Useful books for a life in Mallorca

Which non-fiction books about Mallorca would you recommend to someone moving to the island? That’s a question I’ve been asked a few times, so I thought I’d answer it in this post.

We arrived to live in rural Mallorca in 2004 with one thumping good book about the island (in English): Majorca – Culture and Life (Könemann). It had been a farewell gift from a BBC work friend (Julia) and was so interesting that, before we left the UK, we bought another copy to give to my dad – destined to spend holidays with us on Mallorca; you can also find this book for sale on the island.

Over the years, we have added further books about Mallorca to our bookshelves and, if it’s of interest, these are some others we’ve found to be practical, inspiring, and interesting:

Mallorca books

Just a few of our books about Mallorca.

A Home in Majorca by Tomás Graves (La Foradada)

Written by the son of the late writer Robert Graves, this book is fascinating for anyone with an old Mallorcan finca. Its strapline is ‘A practical guide to the traditional house and rural life’ and that about sums it up perfectly.  This is a book to pick up and dip into just for the interest of its contents, or to scour for a possible solution to a domestic ‘situation’ – such as cleaning a chimney or dealing with a crop of olives. It’s available in English (and probably quite a few other languages by now) and I can thoroughly recommend buying a copy.

Beloved Majorcans – Guy de Forestier (La Foradada)

Here’s a book that gives a useful insight into the character of the islanders themselves. Described as ‘An outsider’s guide to social and personal relations on the isle of Majorca’, it should help you avoid making any major social gaffs and go some way to explaining greetings such as what The Boss and I call ‘the chin cock’. Guy de Forestier is a pseudonym; the book was written by the Catalan architect Carlos García Delgado, who has lived on the island since he was a child.

A Birding Tourist’s Guide to Majorca (www.birdingmajorca.com)

If you live in the Mallorcan countryside, chances are you may be curious about some of those feathered friends you’ll see around your land. This book is the perfect twitcher’s companion, explaining which birds may be seen on the island – where and when. We bought our copy (19,50 euros) from the visitor centre at S’Albufera natural park (which is well worth a visit as it has the island’s greatest diversity of birds).

El Litoral de Mallorca (geoPlaneta)

This is a complete guide to Mallorca’s coastline, illustrated with aerial photographs. The text is in castellano but even if you don’t speak the language, it’s fascinating to look at the images, which also show footpaths and some points of interest. When we first arrived we went through it page by page, identifying beaches that looked promising. Nautical sorts will also find it useful, as it includes basic information about marinas around Mallorca.

Todas las playas de Mallorca – Miquel Ángel Álvarez Alperi (La luz en papel)

If you love spending time on a beach, you have 262 to discover on Mallorca! And this book will help you find those that most fit your tastes – whether it’s a popular resort with all the facilities you could want, or a hideaway cove where you may share the sand with a gull or two. As far as I know, it’s only available in castellano, but each beach has its own page, illustrated with a photograph and annotated with symbols that are easy enough to understand.

Gardens of Mallorca – Charlotte Seeling and Carina Landau (Feierabend)

This will look good on the coffee table, but it’s also a useful book if you’re interested in gazing at gardens of a Mediterranean nature, or seeking inspiration for your own patch of paradise. It’s in three languages – English, castellano, and German – and is illustrated with lots of beautiful photographs. Useful if you want to identify the type of trees and plants that grow best on Mallorca.

Country Houses of Majorca – Barbara and René Stoeltie (Taschen)

With texts in German, English, and French, this is one to inspire the interior décor of your rural home on Mallorca. Each chapter is dedicated to a country property, with a description and photographs. Be prepared to drool a bit…

Living in Style Mallorca (teNeues)

Larger and glossier than the above book, this one earns a place on many coffee tables. It’s packed with lots of full-page photos of gorgeous properties (not all rural) and will give you plenty of ideas for decorating a home on Mallorca. Be prepared to drool quite a lot!

If you’re in Palma, it’s worth popping into the lifestyle store Rialto Living to check out the books section – which usually has a choice relating to Mallorca.

Anders – a loyal reader of Living in Rural Mallorca and also a finca owner – got in touch with me to share the list he has compiled of books about Mallorca. Whilst mine is of  books we’ve found useful and informative for practical purposes, Anders’s list comprises a broad spectrum of books about Mallorca and it’s surprising how many there are! Check the list out here – the season for reading a good book, sitting by the log fire with a glass of good Mallorcan tinto, will soon be here!

©Jan Edwards 2017

 

What Measures 20cm and Keeps Us Awake at Night?

Mallorcan sunset

Sunset over the hill in our valley – tune-up time for the Scops Owl

I guess we’ve all heard stories of people who move to the countryside or a rural village, in search of peace and quiet, then do nothing but complain about the noise – whether it’s tractors, church bells or cockerels.

When we moved to our little piece of Mallorcan countryside, it was with our eyes (and ears) open. We expected agricultural equipment, sheep bells and bleating (rather comforting sounds, I think), the occasional braying from a donkey or two, and the chorus of barking that spreads around the valley when one dog is disturbed by something unfamiliar and his canine neighbours are compelled to join in.

We don’t mind the call of the peacocks that live close by, or even the fact that the nearest cockerel seems to live in a completely different time zone and thinks it’s time to wake everyone up at 3pm. There was even a quarry on the top of one side of the valley, which was operational from 8am in the morning. We were surprised how quickly we got used to the sound of stone being wrested from the ground.

Smaller than a Little Owl

But there’s one nocturnal noise that can drive us nuts – and its source is less than 20 cm high. I’m talking about the Scops Owl, which is even smaller than the Little Owl. Not that we’ve ever seen one. But boy, can we hear this little dynamo!

For the past couple of years, we’d not heard a single one, but this year they’re back in the valley again. This little creature begins his call shortly after sunset  . . . and often continues into the night. Its call sounds rather like the sonar used on a submarine (not that I’ve been on many of those – but I’ve seen the odd movie or two).  The short, deep whistle (described in Collins Bird Guide as a ‘tyuh’ sound) is repeated constantly every two or three seconds. Not only has our little feathered friend got stamina (it can go on for hours), it can also be heard up to a kilometre away.

One night, a Scops Owl sat in one of the almond trees in our field – probably the closest it had ever been to the finca. You wouldn’t believe how loud and piercing that relentless sound could be. The Boss eventually jumped out of bed, pulled on his boxers, slipped some shoes on and headed outside, where he ran around the field, waving his arms and making strange noises – yes, there was a full moon – in a bid to persuade the Scops Owl to relocate to a tree further away. Sure enough, the bird flew away and silence reigned . . . for 20 minutes.

The next day, we bought some earplugs.

Jan Edwards©2012