Health, herbs and hallowed singers – it´s time to reset our body clocks

October 22nd, 2020 by

After months of compensatory consumption during lockdown we were keen to listen to an expert in Holistic and Natural Nutrition, Tine van den Wall Bake who provided sage tips on healthy, intuitive eating and how to simply Live Younger Longer.

Tine is an exotic mix of Dutch and Peruvian by birth and judging by her sleek physique and boundless energy she certainly practises what she preaches.

As someone who is partial to the odd kilo of chocolate….albeit mainly dark except for the occasional 100g bar of cremoso milk Lindt that gets snaffled by mistake, not to mention the accidental glass (ok carafe) of Ribera del Duero of an evening I decided to tune in.

I should mention that Tine has more professional qualifications than most country´s political leaders (much more than some currently in the news I shan´t single out) and is a passionate advocate of her decade of research into a healthy holistic lifestyle.

Tine´s zest for life is infectious

Far from banning what we crave (phew) Tine advises balancing it with as much raw fresh fruit and vegetables as we can. The closer the food the resembles its natural state the healthier it is likely to be. Fortunately ready-made processed food is not so widespread or as palatable here in Spain as it is in some other countries. Apart from Telepizza perhaps. Why on earth would anyone want to order some greasy chewy soggy bread concoction purporting to be Italy´s best known crispy dough product beats me, yet thousands do it.

Tine mentioned energy. Why oh why did our mothers force us to eat lots of food when we were feeling below par. Digestion requires energy to do the job which should not be diverted unnecessarily from making us better. If we feel a bit peaky we need sleep not a Netflix binge deep into the night. Sleep is the most important medicine as some illnesses are exacerbated by the accumulation of toxins from forcing food on ourselves without giving ourselves a break.

A picture of health in Italy

Fasting was another subject. Intermittent fasting allows the body to detoxify and recover. I remember Dolly Parton once mentioning that she, like Tine does it carefully once a year. In fact Parton wrote one of her most memorable albums ever, Hungry Again (!) in 1997 whilst fasting and praying to activate her creative juices and sharpen the mind. Parton´s enviable hour-glass curves are certainly an example of someone living younger and longer at 74. Although I´m not sure that fasting is going to help me compete with her bra size.

Parton in her prime

Long term fasting is not for the faint-hearted and should be done in consultation with a physician. Whilst I appreciate the merits of giving one´s body a break in theory I have only fasted from chocolate once….only to eat triple the daily quantity once Lent was over.

Better out than in

Stress, illness, grief, tiredness all hit our immune system hard. So to give it a boost we should focus on anti-inflammatory foods. Tine recommends regular cups of ginger, lemon and honey or other herbal remedies. Post surgery, anti-inflammatory raw, vegetarian food is best.  Having had 3 eleven cm screws pulled out of my hip in the last month I wish I´d been able to eat anything at all. The nurses who brought the food managed to leave it on a table just out of my reach and hobbling on crutches balancing a tray full of packet peroxide-coloured pumpkin soup proved quite a challenge.

Herbal blends can also help to keep our rollercoaster hormones on an even keel, especially in and around peri/menopause.  I´m sure my grandmother mentioned that a daily pint of sherry worked wonders for her mood but science has moved on a bit since then.  

Apparently our hearts pump the equivalent of one truckful of blood (7,200L) round our bodies every single day and such effort inevitably has an impact on the efficiency of the filters responsible for the quality of that blood. Fasting is a bit like a computer reset. How many times have we spent half an hour waiting on call to speak to a Movistar operator who has managed to solve our huge technological disaster by asking us to merely switch off and turn on again our modem?? Our bodies are the same, we simply need to give them a chance to reset.

Bio-individuality means that we each have an optimum number of hours in which to rest from food through intermittent fasting.  Sport, meditation, clean food and yoga also improve the filter process. Effective breathing oxygenates and revives us literally.

Tine gave us lots of food for thought and I´m sure that as a result, there will be quite a few liver-cleansing juice machines on this year´s Christmas list.

As for how she´s found the time to carve out a very prestigious longstanding concurrent career as a global strategic marketeer….that´s another story………

Tine van den Wall Bake only takes on 2 clients at a time in addition to her day job.  She can be reached via what´s app +34 637 44 59 32 or you can follow her on Instagram.


May 27th, 2019 by

My mother is vexed. Without so much as a palabra of Spanish herself, she has lost 3 of her 4 children to the charms of the Iberian Peninsula. My younger sister enjoys Madrid´s artistic scene to the full as an actor’s agent whilst my brother has become one of Europe´s most remote hoteliers.

In a bid to see the real Spain before enjoying the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992, my brother Alasdair and a fellow student friend did a grand tour of the country in his clapped out VW Golf. By night they slept rough under the stars, often next to the village municipal swimming pools where they would perform their daily ablutions and by day they would explore Spain’s interior provinces zig zagging from one to other.  After two months of this nomadic existence, tales of cobalt blue reservoirs, almond and olive groves, dinosaur fossils and deserted dramatic countryside lured Alasdair into the remote area of Teruel. About 4 hours east of Madrid, this province is the subject of the “Teruel Existe”,the (Teruel Does Exist”) movement to promote the area and reduce its rural depopulation. Today, ironically, the result of this neglect is a beautiful, unspoilt evergreen area peppered with medieval fortified hilltop villages and lots of and lots of piggies. Teruel ham now graces tables all over the world.

Mesmerised by the dramatic countryside, the hospitality of the people and the beauty of the preserved villages and inheriting a not insignificant smattering of family eccentricity, Alasdair vowed to buy an almond farm as soon as he was “grown up”. In 2000, now a TV producer and camera man Alasdair had narrowed down his search, thanks to numerous visits with me (purely for culinary research purposes and my fluency in Aragonese) to the area of Matarraña in the eastern part of Teruel which enjoys a milder climate and boasts two of Spain´s most beautiful villages in the “Pueblos Más Bonitos de España” list, namely Valderrobres and Calaceite.

So, unfazed by his lack of building or hotelier experience Alasdair bought a masia (farmhouse) which could have been more aptly described as a skeletal heap of crumbling rocks and spent 3 years restoring it. In 2010 the building work was complete and whilst Alasdair hasn’t scrimped on the sanitaryware, providing both a sauna and outdoor hot tub there are a couple of second hand items that add to the quirky atmosphere. In 1979 Margaret Thatcher’s lavatory was requisitioned by my grandmother from a skip outside her Chelsea home. Realising it was incompatible with her Victorian house’s plumbing she converted it into a plant pot on a pedestal in her drawing room complete with the blue plaque “Margaret Thatcher sat here from 1967 – 1979” and it is now enjoying its retirement in the Masia alongside my grandmother’s enamel and iron bath.

Naturally, 4 hours is quite a long way to drive to view former politicians´ memorabilia but if you are interested in gorge walking, wild swimming in natural pools, kayaking, dinosaurs, ibex mountain goats, quaffing delicious truffles in heritage villages without any crowds,  whilst you rest your action-weary limbs in a glass cube or in the same medieval watch tower hotel as the former King and Queen of Spain then stand by for a summary for the highlights of Matarraña next week and you too will be scouting high and low for a bargain mound of rocks…………..and maybe Aznar’s bathroom suite.

Spotlight on Marlene Markhoul by Susannah Grant

April 17th, 2019 by

This month we delve into the war-torn past of ultra-resilient Lebanese Structural Engineer, mother of 3 with a classical choral voice who enjoys the best of both worlds in Madrid and Athens and their respective INCs, Marlene Makhoul.

  1. What was it like growing up in Lebanon in the 1970’s?

My childhood in Lebanon was wonderful as there was a close community spirit. I come from a large family, with 6 siblings and lots of cousins. In 1975 civil war broke out and lasted for 15 long years, some of which coincided with my time as a Structural Engineering student at university in Beirut. I remember we would often spend the nights in the shelters to protect ourselves from all the shelling outside before sitting exams as normal the following morning while the people of Beirut were trying to fix up their bomb-shattered windows. Yet there was always a sense of hope, a positive vision for the future and for better times ahead.

  1. How did you end up in the UK and how long did you live there?

While I was working as a Structural Engineer designing schools, hospitals, office blocks and houses in Beirut I met and later married a Lebanese man who was living in the UK working as a research fellow in Nuclear Physics after finishing his PHD at London University.  So I moved to the UK in 1987.

  1. You are a very resourceful woman, tell us about returning to work in the UK with 3 small children, including twins.

The marriage did not survive and 9 years later I was a single mother in the UK and I resumed my professional career in structural engineering.  I was the only female engineer in my office and on several occasions I would be the only female in a seminar with 60 men but I was never made to feel out of place. Working in the UK was comfortable for a single parent and unlike in Lebanon the children were not the only ones of their respective classes to have divorced parents.

  1. How did your time in the UK shape your life? What did it teach you about yourself?

My time in the UK taught me to be completely independent with only myself to rely on, as opposed to in Lebanon where there is always the extended family to fall back on. My priority at that stage were bringing up my three kids. I then met Adam who was widowed with 2 daughters of a similar age to my children.

  1. How did you end up relocating to Athens?

Adam, my husband who is a banker, accepted a posting in Athens where we lived for 4 years until 2018 and I became an active member of Athen’s INC.  The timing was right for us as all the children were grown up and away at university.  Our house was set amongst a forest of pine trees and only 4 minutes’ walk from the beach. Athens is a fascinating capital city to live in with the added bonus of being on the coast and it was geographically convenient to everywhere we wanted to go in the world. Lebanese people feel very much at home in Greece and it had elements of purity that reminded me of Lebanon before the war. We are now enjoying life tremendously in Spain and luckily for us we still have to spend one week a month in Greece.

  1. What hobbies do you have?

In the UK I sang for a long time with a semi-professional classical choir.  We played tennis in Athens and I never tire of walking by the sea or in the Retiro Park.

  1. What sort of future do you foresee for Lebanon right now?

I would like to see Lebanon free from outside interference and with an effective government operating independently from their own vested interests.  That would encourage investment within the country which, in turn, would allow it to prosper once again.


Do-it-Yourself Sushi at home with Lucia Shimizu & Nobuko Crook by Susannah Grant

April 15th, 2019 by

Whilst Sushi is internationally recognised all over the world as one of the key elements of Japanese cuisine, few people know how to make fun, simple versions to enjoy and prepare en famille at home. I was immediately struck by the value of this collective food preparation concept in a world where we increasingly live disconnected from each other, yet under the same roof. In the same way that all national dishes are subject to regional and even personal interpretations that vary from family to family, Lucia Shimizu and Nobuko Crook gave us a unique glimpse into their own tweaks on Japanese family favourites.   Lucia grew up as part of the Japanese community in Sao Paulo, Brazil whereas Nobuko hails from the port of Yokohama on Tokyo Bay. Both of our hosts come from families of keen gastronomes where recipes have been handed down for generations.

First up was the all-important sushi rice mixed with Japanese vinegar, salt and sugar while the salmon sizzled under the grill. Lucia stressed the importance of adding the miso paste to the soup without letting it boil and thus eradicating the natural nutrients. Nobuko then deftly laid out a number of cooked ingredients such as smoked salmon, shredded green beans, carrot flower shapes, and coriander on top of the rice for the pressed, weighted down Oshi Sushi dish. We were also shown how to make stunning mini decorated sushi balls with prawns which we agreed would appeal immensely to children. Sushi balls are stuffed with whatever ingredients you have to hand and then wrapped in cling film to maintain their circular shape. Japanese mothers will typically pop a few into their kids’ lunchboxes with homemade faces on them as an affectionate maternal gesture which certainly beats the ubiquitous packet of potato crisps and a squashed banana. I can imagine squeezing a little note inside my kids’ sushi balls “Try handing in your homework on time for a change”.

Finally Lucia shared her technique for cooking a Japanese style omelette which is similar to a giant conical French crêpe that is then rolled in the pan and layered up bit by bit by the addition of more beaten egg until it forms a rolled egg log similar in size to a swiss roll or yule log! Quite an art and Lucia admitted that in some households they were apt to resort to western style scrambled eggs which are a lot faster to cook. Although there are still plenty of mothers rising before dawn to lovingly cook an egg roll which would await the rest of the family in all its golden glory when they finally appeared at the breakfast table…



Both Lucia and Nobuko hinted at the diplomacy required when a new wife is cooking for her husband as she may be tempted to cook some dishes according to her own family’s traditions whereas her new spouse will expect her use his family’s style. Personally I’m a great advocate of “you eat what you’re given mate or else you can go and cook it yourself…”

My poor husband has lost most of the sensation from his palate and has had toxic smoke emissions emanating from his ears from the moment we met as I do rather enjoy my spices. Yet, so far, he still hasn’t opted for the “cook it yourself” route.

Anyway, back to our sushi lesson as by now our dining table was a feast for the eyes as well as for the palate and much merriment was had as we concocted our own Temaki sushi cones with a square sheet of Nori (Japanese seaweed). I particularly enjoyed Lucia’s ingenious tip on using a piece of sticky sushi rice to fasten down the two sides of the seaweed sheet to maintain the perfect cone shape. It’s tempting to see if sticky rice will glue people’s lips together too…just imagine no whining kids at the table………..although they could probably still grunt.

Thank you Lucia and Nobuko for demystifying sushi preparation at home and for all your fascinating anecdotes that illustrated authentic Japanese culture. We all benefitted from your pearls of gastronomic wisdom and can now pass on your culinary skills so that our families and friends will be all the richer for the bonding experience of preparing our own sushi together.


April 8th, 2019 by



Last month some of us were fortunate enough to visit the atelier of Madrid’s last remaining family-owned Haute Couture fashion house, Casa Basaldúa.  We were warmly received by Isabel Goiri Basaldúa, the current Creative Director and grand-daughter of the founder. As many Madrileños are aware, Basaldúa  is well known for their exclusive haute couture wedding gowns and Montse soon showed us a few examples, both past and present as we all marvelled at the elaborate beading work and embroidery.

Isabel then took us through the paces of putting together an artistic moodboard before showing us some origami-inspired kimonos that she has designed with a modern twist. We were then treated to a fascinating preview of the latest prêt à porter collection which has not been shown to the press yet so cameras were hastily put away as we sat with bated breath. In the absence of any professional models, Loreto Saura and Denise Kildare came to the rescue and tried on several of the clothes to give us a better idea of how they looked when worn. Much merriment was had as both ladies did the beautiful clothes every ounce of justice ………….I sense a budding new career in the offing for these 2 members……… and huge thanks go to Isabel and Montse for dedicating such an enjoyable and generous slot of their valuable time.

Note from Editor: a full interview with Isabel Goiri Basaldúa will follow shortly!

Here´s one happy customer!




Spain at your feet – a hiker’s paradise by Elaine Samson

March 22nd, 2019 by

Spain is literally at your feet …hiking is a fabulous way to get to know Spain in a more up-close-and-personal way.  It is a great way to explore Madrid, discover historic towns, see lots of different scenery, get great exercise, and meet interesting new people.  Living in Spain introduced me to hiking and it is now a regular part of my life.

I started my journey to get to know Spain step-by-step when I did the French Road on the Camino de Santiago in 2014.  Despite being overweight and out of shape, I walked 790 kms which is nearly 500 miles!   To qualify as a “pilgrim” you only have to walk 100kms and I would encourage every expat living in Spain to do it – it is an unforgettable experience.  In 2015, I did a different route with 3 friends – Santiago – Finisterre – Muxia – Galicia is beautiful!  By this point I was hooked on hiking and in October 2015 I went international, walking 84 miles coast to coast in northern England along Hadrian’s Wall, built by Roman Emperor Hadrian in 122 AD.

In 2018, I decided to try out Hiking Madrid, which leads hikes on the abundant trails centered on historic towns in close proximity to Madrid.  The group was started by hiking aficionados Beau and Cynthia, who decided to write the first hiking book in the Community of Madrid.  After exploring over 160 routes, they published “Take a Hike; the Best 50 routes in the Community of Madrid”, found in bookstores all over Madrid.  The group, now led by Jonathan and Barbara, offers hikes every weekend and sometimes on Spanish holidays.  The walks range from easy strolls on cleared paths to more challenging hikes on unmaintained trails through hilly terrain, ranging from 10 – 20 kms.  For only 12 euros, you get a guided hike, a snack, lunch, and a post-hike drink.  Bus fare from Madrid to the starting point is extra.  Hikers include Americans, Europeans, Australians, Canadians and Spaniards, ranging in age from early 20s to retirees.  I particularly like Hiking Madrid because nearly every hike takes me to someplace I’ve never been before – even after nearly 10 years in Spain.  They also offer private hikes, customized any way you like, if you have a large enough group which could perhaps make a great INC activity.

InterNations and Meet Up also have hiking groups, and a quick internet search turned up over 100 hiking groups within 25 miles of Madrid.

Everyone in INC is familiar with Anne Pinder’s City Walks and she organises a 100km Camino group every year in May.  In the past, INC has had a group that walked regularly in Casa de Campo.  The Retiro and the Parque del Oeste are other beautiful destinations for walks.  Or you can explore Madrid at street level, taking advantage of the new, wider sidewalks and pedestrianized areas.  Walking doesn’t take any special equipment and can be done by anyone, no matter your fitness level.

Walk out your front door and take the first step!  We have a beautiful city and country to explore.

Edited by Susannah Grant    

You and your pet: Getting ready for spring in Spain – by Dr. Elizabeth Nave

February 10th, 2019 by

For all you pet owners, here is a useful article we originally posted in March 2014

From the desk of A.A.H. Veterinary Services, Dr. Elizabeth Nave

You and your pet: Getting ready for spring in Spain

Now is the time to prepare your pet for the new season, as February and March see the freezing temperatures of winter give way to the warmer climate of spring. The 4 major points to address are:

Ticks and Fleas

Leishmaniasis prevention

Pine tree caterpillars

Kennel Cough


1) Ticks and Fleas: In the depth of winter we almost forget the problem of fleas and ticks since in Madrid there is little humidity and these creatures tend to hibernate when temperatures fall below freezing. Fleas are mostly found in the northern, greener areas of Spain and in the coastal, more humid areas. Since the major problem in Spain is ticks, and most treatments for ticks prevent fleas as well, we will concentrate more at this time on ticks:

Ticks tend to hide out in tall grass or plants in wooded areas and bushes waiting for prospective hosts. Once locked in place, the tick will not detach until its meal is complete. On dogs, ticks often attach themselves in crevices and/or areas with little or no hair – typically in and around the ears, the areas where the insides of the legs meet the body, between the toes, and within skin folds. Most species of ticks go through four life stages – eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults. The eggs can remain dormant in the environment for years until the situation is ideal for them to hatch out.

Ticks can transmit diseases to your dog and to you as well. These diseases are:

Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and rocky mountain spotted fever.

These diseases can cause severe problems in both dogs and humans, so it is very important to prevent ticks attaching themselves. February is the time to begin preventive treatment as the eggs will hatch out with the first heat of spring. We always recommend the use of two different products so if one is not effective the other will be. This is especially important in animals that are out in the country or taken for walks in parks.


2) Leishmaniasis: The disease Leishmania is endogenous to Spain. It is transmitted by a sandfly, which has a mosquito-like life cycle, so we need to be thinking about when and where we begin to get mosquito bites in order to understand the prevention of this disease. Mosquitoes are mostly found in humid, coastal areas, however they are also to be seen in dryer climates in moist areas such as near rivers and lakes, or in well-watered yards. The abundance of the sandflies depends on the amount of water and rainfall during the year. They are more prevalent at dawn and dusk and in spring and fall. To help to prevent the disease (it can never be 100 % prevented) we recommend the use of the Scalibor collar and are getting incredibly good results. This collar has a longer effective life than others, and seems to be doing the job, as well as being very adequate at preventing ticks and fleas. However, we would still ask you to use another preventative for ticks/fleas, especially when you walk your dogs in the fields or are in smaller towns, or when they will be with other dogs (boarding or playing in the park). We choose two products in general because if one fails to work, the other is present to take over prevention. It is important to be aware that having a dog in a well-watered yard, especially at dawn or dusk and in spring or fall, will increase the chances of acquiring the disease.

We also recommend doing a blood analysis, usually in Sept-Oct, but sometimes in areas where the disease is more prevalent, we also suggest a blood test in May-July.


3) Pine tree Caterpillars: These are otherwise called Processionary caterpillars (Thaumetopoea Pityocampa). Google them and look at the pictures so you will recognize them and be sure to avoid them!

The moths lay eggs in the pine trees in September/October. The nests are bags of a spider-web-like material full of hundreds of eggs which grow into caterpillars that hatch out in the first warmth of spring. The caterpillars fall to the ground and then migrate in a long line – procession – to where they will transform into moths. This caterpillar stage can begin in late February and lasts for the better part of March. As your pet is out roaming he can come into contact with them and the product that the caterpillars emit is a caustic acid which can burn your pet’s tongue, nose, eyes, paws and feet. In the simplest case it will cause acute itchiness, but in the most violent cases it has been responsible for causing shock reactions and the burning of tongue and lips to the point of them falling off. The animals can become desperate with the pain, and go into anaphylactic shock so this is a true emergency! We recommend being very careful in the month of March, identifying the pine trees and looking out for the nests in the trees where you will walk your dog, then watching the ground for any sign of the caterpillars. Animals are best kept on a lead during this time.

Prevention includes having your trees sprayed in October so the eggs are killed before they hatch. Do not, on any account, handle the bags or caterpillars yourself as they are also pretty dangerous to humans!

The Guardia Civil or Seprona can be called on 062 to aid in destruction of the nests.


4) Kennel Cough: This is a disease produced by a virus and a bacteria acquired at the same time and is highly contagious. It is called Kennel Cough because it is usually acquired in kennels, yet in the larger cities we tend to send our dogs to kennels when we travel. Even if you haven’t, there is probably a dog near you which has gone to a boarding kennel and can deliver your dog the disease. The rainy seasons (spring and fall) are when we see most cases of this disease, so we highly recommend that you vaccinate your pet against it. The consequences of not doing so are a dog with a goose honk cough all night, and the illness usually runs 10 days. Rarely would a dog acquire pneumonia, but it is not impossible, so your dog should be seen by a professional as soon as possible if he starts to cough at these times of the year.


5) Heartworm Disease: Heartworm in Spain is mainly a disease found in coastal areas. Dogs living in, or visiting these areas should be following a preventive treatment. In the more central region, we do not have dogs on prevention as it is not generally found in this area.  Before prescribing a preventive treatment for your dog he should always have a blood test taken beforehand.  If you are vacationing with your dog in the coastal areas, he can have a once-a-month prevention for the time you are there.


Our website has more in-depth articles about these diseases, and please feel free to read our FAQ section for more details at
Dr. Nave

Spotlight on Renata Morassutti by Susannah Grant

February 7th, 2018 by

This month we talk to Brazilian INC member Renata Morassutti, a former Intellectual Property Lawyer and more recently a Sommelier about her take on living in Lima and Madrid.

  1. What was it like as a Sao Paulo student to move to the US to study Law and then work there?

It was a great experience from both a personal and professional standpoint. I loved the whole university atmosphere and was really impressed with and challenged by the education system and the Socratic method.  Working there was an amazing experience and taught me to be more direct, objective and to build my cases better.

  1. Why did you choose to specialise in Intellectual Property?

I have always been very keen on the arts in all forms, as well as literature and everything related to creations of the human mind. So, as a lawyer, I was interested in protecting these expressions of the soul, fostering creativity and adding value to innovation.

  1. How did you find living in Peru for 4 years prior to coming to Madrid?

We lived in Lima, Peru for 2,5 years and it was a very interesting experience. Peru is a country with a rich and impressive culture and with great gastronomy. Having the chance to learn more about the Incas and visiting their sacred places was unforgettable.

  1. Do you have any stories about adapting to life here in Madrid?

When we arrived in Madrid I had a hard time understanding the Spanish “definition” of morning and afternoon. When I first tried to get a doctors appointment, I specifically asked for a morning appointment (thinking they would offer me something between 8 and noon). To my surprise, they offered me a 1:45pm appointment!

  1. What prompted you to do a Sommelier course in Lima?

I have always loved cooking and all things gastronomical. For me, nothing beats a delicious dish paired with a good wine. So it seemed natural for me to enter this new and enchanting world of wines.

  1. What other interests and hobbies do you like to pursue?

Apart from cooking, baking, and studying wine, I love history, music, knitting and travelling.

  1. What is your secret Madrid?

Since I am half Brazilian/half Italian, my favourite place in Madrid is a small Italian restaurant in the Mercado de La Paz, called “Matteo Cucina Italiana”. The chef used to work for the Italian Embassy and now has this charming little restaurant inside the market. The food is delicious and reminds me of my “Nonna”’s home-cooked food.

  1. Now that you’ve been here for 3 years, what’s unmissable for you in Madrid?

Besides the Mercado de La Paz, I also love the Retiro Park.

  1. Are Brazilians and Spaniards less similar than you thought prior to moving here?

Brazilians and Spaniards are very much alike as a matter of fact.  Our similarity with each other has been a pleasant surprise! 

  1. If you could wave a magic wand what would you do next in your life?

I would love to become a winemaker…Or run a nice little bakery.

Spotlight on Katie Schmidt by Susannah Grant

October 6th, 2017 by

SPOTLIGHT ON KATIE SCHMIDT, a former Epidemiologist from the US, gives us invaluable insight into a healthier lifestyle and wellbeing.

1.Tell us about being an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and how did you get into that field?

As a Health Coach, I’m a nutrition and wellness advisor and accountability partner who works closely with women and couples to help them establish sustainable habits that improve health and well-being.

This work is my passion because I’ve spent the last 13 years refining a lifestyle framework that reflects true health. In my early twenties, I struggled with body image. Consequently, I believed health was reading labels and counting calories. Once I found the intersection between nourishment and satisfaction in my daily life, it made a tremendous difference in how I felt, inside and out.

2.How would you describe the Whole Nourishment lifestyle? Does it affect your philosophy on life in general?

Absolutely! Because Whole Nourishment is about the small, daily habits we adopt in the kitchen and beyond. And daily habits make up our life!

It champions a holistic approach to eating and living well that recognizes the synergy between what we eat and how we live and enables us to feel good in and about our bodies. In other words, our lifestyle, ie activity level, stress management and mindset, impacts our choices in the kitchen and recognizes the importance of self-care.

3.You´ve lived in many places including Guatemala and Argentina, tell us about living in Switzerland before moving to Madrid in the Summer of 2016

These two countries could not be more different if they tried! Let’s see…. if they were animals, Switzerland would be the orderly, predictable, ritualistic early bird and Spain the bubbly, free-spirited, nocturnal Sugar Glider.

4.If you could wave a magic wand what would you do next in your life?

At risk of sounding dull, we´d be happy to repeat exactly what we´re doing now! Though I’d love to visit the Maldives and venture further into Africa! Professionally, I’d love future work to include teaching body acceptance and intuitive eating to young girls.

5.What is your secret Madrid? 

Espacio Orgánico: great selection of organic produce and cool café. Virginia, the foot reflexologist there, is the best!

And Parque Felipe VI: between the quiet, rustic trails and views of the mountains, my dog Leila and I  feel miles away from the city on our daily walks.

6.Do you have any stories about adapting to life here in Madrid? 

The pothole-ridden dirt roads of Swaziland where we used to live are nothing compared to the crisscrossed, confusing interchanges along the M-11, M-40, and M-30. Once I figured out how to navigate the overlapping highways exits, three splits deep (veer right, veer left, veer right), I felt like I could do anything!

7.Has anything surprised you about Spain and its people?

I was surprised the first time I saw people eating breakfast at 11:30 am. I still don’t understand how people can wait until 10 or 11 pm to go out. Even when I eat a late lunch, there’s no way I can last until 10 pm!

8.Finally – what’s the key to maintaining a healthy relationship to food without obsessing about it?

Finding the crossroads between nourishment and satisfaction in our daily meals. This comes naturally when we define boundaries with a few non-negotiables, then adopt an attitude of flexibility, satisfaction, and variety when making food choices.

Photograph captions and credits:

Picture of Katie and husband, Gregg: M.P. Myers

Picture of Katie and Katie and dog, Leila: Anna Primavera

Edinburgh By Kirsty Leggatt

May 18th, 2017 by

Recently we took an extra long weekend to visit Edinburgh. This is a truly beautiful city with loads of fabulous architecture, history, gardens and interesting sites.

The ‘hop on hop off’ bus gives a great perspective of the city whilst offering a convenient way to get around and visit the sites. There are also a number of other different tour options available or you can combine all of them into one to give you the full on Edinburgh experience.

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Royal Botanic Gardens and St Giles’ Cathedral are just a few of the magnificent tour experiences that Edinburgh has to offer.

I’m a self-confessed lover of all things morbidly curious so we had to visit the Edinburgh Dungeon and I LOVED this tour! This isn’t just a basic tour of a torture chamber but a full on dungeon experience complete with audience participation. As often seems to happen with me, I got called out of the crowd. I was tried as a witch in the local courthouse, taken to the next chamber where I was then marked as a witch, jeered at by the crowd and locked in a cage – hilarious! We got a complete story (acted out) of various morbid local legends as we wandered the dark and mysterious passageways of the dungeon. Be prepared, as there a number of heart stoppers on this tour. There are also a few interesting surprises which I won’t mention here so as not to ruin the experience. A definite must do if you’re into the less pleasant side of medieval life!

We also did a Ghost Tour. There are many different forms of these tours on offer and we opted for a walking tour. Again, I really enjoyed it. The guide was lively and informative. The tour took us down some of the most famous streets of Edinburgh, the local graveyard and finished in the underground tunnels found below the city streets.

I, of course, have to mention the food!! We found a local cafe where we ordered bacon and egg rolls each morning and by the way we carried on, one would have thought we were in a five-star restaurant – there’s just nothing like the simple things in life. We also enjoyed pies, fish and chips, scotch eggs, soup and we even tried haggis. The local pubs and restaurants offer a delicious selection of traditional food to be enjoyed in a lively and authentic environment.

An amazing city with an abundance of beauty, history and fabulous things to do and see!!