From November 4 to 6 2017, a group of writers and bloggers from around Spain gathered for WABAS2017 in Vélez-Blanco. For two days they enjoyed presentations and each other’s company at the group’s sixth annual retreat. Previous retreats have been held in Valencia, Malaga, Granada, Antequera and Valladolid.
WABAS (Writers And Bloggers About Spain) began life as a small but proactive Facebook Group. Its members all had one thing in common – they all produced written content about Spain in one form or another. Since that date, the scope of the Group has expanded and now included people that are based in Spain but may not perhaps write about it. However, the focus remains the same – to actively support each other, providing a trusted and honest place where we can help each other in business and personally. I have been a proud member of WABAS for four years now and have made some amazing friends and business contacts, many of whom I have met offline too.
The retreats began in 2013 and consist of some classroom time with various members contributing workshops and presentations, amply packaged in between some serious social time! This year was to be no exception, with the gathering kicking off on the Friday evening with drinks and tapas at a couple of the town’s hostelries.
Alan and I had volunteered to host this year’s retreat in Vélez-Blanco, the gorgeous little mountaintop town that we call home.
For me personally, it was the first time I’d attended a WABAS event (although Alan had been before), and I was extremely excited about meeting up with this people that had become close to my heart and so supportive during the last few years. After the success of this one, we have promised that either Alan, I, or both of us will be at every event in the future. Alcala de Henares (just outside Madrid) has been suggested as a potential location for WABAS2018.
We gathered in the Plenary room at the Town Hall at 9am the following morning, eager to get started.
In attendance at WABAS2017
Travel writer, freelance journalist, web designer and co-owner of SpainBuddy.com. Lives in Vélez-Blanco – Almeria.
Twitter: @elle_draper | @spainbuddy
www.elledraper.com | www.spainbuddy.com | gandy-draper.com
Founder of Valencia Property and writer. Lives in Valencia
Social media manager | Writer | VA
Lives in Salinas – Malaga
Shaheen Michelle Samavati
Ex-newspaper reporter, but still a journalist at heart. Co-founder and director of VeraContent, a multilingual copywriting agency and publisher of Naked Madrid and SpainGuru. Previously on the founding team of Spotahome. Lives in Madrid. Twitter Twitetr: @shaheensamavati | @veracontent | @nakedmadrid | @spaingurues – www.nakedmadrid.com | www.spainguru.es | www.veracontent.com
Gaile M Griffin Peers
Publisher (print /e-books /e-magazines), Graphic Designer, website builder, member of NUJ (writer/ editor), illustrator, photographer – owner U P Publications and Javea Grapevine. Lives in Jávea, Marina Alta, Alicante
Twitter @GaileGP | @UPPub | @JaveaGrapevine
www.gmgpspain.com | www.uppbooks.com | www.javeagrapevine.com
Songwriter, musician, confidence coach, English & Spanish teacher and writes a blog about travel and life in Spain and another based on positive psychology. Lives in Lucainena de las Torres, Almería
Instagram @jason_joseph_newton | Twitter @cortadoingles
www.jasonjosephnewton.com | www.awayfromthenoise.com | www.cortadoingles.wordpress.com
Writer, editor and proofreader. Owner of Sandra in Spain, a website about my life in Spain, my travels in the motor home and anything else I think of. I’m also promoting a locally made independent film, The Cucaracha Club, and have been lined up to appear in the sequel. Exciting times ahead! Lives in Algorfa on the Costa Blanca.
Blogger/writer at www.andaluciainland.es (currently on hiatus) based in Antequera, Malaga
Projects & Services Officer at the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (www.iasp.ws)
Blogger, EFL Teacher and Photographer
Lives in Guardamar del Segura, Alicante
Twitter: @rrruss_ @sinpaella @learnrtenglish
Copy and content strategist; Management 3.0 consultant
Deputy Mayor and Councillor for Culture.
WABAS2017 Speakers / Presenters
(Photos to follow for Gaile Griffin-Peers and Alicia Shelley)
Images ©Alan Gandy and Russ Pearce
A whole range of topics was discussed – everything from “Be more Dog” to “Productivity Apps and Hacks” plus “The Attention Economy” and “The Power of the Network.” We had presentations and we had group interaction. Unfortunately (due to technical breakdowns and a lunch taking way longer than we expected) a couple of members were unable to present – our heartfelt thanks got to Diana Berryman and Alicia Shelley who kindly volunteered to save their slots for another time. We listened, we talked, we laughed, we debated. Oh and we swatted lots of flies too!
What was really apparent was the wide range of skills across the Group. Although Spain writing and blogging was originally at our core, it was great to hear about everything else that people are involved in too! there are some amazing people within the Group and I for one got a huge motivational boost from spending time with them.
Not all classroom time
A vital part of all the WABAS retreats is the social time, and was with great relish that we call gathered for food and drinks at every opportunity. We also enjoyed a tour of the town (courtesy of Dietmar), taking in the castle, the Moorish quarter, the Water Museum and other areas of interest. This took place on the Sunday, and afterwards a few staunch remainers (and yes, I do mean it in “that” sense of the word too) met up for lunch and a few more drinkies.
To say that I was exhausted after it all is an understatement. After recent illness, I am no longer the “Elle than can bolt ten glasses of wine and a dozen shots of sambuca,” but it was good to see that one or two were able to lift the mantle on my behalf.
We are lucky enough to live in a very pretty area – so several of the attendees had their cameras out. Here is a selection of images taken throughout the weekend. Click the thumbnails to view larger.
Dave Townsend – Spanish Dream Property
Graham Hunt – Valencia Property
Russ Pearce – Anything But Paella
Sandra Piddock – Sandra in Spain
The response after the event has been beyond excellent, with people saying how fired up and motivated they are, and how much they are looking forward to the next event.
— and finally!
In addition to those mentioned above, we would like to thank the following Vélez-Blanco individuals and businesses for looking after us all so well!
- Catalina Casanova – Councillor for Employment (for her support)
- The Town Hall team (for the provision of the Plenary Room)
- Hotel Velad (for the accommodation and “that” view)
- Bar la Sociedad (for the great food and drink)
- Bar el Rinconcillo (for the super tapas and drinks)
- Loli’s Bar (for the obligatory mid-morning coffees)
- Bar Alfonso (for the fabulous lunches)
- The entire town of Vélez-Blanco (for putting up with us all!)
Further reading for WABAS2017
This list will be updated as others add theirs.