October: a month of contrasts on Mallorca

A late afternoon bath for this robin.

A late-afternoon bath for this robin.

This coming weekend on Mallorca we shall be turning back the clocks, marking the official end of the summer. It’s been a long hot one and, although we are already two-thirds of the way through October, we are thankfully still having a few lovely warm days. When the sun shines, we open doors and windows during the day to let in the warm air. As things cool, we close everything up but, in the evenings, the living room of our home in rural Mallorca already feels a little chilly.  Oh, for cavity wall insulation . . . if there were a cavity to fill.

Winter drawers on? Not quite yet . . .

We’re at the time of year when the lightest of summer clothes (and certainly anything white) is consigned to storage bags and boxes under the beds. (Buy an old Mallorcan property and you’re unlikely to find many cupboards for storing stuff). But we’re not ready yet to shrug ourselves into sweaters and woolly socks during the day. My much-loved Menorcan sandals (highly recommended for comfort) and I won’t be prised apart until my feet lose all sensation because of the cold. I’ve even worn shorts in the past fortnight . . . but also seen locals wearing thick sweaters, scarves, and boots . . . in temperatures up to 25 degrees Celsius!

The house ‘wardrobe’ also changes. The light sheer curtains that blow gently in the breezes of the warmer months will be replaced by curtains with thermal linings. I’ve already retrieved one pair from storage, ironed them, and hung them. Another two pairs to go . . .

Winter/spring

October is a month of contrasts outdoors too, with signs of winter, but also of new beginnings. No wonder the Mallorcans call this season winter/spring. We have a garden with plenty of new growth (a lot of it weeds, I should add), but our family of ‘adopted’ cats is eating heartily as though preparing for a prolonged trip to Siberia. On Sunday evening, despite the diminishing daylight, it was warm enough to eat a BBQ dinner outside, for the first time in a few weeks. But a visitor earlier that afternoon reminded us that there may not be too many more alfresco dinners: on our birdbath – sprucing himself up after a long flight south – was that feathered emblem of winter, the robin.

The photo of the robin was taken from inside the house, and the close-up was achieved by cropping the image.

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Mallorca contribution to new ‘Kaleidoscope’ anthology by Writers Abroad

When we came to live on Mallorca I had grand plans to write a novel . . . after I’d written about the experience of moving to a rural finca on the island and all the challenges that it entailed. We had the first eight months without electricity, which meant I couldn’t plug in a computer. And anyone who has seen my handwriting will know that using paper and pen would not have been a workable option. Not if anyone (or even I) intended to read it later.

I soon discovered that better and more experienced writers had already written about moving to Mallorca and living in a finca. Perhaps the novel? I’ve probably written a quarter of it, but that was some time ago now; I do intend to get back to it soon. And, yes, it’s set on Mallorca.

Most of my writing work is factual, rather than fiction, but I have had short stories chosen for inclusion in three anthologies published by a group called Writers Abroad (of which, incidentally, I’m not a member).

A hat trick on the story front

The latest of these anthologies, entitled ‘Kaleidoscope’ is published today, October 12th. Even though I’ve probably had a few hundred articles published now, I’ve had little success with short stories – so I’m pretty excited to have had my third one published. Especially as I spent quite some time trying to find inspiration for the ‘light-themed’ story – and almost gave up the idea of submitting anything.

They do say that you should write about what you know and, thus, the seed of a story idea sprouted. ‘Seeing the light’ (published under the name of Janice Dunn) is a complete work of fiction – but prompted by the occasion when lightning knocked out the invertor of our solar-powered electricity system.

News Release From Writers Abroad‏

 

 

An Anthology of Stories and Poetry from Expat Writers Around the World

‘Kaleidoscope’ Available for Purchase

All proceeds from sales will be donated to the charity Room to Read.

Online, ex-pat writing community Writers Abroad are proud to announce the publication today Monday 12th October of their fifth anthology, Kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope is a dazzling collection of flash fiction, short stories and poetry, written by expats (or former expats) around the world on the theme of light, as 2015 is the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.

The stories and poems selected for Kaleidoscope evoke many varied interpretations of light: from a force that dispels evil or illuminates to one that can be destructive, from sunlight to firelight, or from the glow of an Arctic summer night to the brilliance of a Mediterranean afternoon.

This anthology is dedicated to two writers and members of Writers Abroad, Mary Davies and Jäny Graf, who both died in June 2015 during the planning of Kaleidoscope. Two pieces written by them are published in the anthology.

Author and former Writers Abroad member Chris Allen, who lives in Germany, has written the foreword. His writing has appeared in a wide range of publications. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Chris Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.

Kaleidoscope is available from Lulu and Amazon at a price of $8.50, £5.99 or €7.50.

Come and join us at our Facebook Launch today between 10am and 6pm and enter one of the free competitions. You could win an e-copy of a previous Writers Abroad Anthology.

 

A bird’s eye view of rural properties on Mallorca

The Binissalem area of Mallorca from a helicopter.

The Binissalem area of Mallorca from a helicopter.

For five years of my independent radio broadcasting career in the UK, I flew over Oxfordshire on weekday mornings for an hour in a helicopter, reporting on the rush-hour traffic situation around the county. When I say flew, I wasn’t at the controls; that was a charming man we dubbed ‘Michael the Pilot’. Like many pilots, it seems, he had a well-modulated and rather appealing velvety voice (Michael’s certainly appealed to a large number of our listeners when he made the occasional contribution to the broadcasts). Perhaps a voice audition is part of the pilot selection process?

I loved these daily flights and the excitement of being up, up in the air, with the landscape spread out below us. They were the highlight of my working day and, when I moved to the BBC for a better opportunity, were something I missed more than I had expected.

Mallorca from the air

Having moved to Mallorca I began to imagine flying over the island and seeing its natural beauty from the air. I still often rush out of the house if I hear the familiar thrub-thrub of rotor blades, just to see a helicopter passing by.

So I wasted no time in accepting an invitation from Balearic Helicopters to view the new R66 Turbine Helicopter from the Robinson Helicopter Company, which was on loan from Sloane Helicopters in the UK for a week, to give potential buyers the chance to see it. The Boss and I combined a visit to the Sunday morning market and an artisan microbrewery at Santa Maria, before heading to Binissalem aerodrome (which we hadn’t even known existed), where the helicopter would be gleaming in the sunlight for all to admire. And she was a beauty.

Jonny Greenall, Balearic Helicopters’ affable chief pilot, used to run Sloane Helicopters on Mallorca, but Sloane is no longer on the island and Jonny has started his own business.  He and his team made an assortment of visitors that afternoon very welcome, providing a hog roast lunch and a rather scrummy banoffee pie. There were a few people in the group who already owned a helicopter and possibly were looking to upgrade; they were the ones asking the questions and cooing over some of the more exciting technical innovations.

Helicopter

Sloane Helicopters’ R66 Turbine Helicopter visits Balearic Helicopters on Mallorca.

And we’re off . . .

Once we’d all had a good look around and inside the 5-seater craft, Jonny announced that he’d be doing some short flights for those who were interested in going up. I promise that I didn’t trample anyone in my rush to reach a seat, but I was thrilled beyond most normal people’s comprehension to have the opportunity to go up.

Jonny Greenall flies the R66 Turbine Helicopter over Mallorca.

Jonny Greenall flies the R66 Turbine Helicopter over Mallorca.

Up in an R66 Turbine over Mallorca

Views of the Tramuntana mountains.

When my turn finally came, we took off and flew for a few minutes over the Binissalem area – probably best known for its vineyards, which look impressive from above. We also had a good view of quite a few fincas we passed over, which is why some prospective rural property purchasers take a helicopter trip to check out the surrounding area from above.

Fly before you buy?

Fly before you buy?

Even if you’re not planning to buy a place in rural Mallorca, if you can afford it, a helicopter flight over the island will give you a unique perspective of this beautiful Mediterranean island. If you look down and see someone waving enthusiastically from a rural finca in northeast Mallorca, it’ll be me . . .

To find out more about the R66 Turbine, check Robinson’s website.