Miss W’s blog: Winter rituals – Learning

Another classic winter ritual we have in Ibiza is to really maximise our downtime and learn something new. Or maybe brush up on something we’d kind of forgotten how to do over the years. Or go deeper into an existing passion. Anyway, you get my drift – we use our valuable winter months to learn stuff.

What kind of stuff? Well that all depends on the person in question. Given Ibiza’s fascinating melting pot of wide and varied personalities who reside here (think cosmopolitan-meets-bohemian-meets-jetset-meets-yummy-mummy-meets-gypsy-meets-rock-star-meets-artist-meets-fairy-meets-yogi and STILL you wouldn’t quite get it), it stands to reason that anything and everything you could want to learn is on offer, and then some.

Music lessons, art classes, make-your-own organic skincare workshops, Reiki for animals, Reiki for humans, massage courses, yoga teacher training retreats, mandala painting days, kite-making workshops, guides to growing your own veggie patch, colour therapy, alkaline cookery, Thai cooking, meditation, creative writing groups, iPhone photography courses, social media lessons, vision board days, braiding workshops, calligraphy, karate, tai-chi, kick boxing, swimming, puppy training, vocal workshops, acting classes, graphic design courses, landscape gardening techniques, carpentry classes painting, drawing, sculpting, dancing, horse riding, sailing… you name it, you can learn it (or quite possibly teach it) here in Ibiza!

If you’re anything like me, learning about our beautiful island is a never-ending passion. I feel like I learn something new every day. But the actual history of the island is something I can’t say I’m overly knowledgeable about – sure, I can reference something Phoenician, quote a Roman timeline date or throw around myths about Es Vedra but it’s always vague knowledge I once read in a book or magazine that still floats around in my headspace. So I am MOST EXCITED to be able to dive deep into Ibiza’s history this week thanks to a new event called Ibiza Insights – a series of informal weekly English language talks covering Ibiza’s history and culture. Ibiza Insights founder, journalist Maya Boyd says the group plans to cover the years between 654BC and now this winter, with guest speakers including revered authors and historians including Emily Kaufmann and Martin Davies.

Thankfully, there’ll be no pop quizzes if you don’t fancy being a geek and taking notes! And (one of the best bits!) you can drink wine and eat ham while you’re learning as it takes place in the iconic Bar Costa in Santa Gertrudis –beats a freezing cold classroom any day!

In addition to learning more about my adoptive home’s history, the winter is also about getting back into Spanish lessons. I have studied this beautiful language for many many years now and I’m sad to say, I still pretty much only use it in taxis and in restaurants (or holidays in other Spanish speaking countries). I always blame the fact that my friends speak English, my boyfriend is English, my office team use English as a first language unless required otherwise, and the big one: I spend all day, every day writing words, sentences, paragraphs, blogs, articles and reviews IN ENGLISH. But I know, I know. I could try harder. And so each winter, back to the books, videos, podcasts and private lessons I go.

Along with many, many other expat residents of the island – I’m certainly not the only one. There are so many places and ways to learn Spanish, you just have to find the one that best suits your learning skills and persevere. For me (unsurprisingly), it’s studying books and writing out verb formations repeatedly, followed by mucho alcohol to actually get me to speak. But you can also find government sponsored free classes and private schools throughout most of the main towns and villages of the island. Private tutors are aplenty if you prefer to learn in your own casa and there are free conversation exchange groups if you’re willing to help Spanish speakers practice their English. The winter is such a glorious, sun-drenched time of year, a two-week intensive Spanish course would make a great excuse for a holiday if you needed any more excuse to be tempted. Just think of all the amazing places you could take lessons – by the sea, in the country, in the old town, with a beer and some tapas to help you get into the swing of things…

Other things to learn on my list this winter are:

Cooking – OK, so I can already cook, in fact I love to cook, but I want to learn more about the magical ways of Indonesian and Thai cooking so I can make curries and noodles from scratch and forget about store-bought pastes forever.

Yoga – I’ve been practicing yoga fairly regularly for a while now (you may be interested to read about it here) and while I can’t get my legs straight, balance in crow pose or do a headstand yet, I’d still like to learn more about the philosophy behind it all. Cue a long reading list on my iPad.

Macrame – You know, the awesome ‘70s style knot-based knitting that is making a comeback? I want to deck my house in macramé hangings, but have you seen the cost of them from Urban Outfitters? Surely it’s got to be cheaper (and more fun!) to do it myself.

How to repot plants – The truth is, I do not really like to get my hands dirty (as in literally, with gross dirt from a plant). But the fact is, I have about 25 succulent plants on my rooftop who are all screaming to go up a pot size. So I’m ready to watch all the youtube tutorials in the world and spend a Saturday in the sun (before it gets too hot again) doing it. Complete with pink Marigolds and icy cold beer of course.

The way I see it, come summer, I’ll be balancing on one leg, cooking an exotic meal on my rooftop barbeque in one hand, knotting my latest macramé masterpiece in the other, surrounded by thriving green plants while speaking fluently in Spanish to my cats! So tell me… what do you have plans to learn this winter?