Snow on Mallorca? It happens…

Snow on Majorcan mountains

Snow caps on the Tramuntana mountains, seen from our valley

For many who know Mallorca only as a hot summer-holiday destination, it may come as a shock to know that our beautiful island experiences some rather wintry weather at times. Back in February 2012, The Boss’s cousin and his wife came to the island for a walking holiday. Except that when they opened the door of their holiday accommodation one morning, a drift of snow awaited them. It’s not been that bad since (yet).

February is usually the coldest and dampest month and, for the past week, it’s been pretty miserable, with constant grey skies and rain in our part of Mallorca. We do need the rain, of course, to replenish the embalses – water reservoirs – for the long dry summers.

The annual Carnival celebrations were due to happen in Manacor last evening, but the powers-that-be decided to postpone the event because of the weather: yesterday was damp, dreary, and 4 degrees Celsius (although it felt colder in the wind). We think it’s the first time the event has been postponed since we’ve lived here. Carnival celebrations in Manacor will now take place this evening. What a difference a day makes. Today, the sky has been blue and the sun has shone. But, as the afternoon has progressed, there’s been a renewed sharpness to the breeze.

What to wear for Carnival

We usually dress up in ordinary warm clothes for this event but, last year, we took the plunge and went in costume – dressed in cowboy (and cowgirl) gear, along with our Dutch friends Sandra and Adriaan. We had a really fun night and I don’t recall it being particularly cold (although a glass or two of wine during the evening may have served as central heating).

Carnival in Manacor is always fun but, in costume terms, it’s not Rio. Far too cold for skimpy outfits in February! For anyone planning to dress up this evening, the ideal outfit would be a furry gorilla costume. Now, where can The Boss and I source a couple of those on a Sunday afternoon, I wonder?

©Jan Edwards 2018

 

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Mallorca’s market life

Church in Sant Llorenc

The parish church in Sant Llorenc

Exploring local markets is one of the pleasures of living – or holidaying – on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.  Every town and village has its market and some of the larger ones – such as the huge Wednesday market in Sineu, Artà’s on a Tuesday, and the Sunday one in Santa Maria – have become magnets for tourists.

Some markets are much larger than others. Once, not long after moving to rural Mallorca, we went to a village market which comprised a total of two stalls selling fruit and vegetables. Yes, only two. Having allocated a whole morning to exploring the potential treasures of this particular outdoor emporium, we were soon searching for a café.

Gastro Market beckons…

Last week we visited a market on Mallorca that we’d never been to before, even though we’ve lived here since 2004 and it’s not too far from home. The weekly Thursday market in Sant Llorenç has, in recent months, been given a new identity: the Sant Llorenç Gastro Market. There’s nothing like a name with foodie appeal to attract new visitors…

It’s not a large market but the stalls lining the traffic-free Carrer Major certainly fitted into the category of  ‘gastronomy’. We spotted organic local produce (including a contender for Mallorca’s largest cauliflower), gourmet salts, olive oils, home-made cheeses, and more. Some stalls were offering home-made Mallorcan dishes to take home, reheat and serve, and others had snacks to sustain market visitors whilst browsing.

In the square in front of the church, we found the more-usual fruit and veg stalls, and a van selling fresh fish (which had almost sold out by the time of our mid-morning visit).

We also bought some bread from the traditional bakery Forn de sa Plaça, where we had a sad little chat with the owner about the impact that supermarket in-store bakeries are having on traditional businesses like his own.

Recommended coffee stop in Sant Llorenç

A coffee stop is essential during a market visit and the delightful four-bedroom luxury B&B Can Solaies Hotelet (right at the heart of the Gastro Market action on Carrer Major) is our recommendation for a hot or cold drink in Sant Llorenç. We had delicious americanos there, after which we had a look at three of the rooms. They’re superbly decorated in Mediterranean style and we may go and stay a night so that I can write about the experience on http://www.eatdrinksleepmallorca.com.

Like traditional bakeries, street markets are also losing business to supermarkets – which is why initiatives like Sant Llorenç’s Gastro Market are important. If  I hadn’t spotted the magic words ‘gastro market’ on a social-media post, would we have visited this weekly market? Probably not. But with its new name and concept, and free live music to entertain visitors, this market has reignited its appeal and is offering foodies a good reason to visit the small town.

During our visit last Thursday, we didn’t see many obvious tourists – but plenty of locals were supporting Mallorca’s market life in Sant Llorenç. We’ll be joining them again in the future.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Look who’s moved into our valley

Donkey at a gate

One of Francisco’s donkeys…no longer in the valley

When we first moved to rural Mallorca in 2004, there were more animals than people in our valley. These were mainly sheep, or sheeps – as our German neighbour calls them in the plural form. (English must be quite a complicated language for a foreigner to learn).

For quite a few years, several farmers owned small flocks that were regularly moved from one field to another, somewhere else in the valley. The sound of an increasingly loud symphony of sheep-bells was a warning that the lane would be temporarily blocked to traffic by woolly walkers, being guided by the farmer towards another of his patchy patches of land. Sadly, we rarely awaken to the sound of dongling sheep-bells nearby these days: the field opposite our casita is no longer the part-time home of frolicking lambs or their bell-toting mums.

These beasts are no burden

We also used to hear regular distant donkey-braying – another of my favourite rural sounds. Francisco – an animal-loving Mallorcan who did gardening jobs for some of our neighbours – owned a few donkeys in a field down in the valley. If we were going for a walk in that direction, we often took a few carrots or an apple for them. When Francisco sadly died suddenly, after being ill for a while, the donkeys disappeared shortly afterwards.

It’s safe to assume, then, that I was rather excited by some new four-legged arrivals we spotted last week in the valley. Two ponies, a donkey, and a mule (or is it an ass? We really couldn’t tell) were munching their way through a different field at the bottom of the lane.  The photos were taken with my smart phone. I’ll be tottering down the hill again soon – with my smarter Nikon and its zoom lens.

Pony in a field

The new boy in town? Could be a girl – hard to see through all that fur!

Animals in a field

Settling into their new abode

Grazing pony

Pony number two enjoying the buffet

We have no idea who owns either the field or the beasts, but were delighted to see these new neighbours. Looks as though we’ll be buying extra carrots and apples again…

©Jan Edwards 2018