Heatwave Stops Work … and Everything

High temperatures in Spain's 'important heatwave' in Mallorca

Spain has been suffering what a local newspaper described as an ‘important heatwave’. Admittedly, Mallorca hasn’t been as ‘scorchio’ as the south of Spain, but we’ve had consistently high temperatures for more than a week, and it’s been horribly humid. For much of the past week, the island sat under a blanket of clouds bearing African dust. Most of the dust is now decorating Mallorca’s vehicles.

We’ve stopped all work on the area of our land we’d been clearing. We had been rising at seven in the morning to get out and work in the cooler air before the sun rises over the ridge. But we’ve had tropical overnight lows this week, with temperatures not falling below twenty-six degrees on three successive nights. Poor or little sleep and an unwillingness to work in a suffocating, hot fug have put our morning garden exertions on hold.

Not Quite a Lockdown

How to cope with Spain's 'important heatwave'
Watermelon is the key to keeping cool

Friends and family members in England have been in touch to see if we’re still alive, after seeing alarming weather reports in the media. Yes, still alive, but in a self-enforced type of lockdown. Apart from the necessary shopping and a medical appointment, we’ve stayed indoors. This is an alien concept for us in summer. Usually, we’re outdoors as much as possible – and never eat a meal inside the house.

Even the prospect of going to a beachfront restaurant has temporarily lost its appeal. Our appetites have been depleted by heat, humidity, and a lack of movement. Salads, fruit, and copious water are sustaining us. There’ll be some catching up to do when the ‘important heatwave’ abates.

‘Scorchio’ Indeed!

Before I sat down to write this (at a little after five in the afternoon), I popped outside to check the current temperature. The thermometer is in the shade and registered forty degrees – the highest we’ve had this week in our part of rural Mallorca. Yesterday, the Mallorcan town of Sa Pobla beat us, with a top temperature of forty-one. But Spain’s ‘important heatwave’ in Mallorca hasn’t been as bad as in Andalusia, where the temperature reached 47 degrees Celsius this week.

The Spanish Met Office forecasts cooler weather from tomorrow. We’ve already set the alarm early to catch up on some garden work. And maybe even a hearty breakfast.

©Jan Edwards 2021

Spring’s Here… But Not in Mallorca

We cannot complain. Mallorca’s winter weather was, on reflection, not too bad. Yes, we had some significant storms, strong winds, and heavy rain at times, but we’ve also often enjoyed al fresco coffees and lunches in warm sunshine on our terrace on several occasions. I’ve even been known to sit outside and have my breakfast (at about nine o’clock), while The Boss watches the morning news on TV. I prefer not to mix doom-and-gloom news bulletins with my home-made yogurt, fruit, seeds, and nuts!

Friday was a very cold day and, in the afternoon, hail fell for a while in our valley. Meanwhile, in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains, winter’s last hurrah came in the form of snow.

Yesterday in our valley we had squally rain, strong winds, and low temperatures, serving as a reminder this is only the first day of the new season. Today, Sunday, the sun is shining (at the moment), but the wind is fierce and it’s very cold.

German tourists have begun to arrive in Mallorca for an Easter holiday (despite the rising number of Covid cases in their home country). I’m reminded of something an outdoorsy type said to us once: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing.’ I hope these early visitors have packed for the conditions in Mallorca right now.

Equestrian neighbour Marc Rieke

The Reins in Spain

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

I didn’t step outside the door yesterday, although The Boss had to do his usual cat-feeding duties. When it’s wet or cold, he feeds them extra to help keep them warm. Animals must be fed and some have to be exercised, whatever the weather, which brings me neatly to a relatively new neighbour in our valley, who has three horses on his land.

We met Marc Rieke late last year when he bought his house from Mallorcan friends of ours, who’d outgrown the property since becoming parents. Marc’s from Berlin originally and is a professional wigmaker and an equestrian. He’s made wigs and hairpieces for the movie industry – including for an acclaimed British actress – and is also a dressage rider, riding instructor, and saddle fitter.

With such an interesting background – and, like us, living in rural Mallorca – he was a perfect guest for my podcast. Have a listen on the link below.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

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

Winter Drawers On in Mallorca!

We’ve had an amazing autumn this year in Mallorca. It’s sad that people who would usually enjoy a late-autumn break on the island weren’t here to enjoy the blue skies and pleasant temperatures we’ve recently had.

Our winter warmer

I’ve even eaten quite a few breakfasts sitting on the terrace, soaking up some early rays. The Boss tends to watch the UK news on TV at breakfast time and, with everything that’s going on in at the moment, that would probably give me indigestion.

Yesterday was the first day of winter – in meteorological terms. I prefer to think of winter starting on the astronomical Winter Solstice date of December 21st. Anything to delay the start of my least favourite season here in Mallorca – despite the allure of the log-burner, hearty casseroles, red wine, and Christmas.

And So it Begins

Whichever date you consider as kicking off the winter, the weather has decided it begins today. With a bang. Or, at least, a dollop of the white stuff.

Snow has already fallen today in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains – which isn’t too unusual for this time of year. For those of us living under 1,100 metres above sea level, it’s a grey, wet day with top temperatures barely in double figures and expected to fall to between three and six degrees Celsius later today. Oh, and did I mention the winds gusting up to 70kph in the northeast of Mallorca? Needless to say, breakfast was indoors this morning.

‘Tis the Season to be Supplementing

Commenting on the results of my recent blood test yesterday, my gynaecologist said my Vitamin D level was a bit low. I was surprised and explained that I’d been sitting outside having my breakfast on sunny mornings, with a view to increasing it.

‘Do you do it naked?’ he asked.

‘Er, no.’ I replied. ‘It’d probably frighten the sheep.’ For the record, the doctor wasn’t being pervy, but making the point that I needed to expose more flesh for longer to get sufficient benefit from an autumn morning’s sunshine.

‘Has she finished eating breakfast yet?’

I probably could breakfast outdoors in my birthday suit, as the neighbours would be unlikely to see me. But, hey, it’s winter now and far too cold. And besides, if I eat outdoors, our attention-loving ginger cat Shorty likes to leap onto my lap as soon as I’ve finished eating. Imagine the pain of those claws landing…

Welcome, then, to winter in Mallorca. And a daily dose of Vitamin D supplement.

If it’s cold where you are and you fancy curling up and listening to a podcast, I’d love you to check out Living in Rural Mallorca and Authors in Mallorca. You’ll find both available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and a few other players too.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2020

Storm Drama in Mallorca

Weather warning, looking over the salt lake of s’Avall from Hotel El Coto’s roof terrace in Colonia de Sant Jordi

It’s not unusual for Mallorca to have storms in late summer. It’s as though all the heat and lack of rain build up, until they can’t be contained any longer and, like a volcano erupting, we experience an explosion of weather. This year it happened on Saturday (29th August). And things certainly went with a bang at our finca in rural Mallorca.

We were away on Friday night (celebrating The Boss’s birthday). It had been a hot week, and rain and thunderstorms were forecast for Saturday. At the time, we were looking forward to the prospect of rain for the garden and slightly cooler temperatures.

Gun-metal-grey clouds on Saturday morning encouraged us to head for home earlier than we would otherwise have done. An email from a follower of this blog, who has moved to a finca in our area, mentioned intense lightning at five o’clock that morning. Lightning and solar-powered electricity do not always go well together, as we have discovered in the past. During the drive home, the sky became more threatening and, as we turned into our lane, spots of rain began to fall and impressive fork lightning stabbed at the land in the distance.

Bouncing Ice ‘Bombs’

When we entered our home, our unspoken fears were confirmed: we had no electricity. Our inverter had already been damaged by the pre-dawn storm. Before we could mentally digest what this would mean for the rest of our weekend (no lights, phone, TV, etc), hailstones began pounding onto the roof of our house.  We looked out as chunks of ice the size of hens’ eggs bounced all around the place. All we could think was that if we’d set off as little as fifteen minutes later, I’d have been driving us home through that storm.

As soon as the hail and rain had stopped, we ventured outside to check the state of the house roof. Astonishingly, the terracotta tiles appeared to have survived the brutal onslaught. Turning our attention to the car, I spotted a dent in the bonnet—surprised to see just the one. Then I spotted the real damage: the hailstones had shattered the sunroof of the car. What a mess.

So, no electricity, WiFi, phone, or car. Thank heavens for our kind Swiss neighbour Brigitta, who allowed us to use her phone to call our solar-power company. And well done (and heartfelt thanks) to Taller Servera in Llucmajor, who delivered a loan replacement inverter early that Saturday afternoon so that we could have electricity until they can repair our own inverter.

It may be true that lightning never strikes twice in the same place but, over the years, it’s managed three strikes on our inverter.

Jan Edwards ©2020

Winter Hasn’t Finished in Mallorca Yet

Horseriders enjoying Mallorca

Passing our finca in the lane: riders enjoying one of the lovely winter days we’ve had.

The official start of spring is only just around the corner. Is it too early to say that this winter’s weather has been the most pleasant since we moved to Mallorca in 2004? However, as I mentioned in my last post, we did have a severe storm in January, which was a potent reminder that this is, after all, winter.

Storm Gloria in January caused damage to the tune of 11.2 million euros (the figure reported in the Majorca Daily Bulletin). I’ll never forget the alarming sight of Mediterranean waves crashing over the roof of a block of front-line apartments, in Portocolom – footage replayed countless times on the local TV news.

In the past couple of days we’ve had a visit from Storm Karine, which brought gale-force winds to the island. The strength of the wind intensified during last evening, making us pleased to be hunkered down in front of the woodburner. It was only after we were tucked up in bed, listening to the howling gale outside, that I remembered I’d left a load of washing to dry on a rack under the porch. Would a collection of our pants and socks be flying to Felanitx overnight?

The morning after the windy night before

This morning we woke up to the news that several roads on the island have been blocked by falling trees. Sadly, in Palma, eight palm trees on the Passeig Sagrera (on the seafront) succumbed to the gale-force winds.

It was with some trepidation that we opened the shutters and doors this morning. The only evident damage caused by the wind was one small flowerpot that had toppled over and a sprinkling of tiny almond buds on one terrace, stripped from the tree by the wind.

The good news is that we still have our full complement of undergarments. And, this morning, the sun is shining, and our spring-like winter continues. Until the next storm….whatever it may be named.

Jan Edwards ©2020

Feeling the Heat in Mallorca

The Boss and I have taken to living like vampires. The doors and shutters (persianas) of our finca in rural Mallorca are closed most of the day and windows are firmly shut against the searing summer heat. We stay out of the bright sunlight and keep cool with our air conditioning. We’re so pleased we have a solar-powered electricity system: we don’t have alarming summer electricity bills to pay so can be liberal with air conditioning – until the sun disappears from the solar panels.

Mallorca – like other parts of northern Europe – had a heatwave in June. To be honest, I haven’t noticed that it’s ended yet. We have regularly registered temperatures in the upper 30s, in the shade on our terrace, and last night’s low, for instance, was 24 degrees Celsius.

On Monday morning I had to go to Palma and emerged from the railway station to feel fat drops of rain plopping onto my head. Sadly, this was not the start of a good refreshing shower, but what’s called cuatro gotas – four drops – which afforded little relief from the clammy heat.

But that night rain did fall. In the form of mud. This was our black car the next morning…

Looks like snow, but it’s mud.

Specific outings aside (and they’re usually in the evenings at this time of year), we have only daytime dashes outside to feed the cats (morning and early evening), take out the washing (which dries to a crisp in, oh, about ten minutes), or put the rubbish in the dustbin.

We save our time outdoors for the early mornings and the evenings (when, ironically, the heat of the sun may be replaced by the heat of The Boss’s Weber BBQ). These are the times when we are likely to see our cats, who hide away during the daytime. They each have their own way of keeping cool and two, in particular, amuse us. Nibbles likes to cool his nether regions by draping himself over the balustrade. Shorty – our gorgeous ginger – favours a cooling tummy dip in one of our several birdbaths (which also serve as drinking stations for our feline family).

Whatever it takes, find your own way to stay cool this summer. Early-morning swim at Portocristo? Don’t mind if we do…

FOOTNOTE: I wrote this post on July 13th and I’m pleased to say the humidity has eased off and temperatures are a little more comfortable.

Jan Edwards ©2019

Devastating Floods in Mallorca

Post updated Thursday, October 11th

Our beloved adopted island of Mallorca is in mourning. Twelve people are now known to have died as a result of flooding in the east and northeast area of Mallorca, known as the Llevant. A five-year-old boy (whose mother died) is still missing. Amongst those who lost their lives – in what must have been terrifying circumstances – were two British tourists, who died in a taxi. Today they were named as Delia and Anthony Green, aged in their 70s, who were on their way to their hotel in Cala Bona.

October usually brings a few storms – often heavy – but Tuesday’s was something else. We had torrential rain, thunder, and scary sheet-and-fork lightning for several hours. Remembering a previous storm that disabled our solar electricity system inverter at great expense, The Boss switched off all related equipment and we sat by candlelight for a while, reading from our Kindles, and listening to the rain – thankful to be indoors.

A Disaster in the Making

At about six o’clock on Tuesday, October 9th, the banks of the Ses Planes torrente in the nearby town of Sant Llorenç (population just over 8,000) burst under the weight of water: 257 litres of rain per square metre fell on the town. Water and mud surged through Sant Llorenç, inundating some properties to the depth of an average adult’s shoulder height and sweeping away vehicles in the streets as though they were bath toys. The town also lost electricity and phone connections during the storm.

We didn’t realise what was going on outside our valley until we switched our power back on and were able to access the Internet again. The photos and video footage we saw from Sant Llorenç were shocking and, frankly, unbelievable. The storm has been described in the local and international media as ‘biblical’ – such is the devastation.

Many people sought shelter on the rooftops of their homes or in trees; once rescued, they were taken to shelter in the Miguel Angel Nadal sports centre in Manacor. Tennis star Rafa Nadal also provided accommodation at his famous Tennis Academy. It will be some time before many of the locals can return to their homes.

Other Mallorcan Towns Also Affected

Sant Llorenç was by far the worst-affected part of the region, but Artà, Son Carrió, and the east-coast resort of S’Illot also suffered flooding and three of the deaths were in Artà and S’Illot. Cars were swept into the sea in Colonia de Sant Pere (one of our favourite coastal places in Mallorca).

Today, several major roads remain closed. Just outside Artà – on the highway towards Ca’n Picafort – part of the road has been washed away, leaving an enormous hole that makes the route impassable. The scale of this disaster is hard to take in; it’s the worst in Mallorca for 29 years and the third major flood in the Llevant area in the past 100 years.

The town and its environs are littered with wrecked cars and other debris – piled up in places. Although the floodwater has receded, it has left behind a thick layer of mud.

On Wednesday morning, 80 officers and seven vehicles from Spain’s Military Emergencies Unit (UME, Unidad Militar de Emergencias) arrived on the island to join local emergency services and the Civil Protection Unit to help search for missing people and collaborate with what will be a massive and complicated clear-up operation.

By yesterday lunchtime the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, had flown to Mallorca and was in Sant Llorenç to see the devastation for himself.

A British crew from ITV arrived yesterday to film in Sant Llorenç, so UK readers of this blog may see the latest horrendous footage for themselves. Because Mallorca is a popular holiday destination with Brits, this story has been well covered in the UK media and we had calls, messages, and emails throughout the day from friends and family in the UK checking that we are OK. I have also done UK radio phone interviews about the flooding on LBC, BBC WM, and BBC Berkshire, and one on a Tenerife radio station.

Tomorrow, Friday – the start of the holiday known as Puente de Pilar – King Felipe VI and Doña Letizia are visiting the town of Sant Llorenç to meet those affected.

If you believe in God, please say a prayer for all those whose lives have been affected by this terrible flooding. Mallorca is in mourning – and will never forget October 9th, 2018.

ENDS

©JanEdwards 2018

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

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