Living in Spain

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.

Put Your “X” In The Box

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Donald Rumsfield famously said “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know”. As I think about this I’m sitting in Las Columnas in Palma de Mallorca. The weather is a balmy 18°C and I have just been in a meeting with a Spanish client. Earlier today I met with an Italian artist, and before that I had a coffee with a French colleague. Now I’m working on my regular column for the Euro Weekly for the British residents of Spain. I’ve lived in Mallorca for almost twelve years now, but last weekend I went back to the UK for a quick visit. It was exciting to see the new restaurants and products which you can get in the shops over there, and it was lovely to catch up with my old friends, but would I really want to live there anymore? I really don’t know. With the EU referendum coming up my husband and I have both checked that we are registered to vote, and we intend to. We hadn’t felt that we had the right to vote for the UK general elections, after all, we don’t live there anymore. We would love to have the right to vote in the Spanish ones, but apparently, according to Spanish politicians non Spanish EU members just don’t have the interest in politics, so why should they bother changing the law? It’s a complicated situation: we are all entering the unknown, the British politicians don’t know any more than we do what might happen if the UK decided to leave the EU, they also don’t know what would happen to people like me. I’m a Brit, with a green residencia paper (currently being upgraded to permanent status thanks to Mallorca Solutions) but if my country of birth leaves the EU, will I lose some of the rights that I have here in Europe?

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On the other hand, what if it improves the situation for us Spain lovers? If Britain is no longer a member of the EU perhaps I will then become able to vote in the National and Regional elections… what a treat that would be, to have a say in how my taxes are distributed. My friend Kate tells me that I shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the local elections and the power of our mayors when I grumble about it, she’s right that I don’t really understand about the direct impact they can have on my quality of life. I voted in the last local elections here on the island, did you?

Are you registered to vote?  If you aren’t registered, why aren’t you registered? It’s your duty, and your responsibility and your right to have your say. And if you don’t put your “x” in the box then it is seen as a lack of interest which subsequently leads to our rights as British nationals living in Spain to be ignored again. I for one am still a British passport holder, but if it came to it, would I relinquish my status and become a Spanish citizen? Will it come to that? Nobody knows. mallorcamatters

Now hear this

donkey ears

I can’t believe that I am writing this, but I might be about to “go private”. It’s totally against my lefty, hippy, sandal wearing principles but I have my reasons, believe me. I’ve been suffering with something which is very typical in Mallorca: recurrent ear problems. I started to feel rather ropey on a Sunday afternoon during a beach party for a friend of my daughter, so I took myself off to our local emergency room. I was swiftly diagnosed with an ear infection and prescribed antibiotic ear drops (Exhibit A) and packed on my way. Perfect, my normal experience of the Spanish public health system. No bedside manner, no big deal. I have my medication so therefore I am happy, bish bam bosh.

The following day, Monday, I made an appointment to see my family doctor. Off I trotted to see my doc, only to find in his place a rather sullen and completely disinterested locum. Well, it is August in Mallorca, so everyone has gone on their holidays. I was briefly examined by this chap who told me the first set of drops I had been prescribed were no use and that I should be using another set. I went to the Farmacia to collect them only to be told by my wonderful local chemist that the locum had prescribed had exactly the same ingredients as the emergency doctor. Hmm, thought I, not so impressive. But I bought the drops (exhibit B) to be on the safe side. The next day I woke to find I had an ear infection in the other ear, by now I was very tired, very grumpy, completely deaf and very behind in my work. I made another appointment. Expecting to see the same locum I went in to find another locum, this time he was a she, and if possible even less interested in my painful problem. “You already have the drops you need,” she told me. Yes, I have the antibiotics from Sunday but it’s now Thursday. “No, no, the drops you were given on Tuesday” she replied. I showed her both bottles, so these are not the same then? I asked her. She took the bottle (Exhibit A) and pronounced with accompanied eye rolling, “No, these are just for wax”.  At this point in the conversation I gave up, stood up, and went straight back to the Farmacia for confirmation that the doctor was wrong, she was. And then I called Dr Stoma in Portals, asked how much it would be to see him without private insurance and made an appointment.  He listened, he was polite, he examined me properly, even asking if my ears were hurting when he touched them. I didn’t realise that bedside manner was so important, but when you are feeling ill you need someone to be respectful and interested in you, not sullen, rude, rough and arrogant which is how I felt the locum doctors behaved towards me, aside from the obvious problem that neither of them had a clue what they were talking about.  It was in fact a revelation to me that a visit to a doctor’s surgery could be such a relief. Manners really do make the man.

Normal service will be resumed

The medical form....

The medical form….

Regular readers of this column will have noticed that I have been anything but regular recently with my column, and for that I apologise. I’ve been getting to know the Spanish health system. Now it’s nothing to worry about, I’m not about to announce a terminal disease or a pregnancy but I have been coping with a new and unexpected development. I’ve become one of those people who has back problems, despite my indignant denial of the situation.

Which is how I found myself in Son Espases Hospital at 9.30am a couple of Sundays ago waiting for an MRI. There is a little known skill that a Britisher has to develop once they have moved to Spain: the ability to recognise their surname when a Spanish person pronounces it in a waiting room. You don’t want to jump up and cry “Ese soy yo!” and then be embarrassed to realise that they have in fact just called Senora Mendoza, crivens no, that wouldn’t do at all to draw attention to one’s self would it? On top of that there is the immense translation task which is the medical questionnaire, in Catalan. Back in 2004 when my husband and I moved to Mallorca we very quickly had to use what was then Son Dureta Hospital for a mystery illness (which turned out to be a very nasty bout of reactive arthritis) I had to cart around an enormous Spanish English dictionary with me in order to be understand, much to the amusement of the nurses. At least now I can use the Google Translate App on my phone, (if you haven’t got it, get it, it’s free and very handy for tricky vocabulary. I didn’t know the Catalan word “imant” meant “magnet” for example).

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have an MRI. Although I’d seen plenty of them on Casualty, I still turned to my Facebook mates in the group “I have a question” to find out what advice they had for me. “You have to stay still but don’t panic”, “make sure you go for a big wee beforehand”, “it’s quite noisy but it’s okay they give you earplugs”, and “I played an alphabet game in my head to distract me” were the four most key pieces of advice that played through my head (wishing I’d remembered the advice about the wee), as I lay down on the trolley and slowly slid into the tube. I fought off the temptation to have a panic attack when I realised that I was in an expensive coffin-like structure and started to write this column in my head.  My friends were right, it is noisy, but the sounds themselves are very much like what you would expect to hear coming from a teenager’s bedroom: a repetitive twanging guitar sound, one note only, a stuck record (vinyl, remember them, even older than my massive dictionary) and a jack hammer. Well, depends on the type of teenagers you know I suppose.

I’ll be back next week. (See what I did there?).

http://www.familymattersmallorca.com

Vicki McLeod 2014

2014 begins

If you are looking The Mallorca Expat Commandments then click here and if you are looking for information about my blog courses then click here. 

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La Gidg on the beach, Jan 1st 2014

We’ve spent the first day of 2014 doing what we hope to do much more of throughout the year.  Namely spending time together and with family and friends.

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Winners!
Photo by Phil Rogan.

We kicked off our day with breakfast then boogied over to Portals Nous where we went for a very rapid dip in the Med. It was cold.  Not Ice Station Zebra cold, but chilly enough ta. (Photo by Phil Rogan).

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Grandad’s little horse, La Gidg and my Dad, Alaro Jan 1st 2013

Then we zipped to Alaro and walked up to the top and then down to the lamb restaurant Es Verger.

The weather was amazeballs (apparently that word is SO 2013 darling, but I like it,  so it stays) and everyone seemed determined to have a lovely day.

Setting intentions to spend better and happier times with my important people is perhaps the best and nicest resolution I could make.  All the others in my mind are all self improvement which just read like a list on how to “how to wreck your confidence”. So I won’t.

If you are looking The Mallorca Expat Commandments then click here.  

And if you are looking for information about my blog courses then click here.

Comment? Moi?

Spain Buddy It’s a strange life, being a blogger.

You get asked to contribute to all sorts of things.

Last week I was asked to contribute to this article about Mallorca.

Hope I didn’t make a prat of myself, but this is always a possibility.

Nice to be asked to comment.

You can leave a comment at the end of the article if you want to contribute as well.

A very long weekend

After what has been an extremely long weekend (normally that would be something to look forward to) I am relieved to think that perhaps all of the fires are out now and we can resume our normal lives. Last week I was telling you about the Nit de L’Art in my little village, s’Arracó which is in the Andratx area. Little did we know that the next day we would be hitting the headlines again for our own personal Nit de Foc (night of fire). After a sleepless night watching the hills which surround our village burning and then three more days of constant helicopter flights and Twitter updates with the fire spreading to St Elm and back up to Estellencs and over to the Galatzo estate some things have become very clear to me.

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500 portions of salad
(No sign of a Big Mac though)

1) If you are going to have a natural disaster don’t worry about catering as the local people will literally bring crate upon crate of food until you are begging for them to stop. “No more bocadillos!” was one of the Twitter updates from our local council where the operations room was. We saw photos of mounds of fruit and vegetables, stacks and stacks of boxes of salad, buckets of bottled water.

2) Don’t believe anything unless you have seen it yourself or it has come from an official source. Really. Gossip spreads like wild fire (I know, couldn’t be helped), and is just speculation. It only frightens people more.

3) If you haven’t already been to the Sa Trapa area of St Elm and had a walk up there to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and views, well you’d better get in touch with http://www.gobmallorca.com the local environmental group here on our island which will be getting the rehabilitation project for the area underway in September. The area is stunning but has been severely damaged by the fire and now resembles the surface of the moon. You can visit their website and sign up to volunteer right there on the front page. The site is in Catalan but if you can’t read Catalan then view it through an internet browser that does instant translations and you will be fine.

4) Our local community has balls of steel. Everyone stuck together, offered help and stayed calm.

5) We are extremely lucky to have such amazing fire fighters, both on the ground and in the air. What an incredibly brave group of people.

Matthew Clark

Thank you. 

6) The guy who started the fire by accident did so by disposing of smouldering embers from the previous night’s bbq. It was not a German resident burning stubble in his garden. (see point number 2).

For now, let’s appreciate and care for what we have been blessed to live amongst, please don’t throw cigarette ends out of your car, don’t burn rubbish in your back garden and don’t leave a BBQ unattended. It really can happen, just like that, and don’t we all know it now.

Stay safe. Vx

(P.S. I’ll tell you about the Night of Art and the “peg crisis”, and the Stand Up Comedy course, Wendy, brown trousers and performances next time).  

P.P.S. Thank you to Matthew Clark for the amazing photo of the airborne firefighters.

Our Nit de Foc

s’Arracó, forest fire, Mallorca, Oliver Neilson

The view from our office window
Photo by Oliver Neilson

Friday 26th July 2013

4.30pm I’m in Palma with my daughter when I hear about the fire. It’s burning vigorously in Sa Coma which is a few miles away from s’Arracó where we live. Every hour or so I call my husband, who is at home working, and then I start to see my neighbours posting photos on Facebook and Twitter of big, big bellowing clouds of smoke. A quiet anxiety begins to niggle away at me and I ask my husband to get our cats inside, and put them in a room where he can quickly put them in a travel box if need be. The hours go by. The fire moves closer to our house and our village which only the day before had been the stage for a brilliant Night of Art attended by thousands of people.

7.30pm My husband calls, he has to go out to see a client, so he releases the cats and leaves for Bunyola in the middle of the island.

9.30pm My seven year old daughter and I head for home. In Palma the sky is already dark. I know that the fire fighters in the helicopters can’t fly at night as it is too dangerous, so the fires will continue to burn unchecked. But I don’t truly appreciate what this is going to mean.

As we journey home we talk about the fire. I don’t want to frighten my little girl but I also don’t know what to expect. I ask her what three things she would want to take from the house if we had to leave quickly. She says “The three things I would take are Mummy, Daddy and Toffee” (her favourite toy). I explain that she was already on my list. We reach the crest of the hill: the town of Andratx is laid out before us. The sky is on fire. We both gasp.

I start gabbling, over and over, “oh my god, oh my god”. I drive slower than I usually would  through Andratx towards our village as I am not looking at the road; I am looking at the fire. The hills are glowing red, it is as if there is molten lava running down them and I can see flames. We are in a 4D volcano disaster movie. It’s incredible to look at, is it really okay to even be this close to the fire?

We drive from Andratx towards s’Arracó. The sky darkens and I start to think that our village has got away with it. Up, up on the winding country road to the top of the valley bowl, but as I turn the car into s’Arracó I have to slow down to a crawl. The landscape to the right of the village is alight.

When we get to our house which is on the main road of the village I am not surprised to see that all of my neighbours out. It’s a sharp contrast to the 24 hours before when we were all out celebrating the Night of Art and having a wonderful time at our home grown cultural fiesta. Tonight should have been a night to rest after our big party; we were all feeling a bit bleary already.

My opposite neighbours, Carlos and his family, are all on his first floor balcony window gazing at the flames. He is shirtless and wearing only his underpants: the air temperature is still tropical even though it is now 10.30pm. I hear him talking about his land, which is what he is looking at, it is on fire. He keeps animals up there and he hasn’t been allowed by the police to go up to release them.

As soon as we go into our house the cats appear. I decide not to feed them as I want them to stay close in case we need to evacuate. They lie on the cool tiles in the kitchen, chilling their bellies.

My daughter and I pack her things: a change of clothes, toothbrush, Toffee, and two more things special to her. We put them all in her pink suitcase and leave it by the door. Then she watches some TV and ignores the fire. I don’t. I can’t. Every time I look out of my home office window the flames are getting closer to us and filling the view. It’s compelling.

My friends and neighbours in the village keep in touch with each other through Facebook. We are taking photos and updating each other. The roads behind our village which travel off into the hills towards St Elm are closed and the properties there are evacuated by the Guardia. I hear of one family who are told to get out of their house and not expect it to be there in the morning. I don’t feel fear or panic, I feel numb. I can’t comprehend it.

I pack more things. What would we take if we had to evacuate? Passports, papers, work things, computers, cameras, clean pants, cats. Where would we go? We get offers from a lot of friends; we know we will be okay for somewhere to stay. I look at the contents of my house. We have a piano. What if it was burnt? Would the keys be left behind like the instrument’s teeth?

I speak to my father who lives in the Sa Coma valley and has decided to stay in his house with his wife. He thinks the wind has changed and they aren’t in any danger. I decide to believe him as he understands a lot more about wind directions than I do, given that he is a sailor .

11.30pm. The wind is picking up. I stand in our back garden and watch the hills glowing red with patches of embers. It’s beautiful to look at, but deadly to be in. I wonder about the animals that are in harm’s way. The wind is blowing from behind the fire directly towards our house and the rest of the village. The possibility that we will have to evacuate seems very real.

We watch and we decide that if we can see flames on the hills closest to us we will go.  One of my friends on Facebook tells me that if the smoke stings our eyes that it is time to hit the road. Our community vigil begins.

The flames creep over the hills and continue to travel towards St Elm. My friend who lives there reports that Sa Trapa is on fire as well. She is watching and waiting for her time to move as well.

We are in limbo. It’s as if we are all expecting a birth. We are waiting for nature to take its course. I keep busy and tidy the house; I put out the rubbish to be collected, which seems ironic as who knows what is going to happen? Perhaps by the morning there won’t be a house. I pack and prepare as if we are going on a holiday. It feels the same: putting plants in the bath, and doing a load of washing.

12.30pm We sit, we wait, we drink tea. There are a lot of people on the streets, a lot of cars moving around and doors being slammed. Our neighbours are loading their cars as well. Another of our neighbour’s sons is trying to find a safe place to park their car, it’s a classic Mini Moke and he is under strict instructions to get it away.

1.30am Water trucks drive down our street, one after another after another. The hydraulic brakes all hissing at the same point on the curve of the road.  Standing in our garden I can see the tongues of flames licking the palm trees in the distance.

2.30am I lose count of the number of water trucks, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty trips? The police are on the street again. It is the height of summer but the smoky air in s’Arracó makes it smell like winter and Christmas. The hours pass and the flames rage.

4.30am The wind calms and the fire begins to redirect itself.

5.30am The bin men pass by and I smile to myself as they stop to collect our trash. Hope prevails.

6.30am Daylight comes and with it the wind begins again. We can’t see the extent of the damage to our beautiful valley as everything is wrapped in a thick veil of smoke, but I can still see flames. The helicopters start to fly again.  I hear that our friends’ evacuated houses are okay, and it’s then that the tears come.

7.30am The suitcases are still by the door, but we decide to feed the cats. We pray for the wind to be still. The local cockerels start to crow.

First published on Sunday July 28th in the Majorca Daily Bulletin

Summer’s Mission

We decided,  as a family,  that we weren’t spending enough time together or indeed enough time enjoying Mallorca.  So, this summer we are going to go somewhere new every week and report back on it.  First up is somewhere very easy to get to,  Cala Cap Falco beach. It’s around the back of Magaluf on the way to the casino.  Have you ever been there?