kids

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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Back to School!

 

Blog Photo - Back to School.

As our children’s long holidays come to an end and summer winds down, it’s time to get ready for a new school year. Hooray!

As with any new or potentially unsettling situation — like starting school for the first time or entering a new year or new school — allow kids time to adjust. Remind them that everyone feels a little nervous about the first day of school and that it will all become an everyday routine in no time.

Emphasize the positive things about going back to school, such as playing with old friends, meeting new classmates, buying cool school supplies, and getting involved in sports and other activities.

It’s also important to talk to kids about what worries them and offer reassurance: Are they afraid they won’t make new friends or get along with their teachers? Is the thought of schoolwork stressing them out? Are they worried about the bully from last year?

Consider adjusting your own schedule to make the transition smoother. If possible, it’s especially beneficial for parents to be home at the end of the school day for the first week. But many working parents just don’t have that flexibility. Instead, try to arrange your evenings so you can give kids as much time as they need, especially during those first few days.

To help ease back-to-school butterflies, try to transition kids into a consistent school-night routine a few weeks before school starts. Also make sure that they: get enough sleep (establish a reasonable bedtime so that they’ll be well-rested and ready to learn in the morning) eat a healthy breakfast (they’re more alert and do better in school if they eat a good breakfast every day) have them organize and set out what they need the night before (homework and books should be put intheir backpacks by the door and clothes should be laid out in their bedrooms)

 

Here’s some more ideas to make a smooth transition back into the school timetable and get you and your children ready for the new school  year. 

Happy School Children

  1. Take your kids shopping with you. Your kids will be more excited to use their back-to-school supplies if they picked them out. Doing so will help them feel prepared and will also provide an opportunity to talk about how the new supplies might be used in the coming year.
  1. Re-Establish School Routines

Use the last couple of weeks of summer to get into a school-day rhythm. Have your child practice getting up and getting dressed at the same time every morning.  Start eating breakfast, lunch, and snacks around the times your child will eat when school is in session.

It’s also important to get your child used to leaving the house in the morning, so plan morning activities outside the house in the week or two before school. When the school rush comes, hustling your child out the door will be less painful if she has broken summer habits like relaxing in her PJ’s after breakfast.Light Bulb 2.png

  1. Nurture Independence

Once the classroom door shuts, your child will need to manage a lot of things on his own. Get him ready for independence by talking ahead of time about responsibilities he’s old enough to shoulder. This might include organising his school materials, writing down assignments, and bringing home homework.

Even if your child is young, you can instill skills that will build confidence and independence at school. Have your young child practice writing her name and tying her own shoes. The transition to school will be easier for everyone if your child can manage basic needs without relying on an adult.

  1. backpack-309936_960_720Create a Launch Pad

At home, you can designate a spot where school things like backpacks and lunch boxes always go to avoid last-minute scrambles in the morning. You might also have your child make a list of things to bring to school and post it by the front door.

5. Set Up a Time and Place for Homework

Head off daily battles by making homework part of your child’s everyday routine. Establish a time and a place for studying at home. As much as possible, plan to make yourself available during homework time, especially with younger kids. You might be reading the paper or cooking dinner, but be around to check in on your child’s progress.

  1. Pay a visit before school restarts

Try to pass by with your child a few days before school starts to pick up books, check timetables, meet the teachers.

  1. Make it a Family Affair

Together, you and your child can plan for success in school. For instance, sit down with your child to create a routine chart. Ask your child what she wants to do first when she first gets home from school: play outside or do homework? Her answers go on the chart. The more kids have ownership in creating a routine for themselves and setting expectations, the more likely they are to follow it.

  1. Talk early and often. It’s never too early to start talking with and listening to your children about the first day of school. Ask them what they think school will be like and see if they have any specific concerns so that you’ll have time to address it over the next couple of weeks. It’s totally normal to have first day jitters.

Blog Photo - Back to School2

Of course, for many parents it’s also a time of celebration as the school routines herald the return of some structured time in the day, but try not to celebrate TOO loudly! Happy days! 

 

Viewing the solar eclipse safely, or “How to make a pinhole camera”.

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This Friday, March 20th, there will be a total eclipse of the sun, and a partial eclipse will be visible in Spain from 9am-11am. This fantastic astronomical phenomenon is rare and should not be missed, but viewing an eclipse can cause permanent damage, even blindness. Children particularly must be protected from staring directly at the sun during the eclipse.

Specsavers Opticas offers the following advice for viewing the eclipse safely – At Specsavers we agree with the RNIB, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, the College of Optometrists and the Association of Optometrists that direct viewing of the sun during an eclipse is hazardous. We suggest using indirect ways of viewing the eclipse.If you have a telescope or binoculars, you can focus an image of the sun on to a white screen, or hold white card behind the eye piece, adjusting the focus so you can see the image on the card. An inexpensive alternative is to create a pinhole camera using a piece of card with a pinhole in it to focus the image of the sun on to a white screen or piece of white card. However please always take care to shield the eyes from the sun.

If you want to make a pinhole camera, all you need is two pieces of plain card. Make a small hole (not more than 1mm wide) into one of the pieces of card. Stand with your back to the sun arranging the cards so that the one with the hole is close to your shoulder, with the other card 1 meter away. This will cast an upside down image of the sun onto the piece of paper and you can safely watch the It is very important to note that sunglasses, smoked glass, sun capes, solar filters and visors are not safe ways to view the eclipse, so please take care of your eyes and only view it indirectly.

More information can be found on http://www.eyecare-trust.org.uk/, if you have any concerns please contact your nearest Specsavers Opticas to consult the opticians http://www.specsavers.es

Time to celebrate

What are you doing next week on Thursday March 8th? It’s a big day all around the world, a national holiday in some places, it’s ‘International Women’s Day’. It’s marked with events and parties, rallies, demonstrations, conferences and all sorts of gatherings in countries as diverse as Argentina, Belgium and China. The event started 101 years ago and was in support of the Suffragettes who campaigned for equal rights for women.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have equal rights, and indeed can’t imagine what sort of person I would be if I had to mind my Ps and Qs and not do exactly what I wanted to when I wanted to. I am an equal to other people in the world and my daughter is equal, and I have some very feisty women to thank for securing those rights for me. But there are still millions of women around the world who don’t have this luxury; there are women who don’t have the chance for the same sort of free education as I benefitted from. We take a lot of things for granted don’t we? Well I do anyway. It’s important to remember and to celebrate what we have, and to thank the people who came before us, and make sure that our kids know about where they’ve come from and where they’re going to.

But International Women’s Day (IWD) is not all worthy thoughts and good deeds. Last year I was involved in the organisation of an IWD event at Mood Beach. About one hundred women gathered to spend the day together, learning and talking about subjects which ranged from health to business. It was an amazing, celebratory, revelatory day for many of us.

This year I’m involved in the event again, and this year it is moving to The Lindner Hotel in Bendinat, a bigger venue to cope with the anticipated larger audience. There will be speakers presenting on subjects as diverse as sex, business, personal development and the future of the world! For example, Marga Prohens is one of the youngest members of the Parliament in the Balearic Islands. She is passionate about promoting an entrepreneurial spirit amongst young people. Marga will talk about the systems in place which can help anyone who is in the process of realizing their dreams of setting up a business, as well as about particular aspects in local politics which affect women and their families. Elisabet Shatouris, an internationally acclaimed evolution biologist and futurist, Jamie Catto motivator, speaker, filmmaker but best known for being part of the band ‘Faithless’, will also talk along with other fascinating subjects.

There will be chances to meet new people, to get involved with charities, and to meet up with women’s groups from around the island. The event is being supported by Calvia Council and the Balearic Government, along with local businesses IFA Spectrum, FIX-it Mallorca and ACN. And there will be a market stall area for small businesses to sell their wares. The whole day including a buffet lunch is 49€ per person. (And it is per person, not per woman, as men are invited too of course!).  You can buy online and find out more about the day at www.internationalwomenmallorca.com

So, bring your mum, bring your daughter, bring your friends. It’s time.

 

By Vicki McLeod. Published on March 1st 2012 in Euro Weekly News www.familymattersmallorca.com

The day it snowed

Please see below for a gallery of photos of a snowy Mallorca courtesy of some of my Facebook friends. 

It’s Saturday morning, it’s not a school day, so it’s not the alarm that wakes us up. There’s a weird feeling in our house, as if it is being cuddled. We pad around the house sleepily, rubbing our eyes and wondering about making a cup of tea or getting a glass of juice. It’s nice, this no-rush early morning, it might turn into a good day.  It feels like a firework has exploded in the living room when La Gidg opens a shutter, gazes out of the window and shrieks ‘IT’S SNOWING!’

Our neighbour, Carlos, is on the street, smoking a roll up because he doesn’t smoke in the house anymore since the baby came. He says that his wife’s mother says there hasn’t been snow like this since 1956. The snow is falling steadily from a dark sky. It’s fascinating to watch it appear in the beam of a street light as if it has come from nowhere. Magic. The snow is about 20 centimetres deep. I want to hug it. Carlos says the Spanish television says it is going to snow all day. How can Mallorca possibly be prepared for this sort of thing? Does the council even own a gritter or a snow plough? Why would they need one? The snow is so deep that it looks like we aren’t going anywhere today anyway, unless it’s by foot or by sledge. The snow has made everything feel so peaceful and cosy, it’s like being wrapped in a muffler. We’ve got a lot to do today, and none of it is going to happen. How liberating to say ‘we can’t come today, we have to reschedule’. And how easy.

La Gidg has never seen snow like this before, she’s six, she’s lived in Mallorca all of her short life. She is glittering with joy. What a treat for all of us. We pull on wellington boots and put coats on over our pyjamas and walk down the hill to our local cafe. There is a particular sound that snow makes when you walk on it; it’s a combination of a crunch and a squeak. A creak? A squnch? Other people are on the street too, they are smiling and saying hello to us. Everyone seems to be smiling, normally reticent and shy Mallorcans are actually saying hello to us without being prompted. Gidg is confused by snowflakes, ‘I thought they were like little stars’.

The snow has given our village a makeover. Even the street signs and power cables look graceful with their new icing sugar overcoats. There are more people stood outside of the cafe, they are all facing the road staring at the snowflakes falling as if they are watching a parade, some of them are trying to look nonchalant but you can tell they are all just as excited as Gidg. I see flashes of cheeky anticipatory grins from the man who runs the garage, and another one who is the local vet. Snowballs are soon flying from one side of the road to the other.

Gidg wants to eat the snow, we tell her to watch out for the yellow variety.  We fling snowballs at the trees to make the snow fall down in clumps. She makes a snowman and snow angels. It’s the perfect snow day, although it’s only really going to be a few hours. But she’s going to remember the day it snowed forever. When I was about her age I remember being inspired to draw a picture of my family home with snow on the roof and on the trees. I put the picture beside my bed and went to sleep. Overnight snow wrapped itself around our garden and our house, and when I woke I thought I had conjured up this miraculous weather with my drawing. For one amazing day I believed I had magical powers. My brothers and I played all day in the snow. That night I drew another picture to bring more snow. But by the morning, it had started to thaw. My career as a child sorceress was disappointingly short lived.

Inside the cafe there is water on the floor from snowy boots; every table is busy, even this early on a Saturday morning. We are here in time for the freshly baked croissants which are still crisply warm and buttery. Gidg has hot chocolate, we have strong and bitter coffee with warm milk.More people come in behind us, one man is carrying a little dog in his arms it’s a dachshund: it needs a carry today.

On the way back up the hill to our house, the snow is already turning from crispy white to slushy grey. Not everyone has boots on: one lady navigates her way across the road in a pair of fluffy mules. She doesn’t seem to mind her feet getting wet.

When we get back home Gidg puts her last snowball in the freezer to save it. The big melt has already started, there is water running down the hill where a few hours before there had been squnch. At the end of the day, after she’s gone to bed, snuggled down under two duvets and wearing extra socks, I make Gluwein and gaze out of the living room window, hoping for more snow, and wonder about drawing a picture.

©Vicki McLeod 2012

It snowed today at sea level in Mallorca… for the first time in over fifty years…. we all got a bit excited… thank you to my Facebook friends for sending me their photos! You can hook up with me here www.facebook.com/vicki.mcleod

Party Politics

When I was a student (it didn’t last for long, but then the course was only for a year) I had to provide for myself, more or less. This meant that I did a variety of part time jobs in order to show the wolf the door. I was in turn a data entry operative (boring), a residential social worker (sounds fancier than it was), and a youth worker (barely older than the yoof) but the pinnacle of my various employments was as a children’s party entertainer. The younger kids were sweet, and enjoyed the simple magic tricks that I could perform, but the worst of the worst of my experiences was whenever there was a gang of eight or nine year old boys because they were absolute terrors. I just couldn’t control them at all, and they would spend the entire party (which their parents had spent good money on getting me in to do the entertainment for) trying to beat each other up. Now, as I had not had any rugby coaching experience I was at my wits end whenever I was hired to do a party for this particular age group, and it was pretty clear to me I was completely hopeless with them. If you haven’t ever experienced this then just imagine a group of feral boys in some sort of ‘party rage’ and that’s before they get anywhere near to the orange squash and sugar.

I can’t say that twenty more years of life experience have equipped me in any way to deal with nine year old boys, and so it was at La Gidg’s birthday party that we had a breakaway group of tearaways hell bent on breaking each other’s skulls. Why were they there when the party was for my delicious six year old? Well they were all big brothers of her friends, and you can’t invite one without inviting the other. Well you can, but I hadn’t. They enjoyed themselves anyway, charging around the grounds of Sa Taronja Cultural Centre in Andratx (the venue was kindly donated to me by them when it became apparent that the weather wasn’t going to play ball on that day and it is a brilliant place to have a kids’ party, just so you know).

But it is all getting a bit tricky: when my daughter compiled her invitation list she was very clear that she wanted to invite certain children, but not others (she also has quite a big crush on a couple of the big brothers, so they were on the list anyhow). This is all very well if you’re not friends with their parents, but I am so how do you explain ‘well, she’s decided that she isn’t friends with Fenella this week’? Frankly, you can’t, so you’re left in the sticky situation of trying to avoid the parent until the birthday party is but a distant memory and hope you don’t get asked about it.

On the up side the party was a hit, La Gidg made an extremely cute rabbit, and my husband did dress up as a carrot (the man in the fancy dress shop in Santa Ponsa had a good laugh at me when I tried to enlist his help to assemble a costume, but he did come through with some garish green hoola skirt and orange plastic fringing), and my mum had massive birthday cake anxiety – the icing wouldn’t stick and she fretted about it for a full 24 hours. Of course like any great event, you have to wait for the reviews, so when La Gidg came home from school on Monday to tell me that her friends had said it was ‘the best birthday party ever’ I felt like we’d just been awarded a Michelin star.

http://www.familymattersmallorca.com

A nice cup of tea

So, it’s come to this. I have finally turned into my Great Auntie Flo who liked nothing more than a nice cup of tea and a sit down.  At least, that’s what I remember about her: we used to go on family visits to Aberdeen and sit in her darkened front room (only ever used for guests) drinking tea which had been mashed to within an inch of her life. And my grandma always drank her tea black, a throw back from the war when there wasn’t milk to spare to put in her cuppa. For me a cup of tea symbolises tradition, family, peace and quiet, safety.

But for a long time tea just wasn’t funky was it? No one who was ‘trendy’ drank tea, it was all about the cafe au lait, the cafetieres, the Starbucks, the double mochachino to go. It was getting a bit too French (who, by the way are terrible at making coffee) or perhaps too American (which was more about the bucket of coffee and the buzz). Well, hurrah, something good came out of the riots in the UK last week: we’re all drinking tea again.

Operation Cup of Tea came about as a direct response to the shocking scenes of destruction last week on the UK streets. Sam Pepper, a creative young fella, hit the nail right on the head last week when he launched his Operation Cup Of Tea on Facebook and Twitter, encouraging people to stay in and have a cuppa every evening instead of charging around the neighbourhood terrorising and burglarising the law-abiding citizens. So far over 300,000 people have joined the campaign. From this idea has come a charity which is aiming to raise money for the people affected by the lootings, and now, tea parties. Jolly D! Bring back the tea!

What’s not to like? Plain old water is plain old boring after a while, and we have to drink plenty of fluids in these current temperatures. I certainly don’t want to go the same way as Antony Andrews who overdosed on water back in 2003 causing himself to develop something called ‘hyponatraemia’, that is, he virtually drowned his body in water and had to be hospitalised. And of course, there is the consolation factor of tea, as Bernard-Paul Heroux said, ‘there is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice of cup of tea’.

I think it’s pretty smart to be drinking tea this time of year (and here I have to say that I am going to include hippy tea along with builders’): it’s refreshing, it’s cheap, it’s good for you and it doesn’t leave you with a banging headache the next morning. But it’s still not really a ‘going out’ drink is it, unless you count Long Island Iced Tea in there, but that’s frankly cheating because there isn’t a single tea leaf in the cocktail. So let’s start a tea campaign, and have tea parties, tea tastings, tea dresses, cucumber sandwiches, cream scones….. Good idea for a charity event here on the island…. hmmm…. tea-riffic! Watch this space.  Ching ching!

http://www.familymattersmallorca.com

Smart versus stupid

What seems like a very long time ago, my boyfriend (now my husband) and I lived in London. At the weekends we liked to go out and wander around the city, taking advantage of the free museums and galleries, spending hours walking through markets, looking at buildings, eating fine food. Then one day, when we had intended to go to a very high brow exhibition of something or other, we found ourselves caught in a torrential rainstorm in the middle of the South Bank. It was grim, the rain made the pigeon poo on the pavement really slippery and all of a sudden we didn’t really care about going to see some artist we’d never heard of and ran hell for leather for the nearest tube station. One thing led to another and we discovered ourselves stood in front of an advert for a kids’ movie, it was for Shrek. It tickled us that we had set out to see some fancy art and now we were eating popcorn and watching a movie about a green ogre. And so, Smart versus Stupid was born (although we could have called it Pretentious versus Simple Fun, but that doesn’t sound as good).

Wind forward a few years, and we don’t really get much opportunity or time for museums and wandering around cities, but last weekend we thought we’d take in a gallery, it wasn’t beach weather that’s for sure. La Gidg was quite keen to go, but once we got to the gallery in Palma, none of us were really all that impressed with it. We tried to get our money’s worth, but there wasn’t much to look at, and up popped that memory of Smart versus Stupid. One thing led to another (including a torrential rainstorm, fittingly, which meant that option 2 of riding around Palma on an open top bus, something we still haven’t done, will have to be shelved until another weekend) and we collectively agreed that Simple Fun would probably be more in keeping with what we wanted to get out of our Sunday.

Off we went to the lovely Tom Brown’s Restaurant in Magalluf where we all had roast dinners and pop, all for the grand price of 30€ all in (including jelly and ice cream). Then La Gidg and I played mini golf whilst Oliver watched Mark Cavendish win his green jersey and the final stage of the Tour de France.

Happy mum + happy dad + happy kid = happy days.

We’d like more suggestions of simple, cheap and fun family things to do in Mallorca. If you’ve got an idea then please leave a comment at http://www.familymattersmallorca.com

Take it easy

If you’ve ever been to our little village of S’Arracó then you must really have wanted to go. It’s the sort of place which you drive through and if you blink, you’ve missed it. I’m not saying that we’re a one horse town, as there are quite a variety of things going on here, and we even have shops which are open on a Sunday, but when I tell people where I live they look at me strangely, head cocked to one side. Where did you say? ‘It’s near to Port Andratx, if you’re on the way to Sant Elm, then you might drive through it’. Ahhh… they reply, still not entirely sure where it is. Which is quite nice really, isn’t it? We’re off the grid a bit.

As a quiet and friendly little village we have lots of families with young children and more than our fair share of cars speeding on the main street, and that’s where the Slow Down S’Arracó campaign comes in. It’s that time of year when the cars start coming through on a country drive from Andratx on their way to seafront paella in Sant Elm, and these cars don’t seem to notice that they aren’t on a winding country road anymore when they blast down our high street.

We live on the main road, and I don’t even let the cats out of the front door (especially not the old blind one we’ve just adopted, who is doing very well thank you for asking), we’ve had one casualty, a kitten who was run over last year, the driver didn’t stop. So failing dressing up as the Cadbury’s Caramel bunny and insisting that everyone ‘Take it easy’ we’re hoping that a few practical measures will mean the kids and the animals in S’Arracó will be able to cross the road.

So far we’ve had our moment of glory on the local telly, which was exciting, and now we’re preparing a petition to take to the council. What we’re after (and coming from London I have so shake myself to believe I am actually supporting this as they’re the bane of the motorist’s life in the big smoke) is sleeping policemen in the road, or chicanes built in the pavement. Anything in fact that will make the convertibles with their happy holiday making and ‘out in the country for Sunday’ drivers just cut down on their speed.

So, please, if you would visit this site http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/reduiumlm-la-velocitat-s39arracoacute—slow-down-s39arracoacute/# and sign the petition that would be most greatly appreciated. When there are enough signatures we’re off to the council for a chat. Well to be more accurate, Tomas, who speaks Catalan, is off to the council for a chat. Any progress will be reported back. Thanks for your support!

http://www.facebook.com/vicki.mcleod

I am the walrus

Well, actually, this year I shall be a tortoise. It’s carnival time at La Gidg’s school and her class (and some of the parents) are dressing up as tortugas. Over the years we have been cows, cherries, Ecuadorian Indians and starfish. Don’t snigger, it’s important to me: one year I couldn’t make it to the carnival parade because I was working and another parent held my little girl’s hand as she marched around Port Andratx: I felt so left out, and such a bad parent, that I swore to never miss it again.

The costumes that we make have developed in complexity since the humble cow costume (which was essentially a bin bag with white splodges stuck on it). We were so disorganised one year that we forgot to buy the special hat that everyone was getting for their costumes and my husband stayed up all night constructing an appalling handmade hat (Gidg wore it proudly because her daddy had made it for her, but in retrospect, it looked pretty bad). Last year we had to collect ten plastic bottles per costume and then cut them out into star shapes (you had to be there to understand) and this year we are really going for it. We are full on turtles. ‘Mummy, I am going to be a ground tortuga like the ones in the forest, and you can be one of those GIANT ones from the Galapagos.’ Hmmm, yes darling.

So, off we trot to school with the other parents to cut out foam shell shapes and hats. There is some discussion about how to stick the foam together, and it’s not easy to understand tortoise making instructions when they are delivered in Catalan which are then translated into Castillano, and then misinterpreted in less than perfect Spanglish. It’s all a bit too Blue Peter for me, as I tend to go freestyle and off piste when it comes to painting: Pilar, La Gidg’s teacher, will painstakingly explain it to me, and I will nod sagely as if I am really listening, and then promptly forget everything I was told. So I need careful supervision. However what I tend to get is: ‘Mummy, NO! Pilar said we had to do it THIS way.’ You get the drift.

I am looking forward to our carnival parade though, despite what I might sound like. It’s yet another one of those Mallorcan events which is all the sweeter because it is still novel to me. I feel like an idiot walking down the streets dressed as fruit, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

(First published in the Euro Weekly News on February 25th 2011)

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