Cat Tales from Mallorca

Those beautiful blue eyes!

Our house has been a cat convalescent home again this weekend. This time our patient was Dusty – the eldest of the cats we look after – who had a biopsy on Friday. When we brought him home from the vet’s, we kept him indoors for a couple of nights to keep an eye on him and manage his post-biopsy medication.

We’re devastated that the poor boy has a tumour in his nose, and a piece of the tissue has been sent to Barcelona for analysis. We must now wait for the results to know the art of the possible in terms of treatment. I am praying it’s benign.

Dusty is the only remaining cat from the first litter of feral kittens, born on the other side of the wall at the end of our field. He’s almost ten years old and, other than a night in our guest annexe after he was castrated, has lived outdoors all his life – showing no inclination to come into the house.

He has an affectionate and gentle nature, in as much as he likes to rub his head against our legs and purrs with great enthusiasm. When I do some gardening, he often appears from underneath a shrub to keep me company.

But try to pick him up or put him on a lap, and we’re suddenly dealing with a sharp-clawed octopus. Catching him for the visit to the vet’s called, as usual, for subterfuge.

On Friday evening, Dusty was still subdued after his lunchtime op. We drove the ten kilometres home without a squeak from him in his travelling case on the back seat. A first.

Our guest annexe isn’t warm enough to use in the winter, so we brought Dusty into the house to recuperate. Considering the complete change of routine and lifestyle, he behaved well. He couldn’t settle for long on the first evening, wandering around the house and checking everything out. He viewed the log burner with trepidation – unlike Pip, who sprawls herself right in front of it – and when we turned on the TV, he shot out of the room. The news programmes have the same effect on me these days.

Pip wasn’t thrilled about our temporary guest but, after an initial growl at the interloper, she largely ignored him. We kept the two in separate rooms overnight and The Boss slept part of last night on the sofa, to keep Dusty company when he cried for attention. I didn’t hear a peep of any of this, sleeping through it all. It may have been sleep time for us but the hours of darkness are when outdoor cats are most active.

The weather’s not as cold today as it’s been of late and we’ve seen some sunshine. As I write, Dusty has gone back outside to his natural habitat. In a short while from now, he’ll be waiting with the other outdoor cats for his dinner.

As much as we’d like to keep him indoors until the biopsy results arrive, our vet didn’t know how long they’ll take – and Dusty would not appreciate an extended stay indoors. Not sure The Boss would appreciate another night on the sofa either!

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Happy New Year from Chilly Mallorca

How were your New Year’s Eve celebrations? I don’t think anyone was sorry to see the end of 2020 but, wherever you were, I hope you had a chance to reflect on any positive aspects of what was a really crap year for everyone.

Part of the traditional nativity display in Palma’s El Corte Ingles department store

Like so many around the world, we’ve lost people this year who were dear to us. My extended family said goodbye to two much-loved senior members, and two friends were lost to cancer.

I begin each year by making a list of highlights of the previous 12 months: fiestas attended, restaurants enjoyed, new experiences, friends and family who’ve visited, etc. I’m always surprised at how much has happened and been achieved, and this strengthens my sense of gratitude.

Will I make a list for 2020? It’d be short. But even amidst the gloom and bad news of the pandemic year, I have found things for which to be grateful.

Reasons to be Positive

In the spring, the eldest of my two brothers was diagnosed with prostate cancer – even before he had any symptoms. He’d been to his GP about an unrelated problem and, while there, the doctor suggested an overdue PSA test. Long story short, my brother had a major operation – at a time when some hospitals had postponed most non-Covid-related procedures. I thank the NHS that he made a good recovery, without needing further treatment. If you’re male, please take this as a reminder to ask your doctor for a PSA test if you haven’t had one for a while.

I finished writing the first draft of my debut novel. This was back in spring, and I put the manuscript aside for a few months, as is recommended, before I started editing and revising. In 2021 I intend to see it published by whatever means possible. Just the small matter of finishing the revisions first.

We found a new Internet provider (ConectaBalear) – albeit too late to enjoy all the exciting online activities available during the strict three-month Spanish lockdown. As a result, we had a Christmas Day Zoom with my dad (whom I haven’t seen since a family funeral in the UK just before lockdown), and my two brothers and their families.

I also launched two podcasts, after my Mallorca Sunshine Radio show was put on hold. The weekly show was all about hospitality and gastronomy, and we all know what’s happened to those sectors – particularly in places depending on tourism. Living in Rural Mallorca podcast is about other expats’ experiences of life in the countryside here; Authors in Mallorca speaks for itself, I think. I hope you’ll have a listen and even subscribe to future episodes.

Ep 4 Karl & Vikki Grant – Creative Photographers Living in Rural Mallorca

Karl and Vikki Grant are two talented and creative photographers, who relocated their business and home to rural Mallorca from vibrant London. In this episode the married couple talk about the differences between their former and current locations, the joys of commuting between Mallorca and the UK for photographic shoots, and why Studio Mallorca is a desirable location for European creatives. Lederhosen, dirndls, and a peacock named Alan also crop up! See examples of Karl and Vikki's work on their website http://www.studiomallorca.com.
  1. Ep 4 Karl & Vikki Grant – Creative Photographers
  2. Damian Wilson – Digital Creator
  3. Florist Joanna Walton
  4. Norbert Amthor of Finca Hotel Can Estades

Kay Newton – Author of Self-help Books Authors in Mallorca

The start of a new year is an opportunity to re-evaluate our lives, even if we don't commit to New Year's resolutions. Self-help books are particularly popular at this time of year and my first guest of 2021 has authored and co-authored a number of books in this genre.Married with two grown-up sons, Mallorca-based Kay Newton is a midlife strategist and uses the knowledge she's gained from her own rich variety of experiences to help others, through her books. These include 'The Art of Midlife Stress Busting', 'How to Clean Your Home Organically', and 'Tips and Tricks for Stress-free Downsizing'. Kay talks about how she writes, the challenges of self-publishing, how co-authoring works for her, and the part of Mallorca where she lives and gets her inspiration. Sailing, Zanzibar, and walking the Camino de Santiago are also in the conversation.www.kaynewton.com
  1. Kay Newton – Author of Self-help Books
  2. Laura Lockington – Novelist, Memoirist, Playwright
  3. Caroline Fabian – Author of New Mallorca Cookbook
  4. Anna Nicholas – Soller-based Author of Travel Books & Novels

Ooh, the Lucky Grapes!

New Year’s Eve in 2020 was low key in our house. TV reception was almost non-existent because of bad weather, so we read. The Boss opened a bottle of cava to toast in the New Year, but we almost forgot about the ‘lucky grapes’. This Spanish tradition, dating back to the early 20th century, calls for one grape to be eaten with each of the twelve clock chimes at midnight. It’s harder than it sounds and seedless grapes are recommended (as is peeling them in advance; note to self for next time).

I rushed to the fridge to fetch the two portions of grapes and, although we started a few seconds late, we managed to swallow them all before 2021 arrived.

The lucky part was that we didn’t choke trying to do so! Gotta find the positives where you can…

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year. Be safe.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Karl & Vikki Grant – Photographers

One of the many reasons we love living on the Spanish island of Mallorca is that it’s a melting pot of nationalities and cultures. It’s also home to many interesting people, with fascinating back stories.

I lap up these stories, although they sometimes make me feel as though my own life has been a little tame. I haven’t trekked across a desert, toured the world with a top band, or written a series of books, as some of my friends and acquaintances have. Hey, there’s still time though. (The Boss has a worried look on his face).

We’ve been fortunate enough to become friends with some of the people I’ve met through writing and broadcasting and one such couple features on the latest episode of my ‘Living in Rural Mallorca’ podcast.

Vikki and Karl at home, with two of their animals

Karl and Vikki Grant are talented commercial photographers who live in the Mallorcan countryside, where their finca is also the surprising home to a stylish photographic studio, also used for location shoots.

Their business Studio Mallorca offers creative photography, video, and website design. Their photography work includes fashion, food, nautical, property, and portraiture. Among those who have sat for them are Mick Jagger, John Cleese and, recently, Jeffrey Archer – who has a writing room overlooking the Mediterranean (I’m only a little envious) at his second home in Mallorca.

In episode 4 of the ‘Living in Rural Mallorca’ podcast, hear Vikki and Karl talk about their move to Mallorca, the surprises they found here, and the menagerie that’s almost de rigeur when living in the Mallorcan countryside. And if you enjoy listening, I’d be thrilled if you’d subscribe.

The ‘Living in Rural Mallorca’ podcast is also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast apps.

The theme music for the Living in Rural Mallorca podcast is titled ‘Lifestyles’. Composer: Jack Waldenmaier. Publisher: Music Bakery Publishing (BMI). All copyrights, licensing, duplication, and distribution rights for this music are held exclusively by Music Bakery Publishing (BMI).

Jan Edwards Copyright 2020

Winter Drawers On in Mallorca!

We’ve had an amazing autumn this year in Mallorca. It’s sad that people who would usually enjoy a late-autumn break on the island weren’t here to enjoy the blue skies and pleasant temperatures we’ve recently had.

Our winter warmer

I’ve even eaten quite a few breakfasts sitting on the terrace, soaking up some early rays. The Boss tends to watch the UK news on TV at breakfast time and, with everything that’s going on in at the moment, that would probably give me indigestion.

Yesterday was the first day of winter – in meteorological terms. I prefer to think of winter starting on the astronomical Winter Solstice date of December 21st. Anything to delay the start of my least favourite season here in Mallorca – despite the allure of the log-burner, hearty casseroles, red wine, and Christmas.

And So it Begins

Whichever date you consider as kicking off the winter, the weather has decided it begins today. With a bang. Or, at least, a dollop of the white stuff.

Snow has already fallen today in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains – which isn’t too unusual for this time of year. For those of us living under 1,100 metres above sea level, it’s a grey, wet day with top temperatures barely in double figures and expected to fall to between three and six degrees Celsius later today. Oh, and did I mention the winds gusting up to 70kph in the northeast of Mallorca? Needless to say, breakfast was indoors this morning.

‘Tis the Season to be Supplementing

Commenting on the results of my recent blood test yesterday, my gynaecologist said my Vitamin D level was a bit low. I was surprised and explained that I’d been sitting outside having my breakfast on sunny mornings, with a view to increasing it.

‘Do you do it naked?’ he asked.

‘Er, no.’ I replied. ‘It’d probably frighten the sheep.’ For the record, the doctor wasn’t being pervy, but making the point that I needed to expose more flesh for longer to get sufficient benefit from an autumn morning’s sunshine.

‘Has she finished eating breakfast yet?’

I probably could breakfast outdoors in my birthday suit, as the neighbours would be unlikely to see me. But, hey, it’s winter now and far too cold. And besides, if I eat outdoors, our attention-loving ginger cat Shorty likes to leap onto my lap as soon as I’ve finished eating. Imagine the pain of those claws landing…

Welcome, then, to winter in Mallorca. And a daily dose of Vitamin D supplement.

If it’s cold where you are and you fancy curling up and listening to a podcast, I’d love you to check out Living in Rural Mallorca and Authors in Mallorca. You’ll find both available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and a few other players too.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2020

Damian Wilson, Digital Creator

Englishman and countryside lover, Damian Wilson, lives with his small menagerie of rescue animals in the rural heart of Mallorca.

He spent many years in the music business, and worked with artists including The Human League and Ace of Base; Damian was the A&R (artists and repertoire) executive for the latter’s Danish record company.

But Damian’s heart is in Mallorca and he talks about rural life, animals, and how he used his creativity at home during Spain’s tough spring 2020 lockdown. You’ll also hear about his production company Film Balear.

Episode 3 – Damian Wilson

The theme music for the Living in Rural Mallorca podcast is titled ‘Lifestyles’. Composer: Jack Waldenmaier. Publisher: Music Bakery Publishing (BMI). All copyrights, licensing, duplication, and distribution rights for this music are held exclusively by Music Bakery Publishing (BMI).

Manacor Still in Lockdown

It’s the news that people in and around the town of Manacor were dreading: a two-week extension begins today to the fortnight’s lockdown imposed a couple of weeks ago, to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases. The Balearic government has also brought forward the curfew time from midnight to 10pm.

Eat Outside or Takeaway

We feel particularly sorry for the restaurants, cafes, and bars, who are unable to serve people indoors during this period. Despite the lovely weather we’ve been having during the day, the cool evenings may not be conducive to dining on a terrace. The food would soon be cold (plates are rarely warmed first here in Mallorca), even if diners themselves were dressed to keep warm. A number of places are offering takeaway food and, for some in Manacor, this is the preferred alternative.

Hey, Mr Postman

Our list of things-to-do when Manacor re-opens is growing by the day. First will be a visit to Correos (the post office), where we have our apartado (postbox); no postie makes his way to our rural neck of the woods. We imagine our little mailbox will be stuffed with letters, bills, magazines we subscribe to, and cards sent for my birthday – which happened after Manacor’s lockdown started. My thank you notes for cards received will be somewhat delayed this year!

A main concern is whether our UK bank will have written to tell us we can no longer have an account with them after the end of this year, when Brexit is finalised. Several UK banks have already informed British customers living in Europe that this is happening. Our bank has not yet made any announcement or informed us of a decision and we hope they haven’t done this by post, as it’ll be a fortnight before we get our hands on our mail. And Brexit looms…

Meanwhile we’ve found solutions to being barred from going into Manacor: we’ve eaten lunch in Porto Cristo and done our food shopping (and a local bank visit to pay a bill) in Can Picafort. Both excursions gave us a chance to enjoy being by the sea in the continuing good November weather.

But we’re looking forward to returning to Manacor and supporting the local businesses there.

Authors in Mallorca Podcast

During our time here, I’ve discovered there are many interesting foreigners in Mallorca who write books – of all types and genres. Why not talk to some of them and find out about their writing life and their works? Hence, the launch of my second podcast, Authors in Mallorca.

For the first episode I met up with British author Anna Nicholas, whose books about moving from a busy life in public relations in Mayfair to a rural home in Sóller have many fans around the world. I’ve interviewed Anna on radio before and she’s an entertaining guest.

If you’d like to listen, Authors in Mallorca is available now on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2020

Florist Joanna Walton

In England, Joanna Walton used to own a number of London flower shops. These days, home is a tucked-away country property, near the town of Artà, shared with her husband Anthony – who has a construction company on the island – and some much-loved dogs and cats.

Her Mallorca business, Joanna Walton Flowers, supplies floral arrangements and decorations for weddings and other celebrations, superyachts, and luxury villas.

Joanna talks about the changes she’s noticed in Mallorca since her first summer on the island some thirty years ago; the challenges of life here, and shares a tip for using those fallen pine cones often found in the Mallorcan countryside.

Find out more about Joanna Walton Flowers here.

The theme music for the Living in Rural Mallorca podcast is titled ‘Lifestyles’. Composer: Jack Waldenmaier. Publisher: Music Bakery Publishing (BMI). All copyrights, licensing, duplication, and distribution rights for this music are held exclusively by Music Bakery Publishing (BMI).

Curfew & Curtailment in Mallorca

Thank heavens for the period of fine weather we’re enjoying in Mallorca now. It’s known as the veranillo de las rosas otoñales. This ‘little summer of autumn roses’ – I love the name – is the equivalent of what’s called an ‘Indian summer’ in English.

My David Austin climbing rose – blooming in late October

Spain being a Catholic country, you won’t be surprised to read that these periods of lovely weather are said to be bordered by saints’ days: September 29th (Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael) and November 11th (St Martin). Fingers crossed then that we have another couple of weeks in which to enjoy the type of weather that can be a distraction from all-things Covid.

Curfew Everywhere in Spain

The pandemic in Spain rages mainly everywhere. So much so that a national curfew was introduced from last Sunday. The curfew period was set by the Spanish government from 11pm until 6am, with regional governments allowed to tinker with these times if they saw fit.

If you’re someone who likes to be tucked up in bed by eleven, and doesn’t contemplate stepping outside again until it’s at least daylight, this curfew is unlikely to have much impact on your daily life. But, for many Spaniards – particularly those in big cities – eleven at night is when they may not long have gone out to socialise or eat dinner.

Not Good for Night Owls

The first time The Boss and I visited Barcelona (probably twenty-plus years ago), we couldn’t find a restaurant open until nine in the evening. By the time we’d finished dinner – in an otherwise empty restaurant – locals were just arriving there to start their meal.

On another occasion, I was the anchorperson on a video that the hotel group I worked for was shooting in Madrid. I was supposed to do a piece to camera outside the hotel after dark but the noise of traffic was so loud that we delayed the shoot until after a late dinner. We eventually filmed the link at two in the morning and, even at that hour, cars were still whizzing past as we filmed.

Under pressure from Mallorca’s restaurants and bars, the curfew on the island has been amended and is now from midnight until six in the morning, with the threat that the start time will revert to eleven if Covid-19 cases continue to rise.

Manacor in Lockdown

Manacor is our nearest town and it’s where we buy anything we need, recycle our rubbish, fill the car with diesel, etc. Yesterday Manacor was locked down for fifteen days.

Manacor is currently the area with the highest ratio of cases to local population in the Balearics, and it’s hoped that this latest measure will help reduce contagion.

It’s not the same as the national lockdown in spring. Businesses and schools remain open in the town and those who live within the set perimeters can go about their daily lives (including work) – although it’s recommended not to go out more than necessary.

Worst hit by this two-week lockdown are Manacor’s restaurants and bars. They can only serve customers on terraces (and with a maximum of 50 per cent of their normal capacity) and not indoors, and must close by 10pm. They are allowed to offer a take-away service; for restaurants such as the renowned Can March, which has no outdoor space, take-away is the only option.

Anyone who lives outside the borders of the locked-down area – which includes us – must stay away. Our heavy winter curtains will remain, for now, at the dry cleaners – another reason to hope this ‘little summer of autumn roses’ continues – and we shall have to wait to collect the picture to be framed that we took to a little business in Manacor.

Next Episode of Podcast Soon!

I had the most enjoyable of mornings yesterday talking to my next guest on the Living in Rural Mallorca podcast. You’ll be able to hear her soon. We sat outdoors to record the conversation, enjoying the natural beauty of the northeast corner of Mallorca. On the way home, I spotted these beautiful bucolic scenes.

Until next time, stay safe wherever you are, and give thanks for whatever’s good in your life.

Jan Edwards – Copyright – 2020

Storm Strikes Again at our Finca

Autumn arrived with a bang this year. Quite a few bangs, actually. Although this time of the year is when we expect thunderstorms, there seem to have been more than usual recently. Why should I expect something ‘normal’ in a year like 2020?

August 29th was the first big storm that sticks in our mind; this is probably because we’ve only just received and paid the eye-popping bill for the repair of the lightning-damaged inverter that keeps our solar-power electricity system going.

The latest storm a couple of nights ago appears to have affected our generator. It simply won’t start. This hulking (and noisy) beast usually kicks in automatically when the solar batteries are a little low in power – which happens when the sun hasn’t been on duty for a while or we use certain power-guzzling appliances.

Our recent top-up delivery of diesel for the generator.

Today we have sunshine, which means the solar panels are maxing out on sunbathing and our system can happily run without the generator – assuming modest use of power. But using the washing machine or the iron, for example, kicks off the generator however much sun is available.

Rugs at the Ready

Until the generator can be fixed, doing the laundry at home is off limits. Oh, and so are the air-conditioning units that do heating duty in the evenings at this time of year – when it’s not quite cold enough for a log fire (The Boss would disagree with that) but a little warmth is appreciated. It’s a cosy rug over the legs on the sofa for us for the foreseeable.

The big positive about all the rain we’ve had is that rural Mallorca has lost the veil of dust it’s been wearing over the dry months. Everything looks sparkling clean . . . except the contents of the laundry basket.

The stream at the bottom of our valley should be full of water by now, but I won’t have to resort to kneeling on its muddy banks to do the laundry. Thank heavens for gas-powered water heaters and a good-sized kitchen sink. Now, pass the Marigolds . . .

Jan Edwards Copyright 2020

Norbert Amthor of Finca Hotel Can Estades

Norbert Amthor is originally from Germany and lives and works on a beautiful finca in the southwest of Mallorca. He and his wife Christiane are the welcoming hosts of the rural Finca Hotel Can Estades, located in the countryside near the village of Calvià.

Norbert talks about the challenges of the first finca he bought on the island, explains how he came to be running a rural hotel, and has some advice for anyone wanting to move to Mallorca. You’ll also hear him reveal how he met his wife, what they enjoy about the island’s capital, Palma de Mallorca, and the pastime he loves that he took up only at the age of 59.

Find out more about Norbert and Christiane’s B&B hotel here.

The theme music for the Living in Rural Mallorca podcast is titled ‘Lifestyles’. Composer: Jack Waldenmaier. Publisher: Music Bakery Publishing (BMI). All copyrights, licensing, duplication, and distribution rights for this music are held exclusively by Music Bakery Publishing (BMI).