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

Snowgun

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

NOT ELO

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.

Marcel and Marcia PHOTO CREDIT OLIVER NEILSON PHOENIX MEDIA  (8)

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.

The scrum PHOTO CREDIT OLIVER NEILSON PHOENIX MEDIA  (10)

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.

PHOTO CREDIT OLIVER NEILSON PHOENIX MEDIA  (7)

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.

My new BFF PHOTO CREDIT OLIVER NEILSON PHOENIX MEDIA  (1)

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

 

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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.

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“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.

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Mallorca’s perfect.

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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

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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

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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

Lost in Translation

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I’m two weeks in to my intermediate Spanish course. So far I have been on time for each lesson, so well done me, it’s after I arrive that it goes downhill.  We’ve been spending a lot of our lessons talking about things that we did in the past to learn how to use the past tense in verbs. That’s all good if there were only one past tense to choose from, but there are two I can describe and another two that I am not sure of yet. That makes FOUR!! Don’t you think that’s just greedy?

I had to get this explanation from the internet (thanks to http://www.spanish.about.com) as I don’t want to give you the wrong information and lead you down the same rabbit hole I’m in.

“What’s past is past, but in Spanish what’s past may be either preterite or imperfect. Unlike English, Spanish has two simple past tenses, known as the preterite (often called the preterit) and the imperfect indicative. (As in English, they are known as simple tenses to distinguish them from verb forms that use an auxiliary verb, such as “has left” in English and ha salido in Spanish.)

Although the English simple past in a sentence such as “he ate” can be conveyed in Spanish using either the preterite (comió) or the imperfect indicative (comía), the two tenses are not interchangeable.”

I know this is true because of the amount of times I’ve managed to get it wrong in class and everyone else has sniggered at me. There are some very smart people in my group, which is not intimidating at all, no, no, really. No.

I’m also fairly certain now that even though the famous languages teacher, Michel Tomas, who up to now has been a bit of a hero in my house, is great for starting to speak a language you shouldn’t rely on him for. He teaches that you make sentences together by translating directly from one language to another, this just isn’t possible.

V Espanol Book

In Spanish, verb tenses are formed by changing the endings of verbs, a process known as conjugation. Present tense, imperfect, preterite, future, conditional, the present perfect, the pluperfect, the past perfect, the preterite perfect, future perfect and the conditional perfect conjugation. So, we should have that all under control by next week.

What I am learning from learning Spanish is how little I understand the English language. I must have missed out on the grammar lessons at my (don’t laugh) Grammar School because I don’t understand the terms, I am literally starting from scratch.

Anyone who has studied Spanish is aware of the troublesome relationship between the pretérito and imperfecto. The imperfecto (yo hablaba) translates to the English imperfect (I was talking) while the pretérito (yo hablé) literally translates to the English simple past (I talked) but can also be translated as the English present perfect (I have talked) or the emphatic past (I did talk). And when a person asks you in Spanish what you did before they will ask you using the present tense. (Example: “Desde cuando vives aqui ?” translates to “From when you live here?”) Confuso? Si. Thanks for asking.  

Of course I have been searching the internet for “easy ways to remember the different Spanish verb tenses”.  That brings up almost a million and a half results, so I guess there’s still some work to be done there. Hang on in there McLeod.

Have Lifepack, will travel.

Lifepack-founder-adrian-solgaard

What inspires an invention?  They say necessity is the mother of all invention. For Adrian Solgaard the tipping point for the creation of his new invention, a solar powered back pack, came when his friend was the victim of a crime. We met over Skype for a quick chat.

Vicki McLeod: How did this come to be? You’ve developed a solar powered, lockable back pack which can fit all of your day to day mobile office and work needs. That’s pretty amazing!

You can lock your bag up when you're out and about (1)

Adrian Solgaard: I first had the idea in 2005 when I was 18, I was travelling on a train and I needed to sleep. I was irritated by the idea that I had to wrap my luggage around me to prevent it from being stolen by thieves. But it wasn’t until 2015 when I was sitting with a friend having a drink, our bags where on the floor between our chairs and my friend’s bag was stolen, that it tipped me over the edge! I started to source and prototype ideas, contacted factories and worked on getting the product exactly right. When I had finished the prototype I started on “Real World Testing” and got a tonne of consumer feedback. Now we’re in the middle of our Kickstarter campaign.

VMC: Why a Kickstarter campaign? What is it?

AS: It’s a way to get pre-orders for the bag, it’s enabled us to gauge the reaction of the general public, and raise funds. It means that we will be in production this year with the bag as we have reached our initial goals.

VMC: Wow, that’s so exciting! So when can customers expect to have the bag in their hands?

AS: If you have pledged money on the Kickstarter campaign then you will have the bag in October.

VCM: How is the Kickstarter campaign going?

AS: Really well, we’ve met our targets, now we are doing what’s called “Stretch Goals” which means that we can unlock more options on the bag, by offering more colours for example. You can still order one.

VMC: What’s so special about the bag?

AS: We’re saying that we´ve reinvented the mobile office.

VMC: Big claim!

AS: Well, it’s got a solar power bank which can keep your phone alive via a USB charger, everyone’s phones run out of charge just at the crucial moment, but with this bag you won’t be stranded. You don’t have to worry about your smartphone battery dying, you can have it on charge in the bag. You can get up to 12 charges for an iPhone 6, but it’s compatible with any USB charging device.

You can charge your phone using the solar panels in the bag

It’s also got an integrated lock which means you can keep the bag locked up and keeps your stuff secure. The separate compartments inside the bag are for your work and life, so you can separate your work life from your underwear, nobody wants to get their socks out at a meeting do they?!

Lifepack, Cafe shot.

Then when you’re out at the beach you can use the Bluetooth speakers to play your music. The lock also has a bottle opener on it, which is helpful when you’re having a beer at the beach as well! The bag is weather resistant, and drop resistant (there are internal protective air cells to keep your laptop safe), and super organised. We’ve also designed it to have four hidden compartments so when you are travelling you can keep your important documents close to you and not worry about them being lost or stolen. The bag’s zippers are also lockable. And another feature is the RFID protected pockets which keeps your credit cards and passport safe from identity theft.

VMC: How much can you stuff in there then? I know I have to have at least three bags wherever I go! One for the gym, one for work and a handbag.

AS: Well I can pack two shirts, two pairs of underpants, two pairs of socks, a tie, a belt, shampoo and lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, cologne, a passport, sunglasses, swim shorts, goggles, the solar bank and speakers in the back, and a 15″ laptop, charger, mouse, two notebooks, three pens, headphones, my smart phone, glasses case, keys, wallet, loose change, USB charger and cables, loos papers, receipts, business cards and a banana in the front!

VMC: That more or less covers it! What about the kitchen sink? This isn’t the first time you’ve invented something useful is it?

AS: No, I’m also responsible for the Interlock which won four international design awards and has been distributed to twenty eight countries.  That experience has meant that I’ve been able to get the Lifepack to this stage much more efficiently. There are two other people in the team with me who are crucial as well, Ashley and Chris, so between the three of us we’ve done well.

VMC: What’s your connection to Majorca?

AS: I’ve lived on the island, right now I am travelling around a lot to get the Lifepack into production, but I hope I will be back soon. A lot of my friends who live in Majorca feature in the product promotional photos and we used Majorca as the location for the shoot.  Majorca’s the perfect place for a Lifepack, so many people blend work with life and are on the move, it makes perfect sense.

The bag has been designed to be part of an active, modern lifestyle

You can read more about Adrian and his invention at: sweetbackpackbro.com

To read more articles about Majorca visit http://www.mallorcamatters.com

Passion or poison?

Vamos Challengers!

What’s your passion, or your poison? What makes an interest in something healthy or harmful? I was a 20 a day smoker for twenty plus years, that’s pretty bad for you, we all know that. I stopped, finally, successfully four years ago. I would smoke a cigarette twenty times a day, damaging my body and affecting people around me. But strangely, it was hardly ever mentioned as being a problem. In fact I would find people who wanted to be my allies, in order to give them permission to smoke as well I guess, as if it was our ‘right’ to smoke.

Regular readers of my column will probably have noticed my ongoing interest in getting fitter and healthier, including my personal goal which I set three years ago that I would be able to do a handstand by the end of that year, I didn’t achieve it, I was so out of shape.

Strange then that if I decide to take up healthier pursuits that some people think they have the right to comment on it, suggesting in some way that my lifestyle choices are harmful to me. I’ve experimented with different types of diets, specifically a vegan diet for the whole of January, which garnered many comments. “Where will you get your protein from?”, “There’s nothing wrong with cow’s milk”, “Are you one of THOSE funny eaters?”. The reality is that aside from writing about it in these pages I didn’t really speak about it to anyone, and yet it seemed to inspire derision from some quarters. It took me some time to realise that actually these people were simply challenged by what I was doing, because they saw it as a reflection on them, rather than my simple decision to try something new.

Another thing I have been changing, which has become a passion for me, is the daily ritual I have of going to the Crossfit Mallorca ‘box’ (gym) in Santa Ponsa Son Bugadelles and training for an hour. First thing in the morning (by that I mean 6am, sorry postmen, I haven’t yet managed to get up at 3am) I get up and go to class. I’m there with a bunch of other earlybirds and our trainer, and owner of the box, Rob Martin. We do a variety of exercises, including squats, sit ups, press ups, rowing, running, weight lifting and more. Every day is different. The crucial thing that stays the same is the support and encouragement from Rob and the other members of the group. Some of the guys are super fit, and others are like me, over 40 and flabby. Well, not so flabby these days. I had to get some smaller sports clothes this week as the ones I had begun sliding down when I skipped! That was quite a day, but followed almost instantly by comments from well meaning people “Are you sure this is healthy for you?” “Do you think you should be training so often?” My answer is that it makes me feel happy and relaxed. So is that an obsession or a passion? You can’t win. Although I did do a handstand today for the first time. Finally. mallorcamatters.com