moving to mallorca

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

18767472_1163997700412316_351606726977054557_n

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.

19702515_1193826144096138_8057866209205592366_n

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!  

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Happy anniversary Mallorca

window crop

Ten years ago last weekend I drove a mini metro through France to Barcelona, got lost, couldn’t find the ferry port, almost had a nervous breakdown, found the ferry port with 2 minutes to go, and arrived finally in Mallorca with two cats and a car full of equipment for my new business to join my then boyfriend, now husband, who had moved a couple of months earlier when he’d been offered a job. I can look back on that day, and still remember every single event in it: including the egg sandwich my mum sent me off with at 6am from her house in France, and the hyperventilating cats that didn’t stop complaining for the whole 48 hour journey from London to Palma.

Ten years on, and what has changed? Well, the signposts for the ferry off the Barcelona ring road haven’t improved by all accounts, my spoken Spanish still leaves something to be desired, and I have yet to actually lie down on a beach for long enough to get a real tan (it’s all tanning fakery if you ever see me any other colour except “pale blue with freckles”). Mallorca is still as beautiful as it was when I first fell in love with the place, and I am still friends with some of the people that I first met when I arrived. Some have fallen by the wayside, moved on or away, but this leaves room for new friends and new experiences: this something I had to learn to cope with, the transience of island life.

It’s not always easy to live in Mallorca, but I still love it. I love living here and watching our daughter grow up in a beautiful, natural way, speaking three languages, playing in the sunshine and in the sea, getting a great education in a nice setting with her school in Port Andratx and the fabulous people at Kip McGrath. Our daughter is developing into a young person with her own ideas and opinions, something which makes me very proud. My husband and I have been through business success, and failure, and success again, and we’ve become part of our community here on the island, trying to contribute in the best ways that we can. Sometimes we’ve thought about going back to the UK ourselves. We left behind good jobs with great prospects to move to an island where we’ve had to fight for everything we have, nothing has been easy to get. What about the future, where will we be in another ten years’ time? I haven’t a clue, but wherever we are I hope we will be living our lives to their fullest capacity and enjoying ourselves, challenging and pushing ourselves to do more things. When you see what you can do in difficult circumstances it certainly gives you the courage to keep trying to do more.

Does that mean we’re proud of what we have achieved? You bet your life it does.

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.

Reflections on the beginning

La Gidg and I

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

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

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

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

Passing the book

Family Matters by Vicki McLeod

When I was a little girl I loved to read. I read voraciously. I read anything I could lay my hands on. At the breakfast table I would read and then re-read the back of the cereal packets because I wasn’t supposed to read my book at the table. I was never seen without a book. I loved books about ponies and schoolgirls and adventures, about things that happened years ago, and things that may happen in the future. I was a book geek. I had every single Flambards book, plenty of Enid Blyton, all of the Narnia stories, along with lots of other classics and I would dive back into them time and again.

My books have been with me throughout my life. I did consider giving them to a charity shop about fifteen years ago. I gazed at them thinking ‘Why am I keeping these?’ And out of somewhere in the back of my mind came the answer ‘You’re keeping us for your daughter’. Ahh… well at the time I didn’t have a child or even particularly think I would ever have one, so this was a turn up for the books, but nevertheless I thought, okay then, I will hang on to you.

Now La Gidg is in her first year at our local primary school, and her reading in both Catalan and Castillano is coming along very nicely. But my husband and I had noticed that she wasn’t so keen to try to read in English at home, she was happy to have stories read to her but wasn’t so confident about reading to us. We’d tried encouraging her: putting on silly voices, trying out new books, bribery even . . . but nothing had really inspired her until she started to go to the Kip McGrath centre in Son Quint. They specialise in tutoring kids in English and maths and their methods have really helped Gidg to turn the corner from bookshy to bookworm (which makes her geeky mother very proud).

Gidg has been going every Saturday morning for an eighty minute session with teachers Julie Staley and Jay Hirons to get her on the right track with her reading in English. You’d think (well I thought anyway) that it would be pretty simple to get a kid to read in English, but it turns out when they’re also dealing with two other languages then possibly they don’t really want to bother. But the pronunciation of certain letters is entirely different so it is important to get off on the right foot. So with a great reward system (we’re now the proud owners of a completed star chart and some very swish new colouring pencils) the Kip method (including playing specially designed computer games, drawing and reading aloud) over the last ten weeks has worked like a charm. Last weekend without any prompting I found Gidg holed up in her bedroom pouring over a book (she’s into mermaids and animals) rather than watching the Evil Tiny Pops on the TV so that’s a 100% result as far as I am concerned.

So, after all these years, my childhood books will be getting their airing after all, I think it’s going to have been worth their wait.

You can find out more here: http://spain.kipmcgrath.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

Bobbing along

I have a tune in my head: ‘Bobbing along, bobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny sea’…. I have been singing it to myself for the past few days in an attempt to cool down. Mallorca seems to have skipped July and gone straight for the crazy heat of August. Que calor!

The best place to cool down is the local pool, and we’re blessed to have the municipal one just down the road from us.  It’s a bargain too, for the whole year, for a family to use the indoor and outdoor pools in the borough of Andratx it costs an incredible 100€.  La Gidg likes the responsibility of looking after her own membership card, and we like the fact that it costs less than 30c a day to go swimming.

This does throw up the issue of what to wear. La Gidg has got 6 different sets of costumes and kiddie bikinis, Ollie has two pairs of shorts (neither of them the hilarious budgie smuggler speedos that you see on some more of the optimistic male swimmers), and I have an elderly swimming costume which I guess I should replace. But what with? Looking in women’s magazines you can choose from many different cossies which apparently will ‘flatter your shape’. But they all come down to the same thing: 2 millimetres of lycra and a smile. It’s a fallacy surely, how can anything like that actually work? If you haul it in in one area, it has to poke out somewhere else. What I find works for me is shouting and pointing at something imaginary in the far distance and whilst everyone is distracted doing a runner to the pool. I have also become one of those women who doesn’t like to get her hair wet, so I don’t leap into the pool, but hurriedly scuttle down the steps tout suite.

But then, heaven. Like a herd of hippos having a mud bath, we stay submerged until everything goes wrinkly. Thankfully there is a bar which sells a mean G & T, and ice cream. If we would move in if we could.

That is not a possibility though, and work will insist on raising its persistent head. Strategically booking appointments in air conditioned offices with water coolers is the only way forward when out and about. Failing that there is always the option of sitting directly in front of a fan, but that doesn’t work so well if you have to answer the phone, ‘Where are you? You sound like you’re in a wind tunnel’.

In the end it’s all about mind over matter, so why not join me in a rousing chorus, ‘Bobbing along, bobbing along….’

Look on the bright side

‘Cor blimey guv, it’s brass monkeys out there’. And the rest fella: it was more than just a tad chilly last week when we went back to the UK for our little trip to see the rellies. (I made sure that La Gidg wore a lot of vests, and despite bringing other pairs of shoes, I didn’t take off my beloved Ugg boots for ten days). When moving from one place to another, we didn’t dilly dally. We all wore gloves, hats, scarves: which was a novelty for us Paradise Island dwellers. We secretly hoped for snow, but no dice. Ironically, whilst we were shivering in the wilds of Gloucester, it was actually snowing in Mallorca: we decided not to tell La Gidg, it would have broken her five year old heart as she has yet to experience the pure, silly delight of making a snowman.

But at least the interiors of the houses we visited were warm and toasty: centrally heated, carpeted with snugly fitted double glazing. Oh, it’s lovely: draught-free living.  It’s also a bit like being drugged, it was so warm in my in-laws’ house that I started to slip into an involuntary hibernation. Just add food and I was off to the land of nod. At least in the UK it was the right way around being colder outside of the house than inside. Quite a far cry from our home here in Mallorca, que frio, as they say. We are dependent here on our wood burning stove, electric blankets and extra jumpers. We live in an old, draughty, damp, stone house: terrific in the summer when you’re sweating cobs, not so fantastic in January. How come nobody seems to know that it can be miserably cold even in the Mediterranean in the winter? We’ve been back for 48 hours, and we still can’t get the house to warm up.

It’s been quite a while since I spent any time in the UK; I’d forgotten how grey everything is in the winter. The sky is overcast, there’s no light; everything is dulled and blanketed in street grime. That’s not to say we didn’t have a terrific time visiting the folks and catching up with our friends, and we made a promise to ourselves that we wouldn’t let so much time go past before our next trip. But I’ve got to tell you, that blast of sunshine that hit our pasty faces when we emerged stiff-legged from an economy airplane on Sunday was enough to tip the scales in Mallorca’s balance, central heating or no. Here come the almond blossoms, the beautiful yellow flowers, the bright twinkling daylight shimmering on the too-cold-to-swim-in sea.

Look at me, yakking about the weather. Well, you know what they say, you can take the girl out of England, but you can’t take England out of the girl.

www.facebook.com/vicki.mcleod

 

Family Matters by Vicki McLeod Happy Anniversary Mallorca

Today is the day six years ago that I finally moved to Mallorca. Unlike some people who move here on a whim, or find themselves here by accident (we all know someone who says ‘I was on holiday here and I just didn’t get round to getting back on the plane’) my then boyfriend and I did do quite a lot of preparation before we moved. We knew where we wanted to live, I knew what I wanted to do for a living as I had trained as a massage and beauty therapist, he’d landed a job as a second chef in a local restaurant. We had enough money to move, and we left a ‘get out plan’ waiting for us in London. We were quite smart we thought, we’d prepared ourselves, what could go wrong? In writing this week’s column I’ve struggled to remember the order of events from the past six years, it’s all a bit of a blur. And some of it reads like the script from a disaster movie.
So, in no particular order: Ollie hospitalised with Reactive Arthritis which put him out of action for four months. We’ve rescued dogs, cats, and birds. I set up a successful beauty salon which I had to close when I was the victim of a hit and run incident. In 2008 Ollie realised a lifelong ambition to be on the radio when he was the newsreader on Luna Radio until it stopped broadcasting. We got married, the happiest and most wonderful day. We’ve met shysters, con artists and professional criminals. We had our daughter. We bought a house. Last weekend we photographed some of the Spanish world cup winners at a private party. We’ve got through six kettles (one a year) the water here just seems to wreck them. We set up a magazine business which went bankrupt. We’ve worked for weeks on end on four hours sleep every night. We’ve been to some of the most fabulous parties and been in the company of multi millionaires and royalty and we’ve been so broke we didn’t have enough money to buy a loaf of bread. We’ve raised thousands of euros for island charities. But best of all we’ve been fortunate enough to meet genuinely lovely people who would do anything for us, and us them.
Before the move I had visions of living on a finca with goats and chickens and the like. Far from it, but according to Ollie this might still happen. One day. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s to try to take each day as it comes, and try to make the most of whatever is presented to you because as the saying goes, ‘God laughs at people who make plans’.