Welcome everyone Sandra in Spain - FlamencoI’m Sandra Piddock, and I’m a freelance writer, dividing my time between Spain and the UK. I’ll write about anything that interests and/or challenges me, and I like to focus on the lighter side of life whenever possible.. Read more
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Sandra Piddock

I'm 62, and I'm a freelance writer dividing my time between Algorfa on the Costa Blanca in Spain and Bigbury Bay in Devon. I write about anything that interests and/ or challenges me, but I'm happiest when writing about all things Spanish.

When does lost property become stolen property? Never, apparently!

Is this the real case, or is it just fantasy? The case I brought back with me

On this website, there’s a category called ‘Only in Spain.’ It’s a tongue-in cheek, affectionate look at the extensive bureaucracy and the attitudes in Spain that are so different to the UK. Well, life seems to be imitating art, because it seems bureaucracy is becoming a problem in England too. Or at least in Plymouth, at least for me.

Regular readers will know that I need to be in the UK for longer than I expected, for reasons I won’t bore you with. So in early July, I flew back to Spain to sort a few things out and check on Piddock Place. I didn’t have a suitcase with me, so Glenys loaned me one of hers – a rather nice purple and grey number she’d bought at Al Campo in Zenia Boulevard a while ago. The case stayed with me all the way over to Spain, apart from when it went in the hold of the Falcon shuttle from Plymouth to Bristol Airport. It then stayed with me all the way back to Bristol, until I handed it into the safe keeping of the Falcon bus driver at midnight.

Arriving at Plymouth at 2.45 am, I spotted a purple and grey suitcase on the pavement. Looking in the hold, there were no other suitcases of that description, so off I trundled with it. After all, there can’t be that many purple and grey suitcases travelling from Alicante to Plymouth, can there? Apparently there can, because when I opened the case next morning to give Paddy his present for being a good boy for Aunty Glenys while I was away, what did I find? To my – and Paddy’s – disgust, there was no sign of his doggy chews, or my satnav, clothes, new nighties and bras, hair stylers, and all the other stuff that I’d carefully packed the night before.

What was revealed to our incredulous eyes was a television set, a freeview box, 4 packs of Spanish chocolate croissants, and a pack of 100 evil-smelling Spanish cigarettes. Miss Marple I ain’t, but as there had been Spanish students on the Falcon shuttle, and the missing case had been bought in Spain, I assumed somebody would be rather disappointed when they found my size 16 clothes which were built for comfort rather than fashion, and industrial quantities of doggy treats, as well as crystals, floral nighties and substantial underwear. Although there were no contact details in the case I had, there certainly were in the one I’d borrowed from Glenys, so I assumed it would be a matter of hours before I was reunited with my stuff, and Paddy saw how much I’d missed him when he found out how many treats I’d brought back.

How wrong can you be? The day passed, and my phone remained silent. The next morning, I called the Stagecoach Depot and explained my predicament. As nobody had been bothering them trying to track down their case, they said they couldn’t help, but would keep my details in case the other person returned my case and wanted theirs back. So I called the Police, to ask if I could report my case stolen, but apparently, it wasn’t stolen, it was lost, and I had to take it up with the carrying company.

I did this with gusto, going to Stagecoach Head Office, and asking what they were going to do about it. They did say they’d try and track down the passengers on the bus, but due to data protection laws, they couldn’t just email everyone who’d prebooked.

Not being one to sit and wait for stuff to happen, I put on my Miss Marple hat and started thinking logically. Yes, I can do that when I chose to, despite what people may say. I plastered photos of the case and its contents all over Facebook, and asked people to share. I also contacted all the university summer schools in the area, and asked if they could circulate their students and find out if anyone had the wrong case. Again I got the ‘data protection’ stuff, but as I explained, maybe the student concerned didn’t know what to do about getting their stuff back.

I also contacted Radio Devon, and had a nice chat to the lovely Pippa Quelch, who promised to air my problem on her show. So I felt I’d done everything I could to track down my case, and return the other one to its rightful owner.

Fast forward two months, and despite everything I’ve done, and Stagecoach has supposedly done, there’s no sign of my case, and I still have the other one gathering dust. I’m making another short visit to Spain this week, when I’ll need to put in an insurance claim for my lost case and its contents, so I headed to the nearest Police Station to get a Crime Number. After all, two months down the line, the case must be stolen, not lost, right?

Wrong, apparently. It’s only stolen if I have bank cards and/or statements, a phone, tablet, laptop or anything personal that could be used for criminal gain from my personal information in the case. Thankfully, although I always put my laptop in my suitcase – I had done exactly that on the trip out to Spain – for some reason, on the return journey, I put the laptop in my tote bag, which stayed with me on the bus rather than going into the hold. I have almost 5 years of photographs, articles and notes for books I intent to write on the laptop, so that would have been a really traumatic loss. Yes, I know – I should back it all up on a hard drive, and I have done, before anybody chips in. Now, where was I?

To me, if someone has your stuff, and has the means of returning it to you but chooses not to, they’ve actually stolen it. But to the Powers That Be, because the person who has my case didn’t actually rip it from my hands, it’s lost, not

Me in Spain, wearing one of my favourite dresses, which was in the lost/stolen case. This may be the last photo of me in it

stolen. So I asked the Police if I could keep the case I have, and its contents. Apparently I can’t, because it’s not mine. Even though the other person has my stuff, which is worth considerably more than his – or hers. All I can do is register my loss on a website, and they’ll give me a reference number for the insurance claim.

I asked the Policewoman I spoke to what I should do with the case I had. All credit to her, she didn’t give the answer I would have done, which would have involved doing something physically and logistically impossible with said case. She suggested I take it to the bus company and leave it in their lost property department, making sure I got a receipt for it.

That’s exactly what I did, so now I don’t have the case that isn’t mine, or the case that is mine. And I still think my case is stolen, not lost, but bureaucracy rules OK, even in England’s green and pleasant land. One thing’s for sure, when I board the Falcon shuttle later this week, my – new – suitcase will be welded to my side, and heaven help anyone who tries to part me from it!

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Rogers Wholesale Plymouth – Best before has never been better!

My bargains from Rogers – I spent £12 and got around £68 worth of shopping.

As everyone who knows me is aware, I’m always up for a bargain or two. Especially while I’m here in England, where most everyday things seem to be more expensive than in Spain. I’ve haunted the aisles of Morrison’s, the Co-Op and Tesco on the lookout for those pretty yellow stickers, and I’ve snagged some nice bargains, like a shoulder of pork that fed three of us – and the dogs – for two days, and cost only £1.65. Then there was the shin of beef I bought to make a stifado for a little over £1, and the spaghetti bolognese ready meals for just 50p each.

All of these were very enjoyable, and all the more so because they were so cheap, but it’s all fresh stuff, and the space in the fridge and the freezer is finite. If only I could get similar bargains in non-perishable goods, that I could maybe take back to Spain in the motor home.

Unlike some people, I don’t stress too much over ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ dates. I go on what stuff looks like, smells like and tastes like, not by the calendar. So when a video for Rogers Wholesale, Plymouth popped up on my Facebook news feed, I knew I had to go and take a look.

Basically, Rogers is a discount warehouse where you can buy stuff that’s either short dated or past it’s ‘best before’ date. Some stock may not have labels, or there may be items for export where the language on the labels isn’t English. Some of the brand names may be unfamiliar, and some of the packaging may be damaged or discontinued, but basically, everything is top quality.

Rogers calls itself ‘The UK’s Biggest Gone Past Best Before Warehouse,’ and it’s only been open since January, but when I went a few weeks ago, it was very busy indeed. The owners make videos for their Facebook Page each time a new delivery comes in, but if something catches your eye, get down there as quick as you can, because they can’t guarantee more stocks, and popular items sell out very quickly.

Rogers is a ‘no frills’ retail outlet – goods are stacked on pallets, and are sold by the case, not singly. If you live alone or in a small family, it’s worth getting together with someone else to share a case of whatever takes your fancy. Prices are unbelievable – some cases are just £1 for 5 0r 6 items, and Rogers even work out the price per unit for you. There are also lots of samples of snacks and chocolates to tempt you as you shop, and the friendly staff are always available to answer your questions, or load heavy cases into your trolley and your car.

I spent £12 in Rogers, and for that I got a pack of 6 bottles of Worcestershire Sauce, 12 330 ml cartons of Vita Coco coconut water, 6 jars of chunky vegetable pasta sauce with no labels, 6 packs of Go Ahead banana bakes, and 6 boxes of Ancient Harvest gluten free lentil and quinoa pasta. The day I went, each customer also got a free pack of 12 bottles of French’s honey mustard sauce.

Okay, the Worcestershire Sauce wasn’t a brand I’ve heard of, but it was just 33p a bottle, and own supermarket brands are around 85p. The coconut water worked out at 25p a carton, and the cheapest I’ve seen it is 69p, but usually it’s around £1. The pasta sauce also worked out at around 33p per large jar, as opposed to £1. The banana bakes were 50p a pack, for the same packs that sell for £1.99 normally. Okay, they’re 2 months past their ‘best before’ date, but I just had one with a mug of tea, and it was lovely and crunchy, and very tasty for just 124 calories. The Ancient Harvest pasta is normally around £3 per 227g pack, but I got 6 packs for £2, and that’s still in date until December!

Finally, the honey mustard sauce we received for free is normally around £1.50 a bottle. Even if we’d paid for it, it would have cost us only £1 for 12 bottles. I did wonder what on Earth I was going to do with 12 bottles of the stuff, but then I found these recipes on the manufacturer’s website, so that’s a few main meals and dressings sorted out to be going on with.

Maths has never been my best subject, but I do like to know how much I’m saving, so I quickly added up the normal retail prices of these items, and it comes to around £68, so I’ve saved a fantastic amount – around £56 to be exact.

My free gift – 12 bottles of honey mustard which normally retail at around £1.50 a bottle

So, what can you buy from Rogers, apart from the items I clued up with? Pretty much anything, really. Biscuits, cereals, cakes, desserts, hot and cold drinks, condiments, sauces, preserves, crisps and snacks, chocolates, sugar, flour, pasta, rice – the list goes on. However, Rogers can’t guarantee what’s coming in, or how long stocks of particular items will last, so if you see it, buy it, because tomorrow just may be too late!

Rogers Wholesale Plymouth is located at Unit 2, Burrington Business Park, Burrington Way PL5 3LX. Opening hours are 9 am – 6 pm Monday to Friday, 9 – 5 Saturdays, and 10 – 4 Sundays. Check out their Facebook page for the latest offers, or just go along with an empty vehicle and say Sandra sent you. Who knows, I may even see you there sometime. Happy shopping!

 

 

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Ask your Angels for whatever you want!

Me at a workshop for Archangel Chamuel, the Archangel of Love

When I first became interested in developing my intuition and my psychic powers a couple of years ago, I realised that things would unfold as they were meant to, in Divine Timing. There’s no schedule when Spirit is involved, because there is no timescale as we understand it. Good intentions are all very well, but I’m not the most patient of people, and when my teacher, Alison Wynne-Ryder, asked if anything was bothering me about my spiritual journey, I confessed that I didn’t seem to be making much progress with the Angels.

Alison asked if I’d requested their help, and I said no, because it seemed a bit of a cheek for Little Old Me to be asking the Angels for stuff. After all, they have better things to do than hover around waiting for me, right? Wrong, apparently. The Angels are there for us – all of us – but they cannot intervene in our lives unless we specifically ask them to. Once we realise that we can ask for anything – as long as it is for our own Higher Good and will not cause harm to ourselves or others – we can harness the power of the Upstairs Team.

If Angels are so powerful, why don’t they just step in when they’re needed? Basically, it’s because we all have free will, and we need to learn lessons in life. The Law of Free Will means the Angels can’t advise or help us without a specific request from us, and it’s a good thing really. If they could just step in and avert the disasters we didn’t see coming, life would be pretty boring, and pretty pointless. It’s not healthy to be steered through life, avoiding all the pitfalls along the way. Those pitfalls make us what we are, and teach us life lessons that we can hopefully learn from and become better versions of ourselves.

So, how do we harness this power then? Like I said, just ask. However, it helps if you are able to understand how the Universe works for us. Everything is energy – you, me, the sofa I’m sitting on as I type this, the laptop I’m working on, the glass filled with port and brandy that I’m sipping on, because blogging is thirsty work. And of course, the Angels we call on.

Everything that is energy vibrates at different frequencies – it’s where the expressions ‘good vibes’ and ‘bad vibes’ come from. If you’re feeling negative, or if someone you come across expresses negative behaviour such as hatred or bitterness, the vibes will be low frequency. However, if you’re happy, calm, grateful, enjoying life, living in the moment, and appreciating everything around you, you’ll vibrate at a much higher frequency, and you’ll be closer to the Angels.

That closeness enables you to ask for their help, because it’s not just a matter of saying ‘Hey Archangel Raphael, sort this cold out for me, or I won’t be able to go on holiday next week.’ You need to call on your Angels with positivity, because they vibrate at a much higher frequency than the rest of us. And they’re not Fairy Godmothers who just wave their wands and make everything happen as we want it to. We have to work for our own Higher Good with them.

So say something like, ‘Dear Archangel Raphael, help me to do what I need to, so I can recover my health and enjoy my holiday with my family.’ It’s a small, but important, change in attitude and expression, that can make the world of difference in how things work out for you. You don’t need fancy prayers, you don’t even need to say the words out loud, but you do need to make your request in a positive way that will bring only good things to yourself and to anyone who may be caught up in your request.

Build up a connection by talking to the Angels regularly. My routine is to thank them each night for the good things that have happened during the day, then ask for help for those who need it. I may call on Raphael for healing for friends, family, or pets, Archangel Chamuel if someone I know is looking for love, or maybe a couple I know are experiencing relationship problems, and Archangel Michael for those seeking justice.

Look out for signs that they have heard your requests – finding feathers or other objects where you least expect them, or maybe a repetitive sequence of numbers, such as 11.11, 2.22, 3.33 on clocks, number plates, advertising boards or other places. And sometimes, a thought or idea will pop into your head and you’ll think, ‘Why didn’t I think of that before? It’s such an obvious solution.’ The answer to that is, you didn’t think of it, because your Angels planted that thought there.

Find out more about Angel Numbers in Kyle Gray’s latest book, Angel Numbers. Kyle is a real inspiration, and so knowledgeable on all things spiritual. His teachings and writings are really accessible, so if you’re looking to learn more about angels and how we can successfully work with them, it’s a great place to start. Melanie Beckler of AskAngels.com is also a great source of wisdom. Check out her YouTube Channel for some really great advice, meditations, energy updates and oracle card readings.

Recently, I’ve asked the Angels for something as minor as a parking space, or the right turning to take when I’d gone somewhere new without my trusty satnav. I’ve also asked their advice on major, life changing matters. Each time, they’ve come through, and they will come through for you. You really can ask your Angels for whatever you want.

Captain Rai Woods: The Father of Local Radio on the Costa Blanca

When people move out to Spain, they very often end up reinventing themselves and doing something completely different to anything they’ve ever done before. It’s easier for some than for others. For example, until I medically retired due to the effects of Lupus, I always worked in catering at one level or another. When I could no longer work for a living, I studied for a couple of degrees to pass the time, and when we bought our place in Spain I started writing, first for pleasure, and then for a second career. It was a natural progression. Rai Woods is a different proposition altogether though, because before he moved to Spain, he’d pretty much seen it all, done it all, and got the various t-shirts.

Originally, he was destined for a career in medicine, but decided he couldn’t go along with the prevailing philosophy of keeping people alive for the sake of it, and prescribing drugs before looking at the causes of the symptoms. He calls it ‘Sticking a plaster over it and hope it gets better, rather than looking for the real problem.’

Medicine’s loss was broadcasting’s gain, because Rai ended up working on cameras and sound desks in England and Northern Ireland. Always behind the scenes, but a vital part of productions small and large, he’s worked with the best in his time – notably with John Schlessinger on  Far From the Madding Crowd in 1967, and with Clive Donner on Here We go Round the Mulberry Bush in 1968. Rai also worked on The Avengers when Patrick Macnee was in full Bowler and Brolly mode. You won’t find him in the credits, because as he self-deprecatingly puts it:

I was third assistant director, with particular responsibility for making tea and coffee, and crowd control.

Rai’s tea and coffee must have been pretty special, because over the years, he’s worked for ITN and Ulster Television, among many others, and seen many wannabes become household names. He calmed young Rosemary Brown’s nerves before she sang her song for Ireland’s entry into the Eurovision Song Contest live on television.

Being a pretty laid back person himself, he was well qualified to do that. There’s laid back, and there’s so laid back as to be close to falling over, and Rai definitely falls into the second catergory, as he’s pretty much unflappable. In fact, if he so much as drummed his fingers on a chair arm during a production meeting, his colleagues would say, ‘Watch it, Rai’s about to have a meltdown!’

He did a pretty good job on Rosemary, because she went on to win with All Kinds of Everything. The nervous schoolgirl with the fabulous voice was better known as Dana, and even then, her potential was clear.

You’d think this was enough to keep anyone occupied, but Rai also found time to qualify as a pilot and learn to sail. Again, he became  so good at it, he is entitled to use the handle Captain as an official rank on both counts. He’s pretty much the exception to the rule when it comes to the old saying, ‘Jack of all trades, master of none.’

In 1969, he purchased the former lifeboat Dornovaria. Like her new owner, Dornovaria had experienced quite a few adventures, having served twice as a lifeboat, and also featured in the Dunkirk evacuation as one of the Little Ships. Built in 1905, she’s older than the Titanic, and still seaworthy. Rai lived on her for a number at years at Teddington, before moving to Northern Ireland. Then in 1999, Dornovaria sailed from Donaghadee to join the flotilla of 55 former lifeboats commemorating the 175th anniversary of the RNLI at Poole, Dorset.

A few years later, Rai sailed his floating twin flame single-handedly to start a new life in Torrevieja, on Spain’s Costa Blanca. Once there, he put his broadcasting knowledge to good use by setting up several English speaking radio stations in the area, and even owning a couple! I’ll save Rai’s blushes by not going into details here, as he doesn’t like to blow his own trumpet. However, speak to anyone who is anybody in local radio on the Costa Blanca, and they will tell you about his valuable contribution to broadcasting on the Costa Blanca. In fact, his nickname is ‘The father of local radio on the Costa Blanca.’ You’ll have a job to find any local broadcaster worth his salt who has not worked – or is still working – with Rai.

These days, he’s still in radio – both driving the desk and hitting things with a hammer to get them working again – or something like that! His popular Country Rodeo show, which airs on Big FM Radio each Wednesday evening at 8.00 pm Spanish time, has regular listeners all over the world. Many of them have gone on to become friends, going out of their way to visit Rai if they land in Spain for a holiday. And Rai has standing invitations to countries as far afield as Norway, America and Vietnam, if he wants to travel outside Spain. Over the years, he’s built up a loyal family of listeners, and the regulars get a mention each week. For Rai, the show is all about the music and the audience, although he’ll often come out with a cheeky quip to keep his fans smiling as they enjoy the show.

Rai loves all kinds of music, but he’s in his element with country music, as is clear when you hear him in action. He also takes his music out in the local area, playing at various events, either as one of the Big FM presenters or flying solo. When he gets together with Los Pistoleros re-enactment group, you can really feel the atmosphere of the old Wild West, and he’s a great promoter of local talent such as Charles Cole and Bobby Valentine.

Since he moved to  Torrevieja, Rai has also found time to direct his first full length feature film. The Cucaracha Club is the first film made entirely in and around Torrevieja, and the production team, Siesta Productions, managed to pull off a coup that even the big guns at Eon Productions – home of the James Bond franchise – couldn’t manage. They obtained permission to film for the first time ever in Torrevieja marina. You can read more about Rai’s part in the making of the film here, and there are more exclusive behind the scenes stories and interviews with the cast and crew in the Cucaracha Club category on the website.

So, what does the future hold for Captain Rai? Well, the Country Rodeo is set to continue for the foreseeable future, and there are two more Cucaracha Club films waiting to go into production, as well as a possible television series collaboration with a Spanish TV company. And Rai’s also helping to promote the film that’s already in the can, using his broadcasting and media contacts to get the film out to as wide an audience as possible before it goes to DVD.

Another of Rai’s interests is acting. He’s appeared in several productions with theatre group The Adhoc Players, and there is a new production coming soon. He’ll be treading the boards and bringing his engineering and production experience into play behind the scenes.

Although the Dornovaria has been moored in Torrevieja Marina since Rai moved to Spain, he spends a lot of his spare (???!!!) time keeping her seaworthy, and is hoping to take her on at least one more trip ‘before he gets too old to be able to.’

Although Rai is now seventy-something, it’s difficult to imagine him ever being too old for anything. As the saying goes, ‘You don’t stop having fun when you get old, you get old when you stop having fun.’ By that criterion, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Captain Rai before his final ‘Cheers and Away’ farewell from the Costa Blanca media scene. Former doctor, pilot, sea captain, engineer turned broadcaster, radio presenter and film director, Rai Woods is certainly No Ordinary Expat.

Image credits: Slide show photos are a mixture of my own images, and images supplied by Rai Woods and Siesta Productions.

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Rice and peas – a touch of the Caribbean for dinner

Rice and peas – a great accompaniment to any meal

I’ve always been pretty adventurous with food, and a few years back, a Jamaican friend cooked us jerk chicken with rice and peas. We’ve lost touch since we moved to Spain, and I’d forgotten about rice and peas until the weekend. We’d cooked a smoked gammon joint from Lidl – fabulous value and taste, by the way – and were wondering what to serve with it. Basically, we fancied a change from the usual new potatoes and parsley sauce, egg and chips or salad.

Then  I remembered about rice and peas. I looked up Levi Root’s recipe and adapted it to suit our taste. As we weren’t having it with curry, I thought it may be rather bland as it was, so I added some chilli flakes and sweet chilli sauce to give it a bit of pep. It paired very well with the coconut, and we ended up with a very nice accompaniment to the gammon.

Only problem was, Levi’s recipe was supposed to serve 4, but I think he meant 4 households! There was way too much for three of us, so we’re having the rest with a Kerala coconut chicken curry tonight. If I make it again, I’d halve the quantity of rice and water and cook it on a slightly lower heat to ensure the rice was cooked through, since there would be a smaller amount of liquid. However, the quantities below are as per the recipe – I’ll leave you to adjust it as you wish.

Ingredients

  • I can of coconut milk
  • I can of red kidney beans
  • I onion, chopped finely
  • I large or 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups or basmati rice, well rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • knob of butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Chilli flakes and sweet chilli sauce as required. (Optional)

Empty the contents of the cans of coconut milk and red kidney beans into a large saucepan. Don’t rinse the beans first, as the canning

White rum and coconut water – a lovely accompaniment to rice and peas

liquid adds to the flavour  of the finished dish. Then add the onion, garlic, water, salt, chilli flakes and butter.

Bring to the boil, then add the rice. Lower the heat, and stir well. Cook for around 30 minutes, until all the water is absorbed and the rice

is nice and fluffy, with a slight sheen to it. Stir in sweet chilli sauce, if using.

Serve with curry, jerk chicken, or any other meat or vegetable dish. Rice and peas can also be enjoyed on its own as a light lunch or

supper. You could add chopped peppers, sliced mushrooms and sweetcorn for more colour and texture. It’s a really versatile dish, and is ideal for vegetarians and vegans.

I wondered what to serve to drink with the meal, and then I had a lightbulb moment. I’d bought some coconut water flavoured with lime and pineapple, so I added this to white rum for a long, tropical drink. Along with the rice and peas, it was Almost Jamaica, as the song goes!


 

 

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Are your crystals ready to be charged by the Blood Moon?

Some of my crystals charging in the light of the full moon

Since I first got really interested in the healing powers of crystals, I’ve amassed quite a collection. I already knew it was important to cleanse them of other energies before using them, but I didn’t realise how important it was to charge your crystals, especially if you use them regularly, or need some powerful healing energies from them.

While crystals can be charged by intention, or under the sun or the moon in most cases. you’ll get a beneficial boost of energy by charging them under the full moon. As it happens, the full moon on Friday 27th July is very special – it’s a Blood Moon, accompanied by the longest lunar eclipse of the century. There will be a lot of emotions flying around, but it’s a good time to clear out anything that doesn’t serve you any longer and make a new start, or take your life journey in a different direction.

Don’t worry if you can’t see the moon from your corner of the world – it’s still there, and the energies are all around. And if you forget to put your crystals out on 27th, or you’re away from home, the energies on the nights either side of the full moon will still charge your crystals and amplify their powers.

You don’t need to put them outside to gain the benefits of full moon charging either – put them on a window sill indoors, especially if the weather is unpredictable. Some of the softer crystals such as selenite are water soluble.

I like to put my crystals on narrow sandwich trays on the conservatory window while I’m in the UK, but in Spain, I

A full moon not only charges crystals, it can be very energising for people too!

usually put them on the table in the courtyard. It’s really down to your own preferences, and local conditions at the

time of the full moon. There is really no right or wrong way.

Another thing I like to do is make it special by conducting a simple ritual. I don’t work from a routine, I just do what

feels right at the time. A couple of months ago, I was feeling very lethargic and a bit ‘down in the dumps.’ Not  depressed – just not happy. I know that selenite is linked to the moon, so I decided to harness the moon’s energy, using my selenite wand.

I always cleanse all my crystals before putting them out – even selenite, which is self-cleansing. I use white sage incense, because I love the smell and find it very relaxing, which is important for any sort of energy work.

When I stood outside, I took a few deep breaths, and looked up at the moon. Then I felt compelled to hold the selenite wand above my head with both hands, with my arms at full stretch. I inwardly asked the moon to energise the selenite, and through it, to also energise myself.

Some more of my crystal collection, ready to be charged under the full moon

Almost immediately, I felt a bolt of energy hit the wand, then travel down my arms, through my body, and through the soles of my feet into Mother Earth. I felt at one with both the moon and the earth, and I was filled with the strangest feeling. I felt both relaxed and full of energy, all at the same time. I thought to myself, ‘That’s it, I’m not going to be able to sleep now.’

How wrong can you be? I had the best night’s sleep in months, and ever since then I’ve slept really well pretty much every night. I woke up refreshed and ready to face the day, and my mood had lifted overnight. I’m not sure what happened that night, but I do know I’m still feeling the benefits today.

Friday’s blood moon is likely to signal the end of one chapter and the beginning of another phase of spiritual development, so there may be some difficult choices to make for many of us. Trust in the power of your intuition, your crystals and the Universe, and enjoy this special occasion as you move forward on your spiritual journey.

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Killer Chihuahua bites back!

Oh dear! I did ask Paddy if it was wise to vent about Gizmo in public, but he would insist on writing that rather incendiary guest post. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can find it here. As you may imagine, Killer Chihuahua is not exactly ecstatic about it, and he’s insisting on the Right to Reply.

Paddy says Gizmo can’t do that, because it’s not his Mummy’s blog. However in the interests of fair play and free speech, I feel I have to let Gizmo tell his side of the story.  I now have two Very Disgruntled Dogs on my hands, so let’s hope that when Gizmo’s got this off his chest, they’ll call a draw and we can all settle down again.

Me on the cliffs with Paddy. If I’d known what he ws going to write about me, I’d have pushed him over while I had the chance!

Hello everyone – Killer Chihuahua here. I mean Gizmo. I hate that nickname. I’m not a Killer Chihuahua at all – I’m a Chihuahua/Pappillon cross, but Aunty Sandra says Killer Chihuahua/Papillon Cross doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. She’s a very good writer, so I suppose she should know.

The trouble with Paddy the Petrified is he has no respect for his elders, and no backbone. After all, at 5 years and 2 months to his 4 years and 7 months, I have much more life experience to pass on, but he doesn’t take any notice most of the time, because he’s so bouncy I’m sure he’s on elastic. So now and again I have to be a bit forceful, but I don’t nip the backs of his legs like he says I do – it’s more a little tug on the long hairs to remind him who’s the boss around here, And then he goes all Drama Queen with my Mummy and his Mummy to try to get me into trouble.

He comes across as all hard done by, but I bet he didn’t tell you what I have to put up with, did he? Paddy is 35 kilos to my 5, so of course I have to address the discrepancy by being a Little Dog with a Big Attitude. Unfortunately, my attitude is the only big thing about me, and that seems to fascinate Paddy. Or to be more accurate, one little thing seems to fascinate him, which is why I call him Paddy the Pervert. Not to put to fine a point on it, every chance he gets, he’s after my willy! It’s most undignified – whenever Mummy or Aunty Sandra picks me up, his cold, wet nose is there, right where I don’t want it.

The other day, I was walking along, minding my own business, when Paddy shoved his nose under

Making sure Paddy behaves at Aunty Lesley’s. As the older, more experienced dog, I have to keep him in order.

me and lifted me so high, I almost did a cartwheel. When I complained to Aunty Sandra that if I was a human, I’d be able to get compensation for that sort of behaviour, she came out with a very hurtful remark. She said, ‘No you wouldn’t Gizmo – your willy is so small, Paddy could counter sue and ask for a search fee!’ Not difficult to see where he gets his disrespectful behaviour from, is it?

While we’re on the subject of willies, you need to know something else. Being the doggy equivalent of an irritating younger brother, Paddy has taken to copying what I do. So if I elevate my leg against a particular tree or rock, he has to do the same. They say immitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I wasn’t very flattered recently,  when he decided to use the same attractive clump of marsh grass as me. The problem was, instead of waiting for me to finish, he had to do it at the same time. Only he went around the other side and we were nose to tail, which suited him, as it gave him another sneaky chance to check out my willy. When he raised his leg, I got a shower on the top of my head, and it wasn’t even raining!

Mummy and Aunty Sandra laughed their heads off, and then my walk was cut short because I had to go back and have a bath. Paddy’s obssession with my willy is absolutely not healthy – and now it’s getting to the stage where I fear for my dignity about 20 times a day. If anybody has a Dog’s Life, it’s me, not that big, attention-seeking lump!

Not content with that, Paddy the Purloiner is always pinching my dinner. I’m a dainty, well brought-up boy, and I don’t scoff my supper like the Hounds of Hell are after it. I like to savour my food, and graze on it during the day. However, I don’t get the chance these days, because Paddy comes and pinches my dinner, sometimes before he even finishes his own. I tell you, it’s a wonder I haven’t faded to a shadow of my former self.

I tried to get my own back the other day by pinching his dinner, but of course, his bowl is much bigger than mine, and I couldn’t get my head in there unless I balanced my paws on the edge of the bowl. The trouble was, once I bent my head down to nibble on his meaty chunks, the bowl tipped over, and Paddy’s dinner went all over me and Mummy’s kitchen floor – which she’d only mopped that morning. So that was a telling-off and yet another bath, just for trying to get even with that thieving mutt!

The worst thing of all though is the unfairness about going out. My Mummy is always thinking of

Mummy and me with Paddy and Aunty Sandra. Like I said, we take him everywhere.

nice places to take us for runs, where we can meet and play with other dogs. But sometimes Aunty Sandra takes Paddy off on her own, and she won’t take me as well. It doesn’t matter how much I cry, and I even follow her to the door, and give her the full-on Puppy Eye Treatment, but she still won’t take me. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Paddy the Poser comes back bragging about what a lovely day out he’s had with his Mummy. It’s too much for a lovely boy like me to bear.

So people, just as you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers, don’t believe everything you read online – especially if it’s written by a big black brute who’s scared of his own shadow. Never mind – one day karma will come along and bite him on the bum. Or maybe I will, if I can get Mummy to buy me a little doggy step ladder. That will give him something to whinge about!

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It’s a dog’s life!

Once again, Paddy has asked to do a guest post on the blog. Since I’ve taught him how to throw a sentence together, and how to spell, I can hardly refuse – especially since the last time he did a guest post he got more views than all of my posts during the month put together! Ah well, over to Paddy, who wants to get something off his chest. According to him, he hasn’t had the best of weeks. According to me, he’s an ungrateful, attention-seeking pup, but hey, it’s a free country, so over to Paddy:

Relaxing after my traumatic week. Things can only get better.

Hello everyone,  and welcome to my guest post. I felt I had to chip in before Mummy started spreading lies and exaggerating everything on Facebook. To say I haven’t had the best of weeks is an absolute understatement. And most of it is Mummy’s fault – she just doesn’t realise how sensitive a soul I am. 

The big problem is Gizmo. The longer we spend together, the bossier he gets. I mean, I’m scared to even walk past him these days – everything I do seems to be wrong. And Mummy and Aunty Glenys are no help. Instead of telling him to leave me alone, and giving him a flying lesson, they just laugh, and say I’m a wimp! Not only is that very hurtful, it’s totally untrue.

I’m not a wimp, but I am a sensible boy, and I’m not going to do anything that earns me a nip on the back legs from Killer Chihuahua. Okay, I am a bit frightened of him – but only frightened that I may choke on him if I do what he deserves and say ‘No more Mr Nice Guy’ and eat him. I don’t think Mummy and Aunty Glenys would be very happy about that though, so I’ve made a new friend.

He’s a very handsome dog – similar to me in fact, and I know we’d get on great, and between us, we could put Gizmo in his place. The problem is, my new friend is very shy. He won’t come out while everyone else is around. In fact, he waits until it’s dark, and Aunty Glenys has turned off the TV and taken Killer Chihuahua to bed. Then he plays hide and seek behind the TV screen or the conservatory window. No matter how much I talk to him, or how fast I wag my

My shy doggie friend. I do hope he comes out to play soon.

tail, he just won’t come out to play.

It’s very frustrating for a friendly boy like me, so I cried a bit and asked Mummy to coax him out to play. She laughed, so I asked Uncle Tristan instead. Then he laughed, and said, ‘It’s your reflection, you daft dog.’ Now, I don’t know what a reflection is, but it isn’t a breed of dog I’ve ever heard of. Obviously, they don’t want me to play with my new friend in case Gizmo gets jealous. I’ll outwit them though – I’ll save a couple of my favourite treats to tempt him out to play.

Really, the only thing that makes life worthwhile these days is when Mummy takes me out in the car, without Gizmo. It’s lovely to see him cry to come with us, and even better when Mummy tells him he can’t come, because she can’t manage two dogs on her own. My Mummy can do anything, so I’m sure she could – she’s just giving me some breathing space from Killer Chihuahua, so we can share some quality time together.

However, on Tuesday, even that got a bit scary. We’d been out all day, and were on our way home, when the car started making funny noises and juddering. Mummy slowed down, and told me not to worry, and we’d soon be home and safe. The words had hardly left her mouth when there was an enormous bang, right behind where I was sitting, looking for dogs and cats to bark at to liven up the drive home.

I thought the world had ended, and I did the only sensible thing and jumped into the front with Mummy, to get away from the bang. That was easier said than done, because I had to work out how to free the restraining strap from the seatbelt, but I was a Desperate Dog, and I managed it. I was shaking like a leaf, but did I get any sympathy? Not a bit of it! Mummy just laughed, and said, ‘Don’t be such a baby, Paddy – it’s just a blow out, that’s all.’

I’ve never been so insulted in my life! Mummy is always telling me off for ‘blowing off,’ but I never make such a loud noise as that – it’s not polite. A blow out must be very similar to a blow off, so in other words, I got the blame for something that frightened me almost to death. I thought my time had come to cross the Rainbow Bridge, and all she could do was laugh!

I’ll never understand humans if I live to be 100. There we were, miles from home, almost dead, and Mummy is on the phone and taking photos. I was so glad to see Aunty Glenys, I just leaped into her car, and didn’t even mind Gizmo barking at me.

Mummy’s car after the blow out. And she expected me to get back in there afterwards!

I was pretty sure I’d never see the car again – I mean, how could it survive such a major disaster? However, I was wrong, and the next day, the car came back.  Being a sensible boy, I wasn’t going anywhere near it – it was a death trap, obviously. You’d have thought Mummy would have understood, but no, she said I had to go in the car with her. No way was that happening, so I headed back to Aunty Glenys’s. I was so traumatised, I’d rather spend the day with Killer Chihuahua than go out in the car with Mummy – that’s how bad it was.

Did she understand and respect my feelings? What do you think? She actually bundled me into the car and told me to stop over reacting! Can you believe that? It was most indignified. First she grabbed my front paws and put them on the back seat, then lifted my back legs and pretty much threw me into the car. And that smarmy black cat from next door saw everything! I’ll never be able to hold my head up in the street again, because I bet that rotten cat’s told everyone.

Whoever first said ‘It’s a dog’s life’ was not wrong. I’m going to have to rethink my position after this week. If anyone would like to offer a loving home to a very good boy, I may seriously consider it. Mummy needs to examine her recent behaviour and think how she can make amends, otherwise she’s going to be very sorry. Thanks for listening, and please, if you love me, tell Mummy and Aunty Glenys to go easy on me. I may be a big strong boy, but I do have feelings, you know!

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Restaurant review: Lanterns Greek Restaurant, Cornwall Street, Plymouth

Although there are all sorts of cuisines available at a great price and quality near my home in Algorfa, I’ve yet to unearth a good Greek restaurant within driving or staggering distance. I mentioned this to my friend Glenys a few years back on a visit to Plymouth, and she took me to Lanterns, advising me to ‘Prepare to be amazed.’

The first time we road tested Lanterns together, it was coming up for Christmas, and the place was heaving with office parties, etc. So we were delighted when they cheerfully squeezed us in between two groups. They warned us that we would have to wait a while for our food, but brought out some home made Greek bread and a bottle of very nice house rose to keep us going.

Although Lanterns is a very busy restaurant in the middle of Plymouth city centre, the staff never seem pressured – in fact, they seem to enjoy themselves just as much as the diners – many of whom eat there at least once a week.

We really enjoyed our food, but because I spend a lot of time in Spain, we didn’t return for some time. Almost a year, in fact. As we walked in, the two lovely waitresses greeted us like old friends, and remarked that it had been a while since they’d seen us. With Glenys and I, it’s ‘Once seen, never forgotten,’ and they started reminiscing about the great evening we’d all had on our last visit.

The highlight of that first evening was when the group to the left of us were getting a bit too full of Christmas spirit – and wine, and beer – and started effing and blinding. It didn’t bother us, but one of the party told them in a stage whisper to ‘Pipe down, or you’ll offend the lovely ladies sitting next to us.’ I couldn’t resist it – I stood up, leaned over the dividing screen between us, and said, ‘Hey, no f***ing swearing if you don’t mind – you’re putting us off our dinner!’  That set the seal on the tone, and all of a sudden, we were extra guests at everyone’s party.

We’ve tried a couple of other Greek restaurants in Plymouth over the years, but nothing matches Lanterns for atmosphere, food quality, portion size and value for money. The first couple of times, we ordered starters, then realised there was way too much food for us, so now we tend to go for a main course and a dessert – if we have room, that is.

A couple of nights ago, we had a rather unpleasant experience at the Notter Bridge Inn near Landrake. Long story short, after waiting for almost an hour for our food, we were thrown out as ‘liars and troublemakers,’ because we had the temerity to ask why people who had come in after us were being served first. If you want to read the whole sorry story, you can find it here.

We decided to go to Lanterns, and as usual, we were welcomed with open arms – such a contrast to our treatment at the Notter Bridge Inn. Once again, we were given lovely fresh home made bread to take the edge of our hunger while we waited for our meals. I went for my favourite Lamb souvla with a tasty Greek salad, rice and tzatziki, while Glenys chose belly pork with rice and vegetables.

Previously, we’ve tried the moussaka, beef stifado, mushroom stroganoff, grilled chicken, kleftiko and the range of kebabs. Everything we’ve ever had has been cooked and presented to perfection, and we’ve invariably needed to ask to have some of the meal packed to take home. This is an old menu, but it will give you an idea of the range of food on offer.

Lanterns offer a 3 course lunch menu, as well as an early bird evening menu between 5 and 7, as well as their extensive a la carte collection.All their desserts are home made too. I couldn’t resist the Banoffee Pie, even though I’d only managed half of my lamb souvla. I asked for a ‘small’ portion, but as you can see from the pictures, it wasn’t that small! It was, however, the best Banoffee pie I have ever tasted – and I’ve tasted a lot over the years.

Do yourself a favour if you find yourself in Plymouth, and check out Lanterns. You won’t be disappointed, and you won’t need to take out a second mortgage to eat there, even if you go a la carte. We normally pay around £40 for two main courses and a bottle of wine – slightly more if we have a dessert, but usually we share one between us. Maybe we’ll see you there soon!

You can find Lanterns at 88 Cornwall Street, Plymouth PL1 1LR. Metred parking is available outside, and there are two nearby off road car parks. Phone 01752 665516 to reserve your table, or enquire about availability for special celebrations. Tell them Sandra in Spain sent you!

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Basil Fawlty is still living and working in Notter Bridge, Cornwall!

Sun shining through the trees by the River Lynher – the only bright spot of our visit to the Notter Bridge Inn!

It’s been a pretty traumatic week – even on top of the other six traumatic weeks since we left Spain. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say Glenys decided I needed to cheer myself up last night, and she thought a drive out in the country and a meal in a nice friendly pub would do the trick. She also promised me photo opportunities aplenty, so off we went to the Notter Bridge Inn near Landrake, Cornwall.

It seemed to tick all the boxes. Drive in the country? Check, with the added bonus of being only 6 miles from our base. Photo opportunities? Check – the pub nestles on the River Lynher, and I got a couple of beautiful shots of the sunlight through the trees. Friendly pub? Well, in the words of the well-known song, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad. Except it was – very bad!

When we went into the pub, it seemed friendly enough. A few people said hello, and we asked the landlady if there were any spare tables. She said yes, take our pick,  so I sent Glenys to find a table while I ordered the food and drinks. I asked if I could run a tab, and left my credit card behind the bar. The landlady said the kitchen was busy, so there would be a ‘bit of a wait,’ and I said that was okay, we could enjoy our drinks and I could take some photos outside. When we went through the bar to the conservatory, there was only one other table occupied, and the people eating outside were being served as I got the drinks, so we were confident it wouldn’t be too much of a wait, and the food looked and smelled lovely.

How wrong can you be? After we’d waited for half an hour, the conservatory had filled up, and then starters came out to the tables who had ordered after us. We wondered about that, but thought maybe they were going to bring all the main courses out together. However, when the starters were followed by main courses, while our table was still depressingly bare, I called over the waitress and we asked how long our food would be, since we had ordered before most of the other diners had arrived.

The friendly waitress went to find out, and the lady on the next table asked how long we’d been waiting. By now, it was over 45 minutes, and she said that sometimes they forgot to put the order through to the kitchen! However, she also said the food was worth waiting for, and when the waitress returned and said it would be just another 10 minutes,  and did we want a refund, I said it was fine, we were hungry, and I was happy to wait. I asked why the food had been delayed, and she said she didn’t know, but would ask the landlady.

The landlady marched across to our table and snapped ‘What’s the matter with you?’ Clearly, when she’d done the hospitality training, she’d missed the bit about keeping the customer satisfied. She also said that as we’d just walked in off the street and hadn’t bothered to book, we should expect to wait until the regulars were looked after. She went to the kitchen, then informed us that, ‘The chef says just go, we don’t want your sort in here.’

We were incredulous. We hadn’t been rude to the staff, just politely asked where our food was, and we were still prepared to wait, even though others had been served ahead of us. Graciously, the landlady said we could have our drinks on the house, as she almost threw my debit card across the bar. As we headed for the door, stomachs a-rumble and backs well and truly up, Basil Fawlty* himself blocked our exit.

Obviously, it wasn’t Basil Fawlty – he’s a fictional character, but the guy – whom we assumed to be the landlord – achieved the impossible by making the Torquay hotel owner look like the world’s best Front of House Manager. He said we’d been told it would be at least 40 minutes’ wait when we ordered, and Glenys replied that if we’d been told that, we wouldn’t have ordered food at all, and we’d just been told there was a ‘bit of a wait.’ He told us we were liars, and astutely observed that we’d complained about the food, but not about the free drinks we’d had.

I don’t think he appreciated being told that we couldn’t complain about the food, because we hadn’t had any, and the drinks were not free, they were compensation for poor service. And he wasn’t thrilled when I told him I was a writer, and although I never write negative reviews, I was happy to make an exception in their case.

Rather foolishly, he told me to ‘Write what I like.’ So I just did. Moral of the story:

‘Basil Fawlty’s’ Latest business venture – The Notter Bridge Inn.

Don’t say it if you don’t mean it. Glenys wasn’t quite sure whether to be scandalised or proud of being thrown out of a pub for the first time in her life. It was a first for me too, but we reckoned that, with a combined age of 141 years between us, being thrown out for being ‘liars and troublemakers’ would do our street cred no damage at all.

Did we get fed? Oh yes! We went to our favourite restaurant, Lanterns in Cornwall Street, Plymouth. The food, service and atmosphere was amazing. Okay, we didn’t get the fabulous photo opportunities, or the scenic drive, but we finally ticked the box for great food and service with a smile. And the bill came in cheaper too. Basil Fawlty, you can learn a lot from Lanterns.

* I’d love to claim the ‘Basil Fawlty’ monicker as my own, but the Mail Online beat me to it. Seems like we’re not the only disatisfied customers at the Notter Bridge Inn after all!

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