children

Rotary Walk Success

748A1522“Walking Works Wonders” was the theme of this year’s Charity Walk organised by the Rotary club of Calvia International and over 350 people turned out on Saturday 21 October to make sure that it does. There were over many schoolchildren from the eight International Schools taking part as well as adults, not overlooking a large contingent of canines who joined in too.

748A1553The walk was planned by the Rotary Club with very close collaboration from the Ajuntament of Calvia, the police and an army of volunteers from the Club and other associations on the island. There was a 10km walk for the older children and the fitter adults (and the more energetic dogs) from the Sports Centre in Magaluf to the Agora School in Portals and back. The less young and children and some dog walkers did the 2km walk from the same starting point went but went down through Magaluf and back. All of those walking enjoyed the warm sunshine weather and the social atmosphere.

748A1531The aim was to raise a substantial sum of money for three charities – RANA which focuses on help to prevent child abuse of any description, JoyRon, which raises money for children in the Balearic Islands and in this case, money will go to help meet the cost of constructing and fitting out a cinema in Son Espases for children who are undergoing palliative care. Last but by no means least, money raised will also go to Association Ondine which is trying to preserve the marine environment in the Balearics for the benefit of future generations. Three very worthwhile causes.

748A1527This year too, in association with Association Ondine the Rotary Club Calvia International sought to discourage the use of single use plastic bottles and promoted the use of reusable bottles by providing free water at the start/finish and mid-point of the walk: another positive step by the Club to help others and the environment.

748A1521The International Schools are the main contributors to the walk, not only from their participation on the day of the walk itself but through the young children in the infant schools of some of the schools walking in the grounds of the Schools. Money was raised not only by the Rotary Club charging a registration fee to enter the walk (the fee included some food and refreshments on completion) but a lot of the walkers were sponsored by parents, friends and colleagues.

748A1493After the walk, everyone enjoyed the refreshments and entertainment provided by Izzy Newman and children from BIC as well as a belly dancer. Some even joined in the performance! Casa Corazon a beautiful luxury property development in Son Gual sponsored the after walk refreshments  (www.casascorazon.es), Generali, the insurance company covered the walk’s public liability insurance as they do every year (www.generali.com), Spectrum IFA (www.spectrum-ifa.com) sponsored the water, and Nice Price donated chocolately treats (www.niceprice-mallorca.com).  The Town Hall in Calvia provided their full support for the event.

748A1470Club President thanked all participants for generously giving up their time and the various sponsors for their contribution. It will take time to determine how much money has been raised, currently they have received 5000€ but it is likely that the three charities which are to benefit will not be disappointed.

 

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Halloween

It’s the spooky Halloween edition of the Grapevine. It seems like Halloween gets bigger and crazier every year on the island. This year I was asked to photograph the Pirates Adventure show which is always hugely popular. I arrived early to capture Sade and Nikki creating some very creepy makeup looks for the cast. And then roamed around taking photos of as many people as I could. The show was a mixture of the acts from the family friendly Pirates Adventure and the much more risque Reloaded with some extra special additions such as the excellent violinist who performed reworked versions of pop hits. The show was a great way to finish the season, and I hope the cast and crew enjoy their time off before they restart next year.

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After the glitter had settled at Pirates I was off into Palma for the next part of my Halloween evening which was taking photos at SoCial, a new club on the Paseo Maritimo opposite Titos. Fire breathers, contortions, dancing girls, acrobats, creepy doctors and a sword swallower entertained the big crowd of revellers. I had a quick chat with the Great Bendini (the contortionist and sword swallower). I asked him when he had realised that he could swallow swords and he looked at me as if that was the dumbest question he’d ever been asked, “I had to learn how to do it” he replied, err, yeah, Vicki, of course. Doh. He really does swallow swords, they weren’t trick ones! And they go all the way down to his stomach. Yuck!

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Christmas in Mallorca, the Grapevine continues…

How was it for you? Christmas I mean. Have you come out the other side intact? I really hope so. We have work to do this year. But first, a recap of various healthy and/or drunken activities that I was able to be involved in over the festivities.

Christmas Eve at the Cathedral in Palma, Vicki McLeod photographer

Christmas Eve

Every year that we have been here for Christmas we’ve gone into Palma on Christmas Eve and had a wander around, looking at the lights, passing by the Cathedral (we always seem to coincide with the end of the German language service so my husband often bumps into real estate agents he knows!) and some kind of chocolate and churros stop off. This year we also stopped off outside of Nice Price and put some money in the tins of the Rotary Club who were outside collecting.

The Christmas Day Dip in El Toro, Vicki McLeod photographer

Christmas Day Dip

Another traditional (and let’s face it, unhinged) event for us is the mad dash into the sea at El Toro beach at midday. It’s been organised by Emma Conlin and Leon Blakely from Universal Nautic for as long as I’ve known about it. Everyone, including the pooches, were dressed up in Christmas outfits or fancy dress. One pug in particular caught my eye. There was much merriment, and brandy, and cava. We’d taken our little dog Basil along with us for an outing but completely forgot that the midday signal to run into the water was a firework. As I was knee deep in the sea ready to take the photo and my family were lined up to run like loons into the chilly waters no one was keeping an eye on our nervous dog. The firework went off and so did he careening across the beach and into the unknown roads of Port Adriano. Forty five minutes and many tears later we found him, or he found us, either way we were reunited. Thankfully!

The HIghland Games in Peguera, photographer Vicki McLeod

The Highland Games

A break from tradition for us on Boxing Day meant a trip to Peguera beach to join approximately 130 other people to take part in hilarious The Highland Games organised by local Scot and all round jolly lassie, Amanda Hibbert and her lovely family. We competed in teams in the various events including Wellie Flinging, a piggy back race, a tug of war and tossing the caber. I’m not going to lie, I’m very proud to tell you I was the overall winner of the women’s division in the caber toss. Finally, I have discovered my athletic gifts. We were joined on the beach by a German gentleman called Phillip who was dressed in Lederhosen, he participated enthusiastically, and said  that he learnt a lot about Scottish culture in the process.

Christmas walks in Mallorca, Vicki McLeod photographer

Christmas Walkies

I believe that most Christmas activities if they are not eating or drinking should involve being outside and that at least one dog should be in attendance. Hence I like to go to or organise plenty of walks and messing about, it’s a good way to burn off some mince pies, and also get out of the house and enjoy our beautiful island whilst everyone else is away visiting their families. We were joined by a good turnout of about thirty people for our “round the block” walk around the edges of our village. Some of the walkers hadn’t ever been to s’Arraco before and have subsequently been back a couple of times since to walk as they enjoyed it so much. Perhaps we should found the s’Arraco tourist board.

Orient waterfalls, photographer Vicki McLeod

A trip to Orient and the waterfalls

A place which I have often read and heard about but up until now had not had the chance to go to see are the cascadas between Orient and Bunyola. It did take some determination to make it happen, but I was not disappointed by the beautiful walk we were treated to. Again we took little Basil who behaved himself impeccably on and off the lead, and we were joined by more friends who were inspired to come along and explore. The actual walk is as difficult as you want to make it. You wander along a path from the road down to a stile and then another one which asks you to put your dog on a lead. Then you come to the river and stepping stones (which is where you might want to kick yourself for not wearing more waterproofed footwear, so take my advice and make sure you do) there you have to hop over a few stones and perhaps get a little damp in the process. Then another short walk through a forest which could have been taken straight out of a Tolkein novel and you are there alongside the waterfalls. When we were there we watched some canyoners abseiling down the rock face through the water gushing over the side, it looked exciting, but a bit too cold for me. My companions thought it looked like something they would like to have a go at, and the guides from “Tramuntana Tours” seemed very competent so perhaps they will go back and try. We kept walking for a while and then decided to turn back and return to the cars but we could have kept going for quite a while apparently. A fifteen minute drive to Alaro later and we were sat in the main square with glasses of wine and slices of pa’amb’oli. Very civilised.  We’re intending to go to more places this year which we have not been to in Majorca, it’s not exactly a 2017 resolution as much as the same one we’ve been making for years now and not managing to realise. Next up is the Barranc in Biniarix, and then Galatzo in Calvia. I’m determined to finally visit these places in Majorca this year and get to the really special spots which I haven’t been to yet.

What’s next?

January is normally a month that moves at a slower pace for me because of the weather, but still it’s a great time of year to be on the island. We’re looking forward to the St Antoni and St Sebastian fiestas and to slowly moving back to speed after a much needed Christmas break. But there’s always plenty coming up in Majorca to keep us busy. Just as I write my husband is starting to receive his annual phone calls from professional cycling teams arriving on the island who want him to photograph them training and racing. I have started a new project which I will be writing about on Sundays in the Majorca Daily Bulletin, and also on my website http://www.mallorcamatters.com. Happy new year everyone, my best wishes to you all, I hope you have a healthy and peaceful 2017.

January events in Mallorca

Mallorca dimonis, Vicki McLeod, photographer, Oliver Neilson

 

You may think that Christmas, and New Year AND Three Kings are over, and that therefore everything is back to normal in Mallorca, but you would be wrong as we still have two more fiestas to go this month, and we love them!
First up we have St Antoni this coming weekend. You will be able to join in at outdoor barbecues all over the island on Saturday evening. Some of the best ones are in my neck of the woods which is Andratx and S’Arraco, but you will also have places like Sa Pobla, Felanitx, Muro, Santanyi, Sencelles, Son Servera, Pollensa and Binissalem to check out as well. They are spread out over the weekend with some happening on Friday evening as well. The fiesta is split into two halves: you have the barbecue where everyone steals everyone elses’ sausages and gets drunk, followed by the Corre Foc, the fire run where recently inebriated people are invited to participate with people dressed up in really scary devil costumes and play with fireworks. What could possible go wrong?
Up in Sa Pobla on Saturday at about 5.30pm they will also have human towers which I have always wanted to see so I might make a dash to get up there, then at midnight in Sa Pobla will be their amazing fire spectacular with demons, dragons and drummers in Placa Major.
If that doesn’t get you going then there’s always something going on at the Auditorium and I understand that this weekend there is a performance of Beethoven’s Pastoral with the Victor Ullate Ballet on Saturday evening. More information can be found on the Auditorium Palma website.

Then on Sunday 15 January you have to make your way to the church with your pet cat, dog, sheep, goat, hamster, whatever you have you should take along to be blessed. There are blessings in Biniali, Cala D’Or, Santanyi, Soller, and Andratx.
On the Monday the St Antoni fiestas continue in Alaro with a parade, bonfires and a correfoc in the evening. You can also go along to Deya, Maria de la Salut, Muro, Sa Coma, Santa Maria del Cami, Soller, Son Carrio and more action in Sa Pobla.
Then all attention is focused on Palma for the big San Sebastian parties. The Fiesta Sant Sebastia is one of the biggest festivals in Mallorca and celebrates the Patron Saint of the capital.
The big nights are around the 18th, 19th and 20th (the day of Saint Sebastian), with the main parties and concerts being held on the 19th. Other entertainments such as the Castellers de Mallorca and the fire runs (Correfoc – wear long sleeves!) are on the 20th January.
There will be exhibitions, music and parades for the duration of the festival and you’ll find all the details in the Official Programme (available about a week before the event).
This Thursday at Santosha Restaurant in Palma in their Sala Cinco they will have movie nights on Thursdays. This week it’s “Once” 12.1, and next week it’s “Forest Gump” 19.1 ( you should reserve though). And on Saturday nights they have live music during dinner.

This Friday there will be a live music movement meditation at Zunray in Palma from 20h30-22h30. It’s going to be a monthly event, but get in there quick as this is a great way to start off the year. There is also a weekly 5 Rhythms class at Ling Tai which is every Sunday from 6.30pm
You’ve also got the Palma Dogs fundraiser coming up. They’ve called it the “Beat the Meh, find your Woof!” Pub Quiz Fundraiser. It will be on Tuesday, January 17th at 7.30 at Atlanticos in the Old Town in Palma. You can have a team of up to 4, €2 each to enter. And there will also be a raffle at €2 per ticket. All proceeds going towards the various associations and individuals who work tirelessly to get owner less dogs out of pounds and into foster or forever homes. That’s organised by Caroline Stapley who regularly takes people up to the dog homes in Mallorca and takes the dogs out on walks.
On Saturday 21st Jan Tony from Bar Rosita’s, Calvia Village will be having his annual birthday bash, free live music Tony Paris, free buffet and lots of fun.
Of course, if you’re after a new year’s resolution and you want to get yourself fitter, healthier and take charge of your lifestyle then I can recommend you do the Whole Life Challenge. This is an eight week programme which starts on Saturday January 21st at CrossFit Mallorca. It incorporates diet, exercise and lifestyle enhancements such as beginning to meditate or taking time to spend with friends rather than your phone, small things which add up to a much greater deal. You can get more info by contacting on Facebook, just look for their page CrossFit Mallorca.
There will also be two detox workshops in January run by Ziva To Go, a vegan business which now has three locations on the island. Ziva’s founder, Petra Wigermo will lead the detox workshops. You can choose from one in Santa Ponsa on Thursday 26th and one in Santa Catalina on Saturday 28th. In both workshops you will be helped to plan your own detox and make decisions about how you want to approach it, learn about why it is good for you to do these things and also try out some different juice recipes which may be helpful for you. You can get more info and book up for that at any of the Ziva locations on the island, or find them on Facebook.
And if you want to get stuck in to some good works this year then you could either join up to The Wednesday Group which meets every, you’ve guessed it, Wednesday, in Bendinat. They are dedicated to making craft and knitted items which can be donated or sold on behalf of charities on the island and it’s also a fun and sociable way to learn new skills and make new friends. You can get more details from Kay at The Universal Bookshop in Portals Nous. OR you can go along to a meeting at The Boathouse in Palma on February 10th which is being organised by the Cancer Support Group as they are looking for people who can volunteer and help them with their ongoing work. You can get more information about that event on my website http://www.mallorcamatters.com along with all the rest of this info and more.

Good things come to those that wait

Alaro, ascent, Mallorca, Vicki McLeod

My daughter, affectionately known as La Gidg (new readers, please note, that’s not her real name) just turned eleven. When she was nine she fell over down a stoney track whilst we were out walking on Sa Trapa with a group of friends. She sliced her leg open across her kneecap and spent many months with a dressing on her leg, finally leaving a spectacular 2 inch by 5 inch scar and a big indentation where normally you would have some fat. At the beginning she was very self conscious of it, but after a while she stopped being so aware and let us make jokes about her almost losing her leg in a shark attack. That impressed some of the boys at school I can tell you. But we knew in the long run we’d have to do something about the enormous scar. It also took us a very long time to convince her that it was a fluke accident and that this shouldn’t stop her from coming on walks with us, last weekend she marched up to the top of Alaro (pictured) with me.

During the summer of 2015 we became obsessed with keeping her recovering skin away from the sun and it’s damaging rays with an elastic knee bandage. Day after day we had to be vigilant in order for the skin to not be permanently damaged. Then after the summer had gone we went back to the doctor to ask about what we could do to reduce the scar. Luckily for us this sort of procedure is available here, basically some fat is taken from another part of her body and put into the scar to smooth and fill it out.  We were told that we would be able to get her knee operated on to refill the indentation, she’s missing quite a lot of fat there, and finally today we received the call for her to go in next week for her operation. That’s about six months since the initial consultation. Now, I was about to start crowing about how good the health service in Mallorca is, but then I thought I would just check the waiting times for plastic surgery back in the UK. Guess what? They are the same. Does this mean I can compare the two services or not? I can’t make my mind up. I know that if we were living in the UK we wouldn’t have the access to our local GP in the same way that we do here, but the waiting time has surprised me. However it is the first time we’ve had to wait for anything for quite so long, in fact I had been revving myself up for a phone call to the hospital with my best Spanish practised (there’s nothing quite as intimidating as a telephone call when you’re not sure of your vocab). So at least I can strike that off my To Do list now. The op itself falls on Halloween so La Gidg’s costume for the evening is already decided, clearly she will have to go as a Mummy. Wish her luck for me please. She’s not looking forward to missing breakfast.

 

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

Opinionated, finally!

I turned the grand old age of 45 the other week, and I think it’s finally happened. You know, that thing that is supposed to happen to you when you enter your forties: where you just stop caring what other people think of you. For an inveterate “People Pleaser” like myself I suppose it’s no surprise that it took me an extra five years to actually achieve this, but recent events would tell me that I have arrived, finally.

Exhibit A: I wrote an article about a controversial animal rescue centre in Mallorca. After visiting the centre undercover I realised that it wasn’t as bad as many people had been making it out to be, plus the staff, without knowing I was writing about them, were very nice to me, and helpful. The centre itself even has extensive building development going on for new accommodation for the animals that are housed there. I wrote this down, in an encouraging “Go Rescue Centre!” way to give the widely criticised place some praise. We all know how it is better to praise improvements than to dwell on imperfections. The “Animalista” community of Mallorca disagreed with me and fell upon my article as proof that I was 1) a terrible journalist (perhaps), 2) a moron (..er…), 3) had been there with the full knowledge of the centre (no) and 4) had been paid by the centre to write it (no)! Better still, they did online in English and Spanish, over and over again for about 48 hours. I even received hate mail. I had just written what I had seen, rather than what they wanted me to write. And that made them mad. It was a very upsetting two days of not wanting to look at my emails, but I took advice from good friends and colleagues who said, do not reply. So I didn’t. On Day three I woke up and it didn’t bother me anymore.

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Exhibit B: It will be International Women’s Day next weekend on Sunday March 8th. There will be several events going on to mark the day in Mallorca, I am already attending two of them myself. Every year for the past five I have organised an IWD event with some friends of mine. This year, we decided to do it differently. The theme of IWD this year is “EQUALITY” so we decided, why not include men and make it International People’s Day instead. This felt completely right to me. Living in Western Europe I don’t feel that I am discriminated against because of my sex. There are plenty of places around the world where women are subjugated and abused, but until men and women live equally this won’t change. So of course, I announce that this year it will be IPD, and immediately the messages begin criticising the decision. Particularly it seems from women who have never ever supported one of the IWD events, ironic really. But I stand by it; it feels right to me to do it this way. Why should we seek to separate men from women? We should be celebrating the freedoms that women have here in Europe.  The subject of equality is just as relevant to men and boys in the workplace, in the media and in the home. So next week on Saturday March 7th from midday to 4pm at Mood Beach there will be a free entry International Peoples’ Day event with stalls, business networking, charities, lunch and fun. Guys and gals, chicos and chicas, men and women are equally welcome. Stall bookings and lunch tickets from info@moodbeach.com

More articles from me at www.familymattersmallorca.com

Grateful for small mercies

The view over to Dragonera

The view over to Dragonera

About a month ago my daughter, La Gidg and I went walking from Sant Elm up to the top of Sa Trapa and back down again. My husband was in Pollensa photographing a cycling team so we were one man down in Team Neilson McLeod, but that didn’t matter as we were out with a bunch of friends. There were about twenty of us when we set off from Es Moli on that sunny Sunday morning, plenty of grownups, kids and dogs. If you’ve ever done the walk you will know that there are some steep and demanding parts of it, but that it’s worth the “up” as the view at the top is quite amazing. You can see over to the island of Dragonera and back over the hilltops to Port Andratx and to s’Arracó.

We stopped at the peak and had a snack. Everything was very jolly and we were feeling quite pleased with ourselves that we had got out of the house and conquered that climb up. Then as we were making our descent towards the Sa Trapa buildings La Gidg slipped over. It was quite a heavy fall, and there were tears. I could see that there was some blood coming through her leggings but because they weren’t torn I assumed that it was a graze. She didn’t want me to look at it (she is quite strong headed, a bit like her parents) so I decided that the best thing was to get back down to the car as soon as possible and then get ourselves to a doctor if we decided we needed one. There then followed two excruciating hours of slow hobbling down. In hindsight I should have insisted that I looked at her injury, and if I had seen it, I would have been on the phone to the emergency mountain rescue.

When we made it back to the car we went straight to the local PAC in Andratx. When I finally saw what had happened to my little girl’s leg and appreciated the level of bravery that she had shown getting down from the very top of Sa Trapa back to Sant Elm, I have to say I was completely speechless. Her leg, despite no damage to her clothes, was cut from one side of her knee to the other, about 10 centimetres and about 4 centimetres wide. It was as if special effects makeup artist had been practicing on her.  “Go to Hospital Son Espases” was pretty much the decision, and once she had had a quick clean-up and a sterile bandage applied we went in to Palma where we were seen very quickly. We were spoken to in English by our doctor when it became clear to him that I was in too much of a state to really concentrate in Spanish and then La Gidg, with the help of two doctors, three nurses and a bottle of gas to relax her, had fifteen stitches put into her leg, and goodness knows how many more inside.

I know I moan about the cost of social security in Spain, and the unfairness of the system for autonomos and small businesses but I cannot fault the hospital system. It was very good, efficient, well equipped and there when we needed it. The after care has been great as well. Gidg just had her stitches out last week, and we are still some way from Hip Hop and Cross Fit classes, but her leg is still attached to the rest of her which makes us all grateful for small mercies.

You can see an article about survival in the Mallorcan countryside here: http://mallorcastories.com/2015/01/26/mountain-survival-mallorca/

English speaking volunteers sought by schools

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Last September state school teachers in Mallorca created upset and controversy with their strike tactics over the proposed introduction of English as a third language into the school syllabus. Almost a year on and things have definitely progressed.

Any change is difficult to introduce into such a large machine as the Balearic education system which has 400 schools and approximately 15,000 teachers, and it is for this reason the Regional Ministry of Education Culture and Universities has decided to introduce the role of “voluntario linguistico” to help the teachers and students make the transition.  This process started a few months ago with a meeting between representatives of local English associations and the Secretary General Guillem Estarellas (see photo). Now the unions have signed their agreement to the scheme, and it can go public.

What does this mean to us? It’s an opportunity for native English speakers with a couple of hours to spare every week to volunteer in their local school. Volunteers will be asked to give verbal support to teachers in the class; it will not require any preparation or even a good level of spoken Spanish or Catalan. The initial goal is to have volunteers starting in a limited number of schools across the island at the beginning of October. This is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in your local community and really help children to develop their communication skills.

If you would like to be put yourself forward then please email Kate Mentink as soon as possible on info@kate.es