Were Cervantes and Shakespeare the same person? 


The 22nd April 2016 marked the 400th year anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, the greatest writer in Spanish Language and author of El Quijote. Isn’t it amazing Shakespeare died 11 days later (May 3rd) on the same year?! Spooky.
I have heard in the past great theories about them actually being the same person. However a more likely theory which I read in a magazine by the British Spanish Society (also celebrating its 100 anniversary this year) is that Shakespeare co-wrote at least two plays with John Fletcher who was a Hispanophile. Fletcher would have known about Cervantes’ writing, and it is through this connection that Shakespeare’s writing may have been influenced by the Spanish writer. Even 400 years ago the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory must have worked! Download your Cervantes and Shakespeare bookmarks to celebrate their great genius.

To celebrate the amazing legacy Cervantes has left us, we have collated some ideas you can do with the children to introduce them to the amazing adventures of El Quijote.

If you want them to learn about Cervantes, we have found a slightly robotic video which explains his biography simply. It is a bit odd but cute.


El Quijote

We have started reading a children’s version at home and our son is loving it, our daughter not so much. I have had to stop and explain some bits as they don’t have the vocabulary for some of the concepts that come up. But we are doing well, it is a great exercise to see what is missing and great exposure to vocabulary we don’t use regularly at home. If you want to get your own version for kids in Spanish your best bet is to go to amazon.es, there is also a kindle version in Spanish in amazon uk which is quite cool since the chapters are written in comic format. The one we are reading at home is published by Susaeta and is a good balance of writing and pictures for our 5 and 7 year olds; if you are not sure what to buy you can look at what guiadelniño.com recommends and to get started today, go to this great site which has Poems in Spanish for all sorts of famous characters and situations. Here is a link to the poems about El Quijote and its wonderful people.


Of course the other option for the culture factor is to get the children to read it themselves in English, Usborne has published a young readers version of it.


The Processions- My grandmother celebrates her religion, I celebrate her. We both celebrate our culture 

I wanted to share something that has touched me during the Easter holidays!

After years of choosing to travel elsewhere for Easter, this year we have decided to go back home, and I had truly forgotten how amazing Easter in Spain can be!! I was talking to some English friends recently who were saying they were quite squeamish about blood, scary images and bodies. However I guess in Spain we grow up being used to looking at quite explicit images and statues of Christ on and off the cross, full of blood and in agony. The Virgins are often also visibly broken hearted and pleading. It is all quite dramatic. And in Easter these statues come out for a walk in processions of men and women who cover their faces with cones on their heads- los capuchinos. The cones are there to help them be closer to heaven but they do look kind of eery when you first see them.



This is the first year our children have seen the Easter processions and can talk about them. They were completely amazed. They got confused about there being more than one Christ and more than one Mary and they kept there mouths open in complete surprise at the rows and rows of different coloured capuchinos depending on what church they belong to.
Thankfully aside from one or two people walking without shoes despite the cold one thing has changed since I was little: I do remember the penitents walking at the end of the row wearing chains, kneeling all the way around town so their knees bled or whipping their backs as they walked to repent for their sins. I think this is still common in some places in Spain but I am glad for my children’s sake that in Galicia there is no need for drastic measures any more.
I loved watching the processions, the whole town is out and peacefully either taking part and walking to the beat or watching at the sides. Some figures are dramatic some of them are beautiful; flowers, lights and silence.
But amongst all, what my family loved seeing most is that my gorgeous, glamurous and amazing grandmother who is 84 was at the lead of the group of women who accompanied the Virgin of Dolores around our town. She looked stunning and this year I got to see how all the women get ready, the dedication they have to their church and to tradition and religion.
How proud they are of themselves and their town, and how much it means to them to be out and celebrating their Virgin.
My grandmother has worked to create first a school, then an independent living centre and now a third age residence for people with cognitive disabilities. Her life has been truly out of a film and she has created a beautiful space for people who at the time would have been hidden from society and fought stereotypes to make sure they were included.
And now at 84 she will walk a 1000 miles and she would walk 1000 more just to be the one who walks 1000 miles to celebrate her town, her virgin and her beliefs. Ole!

Las fallas


Las Fallas es una fiesta que se celebran en la ciudad de Valencia y alrededores, de gran carácter nacional y turístico que tiene lugar siempre entre el 15 y el 19 de marzo.

Antes de comenzar a hablar de los principales actos que se dan durante el mes de marzo creo que debo poner nombre y forma a las figuras más importantes que engloban las fallas.

No hay Fallas sin comisiones falleras, ni sus falleros y ni el monumento fallero. No hay barrio que no tenga su comisión fallera o comisiones, todo depende de lo grande que sea el barrio y lo falleros que sean. Los falleros y falleras son quienes forma parte de estas comisiones y los encargados de reunir durante un año el dinero suficiente para montar su monumento fallero.

Durante estos días la ciudad de Valencia se llena de actos, falleros, no falleros y turistas tanto nacionales como internacionales. Entre los actos destacan aquellos que son fijos año tras año, como por ejemplo:

– La Cridà: este acto se celebra el último domingo de febrero y en él la Fallera Mayor de la ciudad convoca en las Torres de Serrano a todas las comisiones falleras e invita a todos los valencianos y visitantes a formar parte de este festejo.

– La Mascletà: desde el 1 de marzo hasta el 19 del mismo mes, todos los días a las 14:00 horas en la plaza del Ayuntamiento tiene lugar la mascletà. Es un evento pirotécnico donde se junta ruido, humo, color y olor. Mucha gente no ve nada interesante este acontecimiento pero los que hemos nacido en la tierra del cohete y nos hemos criado con esa explosión pirotécnica este acto es para nosotros mucho más que ver, es además sentir, oler y oír. Nuestros cuatro sentidos están al 100%. ¿Mi recomendació? Si vas a Valencia a Fallas asiste al menos a una mascletà y deja que tus sentidos de la vista, del oído y del olfato hagan el resto. Cierra los ojos e interioriza cada cohete que estalla.

– La exposición del Ninot: cerca de 800 ninots son expuestos durante varias semanas en este museo con la esperanza de ser indultados y librarse de la Cremà. Cada falla elige el ninot o muñeco más preciado para dicha exposición, la tarde del 14 de marzo se recogen los muñecos infantiles y el 15 de marzo se recogen los ninots adultos.

– La Plantà: durante el 14 y 15 de marzo tiene lugar la Plantà que consiste en erigir las fallas. Durante meses por no decir un año los artistas falleros se encierran en sus talleres para dar forma a la falla. Hasta que no llegan estos dos días la temática de la falla es un secreto guardado bajo llave, solo los miembros de la falla saben por donde van a air los tiros de su falla. El día 16 es cuando el jurado visita cada falla y les otorga una puntuación. Dicha puntuación es muy importante pues la falla que gane el premio ademas de llevarse una compensación económica sube de caché.

– La noche de la Cremà: este acto de cierre de las fiestas. Durante la noche del 19 de marzo, concretamente a las 00:00 horas, se procede a la quema de las fallas grandes. Las fallas infantiles se han quemado antes., y a las 00:30 horas se quema la falla ganadora. Es un acto lleno de emociones pues además de significar el fin de las fiestas, significa el fin de un año lleno de actos, reuniones, ilusiones, nervios, etc.





….Thermo que?

GF-DF-Blackberyy-Coconut-4 A few weeks back, over the half term the whole family went to Iberica Canary wharf for a Sunday lunch treat! As always the food was fabulous and the kids loved it! specially since Natalia from Ole kids was at the mezzanine entertaining the small ones, while the adults enjoyed a bit of spanish “tertulia” like back home.

It was at the Olekids play area at the mezzanine that I met Ankita (onegirlandherthermie). Ankita is the London Thermomix Advisor (Demonstrator) and Team Leader, we had a wonderful chat about family and work and how difficult it sometimes is to balance both! And it was really interesting to talk to her about the thermomix, which is a very common feature of Spanish kitchens!

As many Spanish families  we got our thermomix as a present, my mum thought that it would help us in the kitchen when my first daughter was born. The idea was that the less time you spend cooking and washing, the more time you will spend with the baby, and I have to say that it worked!! Since then, six years ago the thermonix has become our saviour in many occasions!


On the way back home I told my husband about Ankita and how nice it was to meet her. I have to admit that in my house the kitchen is my husbands’ domain, and the thermomix as he would say is his tool box. So I felt a bit guilty that he was really disappointed I hadn’t asked for any special recipes from the thermomix “queen” as he put it!

It is funny how the most bizarre things can make people connect and feel closer to each other, every time we go into someone’s kitchen my husband will check if they have a thermomix! A bit geeky I know! I guess he is searching for a sign of camaraderie. If he sees one he will smile and point at it, quite contented, like he has found one of his own.

I am not going to go into the details about what this kitchen robot can do or can’t do, but if you are intrigued or interested ask Ankita, Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 22.45.21she is the thermomix “queen” of London!

For the thermomix scepticals and those who aren’t convinced about this robot yet…well maybe the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Tom Aitkens or Rene Redzepi among others, using it to prepare their award winning dishes might change their minds.

Have a look at this: “spot the thermomix in a famous restaurant ” youtube video playlist Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 23.09.10


Olekids and Iberica at Iberica Canary Warf Every Saturday /Sunday from 1 to 4 pm.

Children can play and learn with our amazing teachers while you eat the gorgeous tapas.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 22.49.11


Conscious parenting

There is so much about meditation and mindfulness written everywhere at the moment but what is it all about and are we becoming more aware?

Over the years I have tried all sorts to quieten my mind and learn about myself. When I was younger for a while it was music and pints that really helped and even now a glass of wine with friends or a good film will quieten my constant chatter!
However since wine in the long run doesn’t work that way I have also tried different yoga classes, pilates, swimming, exercise in general is great for me but I have discovered I can even do that in a mindful way or finish 30 lengths and realise I wasn’t really ‘present’ while I was doing them.
As well as exercise I have tried meditation classes. Some I really enjoyed and some I didn’t get at all. But I do know I cannot sit for an hour a day flying of to a land of stillness. It just doesn’t work for me and I don’t understand how it helps me.
So one conclusion I have come to is that as most things in life you learn best when you find the right teacher for you. In my case what works in Tracey Ash-Ingley’s approach to meditation.
It is about connecting with yourself and something bigger than that. About being aware and in the moment. About listening to my body and attaching new and more positive tags to what I am feeling. Connecting with an image of my amazing self that I can bring into here and now so I can work towards becoming that.
It is simple, quick, clean and VERY VERY light and I can use what I learn immediately in my daily life in London, it fits in with the schedule and makes the schedule run better.
I have so much to learn and I can’t wait to keep learning but I notice daily changes in me; in how I deal with what happens around me, and more importantly how I deal with myself and my family.
I am not sure how much children have access to this kind of learning in school and the activities they do. I am not sure how much of it I bring into our daily life. I make sure they have lots of time to use their imaginations and allowing them as much free play as possible I think is like allowing them to breathe air, just a necessity.
But I haven’t sat down with them to help them become more conscious, to be aware of themselves. To recognise when they need to take time out before it is too late and to know how to helps themselves do that.
Luckily Tracey is willing to get us started by running a couple of workshops at the Violet Hill Studios on the 7th of March and the 18th of April. One session, lots of tips, a month to try them in and then the second session to bring it all together and get more tips.
I will accompany these workshop doing some work at the end around children feeling their own bodies, where they start and stop and thinking about positive touch as a way to connect with people and themselves.
I can’t wait to see how these workshops go and the learning for my children. I hope it will start us off on a new path for how they relate to themselves and how we all relate to each other.
When: 7th March and 18th April 4.30pm to 5.30 pm
Where: Violet Hill Studios, 6 Violet Hill, London NW8 9EB
Price: £10 per person per worksop
Who: info@traceyash.com or Lola 07734900221
tongue twister

No se decil la “ele”

My son said the other day:  ‘Mira mama un dog’. I asked why he had jumped into English to say dog and he answered: ‘no se decil pelo’. It isn’t that he can’t say ‘hair’ it’s just that he can’t roll his ‘r’ yet to say ‘perro’. Since then he has often reminded us he can’t say the ‘r’ and hopes one day when he is older he will be able to.

But sometimes children do need a little help. Those of you who are not native Spanish speakers will be glad to know that even Spanish children sometimes need to go to a speech therapist to get those ‘rs’ going. They do not always come naturally.

So I have looked into it a little and it seems that until a child is older than 5 there is nothing to worry about, it is still possible the r will come on its own. After 5 for native Spanish speaking children it is best to seek professional help. Most children get the rrrrr in a few sessions, some need a bit more intensive work and a minority will not be able to say it, just like any other lisp.

If you are worried about your child not being able to make certain sounds in Spanish you can book an appointment with lovely Ana who is a speech therapist and find out what the best way forward is.


In the mean time  this page has some great tongue exercises that are easy to follow


And here is a youtube video with a simple but effective idea

Autora del video: Eugenia Romero, maestra de Audición y Lenguaje 

Let us know what you think!

St Valentines

St Valentine’s tapas @ Iberica Canary Wharf

So we are ready for a weekend of fun and games with lots of hearts, reds, pinks, greens to celebrate St Valentine’s. Come along saturday and sunday 1 to 4 pm to Iberica Canary Wharf and while you eat your children can make all the cards and presents you need. Perfect day out!
Remember to book with Iberica



Our favourite books for the Spring term

Here are our most precious recent finds:

‘BUSCAR’ from our favourite new children’s author Olga de Dios. This is her second book and it is beautiful with  her fun and quirky illustrations. Her first book ‘Monstruo Rosa’ by the way is becoming big in China! These friendly monsters are taking over the world with their cute, basic and very important messages.

buscar   monstruo china

El monstruo de los colores – another monster with a great message. Schools don’t really teach our children about emotions explicitly. Yes they provide a ground for practising emotions but how much do they actually talk about them? Here is a book that makes emotions clear and simple for all. Love it love it.



Cocorico – My children have been loving this story. All the teachings from the red hen, little red riding hood and the three little pigs all in one simple book about a little chick. The cat says ‘marramiau’ great for practising rolling those ‘r’.