Thank you so much to lovely Molly at Piccavey.com, for nominating my as yet quite young and emergent blog for a Liebster Award. It is particularly flattering as I really enjoy and admire Molly’s blog which has inspired us to plan a visit to Grenada on our next holiday. Do check out her richly visual and engaging posts about the city she loves and you will be inspired too.
It would appear that the rules of the Award require participants to do the following:
1) Post a short Q&A about themselves
2) Answer the questions the tagger has asked
3) Create a new list of questions for their own nominees
4) Choose a list of their own nominees and notify them
So here goes!
Not sure what the Q+A should consist of, but here are some random facts about me that you may not know from reading this blog:
- As well as my writing I also work full time running Saros Research Ltd, from my home in Spain. We recruit market research and user testing participants all over the UK, for all kinds of interesting and well paid events so do check it out if you are UK based.
- I love learning new things all the time and have always thought of myself as a quick learner, but I am finding learning Spanish one of the most difficult things I have ever attempted
- I recently converted from PC to Mac and it has been like cheerfully joining a cult. I am 100% born again and loving it (although not loving the credit card statements that go with shiny new iThings), liable to start evangelising at a moment’s notice
- I enjoy cross stitching and tapestry, when I am able to prise shiny iThings out of my hands and make my hands do something completely different (often whilst listening to an audiobook on a shiny iThing though admittedly)
- I am a pretty good cook, although I never cook or eat meat. I love trying new ingredients and new cooking techniques
I think that’s enough Random Things, let’s take a look at the questions Molly set me:
If you could travel anywhere at all in the world where would you go?
It’s very important to me to one day visit India as it is my father’s birthplace and a quarter of my genetic heritage. I missed the window of opportunity to do so before becoming a parent so now I want to wait until my girls are old enough to understand that it is their heritage too and appreciate seeing where their Dadu and the great grandparents they never met grew up, in Calcutta. I want them to know there is more to our legacy than dark hair and a penchant for tandoori, I want to travel independently and spend some time seeing India as it is now, as well as researching and re-treading the paths taken by an Anglo-Indian family in the middle of the 20th century
I think India will be a challenging place to travel in with young children for lots of reasons, and I know that when we do make the journey we will encounter a great deal of poverty and problems that are difficult to reconcile with our own lifestyle and privileges. I hope we can go when we are all grown up enough to understand and assimilate what we see. It’s not on the cards for a few years yet, but it’s out there.
What’s your favourite city in all the world?
I don’t really think of myself as a city person these days. Am I allowed to say Denia, where live now on the coast of Spain? With a population under 50k it’s probably not what most people think of as a city, but it is designated a ciudad and is the judicial seat of the comarca of Marina Alta. We’ve got everything we need right here – a thriving pueblo, modern commercial area, daily covered market, historic ruined castle to explore, the harbor and ferries to the Balearics, and some great fiestas (including the Fallas in March). It’s the community we have chosen to make our home in for the time being and we are very happy to be here.
If I had to live in a big city again, Denia’s big sister Valencia would probably be top of the list – just an hour and a half away, with stunning architecture, great vibe and of course greater transport and retail opportunities than our little spot.
Even though we’ve chosen to live in a smaller community I do enjoy visiting cities and love the contrasts between them – the completely different atmosphere of different barrios within the same place, as much as the differences from one city to another. I love city breaks where you can immerse and taste the culture of somewhere like Marrakech or Amsterdam or Edinburgh or wherever completely, and be a total tourist going round the sights taking pictures.
What was your motivation to begin your blog?
That’s an interesting question. A lot of the ideas behind Beyondmañana were initially intended to form a book about how expat life in Spain really is still pretty good – as a backlash to the negative press a lot of the media, the UK press in particular, is enjoying serving up on a regular basis.
I think there is some kind of Random Article Generator machine in use by lazy journalists that randomly combines phrases like ‘property bubble’ ‘dream gone sour’ ‘lost everything’ ‘nightmare in the sun’ etc, to spew out more formulaic rubbish whenever it’s a quiet news week – and they think their readers will enjoy the schadenfreude of seeing how badly it went for people who had tried to make good on their dreams, only to lose their shirts and go home tail between legs broke and filled with regret.
I knew that didn’t reflect our reality nor the majority of the expats I met, who included some amazingly creative, entrepreneurial, hardworking and interesting people, people whose sense of adventure and outlook on life had lead them to look beyond the safe streets they grew up in for many and varied reasons. I wanted to tell those stories, and my own.
Can you recommend an experience or a sight to see anywhere in the world?
This is a difficult question Molly! What was my most amazing sight ever? Probably the first moment my newborn baby daughter opened her eyes and looked at me, but that’s a little way off the tourist trail.
I suppose one of the first natural wonders of the world that truly inspired me was Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, which I saw aged 18. I spent a gap year teaching English, in what was then a very thriving and optimistic country. Where I lived was nowhere near the Falls and it was months before I got there on a holiday, it was a sight that blew me away, and every rainbow I have since seen simultaneously reminds me and falls short of the recollection. It’s sort of incredible to think that water is still there plunging over the precipice in the same way, decades later, and after all the heartbreaking changes that poor nation has experienced. I hope one day the travel industry can recover and bring the badly needed revenues to starving Zimbabweans, Vic Falls is just one of the amazing natural resources the country has to offer.
Tell me about the best food or dish you have tasted on your travels
I can’t possibly narrow this down to a single dish! I just love my food too much. But I think the best food is local, fresh and as simple as possible – the local gambas de Denia for example, or an orange plucked freshly from the tree to refresh yourself after a cycle ride down lanes so packed with the heady scent of orange blossom you feel almost dizzy. How can ripe fruit co-exist with the blossom phase? I have no idea, but it often does, I think it’s because of there being two crops a year. And I have it from several reliable sources that a traveller helping oneself to a single fruit is a permissible law of the road – any exercise involving a bag or container is theft obviously, but so much crop is wasted and left to rot in any case which is a great shame. Ripe and sweet Valencian oranges are basically like eating and drinking neat sunshine.
And now, I get to ask questions of some new bloggers and introduce them to you. This is what I would like to know:
- Thinking about your life as an expat, where do you think of as ‘home’ now and what does that mean to you?
- What would be the most exciting reaction to your next blog post that you could imagine?
- What one piece of advice would you give if you could go back in time to meet yourself at half the age you are now?
- What do you think is the biggest change coming in the world of blogging in the next two years?
And the bloggers to whom I should like to put these questions are:
Linda Rubright at The Delicious Day, who writes about life and love and location independence from Catalonia
Lisa Sadleir at Family Life in Spain who writes about the their family life in Malaga, and helping families relocate to their own lives in the sun
Paddy and Julia at The Artichoke Adventures, whose passion for their corner of Spain shines through their beautiful articles and bring the history and culture of the region to life