The Boss is a list-maker. And The Big List is the one detailing all the jobs (large and small) that need to be done at our finca in rural Mallorca. I think he started it before we even moved to Mallorca, and it’s been ongoing ever since. While recovering from his recent surgery, he sat down to do a full review and update of the list, adding lots of new jobs. If I had a list of my own outstanding jobs I’d be completely overwhelmed, but The Boss seems to thrive on having this list to spur him on. Must be the Virgo in him.
Rain, rain, go away . . .
Since being ‘fit for purpose'(!) again, he’s worked very hard, striking through completed jobs on his handwritten list with pleasure and satisfaction. But progress has recently ground to a halt: unusually, it’s been raining almost solidly here on Mallorca for the past week and all the outdoor jobs on the list (some of which I was going to be helping with) have been out of the question. Our plans to paint the persianas (our wooden shutters) on the north-facing side of the house have been scuppered by the wet weather. It’ll probably be spring before they dry out enough to re-paint.
The weather’s been so bad that we have barely been outside and that’s sharply brought into focus what we love about living in rural Mallorca: being outdoors and surrounded by nature. And, although we could dress ourselves appropriately for the weather and go out, the indoor jobs are looking much more appealing. Currently, it’s an audit of the light bulbs in the house . . .
Ooh, I do love September in rural Mallorca. After the intense heat of July and August, temperatures are pleasant enough to do some gardening and other outdoor jobs, without us turning lobster-like under the blazing sun. And as summer morphs into autumn towards the end of the month, something magical happens on Mallorca: it’s what the locals call ‘winter-spring’. Not being a fan of the ‘w’ word, I prefer to call it second spring. And that’s just what it’s like.
Flora bursts back into life
After the late summer storms, which bring much-needed rain to the land, everything in the garden that looked as though it had given up the struggle for survival perks up again. The leaves of the aloe vera plants – we have 17 around the place – have plumped up again, all ready for any first aid duties they may have to fulfil. Shrubs such as the Lantana burst back into flower, dotting our largely green garden with splashes of orange, yellow, and pink, and the lavender plants are poised to produce more flowers. And, as I mentioned in my last post, the weeds are back to remind me that last year’s back-breaking efforts to remove them finally were a waste of my time.
And fauna too
As I write this – with the doors open to the garden terrace – I can hear recently born lambs crying for their mums in the field across the road. It sounds, as well as looks, like spring out there.
And the butterflies are back in abundance. Which prompted me to spend rather more time than I should have trying to take some photos of them; butterflies, by the way, do not make co-operative photographic models.
Success at last
For all the above reasons, and a few more, I enjoy second spring nearly as much as the first one. Except that it doesn’t hold the promise of summer just around the corner . . .
Testing, testing . . . yep, the roof appears to be watertight. We’ve had enough rain over the weekend on Mallorca to put the repairs to the test, and the various buckets that usually come into play during stormy weather haven’t been necessary. The timing of the repair project couldn’t have been better: the builders finished applying the concrete over the roof surface on Thursday evening . . . and the rain started on Friday.
Black is black
The house currently looks like a total reformation project. The Boss has swathed all of the window shutters in black plastic to protect them from concrete splatters – and the plastic will remain until the tiles are back on the roof and the workmen have headed for projects new. Now I know what it feels like to be a mole . . .
At 7.50am this morning, the gang reported for duty. There was even a modest amount of stomping about on the roof – which must have been slippery after all the rain. But by 8.30am, they were sitting in their minibus, eating their second breakfast, and peering out through the misted-up windows. And that was the last we saw of them for today. Rain stopped work – and rightly so; we don’t want any builders sliding off the roof, thank you!
An unexpected visit
We’ve probably all heard negative stories about Spanish builders, so here’s a positive one: On Friday – a public holiday here – Juan, the senior foreman, drove out to our house during a heavy shower, to check that we didn’t have any leaks inside the house. Now that’s what I call service.
After a weekend without builders, the men are back at our finca in Mallorca. And they’ve increased in number. The foreman told us this morning that rain is forecast for later this week and they’re keen to ensure that we have at least the new lining on the whole roof, so that we don’t have any serious leaks indoors. So an extra pair of hands has been drafted in to speed up the process. And the decibel level of the conversation level has ratcheted up too. They’re speaking Arabic, so I’ve no idea what they’re talking about, but it sounds jolly lively.
A Pillow of Stones
As I write, the men have just finished their lunchtime siesta; after they’ve eaten their packed lunches, they stretch out on the ground and have a snooze. It really can’t be comfortable, with so many stones in our field, but they return to the job – and their ongoing conversation – with renewed vigour.
During their break, while things are quiet again, we catch up on any phone calls and snatch a bite of lunch outside, on the one part of the terraces that hasn’t been taken over by stacks of roof tiles. For a change, we’re eating alone: our family of outdoor cats heads for the hills as soon as the builders arrive. None of them is keen on strangers. We’ll not see them now until this evening, when all is quiet again.
In fine race form and waiting for nightfall.
And They’re Off!
But we’re certainly hearing them. In the middle of the night. One or two of our outdoor cats have previously ventured up onto the roof, but now that the tiles are off and there’s a smooth flat surface up there, it’s become the venue for what sounds to us (beneath it) like the feline equivalent of the Palio di Siena horse race.
The cats are clearly having fun, even if I’m not really enjoying the disruption, dirt and the din. Still, I have tomorrow to look forward to: I’ll be out for a couple of hours, as I have a dental appointment. I never thought there’d come a day when I’d rather have a back tooth extracted than stay at home . . .
Mallorca’s long hot summer is behind us. Autumn has begun with some unsettled weather and storms, and the buckets are poised to catch the rain pouring through the roof into our home; this weekend’s forecast is looking rather grim. Six months after we applied for permission to repair our seriously leaky roof, and nada. Six months! We’re not the only ones seriously fed up with waiting to get the job done. Our local Mallorcan building firm would love to get on with the work and be able to invoice us for what is a substantial job. Might help his cash flow situation in these challenging economic times.
Free Food, Anyone?
Anyway, I digress. Wet weather means free food . . . if you like gastropods. Heavy rain is the cue for snails to emerge from wherever they hide themselves when it’s hot and dry, and go for a glide (or whatever that forward motion that snails do is called). And there are hundreds of ’em.
When the snails come out, so do the Mallorcans, on the hunt for a free meal. The French aren’t the only ones who love eating them: you’ll find snails on the menu of many restaurants serving traditional Mallorcan cuisine. People even drive out to the valley – presumably from the nearest town – to forage for the pot, abandoning their cars wherever they can to set off on foot with their containers. They’re easy to spot, as they weave slowly along the lanes, heads bent low to spot the gliding gastropods.
One Sunday, we were out working in the garden and saw two elderly ladies slowly making their way up the lane towards our property. These were clearly accomplished snail-spotters, as they were bobbing up and down as they went (rather good exercise, I thought). As they passed our garden, we greeted them in Spanish and they stopped to exchange a few words. It was then that I noticed one of the women wasn’t carrying a container for her snails: she’d simply placed them all over her arm. Lots of them.
“Would you like a bag for . . . those?” The Boss asked, indicating her ‘passengers’. The lady accepted the offer and was last seen plucking the snails from her arm (I tried not to shudder) and putting them into the provided paper bag before continuing her quest.
Free they may be, but you won’t find me foraging for snails . . .