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Mallorca Grapevine, 14 July 2017

THE WEDNESDAY GROUP

With the twiddlers and shawlsI popped past The Wednesday Group headquarters last week to take a couple of snaps of them before they broke up for the summer.

With the toysThis industrious bunch have been making toys for the Allen Graham Charity, knitted knockers for the Cancer Support Group to donate to people who need breast prostheses, and shawls for wheelchair users and twiddlers for people suffering from dementia for Age Concern to donate.

With the knockers

I’d never seen a twiddler before and I was quite fascinated by them. They are very pleasing to hold with chunky knit outside and a felt inside with plenty of different things attached to them to fiddle with.

A Twiddler, I'm very glad I don't need one, but I want one!Apparently they are used by people with dementia as a way to occupy their hands and it has a calming effect on anyone who is feeling distressed. I’ve got to say I’m glad that I don’t need one, but boy I would like one! The Wednesday Group will restart in September. Anyone who wants to join them is very welcome to go along and get stuck in. You can contact Kay Halley at the Universal Bookshop or call her on 971 676 116.

 

JIMMY CARR IS ON HIS WAY

Jimmy Carr is on his way!One of the most prolific joke-tellers of recent times, Jimmy Carr will be embarking on a mammoth world tour in 2017 and 2018. With an astonishingly vast repertoire and lightning-sharp delivery honed from fifteen years at the top, Jimmy is gathering a selection of his very best jokes along with brand new material for the ultimate comedy show, and he’s coming to Majorca in August to perform at the Auditorium on the 23rd!  Jimmy has been on the stand-up scene for a decade and a half. In that time he’s performed 9 sell-out tours, playing nearly 2,000 shows to over 2 million people across 4 continents. He’s won the British Comedy Award for ‘Best Live Stand-Up Tour’ and been nominated for the Perrier Award.

 

MICHAEL BOLTON PLAYS MALLORCA

Michael BoltonAnother gig I’m looking forward to is Michael Bolton who will be playing Son Fusteret on August 12th.  I recently wrote about Angel Flukes who will be supporting him and I’ve heard that tickets are selling well, so it’s probably time to get yours.

 

HEALTHY GOODIES AT A MA MAISON

Delicious carrot, orange and pumpkin soupIn my role as “person who overshares on Facebook about healthy food recipes and being kind to animals” I was invited along to A Ma Maison restaurant in Santa Catalina by the owner Saloua. She treated me to her new recipes that she is working on to offer to her clients who may want to eat more healthily, and plant based.

Beetroot tartareI was really impressed with her ideas, and particularly liked the beetroot tartare.

Saloua with her homegrown tomsSaloua grows a lot of her herbs and even some of her veggies out the back of her restaurant where she proudly showed me her kitchen garden.

 

THE NIT DEL ART, SARRACO

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I don’t care if you think this is biased, but my perfect little village, S’Arraco in Andratx will be holding its Night of Art on the evening of Thursday July 27th. Put the date in your diary. It really is worth the trip over for a great cultural night out. There will be lots of live music, wine, food, and art to gawp over.

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Parking can get a bit tricky in the village and there will be a shuttle bus running from Andratx so park there and the bus over from in front of the Eroski.

 

VEGAN DAY OUT A SUCCESS!

Scott, the organiser of the Vegan Day OutWell done to Scott Adams who managed to pull off something brand new for the island,  a vegan festival!  

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The location for the first event was at Son Amar in Palmanyola and featured workshops, stalls, cruelty free products, yoga, plenty of activities for children and some very interesting looking drinks! Apparently between 800 and 1000 people attended. Scott is already working on the next event which will be on August 23rd, location yet to be confirmed.

 

MALLORCA FASHION WEEK

slider-maria-barros-mallorca-fashion-weekComing up very soon from 26th to 28th July Palma will be inundated with models, designers, and I hope, plenty of air kissing. Yes it’s Mallorca Fashion Week, organised by the powerhouse which is Victoria de Vivero.  You can get your tickets for the shows online at www.mallorca-fashionweek.com

Growing up a writer

20049028_10154908909078507_1358458897_oIt’s a sweaty afternoon in Palma but Emily Benet arrives for our lunch meeting looking very cool and composed. She’s just got off the bus (rather than drive, she’s only just passed her test and Pierre the seven seater Citroen Picasso is a bit of a handful in Palma). We’re meeting to talk about her most recent novel, The Hen Party, set in Mallorca with the tag line ” A party of eight arrive on the island, but not everyone’s going home.”  The story features film director, Kate Miller, who is in serious trouble: the entire cast and crew of a reality TV show “The Hen Party”  have gone missing whilst filming. Kate thinks it’s all her fault, well she hasn’t exactly been following the guidelines, but if she is to blame, why are the hens arguing among themselves? And why is the groom-to-be calling her in tears…. ? Emily’s book is a fast, fun, summer read full of comedy and drama and having read it myself, I’m going to tell you to get it because a) you’ll enjoy it and b) Emily is a local author, living here on the island and we should support her.

But, back to the interview, once we’ve ordered our lunches we get down to it.  Aside from living on the island for the past couple of years Emily is an author, journalist and award winning blogger. But her story starts way, way back when she was eleven. “I always wanted to be a writer, I wrote a book, Dandelion Abbey, about talking animals. But it wasn’t until I was encouraged to enter a writing competition by my English teacher at my school in Barcelona that I really believed I could do it. I won first prize, 350€!”

The daughter of a Spanish dad and a Welsh mum Emily was thirteen when they all moved to Spain. “I was determined to pass my Selectividad (the Spanish University entrance exams) because this boy at my school had said he didn’t know why I was bothering. And I did it.” As it was she found herself studying back in the UK at the University of East Anglia, but she didn’t feel like she was getting anywhere, and she didn’t like her surroundings either. “Everything was burgundy, the place looked like a Swedish prison”.  Emily was quickly frustrated by the lack of time actually being taught, only six hours a week, and for a determined, ambitious, some might say workaholic, writer, this was just too much to bear. She dropped out.  An ultimatum was posed, either she studied in Barcelona or went to help in the family business, a chandelier shop in London. She chose the shop. “I decided, I’m going to take a year and help my mum in the shop whilst I write THE novel”.  One year rolled into more but she didn’t stop working on her goal, “I went to creative writing groups and classes, I read A LOT. I found myself inspired by the daily things in life, a single overheard sentence on the bus can spark a “What if… ” in my brain. Then one day she went to watch a football game, Germany vs Spain, with her dad and she met her future husband who was to have an impact not just on her, but on her writing career.”  He suggested to me that I start writing a blog. This was 2008 and not so many people were writing blogs then, I decided to write a blog about my life in the shop. I called it Shopgirl Blog. But I wasn’t really a shop girl, I was a writer, a writer trapped in the body of a shop girl working in a shop”. That’s when things really started moving and Emily started to get noticed. “I posted a link to my blog on the Salt Publishing Facebook page, and I got a response! They were interested in what I’d written and wanted to turn it into a book.” The blog also became a TV pilot (you can watch it on You Tube). Then mega publisher Harper Collins picked up her next books, The Temp and Please Retweet. But as she quickly discovered despite being on the roster of a publishing house that didn’t mean they would do much promotion of her work.  So this time around, with The Hen Party, she’s going it alone.

She admits it hasn’t been easy, switching from being with a publisher to self publishing, but she realises now that she might have been better off doing it her way right from the start as sales for The Hen Party are already surpassing her previous novels. She attributes her success to make this switch to someone she’s never met, Joanna Penn, the host of a podcast The Creative Penn which interviews successful author entrepreneurs.  As Emily tells me, “The word entrepreneur has a lot of positive connotations. An entrepreneur sounds like someone who is driven, creative, has get-up and go. Unfortunately self-publishing entrepreneurs aren’t always met with the same admiration in the writing world. Self-publishing still has a lot of stigma – and I get why. People want the credibility of a big publisher. They assume if a big publisher didn’t print it, then it can’t be good. In reality, a traditional publisher might like the book but may not have space for it on their list. They may well have a similar author writing in the same genre. I didn’t wait until the very end to find out if a publisher wanted my book. It takes months and months for replies and the first so-called ‘rave rejections’ that I received convinced me the novel was good enough for public consumption. The book took me over a year with two massive edits so I wasn’t going to just discard it because three people liked it but weren’t sure they’d be able to sell it. I didn’t just hit publish once I’d made up my mind. It was important to me that it would be produced with the same care as a traditionally published book. Next, it went through a professional editor. After that, a proof reader. For me, it’s about being proactive about your career, treating it like a business and taking the wishful thinking out of it.  It’s about taking creative control of your project, getting fair royalties and being able to adjust prices and book covers if at first it doesn’t succeed.”  We talk at great length about book covers and she shows me the most recent version of The Hen Party, she’s not quite happy with it. I tell her to stop worrying about it, but then if it were my book I think I would be just as fussy. After all it represents more than a year’s work, and who can say that about anything they’ve done?

When our date is over we find it hard to say goodbye, and wander around the streets of Palma together for a while, until finally Emily decides she’d better go find her bus. As I head off I wonder how many new ideas for stories she’ll come up with on the ride home and pledge to take the bus a bit more often myself.

                                                                                                                                                                   

You can get Emily Benet’s books online at Amazon or at the Universal Bookshop in Portals.

Visit http://www.emilybenet.com for more.

PLAYING BY THE RULES

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We went “en famille” to our local music school’s piano recitals this week. We went to watch our little girl La Gidg who was playing along with all of the other piano pupils. She was number eight on the programme, eight of forty two. Gidg was feeling quite nervy, despite practicing a lot at home on the piano that Facebook gave us : thanks to a Facebook friend we had our baby grand donated to us three years ago, and then thanks again to other Facebook friends it was transported to our house for free! We have to live up to this; we have a promise to keep. We have been quite strict with her, I have insisted that she learn to play the piano and go to her weekly lessons which she grumbles about constantly, and music isn’t easy to learn, it’s another language really, with all of its rules and regulations. I know, I know: and the pushy parent award goes to…

Gidg managed to get through her piece, more or less. She stumbled over a couple of parts, but she didn’t give up, throw her hands in the air and storm off or cry. So, given that all of those things had happened during home rehearsals over the preceding week we decided to mark this one down as “a win” for the team.

Gidg was in amongst a mixed group of kids and teenagers, some of them also stumbling, and losing their way in the music, and some of them skipping merrily through the lot without a glance at the music or even their fingers, playing all sorts from “I’m a little teapot” to pieces from Swan Lake, and everything in between. Although it was quite tempting to just slip out the back of the auditorium after Gidg had done her bit, we stayed put. It’s not the “done thing” anyway is it? I think it’s important to show the same respect for the other young musicians as they had for Gidg. At least I thought so, unlike some of the other parents who, as soon as their little darling had tickled the ivories were bundled off back into the night. A shame really as there was some serious talent playing that night at the Andratx municipal music school. Yes you read that correctly, our local music school is run by the council. It’s strange isn’t it? The priorities that our local council have: they can’t afford to put traffic calming on the main road in our village, but they can afford to run a music college.

Despite that I’m glad that we have the school, it is fantastic opportunity to be able to study there, and it’s extremely cheap. 20€ a month gets Gidg a thirty minute piano lesson every week. If she can reach the standard of some of the other pupils then it would be amazing, having the ability to play an instrument is a gift that I would hope would stay with her for all of her life and that she may eventually appreciate. As we sat there in the darkened auditorium, with Gidg leaning her head against my shoulder finally enjoying listening to some sensitive, mournful and elegant piano playing I realised that not everything should be taught: some things should be felt to be understood, and that’s just as important as following the rules.

http://www.familymattersmallorca.com

Written by Vicki McLeod 

Mumsnet Blogfest 2013

I started writing blogs in 2005.

I was so proud of my first ever post that I excitedly sent it to my friends. What the fuck is that for? was more or less the response I got from people who’s opinions mattered to me. Ah, thought I, perhaps I need to work on this for a while. So I did.

I quietly obsessed about my blog, what I was writing, how I was writing, should I leave things in, take them out, was it too personal, or not personal enough? Aaargh! I feared that my mother in law would find it, and I hoped that she would.

Finally I started to work out what I was interested in, and I what I wanted to say. I didn’t have much help with the tech side of it, it was trial and error, and a lot of fiddling around with Blogger, and then I made the jump to WordPress. I learnt about tags and categories and photos and what not, and along the way it became clear to me that I wasn’t on my own, out there, across the sea away from Mallorca there was a community of other people who were blogging and expressing and creating in the middle of the night as well.

Then last year, I got the chance to go to Blogfest, organised by Mumsnet. I had a ball. It inspired me and educated me, and I got quite a crush on Paul Armstrong (Social Media genius) and Tim Dowling (dry clever man from The Guardian) and Caitlin Moran (head bobbing rock n roll chick). It felt really good to be part of something big.

I’ve been fortunate enough to score a return visit to London to go to Blogfest again this year. It’s quite difficult to choose between some of the breakout sessions but you can guarantee that I will be beating a trail right back to the techies to get my update on what the hell I should be doing, followed by elbowing fellow bloggers out of the way to get to the cupcakes and rounding my day off by being first in the queue for the goody bag.

It’s all there to play with, bring it on.

It was a man’s world . . .

It was a man’s world.

Thatcher-Cabinet_2530702bI don’t know about you, but some of my opinions on life are exactly the same now as they were twenty years ago. Opinions can be swayed, and formed, over a period of years, and altered in the blink of an eye as well. So I think perhaps what I am thinking about isn’t as much an opinion as a value: a deeply held belief. A belief in myself.

Being a teenager in the Eighties, when Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister it never occurred to me that it was strange or anything unusual that she should be a woman leading a country in a man’s world. And have no doubt, it really was a man’s world even then. My own mother was a working woman as well, but back in the day being a woman who went out and had a career outside of her traditional duties as wife and mother was not the norm. I was part of the first generation of young women growing up without the expectation that we would leave school at sixteen, get engaged, get married, and then get pregnant (not always in that order). We weren’t expected to have tea on the table at 6pm for our husbands when they got in from work, we weren’t expected to be the living breathing embodiment of the perfect housewife.

I know that the death of Baroness Thatcher has stirred up some strong feelings, bitter memories and resentments over the injustices that she and theConservative government inflicted on sectors of British society. I myself am not sure about how I feel about some of the things that she did, but as a woman she played an extremely important role in my understanding of what was possible in my life. She was a hated figure, she was admired, revered, she was ridiculed, she was feted. She stuck to her guns and lead from the front, she believed in herself, and she believed in the country that she was leading. She didn’t compromise, and she made it okay to be a strong leader. She smashed through the glass ceiling. One of the things I liked about her was the fact that she expected to be treated as an equal to a man, and she didn’t lean on feminist principles to drive a point home.  She was a leader; it was irrelevant as to which sex she was.

As an impressionable teenager I loathed Mrs Thatcher and all that the Conservative party stood for and what they did. As an adult with the benefit of hindsight I can see the influence she had on me, my peers and my country. Some of it was disastrous, but her influence on young women and girls cannot be denied. Without her would we have so many women in positions of power in business now? It’s not possible to say, but she certainly beat down a path that many thousands of women gladly followed. So thank you Mrs Thatcher for my belief that I can do whatever I want to do without needing to ask for permission, without needing to worry about what people might think, and the knowledge that it is entirely within my grasp to achieve whatever I set out to. And thank you on behalf of my little girl too.

©2013VickiMcLeod

Supermarket Rage

supermarket-aislesRecently I have been having a very bad case of Supermarket Rage.  It sneaks up on me when I am least expecting it. It doesn’t seem to matter which supermarket I am in, it just seems to be down to who else is in the shop with me. In short: other people. Other people (and their flagrant lack of interest in respecting the international rules of manners) are making me crazy.

I have to get this under control because frankly, no one else cares except me.

But you see, I can’t stand it when a fellow shopper stops dead in front of me with no interest in whether or not there is anyone behind them. I think that blocking the aisle should come with a fine.  And then there is the ‘I´m going to just push through you rather than acknowledging that you exist’ tactic that a lot of shoppers seem to adopt. How rude is that?

Why is it that these days no one wants to say ´Please´, ´Thank you´ or ‘Excuse me’? What is wrong with meeting a stranger’s eye.  It seems to be completely acceptable that we should all have to say Buenos Dias when we are in a doctor’s surgery, so why should this level of politeness not involve taking each other into consideration when we’re trudging up and down with a trolley full of beans?

The other day I was in a supermarket in Palma Nova. I had two kids with me, not just the usual one, and I was struggling to get a full tray of cat chow into my trolley without squashing the eggs and the bread (no one likes squashed bread, right?). I was struggling, and the kids were not being any help at all. Thank fully for me I was in the shop when it was quite quiet so there weren’t many other people around. Except for an older ‘lady’ and her husband.  This woman decided that pushing and shoving me out of the way in order for her to get access the cat food was far simpler than saying ‘excuse me, can I get past?’ or ‘Perdon’ or ‘Permite’ or ‘Entschuldigen’. Worse still, when I looked up and turned around having not squashed the bread, I knew her. She walked away muttering to herself and didn’t seem to think it was in anyway a bad thing to treat another person like that. I don’t know why this makes me so angry, but it does. Live and let live: I am all for that, so why is it so difficult for other people to be polite? Whatever it is it seems to be getting worse.

I have a solution, well I have several: there should be Supermarket Ettiquette Police employed to keep the peace in the aisles. They can be kitted out with rollerskates and wear bubble wrap uniforms so that when they crash into all of the illegally parked trolleys strewn in the aisles they will just bounce off. Punishments for being rude in supermarkets could be : having to go to the back of the check out queue, paying double for plastic bags even though you may have brought your own bags with you and if you are a repeat offender you should be made to shop online on a computer which is programmed to crash every time just before you plug in your payment details. Muwhahahaha! That should teach them! Vengeance shall  be mine. http://www.familymattersmallorca.com

Reflections on the beginning

La Gidg and I

La Gidg and I, 2008, our house, S’Arraco

With all this business about competitions and blogs I have had a look back over the last four years of blogging, and found an old blog post.

It explains a lot, so if you are wondering what I am on about, click on the link please.

http://familymattersmallorca.com/2008/06/03/the-beginning/ 

Show the love!

La Gidg and I Family Matters Mallorca is in a competition! We´re competing in the Expat Blog Awards. (Eeek).

You can vote for this blog (please, that would be nice) by clicking here http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/850/family-matters-mallorca  and leaving a comment and giving this blog your rating. So far we´ve recieved a lot of votes which has been terrific, so if you want to add your name to the list, please do!

The competition closes at 9am on Thursday December 6th so please if you can, pop over and vote as soon as you can.

Thank you!