Archive for February, 2009

I am no marketing guru. In fact I am about as good at it as my cat Aphrodite is at making chocolate brownies. It’s a horrible mess, I get bored half way through, and I have absolutely no idea why I’m sitting in front of my computer slogging away at something indeterminably boring that I don’t understand.

I have lost parts of my life trying to do this, and fail repeatedly.

There are many people in my network who, when asked for help, send me incomprehensible replies. They mean well dear GOD they try their best to get through to me … but again, it’s like trying to teach Aphrodite long division – it just isn’t going to happen.

So, when someone says something in simple language, does it in small sound bytes that I can get my head round, I get to feel clever – and that makes me pay more attention, absorb what they are saying, put it into practice and Holy Cow – I GET SOMEWHERE.

Andy Lopata is one such person. I can’t call him a real world friend yet – we know each other through several networking sites where he is active, professional, supportive and believes in the concept of “Paying it Forward” – I rate him hugely as a networker – he hates the “I want the biggest network on the planet but don’t give a stuff about the person” networkers (we all know LOTS of those), and instead gives of himself, his wisdom, his experience in a way designed to genuinely help you.

10/10 already by my reckoning.

But I started to adore Andy when I came across one of his many video clips about networking and the purpose of it – he said the simplest thing, but it has stayed with me ever since … he said :

“Don’t sell TO your network, sell THROUGH your network” …..

How blindingly obvious is that once someone takes the time to put it like that?

I thanked him for a brilliant, networking habit changing insight.

No longer did I have to think about how I could encourage him to come and stay at my Luxury Bed and Breakfast in Spain and how to ensure that he would always return – Instead it was a “Bird Poo moment” (don’t ask) … that as he got to know me better, got to like me (I hope), and began to trust that I did “what it said on the tin” , he may then tell his friends about me (“You have to go and stay at this FAB Guest House, the owner’s a total but brilliant nutter who talks about Bird Poo moments…”), or perhaps he would tell me about his friends (“Please contact XX – he mentioned the other day that he’s looking for a holiday in Rural Spain and Casa La Celada would be perfect – here’s his number/email – tell him I told you to call / write”) ….

He sent me the other day a recording on exactly this concept. I can’t tell you how tempting it was to glaze over and switch off – it was marketing and sales after all, and I’m a hamster and all that … But his tone of voice is lovely and, once again, it was as if he was sitting here at my kitchen table with coffee and homemade biscuits, calmly, patiently taking me by the hand and helping me understand what a referral is and what to do with them.

Everyone knows about the ones that are not worth the business card they’re written on, but Andy helps you to understand the ones that are worth their weight in gold ….

Andy’s website is http://www.lopata.co.uk – pay him a visit – he’s a genuine guy with a great message and will help you no matter what your business is. And if you’re having trouble growing your business and need meaningful referrals like those examples I gave above, then I absolutely 100% recommend you listen to his CD. It’s brilliant.

I highly recommend Andy’s CD to absolutely anyone who is trying to understand how to reach the people that their world / product / hotel / restaurant needs to speak to – it’s so accessible, like my paintings, that absolutely everyone can benefit from it – even if you need to listen to it several times and make lots of notes along the way …

And I’d like to publicly thank you Andy for helping open some of the darker and scarier doors in the world of networking and referrals … you’ve made mud clarify into Healing Spring Water …


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Thursdays, every week, at 5pm, sees the opening of a tiny little room with heavy, creaky iron doors, in a back street just wide enough for a car to pass through scraping it’s wing mirrors. The room is heaving – with old Repsol gas bottles, fridges that were extinct in the UK decades ago, cupboards that tilt to such a precarious extent that it looks as though they have been affected by the boxes of Montilla Moriles Sherry that teeter on top of their rickety tops.

Heaters are lit, warming the air inside the room while the doors remain resolutely open for the entire evening – and slowly, as slowly as their bandy legs and beslippered feet can bring them, arrive the “ancianos” – the old and wise of Iznájar, ready to croon to the children in ear shattering tuneless but heart wrenching Flamenco style. A guitar and a mandolin are strummed by two men who appear to have a mouth filled with teeth – an unusual sight in Spain – and the music starts to echo out from the tin roof. The children gather, castanets wound tightly round their middle fingers, streaming with multicoloured ribbons as they begin the simple steps that make up one of the most traditional Córdoban dances of the area.

The oldest man with the least teeth and the thickest glasses imaginable comes to a big plywood box behind my tiny chair and rummages. From the bowels of the box I spy an amplifier from the 1930’s from which he unwinds a microphone attached by a well chewed cord to the speaker. He is tone deaf and sings of matters that are important to him – “Can I find a log of wood to warm my fiiiiiiiieeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” …. I wince, hopefully inwardly only, at the strikingly painful notes he fails to hit.

But the children – they dance – arms raised high and castanets rhythmically chattering. a woman begins to carve out a rhythm using a rough hewn anis bottle and a tea spoon – the noise is deafening as she saws away with frantic dexterity. Another picks up a plank of ridged wood and begins to beat and rub it with a wooden spoon. The guitarists shout “Olé” at punctuating intervals – and we are transported into a world of Gypsy, Peasant song …..

It’s absolutely mouthwateringly Spanish – it makes your eyes water for a million different reasons – and it is Quintessentially Spain.

And I promise – if you come and stay at our Guest House or are in the area and would like to see it for yourself, I’d be delighted to take you along ….

It’s a MUST.

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The Wagon is Loved and Wanted once again!

My darling 13 year old motorhome that sleeps five people in blissful comfort is back on the road after a year’s holiday … and is up to being rented out for a bargain price – that’s my intention anyway!

And today, we have our first confirmed rental clients – three people taking her for a jolly over May bank holiday!

I’m charging very little really as I’d far rather she was used and loved than sat without being used – so we’re asking 400€ for the first week then 250€ for each subsequent week’s holiday. Bonds are obviously taken against any damage etc and deposits to secure the booking …..

If you’d like to see what she looks like or find out more, check this link : Lovely Motorhome for Hire in Andalucia ….

Meantime, come and make use of her!

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Today has been pure bliss. My faded, ripped and generally bursting at the seams ancient blue jeans now have streaks of was it cerulean blue oils or prussian blue … I have no idea – as an artist I have NEVER learned how to tell blue bottle blue from the Blues ….

But I do know a great opportunity, and the lovely Matty Bradley who lives and paints out here overlooking Lake Iznájar, holds painting days once a month for the locals while offering painting courses for people who are visiting our luxury bed and breakfast here in Andalucia … and we had a FANTASTIC day.

We all took food to share, visions of the “Better than Picasso” painting we were going to create, and enjoyed the blissful February sun kissing our faces awake after one of the rainiest winters anyone can remember here.

The flowers are coming out, and so was my courage to play with oils – something I have never done before.

I used a scruffy piece of paper and started to simply play – and I am proud to say that the abstract shapes I have created are just so absolutely brilliant that it is definitely going to be mounted and framed and hung on the wall in my Andalucia Guest House – where most of our paintings are either for sale or copies of them are for sale.

Matty’s house is a complete inspiration. It perfectly blends colour, texture, light and practicality with an almost “I threw this one together – it’s nothing special” nonchalance that she exudes. The woman should be paid to decorate people’s houses – her ability is absolutely legendary out here. And as for her paintings MY GOD! I wish I had the talent her little finger nail holds for creating beauty, haunting light, beaches with moonlight dappling the surface, and making Iznájar look like the only place you ever want to visit in your life.

I couldn’t recommend the day, the people, the food or the ambience and support more highly … COME AND PAINT is all I can say – you will never ever regret it …

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Hoy escribo en Español, porque ví que hay bastante gente utilisando Google para conocer este lugar y para buscar alojamientos alrededor de aqui.

Lo mío, Casa La Celada, es un “bed and breakfast de luxo” – o “Alojamiento de luxo” entre Rute y Iznájar.

Hablo Español mejor de como lo escribo – perdoneme si no se puede entender esta página – y corigeme por favor!

Nuestro alojamiento en Rute ofrezca :

Habitaciones con camas individuales
Habitaciones de luxo con camas matrimonias y cuartos de baños con jacuzzi
Aceso a todo la casa durante el día faltando la cocina que cierre despues de desayuna, convirtiendose a un sitio privado para mi familia que tambien viven aqui.

Tenemos una terraza con jacuzzi y 360 degrados de vista por la Sierra Subbética – es un lugar muy hermosa y muy tranquila.

Estamos circa de la cascada en La Hoz, 3km de Iznájar que es un pueblo muy bonito. Hay un montón de cosas para hacer – deportes, caballos, quads, belleza – pregunteme y contestaré con todo lo que hay!

Y mientras, si no puedes entender mi pagina de web, puedes contactarme aqui o a amanda[aroba]casa-la-celada.com.

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Málaga is a magical city – a lovely 34 minutes’ drive from our luxury bed and breakfast in cordoba. Taking the A-92 then A-45 straight down to the sea, parking is rarely difficult. We obviously keep directions here!

I strongly recommend a day in this fabulous city – the airport and surrounds is a poor representation of the beauty of Málaga old town and you can get to know its magic through the different cultural routes which are organised by Málaga’s tourism office. The list below gives a brief taster into the styles of routes you can take deep into the Malacitan history and art in depth.

Málaga’s Tourism Office : 952 122 020 : Plaza La Marina : will provide all maps required – but here follows a brief overview :

Botanical Málaga :

This route is heavenly, visiting different gardens which combine a variety of splendid botanical species. The main stopping point on this route is La Finca de la Concepcion – born from the union of several country estates from northern Málaga. You will find more than a thousand vegetable species here. The route takes around 2 hours and is called the Camino del Jardín Botánico.

Monumental Málaga :

This route takes you through the history of Málaga, from the Roman period to the present time – almost 3,000 years of history within this lovely city’s streets. The tour can take 2 hours without visits into museums and around monuments, or 4 hours if you want to explore the museums.

Romantic Málaga :

This route transports you to the bourgeois, noble Málaga between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. You can enjoy the city from one of the horse drawn carriages that are located at the park or around the cathedral grounds. Estimated carriage journey time : 45 minutes.

Religious Málaga :

This tour begins at the cathedral, then to the Victoria where you see the Patrona Basilica. You can also visit the San Lázaro hermitage and the Recate Chapel. As you arrive in the centre of the city, you will visit the temples of San Juan (Calle San Juan), Los Mártires (Plaza de Los Mártires), and Santiago (Calle Granada). The tour length without interior tours of the museums takes around 2 hours 45 minutes.

Traditional Málaga :

Savour the essence of Málaga in the 19th Century. Take a seat near Hans Christian Andersen in the Plaza de La Marina and follow in his steps to the Cenachero to the other side of the square or to the Museum of Popular Arts and Customs (http://www.museoartespopulares.com) in the Pasillo de Santa Isabel. Estimated tour length without interior tours 2 hours 30 minutes.

Picassan Málaga :

You will be able to discover the family and artistic environment that surrounded Peblo Ruiz Picasso in his early years as Málaga was his hometown. His Casa Natal (Birth Home) is located at Plaza de La Merced (http://www.fundacionpicasso.es). The Picasso Museum in Málaga is found at Calle San Agustín (http://www.museopicassomalaga.org). Estimated tour lengths without interior tours around 2 hours. Audio guides are also available through the majority of these routes.

I hope this helps!

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The Flamenco Shows listed here are all within one hour’s drive of our Luxury Bed and Breakfast in Andalucia, Casa La Celada with the exception of Seville which needs 2 to 2 and a half hours’ driving time.

Granada :

Jardines de Zoraya 20.00hrs & 22.00hrs EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK

Every Monday :

Málaga : Restaurante Vino Mio – 10pm start

Every Tuesday :

Málaga : Jornadas de estudios flamencos, Peña Juan Breva – 9pm start, Diquela, 9.30pm start

Every Wednesday :

Málaga : Cuardo Alcazaba, Flamenka – 9pm start

Sevilla : Bar Menué – 10pm start

Every Thursday :

Málaga : Tablao Diquela – 9pm start

Sevilla : Taberna El Callao – 10pm start, Peña El Puma – 9pm start

Every Friday :

Jerez : Makandé

Granada : Ra´s y Duende, Sala Vimaambi – 9pm and 10.30pm start

Málaga : Alumnos Escuela Mpal de Flamenco, Peña Juan Breva – 10pm start
Málaga : Concurso de la Federación de Málaga – Restaruante El Jardín – 9.30pm start

Álora : Peña El Castillo – 10.30pm start

Sevilla : Tertulias, Peña La Fragua – 9.00pm start
Sevilla : Tertulia Cantes al Aire – 10pm start
Sevilla : Tertulias, Peña Pies Plomo – 10pm start

Every Saturday :

Córdoba : Peña Campo de la Verdad – 1pm start

Granada : Sala Vimambi – 9pm and 10.30pm start

Málaga : Restaurante El Jardín – 9.30pm start
Málaga : Berza (first Saturday of the month) -Peña Juan Breva – 1pm start

Álora : Peña El Castillo – 10.30pm start

Sevilla : Sincopao – 11pm start
Sevilla : Peña Torres Macaerna – 9pm start

Hope this helps!

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