Manacor Still in Lockdown

It’s the news that people in and around the town of Manacor were dreading: a two-week extension begins today to the fortnight’s lockdown imposed a couple of weeks ago, to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases. The Balearic government has also brought forward the curfew time from midnight to 10pm.

Eat Outside or Takeaway

We feel particularly sorry for the restaurants, cafes, and bars, who are unable to serve people indoors during this period. Despite the lovely weather we’ve been having during the day, the cool evenings may not be conducive to dining on a terrace. The food would soon be cold (plates are rarely warmed first here in Mallorca), even if diners themselves were dressed to keep warm. A number of places are offering takeaway food and, for some in Manacor, this is the preferred alternative.

Hey, Mr Postman

Our list of things-to-do when Manacor re-opens is growing by the day. First will be a visit to Correos (the post office), where we have our apartado (postbox); no postie makes his way to our rural neck of the woods. We imagine our little mailbox will be stuffed with letters, bills, magazines we subscribe to, and cards sent for my birthday – which happened after Manacor’s lockdown started. My thank you notes for cards received will be somewhat delayed this year!

A main concern is whether our UK bank will have written to tell us we can no longer have an account with them after the end of this year, when Brexit is finalised. Several UK banks have already informed British customers living in Europe that this is happening. Our bank has not yet made any announcement or informed us of a decision and we hope they haven’t done this by post, as it’ll be a fortnight before we get our hands on our mail. And Brexit looms…

Meanwhile we’ve found solutions to being barred from going into Manacor: we’ve eaten lunch in Porto Cristo and done our food shopping (and a local bank visit to pay a bill) in Can Picafort. Both excursions gave us a chance to enjoy being by the sea in the continuing good November weather.

But we’re looking forward to returning to Manacor and supporting the local businesses there.

Authors in Mallorca Podcast

During our time here, I’ve discovered there are many interesting foreigners in Mallorca who write books – of all types and genres. Why not talk to some of them and find out about their writing life and their works? Hence, the launch of my second podcast, Authors in Mallorca.

For the first episode I met up with British author Anna Nicholas, whose books about moving from a busy life in public relations in Mayfair to a rural home in Sóller have many fans around the world. I’ve interviewed Anna on radio before and she’s an entertaining guest.

If you’d like to listen, Authors in Mallorca is available now on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2020

Living in Rural Mallorca is Eight Years Old Today

Sunset across our lane

Eight years ago today I published my first post on this blog. I never intended to start a blog about living in rural Mallorca, but had previously been writing a series of columns called ‘Finca Fix-Up’ for a new local magazine. Sadly, the publication didn’t survive in what is a tough market.

The Birth of a Blog

A friend of mine was the editor and, when she told me about the magazine’s demise, suggested that I start a blog, to continue writing about our finca home in the Mallorcan countryside. And so I did. It wasn’t quite that easy, but WordPress didn’t take too long to learn.

Continue reading

Lockdown Log in Mallorca – Day 40

Rural Majorcan poppies

We’ve missed seeing the poppies this spring

It’s Day 40 of the lockdown in Spain. A third extension to the original state of emergency was approved in Congress yesterday, which takes us to 00:00h on Sunday, May 10th. The Spanish prime minister’s proposal received 269 votes in favour; 60 against, and 16 abstentions. I am not even going to think about whether this may be the final extension.

Instead, realising that we’d reached the 40th day of this current situation, I distracted myself by diving into the Reader’s Digest Wordpower Dictionary. This weighty tome makes an occasional efficient doorstep, in our grandly named ‘library’ (where I write), to prevent the French windows blowing shut; there always seems to be a breeze here in our rural Mallorcan valley.

But the book’s real purpose is to fill any wordsmith with wonder and a sense that curiosity has been satisfied. It’s a fascinating book to dip into when a few spare minutes present themselves to be filled.

Q is for Quarantine

I knew that the word ‘quarantine’ came from the Italian quarantino (which means ‘forty days’; quaranta being Italian – and, indeed, Catalan – for ‘forty’). As many people are in quarantine now because they have symptoms of COVID-19 – or have come into contact with someone who has the virus – it seemed fitting to delve a little deeper into the word’s history.

The Reader’s Digest Wordpower Dictionary told me that originally the word denoted a period of 40 days during which a widow – with entitlement to a share of her deceased husband’s estate – had the right to remain in his house. (Not sure what the poor woman did after the 40 days were up). According to a bit of legalese from 1628, if said widow remarried within the 40 days (which would be indecently hasty, IMHO), she would lose this right.

The word ‘quarantine’ in English has had its current meaning since the 17th century and, in 1663, none other than Mr Pepys referred to it in his famous diary, as a 30-day period. From then on, the word became used to describe a state of isolation, rather than a specific length of time – which would vary depending on the disease in question. Fascinating.

No Time for Boredom

‘Time to get on with some writing now,’ I told myself, replacing the book on the shelf above my desk until my next bout of etymological curiosity.

I wouldn’t want you to think that The Boss and I were twiddling our thumbs here, with nothing to do during this lockdown period. There are (still) rooms to be decorated, terraces to be cleaned, and garden furniture to be brought out of hibernation. And it’s World Book Day today, which demands that I spend some time reading a book – as well as writing one.

Jan Edwards ©2020

Expat Book About Life in Mallorca (and Elsewhere) Published Today. But Not by Me.

Is it true that time passes more quickly when living in Mallorca? It certainly seems that way and I was shocked to see that my last post here was back in February. What have I been doing all this time?

In fact, I did log on to write a post a few times but was faced with the new ‘block editor’. I’m sorry, WordPress, but I just couldn’t get on with it and gave up in despair. Today, I decided I would push myself through the ‘block-editor’ pain barrier. It was only then that I noticed down in the corner of the screen that I could switch to the original way of creating posts. Duh! So I’m back.

#amwriting

This wasn’t the only reason for fewer posts of late. Last year I signed up for a novel-writing course (sadly no longer available) with Penguin Random House. I loved it, although it took a lot more of my time than I expected. I had started my novel not long after we had electricity installed at our rural finca (end of 2004), but domestic life and other writing stalled progress. Until I signed up for the ‘Constructing a Novel’ course.

The novel is now coming along steadily. A large amount of it is still in my head, rather than recorded on my computer. Like many other busy people, I could do with a few extra hours in my day, but I’m no longer able to sacrifice sleeping time to achieve this.

I blame my earlier working lifestyle in the UK, rising at 3.30am to travel to Oxford for my early-morning radio show and then the breakfast show afterwards. For a few years, between my radio and my TV continuity-announcing work, I missed out on a lot of sleep. These days I function better with my full quota of eight hours. Perhaps I’m still catching up – or remembering the words of my doctor when, during a medical check, he warned me that my working lifestyle was not sustainable.

I do lots of other writing too, with a second blog – Eat, Drink, Sleep, Mallorca – and other scribblings to satisfy my urge to write. Sometimes I think it’s not more time that I need, but a hefty dose of determination and discipline to help me prioritise what I’m doing.

A friend is way ahead of me…

Love the cover…

I know quite a few people who are published authors and have to admire them for their achievements. One of them is our friend James B Rieley – a born raconteur – who used to live in Mallorca, but moved to the Caribbean to live on his yacht.

Life dealt him (and many others) the cruellest of blows, in the form of Hurricane Irma in 2017. More than 130 people died in that category-5 cyclone but James was fortunate to survive – although his beloved floating home didn’t. I remember reading a magazine article he wrote about that experience and it gave me the chills, thinking about the fear and devastation he and so many others faced.

Today, James has published a book about his life on the two islands of Mallorca and Virgin Gorda. It’s called Living on Rocks: A Memoir of Sangria and Cyclones and it’s on Amazon as a free Kindle download for a couple of days (after which you’d have to pay for it).

It must be such an exciting feeling to see your book available to the wider public, wondering how well it will do and what kind of reviews it will garner. It’s a feeling I plan to experience one day.

I really ought to return to my novel after publishing this post, but I had my free Kindle download of James’s book earlier today. And my hammock, in the shade of our finca’s covered terrace, seems a very appealing spot for a little reading…

See what I mean about discipline?

Jan Edwards ©2019

One Funeral and A Wedding

Butterfly in Mallorca

A summer sight at our finca

Followers of this blog will have noticed a lack of posts recently, but that’s been down to time pressures. I started producing and presenting a new weekly radio show in Mallorca back in April and am also in the middle of an online novel-writing course. Then there’s other family and finca stuff…

Ten years after I had the idea for my first novel, I am finally making some progress in writing the story.  You could have guessed correctly that the Work In Progress is set mostly in Mallorca – this island we love and call home.

My hope is that having made this endeavour public, I’ll be spurred on to keep writing until I can type ‘The End’. Meanwhile, The Boss and I are also trying to stay cool in the heat of the Mallorcan summer, amidst everything going on.

Goodbye Miquel

We had a visit from one of the local farmers the Sunday before last. Hairy-handed José (to distinguish him from any other José we know) came to tell us that a friend and neighbour from the valley had passed away on Friday and his funeral would be on Monday – the next day. Funerals happen very soon  after someone dies here and I am amazed that the arrangements can be made and people informed in such a short space of time.

We wanted to pay our respects to the late Miquel, who had been a kind neighbour – particularly in our early years of living in the finca. Occasionally he would bring oranges in the back of his old white van from an orchard he owned somewhere. Most went to his sheep in the valley but he occasionally brought us some of the best-looking oranges, hooting his van horn outside our gate to alert us to his arrival.

On one occasion Miquel invited us to his apartment in Porto Cristo (just one of his homes) for a paella lunch with him and his wife. We felt honoured to be invited – particularly as some people had told us that mallorquíns don’t usually invite foreigners into their homes. That hasn’t been our experience, by the way, and we have enjoyed warm hospitality from several of our mallorquín neighbours.

When we arrived at their immaculate apartment for lunch, we were a little surprised not to smell anything cooking. Miquel’s wife was relaxing in an armchair and we all sat having a drink and a pleasant chat for a while. Then, suddenly, Miquel leapt up and said he had to go. We had no idea where to, but he returned shortly afterwards carrying a large paella pan covered with foil. He had ordered and collected a paella from….wait for it….the local Chinese restaurant! And it was delicious. That’s one of our favourite memories of Miquel.

What to wear?

We hadn’t been to a funeral in Mallorca before and had no idea what to expect. Our good friends and neighbours Maureen and Peter had known Miquel a lot longer than we had, so we arranged to go to the church together. But what to wear? Obviously something of a sober hue.

I remember reading guide book advice about visiting churches in a Catholic country: no shorts; shoulders – and perhaps upper arms too – should be covered. We also had to bear the heat in mind. Having discounted everything from my summer wardrobe, I resorted to black trousers and a dark-blue long-sleeved blouse from Jan’s Autumn/Winter-Every-Year collection. (I must buy some more clothes).

The Boss wore dark suit trousers, white shirt, black tie, and shoes – but decided that the suit jacket would be just too hot. It wouldn’t do to collapse, overheated, at such an occasion. Maureen looked suitably respectful in a long black dress and cardigan; Peter – whom we never see in anything but  shorts during the summer – wore smart trousers, shirt, and shoes. The Boss loaned him a darker tie from a hoard that rarely sees daylight here. We were all appropriately attired.

When we arrived at the church, it was standing room only at the back – which gave us a good view of the congregation. What a surprise: there were lots of women of all ages in shorts and strappy tops or dresses, men in t-shirts and shorts, and comparatively few wearing dark clothes. Things have obviously changed since my days of travelling with a local guide book!

The short service was in mallorquín, which we didn’t understand, and was unlike any funeral we’d been to in the UK. We left the church rather bemused, but at least we had paid our respects to a man who, during his eighty-plus years, had clearly been well known and respected in a wide community. DEP (Descanso En Paz – Rest In Peace) Miquel.

Never too old…

Happier (and surprising) news reached us yesterday: our farming neighbour Pedro – allegedly 91 years old – has just remarried. He had been a widower since 2015. We have seen him occasionally in recent months on his tractor, but doubt that the new Señora Pedro will be riding ‘pillion’ on the ancient agricultural vehicle, as the late Margarita used to.

©Jan Edwards 2018

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 …

Jan Edwards Copyright 2016

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!”

Jan Edwards Copyright 2016

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.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2015

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/

Jan Edwards Copyright 2015

Check Out My New, Second Blog about Mallorca

It’s all about some of my favourite things: food, drink, hotels (and other places to stay) – and they’re all Mallorca-related.

I’ve had lots of articles published on these subjects, but this blog contains things I write that haven’t been commissioned by, or submitted to a print or online editor for publication. In other words, things I write out of my own personal interest (and because I simply can’t help it. My name’s Jan and I’m a writing addict). I hope some of them will interest you too, and that you may even be tempted to press that ‘Follow’ button. And, of course, continue to read about living in rural Mallorca.

See you on the other side at www.eatdrinksleepmallorca.com. As they say on Mallorca, bon profit!

Entrance of Son Brull Hotel & Spa - voted in top 20 hotels in Europe by readers of Conde Nast Traveller magazine (UK).

Entrance of Son Brull Hotel & Spa – voted in top 20 hotels in Europe by readers of Conde Nast Traveller magazine (UK)

Jan Edwards Copyright 2013