New Year, new oak trees, on rural Mallorca

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.

Great oaks from little acorns . . .

Great oaks from little acorns . . .

 

May Your New Year’s Eve Grapes Be Seedless

A native Mallorcan grape variety, Callet is for wine - not for New Year's Eve. Buy small, sweet and seedless grapes for easier gulping!

A native Mallorcan grape variety, Callet is for wine – not for New Year’s Eve. Buy small, sweet and seedless grapes for easier gulping!

For our first New Year’s Eve after moving to rural Mallorca (2004) we decided to do something we hadn’t ever done in the UK: go to the capital to see in the New Year. We booked ourselves into a very reasonable small hotel in Palma (Hotel Cannes – alas, no longer open) and took the train into the city from Manacor.  The country folk were heading for A Big Night Out in the City!

Much to our surprise, the return journey was free of charge – although the ticket man on the train insisted on giving everyone a ‘free’ single journey ticket.  At the time, there were no automated barriers in either station, so this seemed slightly quirky; we wondered how much it had cost to have these special tickets printed . . .

Whining About Dining

We planned to eat out and then go to Plaza Cort, in the centre of Palma, where there’s a real party atmosphere on New Year’s Eve – with live music, plenty of revelry, and these days the presence of the Balearics’ TV station IB3. To our surprise, we found that most restaurants in Palma were closed, and after trudging the streets – stomachs rumbling – we finally found an Italian restaurant with one free table, which we commandeered without even looking at the menu. We were desperate – having been on the verge of gobbling down the 24 grapes we’d brought with us for the Spanish tradition of downing one grape each time the clock chimes at midnight.

The food wasn’t memorable, but we went on to have a great night in Plaza Cort, dancing to a lively band. It was 2.40am when we finally returned to our hotel to catch some sleep before our return train journey home.

Showtime! 

The journey was a long one: the train was packed (with free travel, no surprise), and stopped at every station and, unusually, there was music playing throughout the carriages. After a late night and a few glasses of cava, the driver’s selection (we imagined this was his privilege for working on New Year’s Day) of rousing show tunes made sure that we didn’t fall asleep during the journey. We couldn’t complain though: our journey again cost us nothing and we had another ‘free’ ticket to show for it.

When in Rome . . . 

The next year we decided to check out the celebrations closer to home, among the locals.  At 11pm we went into Manacor with the aim of having a drink in one of the numerous bars, before assembling at the church with the throngs of locals. It would have been a great plan if all the bars hadn’t been closed. We thought of past New Year’s Eve celebrations in the UK – all somewhat livelier than anything we’d seen – or have seen since – in Mallorca.

As we wandered around the deserted town centre, clutching our bags of grapes, we remembered friends telling us that New Year’s Eve is usually a family celebration for Mallorcans, taking place over a special meal at home (hence, many restaurants are closed for the night).  Finally, at 11.45pm the bar next to the church opened its doors: we bought ourselves a drink and watched as, slowly, groups of people began to assemble outside the church, where a band had set up their instruments on a wooden stage and was in the process of tuning up.

Our grapes at the ready, we joined the crowd outside and duly welcomed in the New Year. After the church bells had rung and we’d gobbled down our grapes, the band struck up and we joined in the dancing. But by 12.20am most people had wandered off home, leaving a not very large group of young hardcore partygoers still throwing shapes to the music. We ambled off to our car, making our first New Year’s Resolution: Do something different for the next New Year’s Eve!

Of course, this time of year is not all about partying. It’s a time to share with loved ones, to reflect on the year behind you, and make plans for the one ahead. However you spend your New Year’s Eve, enjoy it, and may 2013 be a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year for you and, if you’re a blogger, a successful one.

Molts d’anys – as they say in these parts.

Jan Edwards 2012