Horrible Hortense Visits Mallorca

What’s with the weather around Europe this January? Snow has fallen in areas that rarely see the white stuff and, as I write, the UK Government has issued 137 flood warnings (flooding expected), one severe flood warning (danger to life), and 120 flood alerts (be prepared) for England.

Meanwhile in Mallorca

Mallorca’s weather seems to have been colder than usual for January. And today we had one of those weather events that stick in the memory. A meeting of storms over the area – including Storm Hortense – caused chaos. As we drove home from Manacor mid-morning, rain lashed horizontally across the road and hurricane-force winds battered everything in sight.

We arrived home and found one of our almond trees broken. Its leafless canopy landed in our lemon tree, which it damaged. A tall yucca tree in a large pot at the front of the house also snapped, and some smaller plant pots smashed as the fierce winds swept through. It’s not the first time we’ve suffered storm damage – and won’t be the last.

From Minor to Major

Our damage was minor compared to the 228 incidents reported by 3pm today to the emergency services. In parts of Mallorca, wind speeds reached 144 kilometres/hour. Numerous trees have fallen – some blocking roads, there’s been considerable structural damage to buildings, cars, and boats. Insurance companies will be busy for a while, dealing with claims.

It’s the perfect weather to stay at home, safe from the storms and from Covid. Spare a thought for those who won’t be able to – because they’ll be clearing up the considerable damage. There is always someone worse off than ourselves.

Have a safe weekend, wherever you are.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Cat Tales from Mallorca

Those beautiful blue eyes!

Our house has been a cat convalescent home again this weekend. This time our patient was Dusty – the eldest of the cats we look after – who had a biopsy on Friday. When we brought him home from the vet’s, we kept him indoors for a couple of nights to keep an eye on him and manage his post-biopsy medication.

We’re devastated that the poor boy has a tumour in his nose, and a piece of the tissue has been sent to Barcelona for analysis. We must now wait for the results to know the art of the possible in terms of treatment. I am praying it’s benign.

Dusty is the only remaining cat from the first litter of feral kittens, born on the other side of the wall at the end of our field. He’s almost ten years old and, other than a night in our guest annexe after he was castrated, has lived outdoors all his life – showing no inclination to come into the house.

He has an affectionate and gentle nature, in as much as he likes to rub his head against our legs and purrs with great enthusiasm. When I do some gardening, he often appears from underneath a shrub to keep me company.

But try to pick him up or put him on a lap, and we’re suddenly dealing with a sharp-clawed octopus. Catching him for the visit to the vet’s called, as usual, for subterfuge.

On Friday evening, Dusty was still subdued after his lunchtime op. We drove the ten kilometres home without a squeak from him in his travelling case on the back seat. A first.

Our guest annexe isn’t warm enough to use in the winter, so we brought Dusty into the house to recuperate. Considering the complete change of routine and lifestyle, he behaved well. He couldn’t settle for long on the first evening, wandering around the house and checking everything out. He viewed the log burner with trepidation – unlike Pip, who sprawls herself right in front of it – and when we turned on the TV, he shot out of the room. The news programmes have the same effect on me these days.

Pip wasn’t thrilled about our temporary guest but, after an initial growl at the interloper, she largely ignored him. We kept the two in separate rooms overnight and The Boss slept part of last night on the sofa, to keep Dusty company when he cried for attention. I didn’t hear a peep of any of this, sleeping through it all. It may have been sleep time for us but the hours of darkness are when outdoor cats are most active.

The weather’s not as cold today as it’s been of late and we’ve seen some sunshine. As I write, Dusty has gone back outside to his natural habitat. In a short while from now, he’ll be waiting with the other outdoor cats for his dinner.

As much as we’d like to keep him indoors until the biopsy results arrive, our vet didn’t know how long they’ll take – and Dusty would not appreciate an extended stay indoors. Not sure The Boss would appreciate another night on the sofa either!

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Happy New Year from Chilly Mallorca

How were your New Year’s Eve celebrations? I don’t think anyone was sorry to see the end of 2020 but, wherever you were, I hope you had a chance to reflect on any positive aspects of what was a really crap year for everyone.

Part of the traditional nativity display in Palma’s El Corte Ingles department store

Like so many around the world, we’ve lost people this year who were dear to us. My extended family said goodbye to two much-loved senior members, and two friends were lost to cancer.

I begin each year by making a list of highlights of the previous 12 months: fiestas attended, restaurants enjoyed, new experiences, friends and family who’ve visited, etc. I’m always surprised at how much has happened and been achieved, and this strengthens my sense of gratitude.

Will I make a list for 2020? It’d be short. But even amidst the gloom and bad news of the pandemic year, I have found things for which to be grateful.

Reasons to be Positive

In the spring, the eldest of my two brothers was diagnosed with prostate cancer – even before he had any symptoms. He’d been to his GP about an unrelated problem and, while there, the doctor suggested an overdue PSA test. Long story short, my brother had a major operation – at a time when some hospitals had postponed most non-Covid-related procedures. I thank the NHS that he made a good recovery, without needing further treatment. If you’re male, please take this as a reminder to ask your doctor for a PSA test if you haven’t had one for a while.

I finished writing the first draft of my debut novel. This was back in spring, and I put the manuscript aside for a few months, as is recommended, before I started editing and revising. In 2021 I intend to see it published by whatever means possible. Just the small matter of finishing the revisions first.

We found a new Internet provider (ConectaBalear) – albeit too late to enjoy all the exciting online activities available during the strict three-month Spanish lockdown. As a result, we had a Christmas Day Zoom with my dad (whom I haven’t seen since a family funeral in the UK just before lockdown), and my two brothers and their families.

I also launched two podcasts, after my Mallorca Sunshine Radio show was put on hold. The weekly show was all about hospitality and gastronomy, and we all know what’s happened to those sectors – particularly in places depending on tourism. Living in Rural Mallorca podcast is about other expats’ experiences of life in the countryside here; Authors in Mallorca speaks for itself, I think. I hope you’ll have a listen and even subscribe to future episodes.

Kate Brittan – Australian Expat, Foodie, and Fledgling Farmer Living in Rural Mallorca

This episode’s guest, with her veterinarian husband, and their young son took a sabbatical from their life in Sydney to discover Europe. They planned to experience living in a city, the countryside, and Provence (France). After some months in Aix-en-Provence, they headed to the south of Spain for some warmth, basing themselves in Seville. Next stop on the Brittan family’s European sabbatical was Mallorca – an island they’d never visited before.After renting a rural property for a while, they realised they’d fallen in love with the largest of the Balearic Islands. In September 2019 they bought a beautiful mountain finca with twenty acres of land where they’ve created a family lifestyle that’s very different from their former lifestyle Down Under.Kate Brittan is a passionate foodie who originally trained in Australia as a chef before entering the corporate tech world. Since moving to the largest of the Balearic Islands, she’s started the popular Facebook group ‘The Mallorca Foodies’. Kate talks about the impact of Covid and the Australian wildfires on their family life, their impressive plans for the farm, solving the problem of sourcing favourite ingredients for cooking, the surprising way she integrated with her Mallorcan neighbours, and why she loves her nearest town, Inca. And, of course, she shares her top tips for anyone wanting to move to Mallorca.Follow Kate on Instagram: @fincalicious & @themallorcafoodiesFacebook group: The Mallorca FoodiesWatch Kate’s interview on the Our Tribe Travels community:https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fm.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dn9SQ7o-fPeI PODCAST THEME TITLE: “Lifestyles”COMPOSER: Jack WaldenmaierPUBLISHER: Music Bakery Publishing (BMI)
  1. Kate Brittan – Australian Expat, Foodie, and Fledgling Farmer
  2. Annie Verrinder – Wedding Planner, Celebrant … and More
  3. Marc Rieke – Wigmaker, Equestrian, Saddle Fitter
  4. Caroline Fuller – Gardening in Mallorca
  5. Ep 4 Karl & Vikki Grant – Creative Photographers

Bella Younger – Comedian, Scriptwriter, Journalist, Memoirist Authors in Mallorca

Have you ever scrolled with a touch of envy through Instagram, seeing influencers flaunting fabulous freebies and their aspirational lifestyles? The reality of an influencer’s life is not always as it may seem, as my guest in this episode knows too well.  In 2015, when comedian and writer Bella Younger created her alter ego Deliciously Stella – parodying clean-eating Instagram influencers – she had no idea it would lead to 150,000 followers … and a spell in The Priory clinic. Bella performed sell-out stand-up shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, authored the spoof ‘Deliciously Stella’ cookbook, and was twice named one of the Evening Standard’s most influential Londoners. Today she lives a very different life in rural Mallorca, where she finished writing her second book last year. Her mental-health memoir is very funny but is also essential reading for anyone who thinks they (or a family member) may be spending a little too much time on Instagram. ‘The Accidental Influencer: How My Need to Get Likes Nearly Ruined My Life’ was published by Harper Collins on May 13th.Hear Bella talking about her unusual route into the BBC, her process for her current fictional work in progress, finding peace and inspiration in Mallorca for her writing, snail racing … and more.   ‘The Accidental Influencer: How My Need to Get Likes Nearly Ruined My Life’ is available now in bookshops and from Amazon, in Kindle and hardback formats. It's also available on Audible, narrated by Bella.  Instagram @deliciouslystellaTwitter @bellayoungerPODCAST THEME TITLE: “Lifestyles”COMPOSER: Jack WaldenmaierPUBLISHER: Music Bakery Publishing (BMI)Authors in Mallorca is taking a short break; season two will be along soon.
  1. Bella Younger – Comedian, Scriptwriter, Journalist, Memoirist
  2. Josie Lloyd – Novelist (Also Writes as Joanna Rees)
  3. Louise Davis – Memoirist
  4. Pete Davies – Debut Novelist (Crime Thriller)
  5. Dr James Rieley – Multi-Genre Author

Ooh, the Lucky Grapes!

New Year’s Eve in 2020 was low key in our house. TV reception was almost non-existent because of bad weather, so we read. The Boss opened a bottle of cava to toast in the New Year, but we almost forgot about the ‘lucky grapes’. This Spanish tradition, dating back to the early 20th century, calls for one grape to be eaten with each of the twelve clock chimes at midnight. It’s harder than it sounds and seedless grapes are recommended (as is peeling them in advance; note to self for next time).

I rushed to the fridge to fetch the two portions of grapes and, although we started a few seconds late, we managed to swallow them all before 2021 arrived.

The lucky part was that we didn’t choke trying to do so! Gotta find the positives where you can…

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year. Be safe.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021