Category Archives: #stopbrexit

What were you doing last weekend

http://www.spainbuddy.com/wabas2017-in-velez-blanco/

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   

If you like photos please look on the spain buddy site for the full set

http://www.spainbuddy.com/wabas2017-in-velez-blanco/

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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.

From a reluctant political brexit keyboard warrior.

From a reluctant political keyboard warrior.

BT!

It has been a while since I last blogged. Is simply that so much of my non-work time (and some work time too!) has been taken up dealing with matters related to the dreaded Brexit.  I could write reams on how bad it has been so far for the UK.  Reams on how much worse it will get if it finally happens.  I could write about the undermining of democracy and the role of Parliament, the threat to the unity of the UK, the questionably illegal deal with the DUP made by our minority government and the very real concerns about using Henry VIII’s powers.

I could write about the problems caused by the fall in the value of sterling, the discrimination that has arisen against ‘foreigners’ in the UK since June last year.  Or about the fears of the Brits in the EU27 countries.  In fact, there are enough negatives to fill several books (and indeed several have already been written).

But today I want to say something POSITIVE instead.

BT3

You see I have discovered that I have more in common with people with whom I have previously disagreed.  Politicians, broadcasters, journalists and experts from all walks of life.  I have realised that in times of adversity you see people’s true colours.  I have seen the hand of friendship extended across race, religion and colour.  I have seen that political allegiances matter less than moral standing.   I have discovered opinions are easy, but knowledge comes from learning and experience.

Until 2016 I paid attention to politics only when it was necessary – elections predominantly.  I have always viewed it as my DUTY to vote – not exercising my right to vote would be an insult to those past and present for whom fighting for that right has, or does, cost them their freedom or even their life.  But between elections I would express a view on things when they were on the TV news but DO very little about anything.  Even when our eldest son obtained a degree in politics I was still very much an observer.

BT2

Now I have been on rallies, on two London marches, to local meetings and even joined a political party.  I have written to loads of MPs, party leaders, MEPs and Lords.  I have signed petitions by the dozen and become an active as a ‘keyboard warrior’.  I have learnt more about the European Union, its origins, its aims, its inner workings, than I ever thought I’d bother knowing.  I can explain the difference between the ECJ and the ECHR; between the European Commission and the European Parliament; between the Customs Union and the European Economic Area.  I have finally EDUCATED myself on matters that frankly I should have known about all my adult life.  I have also learnt more about UK politics and the working of Westminster.  Children should be taught these things in school because the saddest part of the debates I have had with leavers is discovering their ignorance about the EU and the UK.

I have politely corrected leavers statements that the UK bailed out Greece (it didn’t); that the UK has been forced to take hundreds of thousands of refugees (it hasn’t); that the ECJ doesn’t allow us to deport criminals (wrong again); that the EU makes laws about bent bananas (which it doesn’t); that EU migrants are scroungers taking our benefits (which they are not, they are net contributors to our economy); That the EU stole UK sovereignty (which even the leave campaigners now say we never lost); that immigration will dramatically fall when we leave (no it won’t, there will just be a higher number from non-EU countries instead); that the EU costs us soooo much money – £350m a week (no it doesn’t, in fact around 0.6% of the government’s tax revenues are spent on membership and we get more back in financial benefits from being members); that the EU needs us more than we need them (no they don’t); that we can have great global trade deals (maybe one day in the distant future, but in the meantime we lose dozens of very favourable existing deals plus the one with our biggest trading partners).  I could go on, and on, and on.  But the point is, although I was vaguely aware of the EU benefits the only one that I felt mattered to me personally was freedom of movement, so it was really all I had bothered to learn about.  Now I have educated myself and realise there is so much more to the EU than I thought.  So many benefits.  So many positives.  Instead of just accepting Brexit would be a stupid thing to do, I now have a better and clearer understanding of WHY it is the most stupid mistake this country can make at this point in time – and I am galvanised to do something about it too!

I got to be in my mid-fifties before politics became something real to me.   I have been an EU citizen all my adult life but it is only now, with the threat of losing it all, that it has become REAL to me.  So, thank you Brexit for educating me – now please can we cancel it! #stopbrexit

#brexit

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