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Trusting the Universe

03 Oct, 2016

As Martin Luther King once said, ‘You don’t have to see the top of the stairs in order to take the first step’, or words to that effect. I took a giant leap of faith in coming here and have an unwavering belief that the Universe or life, will support me, while not knowing or planning any outcomes. I don’t just think that because I am a head-in-the-clouds hippy, but I have been testing it out, and my belief and faith have grown. For a while now, after reading a book, E squared, and later E cubed, I have been asking for things to show up. I have had irrefutable proof in return that you get what you expect. It doesn’t just land, you have to go looking for it like a ‘pair of lost keys’ but it does come. I have pushed £5 notes in egg boxes in Asda, or magazines, then been rewarded with a small, but a win all the same on a scratch card for the same amount, I have asked to see butterflies on rainy winters’ days and clocked 23, they weren’t all alive but pictures, a mug and wind chimes. It has been fun. My point here is that while on the ferry, I was wondering how on earth I was going to undertake this project, with limited skills and funds. So with this principle in mind, I asked, and the Universe provided…
Enter
Ian.
While on the ferry, I was wandering about trying to find a wifi hotpot without much success. I plonked myself down next to two guys chatting and started ear wigging their conversation. 1st guy; “so what are you going to do when you get to Spain?”
2nd guy; “No idea mate, (broad London accent) got no plans, bought a motorhome 2 days ago, booked the ferry, nowhere to go when I get there, no plans, just how I like it, know what ah mean?”. 1st guy didn’t really get it, but I did.
I got the attention of the 2nd guy, whose name was Ian, and asked him if I could ‘have a chat’. Not something I would ever normally do. And before any excitement is roused, there was no romantic interest on either part!

Ian the Angel! 

Casa Tranquila

03 Oct, 2016

Casa Tranquila

Outside

I decided to name the house Casa Tranquila. The house of peace. The finca is set in approximately 6 acres of olives mainly, plus some almonds and carob trees. There are bunches of wild herbs dotted about and many burs in the stony ground, all of which seemed to have attached themselves to the little white dog. He is very old now, just turned 16, a bit grumpy and not really happy about this arrangement. The house consists of a building divided in two, one of which lends itself to ‘living’ accommodation, and I use the term loosely, the other is a shed housing an array of olive harvesting equipment. The living area was built in 1921, it says above the door, also with a cute picture of a tree under it, which reminds me of a petroglyph one might find in an ancient cave. I don’t know what the definition of ancient is, but is getting on to be 100 years old. The shed was added in 1979. It is bone cold inside. It has a bucket in a cupboard to access water from the cisterna underneath which captures rain water. And it has an old fashioned pantry covered in mosquito netting. You certainly don’t need a fridge! I am not sure it has ever been lived in. More likely people stayed for the harvest, if at all. Each side has one tiny window. There is a calendar inside dated in 1980 and scattered newspapers dated within the same timeframe. So that got me wondering. I wonder why, maybe it hasn’t been used since then? The man I bought from told me at the time his children didn’t want to work the land and had moved to the city to do IT jobs so he didn’t have anyone who wanted him to leave it to them. Quite sad really. My intention is to bring it back to life. Keep the original features, add some of my own and recycle and use what I can to make it a home. 

Casa Tranquila inside

Leaving the UK on a ferry wth Brian and LWD (little white dog)

03 Oct, 2016

An update of info and what’s occurring. Dec 2015.

Some know me and some I haven’t met yet, so hello, welcome, I hope you find this page of interest…I have just moved to rural Catalunya, Spain, to a small, off grid finca I bought some years ago. I am going to blog a bit about it as I try to do it up, live off grid, grow my own food, generate my own power, survive and prosper.

By way of an introduction to the background, I lived with a guy at the time who was in the building trade and who’s name rhymes with Cheat:)
The plan was, he was going to do it up, while I bought it. It didn’t happen that way! Dun, dun, dun. Fast forward 9 years, and I find myself on a ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao destined for a new adventure, in the aforementioned finca, with my belongings in a van (overloaded and not legal!), a driver called Brian who I’ve only met once, and a little white dog! I gave up my job and jumped in. We departed 13th Dec 2015 for a two night crossing, arriving in Bilbao on the 15th Dec.
If I’m honest, the house was sound, but a mess. But I felt strongly that the only way to tackle it was to get among it. I figured I would take the basics (did I mention there was no electricity or water connected?). I packed a solar panel, some solar lights and a leisure battery, all rigged up by my mate Dave, to plug in and play when I arrived. A crazy plan to some, and yes I had fears, but carried on regardless. Here we are leaving and catching the ferry. 

A fling with Frances Firebrace - Aboriginal storyteller, artist, and ambassador of hugs.

03 Oct, 2016

A Fling with Francis Firebrace.

During the ‘summer of love’, I embarked on a love affair with Francis Firebrace. On a lovely sunny day in July, my friend Gwen and I went to a local festival and we pulled into the beautiful ancient woodland that was to be the setting of the three day festival. We couldn’t wait. Neither of us had had a very good year and we viewed it as a bit of a retreat. There was a lovely clearing that a few had erected tipi’s and tents, colourful streamers led the way and a door to walk through made from them. As I drew up to the entrance of the clearing that was going to be home to my tipi for the next three days, a white bearded, white haired man appeared to the left of me. I thought he was one of the organisers and was going to tell me where to park, as he bowed and doffed his imaginary cap. I stopped and wound down my window fully. He leaned in, looked me straight in the eye and said “If everyone in the world could experience what we’re experiencing right now then the world would be a perfect place”. “I agree” I replied. He said “I’m not joking”, “No”, I said, “Neither am I”. He stared at me for a while and then said “A last! Someone who gets “It”.

I knew from this intense exchange, that something important was going to happen and I began to fall in love. My heart chakra was spinning all the time he was in close proximity to me and I remember saying to Gwen that I would have to get to the bottom of this feeling! He was nothing to do with organising the event or directing us to park, he was merely attempting to cross the road at the same time as we arrived! If ever there was an alignment, then that was it! I thought, what an amazing, happy man. He said, when I was standing upright that he intended to give me a hug. Once Gwen and I had parked up I turned round and there he was, arms outstretched, waiting for his hug! We had a full body bear hug. He said “That was amazing”. I touched his heart and said “That’s because you are open here”, patting his chest. (Of course, his aim is to hug everyone he meets!) This was my first encounter with Francis Firebrace, a 74 year old Aboriginal storyteller, who was performing at the festival, telling stories to the background sound of the didgeridoo that was played by his friend; and so began a three month fling...I did not know it at the time, but he was also known as ‘the happiest man in the word’, ‘the master of hugs’ ‘The Wirrigan man’, and originates from the Yorta Yorta people of the Murray River region of New South Wales. In fact, he is rather well known all round, and these days, resides in Surrey. You can check him out here. http://www.newagemultimedia.com/firebrace/

He did not stray far from our camp over the next few days and we gained a fascinating insight to his interesting and unconventional lifestyle. This got me hooked. Anyone who is a bit of a rebel and who does not do the norm has my respect. He seemed to have lived all of his life like that. He has made spaghetti westerns, is a photographer and ran his own newspaper in Australia while living on a boat in the Whitsundays providing tours for tourists. He didn’t wear clothes until he was 7. I was in awe of this amazing life he’d had. He is a fantastic artist and I add some of his pictures here, but you can check out his website too. He taught me a lot of things while we were together, and with his consent, I will share, as when he told me everyone has a story, I asked him what’s mine and he weaved this tale of enchantment that would stop any girl in her tracks. “Why it’s Wonga and the Waratah, of course” he boomed and then began ‘my’ story.

Wonga and the Waratah

As told by Francis Firebrace, July 2010 This is an old story that originates in the Blue Mountains Region of Australia.

A long time ago, Wonga the pigeon lived with her mate in a beautiful forest, they were very much in love as pigeons mate for life. Wonga and her mate were never apart. They played together, ate together and slept together in their magical forest home, such was the power of their love. One day, Wonga awoke and she couldn’t see her mate. He was gone. Wonga panicked and flew high and low through the branches of the trees calling her mate again and again. No answer came. Fear and panic rose in her breast. She had always been taught never to fly above the canopy. Never, ever. The reason for this was Mulyan, the eagle hawk circled above the forest and his favourite prey was pigeon. “Never fly above the safety of the treetops” her ancestors voices echoed around her head. Her heart however, said something else as it increasingly filled with panic. Then, higher and higher on her soft wings she flew, still calling to her mate. Suddenly, from below, she heard his call, her heart gladdened, she turned to go to him but did not notice Mulyan, the eagle hawk, above her. But he didn’t fail to see her. Now, folding his powerful wings, he went into a steep hunting dive. Dropping like a stone at the speed of light. Wonga was halfway back to the safety of the trees when shadow overtook her. She flew as fast as her wings could carry her to her mates’ heartfelt call. She almost made it when the great eagle struck. Sharp talons tore into her breast and held her tightly. She struggled to break loose but his grip was too strong and did not loosen. Hearing her mate call from below, she gave one last, desperate struggle and twisted away to finally break loose. In a shower of her own blood and feathers, she fell to safety through the canopy of trees, landing on the soft white flowers we call the Waratah. She stopped to rest and recover but was unable to take flight again for some time, such were her injuries. The resting place of the white Waratah began to turn red from her blood. She could hear her mate call and she heaved herself skyward to fly to him as best she could with broken skin, and shattered wing, resting on clumps of Waratah, thus staining them red with her blood forever more. When her mate finally flew to her side, she was slumped across the flowers, the last drops of blood staining them red too. Now when aboriginals see the red Waratah, we are reminded of Wonga and the power of her love.

Francis then painted me a picture with my favourite bird, the swan, featuring lovely Waratah flowers, see below.

More art by Francis...

Barramundi

My fave! 

​If you go down to the woods today, part two.

28 Jul, 2015

Lavender, normally thought of only for use in soaps and pot-pourri is limiting the use of this amazing aromatic herb. It is a road much less travelled to use it in recipes for food and drink. I do use it in soap and bodycare products, and its essential oil is perfect first aid tool for anything from bites and stings to minor burns and can be applied neat to the skin, unlike other essential oils. Give it a go!

Lavender Lemonade

4 tbsps (1/4 cup) culinary lavender*
2 cups boiling water
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
2 cups cold water

* Culinary lavender is lavender harvested for the purposes of cooking/eating. Please don’t buy the perfumed air-freshening kind because that is going to be utterly gross. If you want your lemonade to turn pink, you need to get the Hidcote variety (that’s the only one that turns it pink).

Steep the lavender in 2 cups of boiling water for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the lavender. Place the lavender tea and the sugar in a small saucepan and set over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves (you don’t have to put it over heat, but I do this because I’m impatient and want the sugar to dissolve faster and completely). Remove from heat and let cool to warm. Stir in the lemon juice. Stir in the cold water. Add more to taste. I prefer to keep mine on the concentrated side because I like to mix it with seltzer water when I serve it. Serve over ice. Makes about 6-8 cups depending on how dilute you want it. http://userealbutter.com

Lemon & Lavender Vodka Tonic

A few lavender flowers (plus more to garnish), 3 oz. vodka, 6 oz. Lemon Pellegrino, 2 lemon slices.

Place lavender flowers and vodka in a glass. Muddle lavender. Place ice cubes in glass. Fill with Lemon Pellegrino or with tonic water (if using the later, add 2 oz of lemon juice) and stir. Garnish with lemon slices and lavender. http://www.bakersroyale.com

Peach Lavender Jam

Yield: 6 cups

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
1/2 cup boiling water
4 cups finely chopped peaches (from about 5 to 6 medium peaches, peeled)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch liquid fruit pectin

Method;

Place lavender flowers in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over flowers and steep for 20 minutes. Strain and discard flowers.

Prepare canner and wash/sterilize 6 half-pint mason (or equivalent) jars. Keep jars in hot (not boiling) water until ready to use. Warm lids in hot (not boiling) water to sterilize and soften seal.

Combine lavender liquid, peaches, lemon juice, and sugar in a very large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat and boil hard for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in pectin.

Ladle hot jam into jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads. Screw on lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool completely, 12 to 24 hours. Check seals. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks. (Read more at http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2012/07/peach-lavender-jam.html)

Flour-Free Orange and Lavender Cake

Ingredients

For the sponge:

400ml sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing

350g ground almonds

300g caster sugar

3 tsp baking powder

8 eggs

1 lemon

2 oranges, ideally Seville

2 tsp dried lavender

For the syrup:

Juice of the zested lemon and oranges above

100g caster sugar

A few cloves

2 tsp ground cinnamon

Method

How to make Flour-Free Orange and Lavender Cake

This is one of the most popular recipes on the 'French Country Baking Day' at Cake Boy. It's inspired by the south of France, and it happens to be gluten-free. If you are not sure about the lavender, you can omit it, but at the same time you can change the ingredients to match the seasons. For example, replacing the lavender with sun-dried cranberries makes it more Christmassy. The rich spicy syrup works very well too.

1.Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C)/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease a 20cm cake tin with extra oil, then base-line with baking paper.

2.In a mixing bowl, combine the ground almonds, caster sugar, lavender and baking powder, mixing together well. Break in the eggs and add the oil, mixing gently together.

3.Using a fine grater,grate the zest from the lemon and oranges into the mixture, then mix together.

4.Turn the cake mixture into the prepared tin, and bake in the preheated oven for an hour. Cover the top with a piece of foil after about 20 minutes.

5.Meanwhile, make the syrup. Squeeze the juice from the zested lemon and oranges into a small pan. Add the sugar and spices, and mix together well. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

6.Once the cake has been removed from the oven, pierce it several times with a skewer or small, sharp knife. Using a tablespoon, spoon the syrup over the cake, allowing it to soak in.

Tip: If you prefer a cake with a slightly less dense texture, substitute 50% of the ground almonds for finely ground polenta or semolina.

http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/flourfree-orange-and-lavender-cake.html

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