Mallorca Grapevine, 14 July 2017


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!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 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.



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.




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.


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.



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.



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

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.

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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.

Express Yourself

Vicki McLeod Blogging Mallorca Social Media

I’ve been writing this blog for years. I’ve been writing other people’s blogs, press releases, articles and features for years as well. I’ve even been writing the column in the Euro Weekly for four years. I know, that’s a long time, hmm? Over the past decade of blogging I have had my ups and downs, but I have loved creating my stories and publishing them online, I love the sense of freedom. But it’s also been good for business, bringing new clients to businesses through improving their Google rankings, but you see this is where I get a bit shy and worry that my nerdy love of these things is boring to everyone else. Not so as I have finally found out.

They say that in order to get something you have never had you have to do something you have never done. It is also a really good idea to do something new once in a while in my opinion; it’s healthy to keep developing. So, earlier this year I decided to take the skills I had learnt over the past years and turn them into a course for local business people in Mallorca. I know there are a lot of people out there who need to know how to use digital media and social networking sites but they get daunted by the scale of the job (it is infinite, you could literally go on for ever) and they  worry about the time it may take them. Having a steady hand on the tiller as they set sail on the sea of Blogs is helpful to navigate around the time wasting and dead ends.

So I’ve been doing something that I have never done before, I have been teaching a course at the Kip McGrath centre in Palma in Blogging and Social Media for Business. Every week for the last month I have been teaching seven people  the fundamentals of how to set up and use their own blog, how to hook up their different social media sites and crucially how to decide what they want to say and how to say it.

Now it hasn’t exactly been the Dead Poets Society, no one has stood on a chair and exclaimed “Captain my Captain”, but there have been several light bulb moments from the group as they have realised how to put together their own strategy for their own small business or project. I am very proud to say that the course has been a success. We have seven blogs up and running and ranging in subjects from creative writing to green living to interior design to the comings and goings at a local hotel.  I’ve even inspired myself, so next I am going to try out leading a one day crash course in PR for business, and then another blog course in May.

The really fantastic part about doing something that you haven’t done before, and really putting yourself out there on the line, is the enormous sense of achievement you can feel from having set out on a new path. You feel that you are in control and that in turn makes you feel positive, which in turn rubs off on other people. So all of us: myself and my students have been busy creating and inventing and developing ideas. Technology is amazing you know? And it’s so simple to use when you know how. I feel as if I am finally embracing my inner nerd as I have been revealing my passion and knowledge to people who actually wanted to know!  After many years it’s okay to admit it.

Go on, say it loud, I’m a geek and I’m proud!

You can contact me please send me an email to: hello (at sign, you’re not an evil spam robot so you should be able to figure that out)  Or download this Blogging and Social Media for Business, Beginners. and you can see the details of the blog course if you are interested to participate in the next one, scheduled to start in May.