Spring has sprung on Mallorca

A recent writing project has left me feeling a bit ‘written-out’. I’ve scribed around 12,000 words in the past few weeks on this one project – in addition to other articles, and posts on http://www.eatdrinksleepmallorca.com. No wonder my computer screen has been gazing blankly back at me when I’ve sat down to write about our life in rural Mallorca. It was as tired as I was; my keyboard and I needed a little time apart.

So, as it’s spring, I grabbed my camera and headed into our garden and field, to take a few photos of the mix of cultivated and uncultivated delights that remind me why it pays to get off my writer’s bottom (well spread) and get out into Mallorca’s great outdoors.

I hope that, wherever you are, spring is making itself known to you too.

The view from the roof of our water tank ... not somewhere I venture up to very often!

The view from the roof of our water tank … not somewhere I venture up to very often!

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First ever blossoms on our blackthorn bushes - brought over from the UK by good friends. Sloe gin? Maybe in a few years' time ...

First-ever blossoms on our blackthorn bushes – brought over from the UK by good friends. Sloe gin? Maybe in a few years’ time …

 

 

Beware the septic tank …

Today is World Poetry Day and, time permitting, I may just pull one of our several poetry books off the shelf this evening and indulge in some favourite verses.

As much as I enjoy reading poetry (as does The Boss), I haven’t added this literary form to my writing, preferring the less-structured form of articles and short stories.

However, I was inspired by memories of our original septic tank to write this little limerick:

A couple who lived in a finca

had a problem that was quite a stinker;

their septic tank broke,

the smell was no joke,

so they moved to a duplex in Inca

Yes, our septic tank did eventually develop an unpleasant leak, but we didn’t contemplate a move to Inca, or anywhere else on Mallorca. We had a new modern septic tank installed, but a little further from the house – and underground. The old concrete beast still remains, redundant. It’s ugly and serves only as a place where the cats like to stretch out (probably because it’s close to where their meals are served). Whatever remains beneath will be staying there.

"No, you are not going to knock this down!"

“No, you are not going to knock this down!”

 

 

Mallorca contribution to new ‘Kaleidoscope’ anthology by Writers Abroad

When we came to live on Mallorca I had grand plans to write a novel . . . after I’d written about the experience of moving to a rural finca on the island and all the challenges that it entailed. We had the first eight months without electricity, which meant I couldn’t plug in a computer. And anyone who has seen my handwriting will know that using paper and pen would not have been a workable option. Not if anyone (or even I) intended to read it later.

I soon discovered that better and more experienced writers had already written about moving to Mallorca and living in a finca. Perhaps the novel? I’ve probably written a quarter of it, but that was some time ago now; I do intend to get back to it soon. And, yes, it’s set on Mallorca.

Most of my writing work is factual, rather than fiction, but I have had short stories chosen for inclusion in three anthologies published by a group called Writers Abroad (of which, incidentally, I’m not a member).

A hat trick on the story front

The latest of these anthologies, entitled ‘Kaleidoscope’ is published today, October 12th. Even though I’ve probably had a few hundred articles published now, I’ve had little success with short stories – so I’m pretty excited to have had my third one published. Especially as I spent quite some time trying to find inspiration for the ‘light-themed’ story – and almost gave up the idea of submitting anything.

They do say that you should write about what you know and, thus, the seed of a story idea sprouted. ‘Seeing the light’ (published under the name of Janice Dunn) is a complete work of fiction – but prompted by the occasion when lightning knocked out the invertor of our solar-powered electricity system.

News Release From Writers Abroad‏

 

 

An Anthology of Stories and Poetry from Expat Writers Around the World

‘Kaleidoscope’ Available for Purchase

All proceeds from sales will be donated to the charity Room to Read.

Online, ex-pat writing community Writers Abroad are proud to announce the publication today Monday 12th October of their fifth anthology, Kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope is a dazzling collection of flash fiction, short stories and poetry, written by expats (or former expats) around the world on the theme of light, as 2015 is the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.

The stories and poems selected for Kaleidoscope evoke many varied interpretations of light: from a force that dispels evil or illuminates to one that can be destructive, from sunlight to firelight, or from the glow of an Arctic summer night to the brilliance of a Mediterranean afternoon.

This anthology is dedicated to two writers and members of Writers Abroad, Mary Davies and Jäny Graf, who both died in June 2015 during the planning of Kaleidoscope. Two pieces written by them are published in the anthology.

Author and former Writers Abroad member Chris Allen, who lives in Germany, has written the foreword. His writing has appeared in a wide range of publications. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Chris Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.

Kaleidoscope is available from Lulu and Amazon at a price of $8.50, £5.99 or €7.50.

Come and join us at our Facebook Launch today between 10am and 6pm and enter one of the free competitions. You could win an e-copy of a previous Writers Abroad Anthology.

 

How about living in rural Mallorca?

We’ve met a lot of interesting people since we moved to rural Mallorca – and some of them also own fincas; it’s always good to talk to others who have a similar lifestyle to our own. One such person is a lovely lady called Kay Newton. Work, life, and the distance between our respective homes on Mallorca has meant that I haven’t seen nearly as much of Kay as I’d like to have done.

We met first at a lunch organised by a women’s networking group known as LACE. I joined this group fairly soon after moving here – not because I needed the advantages of networking with businesswomen, but because the only females living in my immediate vicinity were sheep, and I needed some girl talk! (I have, of course, since got to know the women who live in the valley).

Unfortunately for her many friends (she is a very popular, warm-hearted, and generous person), Kay and her husband are about to leave Mallorca for rather exciting reasons.  Their departure raises the possibility for someone to enjoy a new life – and potential business – in a finca on this beautiful Spanish island.

Here’s Kay to explain . . .

“I’m a personal development coach, author, and mum to two boys aged 18 and 21. Now we have an empty nest. My husband and I are currently undergoing a lifestyle change. After 30 years on Mallorca, and 20 years in the same house, we are about to move to a beach hut in Zanzibar! So our ‘dream life’ here in Spain is up for sale.”

So you are in effect going from an ’empty nest’ to ‘no nest’?

“At the beginning of this year I had no idea we would be having this conversation. This opportunity arose at Easter, and we felt we just couldn’t say no. The kids have left home, we have downsized and de-cluttered, and our lives now fit into two 20-kilo bags.”

What have your boys said?

“My eldest is following his passion in food and is currently a crew chef on board a private superyacht. My youngest is about to start three years at a UK university. The whole family enjoys adventures. It was a bit of a shock at first, yet I think they like the idea now.”

What do you love about Mallorca?

“I love the Mediterranean lifestyle and the weather of course. The Sunday Times recently voted it the world’s first choice as a destination to live. The close proximity to Europe makes it a wonderful holiday destination too. I love the fact that you can still find quiet beaches in August, and in the autumn and spring the mountain walks are spectacular. We have fabulous restaurants, great international schools, a large expat community – and, of course, living here at Can Jaume!”

Tell us about Can Jaume

“Can Jaume is situated in the centre of the island away from the tourist areas. It is in a rural setting yet has easy access to the city of Inca and the island in general. The 11,000sqm plot is all organic and the accommodation split in two. A fully restored farmhouse with four bedrooms, and the old milking shed is now a two-bedroom guest house. I am able to work from home as a personal development coach and Tai Chi instructor, and use the guest house for workshops and retreats when it is not rented out.”

So you are selling your dream?

“Yes, in effect, we are selling the dream lifestyle we lead here, not just a house. We have put together a package for the right person. Someone who wants to act quickly, get away from grey skies, perhaps, and someone who is excited about taking on a project with a proven track record. The package include the house, furniture, website, holiday listings, and coaching to help you through the setting up period. All you really need is to pack a suitcase!”

House for sale Inca

Living the dream at Can Jaume, near Inca, Mallorca. Photo courtesy of Kay.

More information can be found at:

http://www.NewtonProjectManagement.com

http://www.MallorcaLet.com

The Boss and I wish Kay and James every success in their new life. Now, read the press release about the latest book written jointly by Kay and Pat Duckworth, available on Amazon Kindle  . . .

Five Quick Fixes For Empty Nest Syndrome: What every parent needs to know

Now that the excitement around the A-Level results are over, job vacancies being filled and university places being sorted out, it’s time to think about whether you and your young person are ready for the next stage – independent living and the empty nest.

There may be no statistical evidence to prove that empty nest syndrome exists, yet those experiencing it will vouch that it is real, emotional and often overpowering. Today, when we are in pain, we look for a quick fix, a magical pill to cure our ills.

In reality, we know there is no such thing as a quick fix, yet there are simple steps you can put into place immediately. Local writer and therapist, Pat Duckworth, has co-written a short book with coach, Kay Newton to provide parents with strategies to help readers successfully navigate this stage of life.

“Empty Nest is a time of transition for the relationship between you and your child as they develop into an adult. That parent/child relationship may be ending, but a new adult relationship is just beginning,” says Pat

Here are five of their tips:

  1. Is everything prepared? Does your young adult have all the skills they need to live alone?

Have you begun to think what you will do with your spare time? Have you all discussed and agreed ground rules for visits home in the future?

2.  Let go

We learn better by making our own mistakes. Now is not the time for ‘helicopter parenting’, for doing everything for your young adult. Let them go it alone. Let them fall. They will learn to pick themselves up again, just as they did as toddlers.

3.  Talk about money

Money plays an important role at this stage, yet it is often ignored and not talked about. Do you know your financial situation? Have you let them know what financial help you can give, and for how long it will last?

4.  Have a ritual

We celebrate all other stages of our lives, yet often fail to celebrate midlife and the next step in our family dynamics. Plan a celebration that will mean something to you all at this defining point in your lives, helping you all to focus on the future.

5.  Seek professional help

If you still cannot cope with day-to-day tasks two weeks after your nest is empty, seek professional help.

https://quickfixfor.wordpress.com/

 

About the Authors:

Pat Duckworth

Cognitive hypnotherapist, author, speaker, workshop and retreat facilitator.

After a successful career in the Civil Service Pat took early retirement and re-trained as a cognitive hypnotherapist. Pat specialises in helping women find solutions to their menopause symptoms. As a professional and positive role- model Pat inspires 50+ women to make effective changes in their life, without necessarily using treatments that involve side-effects or contraindications.

Pat’s three books and work can be found at: http://www.HotWomenCoolSolutions.com

Kay Newton

Personal Development Coach, author, speaker, workshop, retreat and event facilitator,

Uniting and inspiring midlife women is Kay’s passion. For the past thirty years Kay has lived her dream life in Mallorca Spain. In September 2015 Kay is moving to Zanzibar Tanzania with her husband and a 20 kg suitcase, leaving both nest and adult children behind.

You can find Kay’s work at: http://www.SensiblySelfish.com

 

Making new friends in rural Mallorca

Making new friends when you move to another country can take time – especially if you choose to live in a rural location, as we did, on the island of Mallorca. But it didn’t take us long to become on nodding terms with the sheep living in the field across the lane . . .

Fortunately, my writing work has taken me all over the island over the past 11 years and I’ve met lots of people of all nationalities – some of whom have become our friends.

An adventure beckons

Recently I was contacted by a reader of this blog, who had previously commented on a few posts and emailed me for some advice about flying pets over to Mallorca. British woman Celia and her husband are soon to embark on a similar adventure to our own – but, we hope, without some of the traumas we experienced.

On one of their visits to Mallorca, in connection with the property they have bought, Celia and hubby stayed at a boutique hotel I’ve written about a few times on my other blog http://www.eatdrinksleepmallorca.com. They had a great time at Petit Hotel Son Arnau, which is run by a really lovely couple called Alex and Susan – who gave up good London careers to open their own hotel in the village of Selva, near the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tramuntana mountains. We stayed there for a night last summer and have since become friends with this welcoming couple.

Alex and Susan run Mallorca's Petit Hotel Son Arnau.

Alex and Susan – the friendly hosts at Petit Hotel Son Arnau in Selva.

On their most recent visit to Mallorca, Celia and Gordon stayed in the home of their friend in the southwest of the island, but wanted to revisit Petit Hotel Son Arnau to see Alex and Susan again and  have one of Alex’s delicious dinners there. And they invited us along too!

Like old friends

Meeting people for the first time can sometimes be awkward, but we immediately hit it off with this enthusiastic and animal-loving couple, who are going through some of the processes and emotions we went through after we’d bought our finca. They will be visiting Mallorca again in June, and we look forward to seeing them back.

So if you’re moving abroad and are concerned about being able to make friends in your new country, remember the words attributed to the Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.”

Of birds and beasts in Mallorca’s spring

Living in rural Mallorca and no longer having to commute into a city for work has given us more time and appreciation for the nature that surrounds us. We’re more aware of seasonal changes – and have become just a teeny bit obsessed about noting the ‘firsts’ of each season.

It’s been a good week for ‘firsts’. We went for a walk on Sunday and retraced some of our earlier steps on the Via Verde (or Via Verda as it’s known locally). This ‘green way’ is one of Spain’s network of eco-paths – conversions of disused railway line routes – and connects Manacor with the small town of Artà, in the northeast of Mallorca.

These feet were made for walking

The path opened without a great deal of fanfare in October 2014 and we began 2015 by resolving to walk the full length of some 29 km – in stages – during January. A spell of bad weather meant we didn’t finish until mid-February. But, hey ho, we did it.

Spring wildflowers on Via Verde, Mallorca

Wildflowers in abundance on the Via Verde, near Son Carrio.

Poppies on the Via Verde

Poppies on the Via Verde

The path looked very different on Sunday, with so much greenery around and swathes of wildflowers lining the route. Our latest walk gave us some ornithological sightings that were our ‘firsts’ of the season: a swallow (yes, this early) and a bee-eater.

In the past couple of days we have also seen our first tortoise of the spring, ambling through the undergrowth in an untamed part (one of many) of our land. It was Pip – the newest addition to our family of adopted felines – who discovered the creature, alerted by the rustling sounds from the foliage it was navigating its way through. A tortoise was clearly ‘the very first’ for this relentlessly inquisitive little cat, and she wasn’t quite sure what to make of it!

Tortie kitten in window

Inquisitive Pip seems to have heard something interesting . . .

Mediterranean tortoise, Mallorca

An early outing for this Mediterranean tortoise

The sighting was good news. Our area is a natural habitat for the Mediterranean tortoise and we’re always pleased to see them surviving. No doubt there will be coin-sized babies soon, which means we have to tread carefully when we’re out on the land.

A cyclist’s surprise

First-time visitors are always surprised to see tortoises roaming freely around. Last autumn we heard a shout from the other side of our gates and opened them to find an English Lycra-clad cyclist with a concerned expression on his face.

“Have you lost a pet tortoise?” he asked, in a broad Mancunian accent, pointing back up the lane. “Only I’ve just seen one up there.”

We explained that the creature he’d seen was a wild Mediterranean tortoise and that sightings were quite common; he beamed in surprise. It reminded us – for the zillionth time – how much we enjoy living  in the Mallorcan countryside, in the midst of nature.

Our next seasonal ‘first’? Who knows? But you can be sure we’ll be as thrilled as we are every season . . .

Read more about the ‘Via Verde’ here in my article recently published in abcMallorca magazine’s spring edition, and online:

http://www.abc-mallorca.com/via-verde/

One year . . . one lemon . . . four G&Ts

One year has passed since I started writing posts on Living in Rural Mallorca. I know this because WordPress just told me. And yet it seems just a few months ago that I started my new blog, after we’d finally had an Internet service connected to our finca on the island. This also means that we’ve had our Broadband Wi-Fi connection for a year, so thanks very much Wi-Fi Baleares – who achieved what we were convinced no company ever would, and stopped me pulling all of my hair out in frustration at a local Internet café.

Yes, time seems to pass quickly on Mallorca . . . except when you’re waiting for your tree’s first lemon to ripen. I wrote about our young lemon tree in June 2012 – The Boss having planted it in the spring of that year. We were looking forward to plucking a plump yellow lemon and slicing it into a celebratory G&T. Christmas seemed a likely date for this epic moment, but Christmas came and the first of our crop still looked more like a lime than a lemon. Easter perhaps? Naah.

But last week the moment to pick the first lemon from our garden arrived. And we were lucky enough to have our great friends from Oxfordshire with us to share in our minor triumph (a suitable distraction from the slow progress of the blackthorn shrubs they’d brought us on their previous visit).

Our luscious and deliciously fragrant lemon was sliced into four glasses of The Boss’s famous G&Ts, made with Mallorcan Can Vidalet gin. Delicious. By my reckoning, the next lemon should be ready in about seven months’ time . . .

Patience eventually rewarded

Patience eventually rewarded