The Evolution of a Mallorcan Country Garden

We bought our rural finca in Mallorca in July 2002, although we didn’t come to live here until April 2004. The previous owners—who have become good friends—had the place as a holiday home and did little to the land at the back of the house. I, however, had Big Plans. There would be rows of lavender, vegetables growing, and fruit trees. In my dreams.

Shoulder-high asphodels awaited us. A whole field full of them. When I looked up ‘asphodel’ in my dictionary, I found ‘an everlasting flower said to grow in the Elysian Fields (literary).’ Everlasting is a good description: it’s really difficult to get rid of them; you can cut them down, but underneath the ground, they grow from bulbs that look like bunches of obese grapes. How many of those must we have dug out of the ground? However, I’m sure the gods and heroes of Ancient Greece appreciated their asphodels.

Creating a Garden

Over the past sixteen years (gardening didn’t begin until after we’d moved here), we’ve almost eradicated the asphodels. The odd one pops up and I quite like the flowers when a vast swathe of them isn’t dominating the land.

We decided to create a garden, which would extend from the house down to our second set of gates. The Boss did the heavy stuff and I ‘designed’—as I went along—what said garden should be like. It had to be Mediterranean, because our water is brought to us by tanker and we didn’t want hefty water bills. And, after all, we do live on a Mediterranean island.

Baby aloe vera and agaves formed the start of the garden, thanks to donations from kind neighbours. Digging holes to plant them brought home a cruel truth: our land is almost all rock and stones. The depth of the soil is only a few centimetres in places. Rather than plant things where we wanted, we ended up planting them where it was physically possible.

Looking through some old photos a day or two ago, I found one that reminded me what our garden looked like in 2006. It’s amazing what you can achieve with limited soil or irrigation—and no gardening expertise whatsoever.

Jan Edwards ©2020

Project Bathroom Successfully Finished

Work in Progress

Project Bathroom was finished last Friday. It’s amazing what can be achieved in a week: The bath is no more and a modern glazed walk-in shower cabinet with a rainfall-style shower head has replaced it. I find myself going into the room several times a day just to admire the new facility. Well, it was a long time coming.

I gave the whole cabinet (and bathroom—which I suppose we should now call a shower room) a thorough cleaning on Saturday, to remove any lingering muck resulting from the building work, and those irritating sticky marks left after the removal of labels. In future, I’ll be doing battle with the limescale residue from our very hard water; this may be why the new guest-room shower hasn’t yet been christened; (we do have two more shower rooms).

Over the years we’ve lived here and had work done to the house, we’ve always supported companies based in our local town, Manacor. This time we struggled to find a nearby business that was interested in doing the job, so we turned to British company, Handy Hands, based in the southwest of Mallorca. We were delighted with our decision, as the two men worked well, were pleasant to have around, and cleaned up after themselves. The latter is not always the case here.

A Woman’s Work?

Not long after we moved to rural Mallorca, in 2004, a mallorquín carpenter came to install new interior doors. He was a grumpy individual—perhaps because we didn’t have any working electricity sockets in the house and he had to use our mini-generator, which ran out of juice on a frequent basis and had to be topped up.

Spotting that he hadn’t brought a brush to sweep up all the curls of wood-shavings falling to the floor, I fetched our broom and leant it on the wall nearby—thinking I was being helpful. Ooh, the look he gave me! He wagged his forefinger from side to side, shook his head, and told me that sweeping was trabajo de mujer—a woman’s work. He downed tools and said he was going for lunch. Some two hours later, he returned, with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. Whatever he’d been doing during his long lunch break (which might not have been eating) had totally changed his mood—but he still didn’t sweep up his mess.

We’re Having a Heatwave … Tomorrow

Soon I’ll have plenty of time to admire the new shower, as I’ll be in the room painting the walls. It’s not decorating weather: the temperature is set to soar towards 40 degrees Celsius tomorrow. Apparently we’re going to have a heatwave. As it’s been in the low- to mid-30s for a good few days now, I’d assumed we were already having one. Silly me.

The long dry hot summer is upon us and standing under that new rainfall shower will be the closest thing to a bit of decent precipitation we’ll experience for a while. Just off now to Google environmentally-friendly cleaning tips for glass shower-panels . . .

NOTE

If you have a property in Mallorca and need some reliable and experienced British builders, I am happy to recommend Handy Hands, who work anywhere on the island. See their Facebook page for more information and photos of some of their work.

 

Jan Edwards ©2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Bathroom is Go in our Rural Mallorcan Home

A soon-to-be-redundant sign?

When did I last have a bath? Let me think. Yes, probably about 15 years back. That, by the way, is at home (where we are shower people). When staying for one of our occasional nights away in a hotel on Mallorca, I have been known to wallow in a sea of fragrant bubbles, if there’s a bath available. Bathtubs are not such a common hotel feature these days, although some of the more luxurious 5-star hotels on the island have suites with them.

Our home has two guest bedrooms: one double, the other single. Both are en suite but the double room’s en suite has the only bathtub in the house. Water is a precious resource on our island and we’ve always taken showers at home instead of bathing, to reduce our water usage. Oh, and there’s also the fact that the water heater doesn’t heat enough water in one go to cover even one’s nether regions.

The bathtub has an overhead shower, which entails climbing into the tub itself. This isn’t too much of a problem, but I do worry particularly about my father, who usually visits for a holiday twice a year. Dad’s well into the senior-citizen category but is pretty limber and sprightly for his age, but were he to slip in the tub, the consequences could be serious.

A Possible Project

A year or two back, we began talking about having the bath removed and replaced with a shower cubicle. We even obtained a couple of estimates for the job. The quotes we received suggested that these local builders weren’t interested in doing what was a relatively small job, so they priced accordingly. Our eyes popped with shock and we shelved that project.

Until we had A Serious Leak. A pipe located within the wall itself (behind the wall tiles, natch) had developed a tiny fracture—which caused a big damp problem. Our friendly plumber Sito—who is more-or-less retired now—came to see what could be done. He fixed the leak, but had to break into the wall tiles with a jackhammer to do so; this was the catalyst for reactivating our plan for the bath-replacement project. This time we found an acceptable quote, for labour only, on the basis that we bought all the materials ourselves.

Covid Stopped Work

We took measurements, spent long sessions discussing options in DIY superstores in Palma de Mallorca, and did our sums (well, The Boss did those). In the end, we bought the space-hogging materials and collected them in our trailer two days before the Covid-19 lockdown came into force. There was a project on hold for a few more months!

Work finally began on Friday. The builders removed the bath and attempted to remove the old wall tiles—which proved impossible. So they’ve scoured the old walls to ensure the new ones will stick (we hope!).

As I write, the chaps have just arrived to continue the work. It’ll be a noisy Monday but, we hope, not quite as dusty as it was on Friday, when the bath was removed.

The irony of all this is that we are unlikely to have any visitors anyway this year to enjoy the new facility. But you never know …

 

Jan Edwards ©2020

Living in Rural Mallorca is Eight Years Old Today

Sunset across our lane

Eight years ago today I published my first post on this blog. I never intended to start a blog about living in rural Mallorca, but had previously been writing a series of columns called ‘Finca Fix-Up’ for a new local magazine. Sadly, the publication didn’t survive in what is a tough market.

The Birth of a Blog

A friend of mine was the editor and, when she told me about the magazine’s demise, suggested that I start a blog, to continue writing about our finca home in the Mallorcan countryside. And so I did. It wasn’t quite that easy, but WordPress didn’t take too long to learn.

Continue reading

Jet Planes About to Return to Mallorca

Mallorca’s tourism is about to be reactivated. We’re nearly at the end of Spain’s State of Alarm, which began on March 14th and ends on June 21st. Today, the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that the country’s borders would reopen that day to Schengen countries (although Portugal has asked to retain the original planned date of July 1st).

Tomorrow, two planes from Frankfurt and Düsseldorf will land at Palma de Mallorca’s airport and disgorge German tourists (and owners of second homes here). These are the first arrivals for what was planned to be a two-week pilot scheme to test Covid-19 protocols. That’s now become a one-week pilot, as the border reopening date has been brought forward.

One more week to go then, until we reach ‘new normality’. We still don’t know when family and friends from the UK will be able to travel here – or, more precisely, when the requirement for quarantine in the UK will end, making it more likely that people will consider coming for a holiday.

Day-to-day life in rural Mallorca hasn’t been too different from life as it was before the pandemic. It’s always quiet where we live, but the absence of planes flying over the valley has been noticeable. An hour or so ago, as we sat outside reading on this warm Sunday afternoon, a plane flew over – such a rare sound now that we immediately looked up from our books and commented on it.

In Other News…

The biggest changes have been in our cat ‘glaring’ (collective word for cats, if you didn’t know). In the middle of April, Chico – one of the cats we’ve looked after – disappeared. He was nine years old and had always stayed close to the house – although he was nervous of humans (even the two who had fed him twice a day since he was a kitten). We haven’t seen him again and try not to think about why.

Sweetie has discovered one of the outdoor sofas

His departure has resulted in an interesting change in the cat colony dynamics. Since Chico left, Sweetie – the only outdoor female (we had her sterilized as soon as she was old enough) – has been spending more time on our finca with her other siblings (and Shorty, who’s not related).

Sweetie’s always had her own territory on the holiday-home finca of friends a short distance from our home. Whenever she was hungry she would walk down the lane and come to the cat buffet at our place. Usually she came when the others weren’t around, eating what she wanted, then scurrying back to her territory.

Recently, Sweetie has been spending a lot of time on our finca and now eats with her remaining siblings twice a day. Her character has changed too: she’s no longer nervous of us and will even sit outside the front door waiting for us to go outside. I’ve also managed to pick her up for the briefest of cuddles without suffering a facial-disfiguring attack. Yesterday, we saw the biggest change in this cute little cat: after dinner eaten on the front terrace, I walked to the back of the house and found Sweetie sitting on one of our garden sofas. This would have been unthinkable a few months ago.

We never noticed any antagonism between Chico and his sister Sweetie but it seems too much of a coincidence that, since he left, she has become a different – and much more relaxed – cat. Perhaps it’s a case of every cloud has a silver lining…

Jan Edwards ©2020

Lockdown Log in Mallorca – Day 80

The outdoor sofas are back in use. Pip seems to approve.

The toughest lockdown rules in Europe are slowly being eased, and Mallorca (along with her sister islands) is in Phase 2 of the de-escalation. All being well, we’ll move into Phase 3 next Monday, 8th June.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will ask Spain’s Congress of Deputies tomorrow to vote for approval for one final two-week extension to the state of alarm, which came into effect in mid-March. After June 21st, we’ll be in that unknown but much-mentioned state of ‘new normal’.

What will Phase 3 mean for us? Never mind that. I have a far more vexing question that needs answering: Why, when we greet them during our wanderings in the lanes around our finca, do cyclists and walkers always respond in a different way from us?

Talk, Talk

If we say buenos días, they reply bon dia. If we try bon dia, we get a buenos días in response – or sometimes what sounds like a conjoined version of two greetings: holabondia. Sometimes, whatever we say, we get an adiós or an adéu – an economical way of saying both hello and goodbye: one word that’s as brief as our encounter. This is what happens when you live on an island where both castellano and the local Catalan dialect mallorquín are spoken.

Then there’s the other greeting that’s common amongst Mallorcans. It sounds like ‘wep’ – although it’s written as uep. I suppose it’s the closest equivalent to ‘hi’ and is often accompanied by a lift of the arm or an upward tip of the chin. This does feel like something very local and, to me, a somewhat masculine greeting – because I don’t remember ever hearing a woman use this.

Uepping Like a Local

Ooh, look, an ostrich!

Uep is a greeting I’ve used only to attract the attention of one relatively new neighbour. Taking one of our recent morning walks along a route we hadn’t trodden for months, we spotted the incomer: a young ostrich, strutting its stuff in a field of gobbling turkeys.

We stopped to look at it for a while and, hoping it would come closer so we could get a better look, I called out hola – a ‘hello’ used in both castellano and mallorquín. Our ostrich neighbour ignored us, so I tried uep and that did get a reaction: the ostrich ignored us, but the local greeting set the turkeys all a-flutter around the yard.

Maybe we should stick to our roots and offer the folks (and beasts) we meet a cheery English ‘good morning!’ or, given the part-Irish ancestry of The Boss, even a ‘top of the morning’. Now that would confuse the locals.

Jan Edwards ©2020

Lockdown Log in Mallorca – Day 71

Ripe for the picking

Here in Mallorca, we’re about to move into Phase 2 of the de-escalation of the strictest lockdown measures in Europe.  In Phase 1 (from May 11th) The Boss and I did pretty much the same as we did in Phase 0. We were allowed to – but didn’t – venture out to a bar terrace, lusting after that first coffee ‘out’ again (although we are very much looking forward to doing this), or meet up with ten friends – socially distanced, of course.

But we did have two enjoyable outings. Since lockdown started, we’ve had a fruit-and-veg box delivery from a company called Terracor/Terragust in Manacor. They’ve been delivering to us on Fridays but we had A Big Plan for Friday 22nd, so we went to their small farm shop (set up in an open-sided barn-like structure). What made this little shopping trip fun was that we were able – if we wanted – to pick our own peaches and nectarines from the orchards. Well, that sounded fun (we take our excitement where we can, these days).

On arrival, we were greeted by the now customary squirt of sanitizing gel. Anyone with shares in companies making this stuff is set to see big dividends, I imagine.

One of the team took us into the orchard, showed us which rows of trees had the sweetest fruit at that time, and told us what to look for in terms of fruit-skin colour.

As usual, the quality of the produce we took home was excellent. Those nectarines and peaches? They tasted all the more delicious, knowing that we’d plucked them from the trees ourselves.

Terragust offers a really enjoyable farm-to-table experience during the summer months, which we can highly recommend. You can read about it here, on my other blog.

A Big Plan

On Friday, 22nd, we went out for lunch. Before lockdown began in Spain, this wouldn’t have been unusual. But things have changed, haven’t they.

For a couple of years now, I’ve been writing a novel. The idea for the novel had been in my head for a lot longer and a few thousand words I originally wrote years ago still lurk in my computer. The novel is set in Mallorca (natch) and the beautiful mountain village of Deià – where I had several lovely holidays, back in the day, with my very dear friend Sally – has a role in the story.

Well, I finally finished the first draft (80k+ words) a couple of days ago – the perfect excuse to celebrate by dipping our toes into the waters of eating out again. And it seemed appropriate to do it in Deià.

We had an excellent lunch at Es Racó d’es Teix (which has a Michelin star but offers a very reasonably priced set lunch on weekdays). It’s family run, with Josef Sauerschell in the kitchen, his wife Eleanor front of house, and their identical-twin daughters (that confused us) helping out. As we entered the garden terrace, there was a bottle of sanitizing gel, so we could treat our hands before sitting down.

After a superb lunch – appreciated all the more because it was the first time we’d eaten out since mid-March – we drove down the twisting lane to Cala Deià, where we were the closest to the Mediterranean that we’d been since…you guessed, mid-March.

The Mediterranean at Cala Deia

Beaches Beckon

From tomorrow, Mallorca moves into Phase 2 and the beaches will open again. For those of us who live here, we have a few weeks to enjoy them with fewer people on than usual – before the hoped-for influx of tourists, when the island reopens to international travellers in July.

The sea has never looked cleaner or more tempting than it does now. What has been forbidden fruit will be ripe for enjoyment from tomorrow.

Do you live or have a home in Bunyola, Mallorca? If so, Max – who has a home there and whose comment is below – would like to be in contact.

Jan Edwards ©2020

Lockdown Log in Mallorca – Day 64

Here in rural Mallorca, we’ve been discovering the lanes of our valley again, now that we are permitted to walk beyond the boundaries of our finca. Each morning, we head off for a walk of about half an hour. It’s been a real tonic and a habit I hope we’ll continue.

After almost two months walking only around our own property, it’s been such a joy to be out in the open countryside, seeing what nature’s been up to in our absence – and encountering a few neighbours we haven’t seen for a long while.

One of this week’s memorable events was spotting a mare and her frisky foal in one of the fields bordering the lane down into the valley. The field belongs to a farmer called José. Because we know several people with this name, we’ve given each one a nickname – which is a common practice anyway in Mallorca.

A Handy Farmer

We refer to this farmer as ‘Hairy-Handed José’ – although not to his face, of course. He no longer lives in the house on his farm, but comes every day to tend his animals and whatever else Mallorcan farmers do to fill their days (and avoid helping their wives with the housework back at home in town).

The nickname came about because (a) this man’s remarkably hirsute – even the backs of his fingers are forested, and (b) his hands are huge, so it’s hard to miss them, given that Mallorcans (and most Latin-types) tend to wave them about as a side order to the spoken word.

A Horse with no Name

The foal’s mother. The foal was too far away to photograph on this occasion

A couple of days after spotting the foal – who gave a spirited little performance for my phone camera – we saw ‘Hairy-Handed José’ for the first time for more than the couple of months we’ve all been confined to home. He looked older and a bit thinner, but his hands were pleasingly as hairy as ever.

He stopped his car in the lane for a socially distanced chat. I was about to ask him what the foal was called when I remembered our first encounter, in our early months here. At the time, he had a huge black dog chained up just inside the gates of his farm. Every time we walked past it, the dog went mental, snarling and straining at its chain. I figured that if we knew its name, we could call it out when we passed, to let him know that we were friends not foes and there was no need for all the barky behaviour.

‘What’s your dog’s name?’ we had asked ‘Hairy Handed’ (our abbreviated version of his nickname) when we saw him out and about one day.

Translated, his reply was this: ‘Name? Name? He’s just a dog!’ Supposing that the foal in the field was ‘just a foal’, we didn’t bother to ask this time. We’ll choose our own name for it soon…

Jan Edwards ©2020

Lockdown Log in Mallorca – Day 56

Almost two months have passed since we went into lockdown in Spain. From last Saturday we were allowed a new privilege: that of one daily session of exercise, or a walk (the latter within a radius of one kilometre from our home).

After our first walk up the lane – passing numerous cyclists huffing and puffing up the hill – we changed to another route. We’ve since walked down to the floor of the valley, as far as one of the bridges over the torrente (stream) that runs through our valley.

It’s a glorious stretch of countryside, through the farmland of mallorquín neighbours Llorenzo and Bárbara. We hadn’t seen either of them since the lockdown began (in fact we’ve barely seen a soul, apart from the nice man from Terragust delivering our picked-that-morning fruit and veg each Friday).

Bárbara was picking chard in their produce garden, close to the lane, as we went past and it was good to have a decent chat with her – albeit one observing a safe distance and without the traditional hug and cheek kissing.

‘I’ll leave some for you by the gate, for when you come back,’ she said to us in castellano, waving a bunch of enormous chard leaves as we returned to our walk. These are not wealthy people, and their generosity is touching.

All Change

The torrente in March 2019, which we walked alongside

In March 2019, we went for a (very) long walk with Peter (one of our part-time neighbours), following the path of the stream. The stream bed and the banks had been cleared of all vegetation by the local town hall, as a precautionary measure, following the devastating floods of October 2018. It looked horribly stark but enabled us to walk through fields that hadn’t been accessible before.

That long walk revealed new vistas of the valley and an abundance of ducks living in the area. Before turning back for home, we spotted an orange tree on the other side of the stream, in the garden of what looked like an abandoned property. Peter – wearing some very sturdy boots – waded manfully through the water to do a little scrumping. Sitting on the bank of the stream, feeling like naughty children, we really appreciated those juicy fruits before our return walk.

When we arrived at the bridge this week, we were amazed to see how overgrown the torrente had become. On one side of the bridge there was so much vegetation growing that we couldn’t see any water. Only a single duck – startled by us into a noisy take-off – suggested there was water somewhere down there. Looking in the other direction (see below), we could see water but also much vegetation. The path through the fields that we had taken was no longer visible amidst the undergrowth. What a change in just 14 months.

Close-up of the same stretch of the torrente.

Another Not-So-Close Encounter

On our way back from this latest walk, we saw a stranger working in the garden of the house just down the lane from our own. Having been starved of face-to-face contact with other humans for so many weeks, we stopped to talk to him – again at a safe distance – and found out that he was a gardener. We said we hadn’t seen our neighbour José Luis for a very long time. Was he OK?

The gardener told us that our unfortunate neighbour has developed an extreme pollen allergy: if he’s outside for more than a few minutes, his eyelids and lips swell. What a horrible affliction to have – not only at this most beautiful time of the year (IMHO), but also when many of us are now taking advantage of the freedom to go outdoors again for exercise or walks. No wonder we haven’t seen him.

If we didn’t already appreciate how fortunate we are to be enjoying The Great Outdoors once again, this would have been a salient reminder.

Mallorca Moves into Phase 1

Spain has begun a four-phase de-escalation of the emergency measures that came into force at midnight on March 14th. Each province of Spain will progress through these phases at a rate that’s appropriate to the local circumstances, but each phase is expected to last around two weeks.

From Monday, May 11th, Mallorca begins Phase 1 – as will Menorca and Ibiza. (The small island of Formentera entered Phase 1 last Monday).

Here are some of the things possible during this new phase:

  • Going out together in the car (so far, only one of us has been able to go out to the supermarket, bank, or pharmacy)
  • Leaving our municipality and travelling to other parts of Mallorca
  • Social contact with a maximum of ten people who don’t live with us – observing social distancing measures, of course
  • Shopping in places no larger than 400m²
  • Having a drink on the terrace of a bar (but not indoors)
  • Visiting a library or museum
  • Going to church

There are, of course, still restrictions, such as limited capacities in places that are re-opening. And although hotels are allowed to re-open, only guests who are lodging can use them – and there are some access restrictions.

As much as we love walking in our valley, the carrot on a stick for us is having a long walk on a seafront, followed by a coffee or cold drink on the terrace of a bar, looking out to the Mediterranean. Small pleasures. It’s not every weekend that you can say you’re looking forward to Monday…

Jan Edwards ©2020

Logdown Log in Mallorca – Day 51

Wildflowers growing on the side of the lane in our valley

Yes, it’s day 3,789 of lockdown here in Mallorca (Spain). Not really; it just feels a bit like it sometimes.

But there was A Big Change in this country on Saturday, as Spain’s restrictions – reported as the toughest in Europe – were eased slightly for adults. From Saturday, May 2nd, we were allowed out for exercise (sports) or a walk.

Of course, there are restrictions, such as dedicated time bands for going out; this is is designed to minimise the risk to those most vulnerable to the virus. For walks, we can travel up to a radius of one kilometre from our homes; exercise is not so restrictive, but must be done within the same municipality. We cannot hop in the car and drive anywhere to walk or work out. (Oh, how I long to walk beside the Mediterranean again).

Lucky to Have Land

We’ve not exactly been lazy during the lockdown. Exercising to online videos could have been an option if our wifi signal was better, but we opted to walk.

We’re fortunate that our finca has plenty of land. More than half of it is still virgin territory for me, as it forms a valley within our valley and not only are the sides of this mini-valley steep, they’re also perilous, as the land underfoot is just loose stones. I had a small taste of this danger in our early years here, when I ventured out and slid several feet, ending up in a heap on the ground – my unplanned descent broken by a well-located shrub. This required a hospital visit to check on very painful ribs which, fortunately, were just badly bruised, rather than broken.

From this limited personal experience, I know that one careless step could lead to hurtling down the side, through a tangle of wild olives and mastic bushes, to an uncomfortable stop at what is the long-dried-up bed of a stream. Andres and Guillermo, elderly brothers who lived in the valley as small boys, once told us they’d fished for eels down there. And that there had been peach and apricot trees for scrumping.

Stepping Out

The rest of our land is not as dangerous. As well as the garden we’ve created, there’s a large flat field – which has become our walking track during lockdown. We don’t use the field for anything in particular, as it’s mainly layered with huge rocks and stones. The Boss used to get out his man toy (a bushwacker) to level the wild growth to the ground, but this marvellous piece of kit died last year and we have yet to replace it.

Almost since lockdown began, we have had a routine: 20 circuits of the field in the morning and 20 in the early evening. This was mainly to counter all the extra baking I’d been doing. We’ve missed very few sessions and, as a result, now have a well-trodden and compressed roundish track amidst what is now a field of waist-high (and in my case, some  shoulder-high) wild grasses and wildflowers. You could probably spot it from the International Space Station, if you were up there looking down on our part of rural Mallorca.

Felines in the Field

The cats that share our finca have been visibly bemused by our routine. Shorty, our affectionate ginger, started to follow us but realised that if he just sat in the middle of our track, he would get a few terms of endearment and a stroke on the head from me each time we came around. The others just sit in the grass at the side of the track and watch us.

During these walks we’ve also discovered Dusty’s secret daytime hiding place. He has a spot in a dense cluster of wild fennel and a plumbago bush that we certainly didn’t plant, but which thrives in the ashy area that was once our bonfire site. You’d never know that he was there but, one day, we saw him stalking through the grasses and then disappear from view. It was as though he’d entered the door to a parallel cat universe. Now that we know his secret spot, we can just about see him as we pass by.

As the weeks have gone by, we have watched Mother Nature continue her spring tasks. Some wildflowers have died, to be replaced by new ones. This morning we spotted some pretty blue flowers that weren’t out yesterday. We’ve seen several tortoises and butterflies galore. These little details are so easily be missed in the daily pace of ‘normal’ life (remember that?).

Venturing Out

On Saturday we used our allotted walking period to check on a couple of neighbouring holiday homes for their owners. It was good to see the land of other people’s properties for a change.

Yesterday, we walked up the lane for the permitted one kilometre. We didn’t expect to see many people out in the valley; but did spot a woman walking a dog in the distance and waved (but had no idea who she was).

What we did see were cyclists. Lots of them. In fact I woke up yesterday to the sound of cyclists yelling as they freewheeled down the lane. Our valley is a magnet for cyclists: it has a very steep and challenging gradient that has earned it a place on the route of the Mallorca 312 cycling event, which takes place at the end of April each year. (This year’s event has been rescheduled to October 10th, 2020).

Our rural valley is in the municipality of Manacor and it seemed that every cycling enthusiast in the town had taken the opportunity to escape on two wheels to the countryside yesterday.

Social distancing wasn’t as easy as it should have been, with huffing and puffing cyclists constantly passing us. In future, we’ll be wearing our black bandit-like masks…or continuing our field circuits, away from the sporty sorts.

Jan Edwards©2020