Living in rural Mallorca

Country life in an old Mallorcan finca

How about living in rural Mallorca?

We’ve met a lot of interesting people since we moved to rural Mallorca – and some of them also own fincas; it’s always good to talk to others who have a similar lifestyle to our own. One such person is a lovely lady called Kay Newton. Work, life, and the distance between our respective homes on Mallorca has meant that I haven’t seen nearly as much of Kay as I’d like to have done.

We met first at a lunch organised by a women’s networking group known as LACE. I joined this group fairly soon after moving here – not because I needed the advantages of networking with businesswomen, but because the only females living in my immediate vicinity were sheep, and I needed some girl talk! (I have, of course, since got to know the women who live in the valley).

Unfortunately for her many friends (she is a very popular, warm-hearted, and generous person), Kay and her husband are about to leave Mallorca for rather exciting reasons.  Their departure raises the possibility for someone to enjoy a new life – and potential business – in a finca on this beautiful Spanish island.

Here’s Kay to explain . . .

“I’m a personal development coach, author, and mum to two boys aged 18 and 21. Now we have an empty nest. My husband and I are currently undergoing a lifestyle change. After 30 years on Mallorca, and 20 years in the same house, we are about to move to a beach hut in Zanzibar! So our ‘dream life’ here in Spain is up for sale.”

So you are in effect going from an ’empty nest’ to ‘no nest’?

“At the beginning of this year I had no idea we would be having this conversation. This opportunity arose at Easter, and we felt we just couldn’t say no. The kids have left home, we have downsized and de-cluttered, and our lives now fit into two 20-kilo bags.”

What have your boys said?

“My eldest is following his passion in food and is currently a crew chef on board a private superyacht. My youngest is about to start three years at a UK university. The whole family enjoys adventures. It was a bit of a shock at first, yet I think they like the idea now.”

What do you love about Mallorca?

“I love the Mediterranean lifestyle and the weather of course. The Sunday Times recently voted it the world’s first choice as a destination to live. The close proximity to Europe makes it a wonderful holiday destination too. I love the fact that you can still find quiet beaches in August, and in the autumn and spring the mountain walks are spectacular. We have fabulous restaurants, great international schools, a large expat community – and, of course, living here at Can Jaume!”

Tell us about Can Jaume

“Can Jaume is situated in the centre of the island away from the tourist areas. It is in a rural setting yet has easy access to the city of Inca and the island in general. The 11,000sqm plot is all organic and the accommodation split in two. A fully restored farmhouse with four bedrooms, and the old milking shed is now a two-bedroom guest house. I am able to work from home as a personal development coach and Tai Chi instructor, and use the guest house for workshops and retreats when it is not rented out.”

So you are selling your dream?

“Yes, in effect, we are selling the dream lifestyle we lead here, not just a house. We have put together a package for the right person. Someone who wants to act quickly, get away from grey skies, perhaps, and someone who is excited about taking on a project with a proven track record. The package include the house, furniture, website, holiday listings, and coaching to help you through the setting up period. All you really need is to pack a suitcase!”

House for sale Inca

Living the dream at Can Jaume, near Inca, Mallorca. Photo courtesy of Kay.

More information can be found at:

http://www.NewtonProjectManagement.com

http://www.MallorcaLet.com

The Boss and I wish Kay and James every success in their new life.

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A safe haven for the famous Manacor chickens

I’ve written before about my wish to have a few chickens roaming around. It won’t happen – partly because we have seven outdoor cats and I’m not sure that chickens and cats go that well together. So to get my chicken fix, when we’re out shopping in Manacor, I look out for the residents of what The Boss and I (and probably a lot of other people!) have dubbed ‘chicken roundabout’. This grassy roundabout on the busy ring road is home to a number of chickens – who don’t seem at all bothered by the noise of the traffic.

I wrote earlier this year about what the locals call ses galines de sa rotonda. It was a sad post to write because it followed the weekend when the flock had been attacked by what were probably dogs roaming loose. Bodies and feathers littered the grass.

In subsequent months, the number of chickens seems to have increased – and we’ve often seen chicks pecking around at the feet of their mothers. It’s been encouraging to see the flock growing again.

Home cheep home

A day or two ago I spotted something that filled me with happiness: Manacor’s famous chickens now have a hen house in the middle of the roundabout! Food and water dishes are inside and the chickens and chicks must be much safer now that they can spend the quieter hours inside their new home.

I took photographs today, but didn’t go onto the roundabout itself for fear of chickens fleeing into the road and the busy traffic. I don’t know who supplied the hen house, but the Ayuntamiento de Manacor (town hall) has put up notices on it asking people not to feed the chickens or to disturb them. A telephone number is provided if anyone sees anything untoward happening on the roundabout.

If our local town hall has spent a little of our municipality taxes on providing this hen house, I have no problem with that. I’m just pleased that our famous feathered friends can sleep a little more safely at night. It was eggs-actly what they needed . . .

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Footnote: When I wrote my original post on this subject, 2,876 people had ‘liked’ the Ses Galines de sa rotonda Facebook page. Today that figure stands at 3,169!

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Writing cats and dogs . . .

My recent post ‘It’s a dog’s life on Mallorca‘ referred to an article I’d written about the Mallorca charity that rescues German Shepherds and other large dog breeds. If you’d like to read more about Dogs For U, the article has just been published in the online magazine ‘Insiders Abroad’.

Article about dog rescuers on Mallorca

Dogs For U in ‘Insiders Abroad’

IMG_1783[1]

The editor – having read this blog – initially contacted me to write about our cats, but I felt that an article about Dogs For U would perhaps raise awareness of their tireless work for unwanted dogs. The magazine accepted the idea, but also wanted to publish a collage of my photos of our cats in the same issue, which was pet-themed. And this week our furry felines have their moment of fame . . .

Cat photos

Our cats – published in ‘Insiders Abroad’

 

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Solar panels get their summer spruce-up

We’re great fans of our solar-powered electricity system. We can run our air conditioning all day without worrying about the next GESA electricity bill – although, of course, such a system does require a fairly hefty investment up-front, so it’s not (as some people suggest) really free power.

During the summer the system trundles along without too much input from us – correction, The Boss. Sure, he still disappears down to the dependencia (the building where batteries, invertor, and back-up generator are stored) every Monday, just to make sure there are no red warning lights flashing anywhere.

Hose at the ready

But during a long hot, extremely dry, and dusty summer, the solar panels do appreciate a little bit of TLC. Which is where The Boss, a ladder, a mop and bucket, and a hose come into play. This morning – just after 7am – he was up a ladder cleaning several months’ of dust and dirt off the panels, first mopping them with soapy water, then hosing off the suds. They’re gleaming clean now and probably soaking up lots more rays as a result.

If anything’s going to bring on the long-overdue and much-needed rain, this morning’s clean-up  should do it. Umbrellas at the ready, Mallorca?

A summer wash for our solar panels. Note the presence of Pip - always ready to assist.

A summer wash for our solar panels. Note the presence of Pip – always ready to assist.


 

 

 

 

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A trio of birthday cats

Yesterday was the fourth birthday of three of our ‘glaring’ – the small community of cats that have made our finca in rural Mallorca their home. Jetta – a black cat that had ‘adopted’ us early in 2011 – had already produced a litter of four kittens at the end of March 2011. Two of those – Beamer and Dusty – are still with us.

Before we knew it, Jetta was pregnant again and this time there were five kittens produced on July 31st, 2011 – although it was some weeks before we had a glimpse of any of them. Her first nursery had been the old ruined casita on the other side of an old wall at the end of our field. For her next litter, she chose a different spot, but still close by, so that she could return to our place for her twice-daily meals and source of water, without leaving her little ones alone for long.

Of the second litter, we still have Nibbles, Chico, and Sweetie. Nibbles is very communicative and loves human company; one of his favourite activities is jumping onto a lap and being stroked. When he’s had enough he has a way of letting you know – which is why we changed the original name we’d given him – Left Patch (imaginative, eh?) to Nibbles.  Chico and Sweetie – even after four years with us – are still quite nervous around humans, but will allow us to stroke them while they are eating.  White Face and Baby Bear – the other two from the second litter – were around for several months before they stopped coming back for their meals.

Black and white kitten

Nibbles at 10 weeks old

Yawning cat

Not a sabre-toothed tiger, but the four-year-old Nibbles mid-yawn.

After the birth of her second litter, Jetta seemed to trust us enough to allow us to stroke her and, if she was in the right mood, pick her up. It wasn’t long before we scooped her up and took her to the vet’s for The Operation. No more kittens for her.

Sadly Jetta is now only a fond memory, as she went off one day and didn’t return. As with White Face and Baby Bear (and Bear from the first litter), we like to think that Jetta went off to find a territory she wouldn’t have to share.

We feel privileged to have had these lovely cats in our lives for the past four years. Here’s to many more – years, not cats!

 

 

 

 

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Another job for our Mallorcan plumber

If you’re going to live on Mallorca, it pays to have a good relationship with a plumber. Over the years we have been here we have spent a lot of money at our local plumbers. During our early time here it seemed that almost every problem we had with the house was water-related.

Cito and his team have come to our rescue many times. He’s had a few good plumbers (and electricians – as his company Ca’n Pedro does both) working for him over that time: Miquel Angel – who once found The Boss prone on the dining room floor with blood pouring from his head after his accident with the low lintel over the front door; Pep – who accidentally put a pickaxe through the cold-water pipe while trying to locate a burst hot-water pipe under our tiled shower room floor, and Rubens (also an electrician), who rescued us when a burst of my KitchenAid blender (I was making soup at the time) caused the whole electricity system to go phut.

Cito seems to be winding down his business a bit – perhaps with an eye to his future retirement – and today it’s Cito himself who’s working at the house, aided by his son-in-law. Yes, another water-related problem at the finca!

Who needs hot water?

Our house has two gas-powered acumuladores (water heater/storage units): one serving our shower room and annexe guest room; the other for the kitchen and our main guest bathroom. Naturally, the latter gets the most use; we had to replace it with a new one quite a few years ago.

The other one has quietly done its job over the years but, a week or two ago, after The Boss had attached a new gas bottle, the thing wouldn’t re-light. As it happens, the lack of hot water isn’t a problem at this time of year. Our water supply comes to the house from our water storage tank in overground pipes and the cold water has been arriving hot in our taps for several weeks, as a result of the summer heat. What should have been hot water in the heater unit was cold. Problem temporarily solved: we’d use the cold tap for hot water, and the hot, for cold!

Gas water heater and storage unit

Our acumulador had lost its looks as well as its functionality!

Cito to the rescue

Cito came out to inspect the water heater, and removed a sorry-looking part. He came back to us later with the news that a replacement part would cost a couple of hundred euros. As that water heater is at least 13 years old – we’ve never replaced it since we bought the place in 2002 – it made more economic sense to buy a new water heater.

Today it’s been fitted in the small cubby hole housing the water unit.  There was a slightly worrying moment when Cito announced that the door wasn’t wide enough to remove the old unit (The Boss had modified the entrance to the room and hand-built a new wooden door and frame a while ago).  For a horrible few minutes we imagined having to undo The Boss’s painstaking work, but Cito somehow found a non-destructive solution, and the job has just been completed.

Now we have hot water from the hot taps again. And, while the summer continues, also from the cold taps . . .

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It’s a dog’s life on Mallorca

"All I want is a forever home . . . "

“All I want is a forever home . . . “

If you live in rural Mallorca, as we do, chances are you’ll end up owning a dog. The Boss grew up with dogs and, although he’d never owned one as an adult, I fully expected that we’d soon have a dog after we moved to the island from the UK.

It so nearly happened. During our early time living here, we went out one Sunday morning for a coffee and returned later to find an enormous black dog stretched out in the shade under our bank of solar panels in the back field. And I mean enormous. It looked like a small black horse. But where had it come from?

It had been abandoned. Someone who can’t or doesn’t want to look after an animal any longer takes said dog or cat for a one-way car trip into the country. It’s so cruel, but it happens. Some English neighbours acquired their own little Mallorcan terrier that way.

But we weren’t in a position to adopt this large dog, as we owned two cats we’d brought from England. And this fierce pooch didn’t seem like a potential pussycat pal or pet. When a neighbour strolled down the lane past the field, the creature went ballistic, as though it had been instructed to guard the field.

Seeking refuge

It was a hot day and we were concerned the dog would dehydrate, so we gingerly walked down the field with some water for it. Luckily we also had a few dog biscuits, as we’d taken to supplementing the diet of a dog in the valley that spent its life chained up on a farm and seemed to survive on leftovers from the owners’ meals.

At that early time of living here we had no idea who to call about this, so we started with the local police – who referred us to an animal refuge. Quite a few phone calls later we finally found a refuge that was prepared to take this big boy (yes, his gender became obvious when he stood up). The refuge van eventually turned up, we gave the man from the refuge a cash donation (feeling a tad guilty that we weren’t able to keep the animal), and the large black dog hopped into the back of the van to begin the next chapter of his life story. Heartbreaking.

Dogs For U

I remembered this occasion recently when I visited Dogs For U – a charity based in the countryside near the Mallorcan town of Inca, and founded by a caring and hardworking German woman called Cornelia Kudszus. Cornelia and her small band of volunteers rescue German Shepherds and other large hard-to-home breeds and look after them until they can rehome them.

I visited Dogs For U last month in connection with an article I’d been invited to write for an off-island magazine. I’ll post the weblink here when it’s published.

In the meantime, if you live on Mallorca – or are moving to the island – and you’d like a dog to share your life, please consider visiting Dogs For U to see if they have a dog that would suit you. Or, if you have spare time and live in the area, perhaps give them a little of your time as a volunteer helper. They always welcome people who are happy to walk dogs, or able to foster a dog for a short period to help ease the workload at the refuge.

There were 18 beautiful dogs there on the day I visited and I’d love to have brought a few home with me, but I don’t think our colony of finca cats would have approved . . .

If you don’t live on the island but love dogs and would like to help Dogs For U financially – feeding and vet’s bills are just some of the ongoing costs – please consider donating just one euro a month (less than the cost of a cup of coffee) to the charity through their microfunding teaming.net page https://www.teaming.net/dogsforumallorca

 

 

 

 

 

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A friend’s charming house is for sale in Selva, Mallorca

No, I’ve definitely not gone into the Mallorcan real estate business! This is to help my friend Jane, who is selling her charming house in the village of Selva – just 2km from the large town of Inca, but a world away in terms of environment, character, and community. Inca has a large covered market, a good shopping centre, and a station on Mallorca’s railway line. Palma is easily reached from Inca (and railway fares here are low compared to those in the UK, for example).

With Jane returning to the UK, her Selva village house is now on the market for 275,000 euros or nearest offer – a keen price because a quick sale is sought.

A corner position for this house in the village of Selva.

A corner position for this house in the village of Selva.

The Boss and I have enjoyed a cosy dinner party at Jane’s house in the depths of winter, and a lovely summer’s evening in their walled and gated garden. For anyone who doesn’t want a full-on rural living experience, but likes country views, tranquillity, and the community benefits of a small village like Selva, this could be the perfect home.

Here’s Jane’s description of the property for sale:

House

Two double bedrooms

A smaller double bedroom/large office

A full bathroom

Shower room with walk-in marble shower

Large dining room

Fitted kitchen

Large sitting room

Upstairs terrace with views to bay of Alcudia

Separate garden 100m2 with seating area.

Location

This charming house is located in the heart of the Mallorcan village of Selva. The village nestles in the foothills of the Tramuntana Mountain range – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ensuring preservation of its character. It also provides easy access to the beaches of the north, quick access to Palma and the airport, and direct access to the mountains of the stunning Tramuntana.

The village offers a variety of superb restaurants, two local shops, a number of bars, a great municipal swimming pool and sports centre and a real slice of Mallorcan life. It even has its own vineyard.

The house sits at the top of the village within a couple of minutes walk of the main church and just three minutes from the main square, yet its location on the corner of two pedestrianized streets ensures it’s quiet. The house is one side of an L-shaped building with a second house forming the other part of the L. Other than that it is completely detached from any other property.

Garden

It comes with a wonderful, mature, walled garden, which provides an oasis in the summer to enjoy a drink, entertain for dinner, or simply swing in a hammock. The shrubs are mature and have been allowed to grow to create a verdant space. Fruit trees include lemon, fig, orange, satsuma and almond. Bougainvillea lines one wall next to the firewood cover and shed, which is ideal for keeping garden tools. A second covered area is ideal for storing garden furniture, bikes, or other outdoor furniture in the winter months. A large sheltered area is ideal for alfresco dining or relaxing on a steamy, summer afternoon.

The house itself is built on three main levels.

On entering the front door you move into the dining area, which is home to a large farmhouse dining room table and chairs for eight people. There are also ample shelving and storage cupboards. This gives on to a fitted kitchen that features a five-ring range, a fridge and fridge-freezer. There are built-in cupboards for food and crockery. This then leads on to the downstairs shower room with large walk-in shower, sink, toilet, washing machine, and free-standing bathroom cupboard.

Off the dining room a door leads down some stairs into the first double bedroom. This has French style doors that lead onto the adjacent cobble street.

Open-plan stairs from the dining room lead up to the bright, spacious sitting room featuring a cast-iron wood burning stove that is super-efficient during the short winter months.

A French-style door leads onto a terrace from which to enjoy stunning views across the Pla and to the sea. Off the terrace is a separate room. This is large enough to be a double bedroom or in our case is used as an office for two people. The doors fold back to make this a covered sitting area if required.

At the other end of the sitting room double doors lead into the main bathroom which features bath with shower, sink and toilet. One area of this bathroom area is walled so can be used as an extra sleeping area, or in our case a storage area with shelves included. The sitting room could also be a bedroom.

Leading off the stairs is the second double bedroom which features double doors opening up to overlook the garden. The room also has a wall of wardrobes providing significant storage and clothing space.

The house is full of character and unique. It would suit a couple for permanent living or perhaps a family for a holiday home.

Utilities

Heating is provided by two wood-burning stoves – one in the dining room and one in the sitting room; and underfloor heating in the main bathroom.

The hot water tank, which was fitted in 2014, is powered by electricity.

Water is provided on mains from the Selva supply.

The cooker is gas top and electric oven – we use approximately two gas bottles a year and we cook a lot.

 

For more images see http://smu.gs/PHYt0X

If this property in Selva is of interest to you, please contact me via this blog and I shall pass your details to Jane.

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Cats keeping cool in Mallorca’s heatwave

It’s 37 degrees Celsius in the shade on the terrace of our finca in rural Mallorca. During the current heatwave (back-to-back with the previous one) our ‘family’ of adopted cats is taking life very easy. They appear each morning for their breakfast, but eat less than usual, then disappear for the day to hide from the sun, until hunger – or habit – draws them back for dinner.

At this time of the year they tend to seek shelter closer to the house, so that their various sources of water for drinking aren’t too far away. Occasionally we spot them in their hiding places. Dusty likes to sit under the turntable (which hasn’t turned for years) that supports our solar panels. It’s a spot that gets no sun at all, and he’s made it his own. Beamer heads for the dependencia, snoozing next to the stock of winter logs. When it’s hot like it is now, it seems unbelievable that we need log fires in the winters . . .

Cooling his ‘bits’

Our newest cat – little Pip – favours the corner of our dining terrace, settling in a sun-free spot near a large pot plant. And one of her best friends – Nibbles – often joins her. Nibbles (who does occasionally live up to his name) has an amusing habit: in the evenings, when we dine on the terrace, he sits nearby on the wall, with his legs dangling down on either side of the wall. We assume this is to cool as much of his lower body as possible.

Cats sleeping

Pip (left) and Nibbles have found a cool spot on the terrace.

Cat lying on a wall

Nibbles chilling out on the wall.

All the cats are enjoying the new solar-powered water feature I bought earlier this year. It has become yet another source of water for them. This one has an additional benefit: the fountain seems to give off a fine mist when it’s in operation and when any of the cats comes over to greet us in the evenings, they usually have a light dampness to their fur. They’re clearly enjoying this way of cooling themselves.

Cats need water.

Nibbles drinks from the fountain.

And us? We’re spending the heat of the day indoors, with our Birman Minstral, enjoying the benefits of airconditioning. Come the (slightly) cooler evenings, we’re outside – topping up the water in the places where the cats like to drink . . .

 

 

 

 

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Jammin’ on Mallorca

No, not the Bob Marley sort of jammin’. I’m talking about the preserves I’ve been making in recent days on our finca in rural Mallorca. We have reached that time of the year when there’s an abundance of fruit and vegetables ready for eating. It’s wonderful to have so much fresh produce available: the market stalls in our nearest town Manacor (and elsewhere) are positively groaning under the weight of it all.

Our not-so-productive garden

Our own finca‘s production has so far been limited to some lemons. We have dreadful soil and, although we could import some, because we’re located on sloping terrain, it would probably be washed away in the next heavy downpour.

There are signs that we’ll have a crop of figs later in the year (we had none at all last year) and, of course, there’ll be almonds in the autumn. But non-tree crops just don’t do well. Ours is probably the world’s only garden where mint doesn’t go mad and take over everything else!

The kindness of neighbours

We do, however, have generous neighbours whose land produces more fruit and vegetables than they can use. So far, we’ve had gifts of oranges, cherries, mulberries (very messy, those), apricots, plums, courgettes, onions, and lettuces. We’ve  juiced, frozen, made jams and chutneys, and eaten. From glut comes gluttony . . .

Pots of preserves.

Jams and chutneys galore.

All of the effort involved has made me realize one thing: Mallorcan country wives traditionally didn’t go out to work because they didn’t have time. They were too busy pickling, drying, bottling, preserving, and jammin’ . . .

 

 

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