Shelley who kindly volunteered to save their slots for another time. We listened, we talked, we laughed, we debated. Oh and we swatted lots of flies too!

What was really apparent was the wide range of skills across the Group. Although Spain writing and blogging was originally at our core, it was great to hear about everything else that people are involved in too! there are some amazing people within the Group and I for one got a huge motivational boost from spending time with them.

Not all classroom time

A vital part of all the WABAS retreats is the social time, and was with great relish that we call gathered for food and drinks at every opportunity. We also enjoyed a tour of the town (courtesy of Dietmar), taking in the castle, the Moorish quarter, the Water Museum and other areas of interest. This took place on the Sunday, and afterwards a few staunch remainers (and yes, I do mean it in “that” sense of the word too) met up for lunch and a few more drinkies.

To say that I was exhausted after it all is an understatement. After recent illness, I am no longer the “Elle than can bolt ten glasses of wine and a dozen shots of sambuca,” but it was good to see that one or two were able to lift the mantle on my behalf.

Photos!!!

We are lucky enough to live in a very pretty area – so several of the attendees had their cameras out. Here is a selection of images taken throughout the weekend. Click the thumbnails to view larger.

Dave Townsend – Spanish Dream Property   

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Dietmar Roth

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 Graham Hunt – Valencia Property

Russ Pearce – Anything But Paella

Tony Piddock

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Feedback

The response after the event has been beyond excellent, with people saying how fired up and motivated they are, and how much they are looking forward to the next event.

— and finally!

In addition to those mentioned above, we would like to thank the following Vélez-Blanco individuals and businesses for looking after us all so well!

  • Catalina Casanova – Councillor for Employment (for her support)
  • The Town Hall team (for the provision of the Plenary Room)
  • Hotel Velad (for the accommodation and “that” view)
  • Bar la Sociedad (for the great food and drink)
  • Bar el Rinconcillo (for the super tapas and drinks)
  • Loli’s Bar (for the obligatory mid-morning coffees)
  • Bar Alfonso (for the fabulous lunches)
  • The entire town of Vélez-Blanco (for putting up with us all!)

Further reading for WABAS2017

This list will be updated as others add theirs.

First time travelling alone with the children

First time travelling alone with the children
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In the early years we usually visited my parents as a family, but after the youngest was born I made my first trip with the children without Dave.  My Dad had to visit the UK for some reason so it was planned for me to travel back with him to Spain, but I had to do the return journey without help.  Travelling alone with children aged 7 & 6 years old plus an 8 month old baby was an experience!  I booked airport assistance for when I arrived back in the UK but the flight had been delayed, so my ‘assistance’ finally arrived after we had walked as far as the luggage collection area and consisted of a guy handing me a luggage trolley and disappearing to go and look after his next assignment!
I could see the pushchair and case on the carousel so asked a man who looked to be fit and healthy in his 30’s if he could please help by lifting them off for me as I was holding a baby, but he told me if I couldn’t do it myself I shouldn’t be travelling on my own with kids!
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 A bit stunned by his attitude an older gentleman approached and said he would help when the case and buggy came around again, and kindly removed both for me.  I strapped the baby into the buggy and found we were left standing alone with our trolley except for an elderly lady with walking sticks standing beside her case.  She too had booked assistance and she too had been let down due to the flight delay.  I lifted her bags onto my trolley and whilst the children pushed their brother in the buggy she held onto the trolley for support as I pushed it and we walked at a snail’s pace the rest of the way together.
Standing looking very anxious as we walked out through arrivals into the public area were two men, one was Dave and the other the elderly lady’s son.  They had thought we must have got lost, but in truth we had just been abandoned by airport assistance!

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Early Family Visits to Costa Blanca

Early family visits
 
With Mum and Dad living outside the town on a steep hill we had to use a car for getting anywhere.  The road was too steep to walk, I know as I tried several times!  I stopped trying after the youngest was born as after struggling to push the buggy up the hill I discovered it was positively terrifying trying to hold onto it on the way back down and stop him falling out whilst trying to stop two other children ending up rolling down!
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Dave learnt to drive in Spain without an issue the first time we visited Mum and Dad but I was very hesitant.  In fact it was many years before I was persuaded to drive in Spain.
car
In the end it was necessity that made me learn, it being obvious that at some point in the not too distant future I might have to visit alone to see Mum and Dad due to Dad’s health issues.  I don’t know why I was so reluctant to do it, there was nothing to be scared about.  Mum and Dad had two cars so we used one of theirs when we visited.  We would have days out to visit local places but often stayed around the villa as the garden was plenty big enough and the children all loved the large pool.
Hidden among the fruit trees Dad had created a petanque court and he invested in a plastic set for the kids.  They became surprisingly good at it over the years.
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The children also loved to visit the ‘100 pesetas’ shops (this was well before the introduction of the Euro!) where they could buy cheap toys and treats, a sort of equivalent of the UK’s Poundland.  Later these became the 1 euros shops (which was if I remember correctly quite a lot more than 100 pesetas, so a hefty price rise!) but even those seem to have disappeared now.

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If you are looking to find your dream home on the Costa Blanca or Costa Calida then we are here to help you and walk with you through all the stages of finding and buying your dream property. And we are happy to help with information on settling into your new home or setting up a holiday rental to turn your second home into an income Have a look at a short video on how we can help you

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PART 40 An Ex-pat, not an immigrant

PART 40 An Ex-pat, not an immigrant!

time for thinking

The British way to get yourself understood abroad seems to try first in normal English, when that fails we try speaking very loudly and slowly, but still in English. For reasons beyond normal rationality we figure that will work. Why? Is it because we are rude and arrogant or is it because learning another language in school in the UK is not prioritised or valued enough? The Scandinavians almost grow up bi-lingual, learning English alongside their native tongue from kindergarten age, and many, as a result, seem adept at learning other languages too. My multi-lingual friends and acquaintances all grew up bi-lingual whereas here in the UK it often high school before learning a foreign language is taken seriously in education.

The hypercritical way some Brits abroad defiantly, almost triumphantly, live in Spain for many years without bothering to learn more than café con leche or cerveza, or speak only their own ‘Spanglish’, never ceases to amaze and dismay me. They are the first to criticise the immigrants in the UK who don’t speak English within three weeks of arriving; but an Englishman abroad is not an immigrant, an Englishman abroad is an ex-pat!

However after years in Spain, having lived in their ex-pat (immigrant) community, drinking and eating in bars with only English speaking or ex-pat (immigrant) staff, and dipping into the odd Spanish fiesta or parade only when attending with a group of other ex-pats (immigrants), they can come unstuck. It’s when the difficult things in life happen, like illness, that they realise they are actually living in a foreign country (they are an immigrant!) and the nurses don’t all speak English and you have to pay for an interpreter or rely on ex-pat volunteers who did learn the language (immigrants who have integrated better!) to come to your rescue. One day, if you live in Spain, you will wish you had bothered with Spanish, so why wait? You may even find you enjoy living the dream a lot more through being able to live a fuller and more integrated life in the sun.

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My family abroad:Early Comunications Phone what Phone

Early Comunications

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We were in a time that was pre-internet, pre-mobile phones and there was no landline in the valley at that time.  Our contact was a phone call every Thursday evening at 7pm UK time initially made by Mum and Dad from the international phone box in town.  Later we rang the house phone of friend’s they had made instead, again every Thursday evening at 7pm, as soon as we returned from our children’s swimming lesson.   It is hard to imagine in this day and age of instant contact that this was only 25 years ago.  Today I am in contact with my children and grandchildren most days, we send each other pictures just seconds after the photo was taken and it doesn’t matter if we are not in same country, it is still instant.   We use texts, emails, ‘whats ap’ and facebook; I can even send a message via my phone to the little ones’ cuddly toys to be played to them; sometimes we even talk on the phone!

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Despite there being a telegraph pole positioned right outside their house, it would be nearly two years before Mum and Dad had their own landline phone.  One day workmen turned up, erected new poles in the valley, one just a few yards down the road from the villa.  A few days later the phone lines were hung on the poles, missing out the original pole outside the villa.  When shown the old pole the workman shrugged and as the lower part was encircled by the front wall they just cut the pole down at wall height and carried it away, leaving the bottom meter still in the wall.  To my knowledge it is still there.

Mum later described those early days as seeming like a great adventure into the unknown.  It was exciting and brave heading off to a foreign country with a different language, different culture and different food.  She says that today’s technology has robbed the younger generation of the chance to experience that feeling, that today it is so normal to move around and so easy to keep in touch and the cultural differences with our continental neighbours have blurred and merged as we eat the same foods and drink the same wines and the world is smaller.  Maybe she is right.

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