Wednesday September 1, 2010

Majorca isn’t chickening out of organic farming


In my very crowded local butcher’s shop a German tourist was frantically trying to make herself understood. She wanted to know whether the chickens on sale were organic. Furthermore she was keen to discover whether or not the birds were free to strut their stuff in a carefree environment and were well fed. I translated for the butcher who immediately...

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Wednesday September 1, 2010

Poets’ Corner in Majorca


An odd thing happened the other day. My local builder stopped me in the street and with pride declared that he’d just been awarded a poetry prize. I glimpsed the bristling muscles, the macho torso and almost giggled. Somehow it seemed hugely incongruous that this swarthy hulk of a man should be dallying with poetry at all. I wondered how...

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Wednesday September 1, 2010

One man and his dinghy


Now it’s true that the behaviour of holidaying Britons can often raise a few eyebrows among the locals but the latest aquatic antics of 20 year-old Zirian Kamarin Tahiri who attempted to row from Minorca to Majorca in a stolen dinghy, have been the talk of my rural town of Soller.

Having consumed a hefty quantity of alcohol at a seaside...

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Wednesday September 1, 2010

Bogus gasmen under pressure in Majorca


Knock knock. On the doorstep a cheery Majorcan brandishing a clipboard and wearing bright orange overalls that wouldn’t look out of place in Guantanamo Bay is requesting to check the gas cylinders and why not?

The gas inspector, for that is how his big lapel badge announces him, explains that he needs to check the Butane gas cylinders that are secreted...

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Wednesday September 1, 2010

Why Medusa rules the waves in Majorca


Jellyfish, known as medusa here in the Baleares, have recently become a bit of a bother. Ten years ago it was rare to see swarms of the translucent creatures bobbing on the waves but this summer there has been a veritable invasion.

Environmentalists cite global warming and over fishing as the reason for their dramatic rise in the Baleares and along...

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Monday March 29, 2010

An apology to my readers!


This is a short, scribbled apologia to say that I have been up to my curly top in writing deadlines which is why I have not sent out a newsletter this or last month. However, when I am through writing Strictly Off the Record, end of April, I shall be able to breathe again. Two books in one year posed...

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Wednesday January 6, 2010

Are sickly Brits asking too much of Spain?


About 200 disgruntled British expats have just taken to the streets of Alicante in protest at the Valencia regional government’s plan to withdraw free healthcare to British early retirees living there.

There are now an estimated one million Brits living in Spain although fewer than 400,000 have declared residency and if we’re to believe the Institute of Public Policy Research...

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Wednesday January 6, 2010

Whatever is wrong with Britain's troubled youth?


An oompah band was playing in the cavernous marquee set up in the town’s plaça to celebrate New Year’s Eve, attracting an enormous crowd of big hipped señoras, swarthy young men and hopeful señoritas. Children, grandparents, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles sashayed around the makeshift dance floor, laughing and enjoying the free hospitality provided by the town hall.

It was then...

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Tuesday November 17, 2009

A Good Ferret


A strange phenomenon in Majorca is the profusion of ferreterias in nearly every town and village. When I first set foot on the island I pondered whether the locals were in fact committed ferret fanciers but I was mistaken because, as I soon discovered, the ferreteria is a common or garden ironmongers.

Now, it’s easy to tut and dismiss the...

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Monday November 16, 2009

Have Fireworks Lost their Fizz?


Had Marco Polo been able to predict, nearly 800 years after his triumphant return to Europe with a stache of gunpowder, that there would be an almighty brouhaha about its use in public firework displays, he might have left it back in China.

While in the UK fireworks are dusted down once a year for Bonfire Night, it’s a very...

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Monday November 16, 2009

Should We Ban Kissing?


It’s a bit of a swine this HIN1 pandemic. Until now the Spanish kiss, el beso, equivalent to the French la bise, was happily infusing every aspect of daily life but now Trinidad Jimenez, Spain’s Health Minister, has reluctantly conceded that it might pose a health risk while ‘Gripe A’ as it is known, is on the rampage. Addressing the...

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Monday November 16, 2009

Airlines Leave Mallorca High and Dry


Come the Winter, expats in Majorca often warn of island-it-is, a common affliction best cured by hopping on the nearest plane for a complete change of scene. With fewer visitors and the onset of cold, dark nights drawing in, it is easy for some expat residents to feel isolated and bored in resorts that transform into little more than ghost...

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Friday January 30, 2009

A Big Thank you!


Having arrived back from Sri Lanka to more than 300 e-mails and a whole load of writing deadlines, I hope you will forgive me for not posting an update about my trip. We had an absolutely wonderful sojourn in Sri Lanka and spent some precious time with the devoted Sisters at the Jeevanie Orphanage and Our Lady of Victories girl’s...

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Friday January 30, 2009

Things that go bump in the night


There we are, George Clooney and I, expertly performing the Tango to a wildly appreciative audience on TV’s Strictly Come Dancing when suddenly there’s a tremendous thud followed by the sound of shattering china. My dream evaporates as I sit bolt upright in bed at the same time as my bleary eyed Scotsman.
‘What was THAT?’ I hiss,...

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Thursday December 18, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers


There we were bumping along the mud caked lanes, not a soul in sight, when our hire car suddenly listed to one side. Hire car, you say? Haven’t you been living in rural Mallorca long enough to have purchased your own by now? True, but having a car in our neck of the woods is a tricky business. For starters,...

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Thursday December 18, 2008

Raining Toads and Frogs


The other morning I awoke after a terrific rainstorm to hear a rhythmic croaking emanating from the garden but something was wrong. The frog anthem was coming not from our pond, but the swimming pool at the back of our finca. A moment later beneath the window came woops of excitement from my eleven year old son, Ollie.
‘Hurry!...

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Saturday September 27, 2008

Kelly Quits


One of the wonders on my return from Borneo was discovering that Gordon Brown had neither quitted government nor been admitted to a psychiatric wing. So far so surprising. Meanwhile one of his goody two shoes, right hand women, Ruth Kelly, had thrown in the towel, and frankly could you blame her? As transport minister I’m not sure how effective...

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Saturday September 27, 2008

Women in Power


A recent survey apparently reveals that women hate working for female bosses. Now whether this was funded by an obscure misogynist circle I cannot say but it did have me pondering about my experiences working for women. In truth I only ever had two female bosses and both were rather controlling and at times paranoiac. However one has to look...

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Saturday September 27, 2008

Ignorant Bliss in Borneo


We were sitting in the midst of a vast rainforest when one of our tribe arrived with some importance to tell us that he’d just heard faintly on the BBC Radio World Service that Lehman Brothers and fellow Wall Street giant Merrill Lynch had been kicked into touch. We looked at each other and shrugged. ‘Oh well,’ someone said....

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Thursday July 31, 2008

A Weighty Problem


I see that my chum, the good Baroness Buscombe, chief executive of the Advertising Association, is throwing her weight (no pun intended) behind the government’s new health initiative to stamp out obesity. Although I’m not for nannying of any kind, it is commendable that the advertising industry is attempting to unite the commercial sector to jointly tackle the problem with...

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Thursday July 31, 2008

When the chips are down


‘Oh dear. This passport’s had its chips.’
The nice Gatwick airport official who’s examining my dog eared and disintegrating passport, is clicking her teeth.
‘Use it a lot?’
‘All the time.’ My voice cracks with desperation.
‘The magnetic strip’s torn. Better get it renewed as soon as you’re back in Mallorca.’
I’ve been shunted into my own space away from...

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Friday July 18, 2008

Have-a-go-heroes


Well it’s official. We home owners have every right now to go and blast a burglar to oblivion should he dare to step over the threshold. Under new laws, all of us can defend ourselves ‘instinctively’ which apparently translates as striking out when fearing for our own safety. Well, I think there’s a fair likelihood of that basic ‘instinct’ being...

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Friday July 18, 2008

British Burrowers


What, I wondered, should I buy my budding horticulturist Scottish husband for his birthday? Then I hit on it. Two thousand live worms, a box full of wooden slats and a small plastic bag of nuts and bolts. The Scotsman had been muttering about buying a wormery for some time, a concept unknown up here in the Mallorcan hills, although...

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Monday June 16, 2008

Getting Crabby


Much as I rarely agree with our nannying government poking its nose in our daily affairs, I do have a little sympathy with Norfolk Coast Partnership for its concern about the plight of crabs caught by children on beaches. My sister and I used to go crabbing in Wales and we rarely caught more than a few and always returned...

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Monday June 2, 2008

Hats off to Defiant Students


Yet another absurd health and safety ruling has popped up, this time regarding the throwing of mortar boards on university graduation day. Anglia Ruskin University has demanded that students refrain from hurling their black hats in the air when they celebrate passing their degrees for fear someone might get hurt as the hats descend. It does have the air of...

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Monday June 2, 2008

Maoists & Monarchy


The death of 240 years of monarchy rule in Nepal should come as no surprise. It was in June 2001 that the then-Crown Prince, Dipendra, murdered ten of his close family, causing chaos and uncertainty for the country. His uncle, the current king, Gyanendra, took over the throne and has had a choppy ride ever since. When I was last...

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Wednesday May 21, 2008

Zero Tolerance on Knife Crime


We’ve heard it all before but Boris Johnson and the Metropolitan Police genuinely seem to have taken the bull by the horns and decided to get tough on crime in the Capital. While Ken Livingstone sat in his ivory tower ignoring the violence erupting on London’s streets, new Mayor Boris has put his money where his mouth is. For anyone...

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Wednesday May 21, 2008

Paris, Posh and Nature's Wrath


A newspaper headline hit my computer screen this week. Both Posh Spice and Paris Hilton would be vying for attention in London’s hot spots as Posh touted her new line of flared jeans at Harrods and Paris, her new fragrance at Selfridges. A pair of images appeared of both air headed and talent-less women sporting thick makeup, anorexic skeletal frames...

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