I’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..
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.
Now the UK is no longer a member of the European Union, gaining residency in Spain as a so-called ‘Third Country’ can be stressful to say the least. However, if you want to spend more than 90 days here in a rolling 180 day period, without jumping through the hoops to obtain a visa, you need to apply for Spanish residency – or ‘residencia,’ to give the process its official term. The 90 day limit applies to tourists only, and cannot be used to circumvent the rules to spend longer in Spain, or any other Schengen Area country.
While it’s perfectly possible to do this process yourself, you need to cope with the Spanish obsession with paperwork – lots of it! Even if you take every single piece of paper you can think of, it’s possible you will hear the words beloved of every Spanish bureaucrat:
‘Falta un papel,’ or, ‘There’s a piece of paper missing.’
That’s one of the reasons I decided to ask Matt Neale of Chandelier Professional Services to progress my residencia application, help me change from a UK driving licence to a Spanish one, and register on the Spanish health care system. I also decided to register as autonoma (self-employed) at the same time, since I wanted to work here as a writer and clairvoyant, and I wanted to do it all legally, since I want to spend the rest of my days happily living in my soul’s home, Spain.
I was really impressed with the friendly professionalism of the Chandelier staff. They certainly know their way around the system, and they are willing to devote time to securing appointments, even if it means spending ages refreshing the website in between the processing other applications. I approached Matt on Wednesday 30 September, got my updated Padron on Thursday 1 October, registered as autonoma on Friday 2, and handed in my paperwork on Monday 5. Two days later – on Wednesday 7th October 2020, my application for residencia was accepted.
Why was it so quick? I don’t know, but I’m sure the fact that the advice from Matt and the team was clear and concise, so I knew exactly which paperwork to submit. The guy behind the desk in Alicante congratulated me for having ‘Perfect paperwork.’ No sign of a single ‘Falta un papel’ there!
Chandelier Professional Services has 100% acceptancy record for residencia, which is testament to the thorough groundwork which goes in beforehand. As well as helping with the important elements of obtaining Spanish residency, Matt and Georgia, his executive assistant, can also help you make a Spanish will, to ensure your wishes are carried out when you pass away.
Georgia’s fluent Spanish and attention to detail will ensure all your interactions with Spain’s army of officials will progress smoothly at all times. She will even go and obtain your SIP (Health System) cards for you, so you don’t have to navigate the many, confusing routes into and out of Almoradi! And the team will obtain the necessary appointments as soon as humanly possible by the simple process of perseverance! Recently, Matt was able to make appointments for all his outstanding TIE card clients to have their fingerprints taken within a week, despite the general consensus among gestors and lawyers that it was ‘Impossible to get a fingerprint appointment.’ Nothing is impossible when you are as dedicated to customer service as Chandelier Professional Services.
There’s another element to the business, too, as Chandelier Real Estate also operates from the spacious office on Avenida Maria del Mar Rodriguez, in the heart of Algorfa. Darren Allen, Matt’s trusted business partner, is an experienced estate agent, with many years in the trade. He won’t rest until he’s found your ideal place in the sun, or found the perfect buyer when you are ready to move on. Darren collaborates with other experienced agents in the area to ensure that you don’t miss out on your perfect place in the sun. That means you’ll find an extensive choice of properties to suit your budget, whatever your dream home in Spain may be.
Speaking of collaboration, Matt also has a good working relationship with the DGT (Traffic Department), which makes changing your driving licence as easy as it can be. As trusted industry professionals, the team have a number of reliable contacts in local and regional government, so you can rest assured any information or guidance you receive from Chandelier Professional services is accurate and relevant to your particular situation.
The office has a lovely feeling – welcoming and friendly, yet professional, and the coffee pot is always on the go, so you can be sure of a warm welcome. Matt and Darren will even accommodate you outside office hours, if you can’t get to Algorfa between 10.00 am and 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
Why not call into the Chandelier office in the heart of Algorfa and see if Matt, Georgia and Darren can help you make the most of your new life in Spain?
Luna has been with me for almost two years now, and finally, we’re starting to address the issues she has as a result of being abandoned three times in the 18 months before she came to live with me. She’s been beaten, used in fights and lived as a street dog, and although she’s the most loving dog, she’s also feisty, independent, and needs to learn some manners!
She started to finally settle with me when I brought her back to Spain in September 2020, after almost a year in England due to family matters and Covid. It’s like she suddenly thought, maybe I really HAVE come home now. Things moved further in the right direction when I was lucky enough to find Smart Dog Academy in Daya Vieja. Academy owner Teresa believes in making training fun and using positive reinforcement to build a bond of trust and co-operation between dogs and their guardians. She also runs private sessions for dogs like Luna, who have problems with distraction and trust, and she advised that this would be the best path to take initially.
Luna has clearly never been allowed to just be a puppy, due to her start in life, and she’s making up for it now. She sees everything as a game, and doesn’t think about respect for other people’s space or property. Like I said, she has no manners, and while she might be a female dog, she is nothing like a lady! Add snoring loudly and farts that could easily be adapted for Weapons of Mass Destruction, and you can see why I introduce her like this:
This is Luna, short for Luna-tic!
Several months of hard work and patience is finally paying off, and Luna’s behaviour has improved in ways I could never have dreamed of. However, despite her best intentions, she frequently goes off the rails. Luna being Luna, she doesn’t do things by halves either. She’s like the little girl in the nursery rhyme with the curl in the middle of her forehead. When she’s good, she’s very, very good, but when she’s bad, she’s horrid!
Luna came to me through an appeal of Facebook to take her in until a home could be found for her, and as such, she’s instantly recognisable in the area. Many of my Facebook friends follow her adventures, and one of them, Carolynn Barclay, wrote this lovely poem for her:
Luna and me, we got thrown together.
As soon as we met, I knew it was forever.
She’d issues galore, that I knew we’d to treat.
But I loved her so much, I wouldn’t be beat.
We headed to classes, training a must,
We struggled, we fought, we had to gain trust.
We’d to challenge the fact, she loved to chase bikes,
Skateboards and cars. Whatever moved! Yikes!
We give her a toy, and it’s destroyed right away.
But that’s no reason to tell her, she can no longer stay.
There’s none of us perfect, we all just need love.
I know that our Luna, was sent from above.
The joy that she gives me, and the love I get back,
More than makes up, for when she goes off the track.
We’ll get there I’m sure, as I never give up.
With the help of my Angels, I’ll have the best pup.
At the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020, Carolynn started writing poems every day to pass the time and lift her own spirits, and those of her readers. A year and 600 rhymes later, Carolyn has published her first book, My Life of Rhyme.
Carolynn has a real talent for getting to the heart of the matter and making you smile, think, cry or all three with her verses. When, a few days later, I posted about Luna’s weekend off the rails, she wrote another one. The strain of being a Very Good Girl had clearly got too much for Luna to bear, so first of all she bisected the new hosepipe – which we’d had to buy because she chopped the previous one into three pieces. Then she decided as the weather was getting warmer, we needed open-toed slippers. Finally, she decided a bird who came into the house would be fun to play with, so she picked him up and took him down to the garden with her other toys. Unfortunately, although she was very gentle and never made a mark on the bird – she really did just want to play – it died of fright. It’s little body didn’t have a mark on it, but 25 kilos of Staffie cross charging round the garden was just too much for its heart to take. After giving the poor bird a blessing to speed him into the next life, I reported the weekend’s shenanigans, and quick as a flash, this came back:
Ok Luna, enuff’s enuff.
You’ve taken it all too far.
We’re working on the skateboard issue,
And even the chasing cars.
But, chewing a hose pipe?
Oh, come on. That really is not on.
Youve plenty toys to amuse yourself,
But no. My hose pipes gone.
Don’t get me started, on my footwear.
When the hospipe game was done,
You went and chewed on half a slipper,
Now I’ve only one!
But worst of all, was the poor wee bird,
Although, you only wished to play.
Unfortunately, he didn’t that memo get,
Now he won’t see another day.
R.I.P. poor wee bird.
Lunas energy, suddenly soared.
There’s nothing for it, Sandra, take a breath,
It’s back to the drawing board.
Yes, Luna’s a handful, but she’s also a beautiful, loving soul who has endured so much yet still holds love in her heart for everyone. She’s very much worth the effort to tame her hooligan streak. And when it all gets too much, I have friends like Carolynn to help me see the lighter side. I am truly blessed with my friends – and yes, with Luna too!
I find a recurring theme in my psychic readings at the moment is self blame. We’re all beating ourselves up for not coping with the ongoing situation around Covid-19. Why should we expect ourselves to master the challenges of being isolated, putting normal life on hold and processing grief, when even the so-called experts don’t have the answers? Well, we shouldn’t, but we do!
The sad thing is, we tend to build an emotional wall around our heart space to keep away the hurt, and all it does is to hurt us even more. The human heart is designed for unconditional love – we are born with wonder in our hearts, and the ability to live in the moment and appreciate everything around us. However, for most of us, this state of wonder doesn’t last. We’re either talked out of it by our parents, or we talk ourselves out of it. Instead of being open, trusting and loving, we go into defence mode, especially in challenging situations like the one we’re experiencing now.
Would it surprise you to learn that the best way to protect yourself is to allow yourself to be more vulnerable? Yes, it sounds mad, but it actually works. The defence mechanisms we construct around ourselves, physically and emotionally, stem from fear, and fear is a low vibrational energy. However, we are divine beings of creation, and we are designed to live naturally in the higher vibration of the soul.
How can we do this in challenging times? One simple yet effective way is to intentionally open your heart centre to love. Here’s a simple visualisation for you to try.
Visualisation to open up your heart centre and give and receive love more readily
Sit with your feet firmly on the floor in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes, and take in a deep breath through the nose. Imagine you are breathing in Archangel Chamuel’s pink ray of love. Hold the breath for a count of three, then exhale for three, releasing any tension in the body. Repeat this three times.
Place both hands over your heart centre, left hand closest to the body, right hand over it. Imagine that, beneath your hands, there is a warm pink glow. See its colour, feel its warmth. Know it is your soul connecting with your heart.
See this glow expand to fill your chest cavity, and then break out from your body and surround you in the glow of love. You may feel your hands moving at this point as your heart centre expands. Don’t resist it – go with what happens. It’s all good, and it’s all what you need, right now, so embrace it and enjoy it.
You can also connect with a loved one as you do this, either on the earth plane or in Spirit. Simply visualise them doing the same thing, and see the glow from your two heart centres meet and merge. Stay with this for as long as you need to or want to.
When you are ready, draw your pink glow of unconditional love back into your own body, and see it leave a glow all around you as it retracts. Think the Ready Brek advert, but in pink, and always there!
Thank Archangel Chamuel for his help in opening up your heart centre, open your eyes and take a drink of water. This helps to ground your energies back into the room after this powerful visualisation.
I use this visualisation during psychic readings when appropriate, and I love how it makes clients feel. They look visibly lighter and glowing, and it can be a profound emotional experience, particularly if they link heart centres with a loved one. It’s a great way to counteract the feelings of loss we are all experiencing while we can’t meet up at will with loved ones, and you will probably find that they feel the glow too, even though they may not realise what it is.
Look out for comments like, ‘I thought of you earlier, and I had the most fantastic feeling of warmth and happiness.’ That means your heart centres connected on a much deeper level than the purely physical. Why not share this visualisation with them? It’s a fabulous gift. Let me know how you get on with this – I’d love to hear your experiences. Love and blessings.
For five years now, Julie Mills has been running Cinders Pre-Loved Fashion, a dress agency in the heart of Algorfa. She started off in a back room in Mailpoint (now Mary Girona Dance School on Avenida Maria del Mar Rodriguez), and for the last three years has traded from the shop on the corner opposite, next to Meson Algorfa, or the Red Bar, as it’s known locally.
In case you don’t know, a dress agency is a step up from a charity shop, and the charity begins at home, in this case. You take in your good quality clothes, Julie inspects them, and if they meet her high standards, she will sell them for you on a 50/50 basis. So if that dress that’s never seen the light of day since you bought it sells for €10, you get €5 and Julie gets €5, and everyone’s happy, because your mistake is somebody else’s dream dress, and they’ve got it for a price that won’t keep them awake at night.
I’ve bought a number of things from Cinders, and I’ve been delighted with all of them, in terms of price, quality and service. Julie has a keen eye for what will suit her customers, and she has a good range of items to accessorise your new purchases as well. The shop is beautifully laid out, and it’s a pleasure to just be there, because you get a warm welcome, and there’s so much to see and appreciate. It’s a timely reminder in this challenging period that there are still a lot of good things in life.
As we all come to terms with living with Covid 19 – because it’s not going anywhere any time soon – there are lots of reasons to shop at somewhere like Cinders, rather than heading for the crowded shops in Zenia Boulevard or the Habaneras Centre. Here’s why you should head down to Cinders Pre-Loved Fashion, even if we can’t go to the ball just yet!
It’s a safe and spacious shopping environment, and all the hygiene protocols are in place. All clothes that come into Cinders are steam cleaned before display, and steamed again after being tried on.
It’s a local business, and we should all be supporting them at this time. The less we travel, the safer we are, and Algorfa has one of the lowest incidences of infection in Alicante province.
You can make a bit of money by selling what you no longer wear, and you can save money on new purchases. Even if there’s nowhere to go right now, there will be soon, and there’s nothing like a shopping trip to lift your mood. At Cinders, you don’t have to stand in queues with strangers who may have come from Covid hotspots, and the store is large enough to allow for social distancing. There are even a couple of chairs outside, so that if you have to wait to enter, you can do so in comfort, in the sun.
Unlike on the markets, you won’t see rows and rows of the same dresses, simply because of the nature of the business. So while the prices in Cinders are on a par with the markets and Chinese bazaars, you’re getting more quality for your cash, and you won’t see dozens of people wearing the same dress or jacket.
If you live in Algorfa or any of the surrounding urbanisations, you are no more than 10 minutes’ drive from this fabulous shop, yet it’s surprising how many locals don’t even realise it’s there. So tell your friends on La Finca, Montemar, Lo Crispin and Montebello to get down to Cinders and take a look. And yes, there is a glass slipper there, although Prince Charming is already taken!
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 10.00 am – 2.00 pm
In Part 1 of this feature, I introduced you to the basics of chakra balancing. It’s here, if you missed it. I intended to add the visualisation, but I decided it would be better to have it separate from the main article, so you don’t have to wade through it every time you want to balance your chakras.
As I mentioned, chakras are invisible energy centres, usually thought of as wheels, since the word itself derives from the Sanskrit word for ‘wheel’ or ‘circle.’ In this visualisation, I use the wheel concept to spin, clear and cleanse the chakras. It’s a really simple visualisation that anyone can do, whether they are experienced in energy work or not.
When I conduct chakra balancing sessions at Sandra’s Soul Cave in Algorfa, I use crystals, an energy generator and various visualisations. I also bring in Archangels and spirit guides for a profound experience that leaves the client relaxed and feeling lighter and more positive. It’s a fabulous experience, and the good news is, you can recreate it at home
You don’t even need to use crystals, although they do serve to raise the energetic vibrations, focus your intent, and give you an idea of where you should be directing the energy flow during the visualisation. This is how it works.
Visualisation for clearing and aligning the 7 main chakra centres
As with any spiritual practice, it pays to be in a state of relaxation before you begin, so take the time to breathe in through the nose for a count of three, hold for three, then exhale through the mouth for three. Do this 3 – 5 times, then follow these simple instructions.
Check your energy by holding a pendulum above each chakra in turn. If they are blocked, the pendulum will hardly move. If the energy is flowing freely, it will swing around in a circle. The lower, more physical chakras are more likely to be blocked than the higher ones, but you need to align all the chakras for best results.
Place each of the crystals alongside the relevant chakras, according to the guide in Part 1 of this feature. The crystal positions don’t need to be precise, as long as they are in the general vicinity of the chakra centres.
Close your eyes, and visualise the root chakra as a wheel. Imagine it turning clockwise, in a steady spin. When you have achieved the desired effect, do the same with the sacral chakra, but keep the momentum going with the root chakra, so they spin in alignment.
Repeat this process through all the chakras – solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, crown – allowing 30 seconds to a minute for each one. Imagine that you are building a spinning pole, similar to an old-fashioned barber’s pole, all the way up through your torso.
Once all 7 chakra wheels are steadily spinning in alignment, slow down the process by reversing the spin so the wheels are now spinning anti-clockwise.
Wait until your body feels normal again, and the wheels are no longer spinning, then take a drink of water to ground yourself.
Now check the energy in each of the chakra points with the pendulum once more. You should see a marked improvement, and you will feel relaxed and lighter. Repeat this ritual whenever you feel your energies need clearing to flow more readily.
You can use this visualisation for yourself, guide others through it, or even do a simultaneous chakra balancing with your partner or a friend. Lie on the floor or the bed, and set out the crystals between you before beginning the visualisation and leading your companion through it with you. You’ll find the increased energy levels will benefit each of you, and it’s a great way to strengthen your soul connection.
I hope this visualisation will help you connect with your energy on a deeper level than ever before. Let me know how you get on – I’d love to know.
In these challenging times, more and more people are turning to spirituality and self care as a reliable way to stay sane and attempt to make sense of what is happening in the world. We can’t control it, but we can control our own response to events, and how we think about them. Positive thinking is a big help in times like these, because thoughts are energy, and whatever energies we put out, we receive back under the Law of Attraction.
One way to raise your energy with positive thinking is to regularly check and balance your chakras. In case you didn’t know, chakras are invisible centres of energy in the body, and when they are in alignment, your kundalini – life flow – is in balance, and you feel good physically, emotionally and mentally. However, if the chakras are off balance, due to stress, worry or physical causes, your energy is stuck.
While you may not exactly feel like your root chakra, for example, is off balance or even blocked, it will manifest in some way. Physically, you may experience lower body symptoms such as back pain or constipation, you may be fatigued, or eat more than is good for you. Emotionally, you may be quick to anger, fearful and worried about financial matters, because the root chakra is linked to survival.
We’re not going deep into the chakras here, although I do intend to do a series of articles on the topic soon. Energy management is always important for physical and emotional health, but in these challenging times, it’s vital. The more you know about how your energetic body functions, the more control you have over your responses, and the happier you will be. Knowledge is power, after all!
As a psychic, clairvoyant and energy healer, I offer full chakra balancing, cleansing and clearing. It’s a fabulous experience, including visualisations, and working with Archangels, spirit guides and crystals. It’s very therapeutic for both the client and the practitioner, and afterwards, you will feel lighter, happier and stronger.
However, you don’t need me, or anyone else, from this life or the next, to balance your own chakras. As long as you have somewhere quiet and comfortable where you will be undisturbed and you can visualise or at least imagine stuff happening in your body, you can balance your chakras any time you feel it’s necessary.
You don’t need to use crystals, but they do enhance the energies and give you a focal point to work with. And you can even do a simultaneous chakra balancing by lying on the floor or the bed with your partner, family member or like-minded friend and placing the appropriate chakra crystals between you.
It’s also handy to have a pendulum to check the energy in each chakra before and after balancing. This is especially helpful if you are new to energy work and are not yet able to feel the energies for yourself. (Don’t worry – that skill will come. We all have the ability to heal, even if we haven’t yet realised it!)
Crystals for chakra work
Here’s a brief rundown of some of the best crystals to work with for clearing your chakras. You may be drawn to different crystals, and that’s fine. Go with what your intuition tells you.
Root or base chakra: Choose red or black crystals for grounding. Haematite, Red Jasper, Black Tourmaline and Red Aventurine work well.
Sacral chakra: Orange crystals such as Carnelian and Orange Calcite help restore creativity and motivation.
Solar Plexus chakra: Use yellow crystals like Citrine and Yellow Jasper, to help you boost your personal power by setting healthy boundaries.
Heart chakra: This is the bridge between the physical and spiritual body. I like to use green and pink crystals, to help clear the physical and emotional elements of the heart. Choose Moss Agate or Green Aventurine for better circulation and metabolism, and Rose Quartz for self care and unconditional love.
Throat chakra: The communication chakra benefits from blue stones such as Sodalite and Dumortierite. They will help with clear communication and self confidence.
Third Eye chakra: Calming Amethyst or Purple Fluorite will help improve your spiritual connection.
Crown chakra: Clear Quartz, the Master Healer crystal, brings clarity and helps your connection with the Divine and your own Higher Consciousness.
Now you have the information you need to balance your chakras at home, are you ready to try it for yourself? Great! I’ll see you in Part 2 for the visualisation. Love and blessings.
As we approach February 14, St Valentine’s Day, and our thoughts turn to love, we should remember there are many variations on the theme. Those on a spiritual journey realise that there is a love that’s even more important than love for your partner, parents, children and friends, or even your fellow humans. It’s unconditional love, and it includes love for yourself.
Self love isn’t selfish, it’s essential, because if you don’t love and respect yourself, you can’t expect any one else to love and respect you. It’s not about being unbearably arrogant, either. The truth is, the person we are most critical of is usually ourselves, and most of the time, that criticism is unwarranted and unjust. We set impossibly high standards for ourselves, and when we inevitably fall short of them, we beat ourselves up about it, and end up feeling worse than ever.
So, how can we stop this cycle of self-blame? By learning to show the same unconditional love to ourselves as we lavish on our loved ones, that’s how! If it seems like an impossible ask, well, it isn’t – you just need to shift your thinking, and crystals can help you do that, especially rose quartz, also known as the Love Stone.
How rose quartz can help you and heal you
Everything is energy, and rose quartz resonates with a gentle yet powerful healing energy that can soothe anger, help heal a broken heart, help with the grieving process, and open up the heart centre to give and receive love.
Placed in the relationship corner of the home, or on the bedside table, it can attract love to the occupants and visitors, and encourage intimacy and harmony in existing relationships. A rose quartz sphere in the centre of the living area will radiate love to everyone who enters the space, and also transmute negative energies and restore peace and tranquility.
Rose quartz is a beautiful stone to look at, and its soft shades of pink can be either milky opaque or translucent. In its natural state, the crystal has soft, undulating edges rather than the more geometric shapes of other varieties of quartz. It polishes beautifully too, and can be carved into lovely shapes, such as angels or hearts. It makes you smile just to look at it, which gives an instant boost to your mood.
Holding a rose quartz during meditation helps to bring you into a serene, relaxed state, while sleeping with it under your pillow will ensure a peaceful night’s sleep and encourage beautiful dreams. Rose quartz can also help with self esteem, and allow you to know yourself more thoroughly and connect with your emotions.
On a physical level, rose quartz can help lower blood pressure, boost circulation, and also ease the symptoms of vertigo. A dear friend of mine saw a marked improvement after just a few days of carrying a crystal around during the day and sleeping with it under her pillow at night.
Rose Quartz visualisation to send and receive love
When you are missing someone dear to you, hold a rose quartz crystal over your heart, close your eyes and imagine the crystal is igniting a ball of pink energy in your heart centre. See it grow until it extends outside your body. Now imagine that same ball of energy in the heart of your loved one (or loved ones – you can send love to more than one person at a time. If you are missing your grandchildren, for example, include them all in this visualisation).
Now see the two balls of energy connecting, and love flowing between them in both directions. I have conducted this visualisation with clients who are feeling disconnected from loved ones here on Earth and in Spirit. It’s a very powerful and emotional practice, which leaves you feeing happy and serene.
When you are ready, visualise the pink balls of energy separating, and your own body returning to normal. Sit quietly for a few moments, then take a drink of water and thank the Universe and your crystal for helping you give and receive pure, unconditional love.
If you don’t already have a rose quartz crystal in your collection, I hope this brief introduction to its uses and healing properties has encouraged you to acquire one. Why not drop a subtle hint to your significant other? After all, what better gift can you give for Valentine’s Day than the gift of pure, unconditional love! Love and blessings to everyone reading this.
Karla Ingleton Darocas is based in Benitachell on Spain’s Costa Blanca. On her website, spainlifestyle.com, she describes herself as:
An educator with a passion to inspire and facilitate a lust to learn.
Karla has a BA Hons, and is also a photographer, author and Spanish Fine Arts Historian. She’s also a self-confessed dog lover, with two rescue dogs, Venus and Mars. Her latest book, Spanish Dogs: The Story of Dogs in Spanish History, Culture and the Arts, is a testament to Karla’s love of dogs, the arts, and all things connected to her adopted homeland, Spain.
From the first sentence, I was hooked, because I share Karla’s passion for dogs and Spanish culture. I also firmly believe that once you stop learning, you stop living, and there’s a lot of learning packed into the 70 pages of this book.
Don’t let that put you off though – Karla has a wonderful way with words that makes absorbing knowledge a pleasure, and she also has a great sense of humour.
Describing how court painters Velazquez and Goya painted their royal sponsors, she points out that Velazquez was very keen to underplay the facial deformities resulting from the interbreeding of the Habsburg monarchs. Spanish kings loved to be painted in full hunting dress, with their faithful – and generally subservient – hounds by their sides. It subtly emphasised the idea, first verbalised in the Bible, that Man has dominion over the beasts. (Genesis 1: 26, 27)
Goya, on the other hand, preferred to focus on the real beauty of his subjects, or as Karla puts it:
Velazquez used his admirable inventiveness to hide the protruding lower lip and pronounced chin … Goya didn’t modify the royals … On the contrary, we see the monarch, (Carlos III) with his strange small face, beady eyes, and a great big honker of a nose.
Goya was certainly an artist after Karla’s own heart, using his skills to represent the true narrative and true worth of the subjects of his portraits. In his art, there is no doubt where his allegiances lie. Discussing the hunting portrait of Carlos IV and his hound, Karla notes:
Looking up at his master with adoration and fidelity, this dog is the most regal thing in this painting.
This fabulous book gives some great insights into the origins of the dog breeds in Spain. The ubiquitous Podencos arrived in Spain as a result of conquests and explorations over the centuries. It’s most likely that the Podencos came across from Algeria, while the distinctive Water Dogs came over with the Berbers during the first Muslim conquest of Spain. Today, there are still 49 different Water Dogs in Spain.
Another typically Spanish dog, the Galgo, or Greyhound, is believed to have landed on the Iberian Peninsula with the Celts. There’s plenty of contemporary artwork, in the shape of cave paintings, engravings and pottery, to support these theories, and it’s uncanny to see the resemblance between these ancient canine ancestors and the Spanish dogs we are so familiar with today.
Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and the Catholic Spanish found another use for dogs, but it’s not one of their proudest moments. The inventors of the Inquisition had a favourite torture method which involved chaining prisoners, then allowing them to be savaged by Mastiffs. Today, these gentle giants are more noted for their loving, faithful nature, which is typical of Man’s Best Friend.
Overall though, this is an upbeat book, and Karla soon lifts the mood by informing the reader of the term that was used for this barbaric practice. It was called – wait for it – dogging! That’s quite a juxtaposition for modern audiences to deal with, since ‘dogging’ has come to mean having sex with strangers in the open air. In fact, in the popular television sitcom Benidorm, the eponymous resort is said to have a designated ‘Dogging Beach!’
Karla wraps up the book with the tale – or should that be tail? – of Pablo Picasso’s beloved Dachsund, Lump. Lump arrived in 1957 with photographer David Douglas Duncan, who was doing a feature on Picasso, and never left the artist’s side until his death in March 1973. Picasso followed Lump across the Rainbow Bridge just 10 days later. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s a suitably emotional ending for a book about the creatures that inspire so many emotions in their human guardians.
There are so many interesting anecdotes, culture connections and light moments that describing Spanish Dogs as just a book about dogs is a bit like saying Jose Carreras, one third of the Three Tenors, is ‘just a singer.’ If you love dogs, art and Spain, or any combination of these, you really need to read this. Get your copy here, and settle down for a rattling good read.
The Covid-19 outbreak has been a game changer for all of us. We’re more aware of what’s important in our lives, grateful for the good stuff, and looking for ways to make the most of our remaining time here on Earth. More and more people are turning to mindfulness and spirituality to answer their questions. The good news is, there’s now a fabulous new place in Quesada where you can go to be pampered and nourished, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Studio 11 is the brainchild of Lynn Preston, who has been involved in fitness and nutrition for 15 years. She’s also a Zumba instructor, and has a background in dance and theatre. On top of all that, Lynn is a very spiritual person, and she realises that there is more to self care than taking care of the physical body, important though that is.
Studio 11 is equipped with toning tables, a nail bar and a therapy room, where clients can enjoy various alternative therapies such as Reiki, hot stone massage, reflexology, Indian head massage and chakra balancing. Lynn has carefully selected some of the best therapists in the area to work alongside her, offering a range of treatments to help with anti-aging, stress and tension release and drug-free pain relief solutions.
That’s only half the story though, because this spacious studio on Calle Santiago Compostela, Dona Pepa is also offering salsa and Zumba classes, and there are plans for further activities. Follow Studio 11 on their Facebook Page for latest news on workshops, classes and other activities aimed at improving physical and spiritual health and fitness.
Lynn is keen to utilise the available space, and also the talents of various therapists and practitioners in the area. She wants to help her clients become healthier and happier than ever, and make the most of their life in Spain.
Lynn also makes Orgonite jewellery, pyramids and charging plates, as well as crystal jewellery, all of which are available at the studio. Orgonite is excellent for clearing and cleansing energy, lifting your mood and generally improving the atmosphere in your home so everyone feels happier and healthier. It’s pretty too, so it makes great presents for others, or beautiful decorations for your own home.
At the moment, with Covid-19 restrictions still in place, numbers are limited, so if you are interested in any of the services on offer at Studio 11, it’s advisable to book your place. Drop into Studio 11 for a friendly chat about how you can improve your physical and spiritual health with the assistance of the knowledgeable and enthusiastic team of therapists. You’ll be glad you did!
The last few months have been challenging to say the least, so it’s no wonder we sometimes find our minds racing like the proverbial hamster in a wheel on steroids! A few days ago, I was talking to a friend, who wasn’t sleeping well because he had so much spinning around in his head.
As we were chatting, I was given this visualisation. It helped him a lot, and I also found it very effective, so now I’m sharing it with you. When we are overwhelmed, the best favour we can do ourselves is to take everything out of our head for a while and just ‘Be.’ That’s easier said than done, though. If only there was a way to reset, and start again with a clean slate.
This visualisation will help you do just that, because you really have to concentrate. There’s no room for rogue thoughts to steal your joy, and at the end of this, you’ll feel fresh, focused, and ready to carry on. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin …
Visualisation for calming a racing mind
Sit comfortably and quietly with no distractions. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Take three or four slow, deep breaths, breathing in pure, clean air, and hold for a count of three.
On the exhale, breathe out any worries you may have, Give it a dark colour – brown, grey, red, whatever colour your stress ‘feels’ like. With each out breath, see the colour lighten, until your exhale is almost clear. Now you are ready to start.
Imagine a big clock face, inside your head. The dial is a bright silvery colour, the minute and hour hands are blue, and all the figures on the clock are purple. Both hands are at 12. The second hand is green, and that’s at 12 too.
You really need to concentrate now! Start counting, in your head, from 1 to 60. Count slowly, like seconds ticking away on a clock. At the same time, see the second hand going backwards, that is, anti-clockwise. When you get to 15, 30 and 45, visualise the second hand resting at numbers 9, 6 and 3. As you get to 60, it’s at 12. If it helps, see one of the other hands going with it. It’s tricky at first, because your brain is counting one way, but you are visualising something going in the other direction.
Now pause for a few moments, keeping your eyes closed and your head still, as it takes a moment or two to settle down after this powerful visualisation. Now you’re ready for the second part.
This time, count to 60 again, but see the second hand going clockwise, or forwards, as you count. This part is easier, but it’s important to do it to reset your energy properly. Again, see the second hand pause at 3, 6, 9 and 12. As you become more used to the visualisation, you can even imagine a ‘ticking’ sound as the second hand moves around the clock face.
Take a couple of deep, relaxing breaths, and thank the Universe for turning back time and resetting your energies. Now open your eyes and take a drink of water.
A note about the colours:
The colours on the clock face are not just random selections – they each have a spiritual and psychological connection to ensure the meditation is effective.
Silver: Silver is a colour of balance and reflection. It helps cleanse negative energies, and is an ideal background colour for our clock face. It’s a calming, soothing colour, and it reflects energy back, good and bad, so as you visualise the clock face, you signal to the Universe your intention of clearing negative energies, thereby attracting more positive energy into your life.
Green: Spiritually, green is the colour of the ray of Archangel Raphael, the Healing Angel. It’s also a colour associated with harmony and balance, in Nature and in spirit. It’s calming and restorative, with a gentle energy. If you are feeling stressed, wear something green, and/or carry a green crystal with you. Green is growth, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Purple: Purple is the colour associated with richness, but it doesn’t always mean wealth; it’s also equated to spiritual enrichment. It’s the colour of the imagination, so having an element of purple in any visualisation will assist the process. Purple is very calming – the crystal amethyst is the one most recommended for dealing with anxiety. If you are wondering why the clock face isn’t in purple, it’s because too much can have the opposite effect, making you feel more anxious and out of balance.
Blue: Is linked to security, confidence and inner peace and tranquility. It’s also the colour of communication and protection.Wear blue to bring about a relaxed, secure state of being – especially when you are in unfamiliar situations.
Practice this visualisation whenever you feel your thoughts racing away from you. It’s also very effective at night, just before you go to sleep, if worry is causing disturbed nights. Please let me know how you get on with this in the comments. Love and blessings.