Refine Your Search

I Hate to Call it a Disorder – finding out I had ADHD at 57


8 Minute Read

Ivan Pope is a writer, artist and long-distance cyclist who lives in Brighton. He originally graduated from Goldsmiths College Fine Art BA. He was involved with a number of early internet developments in the UK and across the world. He invented the cybercafe at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and founded the world’s first web magazine, The World Wide Web Newsletter. He has taught at art colleges in London, Newport and Brighton. He is now a writer of fiction and psychogeographic non-fiction. He is currently undertaking a PhD in creative non-fiction at Plymouth University.

I have spent most of my life in creative pursuits, drifting from one thing to another without ever clearly understanding what I was doing. I certainly never had a plan, much less a career and, although I had some notable successes along the way, and am not unhappy with my life, I always felt something was wrong. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

The revelation of attention-deficit to me was a classic epiphany. I was trying to work out some issues that we had with our son who, although a very intelligent boy, seemed incapable of working at university and had just extricated himself from Oxford in the most painful and seemingly pointless fashion. Someone suggested ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), the full name of this syndrome. I was both dismissive and uninterested, believing at that point that ADHD was a term applied only to annoying children who would not sit still. Nevertheless, I went to Google and searched the term. Immediately I came across a list of ADHD attributes and these brought me up so sharply that my life changed in that instant. I was fifty-seven and, while I wouldn’t say my life had been a disaster, I seemed to have always stood on the edge of normality. ‘That’s my life, I thought.’ I was alone but I may even have spoken out loud. It became as obvious as it could be: almost every way that ADHD was said to manifest was familiar to me. In that instant, I understood myself better than I had ever done.

Since then I have come to see attention deficit as both the driver of creativity and the author of my strange unfocused life. I have not been formally diagnosed, I am self-diagnosed.  I have read a lot about it and also, more importantly, listened in to a growing community online who discuss, challenge and inform each other about how attention deficit works in their lives.  This syndrome seems to explain a lot about the strangenesses of our lives: why are we like this and also like that. It is a strange and shape-shifting disorder which is comorbid with a range of other neurodiversities and some even more strange issues like hypermobility and digestive issues.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not named well. It’s not really about hyperactivity (although to be fair, there is a hyperactive version, and it is said that for many of us, the hyperactivity is internal). It’s not even really a disorder. It seems to be more of an attention surfeit, we pay too much attention to too many things. It also creates a strange relationship with time. I’ve known these attributes my whole life, but I never considered them strange. I assumed everyone had them to some degree and that my creativity, my way with ideas, was just something I was a bit better at. Then I found ADHD and suddenly I could see myself in operation, I could anticipate how I might react and understand what I was doing, and why I was doing it. This ‘disorder’ (as I don’t like to call it) is well scientifically and medically documented, but still hard to put into words. The notion that it is about an inability to sit still is nonsense in most of us, though the hyperactivity may be considered to be internal, a driver of our restless lives. We have huge issues with procrastination, an inability to get started, and then we have hyperfocus, the ability to spend hours in a different world, undertaking a single task.

I started looking, as I so often did, at art and literature for answers. In her book Flights, the Nobel author, Olga Tokarczuk, describes a condition that she calls Lazy Venus syndrome Although she never uses the term attention deficit, she describes someone with ADHD perfectly and beautifully.

“The result of this situation is that I have, as I see it, Lazy Venus syndrome. In this case, we’re dealing with a Person whose fortune has gifted generously, but who has entirely failed to use their potential. Such people are bright and intelligent, but don’t apply themselves to their studies, and use their intelligence to play card games or patience instead.

This … induces a strange kind of laziness – lifetime opportunities are missed because you overslept because you didn’t feel like going, because you were late because you were neglectful. It’s a tendency to be sybaritic, to live in a state of mild consciousness, to fritter your life away on petty pleasures, to dislike effort and be devoid of any penchant for competition. Long mornings, unopened letters, things put off for later, abandoned projects. A dislike of any authority and a refusal to submit to it, going your own way in a taciturn idle manner.”

It is interesting to compare Tokarczuk’s description with a more conventional list of attributes of ADHD:

  • Easily bored, Gets frustrated, Anxious
  • Does not meet goals, Easily distracted, Searches for stimulation,
  • Sense of underachievement, Restive
  • Disorganised, Can’t get started (Time blindness)
  • Resistance to authority, Impulsive, Doesn’t follow procedure
  • Impatient, Procrastinates, Lots of hobbies
  • Called dreamy. Hyperfocuses.
  • Has an aversion to paperwork

People I talk to, especially artists, often recognise this sort of language because it has been applied to you. Indeed, it reads like my own school reports. They (and my mother) constantly told me I lived in a dream world ‘to live in a state of mild-consciousness’. We are often categorised as lazy ‘a strange kind of laziness’ despite being intelligent and highly creative. We tend not to finish things, getting distracted or starting something new. We tend to be impulsive, getting into trouble and resisting authority in different ways, ‘A dislike of any authority and a refusal to submit to it’. People with ADHD will often ask themselves how they can be lazy when they spend so much time being busy, starting and getting on with multiple interests ‘abandoned projects’. We tend to have a dislike of paperwork ‘unopened letters, things put off for later’. ADHD can drive fierce creativity but it can also ensure that creativity never finds lasting expression.

In his book Adult ADHD: How to succeed as a Hunter in a Farmer’s world, Thom Hartmann says that the forgetfulness, disorganisation, impulsivity and boredom that ADHD brings can be as constructive as they can be destructive. To be fair, attention deficit can be hugely destructive and far more intense than I have experienced. It is a formal medical condition that can ruin lives and there is a lot of disagreement currently (especially in the US) about over-diagnosis and medicalisation. My interest is not in the medical side or in the politics of this, but in understanding how or whether attention deficit relates to creativity. In this, I mean all forms of creativity, the ability to come up with new ideas, to execute creative work within any field. It is clear that this is an ability that not everyone has – not everyone wants it – again, creativity could be seen as a curse as in the Chinese saying, May you live in interesting times. There is a double edgeness to creativity, an understanding that true artists stand close to some edge, that they may pay heavily for their talent – and not everyone wants that.

I have become fascinated by the double-edged sword of this syndrome which gives great creativity through the restless search for stimulation while undermining it repeatedly with distraction. Impulsivity is important for creativity, as is a resistance to a normal way of doing things, and a willingness to experiment, but finding disorganisation and frustration will often destroy what has been started. I used to fear that my creativity would leave me, while at the same time having no understanding of what drove it. Now I can look at myself and my behaviour and see what I am doing. I haven’t changed in how I operate in life, but I am more at ease with why I am as I am. When I was an entrepreneur, my advisors would demand consistency – and consistency is the exact opposite of attention deficit. I even came up with a phrase to refute them: consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. Now, with my new knowledge, I look back at that time and that attitude and understand that I precisely understood my way of being in the world even when I had no way of thinking about it. Now I do.

If you have read this far and are now thinking what I describe is just the description of normal people, of a certain creative type, or of human behaviour, then consider that maybe you are looking at the world from within attention deficit, that you yourself have Tokarczuk’s Lazy Venus syndrome. Welcome to the club.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Pope

Over 50, Want to Set up Your Own Business – Startup School for Seniors is for You


6 Minute Read

When I was a much younger woman, sometime in my early twenties, I recall my mother telling me that the ideal job for a woman who wanted children was to be a teacher. She spoke as a teacher herself, having taught Home Economics in an American High School when I grew up before moving into marketing in my teenage years. ‘Teaching,’ she said, ‘allows you to do a job that fits alongside childcare and enables you to take holidays simultaneously as school-age children. It’s perfect if you’re planning to be a mother.’

Frankly, I could not imagine a less desirable job. Working with children sounded like my idea of hell. All that paperwork and standing on one’s feet in front of a classroom. No, thank you. I have very few pleasant memories of my school days, and my interest in academia ended as soon as I completed university. I couldn’t wait to put my classroom days behind me and work, preferably in a glamorous job such as TV or Film, which I did for nearly a decade. Although I quickly discovered that it was not glamorous but tedious, with many hours spent waiting around for lights to get rigged, make-up to be applied, and crews assembled.

Now, thirty-five years later, I’m a teacher of sorts, and I love it. However, I suspect anyone on the course, Startup School for Seniors, I co-run with my colleague Mark Elliott, would say that neither of us is reminiscent of the people you would encounter in most schools or colleges. Firstly, we’re the same age as our students. There’s no classroom hierarchy of us versus them. I still have no academic qualifications, but I’ve earned my stripes, having started multiple businesses with varying degrees of success. What I ‘teach’ comes from experience and the desire to ensure that our students progress through our eight-week programme with the confidence and skills to understand how to create a successful business. Mostly, I’m keen to make the learning fun and effective.

Whether you want to look at it as a positive or a negative depends on your point of view, but had it not been for the pandemic, there’s every chance Startup School would not exist. In December 2019, I held down multiple jobs, including hosting events at Soho House on behalf of Advantages of Age, working for a co-working space in Croydon on events and PR, and singing blues in pubs and clubs. I’d run a version of Startup School called the Advantages of Age Business Academy a couple of years earlier with Yvonne Fuchs. We found funders had limited interest in supporting it as people over 50 didn’t appear to be particularly needy and participants wouldn’t pay for it. Rose and I were ticking along with Advantages of Age, hosting the occasional event or party, moderating the growing Facebook group and maintaining the website.

By March 2020, nearly all my work had dried up, as did many others that I knew of a similar age. Within three months, three quarters of my income had completely evaporated. However, unlike my peers, I had a lifetime’s worth of experience of starting again or starting over. Having a knack for discovering routes to money, I found a fund seeking to help social enterprises like Advantages of Age move their work online. I filled in a short application and, within three months, it provided us with a grant enabling the creation of the eLearning programme Startup School for Seniors. Mark Elliott joined me, we’d met a year earlier at a dinner party where we were the oldest attendees and bonded over our interest in supporting older people with the skills to set up their businesses.

Over three months, we worked day and night, creating videos about ideation, customer discovery, branding and marketing, and the legal aspects of running a business. I interviewed lots of people over 50 who had set up both large and small enterprises for themselves. Paul, a recently retired policeman turned video editor, offered to help edit the content and flung himself into the project, not quite anticipating the enormous amount of material we would be producing in a short time! Determined to make the course as accessible as possible – we captioned and transcribed everything we created – which contributed to the vast workload. In hindsight, it was a monumental task.

The first course launched in October 2020 with over 50 students, and by the end of the eight weeks, we knew we were onto something special as the glowing testimonials from our first guinea pigs flooded in. We both broke down in tears from exhaustion and pride at what we had achieved during the cohort’s final session.

We are now on our eighth and most significant size group of Startup School for Seniors, having won funding from multiple local authorities and grants from trusts and foundations who now recognize the need to support older people into self-employment. Recently we were shortlisted for a People’s Choice Award from Work for Tomorrow and the West London Business Awards. We’ve had inquiries from people in the U.S., Italy, and Norway who want to attend the programme or work with us. I’m most proud that we now have two part-time staff, one a former Startup School student and another who is a member of the Advantages of Age Facebook group. We’re our own best advertisement for the programme, having only got going roughly at the same time as we delivered our first programme. We’re keen to stress to anyone who comes on the course; we’re learning as we go along.

Entering ‘teaching’ in later life may not have been many benefits when looking after my children, who flew the nest five years ago, but it has its upsides. Last winter, due to the course being remote, I was able to escape to a warmer climate and carry on delivering the course from Las Palmas, Gran Canaries. It’s a joy watching my peers learn how to become financially self-sufficient doing something they enjoy. Like all the best jobs, it rarely feels like work, as Mark and I get so much from meeting and working with people for whom we can make a genuine difference to their lives.

If you have an idea, you’d like to turn into a business, or too many ideas with no clue which one to choose or an existing business that isn’t making enough money, come and join an upcoming cohort. We run the programme throughout the year and have sponsored places available for people who fit our funder’s criteria. You’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain!

We run courses throughout the year. Sign up here to find out more:

 

https://startupschoolforseniors.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing To Live Apart – how does that shimmy down as we get older


9 Minute Read

We were old when we met. Asanga – Pete, Albert variously – was almost 70 and I was almost 60. And we lived five hours apart by car. Holy non-matrimony, that’s quite a trip. From West London to North Wales. And now I’m nearly 70 and he’s nearly 80 – we’re still doing it. And relishing the difference.

Honestly, it was a nightmare to step into this relationship. At least for me. I can’t speak for Asanga but I’d been on my own for 17 years (apart from various mad, bad and dangerous carry-ons with unavailable men – from the drunken difficult psychotherapist to the charismatic alcoholic /would-be property developer, more likely to be found eating the carpet, let’s call them the classics) whereas he’d been married for 30 years. He was more used to a solid relationship.

Asanga found it difficult to comprehend my anxiety levels. Oh – they were so there. Especially when my family were around. For a woman who never wanted to be married (and still doesn’t) and lived her life amid squats, hippies and punks plus has never really been employed; I turned incredibly conformist when it came to this relationship. I was constantly anticipating disaster of an erotic or embarrassing kind. And to give him his disaster credentials, Asanga did live up to my expectations. I won’t go into all the details. But there was the time that he managed to use the bidet – no one actually used it, it was a throwback from 1970s new housing aspirations – and break it in my mother’s Yorkshire abode. I was beyond mortified.

And I absolutely hated that he didn’t know, understand or seem particularly interested in my vivid personal history or vast web of friends – my lumbering baggage. And equally, I abhorred having to get to know him. There was so much of it – on both sides. I’d always wanted to connect to someone who understood my roots and all their little rootlings. That was a part of that woodland, my particular wood.

However – thank heavens – I did love being transported to heavenly North Wales. I’d drive (and still do) my mother’s golden Fabia down his track and wonder at this little piece of earthly paradise full of oak and ash nestled behind Pentrefelin. I still do. Something happens to me as I arrive – a dropping down. Well – it does now. In previous years, we’d have a fight as soon as I got there. To bridge the gap and then we’d have to find a route through. We practised a lot of vulnerability-revealing in those days. It was hard work but good practice, ultimately. We discovered alleys through conflict.

There is so much to negotiate when you live together and yet apart. And there is so much richness too. I love being alone and with someone. It suits my psyche especially now I’m 69. I don’t want to be with another person all the time. But I relish the web. There is such freedom here for me. And for Asanga. We can have the best of both worlds. Well, we can now that we’ve been doing it for so long.

Phew, we are now familiar with the long bags that we drag behind us. Although we are always learning new aspects of each other, misunderstanding and trying to find understanding. Take this week. Here is a small example. Asanga is called Asanga because it’s Sanskrit for aloneness and the spiritual healer, Osho or Bhagwan gave it to him. Sannyasins are not big on boundaries because they are so great at being without boundaries which can be wildly exciting and it can make life feel very unsafe for people like me who are insecure. This is a minuscule example. A FB friend of his, an older woman, also an older sannyasin, responded to Asanga’s climbing post by commenting ‘Great Shape’. It was a comment about his body, his physical shape, she liked it. To me, that was going over a boundary. She knows he’s in a relationship and she decided to not care. I wasn’t majorly upset, just a little putout.

Asanga and I have had a lot of tooing and froing about this kind of issue. Examples more serious than this one but all along a similar line-crossing. Either by him or other women. I’ve often felt that because he’s not insecure in this way, I am being too much. This time – and we have done a lot of personal work on it – I messaged Asanga and wondered if he would act around it. In the past, he would have been, defensive and then claim it was absolutely fine. This time, he understood. He messaged her privately in a good way, then she took down the comment. O the simplicity and calm that I yearn for.

For me, that was a huge action even though it wasn’t. That action made me feel so seen. My love for him instantly deepened.

And we’re still driving 240 miles to see each other. There is no regularity about it. Sometimes it’s every two weeks, often we meet in other places – I love being on neutral terrain with him so that we can relinquish our territorial attachments, especially me, I’m forever clearing his belongings into the study, mind you, I do live in a small flat – like Ilkley in Yorkshire, Bristol – although next, I am going up to North Wales for a month. And he will stay here in July for a week because we’ve got two weekend festivals to go to – Silver Sky Festival, then Womad.

I enjoy the feeling of organic endeavour between us and that it’s not regular but is dependable. We trust each other. We’re in contact every day, mainly messages on WhatsApp and photos of what we’re up to. That’s the safety of the web that I feel holding me/us. We don’t talk much, maybe once a week. But since our energy wanes in the evening, one of us might cancel. Often me. I just don’t feel like talking on the phone when I’m at home alone. Or anywhere else for that matter. And I love that it’s okay.

I appreciate that he’s having a good time in N Wales as I am in London. We’re interdependent rather than dependent. It’s taken me a long time to get to this place. And of course, we’re lucky that we’ve both got homes that we own, and are financially stable independently. Neither of us spends much money. Asanga is frugal, my mother was frugal. And – as long we have occasional splurges on travel and a delicious meal out – I’m content to be careful in this way. Money and how we as humans spend it, and what we feel comfortable about spending is such a hugely fascinating topic.

And we are both getting older. We’re aware of it – we’re talking about death and dying. Although not especially at the moment, it’s spring! The question came up not so long ago – what will we do if one of us can’t drive anymore? The answer is that we’ll adapt. If Asanga became unable to drive, I’d be the one who did all the driving, or perhaps I’d move up there for longer periods.

It’s good to be prepared and talk but you can’t be prepared for everything. Going with the flow is one of those hippie things that we can both do. As a family, we the Rouses, learnt when my mother first got Alzheimer’s – she died in 2018 – that it’s important to be organic in terms of finding solutions. My mum moved in and out of different stages – at first, she could be at home with a little extra help and occasional companions to take her out – then it came the time for her to have more care and she moved into a residential home where there was a daycare centre. The daycare centre was so good – mum was ready there and waiting every day, she loved playing games and being sociable. It reminded her of her cruising days. We kept on the paid companions to take her out and about when we weren’t there. Neither I nor my sister lived near Ilkley. Eventually, she moved to a nursing home nearer to us. It was an ever-changing scenario where we tried as hard as we could to fulfil her needs as well as see her as much as we could.

Although I hope our experience in our older years is different to that of my mother’s (in terms of getting Alzheimer’s plus she didn’t have many friends), I know one aspect will be the same. We will be organic around what happens to each other. Fortunately, Asanga has a daughter who lives with him – her boyfriend comes to stay – and that is also a boon for me, because I know he has company and support in maintaining his large four-bedroom farmhouse and 14 acres of land. There have been times in the past when I’ve thought that he’s crazy to keep it on, but he’s almost 79 and he’s still doing it! And it’s gorgeous so why not? He’s happy in his wildland. I’m also very happy about his wildland when I’m there.

I also have a son – who’s 35 – and he lives in London with his partner. We’re very close. I’m not a grandmother yet, but I might be one day, and if I am, I’d like to be relatively nearby. Another reason that Living Apart Together suits me.

I also have to confess that I’m a sucker for anticipation and the ritual of preparation. I’m already thinking about what to take to Wales when I go very soon. I’ll be working there this time – I did that in lockdown too – and Asanga has cleared out his office (formerly a dumping ground for every discarded item) for me. I am touched.

What will the future bring? We’ve really no idea. But I have confidence that we’ll roll with it.

If you would like to read more of my work, it’s here –
http://www.roserouse.co.uk

Funky Morrissing in London – meet Syd Pochin


4 Minute Read

‘The one thing that gets me is, you just get six guys and a musician, and you’ve got a show. It all comes together ‘

Syd Pochin and I are having a pint in a Battersea pub where House music is playing in the background. It doesn’t seem as far away from the sound world of Cornish Billy or The Worcester Hornpipe as you might think.

‘When I’m dancing, I’m thinking this is tradition, this goes way back to a bygone age when there were no electronics. And no boxed sets on the couch.’ Whereupon Syd deftly traces the Rabelasian history of Morris Dancing as the resident musician of the Westminster Chapter. The stipendiary gig, he tells me, goes back to Henry VII bringing in an artisanal take on things to lively up the Galliards and Lavoltas in the court cloister. A bit later, Will Kemp was doing Morris moves instantly recognisable to country people all the way from London to Norwich.

Dance was a bush telegraph of allusion and social mobility like folk song tweaked visually and musically cross-country and quite possibly across continents. ’This is how we do it’ as youngers chant at Raves. If you’ve ever shaken a leg at a wedding reception or a corporate do, or indeed ventured out with a bit of A of A–style Flamboyance, it seems we’ve actually being Morrissing without noticing it. Syd got me wondering, as the house soundtrack ran on, about Ceroc, Capoeira and The Four Tops among other things.

These days Westminster Morris is itself the host of a Day of Dance in Trafalgar Square and radial hostelries in W1 which this year falls on May 12th. For reasons best known to itself, Westminster Council has just given them the morning, around noon, thus far. Although the Morris tradition is maintained and respected in the new world of dance diversity – Bhangra, Lindyhop, you name it – by the likes of Cecil Sharpe House for instance, the repository of many of the tunes in Syd’s cheery repertoire – you hopefully will be lucky enough to come across him on one of TFL’s busking pitches up West as I was recently.

Syd’s fascination with Morris began when he left the Wirral for a ten-year stint in Systems Consultancy with KPMG in Hong Kong. ‘I got involved with the Round Table and we used to put on an Ox Roast every year – we came across the Honk Kong Morris, about 15 guys from Ove Arup and other Anglo- Chinese outfits.’  One wonders how the present administration in Hong Kong would respond – given the Chinese urban habit of Tai-Chi in the morning.

Morris, as a team game, appears the soul of joshing democracy.  The ‘corners 1 and 6, 2 and 5 dance together, corners and middles rotate as does the leader, then the middles 3 and 4. Then everyone dances together’. Tempo is moderated democratically over a swift half.  Westminsters’ bush telegraph moderates to the Cotswolds’, while across the country, according to your locality, you might find ‘swords’ (actually used, Syd explains, to brush down pit ponies while the miners danced in lieu of showering facilities), handkerchiefs (fluttering Moorishly to waft away evil spirits) or clogs (factory girls square bashing to the looms’ groove to keep warm). Even, in Syd’s Liverpool days Pom-Poms, where female troupes with melting-pot influences from Tiller Girling to The Nolans and Cheerleading – practised enthusiastically under the handed-down Morrissian aegis. These days, Open Morris welcomes women and all the colours of the terpsichorean rainbow.

Syd’s first encounter with the musical kinship of Morrissing harks back to the Scouseward pub residency of The Spinners, whom you might remember as beacons of Scouse diversity on night-time TV in the seventies – you had to arrive early to get a seat. He has in turn gravitated to a Wednesday night residency at the Brewhouse in Islington, near Highbury Tube, which hosts all manner of guests and where taking the floor is a distinct possibility post-hot-desking or mid-prandial. Taking things a step further, Syd says newcomers are very welcome to give Morrissing a go when the Westminster team practices on Wednesday nights at St John’s Hall, Hyde Park Crescent, Tyburnia – not far from the wonderfully communitarian Funky Nuns of that ilk in fact. Your school day memory of folk dancing might be a tad stiff and curricular, but happens upon Syd busking, and his colleagues shaking a leg as the weather warms and I challenge you not to feel a spring in your step. I do. And find yourself warmly encouraged – nay instinctively emboldened to join the dance.

More information at www.westminstermorris.org

The Westminster Morris Men on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY6ns2hnyfM-iHjXVz2QmWA

www.islingtonfolkclub.co.uk   at The Brewhouse on 21st April then every Thursday from May

Andy’s radio conversation with Syd is at

https://www.mixcloud.com/andy-bungay/saturday-4th-april-ft-syd-pochin-westminster-morris/

Shedding the Old Skin – My journey into a new, exciting stage of life


1 Minute Read

After my mother’s death, I started reviewing what I had done with my life and what I wanted to do with the time I had left.

For the last ten years, I’d put a lot of energy into working with a charity called A Band of Brothers (ABOB), doing rites-of-passage weekends for young men involved in the Criminal Justice System in order to help them move on from adolescent behaviour to healthy masculinity. It was powerful and rewarding mentoring work around life transition. A group of us would go to the woods on a Thursday to prepare the physical and emotional ground for fifteen or so young men to arrive on Friday. Most of the young men went home on Sunday evening with the hope of a new beginning in their lives and a willingness to be mentored into a healthy community. I loved the challenge of the work, the processes we used, and the camaraderie of building community together.  I made deep connections and considered myself fortunate to have my ABOB family.  

But then there was a problem.  At the age of 70, I was finding the long days and nights camping in the woods with a demanding schedule that sometimes didn’t finish until after midnight too much. Of course, I didn’t want to admit it. I tried to keep up with my brothers’, who I generally considered my contemporaries, but they were often thirty years younger! I was struggling and even the younger men were knackered at the end of a weekend. What I could do when I was sixty-five was no longer possible. I would sometimes take on the ‘elder’ role, but the physicality proved too much for me.  I felt like I was failing myself, my colleagues and the young men. I felt shame at being too old to full participate, though I was never going to publicly admit it.

I would still turn up for meetings, but I started to feel critical about the work and I would long for the event to end. The feeling of connection and joy that I had felt for many years had gone, and I felt huge grief at the thought of losing my tribe. I had spent nearly ten years of my life contributing to the organisation, and now I felt alone and past it. Like many people who have to retire from the work they love, I felt like this was the beginning of a slow decline to the end of my life. These were dark times for me. The joy of life had gone but it was in this darkness that a new seed started to germinate.

What did growing old mean to me? I could no longer pretend to be middle-aged. I realised how unaccepting I was of ageing and how unprepared I was for this stage of life. Why was I surprised to be this old? I thought of my friends and me, and how we engaged in distractions to avoid the reality of our existence. News, celebrity gossip, sport, box sets – anything but the truth of our existence. The idea of fully accepting my age was a challenging one, but I started to explore how I could shed my old skin and move forward into a new stage of life.

As luck would have it, I was offered a place on a brilliant course in supporting people at the end of their lives. Through being alongside people who worked with the dying, I started to come to terms with my mortality. I was able to let go of some of the old attachments and this gave me a new lease of life and a surge of creative energy that I hadn’t felt for decades.  

In 2018, I wrote and rehearsed a show called The Seven Ages of the Dance of Life and Death with a community of actors, dancers and musicians. We did fourteen public performancesand the show attracted an appreciative audience. This was a creative and joyous time of my life and I forged some new and deep connections. I had let go of the past and moved into a new and empowered stage of life.

As I had been involved in helping young men transition from adolescence to healthy adulthood, I started to wonder if there wasn’t a need for a rites-of-passage in later life in which participants could let go of their old beliefs and identities that no longer served them. I read books by psychologists and by the pioneers in the conscious ageing movement. I researched some of the anthropologists on ritesofpassage and found that within many indigenous tribes, the process of marking key stages in life was seen as absolutely necessary for communal well-being.

I felt certain that myself (and possibly others could benefit) from a deeper exploration of the stages of life and our role in the community, so I completed a facilitation training course with The Institute of Noetics Sciences. After that, I was fortunate enough to meet a wise, elder woman who was already working in the field of conscious ageing. Together we devised and marketed our first workshops, which were well attended. We found that in each group, there was so much that connected each of us even though the participants came from diverse backgrounds. The future looked really exciting until February 2020 when the fear of a new virus took hold.

In isolation, I spent the next few months writing and sorting through my ideas so that in November, I was able to publish The Power of Ageing.  It sold around a hundred copies, but more importantly, it brought together a small group of like-minded people who felt passionately about the subject matter. We started a monthly discussion forum from which the Life-Stage Project was formed. Having lost my tribe a few years back, I finally felt reconnected again.

As we emerge from the pandemic, Life-Stage is offering regular workshops, an online course and a free monthly forum. We continue to explore how to empower ourselves in later life and now, we are taking the work into Retirement Villages and are hoping to spread the word further so that instead of us fearing ageing and death, we can become fully alive with wisdom, courage and a love of life.

Attachments and Letting Go workshop 30 April 10.00-3.00 in Glynde, Lewes, Sussex. Find out more about the Life-Stage Project at  www.life-stage.org.  

Navigating Loss Around My Health


1 Minute Read

I’ve been mulling over how to tackle this piece for some time now. Procrastination has been easy and finding excuses not to start writing has afforded me some distance from the intensity of feelings that I was experiencing when the notion of writing first appeared in my thoughts.

And then, one evening, at a small gathering of friends over supper, I was entertained/enthralled/appalled (in equal measure) to hear the views espoused by one of the guests (a new acquaintance) who talked at length and with great enthusiasm, about his very real intention to have his head cryogenically preserved immediately after his death, to upload the contents of his brain to some future supercomputer or AI system.

When I asked him ‘why?’ he couldn’t believe that everyone wouldn’t want to live forever in this way – if they could. (This currently costs £100K, so not exactly accessible to all!) He was also hugely animated and excited at the prospect of advances in medicine that would prevent ageing, rid the world of chronic disease and prolong the human lifespan by many decades.

I found myself wanting to mention minor details like the climate change emergency and looming nuclear war but that felt a bit churlish so I just listened. in that space, I found myself wondering why we humans can’t seem to help ourselves becoming attached to just about anything and everything. The idea of loss, leaving, giving something up or surrendering is often an anathema to us and yet, in so many philosophies and faith traditions, the ability to do just that, let go and simply be, is the key to bliss, to heaven on earth, to enlightenment.

My personal journey with loss is a constantly evolving one and I have come to regard loss as part of the ebb and flow of life; a process that bestows as much as it takes. This insight doesn’t make it any less painful but somehow easier to live with. I have learned that there can be layers of loss – from the catastrophic and life-changing, through the intensely personal landscape of relationships and love, to the shared sense of loss of control that (for me) came with the global pandemic.

My own experience of life-changing loss came with me being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease at 51 after months of increasingly failing health. I was shocked at how quickly my body could go from being strong and resilient (able to run marathons, take on endurance races, scuba dive, look after a family and hold down a high octane career) to hardly being able to get out of bed each day and struggling to walk down the road. There was a strong sense of relief when the diagnosis (vasculitis) was eventually made and I finally had a recognised label rather than a troublesome set of symptoms. Surprisingly (to me), being acutely ill was the easy part. I have a background in nursing and I know how the system works, what good medical care is capable of achieving and that advances in science usually mean that what is tricky to treat now may well be mainstream within a decade.

And so it was. I adopted a project management approach to making myself as well as I could be whilst getting to grips with living with a long-term condition. I negotiated a change of work, moving into a part-time role facilitating the development of an education strategy and coaching the teams that would deliver it – pretty much all of it doable from my bedroom office via WebEx (this was pre-pandemic, pre-zoom).

I spent the next ten years surfing the waves of being well and on top of things, dealing with the impact the condition was having on myself and my family and friends (they too had to learn the new normal, they had lost the old Nadia, the woman with never-ending energy and they had to get to know the new, slower, tamed version) and coping with bouts of severe relapse caused by minor infections.

I was hospitalised with sepsis three times and each time I focused on what had worked before: rest, diet, building mental resilience, some work, some exercise and being with my family. After the third episode of sepsis (I nearly died this time) I decided to take the early retirement option that came with my NHS pension and I started to do some occasional teaching with my local university on the nursing degree programme.

I used myself as a living case study to illustrate the journey of someone with a long-term condition. I hadn’t anticipated how much I would learn from this experience and, at the same time, how painful it would be to regularly revisit my recent past and relive the feelings of loss that accompanied the changes in my life. I often found that I came away from one of my lectures exhausted, pulse racing, heart-thumping, needing to find a quiet place to decompress and let the sense of panic inside me recede enough for me to be able to drive home. I suspected that I may have PTSD and I decided to stop working altogether. It was such a huge relief.

When the pandemic hit, I had already spent several months in wind-down mode – dog walking, baking, gardening and visiting my family and grandson as often as possible. I loved this new way of being. I felt relaxed and able to breathe. My health was (relatively) good, and I felt fit, certainly fit enough to take on lockdown. And then I found myself waking in the middle of the night with an overwhelming sense of impending doom and loss of control.

It didn’t matter how well I looked after myself, if I caught this virus I would at best lose my kidneys (vasculitis having caused chronic kidney disease) and at worst not survive at all. The sense of loss was immense and engulfed me (it makes me tearful to remember it). Suddenly the things I had taken for granted were no longer certain, medicine and science were struggling to deal with the unknown, we couldn’t go to see our family and simple pleasures like sharing a meal with friends or going to the cinema simply ceased to be.

I had to find an anchor, something to help me recalibrate and gain some much-needed perspective. This came in the form of sea swimming and practising gratitude. The sea swimming was easy, a no brainer for me. It gave me the chance to be outdoors in nature with one close friend and to simply be. In that being, my mind started to be still and a space opened up in which I could see things to be grateful for – and there were many. I didn’t beat myself up for having felt such a sense of loss, I acknowledged it and was grateful to be able to feel it and still be safe, housed, warm and well-fed and not be suffering financially.

I realised how lucky I was, I am, I have been and how much harder life is for so many people. This isn’t to say that if you’re fortunate you somehow give up the right to feel the pain of loss. It isn’t a competition. Each of us will experience the impact of loss during our lives, whatever our circumstances. I believe that our ability to navigate loss is not necessarily dictated by those circumstances. It is more to do with learning to surrender and, in doing so, becoming aware of some innate wisdom that is hidden in plain sight – the wisdom of the annual cycle of nature; the dying down and wintering in order to rebuild and rebirth in spring and grow in summer through to harvest; the wisdom of your body, especially your gut – when it is telling you to stop. Even if you just stop for a bit it makes a difference. I became aware of the wisdom in rediscovering old joys and discovering new ones – who knew that there is so much to see on a walk to the shops or a busy commute.

My most recent relapse has taken me down some deep holes and involved another layer of loss because it coincided with a family trauma. I have done my best to hone my navigational skills and to learn some new ones. I have found myself drawn to and interested in the power of prayer and incantation, I have gained huge comfort from practising the universal loving-kindness meditation and I have surrendered to the process of a new treatment regime and the possibility of needing a kidney transplant in the not too distant future. I have learned that I will never really know what ‘living with covid’ is actually supposed to mean for someone like me.

Each layer of loss has bought with it a new gain, and so it goes. I tend my garden, I write, I walk much more than I run and I am still swimming.

The link to the Universal Loving Kindness meditation

https://www.mindful.org/this-loving-kindness-meditation-is-a-radical-act-of-love/

 

How I Finally Made Music In The Countryside


6 Minute Read

I didn’t notice how fast my pace of life was until I jumped off the ‘hamster wheel’ and swapped the hustle and bustle of city life for the gentler flow of life in the country.

Having worked in Manchester city centre from the age of 18, and with regular client visits to London, the relentless pace of city life seemed ‘normal’ to me. I certainly never considered any alternative way of living. Many years later, however, having now retired from business and fully immersed myself in country life, I’m amazed at how different my outlook is; and how fulfilling rural life has proven to be.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, the seeds of change had been planted many years earlier, way before I actively decided to make a change. This is how it all came about…

I spent ten years as an insurance broker in my 20s. I would play keyboards in bands and write and record songs in my spare time. It got to the stage where I found myself having meetings with record companies to make a deal. I would give them demo cassette tapes of my songs, but the ‘big deal’ was ever-elusive. Then, out of the blue, I discovered that a major record label (one of the ones I had given a demo tape to) had ripped off the catchy part of my song and used it as the basis for that year’s UK entry to the Eurovision Song Contest!

This revelation led to a crazy few days of TV and radio attention, during which I did over 20 interviews, putting forward my side of the story. As shocked as I was at this turn of events, it nonetheless led to the realisation that, while I had enjoyed my time in insurance, I now wanted to move away from that line of work and follow my passion for music.

I knew that the music industry was very fickle, but my desire to step into the unknown was strong. Anticipating that it might take me a few years to build up an income through composing jingles or writing film soundtracks, I decided to teach myself how to build websites to earn some money while I waited for the music to take off. The internet was in its infancy, and I liked the freedom of being able to work from any location.

As the web design work got busier, the music took a back seat. I took on some employees, and, over time, the business grew into a digital marketing agency. After joining forces with another entrepreneur, he and I embraced some exciting business opportunities, which led to us establishing a sizeable team across several countries. The excitement of building the business meant that, at first, I didn’t mind putting my music on hold. I vastly underestimated, however, just how long my music would be on hold! The pace of change in the digital marketing world grew ever faster and, whilst the business was profitable, I started to feel as if I was on a ‘hamster wheel’, running faster every year but without moving forward. I was used to overcoming business challenges as they arose, but when two major business complications and a divorce (mine!) all came along at the same time, the time felt ripe for me to make a radical change. I realised I no longer wanted to spend my energy on business. Instead, I wanted to return to my passion for music. As before, when I left the insurance industry, I didn’t know exactly what aspect of music I wanted to focus on or how I might make a living from it. What I did know, though, was that I would have to free up my time if I were to find the answers.

The first step was to change my mindset. I ‘retired’ from business and wound down my digital marketing responsibilities. The next step was to move somewhere quiet, with a low cost of living, so that I could relax and give rein to my creativity. I wanted to explore new ideas without feeling pressure to return to business.

A few years earlier, I had bought a derelict thatched cottage on impulse (which is another story…!). This proved to be the ideal place to start my new adventure. I set about learning everything I could about renovating old buildings, and I began the mammoth job of converting the house and barn into a habitable home. The physical labour involved in renovating the cottage was hard, but it was also incredibly energising. It proved to be the perfect antidote to the business world.

Attending music events in the surrounding area, I met many locals and quickly made new friends. This led to many opportunities to explore my creativity whilst also contributing to the community. I learnt to sing; I recorded and produced music albums; I volunteered at schools and charities for the disabled community and organised community music events. I realised, through these activities, that helping others learn to play the piano was where my main passion lay. I spent time developing a new method of learning piano designed to remove the barriers presented by traditional methods.  My method removes the need to read traditional notation to play, which facilitates incredibly rapid progress. I named my piano tuition method ‘DecPlay’, and was awarded a patent.

I’m very fortunate to have high-speed internet at the cottage, which has greatly helped develop my piano tuition method into an online course (DecPlay.com). This course is specifically designed to make learning piano easy in later life. This is the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. I’m especially gratified when I receive feedback from students telling me how DecPlay has changed their lives. It’s heartening to encounter people who, having struggled to learn piano for years, find they can now start playing songs within days and to see people aged 50 and over (even into their 80s and 90s) play for the first time.

I’m convinced that the headspace I was able to find in the countryside was pivotal in developing my creative ideas into a finished product, and the community groups I joined locally inspired me to extend the course to include online community events (using Zoom and Facebook). Combining the course with online community events has proved highly effective, with DecPlay achieving the highest rating on TrustPilot of any piano course (96% of students gave us the maximum 5 stars); and has also been featured on the BBC.

It’s funny to reflect that I’ve been able to impact a greater number of people since coming to the countryside than I ever did when I lived and worked in the city – as evidenced by the DecPlay.com course currently having over 3,000 students in 73 countries!

When I go to the city, I have a spring in my step as I’m not rushing to an office – I’m going to the theatre!

What I Learnt About My Gut


1 Minute Read

I have had a lifetime of learning about my gut, in particular my bowels, and I know that I am not alone!  I am quite sure many of you reading this will have had debilitating and hard to understand issues with your gut at some point in your lives. Like me, you have probably tried all kinds of supplements, nutrition adjustments and food restrictions to help your gut work in a comfortable and effective way. Like me, you may have become frustrated with how little impact all this has had and not know what to try next. Maybe like me, you have discovered that talking about mental health and bowels in the same breath is a good way of ending a conversation.

It was only when I realised that my gut was illustrating and responding to my emotional status, both current and historical, that I began to have some understanding of what was going on. It was only when I began to understand that in Eastern traditions the lower belly is considered the centre of emotional and spiritual growth, that I began to see the potential there and to feel the emotions there.  It was only when I studied the anatomy and physiology of the gut that I developed awe and wonder for its incredible beauty and complexity.  And it was only when I read some of the recent research into the gut microbiome and the enteric nervous system (aka the second brain) that I began to understand how the different tissues in the gut were able to hold onto difficult experiences in the past that impacted our gut function from that moment onwards, that this all started to fit together into one huge puzzle.

If I tell you that every moment of every day your gut is responding to how safe you feel, that every moment it is remembering times when you did not feel safe and sometimes this all gets mixed up together into a tangled experience that is hard to fathom. Does that resonate with you?

My gut has memories of a traumatic childhood and then a near-death experience later in life (I was scuba diving in cold water and started breathing in seawater) which left me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or as I like to call it now Post Traumatic Gut. Many nights were spent waking with palpitations, nausea, dizziness, cramps, diarrhoea, then days feeling depleted and sore and only just functioning. I was feeling isolated and helpless often and not knowing where to turn for help.

Our bowels and our mental health are intimately connected, one reflecting the other all the time. As a child not able nor allowed to talk about how I felt whilst witnessing the emotional explosions of others, my gut was often constipated and its enteric nervous system moved beyond fight and flight and into freeze as I dissociated from the people and the world around me. As a teenager with anxiety and depression, I remained emotionally stuck. Later in life, and after my accident, I began to do my emotional work and my gut came on that journey with me. I am still travelling, but I know I am not alone.

As a CranioSacral Therapist, I was also seeing many people with mysterious chronic gut issues in my practice. I decided to take action. After a long period of research and trying out strategies and bodywork techniques for myself and clients, I wrote a new curriculum for the Upledger Institute, ‘CranioSacral Therapy and Listening to the Enteric Nervous System’ which I now teach internationally to support other practitioners help the people coming to them. I also wrote my book, published by Upledger Productions in the USA and UK, It’s All In The Gut which is for anyone interested in emotional stress and the gut. This is written through my personal story in an effort to make it engaging and relevant but also contains much of the recent research, the anatomy and physiology and, of course, strategies and meditations to help anyone reading with a gut issue.

Alongside this, I have a YouTube Channel Colon to Cosmos, which has some visualisations and meditations to support people on their journey of exploration with their gut.

So what can you do? The fundamental way to help yourself is to do your emotional work, through CranioSacral Therapy, talking therapy or any therapeutic practice that works for you. Emotional stress is the number one thing that has a negative impact on our microbiome and our enteric nervous system and all the layers and cell populations in the small and large intestines. This includes stress from the past as well as the present. It doesn’t matter how many avocados you eat, it will make little difference if you do not address these fundamental issues.

Alongside this work, you can support your gut health by being active, especially outside in nature. Your gut bacteria love being taken for a walk, just 30 minutes a day will help them. Learn to breathe. Eat a clean diet (avoid processed anything or anything with a list of ingredients as much as possible!) and drink plenty of water. Make time to do anything that makes you happy whether that is singing, yoga, knitting, cooking, gardening or anything at all that you love.

All of this will support your gut health and your vagal tone which is also important for healthy and happy gut function. We have so much more power to help ourselves than we may think.

So is my gut health perfect now? No more than my mental health. I am still anxious often and my bowels can be fast and uncomfortable. I also have periods of calm and normal function. The difference is that I now listen to the message my gut is sending me and do my best to deal with the emotional issue if I can or at least recognise it, as well as doing the things that help. For me these are yoga, weight training, walking by the river, talking to friends and so on. Like I said, I am still travelling.

If you would like to learn more about how this all works and how you can help yourself, you can buy my book It’s All In The Gut here:

www.nikkikenward.store

And ask any questions, I would love to hear from you.

 

 

A Street Market in Spain – Viva Los Llanos!


1 Minute Read

I’ve always liked Los Llanos. It’s a Saturday street market just outside the town of Albox in Almeria, Spain. In the top section you can find fruit, veg, bed linen, second-hand clothes, old furniture, silver jewellery, plants, homemade jam and rescue puppies. Down the steps, there’s a sizeable rastro (flea market) with old tools, antiques, musical instruments and a Moroccan shop with a cornucopia of goods. In my early days living in Spain, I’d sometimes come with 20€ and mostly leave with a good, if unexpected haul – I once got a top-quality djembe drum for 5€.

One of the best things about the market is the diversity of the stallholders – a mixture of Spanish, Moroccan, Romanian, Ecuadorian, African, English, Gitano and moreSuch variety is rare in this part of Spain, and it almost feels like my native southeast London. There’s even a bookstall playing loud roots reggae. I love reggae, but you hardly ever hear it in this area.

So when I found out that Lynda, an English woman from my village, had a bric a brac stall at Los Llanos, I decided to ask if I could share it with her for a few weeks in the run-up to Christmas. I wanted to shift some old clothes and other things that were cluttering up my house. I was delighted when she agreed.

I started on Saturday 4 December. Ahead of a move back to the UK, Lynda was selling her stuff for just 1 or 2 euros, so I did the same. On my first day I sold an electric brasero* for 3€ and a lamp for 2€. It didn’t seem much, but I decided to spend my takings. They went a long way – I got pair of crystal earrings, a vintage shift dress and a pansy for the garden. I was chuffed. It felt like an alternative reality where 5€ is a decent sum of money.

The second week I did better. Electrical goods seemed popular so I took some mini speakers, as well as the remains of a job lot of linen cushion covers a friend had given me. Both were snapped up immediately, swiftly followed by a vintage juicer and some clothes. I took 25€ and found a much-needed pair of tongs for my wood burning stove (1.50€) and a useful credit card holder (€2). I needed a second-hand axe and the Moroccan shop said they had one at home (unfortunately they never found it).

Often, when you’re shopping for something, you just can’t find it. But Los Llanos was proving this theory wrong because it kept offering up exactly what was needed. In Week 2, this was demonstrated in an extraordinary way.

A woman picked up one of Lynda’s craft books. She wandered off with it. When she came back to pay, she said she’d been looking for the book for years after giving it away in the 80s. She’d searched everywhere, even contacting the publisher, but it had gone out of print. Her husband turned the front cover. ‘Look,’ he exclaimed, ‘she wrote her name inside. It’s actually hers!’ It was the woman’s own copy – last seen somewhere in the north of England and surfacing some 40 years later in an Andalusian street market.

Weirdly, she didn’t seem too surprised. She paid up and wandered off, leaving us nonplussed. ‘Do you think she says that every time she buys something, in the hope she’ll get it for free?’ Lynda asked.

Rhythms of the market

Being there every week, I noticed how the stallholders changed. There were regulars like Lynda, and there were others who came and went. The stall next to ours had different people all the time. One week there was a Spanish lady selling exquisite handmade children’s clothes, the next week a young African man with a job lot of small leather jackets for 5€ each. My favourite temporary stall was in the rastro section: a selection of beautiful old instruments: violins, trumpets, cellos and flutes. I wondered what stories lay behind them.

Lynda

After a few weeks on the market, Lynda and I were getting to know each other better. Although I knew she did markets, I hadn’t realised how serious she was about her stall, for which she made an interesting collection of dolls, cushions and other crafts, and sourced an eclectic selection of clothes, craft books, antiques and jewellery. She treated it like a job, tapping into what people want with skill and generosity. I found out how practical she is, too. Not only is she a keen crafter and a skilled cook, she’d singlehandedly re-roofed a portion of her Spanish house with a friend’s unwanted tiles. ‘I just looked at how the others were laid in an interlocking pattern and copied it,’ she said. It took four days and 148 tiles and the roof never leaked again.

It was only when I knew her better that I noticed how she quietly sipped tea at lunchtimes, not wine like the other retired expats. She was returning to the UK to find more mental stimulation – something I crave, too. People always said there were bound to be people like me in the area, but I’d never expected them to be hiding in plain sight right under my nose!

Week 3

I rocked up late after a disturbed night and knew I wouldn’t sell anything. I decided to gather information instead. The first stop was Dean the bookseller, who I’d been plucking up the courage to approach. I bought a couple of books to smooth the way and said: ‘I like your music.’ He looked indifferent, but I persisted. ‘Do you know any local venues that play reggae?’ He still wasn’t forthcoming. It was only when I said I’d done some DJ-ing in London that his ears pricked up and he remembered that he and his partner had visited a new reggae café by the coast the previous weekend. A new reggae café by the coast?! The market had given me what I wanted again! We chatted a bit more and he started playing one of my YouTube roots reggae playlists*. As I walked away I wondered if the Lubrin Dub Club would become my legacy at the Los Llanos market.

After Christmas

Lynda’s return to the UK was delayed, so after Christmas she was back at Los Llanos again. It poured with rain the first weekend, so she didn’t go, but the market had become a habit for me and I went anyway. The place was half empty and the woman behind our favourite veg stall had time to chat. She told me that all her products were organic, grown on her farm. I bought a big bunch of spinach, eight oranges, two kilos of carrots, some bananas, two onions, three peppers, a garlic and four tomatoes for just 7.80€ and was surprised by an unusual desire to cook. Then I had a quick look round before leaving and there, in the middle of a stall of second-hand tools, sat the full-size axe I’d been seeking since Week 1. It was priced at 18€, but the stallholder said I could have it for 14€ – which was lucky as all I had left was 15€ in small change.

As for Lynda, she did one more market. I went along to see her and she gave me the last in a long line of freebies – a handmade elephant cushion to remember her by. I got her something, too, a pair of silver earrings from the jewellery stall. I presented them to her over lunch the next week. She was thrilled – and promptly reciprocated with offers of her butane gas heater, a shopping trolley and a pressure cooker! I had to smile. Los Llanos – the market that gives you everything you want, and a few things you didn’t know you wanted, too!

* Electric version of the large metal tray of burning coals traditionally placed under Spanish tables covered with a long tablecloth, to warm up the people sitting round the table.

* The Lubrin Dub Club is a series of World Reggae playlists that I’ve compiled on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzfw2_S2TRll28rWuEhvoH8tZpBCh_XPR

Photo of Mercadillo Rastillo Internacional Los Llanos de Arboleas c/o Facebook.

Show me more
Surprise Me

Hear more from us

Subscribe to our newsletter