Planning the route

The first leg of the journey will be to the Lake District to stay with my travel buddy, Dot, overnight. Then on up to Scotland the next day to stay a couple of nights with Carolyn, who used to live in Charlbury, before taking the ferry over to Ireland to catch up with the cousins. A bit of an adventure for me after over a year of lockdown, and exactly ten years since I started my blog.

Posted in UK Road Trip 2021 | Leave a comment

Wednesday 1 January 2020 – Homeward bound

Well I appear to have the whole retreat to myself!

Dot left for her transfer to the airport at 7.45 this morning as she is flying to Manchester. Breakfast was not until 9.30. No meditation or yoga leaving party revellers time to lie in.

Scrambled eggs today, well some sort of tofu equivalent, but it tasted very nice. Also there was the usual muesli, fruit and yoghurt plus lemon and ginger tea. I chatted with friends we had made over the past few days over breakfast, then all too soon, said our goodbyes as most of the guests were taking the lighthouse walk which I had already done. I had to stay and wait for my transfer at 12.

It is a gorgeous New Year’s Day so a last swim in the pool for me to coat my skin in magnesium to take home.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tuesday 31 December – Day 6 New Year’s Eve

7am group meditation… feeling our senses, followed by Hatha flow yoga. 9am breakfast – porridge, mixed fruit and yoghurt, green juice (not sure what it was)

Chilly morning with cloud. When the sun comes out it will warm up. One of the group who was going off on a walk, offered me her watercolours. Thank goodness… I was pleased to take up her offer and proceeded to paint a still life inside while the air was cool. Will venture out after lunch.

After lunch Dot and I wandered down town to obtain some cash and buy a few snacks for the journey home tomorrow. We then spent an hour or so on the sunbed by the pool as the sun had warmed up and I wanted to finish the book I’d borrowed from the Crisalida library.
I later took the watercolours up on to the terrace where there was a magnificent view of the mountains. I dabbled a bit but could not do the scene before me justice.

The new year partying began at 6.45 with mocktails! They were actually very nice juices in cocktail glasses with elegantly decorated with fruit on a stick and a straw. Many of us had got out of our Lycra or joggers and into glad rags for the evening. We brushed up pretty well! Dinner was set for around 30 guests with pate starters. The main dish was traditional Spanish paella (without the seafood), mixed salads, roasted sweet potatoes and various sauces. It was delicious. The dessert, which the kitchen staff had gone to such lengths to prepare for us was not such a success. A kind of lemon cake with mock custard. It was rather dry.

After dinner We were entertained by a local guitarist, who I have to say was very good. He played in a traditional Spanish style although he was originally from Argentina.

After this the team had organised a quiz for us. This of course was on the theme of food and activities on the retreat. Our team ‘sofa surfers’ didn’t do too well but it was good fun.

The quiz was followed by the fire ritual which involved writing down on pieces of paper what we are grateful for, what we no longer need and what we hope for ourselves in the future. We all gathered round a pit fire and with meditation and chant, we cast our pieces of paper into the fire along with a grain of rice, a piece of fruit and a flower.

The next Spanish ritual was to eat a grape on each of the 12 chimes of midnight. Quite a lot to stuff into your mouth along with seeds by the allotted hour! At midnight we all hugged one another then ran up to the roof terrace to watch the panorama of fireworks displayed all around the town and along the coast. Pretty amazing!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monday 30 December – Day 5 Juan Carlos and night out

The day starts with meditation at 7.15. A more traditional approach sitting cross-legged, straight-backed arms outwards, hands facing upwards on knees, incense burning and very peaceful and focused for half an hour. This was followed soon afterwards by some very physical Hatha Yoga. This involved a lot of twisting and stretching. I’m sure this was helping my lower back quite a bit but didn’t want to push it too far so took small breaks.

This overran a little making us late for breakfast, which I had to rush a bit ready for my deep tissue appointment with Juan Carlos. I had heard great things about Juan, not only from the staff but also from people who had stayed at Crisalida in previous years and had returned. He certainly did not disappoint! I told him about the pain I was getting through my arm and into my neck and he said he would concentrate on that. After much deep massage into all parts of my back shoulders and arms, he focused on key areas and somehow was able to pinpoint the pain in my arm being connected to a misalignment of my hip. Sometimes it felt like he was just holding my shoulder gently while touching my hip or pressing into the painful area (without causing pain) while massaging the shoulder blade. Other times he pulled his fingers across my collar bones and up the back of my neck into my head which was just such a wonderful feeling. I won’t go into any more detail suffice to say he was thorough and masterful in his chiropractic technique and I said ‘I’d like to take you home with me!’ Let’s hope it has had the required effect….. the treatment I mean!

The afternoon was spent just relaxing in the sun, a bit of reading and a swim in the pool. I joined a Juicing demonstration which was quite interesting before getting ready for our ‘escape’.

We managed to get a bus into the old town of Altea, just along the coast from Albir.

It was just about dusk (6pm) and the light in the sky was a watercolour in the making. I picked out the skyline of high rises which was now Benidorm in the distance. We climbed up to  the Church of Our Lady of Consolation of Altea in the pretty Spanish old town with it’s steep winding narrow cobbled streets.

In one of these streets we found a delightful little bistro run by a gay couple (one from Leeds, the other Romanian). Here we settled for our tapas and wine!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunday 29 December – Day 4 – lighthouse and market

Hardly slept during the night with aching legs, probably as a result of the beach walk yesterday which was in fact much further than I expected, but still under 5k. I am just so unfit.

Quick snack for early breakfast as a group of us were setting off in a walk to the lighthouse at 7.30. It was a chilly start but a most enjoyable walk through the national park, spiralling round the mountain, as the sun rose. We reached the top to be welcomed by a magnificent view of the coastline of Albir, and a juice! The bird life and plant life was in abundance on the rocks below and on the mountain path. This walk somehow seemed easier than the one yesterday and the aches in my legs seemed to subside.

Some kind of partridge was pottering about on the rocks below while little black and white birds flitted two and fro. There was plenty of wild vegetation including lavender, Winter Jasmin and something we didn’t know pictured below.

We returned briefly to La Casalida before heading down to the weekly market in town. It was a lovely sunny morning and after I bought a scarf and Dot a couple of warm tops, we sat in the sun and had a coffee (decaf of course)

A swim in the magnesium pool this afternoon after a light celery-based lunch on the terrace at the front in the warm sunshine.

After siesta (blog catch up), back up to the roof terrace for intermediate Vinyasa yoga. I thought I’d give it a try but it certainly was a bit advanced for me and I had a job keeping up. It felt good to know, looking through contorted arms and legs, that I wasn’t the only one unable to keep my balance!

Immediately after this I had booked a body scrub treatment session and wow was this good. This involved a complete body exfoliation, followed by a shower and then hydration using hydration cream mixed with oil in the form of a full body massage. I felt like a new woman!

Dinner tonight – Jacket potatoes, ratatouille, lentil sausages, coleslaw and the usual sauces and dressings.

Although there was an offer of going to a concert featuring ‘TheThree Tenors’ (support) in town this evening, we decided to give it a miss! We also decided to give Yoga Nidra a miss, gentle and sleep-inducing though it may be…. a quiet evening in reading our books as we plan to be ‘out on the town’ tomorrow night!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saturday 28 December – Day 3 meditation and massage

I woke at 5.45 this morning so had a good night’s sleep as I’d retired for bed fairly early at 9. I thought I would join the early meditators as I was told this energises the body and mind for the day ahead. Just as well because this was followed by intermediate Yoga and then a 5k beach walk!

Here is a photo of our walking group.

I was very pleased to slip into the warm pool on our return and then lie in the sun for a bit before lunch’

Lunch today was cream of celery soup, tofu with red cabbage, buckwheat and the various sauces. Followed by the usual fresh fruit. I had persoman fruit and grapes. Then siesta…..

Then an hour and a half of Qi Gong… a sort of Tai Chi, all to do with energy and kidneys! This took place high up on the roof terrace where there was an amazing view of the mountains.

I have booked a massage for after dinner this evening to round off the day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Friday 27 December – Day 2 at Crisalida Retreat

I woke at 7 to a bright sunny morning, still cool outside but with a promise of 20 degrees later. I had found myself sharing my room with Anna-Maija, who was a psycho therapist from Belgium. She and I got on very well and chatted for ages about anything and everything.

I decided on a swim before breakfast in the warm magnesium pool, which was situated just outside our apartment. Unfortunately I had woken with a headache which lingered most of the morning. I was told this was probably a withdrawal symptom through lack of caffeine and was offered some green tea, which helped. Breakfast consisted of homemade Rice Krispies, home made muesli, soya yoghurt, banana cake and any of the variety of teas on offer.

Dot, my friend from Cumbria, arrived to share our room and I said my goodbyes to Anna-Maija, who was heading off to Alicante and Valencia.

I took part in a couple of activities in the afternoon once my headache had subsided. These were circuits, which I found extremely strenuous, then the mindfulness workshop, which was quite the opposite.

During the afternoon Dot and I walked down to the town which was somewhat bigger than we’d imagined. It contained the usual array of restaurants and coffee shops for holiday makers, which we were careful to avoid. The coastline and sea beyond was just beautiful. The ocean beckoned and I decided to take my swimwear on the next visit.

Dinner was delicious, another social affair round the big dining room tables. Black bean pancakes were so good I had seconds. These were accompanied by a rice and vegetable dish salad and various sauces, always in a variety of colours making everything very appetising.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thursday 26 December – Day 1 Crisalida

Ok, Christmas ringing, singing, present opening, drinking, feasting… all safely out of the way.  I couldn’t sleep at all of course with my brain on high alert.  I repacked my cabin bag several times in my mind although the final decisions had been made and it was safely zipped ready to go.  Unable to lie awake any longer, I got out of bed at 4.45, had my almond croissant and orange juice for breakfast, then finalised items to take that had been whirring round my head in the night.

Sat Nav in new Mini duly set, the road to Birmingham was clear and dry until 15 minutes before arrival when it began to rain quite heavily.  Of course I missed the turn to the Carpark 1 and had to go round again.  I had to drive round and round up to level 5 before I found an empty spot, leaving me little time for my flight.  Fortunately security was quick and for once my bags went through the fast channel, not needing to be opened.

The flight was delayed by 20 minutes but was smooth and by 11 I was hungry enough to order an early lunch.  Beef lasagne would be my last taste of meat for a week.  Then a snooze to try and catch up on all that lost sleep…

As Beniconnect’s minibus makes its way from the airport up the coast, I am reminded of the familiar dusty terrain, the patterned sets of olive trees that seem happy to grow in drought, the pointy tall Cyprus trees dotted about or standing in rows; the little cream stone buildings with pale terracotta roofs.  Everything is bathed in warm sunshine with back cloth if the mountains to the left and to the right the Mediterranean Sea.

There is a drop off in Benidorm.  The driver tells me the Orange still exists ‘on the strip’. We had a family holiday here 35 years ago.  The girls were 5 and 3.  I would not have recognised it.  Extremely built up with designer high rises.

I am the last drop off and finally we arrive at the little village of Playa del Albir.  La Crisalida is an old Spanish building spread out on one floor with little apartments around a pool.  I was given a warm welcome by several members of staff and they had saved me lunch.  By this time it was 3pm and the sun was still hot by the pool.  However I had decided to join in the timetabled activities straight away.  The cookery demonstration, attended by about 16 was a very humorous affair, run by an Irish women.  We learned to make various hummus dishes.  I have to say that twice I nearly fell asleep, I was so tired from my early start.  However, I was determined to do the Yoga for all levels.  This was great and included many of the exercises I’ve been doing for my back.  We  were finally asked to lie completely still with a bolster under our knees covered with a blanket.  Well guess what!  I was gently woken by the tinkling of her little bell and I had no idea where I was!

After a short nap in my shared apartment, I joined everyone for dinner.  Such a sociable event and the most delicious vegan food, which I will come to describe in more detail in the coming days

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Planning on 18 December

The family are off to Oz today, so after lovely pre Christmas celebrations, I must start packing a few lightweight items of clothing as it looks like it could be 20 degrees in a little village near Benidorm. Nice after all this damp weather in the Uk!

Posted in Spanish Retreat | Leave a comment


April/May 2019

Here are some photos taken during my magical stay in a vineyard in Tuscany.

The view from the terrace
The terrace itself. We met together here on the first day with wine and antipasto
Another view from the terrace of the kitchen and dining room below and some of the staff’s homes.
some subject matter for painting…

Posted in Painting in Italy | Leave a comment