Month: June 2012

Congratulations Ma’am

Goodness what has come over me? I don’t recall being a raving fan of the Royal family but for the past week every time there has been mention of the Jubilee I’ve come over all sentimental and tearful. I remember 1977 when the Queen celebrated twenty five years on the throne. I was the tender age of seven, more or less what La Gidg, my little girl, is now. We were presented with a commemorative mug, and there was a huge event at school. The children had to learn and perform a maypole dance: the ribbons of course were in red, white and blue. And we had a street party which I seem to recall featured a great deal of elderly people. But I was seven, and everyone looked old.

Mallorca has been crammed full of Jubilee parties, it’s been such a fun time for everyone to enjoy. And quite a few people have admitted to feeling homesick, just a little, not so much that they’ve wanted to pack their bags and get on the next flight home, but enough to stir the cockles of the heart and get a little damp eyed over the National Anthem. I have certainly been amongst that group, but I don’t think it is to do so much with the Royal Family, and more to do with the feeling of being British. What a fantastic show the nation put on over the weekend, despite the appalling weather conditions (I bet those opera singers on the barge on the Thames needed a hot water bottle and a Lemsip after their performances on Sunday) it seemed as if the whole four day spectacular went off with a bang. The British are just very good at organising and throwing a party, being welcoming and getting stuck in. I am intensely proud of being British, and I am very proud of my Mother country. I want my little girl to grow up knowing about her parent’s heritage, and as well as our adopted home. So this is why over the weekend I spent hours making cakes, scones, and cucumber sandwiches and gallons of tea. La Gidg and her friend Alyssa went to a crown competition (crowns created by Alyssa’s mummy, Nicky) and they came third and second respectively. We even participated in an egg and spoon race. And we spent a long time discussing what it was like in Britain, and why all those people wore funny outfits (‘they’re called Beefeaters darling…’).

So, if that was a Jubilee party, let’s see what they’ve got in store for the Olympics. I’ll need to bulk buy some tissues for the inevitable sobbing with pride, and I shall probably have to take a month off of work to make sure I don’t miss any of the coverage… Bring it on!

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(pictured: Gigi and Alyssa practicing their most regal of postures!)

The end of innocence?

When I first visited Mallorca the island and the way of life here reminded me of my childhood in the UK in the Seventies. The supermarkets had half day closing, children played out on the streets, there was a feeling of innocence and gentleness about the place.  When I moved to Mallorca it irritated me that the supermarkets closed when I wanted to go, and I wasn’t so charmed by the fact that children played on the streets that I was trying to drive down. But soon I found myself fitting into the pace of the island rather than forcing the island to move at mine. And something unthinkable happened, something that would never ever have happened back in the UK: I left my front door unlocked. It became a bit of a symbol to me that our door was always open. Yes we live in a quiet little village where nothing really happens, so it’s not the same as leaving my front door ajar in Walthamstow for example, but it was still a big step for me. 

But I won’t be doing that anymore. In the past couple of weeks there has been a spate of serious burglaries in the South West which has left me wondering about how safe we really are. Santa Ponsa, El Toro, Puigpunyent, Palma Nova, Calvia, they have all been hit by a series of shocking incidents. It’s heartbreaking to hear about crime in our residential areas, targeting and unsettling us. Please keep an eye open for strangers around your neighbour’s house, and ask them to do the same for you. A friend of mine asked a man if he was lost when she found him at the fence at the bottom of her garden: he quite literally scarpered. Other people I know have had burglar and security cameras and alarms fitted to reduce the risk of being robbed or broken into. I have heard mixed reports about how seriously the local police have been taking the incidences, initially they were slow to respond and take fingerprints, but now as the frequency has increased so has their attention to the problem. If you need to call the police urgently then don’t forget that you dial 112. Alternatively now may be the time to get that dog you’ve been thinking about. There are plenty of loyal pooches out there waiting for a new home, get in touch with your local animal refuge (if you don’t know where or who they are then get in touch with me and I can point you in the right direction).

It makes me feel very sad that we are now the potential victims of crime here, after such a long honeymoon. We’re like those holiday makers I wrote about a couple of weeks ago in that ‘we’re in Mallorca, nothing bad can happen to us here’ trance. Well time to wake up people as some of us have had very scary awakenings, and in my case, time to start locking the door and check that the contents insurance is up to date. 

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No pain, no gain

If you happen to be in the Palma Nova area on either a Monday or a Thursday morning, around 9.30am then you may be treated to the sight of a group of women jogging. Most of them will be wearing neon pink, yellow, or even orange running vests (surprisingly this does actually offset the ketchupy colour that spreads rapidly across your face as the heart rates goes up and the breathing quickens) or there is one larger lady wearing an ancient long sleeved baggy t-shirt which covers her bum. Yes, you’ve guessed it, that’s me. I have finally bitten the bullet and have started, gulp, running. It’s actually more of a speed whinge as I flap along at the back of the group wishing it were all over. But no pain, no gain as I have been told.

It began because I was joined to a group on Facebook called the Viva Roadrunners as they were running for Charley, and I needed information about them. One thing led to another and I started to read their cheery exchanges and got quite jealous of the camaraderie and out and out fun they seemed to be having. But they also seemed to be running quite a long way each time they went out, and there was just no chance that I would be able to keep up with them. So I asked their trainer Dave Bladon if he would do a ‘Fat Girls’ Beginner Class’, got some chicas together (turns out I’m the only fat bird, the others were just beginner runners) and off we went.

Now I can’t honestly tell you that I look forward to either of my regular weekly running dates although the core of the group: V, me, Suzie, Holly, Sophie and Crookers and Caron(who are also in the big girls’ group) are fabulous and we have a lot of fun, it turns out that, guess what? Running is just as hard as it looks. I am by far the worst, dragging myself along the road complaining and swearing and tutting: I can’t quite get my head around the idea that people do this for fun. However, I am now getting to enjoy the upside, as I am now fitting into my clothes again, and even garnered a few compliments last week from some people who hadn’t seen me in a couple of months. That sounds so shallow, I know, but these things are important and mean the trainers will get fished out of the bin again. Who knows where it all may end? I’ve also taken up Yoga, but you can hear about that another time.

It takes quite a special bloke to take a bunch of women out training and get them to do it effectively. We’re very lucky to have our own ‘semi personal trainer’. So my virtual hat goes off to the very cheery and persistent Mr Dave Bladon from Viva Sports Gym in Palma Nova. He has a very special type of deafness which means he cannot hear moaning, or swearing, and is consistently encouraging and pushy just to the point where you want to kill him. He hasn’t once said ‘you aren’t trying hard enough’ which would have meant his instant death and he has endless patience and creativity with finding new exercises and routes to keep us all guessing. It’s also been proved that working out in a group is easier than doing it on your own. So if you want to join us then you are most welcome to: you can expect to lose weight, get fit and hear loads of new four letter words (like ‘road’, and ‘work’, and ‘thin’ ;-)). Grab your plimsolls, we’ll see you at 9.30am.

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Village Life

Ooh, I love Europe Day. I love the hustle and the bustle. I love the stalls and browsing around. I love bumping into people and saying hi. It’s the beginning of the summer season for some, and more importantly (for me anyway) the end of the insane winter events season. I spent the day running between the Son Amar stall and the Allen Graham and Fix It stalls and in between times bumped into loads of people that I know. It was a lovely happy day, and you could really feel the warmth of the community. The weather couldn’t have been better. I just wish that I could have remembered some better footwear as my flip flops were not up to the job and Sunday night saw some blistered tootsies I can tell you. I need to say a big hello to the lady who insisted that I get my photo changed for the paper! She said it didn’t do me justice. Now that’s a nice thing to say, thank you. I will get round to it eventually. It’s a bit like being married to a builder and living in a house which is falling down, I am married to a photographer and he’s always too busy to take our photo.

Apparently 25,000 people walked down Palma Nova beach front last Sunday. Somebody suggested to me that we do it every Sunday. I don’t fancy their chances getting that idea off the ground as it’s a huge amount of work to organise an outside event like Europe Day, I know. Dolina and Susanne (who until Monday worked for the International Citizens Department at the town hall in Calvia) coordinated all of the stalls and fielded hundreds of phone calls and emails over the past few months, they should be congratulated for their sterling work (a lot of which was done in their own time, that’s dedication for you).

It was interesting for me to think about old Europe Days and think about some of the faces that were missing from this one: some people have moved back to the UK, some have passed on, some just weren’t there this year for whatever reason. Life continually changes whether we want it to or not. You certainly shouldn’t be taking anything for granted anymore. That’s the thing about living in Mallorca though, there’s never a dull moment. It’s like living in an episode of Midsommer Murders, some of the plot twists you seriously couldn’t make up (although I’m glad to say the murder quotient is pretty low). It’s difficult to exist in a small community without sometimes coming up against conflict and disagreement. In my case I have my once a year run in with somebody or other which upsets me and rattles me to my core. Then it can take a few months for everything to settle down again and for life to be more peaceable. It’s not easy to do it, but speaking up for yourself with honesty and integrity, and also being willing to accept you are wrong are two important things to learn if you’re going to exist here on this funny little island… Have a great week.

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Holiday crisispoint

I was driving through Magaluf last weekend when a man walked out in front of my car. He was lucky as El Topolino (my ancient Polo) doesn’t go very fast anyway. But there was something about the way the guy was conducting himself that really stuck in my mind. It could have been the fact that he was walking around in broad daylight in the smallest pair of budgie smugglers that I have seen in a long while. What is it about being on holiday that makes normal people think it is okay to go shopping with only their underpants on? Or perhaps it was the fact that he did literally saunter across the road in front of me ‘It’s okay I’m on holiday, nothing bad can happen to me here’.

It’s that false sense of security that holiday makers get. I don’t know if it is the weather that makes them feel relaxed, the lack of, or change of, routine, possibly an increase in booze consumption. But whatever it is, it makes regular people act as if they have been spellbound by their vacation. That’s okay if you’re walking around in the land of milk and honey where nothing bad ever happens… but we know this isn’t true. There have been some seriously unpleasant things going on in Magaluf already this season: three young people have died in three separate accidents where they have fallen from balconies or stairwells, and several inebriated men have been mugged by gangs of prostitutes.

We can’t change the behaviour of the tourists, they’re on holiday, and they’ve got the ‘nothing bad will happen’ attitude. We need to wrap these people up in cotton wool; we need more police on the beat in the resort to keep the peace and to keep people safe. We should be doing what we can to make sure our visitors stay safe on holiday and have a good time without being preyed upon by gangs of thieves or ending up in hospital or worse. Yes, it’s all very well putting a warning on the Foreign Office’s website, but that’s not going to have any impact on the people who go to Maga on holiday. The only purpose that serves in reality is to act as an ‘I told you so’ riposte after the tragic event has occurred.

Apparently the balconies are the standard height for European hotels. I just read this on a tour operator’s website: ‘Please take extra care on balconies after drinking alcohol’. It’s just not going to make any difference. How many people who are out on holiday are going to think to themselves ‘Ooh, hang on, I’ve just drunk ten pints and ten tequila shots. I must make sure I take extra care on the balcony’. Now I’ve heard that the Hoteliers are going to write ‘guidelines’, it’s just another document to say ‘Not our fault, we accept zero responsibility’. No. We have to keep these people safe. If the current accident frequency continues there could be twenty deaths by the end of the summer season. Come on Calvia Council, and the local Hotelier Association, and the Balearic Government. Stop having meetings about this problem, and get something done about it.

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Perfectly flawed

‘Mummy?’ enquired my lovely, six and a half year old daughter. ‘Yes sweetheart,’ I murmured distractedly. ‘Am I fat?’ she asks with a concerned voice. This is the kind of thing to not only stop you in your tracks but completely stop your heart too. I turn and look at my beautiful, perfect, innocent daughter and think… how is this fair? At this tender age how can it even have entered her head? I sit her down beside me, take both of her hands in mine and say, ‘it doesn’t matter Gidg, if you are tall, small, fat, thin, yellow, brown, pink, or green. It doesn’t matter what you look like, it is about what kind of person you are inside that counts. You are a caring, considerate (cough, most of the time) little girl who needs to not be thinking about if you are too fat or too thin or too anything. Do you understand me?’ She nods gravely, gives me a hug and then goes off to play with the cats.

And I sit there and think to myself, why did I just lie to her? Of course it matters what you look like, in some cases and in some industries that is ALL that matters. It’s like the lie that mothers tell pregnant women: of course labour doesn’t hurt, it’s just like shelling peas, snicker. We tell lies to each other to be kind and to keep ourselves from having to face the truth. Perhaps I should have told Gidg, ‘actually sweetheart, you need to lose a couple of pounds because it’s been proven that if you look like this skinny minny then you are more likely to get that job, or get that opportunity.’ But I didn’t tell her because perhaps I don’t want to face the truth either. I was brought up to believe that what you said and did were far more important that what you looked like. And perhaps I am getting more and more ostrich like in my dotage as I want to continue to believe that despite all of the current evidence to the contrary.

What is going on with Mary Beard for example? This very well respected Cambridge scholar has been criticised by AA Gill this week for not being all that much to look at, she’s presenting a TV programme about the Romans for crying out loud, surely SURELY in this case what you say is more important than what you look like? Can you imagine Tulisa presenting the same programme? Well she just won ‘Sexiest Woman of the Year’ so I guess we can all prepare ourselves for ‘Tulisa explores Ancient Eqypt’, or some other totally inappropriate combination. But please explain to me why it is not acceptable for a woman with wild hair, and not a scrap of make up to present a tv show, when it is okay for the Hairy Bikers? Why do we all have to be perfect when in fact there is no such thing, and why do we continually try to be so? If there is one thing I want my daughter to grow up knowing and being is that she is kind to herself and to everyone else. Being comfortable in your own body juts got more important in my house.

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Hello Sailor!

 I wish that I’d listened to my dad when I was a kid. Now I understand why he was so keen on yachting and the life on the ocean wave: back then in the (cough) seventies and eighties, he was a full time policeman with a full time obsession with the sea. Every single weekend he had available he would go to the seaside, dragging three kids and my mum along, come rain or shine, and then he would disappear into the surf…. either on it or under it, depending on if it were sailing or diving. I was a truculent teenager (imagine) so I just didn’t like or get it. And I rebelled and insisted on keeping both feet on dry land. Silly Vicki. Doh! These days if you look at the industries which are doing well in this tricky economic times you have to put the yachting industry, and particularly the super yacht industry, up there on the ‘Top Ten List’ of businesses to get into.

 

Well, I’ve got another chance this Friday April 27th from 3pm onwards as The Crew Show is about to swing into town! The Crew Show is organised by crew agency, Dovaston Crew. The show is an exhibition of forty different businesses and a massive networking event for the island. It is to enable people to find out more about the yachting industry, meet potential trainers and employers and also get to know each other more. Some of the businesses even fly in from the States to participate alongside the most important local marine businesses as well. It’s a big chance to network baby, and if you’re not at the show then you can miss out on some big opportunities. Best of all though, it is totally free to get in.

It is very easy to attend the show as there are two free shuttle buses offering a rolling shuttle service from 3pm. They will leave from Port Adriano and Club de Mar in Palma and go to Mood Beach in Costa D’en Blanes where the show is being held. The bus service will keep going all afternoon and into the evening to help people get to Mood easily and then get back home safely as well.

Singer Nicky Stixx will be performing throughout the afternoon, there will be a hogroast, and they are even fundraising for Respiralia which is the foundation based here in Mallorca which supports children and young people with cystic fibrosis.  Aside from a good chance for the yacht industry to get together it’s also a really good opportunity to start to make contacts for your own business whether you run a bakery or a floristry or even work as a carpenter onshore for example and you want to make some enquiries into perhaps changing your career, or you’re straight out of school and want to find out more. I will be there, hope to see you, come and say ‘Ahoy!’

www.familymattersmallorca.com