Monday, March 24, 2014

Christmas in Brighton (Gulp, are we really in March?)

When I found out my daughters baby was due mid December a decision had to be made. It took seconds, to be honest it was a no brainer.  Alan immediately said I must go.  He knew it was where I wanted to be. There was a chance of course that the baby could be late, so the plan was that I would arrive five days after Frankie's due date, and come back to Spain on New Years Eve.  Although more than anything I wanted to be in Brighton, I also felt bad that Alan would be here home alone over the Christmas period.  Our good friends Pat and Pedro said he had to join them for Christmas dinner, which was so kind of them. It was good to know he would be with friends.

Coincidently my great mate Jo was spending Christmas on holiday with her hubby and gorgeous daughters, and was desperate for a house sitter.  This worked really well as I could spend the days with the family, then disappear to give them some peace.  I could catch up with Alan online during the evenings too without appearing to be too rude plus I could house sit, in a beautiful house too I might add!

As my first grandson had already arrived, it was just a case of enjoying him and my lovely family to the max. He was certainly gorgeous and Kaci although just four, was simply the proudest big sister in the world! Cuddling him whenever she could, feeding him and dashing around getting things ready for mummy when he was being changed.

As always time is so precious but I managed to squeeze in a few special friends.  I was over the moon to meet up with two lovely friends that live in Germany, they were spending Christmas in Brighton.  I was so happy we could have a quick drink together.

Chris Jens and I.
I stole Chris's photo, as it had the three of us in it..

Of course I was staying with a four year old.  Obviously that meant Christmas had been an extremely exciting prospect for months. Stockings had to be laid out, and even some glittery oats or similar was left in a trail outside, to ensure the reindeer knew where we would be.  It had been a few years since I had enjoyed being round little ones at Christmas, and it certainly didn't disappoint.  It is hard to beat that magical look that says "Santa's been!"  Father Christmas stockings were opened first thing, and then other presents from family and friends a little later.

You have to dress up as a princess on Christmas Day!

Kaci's own baby

Christmas Day I was extemely happy to be invited to Jordan's mums house, that's Frankie's boyfriend, and spend time with Shelley's lovely family.  I must admit as I come from a small family it was slightly daunting at first, but I had a lovely time with a very nice Christmas dinner.  I was made feel very welcome and it was lovely for all the children to play together, and see them all beautifully dressed up for the special day.

On Boxing Day, Kaci went over to spend time with her daddy, and his side of the family. My son Mark also saw his beautiful Maisie too. My heart really does go out to families with parents not living together.  I can see the difficulties from both sides having both my son and daughter living apart from their childrens mummy or daddy.  Also on a selfish note it does mean that the family can never spend a Christmas with us here in Spain, as the other parent must be taken into consideration, of course.  However amicable things are, there will be times when the other parent want to spend special times with the child and cannot, and that is heart breaking.  It was wonderful to catch up with Mark, Laura and Maisie on Boxing Day morning.

My two beautiful Rapunzels 

The weather on Boxing Day was fabulous, with gorgeous blue skies, so we took the opportunity for a stroll along the seafront before a scrummy cold lunch at Shelley's. 

One of the highlights for me was being able to invite Mark and his lovely girl friend Laura, Frankie and Jordan and the babies to Jo's house for some wine and nibbles.  The girls played great together and it gave us all time for a last get together before my journey home.  Oh dear, I do hate goodbyes.  Thank goodness it's Maisie's fourth birthday in March and we shall be getting together soon.

Mark and Laura

Frankie, Jordan Kaci and Jaxon

Me with my three gorgeous babies! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

From Sequins to Sunshine

As I am so behind with my blog posts, I'm sure this is old news to you.... but "I have an ebook out... Yipppeee!"  This was mainly due to an arm twisted up my back by Alan. Since publishing his books, many people have stated their disappointment that there were no photos in his books, so Alan, in his infinite wisdom encouraged me to work at tidying up my blog posts, of Year 1of us moving here to rural Spain, living off grid with our animals. Just a tad different to living in the cosmopolitan city of Brighton, and doing 'normal' jobs. There are lots of photos included, of our house, family and animals of course. My intelligent beautiful fabbie girlfriend editor dotted the 'i's' and crossed the 't's', Alan formatted it for publication, and we were off.  

It is only a blog, some parts are exciting, other bits not so, but such is life.  I now have 18 reviews, sixteen are 5 star, one 3 star, which was very acceptable, and a hugely embarrasing 1 star.  I must admit that didn't upset me as much as I thought it may.  When Alan has received the occasional bad review, I feel awful for him, protective I guess. Which must have been how my daughter felt when she wrote a reply underneath one of Alan's bad reviews.  The person writing it had said they didn't like Alan or I.  Quite what I had done, I'll never know.  Frankie wrote stating what wonderful people we were with great hearts, bless her.  Maybe it's for the better than her reply seemed to get lost in cyber space, never to be read again. Alan had always said we are putting ourselves out there, so we have to accept the bad reviews.

I love writing my blogs posts.  Some are easier to write than others.  I try and be as honest as I can, but I am quite a private person.  I'm trying to be more open with my writing, but it can be difficult to sometimes find the correct words, if you are missing family, or not feeling well, but I'm getting braver at baring my soul.

If you are one of the kind people that have read my ebook, and you have five minutes to spare to write a review, good or with constructive critism, I would be so grateful.  Just to let you know I have started on Year 2.  I must admit the first half seems pretty dull, but gets more exciting as time goes on. 

I remember a teaching video from Len Goodman (from Strictly Come Dancing, and Dancing with the Stars), at the end he said "If you enjoyed this video please tell all your friends.  If you didn't, just keep it to yourself" I like that.  If you feel like doing that with my ebook, I would be very happy, thank you.

Here's the link if you want to be nosey.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Welcome to the World Baby Jaxon

Alan reached over to the bed side cabinet to check the text message that beeped in the middle of the night. I knew immediately it was the news I had been anxiously waiting for. As I thought, it was Frankie my daughter, she had been in labour for just over an hour.  I texted her back straight away, and I told her I would turn my laptop on. I brought it into the bedroom, and we shared a very special few hours just the two of us.

I had booked to go to Brighton on December 17th.  Of course there was a risk I may not arrive in time for the labour.  When Frankie had Kaci four years ago I was present at the birth, and apart from the birth of my own children, that was certainly one of the happiest days of my life.  I desperately hoped I would already be in Brighton, but I realize now, for selfish reasons.  I dreamt of being one of the first to see my first grandson, and I also hoped to take Kaci to see her baby brother.  I imagined opening the door and her running in first, with a huge smile on her face, but it wasn't to be.

I would become very emotional thinking of my little girl having a baby, and me not there to give some sort of support, and I really hoped baby would wait.  It was strange however, when I heard she was in labour, although of course I hoped and prayed everything would be ok, my main thoughts and worries were about my baby...... yes she's 25 but still my baby of course!

Unfortunately I had an appointment at the eye hospital that morning.  Another injection under the eye for me, but that was nothing compared to giving birth. Frankie had gone into hospital about 7am so news was then understandably more sporadic. As we approached the hospital car park the phone rang, it was Frankie's mobile, but it seemed to cut off quickly.  I rang straight back and got the answer machine.... gutted!  I had no idea how things were progressing.    

I sat waiting in the crowded hospital waiting room, my thoughts were only on one person. At last the phone rang.  I grabbed it from Alan and rushed out of the department to try and find a quieter spot.  Baby was born, he needed a little oxygen but he was gorgeous and healthy.  Unfortunately the placenta hadn't been delevered and so poor Frankie, after only have gas and air, now had to under go an epidural in order for the placenta to be removed, after other attempts had failed.  Bless her!  

Jaxon (Jax) Browning had come into the world weighing 7lb 5oz with a shock of dark hair.  I'm delighted to report mummy and baby were out of hospital the following day.

My beautiful daughter and baby grandson

Very proud daddy

Big sister Kaci,who is totally in love


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Spain Buddy Interview

I was very chuffed to be an interviewee on one of THE best websites for expats in Spain. Spain Buddy. It has fun pages, like crosswords puzzles to help improve your Spanish, some great recipes, and excellent advice for anyone considering relocating to Spain, just for starters.   

Click the link to take you to my interview.  Think you know me?  But do you know what sandwich filling I would be?

This link below takes you to the home page.  Happy browsing!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Implant Update... Yes the Tooth Variety!

Another personal one here.... I hold my hands up and admit it, I am in the process of having a few implants.  If you need a reminder of my first appointment, including the first lot of  gorey bits, please check out my first post about it at the link here... (No yucky photos you will be pleased to know).

There I was enjoying my break with the family, but I had that horrible feeling hanging over me. That feeling in the pit of your stomach, that can only mean one thing .. a trip to the dentist!  Now I am one of the worlds biggest wusses when it comes to visiting that place.  No matter how lovely they are, let's be honest there are much nicer places to be. Imagine my horror when confirming my appointment, and I was told those horrifying words 'No Lorna, we won't be giving you any sedation, this time!'  At first I thought he was joking.  Sadly not. The big day arrived and I slid in pretending to be brave, hoping that maybe in an hour or so, it would be over.

The procedure for my second stage was started by sticking numerous injections into my mouth.  Into my gums, the roof of my mouth, that was a stinger, and the one that feels like it's going up your nose.  I had already had huge quanties of anaesthetic by the time it was the 'up the nose one' , so I wasn't sure where they were going in the end.  That was fine by me!  The next step was to re-expose the implants.  This is done by making small incisions into the gum... (I know, I know) and a small extension is fitted to the implants. The gums are stitched up again leaving the small posts out, in preperation for step 3.

I'll be honest it wasn't a vary nice procedure, obviously, but I did it.  I did moan a couple of times and they dosed me up a little more.... good good!  I was aware of the suturing, not because I felt any pain what so ever, only from the suture thread tickling my lip.  I did however make a complaint to my denist at the end, and suggested they use code words instead of cut, scalpel and suture - in a joking manner of course, brrr they still make me shiver! To be honest having that done without sedation made me pretty proud of myself. Go me!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Kaci's 4th birthday and I'm in Brighton!

November saw me packing my mini case for a long weekend in Brighton. Celebrating the crazy Kaci's birthday... oh yes she is!  Funny, cute, beautiful with a dash of crazyiness thrown into the mix too.  

I had such a lovely suprise to be met at the airport by Frankie my daughter, Kaci, and a rather huge baby bump.  That was a complete shock as Alan, my friend Jo, and Frankie had concocted a plan, and I was expecting Jo to meet me.  So it was wonderful to have little Kaci running to meet me out of arrivals. 

I had asked Kaci prior to me going over, if she would like a Spanish dress, as I knew she would be receiving lots of other toys and pretty clothes from family and friends. She decided she would like that very much. Mark, Laura and my other gorgeous granddaughter Maisie alll came over the evening I arrived.  We had a lovely evening together and Franke cooked a lovely curry for us all.  I decided to give Kaci her birthday presents that evening, just to spread it out a bit.  Plus of course I thought she may want to wear her dress for her party the following day.

Yes she did!

I was unsure of Maisie's plans for the weekend, so I was over the moon to be able to pick her up from her mummy on the Saturday.  We went to watch Kaci's ballet lesson, then on to enjoy Kaci's party.  Jordan's mum, Kaci's Grandma Shelley, had suggested to Frankie that the party was held at her house which is larger than Frankie's, which was very kind of her.

At Grandma Shelley's

My girls.  I love them so much!

Pass the Parcel.... 

After lots of opening prezzies, scrummy party food, pass the parcel and a change into a Rapunzel dress, it was then time for Kaci to go to her daddy for even more celebrations.  Another change of outfit, and this time back into the Spanish with the high heels was in order...... She had as many dress changes as a super model that day!

Maisie enjoying her birthday cake, on the bus home

That left just a couple of days for me to have another major dental trip... more news on that in my next blog post, and admire that beautiful baby bump and enjoy my time with Frankie.  I wonder if he would wait for me?  My first grandson is due on December 12th and I fly back on the 17th... who knows!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

An Interview for Costa Women

Ok so this is a sneaky cheeky blog post.  There maybe some bits and bobs you didn't know about me here though!

I was rather chuffed to be asked to take part by Ali Meehan thw Costa Women boss lady. You can join the Costa Women website very easily.  It's fun and informative.

Introducing … Lorna Penfold

Why Spain?
I was having some health problems. After 2 years of doctor and hospital visits I was diagnosed with an illness called Sarcoidosis. It was making working difficult, and most days I was driving to work in tears feeling ill and exhausted. One day we were walking the dog along the beach near we lived, and I said to my partner Alan, “I’m not sure how long I can carry on like this.”  We decided we needed a complete change of lifestyle.  Alan suggested moving to Spain to breed alpacas! Initially he wanted to move to Florida.  He would be happy selling Coca Cola in Seaworld, I had a 24 year old son and a 19 year old daughter and that was too far away.  We needed somewhere closer.

Before Spain you were…?
We lived in Peacehaven, just outside Brighton on the south coast. I was mum to Mark and Frankie and life was great until I started to feel unwell.  For over 30 years I had been a dance teacher. I taught everything from teeny, tiny tots to line dancing for my more mature ladies with a huge amount of sequins in between. It was a career I loved, and I had thought I would continue dancing for many years.

How did you choose Montoro, Cordoba to live?
Well maybe Montoro chose us. Alan wouldn’t let me come on the first viewing trips as he knew I would fall in love with everything as I was desperate for a change. Estate agents kept showing him white boxes, with a chippie on one corner and an English pub on another.  We know some people want that but we really didn’t. He had seen the Olive Mill on line and loved it. We were looking for something with land, and character, and the Olive Mill had both. It also had the added bonus of being off grid, which meant our bills and living expenses would be minimal. The first time we were staying in the hotel in Montoro, it was actually the local feria and we joined in the towns celebrations. We were totally unaware that life in Spain seems to be practically one long fiesta. There is always a party on or being prepared for.

And now you do something a little different… tell us more about your farm
Well, it all started in Prague. We were enjoying a weekend break, and being animal lovers we used to like to visit zoos and farms as often as possible. We took the opportunity whilst in Prague, and during our visit we were approached by a strange looking animal. He was a goofy, brown, and a fairly ugly looking alpaca. We now know they shouldn’t be kept on their own, they need company of their own kind, but this little guy sowed a bit of a seed. We rather fell in love with alpacas that day. Alan must have done some googling and found out that it was possible to make a living breeding these lovely animals. So, when we were discussing ideas for a new direction, Alan said to me, “Why don’t we move to Spain and breed alpacas?”

Which has also spun into a writing career for your husband!  Tell us how that started?
It started out innocently enough. You know how it goes, you sit around the dinner table telling your guests about the Spanish neighbour doing drunken impressions of a friend riding a horse whilst having an epileptic fit, whilst being forced to drink strong home brewed wine.  Plus the story of taking one of the dogs to the local vet to be castrated.  When asking when to pick him up the vet shakes his head and tells you how to hold the dog’s legs whilst he prepares the operating equipment.  On one of these occasions somebody said to Alan, “Why don’t you write a book?” The idea percolated for a while, and Alan wrote 50 pages and asked a few trusted friends for their opinion. They seemed to enjoy it, so he carried on. He was able to find out lots of info on the internet about self publishing, and then, once it went on sale, people actually started buying it. Much to his surprise and of course delight! We receive emails from people all over the world who have read the books. The title of the first one,Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca? Came from when we told my daughter about our plans, and her reaction was, “What’s an Alpaca?” The sequel which he has just published is called Seriously Mum, Where’s that Donkey?

What has been your greatest challenge to starting the farm?
Our original plan was to breed and sell the alpacas. We have realised since moving here however, and I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but in our area many of the Spanish are not great with animals.  We often have visits from the neighbours horses' who do not worry about secure fencing for their animals, and prefer to hobble them instead.  This is distressing to see. Of course the crisis has hit everyone, and people do not have the money to spend that maybe they would have before these difficult times.  Most alpaca owners breed their animals annually but we rested our girls for a couple of years as we cannot keep increasing our herd with no one to sell to.

Advice for Women just moving to Spain who want to do something different?
My main advice to women moving to Spain, firstly has nothing to with work.  My daughter was 19 when we came here, she also came with us, with her boyfriend.  My son was already in a relationship and stayed in Brighton.  My daughter struggled with the rural lifestyle and they returned home.  Just be prepared ladies it is difficult being away from the family. If you become a grandparent, it can be very tough too.  Think about that seriously.  If my gorgeous grandgirlies had of been born before we left England, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be here now. 
Be flexible!  We are on plan C  at least.  It’s is no good living the way we do, and worry about sexual equality.  We have pretty much our own roles in life.  I can cut wood with the chain saw, and light the fire and of course push a wheelbarrow full of alpaca poo, if I really wanted to, but I tend to sort the washing and deal with more of the household chores.

Charity Dog book – tell us more about that project
Last year we had a dog dumped outside our house. It wasn’t the first and we know it won’t be the last. A lady called Maria, from a rescue called A New Day in Spain, contacted us and said she thought she may be able to find a home for the little fella. We went down to see Maria and her husband and we gobsmacked to find them caring for over 50 dogs on just their UK pension. All we could offer to help was a small donation and a bag of dog food from Mercadona. Since then, Alan has tried to come up with a viable way to raise some money for these rescue centres that are all over Spain, often run by people just like Maria. Take Me Home, Por Favor was born. Alan invited people to send in their stories of rescued dogs. They are now being put together in a collection and will be released as a book, with all royalties being donated to rescue centres here in Spain. Alan hopes to have it ready before Christmas. So watch this space!

And Zumba! 
Oh yes! I was missing dancing, plus I felt I needed to get fitter.  I used to teach Latin American dancing plus other styles and I loved the music.  I decided to take an instructors course and threw myself into it.  I have a regular little group of lovely ladies. It hasn’t been easy though, Montoro is a very traditional little town and the majority of ladies would not dream of doing any other exercise apart from their regular walk around the town.

Now you must tell us what you do to relax!
We enjoy the simple things in life. We love meeting up with friends, walking the dogs, and even the alpacas.  The cats join us when we take the alpacas for a walk.  Also a couple of new hobbies for me, in the last couple of months I have been learning Sevillana dancing, which I totally love, and I have also been doing a little crystallizing of shoes, phone cases etc, which I find very therapeutic, and I love a bit of glitter, I’m a bit of a magpie!

Favourite quote and why?
Simple and one of the most well known “Treat people like you would like to be treated” As a dance teacher when parents would discuss partnership problems etc, I would always say that to them.

Something you will achieve in 2014
God willing I will have my first grandson who is due in the next couple of weeks! Like all of us, it would be great to earn a bit more money, please!  Continue to improve my Sevillana dancing as rumour has it we will be dancing at the Cordoba feria. ALSO year 1 of my online blog is in the process of being edited, to be published with lots of photos as an ebook.  So people will be able to read my side of the story as well as Alan’s. 

Who, or what, inspires you?
I think I would have to say my parents.  They brought me up in a loving family, and encouraged me to study hard, and supported me during my professional dance teacher training, and taught me to work to achieve success.  I was trying to think of someone totally inspiring, but no it had to come back to my mum and dad.  They are both in a better place now and they are probably looking down at me thinking I’ve gone bonkers.  Yes bonkers but happy!

What gift do you most hope Santa brings you?
First and foremost my little grandson to be fit and healthy of course.  This year I will be in Brighton with the family to welcome him into the world.  I’ll be looking forward to spending time with my little girlies that are 3 and 4, and of course my son and daughter. Alan will be here alone as he needs to be here with the animals, and I will of course miss him.  He will be well looked after by our friends here and fed much better than I would feed him!

If they made your life into a film, who would play you and what would the film be about?
Felicity Kendal of course, as we are trying very hard to live “The Good Life”.  Not always successfully, but we try!  Shame we don’t have a Margot in our lives!

Where can we find out more about Alpacas, the farm, the Books etc. 
You can find me on my facebook page Lorna Penfold      
and on my Lorna’s Life in Spain page   
My online blog can be found at   
Alan can be contacted through his facebook page for his books or follow him on Twitter @alpacabook
Thank you Lorna Penfold