A Man For All Seasons



Eric Murray was a well known sailing teacher in Majorca who taught thousands of people how to handle motor and sailing boats over the years that he lived here in the Port Andratx area. He was a much loved and respected man, well known for his laid back and friendly attitude to everyone that he met. During the winter months you could often catch up with him having a coffee and watching the sunset with his St Bernard dog Remy by his side and at least one or two people having a chat. He was a great teacher, an adored husband, grand dad, and father, and he was my one and only Dad.

Eric was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, the only child of Margaret and James, in 1944. He met his first wife, Maureen, my mother, when he was 15, although he lied and told her he was 16. They nearly didn’t make it past the first date as he took her to the movies and embarrassed her by laughing very loudly throughout a Norman Wisdom film. She recalled recently that Eric decided that he wanted to join the RAF when he left school as he believed he would be able to take his German Shepherd dog, Lance with him into service, but when he went to the recruitment office to sign up it was closed. He eventually moved to London following her as she had been posted there by the civil service, and he joined the Metropolitan Police as a cadet. The first time was short-lived and he left. He worked briefly as a salesman for a business making vibrating armchairs, but as he didn’t make any sales, returned to the police.  Whilst a cadet he and his friend Rory were in Soho one night and rescued some “ladies of the night” from a burning building utilising a shop blind to help the women escape from an upper floor, winning themselves bravery medals for their actions. The details were never given to his mother Margaret due to the awkward questions that might have come about as to why he was in Soho in the first place…


Eventually he graduated and found his way to the Special Escort Group which was a motorcycle division of the Metropolitan Police. The SEG provided motorbike outriders to such official events as state visits, protection of the Royal family, escorting money to and from the Royal Mint, accompanying dangerous or at risk prisoners to and from court, and also giving public displays of their precision and skill in handling the heavy motorbikes. Eric spent many years as a Sergeant in the division, always saying that he didn’t want to rise up the ranks of the Police Force as it meant he would no longer be able ride on a daily basis. He got to know many members of the Royal family, his favourites at the time being Princess Diana who he had a genuine soft spot for, and Princess Margaret who he found to be hilarious. One of his colleagues recently remembered that Eric would insist on them all being perfectly turned out even when it was raining, and would not allow them to wear the regulation waterproofed trousers as he had deemed them unsuitable attire for important state occasions.

Off duty he didn’t let the grass grow under his feet and he was always busy doing or learning something new. I personally remember being very impressed with him learning how to cook excellent and authentic Indian food from an original book by Madhur Jaffrey in the 1980s back when Dads, and in fact, men, didn’t really do that sort of thing. When he turned 40 he decided to learn to speak French, ran the London Marathon, and a couple more as well, and bet a friend of his £100 that he could stop smoking. He won the bet and never smoked again. He was also an ardent supporter of Greenpeace and an advocate for the World Wildlife Fund, something which all of his children continue to share.  His deep connection to the sea also won him the affectionate nickname of “Grandad Seaside” given to him by his grandchildren.



Eric’s passions ran large, but one of the most enduring ones had to be the sea. Whether he was in it, under it or on it, there wasn’t a week where he wouldn’t in some way be interacting with it. Firstly he learnt to scuba dive, and along the way became the President of the London Branch of the British Sub Aqua Club. This meant many weekends at the English seaside and some entertaining and fun times with a large social circle, it also meant regular training sessions in a chilly swimming pool in North London to which he would take all three of his children to ensure that they were swimming to his standards. Any family holidays were by a sea in order for him to go diving and it was on one of these holidays in Malta that he rented a small sailing dinghy. He and I went out on it and he decided that the next thing to learn would be to sail properly. That was in 1979. He had had his first taste of sailing when he was 14, when he was selected by his school to attend the Outward Bound school at Gordonstoun in Scotland. I think this experience inspired him when he was older to support such initiatives as The Ocean Youth Club. But sailing in Scotland was a very different experience from the glistening and welcoming waters of the Mediterranean, and he instigated his plan to learn to sail as soon as he returned home to the family house in Bushey, Hertfordshire where we lived for many years.  A boat, a trimaran called Tryagen of Hamble, was purchased almost immediately and family holidays stopped being in the Med, and moved to the Purbeck coast where he kept his boat at Poole Yacht Club. He rapidly became the person who fellow sailors would ask for advice which he would dish out with kindness, patience and humour. But he didn’t only excel with sailboats, Eric also became a World Record Holder in Endurance motor yachts, sharing the title with the rest of the Brownridge Team for the fastest circumnavigation of the British Isles in a 28 foot rib in 63 hours and 32 minutes. They held the honour from 1993 to 2001, beating the Royal Navy’s previous record. Eric studied relentlessly to pass all of his Royal Yachting Association exams and eventually qualified as an instructor. This was to stand him in good stead when he retired from the police force in 1995. He set off on a long sailing journey with his son Campbell and some other crew, crossing the Atlantic and spending time in the Caribbean, this to be the first of several trips around the area.

In 1996 he separated from Maureen his first wife. After a brief stint as a private investigator and as a motorbike taxi for Virgin Airlines he came across a sailing school in Majorca called Solaris which needed an instructor and so he moved to the island, and didn’t look back. Eric soon became a fixture in the Port of Andratx and around the Club de Vela. First working for the previous owners of the school, and then several years ago buying it outright and running it as his own business. Typical of him he then set about learning to speak Spanish and reached a good level of competence. He loved Majorca and after meeting and marrying his second wife and soulmate, Trudi, he lived with her and her children in their house in the mountains very happily for many years.

Eric’s other passions were his cars, and he was an active member of the Classic Car Club here on the island enjoying touring around with Trudi, and occasionally picking his granddaughter Gigi up from school in one of them, much to the amazement of her school friends and teachers. Eric still loved to travel, going to many exciting and beautiful places, firstly with his family, and on his own, and latterly with Trudi who shared his passion discovering new experiences. He also continued to explore ideas which excited him, most recently starting to learn to fly a microlight plane and in the process making some headway to finally realising his dream of the RAF from many years ago. He was still planning to complete his pilot’s license when he was given a diagnosis of serious illness only recently.

Eric handled his death in the same manner that he lived his life, with style, courage and a sense of humour. He passed away on the evening of Sunday October 2nd with his “All Girl Team” around him: Trudi, his step daughter Georgia, and myself. He had been visited during the day by his ex wife Maureen, and by his close friend, Captain and colleague Dennis Evans who will continue to run Solaris Sailing School with the same standards and attention to detail that Eric had made it famous for. He also saw some of his children: Lewis, Campbell, Bradley (Bini) and Erica, Maxwell and Stephanie and their good friend Tom who he even high fived.

He wouldn’t want us to be sad at his death, he’d shrug his shoulders and say “That’s life”. Move on, don’t let it get you down and try your hardest to make the best out of everything. Even when the waves were crashing into the cockpit of the boat back in the days when my brothers and I would be sailing with our mother Maureen, he would yell “Super Sail” at the top of his voice whilst the rest of us were clinging to life jackets and ringing the coastguard.


My dad, Eric was an exceptional person in many ways, and inspired many people to follow their dreams: regardless of your age or circumstances there is always a way. He would always tell me “The harder you work the luckier you get”, I hope that even after his death he will still continue to inspire everyone to listen to their hearts, try hard and enjoy life to the fullest. He will certainly continue to inspire me.

I know from the huge amount of private messages that my family has been receiving how many, many friends and fans, ex students, fellow officers and buddies he had, and that he was universally respected and loved. Eric leaves three natural children (Victoria, Lewis, Campbell), four step children (Jackson, Georgia, Bradley, Maxwell), six children-in-law (Oliver, Rachel, Jodi, Fiona, Erica, Stephanie), six grandchildren (Chloe, Callum, Alfie, Georgina, Leith, Arwyn) and one more (Wilson) on the way.

Eric did not want to have a sad, traditional funeral and instead Trudi and the entire family plan to have a big party which will fall on his birthday next March 2017. Anyone who knew him is very welcome to attend to celebrate and share their stories about his life.

Pet Pioneer

Dogs, Vicki McLeod. Photographer. Mallorca,

I’m in a field with about twenty dogs, and my friend who is a dog walker and thankfully in charge of them. It’s a bit crazy, there are big dogs and little dogs and in between dogs. There’s pedigrees and mixtures, and licky dogs and barky dogs. They are very excited because I’m new to them, and they all want to say hello. I’m here because I want to take some photos of a pioneer, Christina Kastin. The pack of dogs all love her, when she sits down on the bench to pose for a photo they all obediently gaze at her, they love her and she clearly loves them back.

You may not of heard of Christina yet, but she’s about to do something quite special for dogs and their owners in Europe. Christina has been quietly championing the rights of dogs on the island since 2007 when she first decided to convince every single council in Majorca to make some green spaces accessible to dogs. From this nugget of a big idea has come a much, much bigger idea: this November she intends to fly dogs and their owners from Sweden, Germany, France and the UK to visit Majorca on dog friendly holidays, and not only that, she intends to have as many dogs as possible travelling in the cabins of the aircrafts with their owners. When she pulls it off it will make history, spark a debate about pet travel, and revolutionise the tourism industry. But let her tell you in her own words….

Christina Kastin, Photorgrapher, Mallorca. Vicki McLeod, Majorca

“My name is Christina Kastin and I’m the founder of Harmony Travels. I was born and raised in Gothenburg in Sweden. I have lived in Spain since 1989 and for the last 15 years I have lived in Majorca.  I was the owner and partner of several businesses. but in 2006 I came to a turning point in my life so I took six months off to find out what I really wanted to do and that’s how my mission and my business Harmony Travels came about.

“Just like many dog owners I love being by and in the sea and in natural environments, and walking in the woods. However in Majorca this is a problem as we only have a few green areas in the local community which we can “legally” access. So my “mission” started in 2007 to increase access for dogs to green areas in Majorca. Basically you were not allowed to take your dog anywhere and where you were allowed they would always have to be on the lead. They authorities had forbidden dogs to be in any green zones, but they did not want them on the street either, so where should they be? The laws are contradictory because on one hand they say we must take care of our animals, and not make them anti social, but on the other hand they are not allowed to be anywhere, so how will they then learn how to be sociable with other dogs and people? Dogs were not allowed on the beaches either, even though they love the sand and water and suffer during the intense summer heat as we do.

Vicki McLeod, Photographer, Mallorca, Majorca“I decided that I was not going to let “them” ignore us, dog owners, any more:  something needed to be done and I was going to do something about it. I decided I was going to see the local politicians. As I started writing down my ideas in preparation for meeting my local mayor of the time, Sr. Carlos Delgado, I realised that my idea would be perfect to promote the winter tourism season here. As I kept on writing my ideas were flowing and suddenly I had a whole project on my hands. I wanted to create a place where people could come and relax in and bring their dogs if they wished. I decided I wanted to promote an awareness so that tourists and their dogs could come to this island and enjoy it all and connect with us residents and our dogs in a perfect harmony. The end  result would be a better understanding between people and animals and respect for the land. I first presented my ideas on June 5th 2007, which I later found out was “Environmental Day”, a good omen I hoped!

“I wanted to make a difference to the island I live on: for me, for the residents and our pets, for the tourists that come here, and above all protect the land from being exploited.”

And so began several years of campaigning and meeting with local councils, promoting the idea and changing minds for the good of dogs and their owners here in Majorca. All of it unpaid work which Christina undertook with great enthusiasm.

“It hasn’t been easy but my motto is, if you want something, go for it and let nothing (or no one) stop you!  So here we are, nine years later: many, and more are due, municipalities have made great changes; dogs can now access several beach areas during the whole winter, we have five all year round areas for them to go and swim in and in Palma we have seven buses admitting dogs. There are also more dog parks and more positive changes on the way. So dear dog owners the future is looking bright!” You can find details of all of the accessible areas by visiting her website http://www.guide4dogs.com and clicking on VILLAGES.

Vicki McLeod, photographer, Mallorca, Majorca

But now dear reader, and I hope keen dog lover, Christina’s new big idea needs your backing and support. She is planning four separate trips from Germany, France, Sweden and the UK in late October and November all arriving in Majorca and staying in a pet friendly hotel and taking part in excursions and activities which will include dogs and people. She is looking for sponsors and for people who would like to take part in her first ever weeklong event. After so many years of working for the dog owners she’s hoping that now she will be able to find support from them.

” I now need their help. With all the work done so far I feel the time has come to promote our amazingly beautiful island as a dog friendly destination, during our winter season, which is not very wintery at all but more like a great, and mostly, sunny spring”.

Personally I can see many ways a business could get involved with this project as well as individuals with their pets as I can imagine there will be an enormous amount of press coverage from international media. Christina’s vision, passion and determination have so far resulted in many changes on the island, and this next step is a big one but certainly one that she can do. She’s already met with airlines, and secured a pet friendly hotel in the Arta area and developed a lovely weeklong itinerary for the holiday.


So let’s see if YOU are the one who can help me by answering the below questions:

  • Do you live in Sweden, France, Germany or England?
  • Is your dog calm and good with other dogs?
  • Do you want to travel, during November, to Majorca (in the cabin) with your dog (up to 30kg)?
  • Do you want to be make history?
  • Do you want to help to make changes for yourself and other pet owners?

If you answered “Yes” to the questions above you  might end up being one of the very first pet owners to fly with its pet in a chartered plane only for dog owners and their pets, the first one in the world! There are obviously a limited numbers of dogs and people on the plane so it will be a first come first served system, if you are interested and want to find out more information about this trip please send her an e-mail to: christina@guide4dogs.com

You can visit http://www.guide4dogs.com for more information.

Grapevine #66

Crazy Days

Vicki McLeod, photographer

It’s been a mad week for me. I’ve met more reality TV show personalities this summer than ever before. This week I had three! All from Big Brother. Between you and me I could have walked past them in the street and not known who they were but I was asked to go along and take their photos and I thought you might enjoy seeing these two of Charlie Doherty. We spent some quality time together on Tuesday and Wednesday at the BH Mallorca pool, at the beach and at the foam party at BCM. I can’t say my life isn’t varied as a photographer, that’s for sure.

Vicki McLeod, photographer, Mallorca

The Nit de Caball

On Sunday night in my lovely village of S’Arraco we were treated to a fantastic display of horses. About a dozen gorgeous black Menorcan horses galloped down our main road (which was covered in a good layer of sand). It was less crazy than and more organised last year as the police took a keen interest in preventing people from crossing the road in front of the horses. Well done to all!


Pet Project

At Dogs for U Cornelia rescues mainly German Shepherds: the larger dogs that most people seem to overlook . She tries to find them their forever family. At Dogs for U they would never put a healthy dog down, and those that aren’t so healthy she will do everything in her power to nurse them back to health. Some of the dogs have been at shelter for over four years, so it’s time to spread the word and get them out. Thanks to Angie Cain for her collaboration with Pet Project to get this information out and about.


Coyo is 6 years old. He’s a small German Shepherd and has been in the shelter now for four whole years. Poor boy! As usual he had a very bad start to his life. But he has come through it remarkably well. He was found all alone on a finca with no other animals or people, and had been terribly neglected. Cornelia rescued him from and took him to her shelter.  He is a little shy at first but when he gets to know you he is very affectionate, loves cuddles and is very playful. He is great with other dogs and excellent at walking on the lead. He has shown absolutely no signs of aggression, and so would be okay to be homed in a family with children. He needs to live inside the family home. He is castrated, chipped, all vaccines are up to date, flea protected, wormed, has a passport and comes with a DFU contract.


Lobo is a 2 year old German Shepherd. He’s a very loving boy who loves nothing more than climbing up beside you for big cuddles and is a perfect companion. Lobo was found on the street. He was rescued by Dogs For U. Lobo is finding it stressful at the centre: he really needs to get out. Lobo is quite a large strong dog loves running, playing and hasn’t shown any complications. He is obedient, walks excellently on the lead and shows great intelligence. Because of his size and strength it’s recommended he is homed with slightly older children, as he could accidently knock little ones over. He is a great dog, a fit, healthy young boy, with no known medical problems, he’s been neutered, chipped, all vaccines are up to date, flea protected , wormed, has a passport and comes with a Dogs for U contract.
Please if you can give either of these stunning dogs a loving home contact Cornelia Ks on 637242228 by WhatsApp or go to the Dogs for U facebook page and send a message there.


Knitting group, Mallorca

Get Crafty!

The Wednesday Group has now launched! It meets from 10am to noon every Wednesday.  You can learn to knit, crochet, and sew, or work on improving your skills, or help others to learn, be creative and make friends. You can meet up with other people and at the same time support local charities as the projects can be made for local charities to use or sell. Contact Kay on 971 676 116 for more information. The group meets at the Assocuacio Veinats 3, Carrer de la Lluna, Bendinat, Calvia every Wednesday and absolutely everyone is welcome to join.


The Rotary Club of Calvia International are busy finalising their plans for the annual walk in aid of local charities – all focussing on young people – on Saturday October 8th. The 10KM walk is from Katmandu in Magaluf to Mood Beach in Portals (and back!). A 2KM will also take place. Marshalled and supervised, the main participants will be youngsters from the International schools who will shortly be receiving the details and sponsorship forms for those taking part. So be prepared to be asked for sponsorship money. The major sponsors are Katmandu, Mood Beach and Minkners as well as the Ajuntament at Calvia. But there are still opportunities for more sponsors. Just get in touch with the Rotary Club International Walk Coordinator,  Geoff Moore, his e-mail geoffmoorecaracol@gmail.com

Fundraiser for Ondine

Next week on Thursday September 15th there will be a fundraising evening for Association Ondine. Organised by Real Estates United. It will be held at the OD Hotel in Portals in the Sky Bar. Their aim is to raise as much as they can for Ondine which promotes awareness about the marine environment around the Balearics. Tickets cost 45€ per person and all profits will go to the Association. The evening will start at 7pm with drinks and canapes, there will be a raffle prize draw, DJs, and live entertainment. Alternatively you can attend the event from 9pm and make a donation on the door, but you should contact them to be put on the guest list. So get in touch with Donna@realestatesunited.com

Any good at darts?

Up in Alcudia at the bar called Legends they are looking for some keen darts players who would like to take on a Ex World Darts Champion. They will be raising money for charity. If you feel like having a go then get in touch with Stuart Leslie via the Legends Facebook Page.

Grapevine #65

The Sunbird team

30 Years in Puerto Portals

Eric Martin, owner of Sunbird was the first to open an office in Puerto Portals in 1986. Having been in the UK yacht sales business for 14 years, the time felt right to expand in to different waters. Sailing in the Mediterranean felt like an exciting progression. Sunshine was, of course, a huge draw to the Mediterranean and having heard about a new and prestigious marina being completed in Mallorca, 7km west of Palma town the expansion felt right. “When we saw the site we knew it was the perfect opportunity to open Sunbird S.A.” Puerto Portals combined an incredible location with clear ambitions to become a luxury destination. Eric had met Simon Crutchley, a fluent Spanish speaker whose local knowledge, great contacts and yachting experience made him the ideal candidate to manage the new operation. The potential was huge and it felt right to get in from the start. And so Sunbird Mallorca opened its doors in August 1986 – one week after the launch of the iconic Wellies, as they’d been storing their tables and chairs for them!

There is no doubt Puerto Portals is firmly established as one of the best and most beautiful marinas in the Mediterranean, with a fantastic future ahead. Thirty years after Sunbird opened its doors, Portals’ original marina resident could not be prouder to have been here since day one. www.sunbirdyachts.eu.

Mallorca Solutions Opening Party August 5 2016 Photo Credit Vicki McLeod Phoenix Media -0227

Mallorca Solutions Party

I popped in to wish Becky Bellafont Evans and her team good luck at their new office which is between the Post Office (Correos) and the British Surgery at C/Germans Pinzons 5, Local 2 in Palma Nova. Many, many familiar faces were there, along with new ones as Becky and her gang specialise in looking after people who move to the island: organising their paperwork and helping them get settled in to their new lives. A personal highlight was getting to try some of Stephanie Prather’s delicious vegan canapés (I had to be dragged away from them before I truly embarrassed myself by eating them all).

Sophie Butterfield and Comet Air Photo Credit Vicki McLeod Phoenix Media -7715

Congratulations Sophies!

My little girl, Gidg, is now fully horse obsessed. For the last three weeks she has been accompanying her mentor and teacher Sophie Cordoba Mitchell (owner of Club Caballisto Son Malero in Calvia where she rides), and stable mates Sophie Butterfield and Angelina Schlak on very, very late night expeditions. Sophie B has been competing on her horse Comet Air in three high level events culminating last week in a three night marathon. Because of the heat the competition is run at night, with most of the classes being from 8pm to 2am. (A sensible person might suggest they do the competition in winter, but hey). Gidg’s role is gopher, and video maker. Sophie managed to finish fourth (out of forty experienced riders) in the “Infanta” which is a very prestigious event, so well done Sophie and her team, Gidg included!

The Wednesday Group

In September Kay Halley from the Universal Bookshop in Portals will launch a new community group which she is going to call The Wednesday Group. Its aim is to produce knitted, sewn and crocheted items for sale by the various community groups on the island (particularly Age Concern and the Cancer Support Group). The group is being launched also as a remembrance for a lady which Kay was very close to, Cynthia, who was a demon knitter and quilter in her time and produced many blankets, hats, scarves etc for various groups. The group will be open for anyone who can knit, sew, crochet, or wants to learn. The idea is that they will produce the item and they can decide which charity benefits from it. It will also be a brilliant way to make new friends and enrich your social circle.The group will launch on 7th September.  Assocuacio Veinats 3, Carrer de la Lluna in Bendinat. You can get more information by calling 971 676 116


Pet Project: Dog of the week

Snowgun is a beautiful 18 month old German Shepherd mix, possibly mixed with either a white German Shepherd or a Husky. She is a very good, fit, healthy young girl. She is leishmaniosis negative and has no known health problems. Snowgun is very obedient, and comes when her name is called . She walks beautifully on the lead . As like most GSD she is very intelligent. She is looking ideally for a sporty family to adopt her as she is lots of fun with loads of energy,  playful but does know when to stop. Snowgun was found on the street, living as a stray before Dogs For U took her in. She is very good with other dogs and lives with 8 other dogs in the main pack at DFU. She is a perfect fun loving dog. As with all dogs from DFU. She comes spayed, fully vaccinated, wormed, chipped, flea protected, has a passport. And comes with a DFU contract.  She is a perfect girl and will enhance anyone’s life. What more could you ask for. Call Cornelia on 637 242 228.

Emma and Daniel in the wave pool

Emma-Jane Woodham

My husband and I both had the pleasure of photographing this beauty recently at BH Mallorca, Mood Beach and other locations around the island. She’s made herself infamous by doing something rather naughty on the Love Island TV show, but in reality she is a darling. Very sweet, very polite, fun and gorgeous to boot.

The Orchestra 6 August 2016 Port Adriano Photo Credit Vicki McLeod Phoenix Media -0216


I wasn’t going to refer to the absence of Jeff Lynne at the press conference for The Orchestra last week, but Richie Prior (Radio One Mallorca and columnist for the MDB) didn’t get hung up on such niceties. I watched in admiration as he politely referred to the elephant in the room in a way which meant the musicians couldn’t skip around the question “Do you think you will ever perform again with Jeff?”. The answer was quite revealing. “Jeff’s more of a studio guy. We’re more band guys. He collaborates with one guy and we like to tour”.  I only saw the first three songs of the gig itself, but I was told by friends of mine that it was really good. Well done to the team at Port Adriano for putting on some top quality acts this summer.

Simply Red

Speaking of top quality acts…. The gig of the year is almost upon us. One more week to go. Some tickets are still available I understand, mostly standing. See you there?

A brush with class

It’s Thursday evening. I’m at the Varadero Restaurant beside the STP Boatyard. I’m surrounded by paparazzi and we’re all waiting for the celebs to arrive on the red carpet. I say “we”,  I mean “they” because most of the celebrities attending I won’t recognise because they are German. This is German Real Estate sensation Marcel Remus’s summer party, and if your name isn’t on the list then there is no way you’re getting in. I’ve been invited because there is one celebrity attending who he thinks I will like to meet, the American actress Marcia Cross. She’s famous for her roles in Desperate Houswives and Desperate Houswives. Because she’s the best known face on the guest list she will also be the last to arrive, she’s the finale to a reasonably long line of German TV stars, fashion designers, performers and business people. Why are they all here? Because Marcel is a celeb in his own right. He’s not yet thirty but Marcel Remus has been building his own real estate empire since 2008.  He has an office here in Majorca, and another one in Germany, but that’s not how he’s become so successful. His clever use of networking at high level parties in Hollywood and his involvement in the German version of “A Place In The Sun” where he takes prospective German home buyers around spectacular Majorcan villas, fincas and apartments have meant he’s become “Mister Majorca” as far as the German public are concerned. And he’s doing very well, thank you very much for asking.


It’s the first time I’ve been on a red carpet, it’s quite fun as I’m not taking the photos, I’m just watching. A tribe of GoGo dancers arrive, the girls are dressed as “sexy robots” and the boys are shirtless with complicated leather jewellery covering their chests. They are there to pose if need be so I get a photo with them for the hell of it. I wander around the party snaffling some special “Skin Gin” which is minty and tasty. Between the prawns on sticks, croquettes, mini calamaris in paper wraps, ice cream, and veggie wraps the flying buffet keeps me busy as well. I bump into some other English people I know and have a chat. Eventually it’s time to keep an eye on the entrance. When Marcia arrives the paps go crazy, a very determined female photographer (go girl!) leads the charge, in fact she’s at the front every time giving directions to the celebs “Everyone look at me, hey! HEY! LOOK AT ME!” She gets what she wants, it’s an interesting lesson as having the best photos is the way to get hired again.  Marcia is surrounded with TV cameras, there’s a lot of posing for photos, interviews, then posing for photos with the interviewers. She’s smiling all the way, composed, calm. Getting up close to her I can see her skin is polished smooth, wrinkle free, taut. I wonder naively if that means she’s had “work” done. I guess at some point every single actress in Hollywood has had a facial surgery, it seems inevitable to stay in the game. But then Marcia’s not bothered about the game right now, she’s got nine year old twin girls who she gave birth to when she was 45 via IVF. I eavesdrop on the various German TV crews interviewing her in English.  She repeatedly talks about her daughters and how much she is missing them despite having only arrived in Majorca less than 24 hours earlier.


I bob around the scrum, wondering how I might get my chance to ask her some questions. Then I realise I have no idea what to ask her, all the good questions have already been asked. I’ve heard all the Germans do them, and I don’t want to bore her. Maybe I think I should just not bother and use the answers I’ve heard already and give up get some more gin and relax. No Vicki, be determined, how many times do you get the chance to interview someone like this. I stick to Marcia and her minder like glue, finally I get my opportunity to request a chat. Come back in ten minutes I’m told, she needs a break.  Okay. Ten minutes to think of what to ask. I’m suddenly a bit nervous.


When I find her in the VIP area ten minutes later I have typed some questions on my phone. I am prepped and ready. I’m invited to sit down next to her, and I turn to smile at her. She smiles back. This is going to go okay I think. “Hi! How are you?” she asks me, great, I reply, you? “I’m the only English person here”, I joke. She laughs and asks me where I’m from, and why I’m in Majorca. “We’re talking about me?” I ask. “Why not?” she looks at me smiling, her eyes bright. We chat about my life on the island, I point out my husband who’s at the party shooting photos for Marcel, I tell her about our daughter. “We live in s’Arraco, it’s just down the road from a place most of these people will be very familiar with, Port Andratx. This time of year it’s wall to wall rich Germans in Porsches!” I joke. “If you don’t have a flash car then you won’t fit in”. “Oh then that’s not for me,” she says and we grin at each other conspiratorially. What a classy lady, she’s managed to make me feel relaxed, and we’re ready for some actual questions.

She’s here for the party she tells me, and to have a break. It’s her first time in Spain, but actually Majorca feels very international. It’s a magnet for Northern Europeans I tell her, we come here for the weather and the lifestyle. What are her plans for the rest of her trip? She’s going on a boat tomorrow she thinks, but she doesn’t  know where they’re going. Do go to Port Andratx I tell her, it’s a beautiful place. What is she working on at the moment? Mainly being a good parent although there are a couple of things in the pipeline she’s been involved in. I wonder what roles she would like to play which she hasn’t done yet, on the stage perhaps? She replies instantly, maybe in ten years or so she’d like to be play the character Madame Lyubov Andreievna Ranevskaya in Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard. That was the first play I ever did I exclaim, back when I was a stage manager. It’s getting really noisy in the party and we bring our heads together to hear each other. We studied it at drama school she tells me. Where did you go? Juliard. Wow, that’s a tough school to get into I reply. She nods and looks at me. I realise I’m asking more interesting questions than the Germans, I’m doing okay.

What does she think about gender equality in the arts? When I was working in theatre you could either be a stage manager, a wardrobe mistress or an ingenue, if you wanted to do something like direct or be in charge of something exciting like the explosives then you’d better be a guy. Did she think that things had changed? No, not really. She tells me about fellow actress Geena Davis who launched an institute into Gender in Media to work on increasing the presence of female characters in media and to reduce the stereotyping of female characters in the industry. But things are changing quicker now: we agree that we consume TV in a different way now. We’re both fans of Netflix. What am I watching at the moment she asks me. I’ve just devoured “Stranger Things” I tell her. “Winona Ryder plays the mum! It’s like she’s come out the other side, she was brilliant, it’s as if Winona’s finally got herself back together. You have to watch it!”. She nods and tells me that she’s just started watching The Night Manager. I tell her then that she has to get the boat to Cala Deia or go up to Pollensa to see the locations.  You can get to both of them by water.

We’re getting on so well now, Marcia is my new bff. I was going to ask you really sappy questions I tell her, like what’s your fitness routine, but I’m guessing it’s basically drink water and don’t eat anything right? I joke. She laughs at me and shakes her head, I just do what I can, she replies. We stand for a photo together, a kiss, a final “So nice to meet you” and with that I’m done. My first brush with Hollywood class, but hopefully not my last.


Around us the music is pumping, the place is packed with happy people having a nice time. We stick around for a final gin and then hit the road. As we leave we’re handed not one, two, three but FOUR different goody bags stuffed with complimentary cosmetics, creams, oils and what not. My husband’s not had a party bag since he was six he tells me. Thanks Marcel for the invitation, I could get used to this.

Ticket to Ride



I’m stood by the side of the road. Waiting for a Guardia Civil man to issue me with a fine for having a British driving license because he says Britain is no longer in the European Union and I should have got a Spanish driving license……what?! I look at him incredulously and say “Britain is still part of the European Union”, and show him the EU flag on my driving license. He shrugs, and changes tack. “You are a resident here, you have to have a Spanish driving license.” But we’re in the European Union mate, I argue. (In hindsight, probably saying “Mate” to the Guardia wasn’t the smartest thing to do). He looks at me, I can’t tell what his eyes are doing as he’s got those scary mirrored shades on, tells me he’s going to fine me and stalks off to his jeep.

EUropean Driving Licence

He returns. By this time I’ve already posted on Facebook and started to receive messages telling me that I should have changed my license back in January of this year. But wait! Hang on I think, didn’t we already check if we needed to do it. We have EU/UK driving licenses issued in 2013 which don’t need to be renewed for another seven years. I want to be within the law. I start to feel indignant, and try my best to argue with the mirrored one who clearly isn’t interested in hearing my bleats. No, NO says my Facebook collective, you are a resident, if you have been a resident for more than two years in Spain you have to have a Spanish driving license. But we’re in the EU I argue, again, pathetically beating my metaphorical head against the wall. Okay I surrender, I will get the Spanish driving license organised asap. But still I’m issued with a fine for 100€. Then my friend Andy posted his story about going to Trafico.


“I was told I had to replace my licence with a Spanish one. This meant getting a medical. Forty five minutes, and 60€ later, armed with a piece of paper that basically said I was able to fog a mirror, I returned to trafico. A further twenty minutes a different guy finally agreed to look at my licence again. His exact words when he did were, in English, “This is a European licence, it has an end date, you don’t have to do anything. Go home, drive your car, be happy, Bye bye.

“Even by Spanish bureaucracy standards this was shocking. A few rounds of, “I have just paid 60€ for a medical that you now say I don’t need, “*Shrug*” If I don’t need this, why was I told I did?” “Shrug*” Eventually the woman who had told me I needed it came over; they walked away and started arguing. Then a third person joined in the arguing. After five minutes of heated conversation and pointing at my original licence, he came back and started filling in forms. He was obviously angry; no-one needs to use rubber stamps that forcefully!🙂 10 minutes and another €23.00 later it was done.”

I can’t wait. My driving license appointment is in two weeks. Another column awaits.



Mallorca’s perfect.


Don’t you miss London? It’s something I get asked now and again, and I can honestly say No, I don’t miss it. I still love it, but I don’t want to live there anymore. I’ve got plenty of things to keep me happy, occupied and stimulated right here on my doorstep.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to photograph many concerts and DJs at BH Mallorca Hotel (formerly Mallorca Rocks Hotel). It was quite a different experience last Sunday evening when I arrived with my cameras. Instead of hordes of young people and pumping loud music I was greeted by neat rows of silver haired music lovers seated on chairs with blankets over their knees. It was a little like stepping into a different dimension, it looked familiar but something very different was going on. It wasn’t long before I was approached by a man sporting a bowler hat with feathers sprouting out of it. “Hi, my name is Robin, are you from the papers?” I guess the big camera gave it away, that and the fact I was definitely NOT the oldest person in the venue, another change from my normal BH experience when I certainly feel a bit on the elderly side. Robin briefly introduced me to Gerry Flynn, the festival organiser who told me that they were delighted to be in Magaluf and that they were thrilled with BH Mallorca and how the festival was going. “We’ll definitely be back with twice as many people next year,” he told me, “it’s perfect for our needs. We’ve basically got a large space which functions as a festival field and then hotel rooms around it.” “Like extreme glamping?” “Yes, exactly that.”

Eddie Reader and Band performing in Magaluf last weekend PHOTO CREDIT VICKI MCLEOD PHOENIX MEDIA -9654

I’d arrived in time to see Eddie Reader and her band. Would her voice be as beautiful and clear as it had been when singing on hits such as “Perfect” back in 1988? Yes it was. She and her band gave a fantastic hour long performance of songs spreading across several genres including folk, pop and jazz finishing off with a beautiful closing rendition of “Moon River”. I really enjoyed the performance of one of the songs of my youth, Patience of Angels, which was sung by its original writer, Boo Hewerdine (who has a long association with Eddie). Then after a short break, where I wished I’d brought my own blanket, The Lindisfarne Story began their set and knocked out some tunes even I recognised before I decided to call it a night and leave the revellers to their party. You can follow the organisers’ plans for next year at http://www.costadelfolk.co.uk.

Morcheeba are headlining this weekend coming in Palma

Next up in Mallorca we’ve got another festival this weekend. This time at Son Fusteret in Palma. You can see that line-up at http://www.mallorcalivefestival.com. Not sure how many silver haired rockers there will be there, but the organisers promise three consecutive stages with indie, rock, world music and electronica all going off over the weekend. Headlining acts include Morcheeba, Nic Fanciulli, Booka Shade, Fuel Fandango and Laura Jones. Or if you don’t fancy that, there’s the Palma Boat Show, or the Beach Rugby back down on Magaluf beach…. Looks like 2016 has finally begun! mallorcamatters.com

From farm to fashion

The yoga bra

Are there toxins in your sportswear? We all know that doing yoga and keeping active is good for your health, but could your trendy sports gear be sabotaging your efforts? According to Greenpeace sportswear companies aren’t regulating the use of hazardous chemicals in their clothing. Glossy finishes applied to synthetic fabrics contain highly toxic substances (Phthalats (PFCs) Dimethylformarmide (DMF) Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) and Nonylphenols (NPs). These chemicals have been linked to cancer, obesity and developmental disabilities. Making sports bras sweat, grease and stain proof can come at a serious cost to your health. Especially as sweat and friction during exercise can prompt more rapid absorption of these toxins through your skin’s pores into the body. We wouldn’t eat toxic chemicals so why do we wear them?

Su Dodd, founder of FROM Clothing, has launched a “Yoga Bra” free of chemicals and made from organic cotton. Recently featured on Huffington Post, and gaining interest and followers from around the world From Clothing is the natural next step in a life of adventure. “I had an ambition to dance professionally which gave me a lifelong passion for physical activity and a subsequent addiction to its associated well-being effects on the body. Passing this on to others, via a first career in teaching, was an easy option with one single mantra ‘find that thing that flicks your switch, then staying active becomes a lifelong joy, not a hindrance’.

FROM Clothing cotton yoga clothes

An entrepreneurial, tenacious spirit took Su on an adventurous business path from opening a 1000 private membership holistic health club, to co-founding a Pilates Studio, to establishing an RYA sailing school, to training and examining instructors. With her  ‘work hard; play hard, life is precious’ attitude she was inspired by the big outdoors.  A more recent venture, in organic soft fruit farming, truly connected her with the environment. “I learnt how everything we did had an impact on our land’s delicate eco systems and ultimately it’s produce. It broadened my perspective on global agriculture, and how conventional farming has little respect for the natural health of soil, it’s ecosystems and local communities”.

From this background grew “FROM Clothing” which she describes as an emerging ethical fashion brand. “It is a collaboration of these experiences, born out of concern for the planet’s fragility. It is a demonstration of how an integrated socially responsible approach to business can work towards ‘giving back’ and make a difference, contributing to the well being of our planet to help protect it for futures to come”.

FROM only uses certified organic cotton

Committed to product provenance FROM Clothing creates, designs and manufactures eco friendly clothing for the active and yoga lifestyle. Multifunctional, sports luxury active wear that will take you effortlessly from yoga, to the office, onto the evening. Eco yoga wear that uses beautiful fabrications, feels soft against the skin, is kind to the environment, and sourced from sustainable resources. A minimum of 90% of the raw materials used in their designs are made from ethically sourced, certified organic and sustainable sources. Classic, timeless, wardrobe staples that impact far beyond your yoga class. They use a range of GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton which is grown and harvested in India. It is then shipped to Portugal for manufacturing into the active-wear and yoga clothing. Using organic cotton means GOTS cotton farmers are treated fairly and receive a fair wage for their produce, in addition their communities are not exposed to the toxins and chemicals used in conventional cotton farming.

FROM’s Organic Cotton Yoga Bra helps women sustain themselves by raising awareness to the potential harmful chemicals found in modern day synthetic sportswear. But Breast Cancer Now, the UK’s largest breast cancer research charity, removed FROM’s Organic Cotton Bra from this year’s corporate partner list because, “The charity couldn’t be seen to be supporting the concept that organic fabric was better than other fabrics, and because their other promotional clothing partners weren’t organic,” says Su. She was asked to drop references to organic clothing which she refused to do. “As a small brand this messaging was integral to our values, and we weren’t able to ignore what was clearly information applicable to half of the global population.” With breast cancer rates increasing, FROM wanted to raise awareness to the potential risks associated with wearing tight fitting, synthetic sports bras, especially during physical activity when the skin’s pores are open and more receptive to absorption.

“It’s a beautiful, classic shaped Yoga Bra, made from 95% GOTS certified organic cotton, giving you a super soft hand feel, that’s kind to your skin and the environment” Su explains. It’s multi functional, lightweight support, with double layer fabric at front, pretty straps and self-panel stitching detail. Ideal for Yoga, Pilates and all low impact activities, on its own, or great layered under your favourite t-shirt or yoga vest. When Greenpeace recently released a report on ‘Toxins In Sportswear,’ it was clear to us, as an emerging ethical fashion brand specialising in organic and sustainable active wear, that women needed a more natural fabric to wear during physical activity, particularly against the breasts, which is why we also support Breast Cancer Awareness”. Made with super-soft organic cotton, the fabric is certified by GOTS, the Global Organic Textile Standard, which prohibits the use of allergenic, carcinogenic and toxic chemicals in all stages of production making the Yoga Bra 95% chemical and toxin free, giving the wearer assurance that while they’re working out, their yoga bra isn’t affecting their health.

“We are a young business with old heads. We are trying to do what we aspire and believe in. We are realistic and have had to ‘tame’ some of our initial objectives until we are suitably resourced to widen our ‘reach.’ We have and will make mistakes but we will continue to do what we think is right by people, the planet and it’s environment. True to our core values, we aren’t bystanders and will break the mould, and will take risks to achieve our aims. We are creative innovators, solutionists, and give conscious thought to the social and environmental impact of all our business activities on every level – a business with purpose, not just for profit”.

But it’s not just down to the suppliers, it’s also down to us, the consumers. We have to educate ourselves and make informed choices. The information is out there; you just have to ask the tough questions. You can start with checking out http://www.fromclothing.com

More stories about Majorca: mallorcamatters.com

The Best Job In The World

Copy of Happy Days (1).jpg

There’s this thing about being a parent which I didn’t realise would be such a joy. Maybe you’ve experienced it. It’s that moment that comes when you have been teaching your child something you want them to learn, you know you could just do it for them, but you also know that when they learn it they will have really achieved something. It’s not the same as the experience of watching your baby walking for the first time, or uttering their first word, they should do that naturally if you’re lucky enough that they are developing as they should. That’s exciting, but it’s not really got much to do with you has it? They are going to learn these things because they are programmed to.

No, I’m thinking about more specific things like learning to say “Please” and “Thank you”. I remember when my husband and I drilled it into our daughter every single day, probably every hour on the hour. We’d remind her time and again to say the magic words. Why? Because it’s part of our own upbringing I guess, and because we think it’s important to be polite. The day when she spontaneously said Please without being prompted was a good one I’ve got to admit. Being the mum of a ten year old means that I don’t have to remind her to mind her manners anymore, but helping her to navigate more delicate and difficult subjects has become crucial. There are tougher and tougher things to be taught and to learn and as she grows she’s having to deal with bigger issues. Coping with difficult people, being able to forgive, behaving kindly, acting with integrity and honesty, these are all things that we as adults sometimes can’t do, and we’re certainly into that territory now with her.

It was English Mother’s Day and Spanish Father’s Day recently as you probably know, and it’s to her credit that she didn’t need reminding to prepare a card, to bring breakfast in bed, to do all those little touches that make the day special. But really, it’s the other days which stand out for me, the day when she improved her maths grade, because she’d realised that if she did what had been suggested and studied a little more then she’d see the results, or the day when despite having been involved in a big row with some of her friends she acted the diplomat and negotiated a truce. When I think about what I do for a living, and what I do in general I’m beginning to realise that the most important things that I do aren’t the things which I get paid for. Being a good mum and a wife are top of the list whereas when I was younger, and dumber, I don’t think I appreciated that they are the best jobs in the world. We all like to ask children what they want to be when they grow up, I’m trying to raise a child who, when asked that question, will answer “Happy”. mallorcamatters.com


Get Outside

Go Outside.jpg

Here’s the thing. I read this week about children spending less time outdoors than prisoners. Can that be true? Given that I first saw it when someone shared a Daily Mail article online I could imagine that the truth has been massaged, but even so, children have to go outside in playgrounds at school don’t they? The study from the Play In Balance report by Persil’s Dirt Is Good campaign said that 18% of children never play outside at any point. “One in ten mothers and fathers have never been on an outdoor adventure with their child”. Is that more to do with the motivation of the parents than anything particularly preventing them from going outside and getting involved, or is it to do with our work life balances being so out of kilter that there is literally no daylight left in which to do things with our offspring?  The kids are still playing, but on computers, or indoors in less adventurous circumstances. This has led to a response from many people about how, in their “day” this was not the case, we were thrown out of the front door at 8am with a cheese sandwich in our pocket and not let back in until teatime. The big question, I guess is would this have a negative effect on children long term, or is it just us oldsters freaking out about how we think things should be versus how they actually are? The people who participated in this report probably didn’t remember the TV programme “Why Don’t You?” which was specifically aimed at me and my little brothers to inspire us to stop watching the TV and go and make spaceships out of toilet rolls. Things haven’t changed THAT much, in my opinion. You have to encourage children to do things, they need their mums and dads to be passionate about hobbies, these things are contagious in my experience.

The fact is that life, and (some) times, have changed. Although I have been known to send my daughter out with the dog on a mission (yesterday she went to our village chemist on her own to get some sunscreen as the weather is improving and she has to slap on the block every day) I send her out with a phone, an itinerary and a clear understanding of when she is expected back home. That is very different to the way I grew up when we did disappear for hours on end, fall in rivers, come home without shoes, end up on the wrong side of the motorway, and other tales of disaster which perhaps one day you will know about. I wouldn’t send my daughter outside to play randomly, she would be going to see a friend, whose parents would also know about the plan, or she would be going to an prearranged date at the stables, or with my Dad to go sailing. Apart from lacking spontaneity what’s wrong with that? It’s another example of us taking advantage of the things which Mallorca has on offer, but it’s done with a deliberate focus to keep her off of You Tube but not out of my hair. What do you think? http://www.mallorcamatters.com