Life behind bars in Mallorca!

No, The Boss and I are not currently residing at His Majesty’s pleasure in what some people dub ‘the Palma Hilton’. (That nickname for the island’s prison must really annoy Mallorca’s real Hilton hotel, Sa Torre Hilton near Llucmajor). Neither am I pouring foaming pints of beer for British holidaymakers in a lively Magaluf bar. I’m referring to the iron window bars, known in Spanish as rejas.

They’re a common sight at the windows of houses in Spain and something that made an impression on me when I  saw them, quite a long time ago, during my first visit to the country that is now my home. At the time I thought it would be horrible to live with bars at the windows, but I’ve now become so used to these things that I now couldn’t imagine not having them. Presumably many others feel the same as these traditional features are still incorporated into many new properties.

Keeping some out . . . others in

They are first and foremost a security feature, enabling windows to be left open for fresh air, with a degree of protection from anyone who may wish to enter the house without an invitation. They also help prevent unsupervised young children from falling out of a window (or teenagers from doing an unauthorised late-night exit through their bedroom window to meet friends!).

At one time, of course, many houses wouldn’t have had windows fitted with glass (which is still quite expensive on the island), so bars in the window space would have been essential as a security measure. We saw an example of this once when we stayed for a night in a townhouse in Pollensa: our bedroom window in this charming old property had shutters, but no glass! Thankfully it was a warm(ish) night . . .

Another maintenance job for the property owner

The downside of these things is that they do need to be painted from time to time to keep them looking good. And it’s a very fiddly job (and one that’s often bumped down the ‘to do’ list in our house as a result).  The upside – apart from the security benefits – is that property insurance companies may give a discount on premiums if bars are fitted.

For our cats too, there seems to be a feeling of safety sleeping behind the bars. Pip certainly seems to take advantage of a ‘protected’ place to snooze away the daylight hours. Her favourite window – the smallest in the house – is in our small guest suite. She’s actually the only one of our cats that can fit into it. No need for a ‘do not disturb’ sign here . . . unless I’m around with my Nikon.These bars are very good for resting one's feet on . . .

These bars are very good for resting one’s feet on . . .

Each to his own . . .

This will do nicely

Although Mallorca has recently been enjoying some mild autumn weather – complete with glorious blue skies and warm sunshine – the rest of this week is expected to be wet and, at times, very cold. I even heard the ‘minus’ word mentioned in connection with temperatures on IB3 TV’s weather forecast – and am hoping that because it’s broadcast in mallorquin, I might have misunderstood what the forecaster was saying!Winter on the way

Like seasoned country folk, we prepared ourselves for winter a while ago. We have been to our local woodyard to stock up with logs for the woodburner, had diesel delivered for the generator and, of course, now have roof insulation – which should make this winter a lot less difficult than in previous years.

Our outdoor cat family is also preparing for the worst, by seeking out – and claiming as their own – the cosy little nooks that will give them shelter from inclement weather. Last winter The Boss created a set of ‘apartments’ for the feline family, from some redundant old pine cabinets. With the addition of a few old cushions, these little shelters should keep the cats cosy again this winter.

Room for a little one?

This year, there’s an extra cat to accommodate: Shorty, the cute ginger kitten that came into our lives in August, and memorably bit (twice) The Boss’s finger, has made himself completely at home here. He’s still not too sure about the cat apartments, but has claimed the outside recessed area of our small dining room window, between the shutter and the rejas (the traditional iron bars used for security in Spanish windows). An old cork bathmat, cut to shape by The Boss, means he won’t feel the chill of the concrete beneath him.

Once the really cold weather comes though, Shorty won’t be able to resist his favourite place: cosying up to the large black and white male cat Beamer – the mellow-natured alpha male of our outdoor feline family. That’s when yours truly isn’t giving him a cuddle . . .