Oliver Neilson

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.

Blowing bubbles

Brad Robertson, Ondine Escape, Vicki McLeod, Family Matters Mallorca When I was a teenager I was a passionate supporter of Greenpeace, I was a strident opponent of certain political systems, and I refused to walk past butchers’ shops. And then I got older and these things, although I still cared about them, didn’t take up or couldn’t take up as much space in my mind as they had done. I am now beginning to realise that the things that we hold dear and important to us when we are children are really the things that truly mean something to us and shouldn’t be shrugged off as “teenage whimsy”.

This doesn’t explain why two years ago I accepted the opportunity to learn to dive with Brad Robertson from Ondine Escape an adventure sports company with a strong environmental focus based in Mallorca: I hate cold water and after some bad experiences in trying to learn to dive when I was younger I wasn’t so keen. However the whole experience was amazing and the finale when I was asked to get into the shark tank at the Palma Aquarium was incredible.

You can read about the whole experience on my blog

here: http://familymattersmallorca.com/2011/06/01/a-secret-mission/,

here: http://familymattersmallorca.com/2011/06/01/dive-school/

and here: http://familymattersmallorca.com/2011/06/01/just-your-average-sunday/

My little girl, La Gidg, went through the whole thing with me, watching enviously from the waterside, and waving back at me when I was in the shark tank. “You can learn when you are eight”, Brad told her. She didn’t forget that, and would occasionally raise the topic of whether or not her dad and I remembered that when she turned eight she would legally be allowed to dive.

Gidg turned eight this week. Incredibly she seemed to have forgotten amongst all the other birthday shizzle that she now could dive with Brad if she so wished. But Brad and I had not, and colluded to arrange a surprise meeting on the beach during her birthday picnic. Surprise, surprise he had some diving gear with him, so would Gidg like to go and blow some bubbles? Of course she did!

There aren’t that many people that I would trust with my daughter’s safety: as an eight year old she can participate in a dive up to 2 metres deep with a qualified diving instructor, but I was very happy to hand her over to Brad who had looked after me and treated me with such patience and understanding when I had learnt to dive.  I watched with a great deal of pride as she was briefed and then loaded up with gear and walked into the sea. They were gone for what felt like hours, but was probably not quite as long. When they re-emerged from the water the rest of the people on the beach got the shock of their life when some banshee started cheering and yelling at the top of her voice (sorry about that Cala Bendinat).

And so a new passion has been formed: a passion for adventure, for the environment, for challenge, and for fun.

Happy birthday chickadee, and thank you Brad for the best present we could ever have given her.

What’s left . . .

forest fire, Mallorca, Andratx, photo by Oliver Neilson This week’s Family Matters isn’t written by me, it’s written by my husband Oliver Neilson who went up the Estellencs road on Saturday afternoon (the first day it has been open to the public since the fire). He is very familiar with this area having walked it on countless occasions with our dog, and also guided walkers through it as well. He first published this on his personal Facebook account on Saturday night, so far it has been shared a staggering 193 times. This is his account.

“I took a drive up into the mountains today to check out how much the Andratx fire had taken of the Tramuntana. I drove up the coast road from the Andratx townhall, pretty much to the seat of the fire, at about 20 kmph all the way with my chin on my chest. Around me were my fellow gawkers, some on four wheels, and some on two. All struck dumb by what we saw. The devastation is endless; it stretches from horizon to horizon. From both sides of the road, from the valley bottoms, to the mountain tops. The tarmac and the road signs are charred. Boulders dislodged from the ancient earthworks have rolled onto the road, charcoal blackened on one side. If you have lived in Mallorca for more than a year or two then you will probably have seen a fire, and some not so far from you. The helicopters or the cool yellow planes arrive and in an hour or so all that is left is steaming undergrowth and we can all get back to what we were doing.
“This one is of a different magnitude all together.
“We all felt our hearts swell with appreciation as we saw the planes dip down between the pedalos for another belly full of anti-fire ammunition and kidded ourselves that they had it under control, but a drive up the coast today put the enormity of their achievement into very sharp focus. Its charred embers look like hell today, so to have been there when it was ablaze must have been unimaginable.
“There are isolated houses and casitas that sit as tiny islands of green, in an ocean of grey ash and burnt ochre foliage. No doubt spared by a very timely dousing from a Canadair full of Portals bay, or a helicopter’s bucket full of Andratx municipal pool.

“Go take a look if you get a moment, remind yourself how beautiful this place is, and how lucky you are to be here, how very, very lucky we are that the pilots and fire fighters are….well….cool.

“…and get involved in the many operations to restore this unique place for ourselves and our kids. Ajuntament D’Andratx and GOB Mallorca are worth checking out as they are already looking for volunteers. We have lost a beautiful chunk of nature in this fire, perhaps we can gain a wider community if we all pull together in putting it back”.

Beautifully written, I think. Well done O.

Ollie is looking for bilingual Catalan/English speakers who want to get involved with GOB and help to liaise with the British (non Catalan speaking) residents who want to help. If you can help please get in touch with us, or leave a comment. Thanks!