Trailer Tales

When The Boss announced – prior to our move to rural Mallorca – that we’d need a trailer when we were living on the island, I did wonder whether this wasn’t a case of a desire for a new Man Toy. We certainly hadn’t needed one living in Oxfordshire. However, The Boss’s convincing case for owning a trailer once we were living in the Mallorcan countryside meant that we bought one before we moved, in case we couldn’t find a suitable one on the island. If only we’d known . . .

The Manacor area – in which we live – is largely agricultural and it seems that most country dwellers here have a trailer of some sort; we even regularly see one that has clearly been home-made: an old wooden fruit box that’s been mounted on a set of redundant pram wheels and is towed by an ancient moped ridden by an equally ancient man. There are plenty of more robust ones like ours too, and several places in the area where we could have bought one, as it happens.

Our trailer – manufactured in the Netherlands and bought in Oxfordshire – did, however, serve a useful purpose before we’d moved here. About a month before the Big Move, we drove our car and trailer down through France and Spain to Barcelona, where we caught the ferry to Mallorca. It was an opportunity to do some work on the finca and to bring some of our possessions with us in the trailer, in advance of the removal men bringing everything over. We shared the driving and I was surprised to find that towing the trailer didn’t present any particular problems (although I’m not sure I could have parallel parked the car/trailer combo, had I needed to!).

Bureaucracy Rules . . .

But if you’re moving to Mallorca – or indeed the Spanish mainland – I’d recommend buying a trailer when you arrive, to save all the bureaucratic processes involved in importing a vehicle. Yes, although our trailer has no engine, it went through the same processes as our car in order to be registered in Spain, and the task took almost as long as it did for the car to be legalized. Our problem was that we had no ficha técnica, the official document detailing the full technical specifications of the vehicle.  We had all the paperwork provided by the retailer of the trailer – which included a brochure containing all the technical details required. But it wasn’t an official Spanish ficha técnica, and therefore didn’t cut any mustard with officialdom.

Long (and oh-so-boring) story short, we had to contact the trailer manufacturer in the Netherlands to obtain additional details to enable us to meet the legal requirements here. We then had to have our trailer measured and inspected by a local official who, having confirmed that the details provided by the manufacturer were correct, produced the necessary ficha técnica. But this was only one of some nine documents required to complete the registration of the trailer in Spain. With the benefit of hindsight, we would have bought the trailer on Mallorca.

But, despite my initial reservations about the need for a metal box on wheels, our trailer has been very useful. It’s an easy way to transport large unwanted items to the local Ecoparc (where we do our recycling); bring construction materials home with us (saving a delivery charge) and, several times during the winter, to collect logs for our stove from a wood yard. And the cats have found a use for it too . . .

Shorty, Beamer and, almost hidden, Sweetie - enjoying the trailer life

Shorty, Beamer and, almost hidden, Sweetie – enjoying the trailer life

Jan Edwards Copyright 2013

Learning to Mend a Stone Wall

There are not many Saturday mornings when I leave home with an axe in my bag, but this was no ordinary Saturday . . .

It happened before we moved to live in rural Mallorca. At the time, we had bought our rustic finca as a holiday home; not that the times we used to spend here were what most people would envisage as a holiday: painting and decorating, making repairs, searching for essential services (such as plumbing) etc.

One of the jobs we arranged to be done was some work to our property’s old stone wall. Mallorca is criss-crossed with these ancient walls – which came about originally because people needed to clear stones from the soil so they could plant crops. We needed to create a gap in our own wall for gate posts and a gate, to provide access to our back field, where one day we would have an outbuilding to house a generator (which would need deliveries of diesel).

We used the services of an English stone wall craftsman, who’d escaped the dampness of the UK’s Lake District for the warmer climate of Mallorca. He was good. But such expertise doesn’t come without an appropriate price, and it was one we couldn’t afford for any future repairs that could become necessary.

A Crafty Day Out

Which is how The Boss and I came to sign up for a one-day course on the craft of dry stone walling, taking place on a farm in our home county of Oxfordshire. And why I was carrying an axe – and some sturdy gardening gloves – in my bag.

There were 10 budding wall-builders (only three of whom were men!) on the course, which began  with a safety briefing and introduction to the art of shaping stone. How hard could it be? Very. I chopped ’til I dropped . . . the axe. Not an auspicious start – and one which made The Boss move a few paces further away from my chop zone.

But eventually the group was let loose on one of the farm’s tumbledown walls and, by the end of the day (and fortified by lunch in the local village pub), we’d managed to turn a heap of stones into something resembling a wall. Stone-shaping aside, it was a strangely satisfying day, even if it did mean saying goodbye to a few fingernails . . .

The Boss has, on occasions, used the skills he learnt on that day to make small repairs to our old stone walls. I’d have helped, but he chose the safer option and gave my offer the chop.

A typical Mallorcan dry stone wall

A typical Mallorcan dry stone wall

Jan Edwards Copyright 2013