Month: August 2013

That time of year

from: http://blog.timesunion.com/payitforward/all-susan-stricklean/2003/

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The summer holidays aren’t finished yet? Are you kidding me? There’s STILL another five weeks to go? WHAT? REALLY?

La Gidg, and I are struggling. We’re struggling with protracted (ridiculously protracted in my opinion, but you probably already figured that out) holidays, with the heat, with what she wants versus what I have to do, and with each other. Showdowns about tidying up her bedroom are happening on a daily basis, I fear that we may not get out of the vacations alive. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have kids of school age just exactly what a miserable thing it can be to have a child off school for three months whilst you are also trying to work for a living.

I have practiced and honed my argument about the length of the Mallorca summer holidays over many years now, so forgive me if you’ve heard this one before. We live on an island, the island’s main income comes from tourism which is at its peak during the summer months, most of the people who live on the island and have children at public schools on the island also work in the tourism industry or are in some way connected to the industry, which means that they are at their busiest in the middle of the summer, so why make the long school break coincide with this time? How can anyone enjoy this when they have to struggle with kids moaning and complaining about summer school (why don’t they ever seem to enjoy it?), you can’t work properly if your children are unhappy or not settled in their school. Why instead can’t we take a long break in December and January and February? You know what answer you get to this question? That it is too hot in the schools in the summer. I have two words: Air Conditioning. They have to heat the schools in the winter, why not just swap that attitude around?

Teachers and schools aren’t babysitters, and they’re probably the only ones who actually want to have three months off in the summer. But understand this, this the money that I pay for my daughter to attend summer school so that my husband and I can continue to work and earn money for our family and pay our taxes? Yeah, you guessed it; we can’t include it in our accounts and expenses. It’s almost as if the Spanish Government thinks that this is a luxury. It’s almost as if the Spanish Government thinks that the woman should stay at home and look after the children . . . ah, hang on a minute. . . Let’s start a revolution, I want to campaign for parents in business to be able to claim for their child care.

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What’s left . . .

forest fire, Mallorca, Andratx, photo by Oliver Neilson This week’s Family Matters isn’t written by me, it’s written by my husband Oliver Neilson who went up the Estellencs road on Saturday afternoon (the first day it has been open to the public since the fire). He is very familiar with this area having walked it on countless occasions with our dog, and also guided walkers through it as well. He first published this on his personal Facebook account on Saturday night, so far it has been shared a staggering 193 times. This is his account.

“I took a drive up into the mountains today to check out how much the Andratx fire had taken of the Tramuntana. I drove up the coast road from the Andratx townhall, pretty much to the seat of the fire, at about 20 kmph all the way with my chin on my chest. Around me were my fellow gawkers, some on four wheels, and some on two. All struck dumb by what we saw. The devastation is endless; it stretches from horizon to horizon. From both sides of the road, from the valley bottoms, to the mountain tops. The tarmac and the road signs are charred. Boulders dislodged from the ancient earthworks have rolled onto the road, charcoal blackened on one side. If you have lived in Mallorca for more than a year or two then you will probably have seen a fire, and some not so far from you. The helicopters or the cool yellow planes arrive and in an hour or so all that is left is steaming undergrowth and we can all get back to what we were doing.
“This one is of a different magnitude all together.
“We all felt our hearts swell with appreciation as we saw the planes dip down between the pedalos for another belly full of anti-fire ammunition and kidded ourselves that they had it under control, but a drive up the coast today put the enormity of their achievement into very sharp focus. Its charred embers look like hell today, so to have been there when it was ablaze must have been unimaginable.
“There are isolated houses and casitas that sit as tiny islands of green, in an ocean of grey ash and burnt ochre foliage. No doubt spared by a very timely dousing from a Canadair full of Portals bay, or a helicopter’s bucket full of Andratx municipal pool.

“Go take a look if you get a moment, remind yourself how beautiful this place is, and how lucky you are to be here, how very, very lucky we are that the pilots and fire fighters are….well….cool.

“…and get involved in the many operations to restore this unique place for ourselves and our kids. Ajuntament D’Andratx and GOB Mallorca are worth checking out as they are already looking for volunteers. We have lost a beautiful chunk of nature in this fire, perhaps we can gain a wider community if we all pull together in putting it back”.

Beautifully written, I think. Well done O.

Ollie is looking for bilingual Catalan/English speakers who want to get involved with GOB and help to liaise with the British (non Catalan speaking) residents who want to help. If you can help please get in touch with us, or leave a comment. Thanks!