so there is always a first and this is my first time on a yoga retreat; i partly was persuaded by the location (a short drive from my spanish house), but also because of the teacher, Erika Tourrell whose class i have started to attend on a sunday morning at triyoga; her yoga is part movement, stretch and waking up the body, but also includes meditation, relaxation and words of joy that seem to transmit a poignant message. as i have got older, i have realised that yoga is not just about getting fit and supple, but its also a mental strength, a tool to help to relax and ease tension, especially in this fast moving world. suryalila is a yoga centre and retreat based in the heart of the andalucian countryside – it truly is a beautiful location, surrounded by green fields, hills and with a spectacular sunset, its a perfect location. its about an hours drive from seville, half an hour from arcos de la fronterra and an hour and half from the sea. fortunately i have added a couple of days on my trip to visit my house to sort out the new room at the top. what makes suryalila the perfect yoga place is the amazing food – all vegetarian, each meal is carefully planned to suit all food allergies, but is not only healthy, but tasty and plentiful. most of the vegetables and herbs are grown in their own garden, and you really can taste the difference; even the olive oil is self produced. there are lots of accommodation choices, from tents, to yurts, little houses, shared rooms and individual rooms, so its entirely up to your budget and whether you want to be with nature – the yurts look pretty fun, almost like sleeping under an oriental parasol. my friend debra is sharing a room with me, but actually you could easily come by yourself and you will soon make lovely friends, as you will discover so many interesting and like minded women from all ages and all walks of life – its definitely an experience i would recommend.
on easter sunday debra and i managed to visit the local town, Prado del Rey – all the locals were gathered in the town square, all dressed up, lining the streets to watch the local parade and listen to the local brass band. spain is such a colourful country to see at times of festivals. yesterday, we visited the lovely town of Arcos de la Fronterra – a larger winding and steeper town than Vejer, and at the very top is the Parador hotel with amazing views of the surrounding countryside. you definitely must see inside the church of santa Maria at the top, makes you wonder how they ever carried all the stone up those steep winding streets in the 16th century. churches are one of the wonders of the world.
i love discovering new things in remote spots that you would never know existed; the alde valley spring festival is just about to start at White House Farm in Great Glenham, suffolk – celebrating food, farming, landscape and the arts. you are greeted with fields of bleating lambs, a shepherds hut, tea room with homemade flapjacks, and several barns and outhouses filled with art, including works by the renowned local artist Maggie Hambling. outside is a covered seating area, laid out for dinner for many; there are supper evenings on thursdays cooked with ingredients grown on the farm, lots of activities for children, all in all a lovely place to drop by, have a cup of tea and see some art. i particularly loved the hand made knives by Tobias Ford. there is even a shop selling ethically sourced baskets, local honey and ceramics. take a look at their website to see whats on. Glenham is about half an hour from my suffolk cottage; i have realised what a great base the cottage is for exploring the suffolk region, plus we are only 5 mins drive from one of the best unspoilt beaches in the area – Covehithe.
Semana Santa is a magical time in Andalucia and Vejer celebrates in spectacular fashion. Good Friday sees a dramatic and moving procession as the whole town turns out to witness the local virgins being paraded by religious brotherhoods in full costume deep into the night. Then the local marching bands play in the streets before a major party takes over, culminating in the running of two wild bulls through the cobbled streets, as thousand watch, and a few join in.
Afterwards Vejer returns to its usual sleepy ways, so you can combine amazing folkloric events with a touch of hedonism and a lazy break, all against the backdrop of one of the oldest and most traditional houses in this beautiful ancient town.
i have a beautiful new tulip growing in my garden, not sure what type it is, but the edges are dipped in a lilac pink – tulips are a definite sign of spring, i love the way they push their way up from the ground, opening their feather like petals announcing the arrival of the warmer air.
In Victorian times, certain flowers had specific meanings because the flower selection was limited and people used more symbols and gestures to communicate than words; today there are so many varieties that the simple gesture of giving flowers is a sentiment; however white tulips signify forgiveness. here are the meanings of the other colours of tulips; pink – caring, purple – royalty, red- declaration of love, white – forgiveness, yellow – hopelessly in love.
love these eggs that talented artist Mary Mathieson,made for our ilovegorgeous shoot.
Easter is a Christian festival and for Christians the custom of giving eggs at Easter celebrates new life. The first eggs given at Easter were birds eggs. These eggs were painted in bright colours to give them further meaning as a gift. We still paint bird eggs today but usually only chicken eggs. my daughter loves to paint eggs, but you do have to be really gentle or they will easily break. you need to pierce a hole at either end blow out all the liquid inside the egg, use for scrambled eggs, or bake a cake! then perch your egg on a barbecue stick or on a chopstick and paint with acrylic paints. you can always thread pretty ribbon through the holes and hang them – they look pretty cute. i really like the tree that maude painted on this egg.
if you are in padstow, on easter sunday there is the annual easter egg rolling down the street – bring your own hard boiled egg – its fun to watch everyone dress up, roll their eggs and raise money for their favourite charity.
so life with one hand has been a bit of a stress not only for the poor patient, but also for the people around him! as a result of a minor cycling accident which resulted in a broken thumb joint and a cast for 6 weeks, my husband had to learn to do things with his left hand. bad mistake to allow him to stoke the wood burner stove – which resulted in a wood ember falling onto our lovely rug – exactly in the part where there was a small section of white wool. fortunately we were recommended magic hand, a specialist company who will not only clean, restore and repair your rugs, but will pick it up and re deliver it and find the wool to match. it came back within a week and you cannot even notice where the burn was. it was not cheap, but considering the cost of good quality rugs, it was well worth it and a fraction of the price to buy another replacement.