Hear the Latest Episode of the Living in Rural Mallorca Podcast

Sylvia Baker de Perkal

It’s a privilege for me to be able to hear the stories of other expats who have chosen the rural lifestyle here in Mallorca. This island is a magnet for fascinating people and if I had time to do more interviews, I’d certainly never run out of interesting subjects for this podcast.

My latest guest is not only a well-qualified translator with some top-notch international clients, but also an accomplished artist. Some of her art was chosen to become part of the décor of a boutique hotel in Lisbon.

Sylvia Baker de Perkal and I sat in the pretty garden of her finca for our conversation, with the background sounds of birds, peacocks, and her rescue dogs. How rural is that!

I hope you’ll enjoy listening. The show notes include Sylvia’s website details, as well as websites for some of the animal refuges on the island (there are many more).

Sylvia Baker de Perkal – Translator & Artist Living in Rural Mallorca

Sylvia Baker de Perkal and her Californian husband Adam moved from banking careers in  Madrid to live in the countryside near the Mallorcan village of Algaida. This was twenty-six years ago, and they still live in the same rural home they fell in love with when they came to look for a property on the island.  Sylvia and Adam each have their own successful businesses in Mallorca: Sylvia is a highly qualified translator, specialising in legal and financial translations; Adam runs his wine importing company. Sylvia also devotes time to her passion for creating art; four of her canvases hang in a smart new hotel in Lisbon. Sylvia talks about sharing their environment with animals (some of which you'll hear in the background), the changes they made to their home when they arrived, how she integrated into the local community, what it's like to start a business here, and some of the illusions people have about living in Mallorca. http://www.sylviabakerdeperkal.com Facebook: Sylvia Baker de Perkal- Artworkwww.mundidrinks.comFor animal adoptions:Dogs 4 U                               https://dogsforu.orgAsociación Animalista  https://gatosyperros.orgProject Love                        http://www.sinhogarmallorca.com PODCAST THEME TITLE: “Lifestyles”COMPOSER: Jack WaldenmaierPUBLISHER: Music Bakery Publishing (BMI) Jan Edwards's novel 'Daughter of Deià' – set in Mallorca – is now available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.
  1. Sylvia Baker de Perkal – Translator & Artist
  2. Kate Brittan – Australian Expat, Foodie, and Fledgling Farmer
  3. Annie Verrinder – Wedding Planner, Celebrant … and More
  4. Marc Rieke – Wigmaker, Equestrian, Saddle Fitter
  5. Caroline Fuller – Gardening in Mallorca

Summer’s Arrived in Mallorca

Porto Cristo in the sunshine. The biggest boat belongs to tennis supremo Rafa Nadal

It’s officially here: summer 2021. In terms of the tourist season in Mallorca, it’s a late start – although some visitors from Germany began coming at Easter. At the moment we’ve seen few signs of many British tourists, because of the requirement for quarantine on their return home. From various media reports I’ve seen, that requirement could be lifted soon for those who are fully vaccinated. We shall see.

Our part-time neighbour and friend Vicky came to stay for a couple of weeks to check on her property and attend to things that needed doing. She had prepared for the subsequent quarantine by filling her freezer back at home.

The first thing to know about owning a second home in the countryside – a finca – is that there is always something to be done by way of maintenance or repair. A holiday in one’s rural second home usually begins with fixing things or organising a técnico to visit the property to sort out problems.

Beyond Repair

Some things, however, are beyond repair. One of those is the old cart we inherited when we bought our finca. Someone asked me the other day if we still had it. Yes, we do.

A very old bougainvillea keeps this cart more or less standing

During the last winter we looked at its poor state and wondered whether we should remove it. The Boss feared it could collapse and banned me from weeding in the area, just in case. One day I spotted a lot of the creeping weed Galium acarine, sometimes known as sticky bob or sticky willy. We’ve been plagued with it this year and I’ve pulled out metres of the stuff from just about every area of the garden.

The dreaded weed was threading its way through the old bougainvillea which grows from under the cart. Well, that had to go, or I feared we’d have no beautiful bracts this summer to add colour to this patch of our land. When The Boss spotted me at work near the cart he came to join me and we tackled the weeding together.

Up close and personal, we discovered that although the cart has collapsed on one side, rocks (of which we have a lot) and the old bougainvillea are forming the equivalent of a girdle to keep it all in place. The cart lives on … and the tidying of the sticky bob that The Boss and I did has paid off, as you can see.

Busy, Busy …

Our friends Maureen and Peter, other part-time English neighbours, wrote to me a few days ago, pointing out that they hadn’t seen a blog post for a while. We’ve been busy.

There have been various appointments here and there – one of which was to organise new persianas – the slatted window and door shutters that are a common feature of Spanish properties. We had the wooden ones replaced at the front quite a few years ago and now it’s the turn of some of the shutters at the back of the house.

I’ve also been busy working on getting my debut novel Daughter of Deià published. Because I have little patience, I am leaning towards the indie publishing route. Traditional publishing takes a long time and that’s if you can even find a publisher who’ll take you on. It helps to be a celebrity, apparently. I’m not.

My research into self-publishing, or indie publishing, suggests I am at the base of a steep learning curve, but I love learning new things, so I’m girding my loins for the journey and looking forward to holding that published book in my hand.

Wherever you are, I hope your summer has begun well and that you have the pleasure of looking forward to a holiday, somewhere, soon.

Jan Edwards © 2021

Manacor Becomes Enchanted

At this time of year, Manacor, our nearest town, celebrates its Spring Fairs and Fiestas – a jolly ten days of events, including an agricultural and livestock fair, and a very popular wine-tasting evening, which has grown enormously over the years we’ve attended. The whole shebang kicks off with the Dance of the Cossiers – the closest thing to Morris Dancing I’ve seen here.

For obvious reasons this important and well-supported event in the Manacor calendar didn’t happen last year, and this year’s Spring Fairs and Fiestas are still somewhat muted. Most events are taking place in the Municipal Park, to facilitate social distancing, and require advance reservation to attend. Our favourite event – the wine evening – sadly isn’t part of this year’s programme.

In addition, locals and visitors can enjoy Manacor’s El bosc encantat (enchanted forest), strolling around the town centre’s streets to see the six giant figures that have been installed in key locations. It’s a campaign designed to add some touches of magic and attract visitors and shoppers to the town. Manacor Encantat continues until June 7th.

If you were planning to visit Manacor this Friday, June 4th, the day is a public holiday in the town.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

From Australia to Mallorca … Meet Kate Brittan

Kate and her husband Alex

A week or two ago I had the great pleasure of meeting Kate Brittan, a delightful Australian who’s settled in Mallorca with her husband and young son. Kate has an interesting story to tell, because her family left their home and her husband’s veterinary hospital in Sydney to take a sabbatical in Europe – little imagining it would lead to living in Mallorca on a twenty-acre mountain farm.

I visited their Mallorcan home, where we had an interesting socially distanced conversation, courtesy of my lapel mics with extra-long cables. The Brittan family live in an extraordinary setting with breathtaking views. I’d go as far as to say the views from their lovely home are the best I’ve seen in any private house I’ve visited over the course of my time living in Mallorca (and I’ve been to quite a lot). On a clear day it’s possible to see the length of Mallorca’s sister island, Menorca, although the day was too hazy when I visited. I could certainly see the Bay of Alcúdia in the north of Mallorca.

Foodies on Facebook

Kate Brittan originally trained as a chef but her career took her in another direction. Her passion for food – and the challenge of finding favourite Asian ingredients in an unfamiliar country – led her to start the popular Facebook group ‘The Mallorca Foodies’.

Kate tells how Covid and the Australian wildfires impacted on their family life, and talks about their impressive plans for the farm, how she’s 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.

Sylvia Baker de Perkal – Translator & Artist Living in Rural Mallorca

Sylvia Baker de Perkal and her Californian husband Adam moved from banking careers in  Madrid to live in the countryside near the Mallorcan village of Algaida. This was twenty-six years ago, and they still live in the same rural home they fell in love with when they came to look for a property on the island.  Sylvia and Adam each have their own successful businesses in Mallorca: Sylvia is a highly qualified translator, specialising in legal and financial translations; Adam runs his wine importing company. Sylvia also devotes time to her passion for creating art; four of her canvases hang in a smart new hotel in Lisbon. Sylvia talks about sharing their environment with animals (some of which you'll hear in the background), the changes they made to their home when they arrived, how she integrated into the local community, what it's like to start a business here, and some of the illusions people have about living in Mallorca. http://www.sylviabakerdeperkal.com Facebook: Sylvia Baker de Perkal- Artworkwww.mundidrinks.comFor animal adoptions:Dogs 4 U                               https://dogsforu.orgAsociación Animalista  https://gatosyperros.orgProject Love                        http://www.sinhogarmallorca.com PODCAST THEME TITLE: “Lifestyles”COMPOSER: Jack WaldenmaierPUBLISHER: Music Bakery Publishing (BMI) Jan Edwards's novel 'Daughter of Deià' – set in Mallorca – is now available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.
  1. Sylvia Baker de Perkal – Translator & Artist
  2. Kate Brittan – Australian Expat, Foodie, and Fledgling Farmer
  3. Annie Verrinder – Wedding Planner, Celebrant … and More
  4. Marc Rieke – Wigmaker, Equestrian, Saddle Fitter
  5. Caroline Fuller – Gardening in Mallorca

PODCAST THEME TITLE: “Lifestyles”
COMPOSER: Jack Waldenmaier
PUBLISHER: Music Bakery Publishing (BMI)

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

A Visit to Manacor Hippodrome

Trotting practice at Manacor Hippodrome

It had been a while since we last went to Manacor’s trotting track, but we were there mid-April and we’ll be back on Thursday this week.

No, we haven’t turned into keen horse racing fans, although we went a few times in our early years here to watch trotting races. We were usually with visitors, giving them a flavour of Mallorca’s style of horse racing. It’s very different from that in the UK. And it’s certainly not Ascot.

The Manacor hipódromo has become one of Mallorca’s Covid vaccination centres and, after a sluggish start to the vaccination roll-out, the going is now good. The Boss had a phone call informing him of the appointment for his first jab, which was given on April 19th.

And They’re Off…

I went along with him, curious to see the operation of the local roll-out in practice. We expected to find queues of people – socially distanced, of course – and to have to wait a while. No. We were in and out of the hippodrome’s ringside building in just over twenty minutes, including the fifteen-minutes’ monitoring period afterwards. I was impressed by the efficiency and kindness of the health professionals carrying out the vaccination programme.

The Boss took a Paracetamol and a good slug of water immediately after, as I’d read was recommended. He was fortunate to have no ill-effects from his Pfizer vaccination, apart from a slightly sore arm. Too sore to pressure-wash the terraces but not too sore to raise a glass of wine, you’ll be pleased to know.

My turn next: I’ll be on the receiving end of the needle this Thursday morning, so it’s another trip to the Hippodrome for us. I’m phobic about needles so I’m already dreading it. What are the odds I’ll faint at the sight of the nurse looming towards me with the syringe? All bets are off …

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Rural Village Life for Wedding Planner Annie

Not everyone who moves to rural Mallorca chooses a home in the open countryside, as we did. This week I went to talk to Annie Verrinder, a popular wedding planner and celebrant, who lives in a rural village.

Annie’s lived in Mallorca just over 20 years and, for some of that time, home was in Palma, the island’s capital. These days her home (and office for A White Hot Wedding) are in the village of Alaró, close to the Serra de Tramuntana mountains.

Annie is a true romantic – which is a prime requirement of being a wedding planner and celebrant. She’s passionate about what she does and any couple using her services for their own big day on the island can be sure of making memories to treasure for many years.

Tying the Knot in Mallorca

Mallorca is an idyllic location for a wedding in the sunshine and, before the pandemic, the weddings business on the island was booming. Everything is still in place for future weddings once restrictions have been lifted: passionate planners and/or celebrants like Annie, venues of every imaginable type, photographers and videographers, hair-and-make-up artists, caterers and cake-makers, musicians, and more. You can even have your wedding rings made in Alaró, as Annie told me when we chatted in her office.

Annie Verrinder is my latest guest on my podcast ‘Living in Rural Mallorca’. She’s a warm and caring person who qualified as a nurse, acupuncturist, and couples’ therapist but swapped healthcare, for work in the joyful business of romance, love, and weddings.

Annie explains why she came to Mallorca, why she left Palma, and talks about moving to the traditional Mallorcan village of Alaró. We chat about weddings, acupuncture, favourite places in Mallorca, and great scuba-diving locations. And more besides. One of Annie’s two beautiful cats even made a few contributions to the conversation!

You can hear this episode of ‘Living in Rural Mallorca’ here.

Photos supplied by Annie.

Jan Edwards Copyright 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

A Burning Need

Goodness, where is this year going? Although Mallorca is not in lockdown, restaurants, bars, and cafes have been closed for what feels like ten years (at least to those of us who do all the cooking at home). Establishments with terraces were allowed to open these again from Tuesday, March 2nd – albeit with limited capacity and an obligatory closing time of 5pm. We’ve not yet been out for lunch, as the weather’s been dull and chilly for eating out, but we have had a coffee on a terrace – in a tiny bid to help a local business. Lunch out is on the agenda for next week, when I hope it will be a little warmer and sunnier.

The Boss and I have spent most of our time at home, although there have been the weekly food-shopping trips and coastal walks for some exercise and bracing sea air. The lack of variety in our daily lives has meant that time has seemed to pass quickly. Relatable?

Well, cue some major excitement! We had a bonfire. Yes, that’s what passes these days for a thrill around these parts. In truth, having a bonfire where we live is a heart-rate-raising activity, because it brings back memories of the wildfire that swept onto our land from a neighbour’s out-of-season bonfire which reignited without warning and spread like… you guessed it.

We hadn’t had a bonfire on the finca for almost two years, partly because we are able to have one for a limited period in the year (usually October to April, but dates can vary depending on the weather conditions) and we just didn’t get around to doing it when we were allowed. As a result, we had what looked like a scaled-down version of Mallorca’s tallest mountain, Puig Mayor – in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Serra de Tramuntana mountains – near the end of our field.

The Boss was Chief Fire Master and he’s super-cautious, lining up a large, full watering can, and the garden hose unfurled and connected to the outdoor tap. Yours truly was there to provide a second pair of eyes on proceedings and, given how chilly it felt to me on the day, to enjoy the heat. From start to finish, our bonfire activities took around two hours – after which we rewarded ourselves with coffee and cookies for a good morning’s work.

‘That’s a long-overdue job off my list,’ The Boss said, with a sigh of relief, as we looked at the smouldering black circle of ash where once a mountain of garden detritus had stood. Perhaps it’s best I don’t tell him I’ve already started a new pile…

Update on Dusty

He’s forgiven us. Post-operation, Dusty is now coming for his meals at the same time as his siblings and we are able to stroke him again. Let’s hope no further trips to the vet’s are required.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Stockholm Syndrome in Mallorca

Can cats have Stockholm Syndrome? I recently wrote about our eldest cat, Dusty, having a biopsy and convalescing inside our home. He’s an outdoor (born feral) cat and we expected ructions when we kept him indoors for a couple of nights, but he appeared to cope well with his confinement.

Dusty in July 2011 sitting on the terrace

He’s an affectionate cat — but on his own terms. He doesn’t like anyone to pick him up, and won’t normally sit on a lap. But when the mood takes him, Dusty will come around if we’re outside, and rub his head on our legs to ask for a stroke.

During his weekend indoors, Dusty frequently nuzzled against us and we rewarded him with the fuss he seemed to want. Once, he even jumped onto the sofa and rested his front legs on my thigh and gazed at me with his gorgeous blue eyes. It made my heart flutter: was he a convert to lap life at last?

Alas, all changed when his confinement was over. For around a week, he ran off whenever he saw us approaching. Dusty — who waited patiently with the others for breakfast and dinner — would scuttle away when he saw us coming. Once we were at a safe distance away again, he’d return for his food.

This behaviour seemed in such contrast to the way he’d been when he was in the house. It made me wonder whether cats suffer from Stockholm Syndrome — the psychological response when hostages bond with their captors. Anyone know?

Diagnosis & Treatment

Dusty in July 2011

The biopsy results weren’t good: Dusty has a cancerous tumour in his nose: However, our vet Joana, explained a relatively new treatment — electro-chemotherapy — to remove these tumours (common in sun-loving white cats). She showed us photos of cats that had undergone this, and appeared positive about the outcome for Dusty, who is otherwise a healthy cat.

The procedure involves the use of specialist equipment to remove the tumour, and one dose of chemotherapy, both on the same day. The equipment is based in Valencia, but comes over to the veterinary hospital Canis in Palma de Mallorca for one week each month. We were fortunate in the timing of the equipment’s next schedule arrival on the island and they gave Dusty an appointment for Wednesday 3rd February.

All well and good. There was just the simple matter of catching a wary Dusty to take him to Palma. After much discussion, we decided to attempt this on the Tuesday, so that we’d have another chance on the Wednesday morning if our first attempt failed.

When we went out in the early evening to feed the cats, Dusty was waiting. Was luck on our side? Err, no. He shot off as soon as he saw us and disappeared down into the undergrowth in our valley. Stress! How could we possibly catch him when he was super-wary of our intentions?

Within an hour, Dusty was back in the house with us. I’d found him down in the field, stropping his claws on the almond tree trunk that fell during the recent storm. I spoke softly and crept towards him and was able to grab the scruff of his neck and carry him indoors. Suffice to say, he wasn’t impressed.

His procedure went without a hitch the next day, although he didn’t enjoy the car journey to Palma. He wasn’t the only one. I’d sprayed his carrying case with Feliway in advance, ostensibly to calm him for the journey. If that was calm, what would he have been like without it?

Dusty spent the next couple of nights indoors, making himself at home. So much so that the sofa became a favourite place to sit. He treated us to head nuzzles, purring, and lap time.

Unfortunately, Pip didn’t appreciate our temporary house guest at all and practised her tiger growl whenever Dusty was in her vicinity. On Friday lunchtime we were able to let Dusty out again. I opened the front and back doors of the house, so he could choose his exit but, for a few minutes, it looked as though he was reluctant to leave.

Needless to say, since he returned to his natural, outdoor habitat, Dusty has made himself scarce whenever we’re around. We’re hoping he’ll forgive us soon — and that his treatment will ensure a full recovery.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share two of my favourite photos of Dusty as a cute kitten.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Caroline Fuller – Gardening in Mallorca

The Mediterranean climate and the prospect of growing something more exotic than in a northern European garden are only two reasons many people who move to rural Mallorca become keen gardeners.

Caroline Fuller at work in the garden

My guest in this episode of the ‘Living in Rural Mallorca’ podcast is not only an enthusiastic gardener, but also blogs about gardening. In addition Caroline Fuller contributes a gardening column (and a pet column) to the island’s English-language newspaper, Majorca Daily Bulletin.

Caroline – who lives with her husband David (known as o/h in her blog), their dogs, and chickens – talks about their no-dig lasagne garden, the lessons she’s learnt about gardening in Mallorca, and how a pair of David’s pants revealed something interesting about their soil.

We chatted over Zoom – you’ll hear the birds in her garden – and I began by asking whether gardening featured in their decision to move to Mallorca.

If you’re on the island and keen on gardening, check out the Facebook group: Mallorca Gardeners.

Caroline’s newspaper columns The Potting Shed and Pet Bulletin are published in the weekend editions of http://www.majorcadailybulletin.com

Blog: https://carolinamoongarden.com/

    PODCAST THEME TITLE: “Lifestyles”
    COMPOSER: Jack Waldenmaier
    PUBLISHER: Music Bakery Publishing (BMI)