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 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) LIVING IN RURAL MALLORCA podcast will be back in September 2021, after the hot summer break. Meanwhile, Jan Edwards's novel 'Daughter of Deià' – set in Mallorca – is now published and available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.
If you live in rural Mallorca, as we do, chances are you’ll end up owning a dog. The Boss grew up with dogs and, although he’d never owned one as an adult, I fully expected that we’d soon have a dog after we moved to the island from the UK.
It so nearly happened. During our early time living here, we went out one Sunday morning for a coffee and returned later to find an enormous black dog stretched out in the shade under our bank of solar panels in the back field. And I mean enormous. It looked like a small black horse. But where had it come from?
It had been abandoned. Someone who can’t or doesn’t want to look after an animal any longer takes said dog or cat for a one-way car trip into the country. It’s so cruel, but it happens. Some English neighbours acquired their own little Mallorcan terrier that way.
But we weren’t in a position to adopt this large dog, as we owned two cats we’d brought from England. And this fierce pooch didn’t seem like a potential pussycat pal or pet. When a neighbour strolled down the lane past the field, the creature went ballistic, as though it had been instructed to guard the field.
It was a hot day and we were concerned the dog would dehydrate, so we gingerly walked down the field with some water for it. Luckily we also had a few dog biscuits, as we’d taken to supplementing the diet of a dog in the valley that spent its life chained up on a farm and seemed to survive on leftovers from the owners’ meals.
At that early time of living here we had no idea who to call about this, so we started with the local police – who referred us to an animal refuge. Quite a few phone calls later we finally found a refuge that was prepared to take this big boy (yes, his gender became obvious when he stood up). The refuge van eventually turned up, we gave the man from the refuge a cash donation (feeling a tad guilty that we weren’t able to keep the animal), and the large black dog hopped into the back of the van to begin the next chapter of his life story. Heartbreaking.
Dogs For U
I remembered this occasion recently when I visited Dogs For U – a charity based in the countryside near the Mallorcan town of Inca, and founded by a caring and hardworking German woman called Cornelia Kudszus. Cornelia and her small band of volunteers rescue German Shepherds and other large hard-to-home breeds and look after them until they can rehome them.
I visited Dogs For U last month in connection with an article I’d been invited to write for an off-island magazine. I’ll post the weblink here when it’s published.
In the meantime, if you live on Mallorca – or are moving to the island – and you’d like a dog to share your life, please consider visiting Dogs For U to see if they have a dog that would suit you. Or, if you have spare time and live in the area, perhaps give them a little of your time as a volunteer helper. They always welcome people who are happy to walk dogs, or able to foster a dog for a short period to help ease the workload at the refuge.
There were 18 beautiful dogs there on the day I visited and I’d love to have brought a few home with me, but I don’t think our colony of finca cats would have approved . . .
If you don’t live on the island but love dogs and would like to help Dogs For U financially – feeding and vet’s bills are just some of the ongoing costs – please consider donating just one euro a month (less than the cost of a cup of coffee) to the charity through their microfunding teaming.net page https://www.teaming.net/dogsforumallorca
In November, we came home clutching two very young oak trees from our day at Dijous Bo (which means ‘good Thursday’ in mallorquín). A stall at the annual fair – Mallorca’s largest traditional event of its kind – was handing out small tree plants to anyone who wanted them. Although our rural Mallorcan finca has plenty of land, it doesn’t have a lot of soil, but we figured it had to be worth at least giving these young trees a shot at growing into something for future generations to enjoy.
Because I had a large amount of writing work to do, we stuck the well-rooted plants into a bucket of water and put them aside. Planting things here is a bit of a logistical operation that we didn’t have time or the energy for then.
The New Year on Mallorca started with glorious sunshine and blue skies. We’re in a period known as ‘la calma’, when we enjoy clear skies and warm sunshine, and usually kid ourselves that winter is going to be mild this time. Reality is sure to hit soon, but the conditions were perfect for a spot of gardening. And what could be better than planting two young trees on the first day of a new year?
A pickaxe (an essential piece of kit for planting anything on our land), shovel, gardening fork, and watering can were deployed and we now have two baby oak trees at the end of our field.
We’re never likely to be able to shelter from the sun beneath them but, one day in the distant future, somebody will be able to enjoy these trees. And that’s a good feeling at the start of a New Year.