No, The Boss and I are not currently residing at His Majesty’s pleasure in what some people dub ‘the Palma Hilton’. Neither am I pouring foaming pints of beer for British holidaymakers in a lively Magaluf bar. I’m referring to the iron window bars, known in Spanish as rejas.
They’re a common sight at the windows of houses in Spain and something that made an impression on me when I saw them, quite a long time ago, during my first visit to the country that is now my home. At the time I thought it would be horrible to live with bars at the windows, but I’ve now become so used to these things that I now couldn’t imagine not having them. Presumably many others feel the same as these traditional features are still incorporated into many new properties.
Keeping Some Out . . . Others In
They are first and foremost a security feature, enabling windows to be left open for fresh air, with a degree of protection from anyone who may wish to enter the house without an invitation. They also help prevent unsupervised young children from falling out of a window (or teenagers from doing an unauthorised late-night exit through their bedroom window to meet friends!).
At one time, of course, many houses wouldn’t have had windows fitted with glass (which is still quite expensive on the island), so bars in the window space would have been essential as a security measure. We saw an example of this once when we stayed for a night in a townhouse in Pollensa: our bedroom window in this charming old property had shutters, but no glass! Thankfully it was a warm(ish) night . . .
Another Maintenance Job for the Property Owner
The downside of these things is that they do need to be painted from time to time to keep them looking good. And it’s a very fiddly job (and one that’s often bumped down the ‘to do’ list in our house as a result). The upside – apart from the security benefits – is that property insurance companies may give a discount on premiums if bars are fitted.
For our cats too, there seems to be a feeling of safety sleeping behind the bars. Pip certainly seems to take advantage of a ‘protected’ place to snooze away the daylight hours. Her favourite window – the smallest in the house – is in our small guest suite. She’s actually the only one of our cats that can fit into it. No need for a ‘do not disturb’ sign here . . . unless I’m around with my Nikon.
These bars are very good for resting one’s feet on . . .
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 deManacor (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 . . .
Footnote: When I wrote my original post on this subject, 2,876 people had ‘liked’ the Ses Galines desa rotonda Facebook page. Today that figure stands at 3,169!
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.
Dogs For U in ‘Insiders Abroad’
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 . . .
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.
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.
Nibbles at 10 weeks old
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!