We’ve seen some odd things in our lane during our time in rural Mallorca. The most recent rare sighting was on Saturday night as we drove home late from a nearby restaurant.
As we came down the lane, a car was crawling up towards us. We thought this was strange behaviour – until we made out a low shape in front of the car’s headlights.
On many occasions, we’ve seen sheep that have escaped their field by hopping over a tumbledown stone wall. However, as we drove closer we realised this was no woolly jumper, but an elderly Mallorcan housewife bending down.
After the heavy rain earlier in the day, she was collecting snails for the cooking pot from the verge. The car’s headlights illuminated her labours as she made slow and no doubt back-breaking progress up the lane.
As we slowed to pass, I wound down the car window and we called out the traditional Uep greeting. Mrs Snail Collector grunted something in return; her husband, sitting comfortably in the driving seat with the car’s interior light on, gave us a knowing smile that seemed to say: ‘Look who got the easy job.’
Lycra on Speed
Our dear Oxford friends Kristina and Duncan were staying for a holiday when we had another memorable rare sighting. An unfamiliar minibus full of colourfully clad people travelled down the lane past our property. Minutes later, a speedskating team – clad in vibrant Lycra outfits – skated back up the lane past our finca, arms swinging high behind them as they went. Up.
We were in awe of the level of fitness required to do this with apparent ease. Maybe our hill was not enough of a challenge for speedskating training purposes, because we never saw this rare sight again.
One afternoon we were travelling back down the lane when we met a fleet of authentic Jeep-style vehicles coming our way. We guessed a group of khaki-coloured vehicle enthusiasts was on a Mallorca trip as we saw them again a few days later in another part of the island.
You just never know what you may encounter on a rural lane in Mallorca.
Persianas are the slatted shutters gracing the windows (and sometimes doors) of most traditional houses in Mallorca. They do an excellent job of shading the interior from the hot summer sun. If the windows are open (most open inwards here), the slats allow air into the house.
Visit any town or village in Mallorca and you could think many of the properties are uninhabited. People mostly leave their shutters closed on the street-facing side of their homes for privacy. Walk past though and you may smell drifting aromas of cooking and hear animated conversation or one of those melodramatic Spanish soaps blasting from the TV within.
On very wet days – believe me, we’ve had a lot of those this November – we leave our persianas closed. This protects our old doors and window frames from the worst of the rain. On these days, we feel like moles living without natural light. So it’s a relief after the rain to open the shutters and emerge blinking into the daylight.
Painting … with Treacle?
Persianas are usually made of painted or varnished wood; brown and green are probably the most popular paint colours in rural properties, blending with the natural environment. But the extremes of summer heat and winter damp (it’s not shorts and T’s year-round in Mallorca) take their toll. And that means periodic maintenance.
It didn’t take too much paintbrush-wielding for us to decide there had to be a better way. We painted ours in warm weather and the brown paint soon resembled treacle. More of it stayed on our brushes than was transferred to the prepared shutters. My clagged-up brush head was almost the size of my own head by the time I’d finished the shutter I was working on.
A Worthwhile Investment
Our alternative came in the form of aluminium shutters. The shutters at the front of our house are subject to the most sun damage. Some of the slats were loose or had already fallen out, so time was of the essence. We replaced those first, opting for brown, wood-effect aluminium shutters from Can Tovell in Manacor.
Replacing the rest of the old wooden shutters has been on a need-to-do-it-before-they-fall-apart basis. The price of aluminium has soared, which means the price of shutters has too. Sadly, not our income. Becoming a published author has not changed my life financially! Or any other way, except that there’s one more book to dust on the shelf.
We had two more sets of French window shutters replaced in the summer and any day now the last two wooden ones will be consigned to history. Shutter-painting is a thing of the past. Sadly painting ceilings isn’t …
Spring on rural Mallorca this year has rapidly become summer. We’re reminded that it’s actually still only spring by the singing of the nightingales in the valley throughout the night. Spain – including the Balearic Islands – is experiencing temperatures more common in July and, on the Spanish mainland, it’s set to sizzle up to 40 degrees Celsius by Thursday – when temperatures will be around 15 degrees higher than average for the time of year. Phew.
Although holidaymakers may be loving the hotter-than-average May temperatures, the early heat has had a detrimental effect on our house-and-garden maintenance schedule. It’s too hot to paint the shutters, or do some repairs involving cementing.
Fortunately, between our last visitors and the next ones – my dad and his younger brother, arriving on Thursday – The Boss had time to bushwhack the field. The wild flowers this year were superb, so we left them in all their glory until the heat zapped the last bit of life from them. Then it was time for The Boss to don his safety gear, fire up his bushwhacker, and get to work.
While clearing the field of the long wild grasses he’d cut down, The Boss found a nest of partridge eggs. The parents had not chosen a good location – on the ground at the base of an almond tree – and had subsequently abandoned the nest, which contained 15 cold eggs.
No countryside for young partridges: a nest of abandoned eggs
We guessed the partridge parents-to-be were probably last year’s young, with little idea about choosing a great place to raise their kids. Although it was sad to see the eggs left behind, it was probably as well, given that we have seven cats that spend a lot of time in that field!
Perhaps Mr and Mrs Partridge knew what they were doing after all . . .