Living in rural Mallorca

Country life in an old Mallorcan finca

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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An unusual tree on Mallorca?

The Boss and I went to visit a finca last week that some new English friends (made as a result of this blog), have bought for their future move to the Mallorcan countryside.

They have a lot of work to be done first: the property is a ‘doer-upper’ and as we walked through the house with them, they told us the plans for each room. It will be amazing when it’s finished. This couple has apparently done up several properties during their married life, and we could tell they really enjoy doing projects like this. Not everyone relishes such an undertaking – and you can probably put The Boss and me in that category.

No hard-hat home for us!

When we came out to look at properties on Mallorca – which we did in a 4-day breathless, whirlwind tour of the island with various estate agents – we were quite specific about our requirements. We didn’t want to live on a construction site, but were prepared to do some cosmetic stuff to our new home (although it turned out to be a bit more than that).

Despite having emphasised that we didn’t want to have to do a lot of renovation work, several estate agents took us to see quite a few properties that were in need of serious labour. One German real estate agent came accompanied by a builder and a finance-arranger (travelling in a separate beefy 4-wheel drive vehicle), just in case we suddenly succumbed to one of these long-neglected properties they were clearly having trouble selling. No chance – despite what turned out to be intimidation tactics.

Identi-tree?

I’ve digressed slightly. Our friends’ new home-to-be is blessed with a garden full of trees – one of which neither they nor we could identify.

Knowing that some of you are quite knowledgeable about matters horticultural, I’m posting a picture of this full-size tree, with its unusual blooms.

Any idea what it is please?

Can anyone identify this tree?

Can anyone identify this tree?

 

 

 

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Here comes the weather . . .

For the past eight days, we – or just I at times – have been out and about around Mallorca. Some of these excursions have been in connection with my writing; other outings have been for social reasons. It’s been a busy time, and we’ve had some fine weather to do it all by. But a yellow alert for thunderstorms has been hanging over us like the sword of Damocles for a few days.

Today, during a much-wanted day in at our home in the Mallorcan countryside, the storm has arrived – with thunder, lightning, gusty winds, heavy rain, and even hail. The hailstones are the largest we have seen at our finca since we moved here.

When we have a storm, we’re always on lightning watch – so that we can shut down our solar power system if the storm gets too close. It’s inconvenient to be without power (and therefore Internet and phone too), but not as inconvenient as suffering damage to the system.

Spain has had its hottest May for 50 years and, so far, June has been warmer and drier than usual. A neighbouring farmer has lost his field of broad beans, due to lack of water.  Although not as devastating as the loss of a food crop and the potential income, many of the plants in our garden are suffering and already have that when-will-August-be-over look about them.

The land needs the water and anyone with crops or a garden will surely be glad to see some rain. As we say in England, ‘it’s lovely weather for ducks’. Not, however for the poor holidaymakers here at the moment . . .

June 16, 2015

Storm clouds Mallorca

A gathering storm – in every direction.

Storm clouds Mallorca

Time to batten down the hatches.

Hail on Majorca

And soon these fell out of the sky. Noisy on the roof – painful on the head!

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Sourcing a solar-powered water feature for our finca in rural Mallorca

This time last year I was on a mission: I wanted a water feature for our finca’s dining terrace. And I wanted it to be solar-powered, like our electricity supply. Surely that wouldn’t be hard to find?

The Boss and I scoured Mallorca to find one: we really like to buy local if we can. We were amazed that, on an island where the sun shows its face on some 300 days a year, it appeared that we were as likely to find a solar-powered water feature for sale as we were an igloo. After failing to find a supplier in Spain, via the Internet, we gave up.

A few weeks ago I was searching the Internet for something else for the garden that we couldn’t find locally. Lo and behold, I found a site for a company on the Spanish mainland offering a choice of solar-powered water features. Result!

From the mainland to Mallorca

We wasted no time choosing and ordering something to add that sound of trickling water that should make us feel cooler during the balmy summer evenings – most of which are spent on the terrace. The fountain arrived pretty quickly and was easily assembled. I say easily, because The Boss did it. Putting together something like a solar-powered water feature comes under the heading of ‘technical’ in my book. And I don’t do technical. At least, not if I have The Boss handy at the time.

20150527090623

We love it. And so do our cats, who consider it yet another source of water for them around the finca . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Making new friends in rural Mallorca

Making new friends when you move to another country can take time – especially if you choose to live in a rural location, as we did, on the island of Mallorca. But it didn’t take us long to become on nodding terms with the sheep living in the field across the lane . . .

Fortunately, my writing work has taken me all over the island over the past 11 years and I’ve met lots of people of all nationalities – some of whom have become our friends.

An adventure beckons

Recently I was contacted by a reader of this blog, who had previously commented on a few posts and emailed me for some advice about flying pets over to Mallorca. British woman Celia and her husband are soon to embark on a similar adventure to our own – but, we hope, without some of the traumas we experienced.

On one of their visits to Mallorca, in connection with the property they have bought, Celia and hubby stayed at a boutique hotel I’ve written about a few times on my other blog http://www.eatdrinksleepmallorca.com. They had a great time at Petit Hotel Son Arnau, which is run by a really lovely couple called Alex and Susan – who gave up good London careers to open their own hotel in the village of Selva, near the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tramuntana mountains. We stayed there for a night last summer and have since become friends with this welcoming couple.

Alex and Susan run Mallorca's Petit Hotel Son Arnau.

Alex and Susan – the friendly hosts at Petit Hotel Son Arnau in Selva.

On their most recent visit to Mallorca, Celia and Gordon stayed in the home of their friend in the southwest of the island, but wanted to revisit Petit Hotel Son Arnau to see Alex and Susan again and  have one of Alex’s delicious dinners there. And they invited us along too!

Like old friends

Meeting people for the first time can sometimes be awkward, but we immediately hit it off with this enthusiastic and animal-loving couple, who are going through some of the processes and emotions we went through after we’d bought our finca. They will be visiting Mallorca again in June, and we look forward to seeing them back.

So if you’re moving abroad and are concerned about being able to make friends in your new country, remember the words attributed to the Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.”

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Summer heat in spring on Mallorca

Boats in Porto Cristo at sunset.

Porto Cristo sunset on May 11, 2015.

Spring on rural Mallorca this year has rapidly become summer. We’re reminded that it’s actually still only spring by the singing of the nightingales in the valley throughout the night. Spain – including the Balearic Islands – is experiencing temperatures more common in July and, on the Spanish mainland, it’s set to sizzle up to 40 degrees Celsius by Thursday – when temperatures will be around 15 degrees higher than average for the time of year. Phew.

Although holidaymakers may be loving the hotter-than-average May temperatures, the early heat has had a detrimental effect on our house-and-garden maintenance schedule. It’s too hot to paint the shutters, or do some repairs involving cementing.

Fortunately, between our last visitors and the next ones – my dad and his younger brother, arriving on Thursday – The Boss had time to bushwhack the field. The wild flowers this year were superb, so we left them in all their glory until the heat zapped the last bit of life from them. Then it was time for The Boss to don his safety gear, fire up his bushwhacker, and get to work.

While clearing the field of the long wild grasses he’d cut down, The Boss found a nest of partridge eggs. The parents had not chosen a good location – on the ground at the base of an almond tree – and had subsequently abandoned the nest, which contained 15 cold eggs.

Abandoned ground nest of partridge eggs.

No countryside for young partridges: a nest of abandoned eggs.

We guessed the partridge parents-to-be were probably last year’s young, with little idea about choosing a great place to raise their kids. Although it was sad to see the eggs left behind, it was probably as well, given that we have seven cats that spend a lot of time in that field!

Perhaps Mr and Mrs Partridge knew what they were doing after all . . .

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A flower festival in rural Mallorca

Display in Costitx flower festival

Costitx en Flor 2015

Last Friday we fell a tiny bit in love with a small village called Costitx, in the centre of Mallorca. Relatively few visitors to the island will have heard of it, let alone visited, but many will have flown over it – the village being under one of the flight paths across Mallorca. An impressive number of visitors – mainly Mallorcans – flooded into the village on May 1st for ‘Costitx en Flor’.

Rural Mallorca from near Costitx.

Beautiful views across Mallorca’s Pla to the mountains.

We reached Costitx via a (usually) quiet country lane off the main Manacor to Inca road (between Sineu and Inca) in an area of the island known as the Pla. There’s lovely surrounding countryside and views of the UNESCO World Heritage Serra de Tramuntana. The village itself has some interesting old architecture and several beautifully restored stone townhouses. If we had to live in a village, rather than open countryside, Costitx does have its attractions . . .

The village also has a few claims to fame – and not the sort of fame associated with the likes of Magaluf, or the more genteel mountain village of Deià.

Here are a few facts you could drop into a conversation about this lesser-known part of Mallorca:

Eyes to the skies 

Costitx is home to the Observatori Astronòmic de Mallorca, opened in 1991.  Even after we’d bought our finca – but before we moved to Mallorca – we weren’t aware of its existence. I found out about it only during a BBC radio interview I did with an astronomy expert in north Oxfordshire, who told me the observatory was “very important”. The Observatory is also home to the Mallorca Planetarium.

Prehistoric treasures 

Costitx is home to three prehistoric bronze bulls’ heads found on common land in 1894. Well preserved, and part of the Balearics’ remarkable Talayotic remains, they have their 21st-century home in the Son Corró Sanctuary. One of the streets in the village is named after these Caps de Bou de Costitx.

Political heritage

In 1987, Costitx elected a mayor who became both famous and infamous. Every Mallorcan – and many non-Mallorcan island residents – will know of Maria Antònia Munar . . .

Blooming fab!

Costitx flower festival in May.

Saying it with flowers: a welcome to ‘Costitx en Flor’.

But it was last Friday’s ‘Costitx en Flor’ that wowed us. This annual flower festival sees the whole village decorated with flowers, with each street having its own themed display.

The creativity of the villagers, and hard work involved in putting this event together, are evidence of a real community spirit. We loved it and, if you’re on Mallorca next May 1st, it’s worth a visit if you appreciate flowers, handicrafts, and creativity.

Old denim jeans as flower receptacles

The street with the recycled jeans . . .

Bikes used to display flowers

The street with the bicycle and flower displays . . .

Jeans to display flowers

Jean genius.

Alternative use for an old pneumatic tyre.

Old tyres given a new lease of life.

Costitx en Flor

Streets closed to traffic – and open to floral displays.

Costitx en Flor 2015

Take a seat . . . and add flowers.

Alternative use for an old tyre.

Once a tyre . . . now a chicken.

Costitx house doorway.

In the doorway of an old townhouse in Costitx.

Old Mallorcan well outside house in Costitx.

Old well outside a Costitx house – complete with flowers in a recycled tyre.

Embroidered flowers in Costitx.

Embroidery on a big scale!

Old stone arch in Costitx.

Archway to ‘cup and saucer alley’ in Costitx.

Costitx flower festival May 1st

Anyone for a cuppa?

Costitx church.

Costitx church goes floral.

Garden plants for sale on Mallorca.

Plants for sale – for those inspired by their visit to ‘Costitx en Flor’.

 

 

 

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Pip’s rite of passage

We’ve had friends from the UK staying for eight nights at our finca in rural Mallorca and, during their time here, they have been entertained in fine style by Pip, the kitten that appeared to have been dumped just inside our main gates last September. She is the most lively and hilarious kitten I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience, and her antics never fail to make us laugh.

Tiny kitten on Mallorca

Pip on the morning after her arrival in September 2014.

Because we already had a well-established ‘family’ of outdoor feral cats and our own elderly Birman living indoors, we initially considered finding another home for her. But Pip is still with us – and delighting us with her antics on a daily basis.

During our friends’ visit, Pip’s life changed dramatically: she became an outdoor cat full-time. As much as The Boss and I might have liked to have her safely indoors every night, it’s not really practical and, as we discovered this week, it’s not what she wants.

Pip’s ‘apartment’

Until this week, she had been spending her nights in the bathroom of our guest annexe, where we set up a cat basket with blankets, a couple of cardboard boxes (because kittens just love them), her food and water dishes, litter tray, and a couple of toys. (We removed the loo roll from its holder in the early days of her occupation, after finding the whole roll unwound and totally shredded one morning; it looked like a snow scene in there).

We wanted to keep her indoors at night until she had grown to a good size, and become fully accepted by the other cats. And, of course, we had to have her sterilized before she started roaming and sharing her favours with any passing tom.

We’ve ‘put her to bed’ every evening as it’s started to get dark and she’s always been enthusiastic about entering her little ‘apartment’ for the night. In fact she’d become quite possessive about the annexe and, if either The Boss or I went to fetch something from these rooms, would race ahead of us to the door, almost like a teenager saying ‘That’s my room – keep out!’

But over the past fortnight she’s been showing less inclination to be indoors at night and more interest in being outside playing with her new ‘adopted’ siblings.

Pip’s big adventure

One night this week there was no sign of Pip at the appointed hour and, although we looked several times for her before we headed to our own bed, we didn’t see her again until the next morning, when she was waiting at the door for her breakfast – none the worse for her Big Night Out.

We have now put her basket outside under the covered terrace, in case she wants some familiar comforts, and leave our dining room window shutter open so she can curl up in the recess – one of her favourite chill-out spots.

 

Tortoiseshell kitten in window

Pip in the dining room window recess – a favourite place to watch the world go by.

Pip has shown no further interest in her former part-time home and seems to be loving her new-found independence. It was good timing actually, as my uncle will soon be making it his temporary home for his spring holiday . . . after I’ve given it a very big spring clean!

 

 

 

 

 

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