Friday, 10 November 2017

Winter

Winter happens overnight here in Mallorca.

Half term was a blissful week of sunny days, riding in tee shirts, sunglasses over lunch, snoozes on the balcony with faces to the warmth and ice creams watching the super yachts moor for the winter; after a season of indulgent luxury.



We had the obligatory end-of-summer-BBQ. Just as the last sausage was consumed and the last glass of chilled white wine was quaffed, at exactly the same time as last year, the weather turned cold and the skies turned black. Winter had arrived - and boy, do you notice it here in Mallorca.

The houses are just not built for the cold, with their stone floors and no insulation. It doesn't help that our boiler has broken, the logs are too damp and the electricity company is threatening to cut us off for not paying our bill - we are trying to pay obviously but it just isn't that simple here in Spain. The ceiling has a hole in it, the rain drips slowly onto our duvet, the horses are wearing their rugs and the kids wrap up in puffy jackets and tights on the way to school.

But do you know what?

It might be chilly, with a shivery breeze - but there is always the sun. Weak and watery as it is right now, it never fails to make November simply delightful.


Cold but sunny evenings after school

Thursday, 2 November 2017

es-Pot

It could have gone so horribly wrong. I had never bought a horse before, let alone a pony for my precious kids. But arriving in Mallorca over a year ago, I was impatient. We rented a house in the middle of the island with accidental stables and an arena to ride in. I say accidental, and I know you don't believe me - but it wasn't in the house description I promise you.

After a very stressful move from the UK, all our dreams and belongings in one lorry load, I wondered how long it was deemed acceptable before I went pony shopping.

In two weeks I had found him.



He was called Spot. Es-Pot, as the Spanish say. There is not one spot on his body, but I'm sure there would have been when he was young.

He stood, fatter than most, tied to a hitching rail looking bored and resigned. The sellers steered us to the more energetic looking ponies - ones with a heftier price tag as well.

"That one!" I pointed at Spot.

Ohhh, he don't jump so good.

Well I definitely want that one then. My kids wobbled round on this pure white pony and he looked after them, a week later he was in our home.


He has been worth every euro since, every-flipping centimos. This pony makes every day worth waking up for, he is the most honest, genuine, kind, loving, patient, fun and food-loving horse I have ever known.

He has taught teenagers to ride, adults to smile, a 3 year old to hang on and grown men to laugh. He is my daughters first real love.

You are with us forever Spot. And you know it.


With his girlfriend, and boss, Kira


The Grinch


The most loved pony in Mallorca


Oh, and he can jump!


Monday, 16 October 2017

Home

The aeroplane veered right and started it's descent. My heart took a leap and I smiled as I looked down on Cala San Vicente, remembering a sweltering beach day without sun cream. Behind me I could make out the dragon's tail-like tip of Cap de Formentor, the terrifying bends and curves in the road were visible which made me cling to my seat with the memory - a New Years Day picnic with dolphins. We flew over Puerto Pollensa where boats lined up in neat rows and the turquoise waters glistened on what had obviously been a fabulous October day. I could see Alcudia and Playa de Muro, we flew past Inca were we had lived for a whole year, the Tramuntana mountains stood proudly and foreboding - and I could just make out where our new house must be. Palma beckoned and as we landed, without a bump, I truly felt I had come home.

While it was lovely to visit the UK, with strong hugs for friends and animals, it felt nicer to return.

We had no idea whether it would work out 18 months ago, but took the brave leap anyway. I can honestly say it is the best thing we have ever done - for me, for him, the children and even the fattie catties. And although I guess I will always be English, my heart and soul belongs in Mallorca.


Visiting Fletch in the UK

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

El Ratoncita Perez

We wait outside the dentist, a little too early to walk through the doors, mulling over the braces that were about to be put on A's teeth. She's growing fast my lovely A, with puberty up and running, secondary school under way, wandering around shopping centres with her friends - and now some metal train tracks on her sticky-outy teeth.

"Lot's of people in my class say the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist and that the parents give you the money!" says P, the savvy child and over two years A's junior.

"Tell me the truth Mummy, is there such a thing as the Tooth Fairy?" demanded P.

I don't like telling lies to my kids, the whole Father Christmas thing has never lain that comfortable with me, but I want them to work it out for themselves without the magic being destroyed.

"What do you think?" I turned it back on them, to mull over the improbable facts.

"Well she must be real," replied A "she wrote me all those little notes!"

It's true, I wrote little notes thanking the children for their teeth, in fairy handwriting, telling them that their pearly whites would be used to make miniature tea-sets and the like.

We made our way into the surgery where the dentist measured and took gummy moulds of A's teeth. A wobbly tooth needed to come out so the dentist presented A with the option to yank it out now - or she could wiggle and wobble it out herself at home. The latter option was obviously preferable. The dentist presented her with a tiny pink mouse shaped box, for her tooth to be placed in when it fell.



Why the mouse we asked?

And the dentist proceeded to tell us all about El Ratoncita Perez, the little mouse who collects children's teeth and shines them into pearls - and for that privilege he leaves a gift where the tooth once lay. Which kinda blows the Tooth Fairy out the window.

Both children looked perplexed. They remembered teeth falling out in Spain and the Tooth Fairy HAD been.

"I know! It's because we are English, the Tooth Fairy still comes to us but now we have bought a house here and we are residents of Spain, maybe Ratoncita Perez will come instead. I must write him a note in Spanish!" A says excitedly as she starts to encourage the tooth to fall out.

Poppy looked at me incredulously.

"Really Mum, I'm confused - who TAKES our teeth?"

I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

My family and other animals

I awake, aware of a ginger cat staring at me, willing me to open my eyes. As soon as I do, I am pestered to feed the first hungry mouth of the day. The fattie catties enjoy their routine and branded cat food, still sticking up their pompous noses at the 'foreign muck'. The kids pour cornflakes in a bowl and munch on magdelenas but forget to hydrate themselves and he enjoys a coffee if I'm making one.


Oy, feed me

We roll down the mountain in new school uniforms and holding chopped carrots, ready to feed the horses, who wait patiently for the sound of my car to arrive. Breakfast is wolfed by Spot and lingered over by Kira. The stray cats and kittens skirt my feet gingerly, asking for food but careful never to get too close. Three kittens, one mother and a cat-with-no-tail are fed and watered, relieved that they found such a nice place to be wild in. They lick their paws gratefully, I like to believe, and wonder off for a snooze.



She's wild, tiny and full of worms or kittens again


Spot - the hungriest pony in the world

I drop the kids in their school and shove a pastry in my mouth before heading half way up the mountain to two horses, two ponies and one tiny lamb. All with rumbly tummies. Feeds are fed, haynets stuffed and a bottle of milk made.

And as I watch with wonder as the little lamb gulps down his milk, shoving his pink nose hard at the teat willing more milk to flow - I can't think of a finer way to start my day.


Nurturing 

Friday, 1 September 2017

Summer of '17

I slept without a fan and reached for a sheet to cover my body last night. It must mean that summer is waning and autumn is ready to be welcomed with open and loving arms. Oh boy, what a summer it was too; days and days, weeks and weeks, even months and months of boiling hot, stinking, searing, blistering heat. Goodbye summer, we have had a blast, but autumn cannot come soon enough.

The summer holidays are coming to a close. The uniforms have been bought and shoes purchased from my favourite little shoe shop in Magaluf, next to a pumping techno bar, in front of vomit and behind a beach which has seen some action. A sweet Spanish family sort us out with some sensible back-to-school shoes amongst the wild and chaotic party town. We celebrate with burgers and yellow food, watching the stags, hens and hangovers go by - warning my near-teenage daughter what not to look for in a boyfriend. I fear I may be worse than her father.



And as the temperature drops and the clouds appear we reflect on the best summer of our lives. Days and days of freedom and bare feet. Of swimming, learning to dive and countless back flips. Of insects, geckos and tortoises. Of ponies, donkeys and cantering around with wide grins. Of snorkelling, rock jumping and crusty hair. Of moonlit skies, romantic dinners and watching our favourite lizard nightly. Of late nights, early mornings and stolen siestas. Of friends so dear, giggles and hugs. Of very few tears, arguments and squabbles.

Thank you Mallorca again, you are one special place.


Thursday, 3 August 2017

All before 9

We are having a heatwave. It's hotter than hot and the heat does not go away at night.

The fattie catties play dead on the floor tiles and breathe rapidly dreaming of damp Sussex days and cosy winter nights. I am surprised they have kept their British fluff, I would have thought nature might have replaced it with a Mallorquin coat, short haired and sparse. I suppose you can't change the fur you were born in.


The plants wilt and leaves are scorched. The clothes dry in fifteen minutes and the towels resemble cardboard after lying discarded in the sun. The ground is dangerous to walk on and the inside unbearable without fans and air conditioning - preferably both on at full speed. 

It's hard to do anything in this heat. Entertaining the kids is tough without the risk of sun stroke, so all fun needs to be had as early as we can. We roused sleepily today at day break and hoped for some reprieve outside, with a coffee. But this morning it was already 32C at 06:30. We dragged on jodhpurs, cut up some carrots and checked there was enough cat food in the boot of the car for Calvia's strays. The ponies greet us with their woffly neighs and valiantly trot around in circles before cool showers and breakfast. We leave them with fly spray and the shade of their stables with hay and water for the day.

Beetroot-faced and drenched with sweat we changed into flip-flops and shorts, keen to get the air con on our faces as we drive down the mountain to the sea. It glistens and beckons, empty all but for a few oldies bobbing in the warm waters before the hoards awake - we strip and run into the gloopy waves, hoping for a little cool, disappointed how fast our body adapts. We swim and tread water, squealing at the fronds of seaweed which wrap menacingly around our legs. 



Looking forward to our tostada, litres of chilled water and another little shot of coffee, we find the most Spanish of Spanish bars - all before 09:00. 


After which the temperatures have reached dangerous levels and the only thing to do is shut the shutters and hide.