Almond blossom time on Mallorca

The Boss and I have just come indoors after having lunch on our rural Mallorca home’s small front terrace. It’s something we’ve been able to do more than is usual for January, as the weather has been surprisingly warm and sunny for the time of year.

Today’s home-made guacamole (from creamy avocados grown on Mallorca) served with a medley of crisp raw veggies (sounds like I swallowed a recipe description here!) was more the type of dish we’d eat in spring or summer; it was too warm today for home-made soup or a steaming jacket potato fresh from our Jotul log-burning stove.

This winter is proving to be like none that we have experienced since we moved to Mallorca in April 2004. Back then we started to record temperatures and weather conditions in a new five-year diary. It’s been interesting to look back occasionally at what we experienced in those early years:

January 26th, 2005: High 6 degrees C. Low of zero degrees.  “Woke to a covering of snow.”

And the same date in subsequent years, highs and lows as follows:

2006 – 11/4 degs C; 2007 – 12/6 degs C; 2008 – 13/6 degs C.

Today our outdoor thermometer (which stands in a shaded position) has registered 18 degs C.  And our rural part of Mallorca is often a few degrees cooler than, say, Palma de Mallorca, the island’s capital. We’ve had quite a few similar temperatures since winter officially began – and only a couple of short cold snaps.

The downside to the unusual amount of warm sunshine and blue skies is the lack of rain. Farmers are having a tough time with their crops and, this week, the Balearic government has announced measures to help the agricultural community during this time of drought. Other sectors are also being affected by the unseasonable weather: yesterday I heard of a heating company that has done hardly any business so far this winter.

Mallorca’s dry warm winter has both good and bad sides, but one positive has been the early blossoming of the almond trees across the island. This beautiful, delicately scented blossom never fails to make me smile in the winter months – whatever the weather.

Almond blossom Majorca

Captured on camera today.

Majorca blossom

Almond blossom from 2014 – when the sky wasn’t quite as blue as today’s!

 

If you’re on Mallorca in early February, it would be a pity to miss the Fira de la Flor d’Ametler (the almond blossom fair), which takes place in the town of Son Servera on Sunday, February 7th, 2016.

 

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Looks like the beanstalk – but where’s Jack?

In the early days of setting up a garden in the field of our finca home in rural Mallorca, we had no idea quite how large everything would grow. It seems that the lack of soil depth on our rocky land has been no deterrent to growth: aloes, agaves, ‘swords’ (I have no idea of their official name), and yuccas, have all grown to sizes beyond our expectations.

I used to wonder when our garden would be considered ‘mature’. Well, I think it’s now: one of our ‘sword’ plants has sprouted something akin to the beanstalk of the famous fairytale, and resembling a giant stalk of asparagus. If only. Think of the culinary treats . . .

Sky-bound

Sky-bound

We know that the stalk will eventually throw out a flower and, once that has died, it’s goodbye plant. Although it’s quite exciting to see this thing grow (and it’s making fairly rapid progress out there), this mighty plant, having flowered, will wither and keel over. We’ve checked its future trajectory and our roof seems to be in no danger, but The Boss will have quite a job to dig the dead plant – and what are probably quite impressive roots – out of the ground. A decade ago it was a small and rather sickly thing when a kind neighbor gave it to us to help fill some of the yawning space that was crying out to be a Mediterranean garden.

No wonder it's called the sword plant . . .

No wonder it’s called the sword plant . . .

Although the evil spikes on the end of each sword-like leaf have punctured various bits of our bodies during gardening sessions (ouch!), we’ll still be sorry to lose such an impressive architectural plant.

 

 

 

Doing the Mallorca-UK commute?

Suitcase packed for holiday on Mallorca

Do you live on Mallorca but work in the UK?  Are you a long-distance weekly commuter, enjoying the benefits of living on this Mediterranean island, whilst working back in Blighty?

Through this blog, a researcher from a TV production company in the UK has been in touch with me regarding a new lifestyle and property TV show, which will look at how people can improve their quality of life by moving abroad, while maintaining a career in the UK.  The programme will be broadcast on Channel 4.

The researcher would like to talk to people who have chosen, and are living, this life. If you fit the bill, and are happy to be contacted by the production company, please send me an email and I shall pass on your details.

Thank you!

 

 

The fiesta of fire burns this weekend on Mallorca

The village of Son Macia, near Manacor, has added a topical touch to the design of their Sant Antoni event poster!

The village of Son Macia, near Manacor, has added a topical touch to the design of their Sant Antoni event poster!

Life is never dull on Mallorca. If Christmas, New Year, and Three Kings were not enough celebrations for this time of year, this weekend is the Sant Antoni fiestas. January 16th – the eve of the Saint’s day – is when Mallorcans traditionally light foguerons (bonfires) in the streets and make elaborate effigies of the Devil to set ablaze. Mallorca’s famous dimonis take to the streets with their manic dancing and scary costumes, and people have a jolly good time, cooking food on outdoor torrades (BBQs). And because it can be surprisingly cold at this time of the year (although not this winter, so far), a few libations are usually taken – very often the famous bright green Hierbas de Tunel.

In our local town, Manacor, the Sant Antoni fiestas almost seem more popular than Christmas. For the past couple of weeks, stalls set up in town on Saturdays have been selling this year’s design of Sant Antoni sweatshirts, t-shirts, and hats – and all at affordable prices.

The excitement is building. This morning, doing a few chores in town, we had to drive around a pile of earth in the middle of several roads, on which the bonfires for this Saturday night will be built. These piles will be increasing in number over the coming days. And several shops have incorporated Sant Antoni into their window displays.

Local supermarket Hiper prepares for Sant Antoni.

Local supermarket Hiper prepares for Sant Antoni.

Hiper's stocks of wine and BBQ grills ready to tempt us.

Hiper’s stocks of wine and BBQ grills ready to tempt us.

Plenty of Hierbas de Tunel in stock . . .

Plenty of Hierbas de Tunel in stock . . .

If you don’t know (and I confess that I didn’t until we moved to Mallorca), Sant Antoni was an Egyptian monk who, in the desert, was tempted by the Devil – cunningly disguised as a woman. The iron-willed monk didn’t succumb to these womanly wiles, instead walking on hot coals to take his mind off anything else getting too heated!

All this happened a long way from Mallorca, but stay with me. On the island during the 10th and 11th centuries, many folk were affected by a horrible skin disease caused by a poisonous fungus attacking rye crops. No cure was known, but the Mallorcans followed Sant Antoni’s example of using fire to fight the Devil that they believed had caused the disease.

The disease is long gone, but the fires burn on every eve of Sant Antoni, as the backdrop to much partying. And, on the Saint’s day itself, Mallorcans head for the streets again – to take their pets and other animals to be blessed by the local priest.

After the festivities of this weekend, things will quieten down . . . but not for long: Carnival this year falls on the first weekend of February!

 

Cock-a-hoop about Manacor’s chicken roundabout

Happy New Year! Regular readers of this blog about our life in rural Mallorca will have spotted a new look to the site, and I hope you like it.

There’s also a new look to what’s known locally as la rotunda de ses galines (chicken roundabout) in Manacor, our nearest town. I’ve written before about this roundabout on the town’s ring road, which used to be home to a number of chickens. Sadly, the chickens were removed a short while ago and taken to a new home in the middle of the island. Somehow, one – a small white hen – was missed out in the round-up; poor thing must be horribly lonely and wondering where all of its feathered friends have gone.

Follow those birds!

It’s fair to say that the removal of the chickens did not go down too well with many local people (including The Boss and me). Even the Ses Galines de sa rotonda Facebook page is still active – with 3,403 followers as of today. Scrolling back through the page, you’ll find a mock-up of a funeral notice for Ses Galines (they weren’t dead, but definitely gone).

December 28th was the Day of the Holy Innocents. In Spain this is the day in the year when people like to play practical jokes – rather like April Fool’s Day in Britain. On this date in 2015, a ‘flock’ of mini-‘statues’ of chickens appeared on Manacor’s former chicken roundabout. I approve. But I’d rather see the real things strutting their stuff again . . .

Chicken memorial

Black to where we belong

Chickens return . . . in a roundabout way

Chickens return . . . in a roundabout way

 

FOOTNOTE: January 12, 2016. We passed this roundabout this morning . . . and these ‘chickens’ are no longer there!