Good reasons to own a trailer in rural Mallorca

On Monday, The Boss went to Porreres to buy our latest trailer-load of logs and we’re hoping that this will be the the last we’ll have to buy until late 2018. This winter on Mallorca has felt colder and wetter than previous winters we’ve had here. We certainly haven’t had as many coffees or lunches on the terrace – and it doesn’t take a lot of sunshine for us to eat and drink outside.

Some people are surprised that we buy our logs in, given that we do have a lot of trees on our land. But the issue is one of safety: most of our trees and shrubs grow on the steep sides of the valley on our land. The combination of loose stones and earth underfoot and a powerful chainsaw is one that, with one small slip, could end in a messy visit to our local hospital’s Urgencias department.

Logs in a trailer

Of course, there’s the work of unloading the trailer…here, nearly finished

Before we moved to Mallorca, we bought a trailer. At the time I was a bit sceptical about the need for such a thing: was it just another boy’s toy?  But when we arrived here and compared the cost of buying small sacks of logs from a garage or DIY store, or collecting logs in bulk direct from a woodyard, the benefit was obvious.

The trailer has proved its usefulness in other ways too – such as enabling us to bring bulky purchases home (rather than incurring the cost of delivery). And we’re not the only ones to appreciate it: some of our cats like to sit on the trailer’s heavy waterproof cover, enjoying prime views over their territory.

Cats on a trailer

Also makes a popular hangout for the cats!

©Jan Edwards 2018

 

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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

 

How we remove condensation from our windows in Mallorca

The Boss’s eldest son was over for a couple of days at the weekend. The weather continued warm and sunny on Saturday and we took a long walk around Porto Colom harbour (one of Mallorca’s highlights) towards the lighthouse. We didn’t expect to find either of the two small beach bars along the route still open in early November but the first one we came to was doing a decent trade. A few people were on the beach or even in the sea. Who’d have believed it? We grabbed some beers and soaked up the sunshine for a while.

Chiringuito Porto Colom

Open for business – even in November

Beach scene, Porto Colom

On the beach – November 4th, 2017

Hello again, condensation

It all changed on Sunday, with heavy rain and cooler temperatures arriving during that day. Overnight temperatures have been a lot lower since and that means we find condensation running down the inside of all our thin-glass windows in the mornings. Just looking at them makes us feel colder…

Last year – tired of wiping away all the moisture with a cloth every morning – we bought a Kärcher window cleaner. It sucks the condensation away from all the windows and it’s job done in a matter of minutes. And it’s surprising how much water ends up in the built-in collection bottle. No more soggy cloths, thank goodness.

Like our wood-burning stove and dehumidifier, this nifty little hand-held gadget helps to make indoor life in an old stone Mallorcan house a little more comfortable during the cooler months.

Kaercher window cleaner

Condensation blitzed with this handy hand-held tool

Snow?

The first few days of November were unusually warm, but it’s back to normality now. I’ve just read in the Diario de Mallorca that some snow is forecast to fall tomorrow in parts of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains (at 1,300m above sea level). This isn’t unusual for November and that frosting on the top of the highest peaks is what usually reminds me I should be starting the process of making a Christmas cake!

Although the sun is shining as I write this and the temperature is 18 degrees C in the shade, the north and northeast of Mallorca has a warning for heavy rain this evening from six o’clock, with up to 20 litres per square metre forecast to fall in an hour. I think our outdoor cats will be having an early dinner tonight…

©Jan Edwards 2017

Summer and holiday home rentals are sizzling

It’s sooooo hot. But, I hear you say (probably through gritted teeth, if you’re in the UK right now), isn’t Mallorca usually hot in July? The fact is that the island’s sizzling temperatures began much earlier than usual this year and have been consistently high – usually hitting the 30+ degrees Celsius before midday. This week it’s forecast that Mallorca will see the mercury creep into the low 40s.  We shall be doing our impression of bats…not emerging until twilight.

High Mallorcan temperatures

The temperature at our rural finca in Mallorca – in the shade.

Airbnb – not just in Palma

Mallorca has huge numbers of tourists this year, staying not just in hotels, villas, and self-catering apartments, but also privately owned properties rented through online platforms such as Airbnb. According to a young Mallorcan family that lives in our valley, this seasonal money-making opportunity has been seized with great enthusiasm by quite a few local people who own country properties (often second homes, used as weekend places). Our young neighbours are spending their summer elsewhere, whilst enjoying the rental income from holidaymakers seeking an authentic rural-living experience on the island.

For a real taste of living in the Mallorcan countryside, you can’t beat painting old wooden window shutters (persianas) with gloss that turns gloopy in the summer heat. Sadly, that’s not the type of authentic rural-living experience holidaymakers would ever pay for…

©Jan Edwards 2017

Floods and high winds on Mallorca

It’ll be hard to believe if you know Mallorca only as a sun, sand, and sea holiday destination, but the island has had some pretty awful weather this January. We moved here in April 2004 and the recent spell of winter weather was the worst we’ve seen during our time here: snow, hail, thunder and lightning, wind, and rain. The timing of the bad spell of weather couldn’t have been worse, resulting in several of the events scheduled for the two main January fiestas being postponed or cancelled. So no animal blessings to photograph this year in Manacor…

Shut out the world

The worst of the rain, and wind came over this last weekend, when AEMET – the Spanish met office – warned people on Mallorca not to go out unless essential, as high winds and torrential rain were due. We shut the shutters and hunkered down, like two little moles in the gloom. The Boss sketched a few simple plans for building an ark – large enough for the two of us and our eight cats.

Rain hammered on the roof but only a small amount seeped into the house, under the front door. For some reason, front doors on Mallorca always seem to leak. (If you see a wooden board leaning at an angle against the door of a house on Mallorca, it means rain is expected and the board is to deflect the flow of water; that’s the hope anyway).

The results

The Serra de Tramuntana had almost 200 litres per square metre on Saturday and many other areas of the island had between 60 and 90 litres, resulting in large amounts of flooding in the central area – known as the Pla. Winds of up to 120 kilometres an hour battered Mallorca and caused quite a bit of damage.

At one point 34 roads on the island were closed because of flooding and the Coll de Sóller mountain pass was blocked by fallen boulders and trees. The two reservoirs in the mountains – seriously depleted of water after last summer’s long hot dry spell – overflowed.  Coastal areas – particularly in the north and northeast – were battered by winds and alarmingly high seas, causing some structural damage in places.

The new-look Son Serra de Marina

Yesterday, a brief pausa in the stormy weather gave us a couple of hours of late-afternoon sunshine, so we drove to Son Serra de Marina to breathe some sea air and see what devastation the weekend’s storm had unleashed. The sea was rough, but nothing like it had been over the weekend.  This virgin beach has been completely remodelled by the elements and it may be some time before it’s possible to walk from the car parking area near the restaurants Lago and El Sol towards Colònia de Sant Pere without wading through water from the engorged Torrent de na Borges.

Stormy Mallorca

The new-look Son Serra de Marina beach

The apparent ‘cliff’ on the right is sand, sculpted by the wind and sea

Mallorcan torrente

The swollen Torrent de na Borges has joined up with the sea

Walkers' signposts blown down along this popular hiking route

Walkers’ signposts blown down along this popular hiking route, now littered with debris

 

©Jan Edwards 2017

Winter drawers on!

The Spanish meteorological office AEMET is forecasting strong winds, low temperatures, and snow for Mallorca over the coming days, for areas as low as 300 metres above sea level. That means that even parts of the capital Palma could see some of the white stuff. Apparently Mallorca is suffering the coldest January since 2005; we remember that one well (and not with fondness): it was our first winter here – and we had a leaky roof without insulation and no central heating.

On many winter days the temperature is comfortable enough to have our coffee and/or lunch outdoors on our most-sheltered terrace, basking in the warmth (sometimes even heat) of the winter sunshine. Our cats also like to feel the sun’s rays and take advantage of any warm places to snooze. Best not tell them what’s in store for the coming days.

Snoozing cats

Room for three cats only in this particular sunny spot

The Boss has just returned from the wood supplier we use in Porreres with a fresh load of logs for the woodburner, so we’re well prepared on the heating front. And we’ve just received a goodie-packed food parcel from our lovely Oxfordshire friends Kristina and Duncan – who visit us every year from the UK.

Fortnum & Mason goodies

Fortnum & Mason comes to rural Mallorca

No, they weren’t expecting us to be snowed in and unable to go out and buy any food; our box of Fortnum & Mason gourmet treats was their generous Christmas gift, which was somehow delayed in transit. If, by any chance, we do become snowed in, we won’t be going hungry…

©Jan Edwards 2017

Season’s greetings from a soggy Mallorca

The past few weeks on Mallorca have passed in a somewhat manic blur of work, rain, technical problems (car, dishwasher, and domestic water heater!), rain, medical matters, rain, work, and the usual pre-Christmas social and planning activities. And did I mention rain? After a bone-dry few months, Mallorca had a jolly good wash this week with four days and five nights of heavy rain, thunder, wind, and leaden skies – resulting in flooding in parts of the island.

Despite everything that’s been going on, we’ve now finished our preparations for another modest but enjoyable  Christmas on Mallorca. Whatever you’re doing at this time of year, The Boss and I send season’s greetings and best wishes for 2017.

Christmas tree lights

Have a sparkling Christmas!