Monday October 16, 2017

Marathon moments in Palma


Yesterday, despite being a Sunday, I was up at 6.30am and donning my running wear ready for the annual half marathon race in Palma. Some years ago I ran the whole marathon but as the 42km course consists of two quite onerous loops, I decided that once was enough!

A few years after completing the full Palma marathon, I...

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Wednesday October 11, 2017

Scrumptious fare at Santi Taura of Lloseta


One of my guilty pleasures here in Mallorca is returning again and again to restaurants that awaken all the senses and offer a gastronomic experience that isn’t about pomp, mores and manners but rather focusing on relaxation, warmth of ambience and the food and wine. Friendly, informed and discreet staff go a long way to making the experience special too.

So...

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Wednesday August 30, 2017

Cheeky Chicks!


It doesn’t matter how many times my hens spawn new broods of baby chicks, I always greet each batch with wild excitement and wonder. I know that a few will sadly perish along the way but I try my utmost to protect them from danger and to give them a fighting chance.

Of course living in the countryside in Mallorca...

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Wednesday August 9, 2017

All about the famed annual Marxa des Güell overnight walk - Palma to Lluc!


I was delighted to be interviewed by David Holzer for Deia Olive Press, on behalf of Charles Marlow the exclusive estate agent in Deia. Here is the interview in full:
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Writer Anna Nicholas walks the Marxa des Güell for charity – by David Holzer

I’ve always been fascinated by the Marxa des Güell, the overnight walk from central Palma...

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Monday June 12, 2017

Jungle Fever!


Well I am finally back from my three week humanitarian expedition to deepest Colombia, under the auspices of indefatigable British veteran explorer, Colonel John Blashford-Snell. And what an incredible experience it turned out to be!

Our international team of 15 flew from Bogota to the southern tip of the country, to the bustling river port of Leticia. From there we sailed...

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Monday April 17, 2017

British Benevolent Fund Soiree in Palma!


If you happen to be in Mallorca this Easter you can join a fun event with the British Ambassador, Lord Archer (as auctioneer) and local expats and Mallorcan VIPs at Finca Son Mir near Palma on Thursday 20, April from 7-9.30pm.

The event is raising funds and awareness for the British Benevolent Fund and tickets can be bought online...

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Saturday April 8, 2017

The Silver Siurell Awards 2017!


It was a huge honour to have been awarded the Silver Siurell 2017 at a gala event at beautiful Caixa Forum in Palma recently. The awards which were inaugurated during the seventies are presented to three recipients in the Baleares by the Balearic Agrotourism Association.

Winners are chosen for having promoted and upheld Mallorcan values, culture and traditions – in...

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Wednesday March 1, 2017

A walk on the wild side in Mallorca with FT How to spend it!


For anyone interested in visiting the less frequented central area of beautiful Mallorca – what for me, at least, is the very heart and soul of the island – do read my latest article which appeared in last week’s issue of FT How to spend it magazine.

Visitors to Mallorca predictably head for the southwest coastal zones, Palma, the...

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Thursday February 9, 2017

Who said romance was dead?


When a lonesome peacock flitted into our garden some months ago, we assumed it would flit off again but no, it decided to stay.

It was probably happy to find itself in a tranquil wonderland of trees and chirpy hens with corn fed several times a day. All was well for a while but when Jeronimo (for that was what...

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Thursday February 9, 2017

Let it snow!


Whenever anyone asks me about the weather patterns in Mallorca I always explain that different areas of the island experience what might be described as micro-climates.

For instance when it is raining in Soller in the northwest, those in Palma might be enjoying glorious sunshine. In fact, driving through the Soller toll tunnel is a fascinating adventure. One enters from...

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Tuesday November 15, 2016

Countdown to Christmas!


As an island, Mallorca is fairly laid back about the festive season until the very last minute. Christmas lights usually appear some time during December in most towns and villages with Palma leading the way. Today, I noticed a huge crowd of onlookers pointing excitedly up at several strings of lights being arranged across Plaza Mayor.

Suddenly Christmas has become...

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Tuesday October 4, 2016

Save our hedgehogs!


While our furry friend the hedgehog is under threat of extinction in the UK, happily it seems to be thriving here in Mallorca! In the fifties hedgehogs were a very common sight in Britain but six decades later the population has been decimated with only an estimated one million left.

Hedgehogs need uninterrupted space to forage and to roam as they...

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Saturday July 16, 2016

A Chorus of Cockerels has landed!


After a wonderful few weeks of celebrating the launch of my new – and sixth – Mallorcan travel title, A Chorus of Cockerels I am now getting down to final edits for my first crime novel…it never stops!

if any of you kind readers have bought my new book and enjoyed it, I would be hugely grateful if you might...

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Thursday May 5, 2016

Time to get to grips with Spanish!


My new monthly column is now available online.

This month I have focused on the nitty gritty issue of learning the language when one decides to relocate to a new destination. In the case of Britons residing in Spain, many refuse to take lessons or prioritise learning Spanish because they assume most locals will speak English. This is not always...

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Friday April 1, 2016

April 1st- New Telegraph Expat Bulletin and a good drenching in the rain!


Read the latest expat news today from Telegraph Expat which also includes my latest monthly column You can sign up here to receive regular Telegraph Expat weekly news bulletins for free!

Today in Soller it has been rather wet and windy but that didn’t stop me throwing on my old gym gear this morning and heading off along...

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Friday April 1, 2016

Sangria proves life giving benefits in new research!


Incredible new scientific research proves that drinking one of Spain’s favourite tipples will bring about wonderful medicinal benefits! The natural goodness of freshly squeezed orange juice from Valencia and peach slices adds to the overall beneficial effects of the drink. Log on to the video to see the research for yourselves! Bottoms up! ‪#‎Sangria4life‬

Wednesday March 30, 2016

Interview on Mallorca Sunshine Radio!


On Thursday 31, March at 10am my interview with Jan Edwards, the wonderful presenter at Mallorca Sunshine Radio 106.1FM will be broadcast. Jan is also deputy editor for abcMallorca magazine. Jan wanted to know a little bit more about my new title, A Chorus of Cockerels, which will be published on 9, June 2016 so I gave her some...

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Wednesday March 30, 2016

New Telegraph Expat Monthly Column!


I’m delighted to announce that my new monthly column in Telegraph Expat is now available to read online. This month I take a look at all the faddy food diets doing the rounds back in the UK, and suggest that instead people think about adopting a simple Mediterranean diet, similar to the one i keep here in Mallorca....

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Tuesday February 9, 2016

Telegraph Expat sign up!


Many readers have asked me how to subscribe for free to the Telegraph Expat section for which I pen a regular monthly column. This is the sign-up link and here is where to access my archived Telegraph Expat blogs directly.

Tuesday February 9, 2016

the wonders of Mallorcan sheep


What is it about Mallorcan sheep that makes them so appealing? Could it be the long ears, shaggy capuccino pelts or simply their wonderful curiosity and lust for life?

Sunday February 7, 2016

A Chorus of Cockerels coming soon!


I’m delighted to announce that I am on very last edits of A Chorus of Cockerels. Now available to pre-order on www.amazon.co.uk

The book will be published by Summersdale Publishing on 9, June and available from Waterstones, WH Smith and all good bookshops as well as on amazon and in kindle version. It’s been a bit of a challenge to complete...

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Sunday February 7, 2016

How a new bookshop breathed life into a small Mallorcan town


Not long ago, the popular bookshop in my rural town of Soller in Majorca, sadly closed its doors. Calabruix had been run for 33 years by two wonderful ladies named Margalida who, as well as sharing a name, also shared a passion for books.

But out of the blue, one of these inspiring women suddenly fell gravely ill and a short...

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Sunday February 7, 2016

The sound of Spanish silence


A friend from London recently came to stay and told me how much she was looking forward to a blissfully tranquil weekend in the Majorcan countryside. Arriving in a flurry on a Friday evening, pale-faced, tired and stressed, she made straight for the bottle of Rioja winking at her from a sideboard in the kitchen.

At dinner she mentioned the horrendous...

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Friday November 13, 2015

An Indian summer in Majorca


Last night I lay in bed with the windows wide open, listening to the melodious croak-cum-quack of our vociferous frogs in the pond below, the night-time chatter of the cicadas and the excitable crowing of our cockerels. The air was balmy and rich with the fragrance of lavender and jasmine. What was going on? Wasn’t this November?

Normally at this time...

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Friday November 13, 2015

It's a long way to Santiago


Last winter on a frosty night in London I suggested to my old university chum, Jane, that we set off like a two pronged version of Thelma and Louise and walk part of the famed Camino de Santiago in Spain, known as St James’s Way.
Over a warming bottle of rioja I waxed lyrical about the spirituality of the experience,...

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Wednesday September 16, 2015

The fabric of Mallorca's landscape


One of the most familiar cloths seen on Mallorca is the traditional fabric of flames as it is known. Specialist company, Textil Bujosa, in Santa Maria has been hand-dyeing and designing this unique vividly coloured and cheerful fabric since 1949. The company is now run by talented brother and sister team Guillermo and Maribel (pictured) Bujosa, the third generation of...

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Wednesday September 16, 2015

Sister of Miracles in Sencelles


In the tiny, atmospheric village of Sencelles, there is a street dedicated to the memory of a nun known as Francinaina Cirer i Carbonell. Street signs bear her face and there are scenes on ceramic signs showing her acts of charity in the village. She lived from 1781 to 1855. According to locals, her religious fervour didn’t go down well...

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Monday August 10, 2015

British bobbies to patrol rowdy Balearic resorts


For the next few weeks, a sergeant and constable from the West Midlands Police will patrol the streets of maverick resorts Magaluf in Majorca and San Antonio in Ibiza alongside members of Spain’s military police force, the Guardia Civil.

The two officers – both kitted in full British uniform – will spend one week in each resort assisting Spanish colleagues to...

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Sunday August 9, 2015

Animal rights in a small Spanish town


Some years ago, perhaps unwisely, I bought a distressed wooden sign that in the French language offered cats a warm welcome.

No sooner had I hung it up by the front door than matted and forlorn moggies began mysteriously appearing in our garden, unsettling our own spoiled and much loved felines, as they seemingly sought safe refuge on our land. I...

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Sunday August 9, 2015

British sun-lounger snatchers in Spain


For many years in Britain there’s been a recurring – apocryphal – joke about Germans rushing to claim sun loungers early in the morning during the summer months while on holiday in Spain and antagonising their British counterparts. Now, top selling German newspaper Bild argues that rather than Germans claiming sun loungers early in Spanish hotels, it is the British...

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Sunday August 9, 2015

The great air-con debate in Spain


An American visitor to my golden valley expressed incredulity yesterday when I told him that I had been relying on electric fans rather than air conditioning during this hot and humid summer in Majorca. In some frustration he recounted how at least two hotels he’d recently stayed at in Spain still resolutely relied on ceiling fans when it was obvious...

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Sunday August 9, 2015

The great Spanish Gin craze


The other night sitting on the terrace of Kingfisher restaurant, a new haven of calm and good taste in Port Soller, I mulled the cocktail menu. Nudging out nearly every other traditional offering were gins. And not just any gins. No, sir. Most of those featured were of the new botanical variety bursting with aromatic flavours and zest.

As it happens,...

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Thursday July 16, 2015

Spare a thought for those slaving in the Spanish heat


Yesterday as I stepped over one of my inert cats that lay sprawled on the marble floor, it struck me that it can’t be much fun wearing a permanent fur coat in temperatures close to 40C. This has been the hottest July that I can remember in Majorca and I’ve barely survived six days of it thus far. But the...

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Thursday July 16, 2015

Britons are right to carry on holidaying abroad


In the wake of the recent terrorist attack in the resort of Sousse in Tunisia, there has been much hand-wringing in the media and online forums about the risks of holidaying overseas, even in European zones previously considered a safe bet.

Every year thousands of Britons take to the sunny beaches of countries such as Greece, Turkey, Spain and Italy in...

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Thursday July 16, 2015

Why cabin fever is gripping British expats returning to the UK


In my mental memory box of eccentric childhood holidays abroad is the recurring image of a stifling and flaccid igloo tent that used to collapse at the slightest whisper of a breeze. Consequently I came to loathe camping as a nipper and instead fantasised about staying in a caravan similarly to lucky friends of mine at primary school or better...

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Saturday May 2, 2015

Are these boots made for walking?


News of the recent deaths of two German walkers in unrelated incidents in the Majorcan hills, sent shock waves around the island. How could such tragedies have happened when weather conditions were good and both women, 24 and 50 respectively, were evidently capable hikers?

The truth is that Majorca’s glorious mountains, particularly the Serra de Tramuntana range – recently declared a...

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Saturday May 2, 2015

Travelling by sea isn't foolproof


There is nothing more enjoyable than hopping onto a local car ferry from Palma to Ibiza for a long weekend. In less than three hours the boat glides into the dock, right in the heart of Eivissa town and disembarkation is done in a jiffy. And should one feel like taking the car over to the mainland, there’s a reliable...

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Saturday May 2, 2015

The perils of naked ambition


As the British General Election draws ever nearer, a racier kind of political campaigning appears to be taking place in Spain for its local elections. Recently in Portugalete in the Basque country, right wing mayoral candidate Yolanda Couceiro Morin stripped off for a promotional poster on behalf of party for freedom Manos Limpias, clean hands, that left little to the...

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Tuesday April 21, 2015

Why the ice-cream van won’t be stopping in my lane


It was an unusually warm and sticky spring day in Dorset and the sickly sweet chimes from an ice-cream van wafted on the breeze, jarring with the squeaky brake of a departing milk float. Along the street two window cleaners were balancing on tall ladders, whistling cheerily as they pounded away with cleaning cloths at the upper windows of a...

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Tuesday March 31, 2015

Going on holiday? Don't forget your dog


As we edge ever closer to summer, an increasing number of friends in the UK are opting to take their beloved dogs – and even cats – along on the family holiday. This means that the majority are booking villas and pet friendly hotels in their chosen destination with Spain and France topping the list.

If recent surveys are to be...

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Friday March 27, 2015

Palma's popularity knows no bounds


There has been a frisson of excitement – even genuine surprise – that Palma has been declared the best world city in which to live. Beating 50 overseas destinations to the coveted top spot, it’s as if Majorca’s capital has suddenly been reborn when for the cognoscenti and those of us who actually live on the island, its charms have...

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Tuesday March 10, 2015

At one Spanish bar everyone is still young at heart


The day my favourite café in Palma closed its doors I remember experiencing a real sense of loss not only because I would never have the pleasure of entering this historic establishment ever again but that it would be the last time I’d ever see old Antoní, the discreet, wry and experienced maître d’ who kept all the plates spinning....

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Monday March 9, 2015

Why many over-50s are considering a new life abroad


At a recent business lunch in London several of the guests expressed great interest in the fact that I lived in Majorca and soon I learnt why. The majority, most in their forties and fifties, were considering moving abroad as soon as they reached retirement age and were keen to seek my advice.

All of those present wanted insider information about...

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Tuesday January 13, 2015

Why more holidaymakers will be heading for Spain this summer


Buoyed up by the ever increasing strength of the pound against the euro and abolition of Air Passenger Duty (APD) for children, British families are more than ever likely to be heading to value for money sunny destinations such as Spain this summer.

From 1, May APD will no longer be added to the cost of economy short and...

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Tuesday January 6, 2015

The feedback frenzy that is yet to hit Spain


In a British supermarket the other day a sales assistant handed me a voucher and urged me to go online to leave feedback about her level of service. Only moments earlier the same thing had happened in a chemist and at one of the main café chains. All offered incentives of one kind or another.

Curiously British and American online suppliers...

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Friday January 2, 2015

The mice in Spain fall mainly on the plane


A few years ago I remember reading about a British Airways flight that was cancelled in the lead up to the festive season because a mouse had been discovered on board. Unable to find the creature, the transatlantic flight had to be grounded, dashing the hopes of passengers en route to New York.

Here in Spain, another furry fugitive has also...

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Friday January 2, 2015

Ringing in 2015 Spanish style


In Spain Christmas is a slow burning celebration that warms up around Christmas Eve and continues to gather momentum through the festivities surrounding New Year until the arrival of Los Tres Reyes Magos, the Three Kings on the evening of 5, January.

New Year’s Eve in Majorca is a decidedly community orientated event with locals gathering in town and village squares...

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Sunday December 14, 2014

How British expats have themselves a merry little Christmas


Although a harmonious Christmas is usually assured in our household, there is one small bone of contention at this time of the year: the purchase of a tree. In the UK, as I discovered this week, a six feet tall Norway spruce can be bought for as little as £25 while in Majorca, the same item would carry a much...

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Wednesday December 10, 2014

Egg on face for creators of gigantic Spanish tortilla


Many moons ago while working as an adjudicator for the Guinness Book of Records I had the good fortune to meet all kinds of extraordinary record breakers. There were also times when I’d be sent off to some foreign clime to invigilate a record that had been organised by an entire community, often raising huge sums for charity. Some of...

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Wednesday December 10, 2014

Chasing away the blues on a rainy day


Yesterday morning I was awoken by a huge clap of thunder, lightning and the familiar urgent tap-tapping of rain against my bedroom window. From the depths of the orchard I could hear Carlos the cockerel’s mournful cry as a waspish, wild wind shook the shutters and chased crisp leaves about the patio. The local church clock chimed seven times, mocking...

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Wednesday December 3, 2014

Why Majorcans have seen the light at Christmas


Christmas is nearly upon us and once again in England there’s the usual feverish rush to purchase firs and spruces or the fake variety – and let’s not forget fairy lights, decorations, cards, wrapping paper and oodles of food and gifts. If Black Fridays in the UK are anything to go by the ugly face of consumerism in the lead...

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Friday November 28, 2014

Tempting fate in the supermarket?


After some weeks in the UK, I returned to rural Majorca with a heavy case and several pounds of excess weight – mostly around the stomach and hips. Oh yes. Rare though it is for me to muster enough courage to step on the bathroom scales, I did so out of idle curiosity and immediately regretted it. I looked in...

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Wednesday November 26, 2014

Expat dreams turn to dust in Spain


At lunchtime yesterday British expat retirees Frank and Janet Doel should have been sitting on their sunny terrace in the tiny hamlet of Las Terreras in Cantoria in Southern Spain peacefully enjoying al fresco Mediterranean fare and listening to birdsong. Instead their abandoned home and garden echoed with the smash and grab roar of bulldozers, diggers, wrecking balls and sledgehammers...

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Wednesday November 26, 2014

A sign of the times?


There has been mounting pressure in the UK to outlaw the three decade old triangular road sign that depicts an elderly couple, bent double and hobbling with the aid of a walking stick. Dr Ros Altman, a pensions expert, insists that the image reinforces negative stereotypes and could deter companies from considering the over 50 age group for employment. In...

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Wednesday November 12, 2014

Don't mention the war


A Spanish friend, newly arrived in the UK, recently pulled my leg about the bizarre habits and sensibilities of his London work colleagues. He told me that at lunchtime fellow workers often stayed at their desks furtively munching sandwiches, crisps and chocolate bars while he set off for pastures new, enjoying a salad, omelette, olives and occasional glass of red...

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Wednesday November 12, 2014

Corruption is the name of the game in Spain


In an attempt at transparency, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has apologised publicly for the wave of corruption scandals to hit the country involving members of his People’s Party (PP). The latest concerns the former interior minister, Angel Acebes, over allegations of a party slush fund having been formed. With perfect timing a new tongue-in-cheek political board game entitled Corruptopolis...

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Saturday November 8, 2014

Juggling languages can make all the difference to the beautiful game


According to Ashley Williams, captain of Swansea football club, his team’s recent run of success has been due in part to improved communication on the pitch between him and his Argentinean team mate, Federico Fernandez. The two footballers have each been honing their language skills to the extent where they are now able to speak a convincing ‘Spanglish’ together which...

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Saturday November 8, 2014

Is Mallorca really up and running?


The key to Palma’s tourism apparently rests in a pair of running shoes. At World Travel Market this week the Majorcan capital’s tourism foundation (FTPM365) announced that Palma was to be repositioned as the ideal destination for a sporty city break. The Capital already has designated cycling paths and a bike loan scheme so creating running routes appears to be...

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Saturday October 18, 2014

The curious incident of the van in the night-time


While driving in northeastern Spain during the summer I came across a young man living in a battered old van on the edge of Garrotxa volcanic national park. It was late and I wanted to check with a local that I was heading in the right direction for the medieval village of Besalú. Intriguingly the man was stretched out in...

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Saturday October 18, 2014

The sad tale of Ebola, a Spanish nurse and her dog


A few months ago Spanish nurse Teresa Romero was probably happily – and quietly – going about her business in Madrid, packing in a full week as a nurse at the general hospital and in her leisure time walking her beloved dog Excalibur in Parque del Retiro and enjoying tapas on a Friday night with her husband and friends. But...

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Saturday October 18, 2014

A flight of fancy about parrots


After a four year absence, a missing African Grey parrot has apparently been reunited with his aptly named British owner, Darren Chick, in California. A heart-warming story indeed but the most intriguing part is that when the pet returned home it was speaking fluent Spanish and uttered the immortal words, ‘¿Qué pasa?’ What happened?

I’ve never owned such an exotic creature...

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Saturday October 18, 2014

There's a reason why people are turning a blind eye in Spain


At a meeting in Palma recently I was alarmed to receive a call on my mobile from a neighbour advising that a fire had broken out on scrubland above our track and appeared to be out of control. I suggested she call the fire brigade immediately but was told that this was not a good idea until we’d discovered whether...

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Sunday August 17, 2014

Soller's Nit de Art!


Soller’s fabulous Nit de Art took place last night from early evening into the small hours with a variety of canvasses, hand-crafted jewellery and sculptures on display. Juan Waelder, master sculptor in residence at La Residencia Hotel, was showcasing some outstanding work while Toful Colom brightened Calle Sa Lluna with his fishy, recycled sculptures. At least three bands took to...

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Thursday June 19, 2014

The Mallorca property bonanza


There’s a reason why some of the biggest celebrity names have flocked to the island of Mallorca over the decades and it’s not simply because glorious sunshine can be guaranteed for most of the year. In fact historically, Mallorca was always the playground of discerning and distinguished visitors, many of whom set up residence on the island, drawn by the...

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Friday June 6, 2014

An encounter away from the hills with Dan Lawson of hit US TV series The Good wife


At times, when scrubbing out my hen house, climbing a precarious, weather-beaten ladder up a lemon tree or catching rogue baby frogs in the swimming pool in order to transfer them to the pond I reflect on how my life has changed.

Years ago when living in central London I would be up early, donning a svelte suit, dropping my young...

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Monday June 2, 2014

Soller mourns the passing of Magical Marga


Book lovers – and even those not remotely interested in literary pursuits – expressed shock and profound sadness at the sudden passing of one of Soller’s most colourful and much loved characters, the one and only Margalida March Pizà, proprietor of Calabruix, the town’s bookshop.

When I first arrived in the Soller Valley I was delighted to discover the little Aladdin’s...

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Monday May 26, 2014

A parking lot in paradise?


Deia, one of the most idyllic and famed villages in the rugged north-west of Majorca, is currently under threat from developers. In the heart of the village a once tranquil and beautiful lemon orchard has now – under the auspices of the village council – been razed to the ground to make way for a car park. But it doesn’t...

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Monday May 19, 2014

Will Spain’s new road laws drive tourists away?


Whenever I drive along the busy Via Cintura, the ring road that loops Palma, running from the south west to the east of the island, I shudder at the speed and cavalier attitude of many of the drivers. It is quite common to witness car occupants swerving between lanes at speed without indicating and the same applies at the exits...

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Monday May 19, 2014

Don’t dally with a grumpy Eeyore in rural Majorca


An expat friend recently had a nasty shock. On a blissfully sunny day she had set off with some fellow walkers along a mountain track not far from the country estate of Son Marroig near Deia. With delight the group suddenly came across some donkeys but their smiles soon disappeared when one of the machos began aggressively stalking my friend...

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Monday May 19, 2014

How to avoid rip-off restaurants in Mallorca


An expat living in Mallorca posted on Facebook about her dire experience at a touristy restaurant on the island. Aside from the jaw dropping price of her dismal sounding meal, I was shocked at how rude the staff had proven to be when she dared to complain that her steak was as tough as old boots. Apparently other clients rose...

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Saturday April 26, 2014

A mythical exodus? Why countless expats are staying put in Spain


According to recent reports in the UK press, an estimated 90,000 British expats left Spain last year citing – among reasons for their departure – a depressed property market, lack of secure jobs, the rigours of being self employed and soaring cost of living. Of course what these excitable reports rarely reveal is that about 900,000 Britons are still happily...

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Saturday April 26, 2014

Simple pleasures are still what matter in Mallorca


Whenever friends come to stay in my rural valley it is often the simplest of pleasures that fill them with glee. An international banker once visited and spent hours pacing about the orchards, returning – with the excitement of a small boy – to the kitchen clutching a trug brimming with discarded lemons. To his chagrin I gently explained that...

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Saturday April 26, 2014

Majorca vows to crack down on badly behaved tourists


As part of a newly introduced Good Citizen Plan, Palma City Council has declared that it will no longer put up with bad tourist behaviour. From June, anyone contravening a range of new civic laws will be fined heavily and face the wrath of the local police.

Of course many expats have uttered a wry chuckle at the news. Haven’t we...

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Saturday April 19, 2014

New Centre Holistic in Deia


Last night Deia village celebrated the opening of CENTRE HOLISTIC, the brain child of Jane Winterbottom. With music from Brendan McCann, Daniel Alzamora-Dickin, David Templeton and Sadie Pickering, a fun time was had by all.

CENTRE HOLISTIC, located on the main street where the former Sa Nostra Bank used to be, will officially open for treatments on...

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Friday April 18, 2014

My Facebook Page


As some of you have been in touch asking about where to find my daily posts on the Soller Valley and Mallorca in general, can I suggest popping by my Facebook page? When you visit the page please do leave a message or comment and I’d be delighted if you kindly pressed ‘Like’ on the page too....

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Friday April 18, 2014

Easter Sunday


After all the angst and drama of the processions held across Mallorca during Good Friday and the preceding week, Easter Sunday sees an entirely different and joyous celebration of the resurrection of Christ and the reunion of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.

The Easter Sunday processions across the island become more relaxed and have an element of fun. This time...

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Friday April 18, 2014

Easter goodies in Mallorca!


Just as in the UK, Easter is a time for families in Mallorca to get together and enjoy a time of celebration and of course, traditional food.

The shops are full of easter eggs but it is normal for doting grandparents and senior family members in Spain to give children little scenes made entirely from chocolate.

Traditional fare for Semana Santa...

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Friday April 18, 2014

How character traits can give expats away


Walking in the sunny port with a Majorcan friend I allowed myself a wonderfully touristy indulgence and bought an ice cream. A minute later as we pottered along the shoreline, the waves caressing our toes, my ice fell off the cone and plopped into the water. I shrugged, tittered and walked on but my chum was having none of it.

She...

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Friday April 18, 2014

Wok Magic in Fornalutx Village


Long time British resident Gabrielle Beaumont, formerly a leading Hollywood film director, will be opening Fornalutx village’s first oriental takeaway tonight with friend of 25 years, chef Kenny Koh. Muxiang – the x is pronounced as ch – is Kenny’s Chinese name and the food on offer will be a scrumptious combination of some of his most famed dishes in...

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Monday April 7, 2014

Should ambitious refurbishments be left to the private sector in Mallorca?


Twelve years ago, Raixa, a country estate nestling in the foothills of the Tramuntana mountains, was acquired as a cultural heritage site by the Mallorca Council and National Parks Foundation. The Spanish Ministry for the Environment was to oversee the project and an ambitious refurbishment programme was announced.

The recently restored Raixa country estate is a shadow of its former self

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Friday March 28, 2014

Why so many Mallorcans are going back to black


In Porreres, a small town in Es Pla, the central agricultural area of the island, I got talking with a Majorcan chum about the state of the economy and the old chestnut of winter tourism – or rather the complete lack of it, here in Majorca.

In recent weeks the local expat newspaper has been lamenting the fact that there’s been...

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Friday March 28, 2014

How to have fun with cold callers in Spain


When I first moved to Majorca I couldn’t believe the sheer audacity of cold callers – and con artists – who would besiege my phone line late into the evening usually either trying to sell telephone packages or building services.

Since the recession the calls have become more varied – and desperate – and now there’s even a new automated response...

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Sunday March 23, 2014

Are camping holidays all they're cracked up to be?


Whether prompted by the state of the global economy, the British trend for ‘glamping‘ holidays or a wish to embrace nature in the raw, I cannot say, but recently I have received a flurry of enquiries from Britons about camping in Majorca. Now why these good souls should think that I – of all people – have positive and precious...

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Sunday March 16, 2014

How to love thy neighbour in Spain


A British expat told me that she had reached the end of her tether with her Majorcan neighbours. Apparently the children screamed and tore about the garden all weekend, the dog howled late at night and the cockerel crowed from the crack of dawn. Furthermore, the pyromaniac husband was always making bonfires early morning causing stifling smoke to waft into...

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Sunday March 2, 2014

First feline café in Spain proves the cat's whiskers


When a Spanish friend told me that she’d visited the country’s first dedicated cat café in Madrid, I assumed she was pulling my paw, but not so. Gatoteca, which serves as the headquarters for the Society for the Rescue and Adoption of Cats (ABRIGA), operates an open door policy for cat lovers to come and commune with an assortment...

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Sunday March 2, 2014

Visiting Mallorca? Please don't offend the locals


At Soller’s weekend market I noticed an English tourist aggressively attempting to persuade a local stallholder to reduce the price of a silk scarf. Grumpily he shook his head and gave an emphatic no when she fluttered a €10 note – five euros less than the required sum – in front of him. As the woman spoke no Spanish and...

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Friday February 21, 2014

Expat Guilty Pleasures Back in Blighty


For someone who has fairly effortlessly absorbed Spanish culture lock, stock and barrel, I have a guilty admission: I still get my hair cut in London. There, it’s out of the bag. An end to subterfuge and blustering about how there are no vestiges of my previous girl about town life that I miss. And let’s not discuss books, tea...

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Tuesday February 11, 2014

Pouring oil on troubled waters in Ibiza


Although famed as the party isle of the Baleares, there’s little cheer doing the rounds in Ibiza currently. In fact more than 50 organisations on the island including town halls, government and tourism institutions and political entities have got together to form lobbying group, Alianza Mar Blava, in the hope of stopping oil exploration offshore later this year.

Back in 2011,...

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Tuesday February 11, 2014

Throwing caution to the wind


On an early morning run in Soller port yesterday I coursed along the quiet and windswept promenade towards the fishing zone of Santa Catalina where a huddle of fishermen sheltered beneath an old stone wall tending their nets. As I stopped for breath and a quick stretch while marvelling at the frisky waves nudging their vessels, an elderly man in...

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Monday February 3, 2014

Why running a business in Paradise can be sheer hell


The other day I was talking to a group of self employed expats about their experiences running small businesses in Majorca and it was as if a maelstrom had been unleashed. Of course I shouldn’t have been too surprised because for some time there’s been growing dissent and disillusionment within the expat community about the excessive red tape and high...

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Saturday February 1, 2014

Why some airports leave a bad taste in the mouth


At Gatwick Airport whenever I detect that one of those goodly middle-aged ladies brandishing a clipboard and a survey is clip clopping towards me, I disappear faster than a conjurer’s rabbit.

At the top of their voices – ensuring that everyone in the queue is party to your guilty airport shopping secrets and vices – they bossily demand to know if...

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Saturday January 25, 2014

It's time to let the cat out of the bag


To the side of my front door there’s a handsome wooden sign depicting a comical stripy black and white cat below which reads: Amis des chats- Bienvenue. Naturally that’s asking for trouble which is why a generous dollop of the valley’s feline population seems to end up on the doorstep.

It is of course impossible to give house room to swathes...

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Wednesday January 22, 2014

A crash course in Spanish driving?


A few days ago while driving in the company of my Majorcan friend Marina I arrived at a roundabout and routinely indicated before taking the appropriate turn off. She frowned. Why was I always indicating? It was sooo British!

Don’t be taken for a ride in Spain unless you’ve got good insurance
According to my chum, drivers should be able to...

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Saturday January 11, 2014

Why the Balearic property market is booming


Around six years ago when the Spanish property bubble finally burst and the economy took a nose dive there was wholesale doom and gloom in the country. Here in the Baleares estate agents braced themselves for the worst and before long, the crisis that had consumed the Peninsula began extending icy fingers to our golden shores.

Foreign buyers became jittery as...

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Friday December 6, 2013

Spain mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela


In Soller this morning many locals expressed their sadness at the death of Nelson Mandela, former South African president and tireless campaigner for the defeat of apartheid. In one of the town’s cafés a group of locals sat transfixed as a television current affairs show beamed reaction to the news from around the world. Numerous respectful statements were aired from...

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Thursday December 5, 2013

The end of an identity crisis for British expats in Majorca?


When shopping in the UK I often absentmindedly produce my foreign resident’s identity card for inspection at the till hastily returning it to my handbag when I’m met with a blank stare. In Majorca it’s essential to have such identification, not just to prove who you are but for the important little NIE number – número de identidad de...

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Saturday November 30, 2013

Why Mallorcans don't go crackers at Christmas


In London last week I was dazzled by a sea of Christmas lights on Oxford and Regent Street and shop windows bursting with a heady mix of bauble-drenched festive trees, tinsel, gyrating santas and decorations. Christmas, it seemed, had officially arrived in the UK.

The bright lights of London are a far cry from Majorca’s modest displays
In department stores cheery...

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Wednesday November 20, 2013

Is the UK really turning its back on elderly British expats?


Over the last few months a growing number of mostly retired British expats, bubbling with rage and incredulity, have been in touch to express their unhappiness and disillusionment at the British government. Most of the correspondence is from British expats living in Europe but I’ve also been contacted by expats in Commonwealth countries who also have an axe to grind...

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Wednesday November 20, 2013

The scourge of the 'selfie'


Come rain or shine there’s one peculiarity that many younger holidaymakers seem to share these days: a love of the ubiquitous ‘selfie’ snapshot and the more dubious the better. There was a time when if a lone tourist were seen to be pulling a decidedly silly face to camera, posing in exhibitionist manner on a beach, back of a donkey,...

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Friday November 8, 2013

A marathon task


It’s that time of the year again when muttering like a disgruntled wizard I dust myself down in the early morning, don the running gear and set off into the hills or down to the sea. Having lazily got ‘off track’ over the summer – yep blaming the heat again and the need to finish the new novel- I am...

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Thursday November 7, 2013

Anna Nicholas's Newsletter November 2013


Hot enough for June?
Here we are in early November wondering – with fingers firmly crossed behind our backs – how much longer this glorious summer weather will continue. In fact the heat is so strong that doors and windows are all flung open and the cats are basking on the front lawn under a brilliant sun. Of course...

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Wednesday November 6, 2013

British expats and tourists must remember that opportunity makes a thief


A story for our times. Mr and Mrs Holidaymaker arrive at sunny Palma airport, pick up a hire car and excitedly head for their rented villa by the sea, making a pit stop at nearby Carrefour hypermarket, a stone’s throw from a notorious shanty town known as Son Banya. Unbeknown to the couple gangs of thieves circle the car...

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Sunday November 3, 2013

Mallorcans and modern manners


An exasperated Majorcan friend took me to task the other day because I’d posted her a thank-you note. Why, she wanted to know, did I still feel the need to follow such formalities when we were established friends. A simple verbal ‘thank you’ surely sufficed?

That’s the trouble with old fogeys like me. I still adhere to the protocols and potency...

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Sunday November 3, 2013

Spain tops expat charts for integration and childcare


I’m always suspicious of expat surveys. Who are all these anonymous beings that dutifully fill in online questionnaires citing the good, the bad and the ugly about their host countries? I can’t think of a time when I’ve ever been tempted to participate in such a faceless, mass event and am never really sure what these surveys really prove anyway.

Still,...

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Wednesday October 23, 2013

Why did the chicken cross the road?


Recently I read an article that had me guffawing and carefully double-checking its publication date. Nope, it wasn’t the first of April and yes, it really was about people in the UK buying high visibility jackets for hens that stray onto busy roads.

As the owner of a cockerel and a small brood here in rural Majorca, I found it deeply...

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Friday October 18, 2013

Is expat envy on the rise?


A Spanish friend was telling me recently how the British expats in her village were ostensibly very chummy, meeting in the local bar for a gossip and popping round to one another’s homes for regular dinner parties but she insisted that it was all a charade. As a waitress in a local café with an excellent command of English she...

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Thursday October 17, 2013

Are killer, cannibalistic Spanish slugs really invading British shores?


Come on people, get a grip. Stop trembling like a pack of whippets. We’re talking about slugs here – not an invasion of body snatchers, deranged zombies, or flesh eating monsters rampaging around the English countryside gobbling up farmers.

And while we’re at it, why oh why is the British media obsessed with calling Arion vulgaris, the large, handsome amber-hued...

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Wednesday October 16, 2013

A memorable night with the kings of comedy


These days few invitations are capable of luring me away from my cacophonous frogs and mellifluous menagerie in the Majorcan hills or for that matter the vegetable plot, lemon and orange orchard and my scribblings. Much as I might juggle daily writing deadlines like plates in a Greek diner, the aromatic fusion of rosemary, jasmine and lavender wafting up to...

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Wednesday October 2, 2013

Do expats know best? I'm sorry, I haven't a clue!


On average I receive about 200 enquiries each month from holidaymakers and wannabe expats asking for advice about visiting or moving to Majorca. It’s a mixed bag mostly generated by Britons although a fair few Germans, Scandinavians and Americans are in regular touch now. Most of the questions are fairly straightforward seeking my views as an expat and writer on...

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Sunday September 29, 2013

British expats visiting the UK needn't feel homesick for Spain


Every time I return to London it seems to feel a little more Spanish or is it just that like an invisible magnet I draw all things español towards me? As I coursed through Victoria station yesterday all I seemed to hear were Spanish voices and on the bus an elderly couple – from Galicia, it transpired – gravitated towards...

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Wednesday September 25, 2013

Do expats live in paradise?


A final flurry of late summer visitors arrived at our home last week, all full of excitement and merry chatter about their holiday plans. They bounded enthusiastically about the orchard and vegetable garden, squealed with joy at finding fresh warm eggs in our hens’ laying boxes and marvelled at the fruit hanging heavy on the trees. They fondled the cats’...

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Friday September 20, 2013

Expat parents can have their cake and eat it


A newly arrived British expat in Majorca told me how difficult she was finding it to make friends with other parents at her daughter’s school. Having opted for the Spanish system, she waved off her daughter at the school gate each morning, unable to converse with local Majorcan mothers who had next to no English, or with her child’s teachers....

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Sunday September 15, 2013

Why Spain should wake up and smell the coffee


It’s been a tough old week for Spain and in particular Ana Botella, the Mayor of Madrid. A combination of misplaced hubris, wishful thinking and naivety led to national disappointment when in Buenos Aires a shock result – for the Spanish at least – saw Madrid lose its 2020 Olympic Games bid to Tokyo. Actually even Turkey trumped Spain as...

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Wednesday September 11, 2013

Are British expats one big happy family?


Some time ago I was given a book written by an expat who described in depressing detail the every day squabbles and feuds that existed between fellow Britons in her French village. I was appalled to think that this unhappy bunch was living cheek by jowl in a small rural community bristling with angst and loathing for one another when...

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Wednesday September 4, 2013

How holidaymakers and expats can avoid the long arm of the law


Last month a group of 30 Britons were enjoying a game of bingo in the Yorkshire Tavern in Albufeira, Portugal when an undercover police unit burst in and arrested them all for gambling without a gaming license. They were only playing for biscuit and chocolate prizes but that cut no ice with officers who even arrested the hapless observers.

Guffaws aside,...

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Wednesday September 4, 2013

Why impoverished Spanish children made a meal of it this summer


While Spain celebrated welcoming a record 7.9 million cheery tourists to the country this July, an increase of 2.9 per cent on the previous year, the summer season wasn’t quite so idyllic for those closer to home.

The summer season often presents Spanish working parents with a bitter-sweet dilemma as their children prepare for almost three months of school holidays. Some...

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Wednesday September 4, 2013

A culture shock awaits Spaniards swapping their homeland for the UK


According to a recent report issued by the Work & Pensions Department (DWP), the number of Spaniards relocating to the UK has risen by nearly 50 per cent in the last year, making it the fastest growing migrant group in the country.

While many of the 45,530 Spaniards newly arrived in the UK in the last year might be thrilled...

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Monday August 26, 2013

Paws for thought:Big cat on the loose in Spain!


It appears that the UK’s famed Beast of Bodmin Moor might have stiff competition from a new Spanish rival roaming the hills of Berja in Andalusia, southern Spain. Sighted by local almond farmers and several members of the public, the Beast of Berja is thought to resemble a black panther that also prowls the Sierra Nevada National Park area, a...

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Saturday August 24, 2013

If you 'like' me why not enter my new monthly competition prize draw?


Finally I have been cajoled into setting up a Facebook fan page so I would greatly appreciate your kind support. Everyone who likes my new page will be entered into a monthly draw to win one of my books- I’ll be offering three signed books per month and the three winners can choose which title they prefer. I’ll also dedicate...

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Thursday August 22, 2013

Newsletter Sign Up & Twitter


As further evidence that I am gradually being drawn into the world of technology (albeit kicking, screaming and huffing and puffing) I now have a Twitter button installed at the end of each of my blogs and witterings. Therefore if any of you kindly feel like spreading the word once you’ve read a piece, I’d appreciate the re-tweet.

Meanwhile, I have...

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Thursday August 22, 2013

Spain intends to tax the sun! Whatever next?


I’d love to hear from any of you with views regarding Spain’s latest questionable initiative of taxing any householder using solar power. It seems an odd way to get the nation to buy into environmental programmes!

Thursday August 22, 2013

Competition Winner!


Golly gosh, thank you all for your speedy responses to my newsletter competition. The answer was of course Robert Graves. The first to respond (within about a minute!) was Denise Bonham from Redditch who will have a Charming Small Hotels Guide to Spain, winging its way to her.

I have decided that there will be a competition with each newsletter since...

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Wednesday August 21, 2013


anna-nicholas.com Newsletter August 2013

Too Hot to Handle
Jumping into my battered Mini Cooper following a brief shopping trip into Soller town, I found that I could barely touch the steering wheel. It was sizzling hot and why not? It was the very first day of August, a month when you can just about fry eggs on your porch – that’s if you’re...

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Tuesday August 20, 2013

If you don't like the heat...!


Yesterday I left my air conditioned eyrie to take my son and two of his school chums up to Deia to visit the wonderful Robert Graves museum and to stroll around the village. Normally when I’m visiting Deia the rest of the year I bump into the usual suspects, long term residents and expats and we pass the time of...

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Saturday August 17, 2013

Enough is enough: no more monkey business over the Rock


Queuing in the heat of Majorca for a car parking space at our local supermarket is no joke so I can understand why motorists twiddling their thumbs for up to five hours each day at Gibraltar’s sticky and sweltering border must be thoroughly miffed. As they sweat it out, nursing bottles of warm mineral water and muttering darkly, they must...

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Saturday August 17, 2013

Spanish pensioner who went ape has the last laugh


A year ago this month, pensioner Cecilia Gimenez from the sleepy village of Borja in northeastern Spain caused an international storm with her ham-fisted attempt at restoring a valuable fresco in the local village church. The painting of Christ with traditional crown of thorns known as ‘Ecce homo’ was soon mischievously dubbed ‘Ecce mono’ because of the monkey-like features given...

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Friday August 16, 2013

My site voted as one of top ten websites for expats in Spain!


It was great to hear from the company MyCurrencyTransfer.com today that I have been voted one of its top ten winning expat websites for Spain. it’s a very cheering accolade to have on a fraught Friday afternoon when instead of getting on with urgent deadlines in the office I have been nursing a baby chick that I discovered in...

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Monday August 12, 2013

Lost and found: bizarre items left behind by hotel guests


What goes on behind closed doors in hotel bedrooms is anybody’s guess but the cat might now be out of the bag as a UK based hotel group spills the beans on the sort of items left behind by its guests.

According to myhotels belongings to the value of £10,000 are regularly left in the bedrooms of their properties each month...

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Thursday August 8, 2013

Should British youths live, drink and be merry?


It’s summer time in Majorca so inevitably there’s been the usual hue and cry about the binge-drinking habits of holidaying British youths and the perilous consequences of excessive drinking. So far this summer – although I’ve given up counting – there have been at least three falls from hotel balconies in the resort of Magaluf and no doubt there’ll be...

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Thursday August 8, 2013

Expats driven by Example


One might expect that the least likely haunt for a convening of middle-aged expats in Majorca would be a hip music venue known as Mallorca Rocks in Magaluf where the average age group seems to be about twenty.

And yet there I was this week in the company of my teenage son Ollie and his friends, hoping that some other...

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Thursday July 18, 2013

Return of the semi-native


My apologies for being absent from the site for the last few weeks while I set off to wonderful Sri Lanka for a few weeks of R&R. It was great fun to meet up with Sri Lankan chums again and to return to some favourite haunts. This time Alan, Ollie and I travelled to areas previously out of bounds due...

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Thursday July 18, 2013

Farewell dear Rod


It was with great sadness that while on holiday in Sri Lanka I learnt of the death of my friend Rod Younger, the effervescent, indefatigable Anglo-Spanish founder of Books4Spain Rod was a multi-talented bundle of energy who had been in international banking for 15 years before writing his own thriller, ‘Deadly Secrets’ which was set in Spain. In...

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Monday June 10, 2013

Don't scratch my car


Senyor Q, a wealthy elderly local, offered me a valuable piece of advice when my husband and I first set up home in rural Majorca. He told me never to be tempted to buy a new car and I assured him that unless we were to win the lotería any time soon, that would never happen.

Ambling along the street together...

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Monday June 10, 2013

The rise of Little England in Spain


Imagine. One morning you’re driving through lush countryside in the northern region of Spain when all of a sudden you spy a Union flag flying proudly aloft a rustic building and a village sign reads something like ‘WELCOME TO EL PUEBLO INGLÉS’. There’s the unmistakable whiff of bacon and eggs frying in a pan and the sound of English...

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Monday June 10, 2013

Oranges are the only fruit


There I was picking oranges in the orchard when a very English voice began calling to me from the gate. I hopped off the ladder and went over to see my unexpected guest who it transpired was a holidaying hill walker who’d lost her way on the outskirts of Soller and ended up on our dead end track. After offering...

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Monday June 10, 2013

Holiday makers should give thieves a run for their money


In a Palma bar at the weekend a tourist told me how he’d been robbed by two young men. They were apparently well dressed and polite and had stopped him to ask for directions. While one of them distracted him with a map, the other stole his wallet without him even noticing. It was only when they hurriedly thanked him...

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Monday June 10, 2013

The Spanish dog owners shamed for foul play


We’ve all seen them, those dog owners who blithely saunter along the street or through a public park allowing their mutts to leave unwelcome deposits on whatever surface seems to take their fancy. It never crosses the minds of these people to clear up the mess left by their pets or even to exhibit a passing hint of guilt as...

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Saturday May 18, 2013

It’s time to stop oiling the wheels of Brussels


That’s it. Until now I’ve laughed off the bizarre and batty edicts imposed by Brussels bureaucrats such as outlawing bendy bananas and cucumbers, denying that water is hydrating, that prunes are not laxatives and that eggs cannot be sold by number only weight. Even the ban on feeding kitchen scraps to chickens hasn’t rattled my coop. There may be a...

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Friday May 17, 2013

A Beginner's Guide to Mallorca


As the summer season looms large here in Majorca one thing is certain, a mountain of eager beaver destination guides will be hitting bookshops and online stores, hoping to persuade holidaymakers that a visit to the island’s sun kissed shores is nigh impossible without their invaluable insights and blessing.

How though does one sift through the ever-growing assortment of guides that...

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Sunday April 21, 2013

Fretting about frogs


At this time of year I am usually in frog mode. Now that might sound distinctly odd to some but there is nothing more thrilling than the triumphant return of Majorcan amphibians to our valley in Spring.

In the autumn our fickle frogs set off on long vacations, no doubt to sunnier climes, and with a heavy heart I accept that...

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Sunday April 14, 2013

Just what the doctor ordered


When it comes to visiting hospitals and doctors’ surgeries I’m a complete coward. My aversion stems partly from the gloomy aspect of my companions, lambs to the slaughter, in the waiting room and also from the strange clinical odour that seems to permeate the very fabric of these most inhospitable of buildings.

And then there is the filling of forms in...

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Saturday April 13, 2013

The little Englanders unwilling to take a walk on the wild side


They’re at it again. Truly it drives me to distraction and I know it shouldn’t but today as I coursed along the luxuriously curvy mountain road towards the village of Deia I spotted a fluorescently white, middle-aged couple eating white sandwiches on a narrow and muddy apology for a lay-by in full view of the traffic. What’s odd about that,...

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Thursday April 11, 2013

Even in rural Majorca everyone knew of the iron lady


A group of Majorcan friends arrived for supper in sombre mood. I worried that there had been an accident in the town but no, they’d heard the news of the death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher and wanted to show their respect.

Later as they raised their glasses to her memory –although in truth they seemed to know her best from Meryl...

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Wednesday April 10, 2013

Are Spanish youths really hitting the bottle?


Despite a recent survey showing that 60 per cent of Spanish teenagers aged 13 to 18 do not take drugs and very rarely touch alcohol, the central government in Madrid has decided to raise the permitted age for alcohol consumption and purchase to 18 in order to ‘protect children’ and to reduce anti-social behaviour in public places. Currently in Asturias...

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Wednesday April 10, 2013

Accusing Spanish hospitals of duping British holidaymakers is a sick joke


Why all this Spain bashing of late? Perhaps it’s down to a subliminal loathing for a country that enjoys more sunshine than miserable old Blighty or is it just the British need to kick a dog when it’s down?

The current whinge is about health cover for British holidaymakers. Some claim – mostly insurers, ironically – that some Spanish health centres...

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Wednesday April 10, 2013

Spanish farmer should strike while the iron’s hot


Most Spaniards can only dream of winning the famed lotería but lucky farmer Faustino Asensio Lopez in southern Spain seems to have hit the jackpot quite unintentionally.

Some 30 years ago while tending his family’s herds in a field near the city of Ciudad Real Mr Asensio Lopez came across a lump of iron weighing 100kg. Thinking it was military debris...

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Wednesday April 10, 2013

It’s a dog’s life:travelling abroad with man’s best friend


A British expat was recently recounting an adventurous and tiring three day escapade driving from the UK via France to Barcelona from where he took the ferry to Palma, Majorca. And all for the sake of his two pooches –Great Danes as it happened- that he simply couldn’t face traumatising with a stint in the hold of a plane.

He’s not...

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Wednesday April 10, 2013

Mary Poppins wouldn't have bothered with budget airlines


Easter is nearly upon us and countless families are heading to Spain in the hope of glimpsing that rare and wondrous fiery bauble that melts on the horizon like liquid gold. But just how much pain are the poor souls prepared to endure in their quest for a small dollop of Mediterranean sun?

If only all budget airline passengers had a...

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Wednesday February 27, 2013

Death in paradise


On my regular morning runs to Soller port I have often shared nods and pleasantries with an elderly Majorcan gentleman. I have never known his name or much about him but that doesn’t matter. Come rain or shine I always find him plodding methodically along the promenade in his beige mac and wearing a rather stylish black beret on his...

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Wednesday February 27, 2013

The expat ‘blow-ins’ who sooner or later blow out


My naval architect friend Ignacio was telling me the other day that an Irish sea captain acquaintance once described expats who failed to stay the course in a new country as ‘blow-ins’. Ignacio told me that he invariably knew whether or not a fresh-faced arrival pitching up in our valley was there for the long haul.

Hey and what about me?...

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Wednesday February 27, 2013

Spain is to blame for creating its own house of cards


Apparently locksmiths and firemen in Spain are refusing to assist local authorities with eviction orders and can one blame them? Imagine arriving at the homes of frail and confused pensioners or families unable to keep up mortgage or rental payments and having to help turf them out on to the street. Personal morality aside, there would be the shame...

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Wednesday February 27, 2013

In recession hit Spain giving up is hard to do


Recently I stopped to greet one of the town’s beauticians who plies her trade at a popular local hair salon. I suggested that business must be at an all time low given the state of the economy but she shook her head and laughed. She told me that if there was one thing a Spanish woman would never forfeit it...

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Monday February 11, 2013

The little Spanish boy who cried wolf


In trepidation of the outcome of a school parents’ evening at which his dismal results would be revealed by his teachers, an 11-year-old boy in the northwest town of Xinzo de Limia hit on a cunning plan: he would fake his own kidnapping.

One wonders what was going through the child’s mind when he slipped out of the family home ostensibly...

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Monday February 11, 2013

Why the Spanish are right to be angry


A street name in Majorca’s capital of Palma that once honoured Cristina, the King of Spain’s youngest daughter and her husband Iñaki Urdangarin, is to be removed. In the light of an ongoing fraud investigation which allegedly implicates Urdangarin, the City Council has decided to remove ‘Rambla dels ducs de Palma de Mallorca’ replacing it simply with ‘La Rambla’.

Iñaki Urdangarin...

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Monday February 11, 2013

It’s about time that British and Spanish politicians learnt another lingo


Shadow Europe Minister Emma Reynolds, MP, has been criticised for claiming more than £600 worth of Spanish lessons on expenses but was it really such a crime?

The British are notoriously bad at learning to speak other languages and so if a politician has made the effort to attend classes presumably with a view to communicating more effectively with her counterparts...

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Monday February 11, 2013

Why Majorcan children don’t know their toads from their turtles


A scientific survey conducted among school children in the Baleares has shown that few are familiar with the islands’ endemic and indigenous creatures, displaying instead a better grasp of more exotic species from other countries.

I can understand the disappointment felt by the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA) which carried out the online survey of 750 11-15 year olds...

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Monday February 11, 2013

British expats aren’t alone in suffering from language fatigue


A Majorcan friend with a very good grasp of English popped by the other day hoping for a little language practice. She’s recently been offered a job in the tourism sector which takes effect this summer so has been diligently polishing up on her verbs and grammar.

Our conversation was romping along until she mentioned that she’d soon be replacing her...

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Wednesday January 23, 2013

As winter bites everyone in Majorca is enjoying the great ‘indoors’


Last night my husband and I set off to our windswept port in search of one of the very few restaurants still operating during the winter months. There wasn’t a soul about as we strode along the promenade accompanied by a glistening sea as black and viscous as molasses.

As we entered the bright and cosy restaurant the owners gave us...

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Wednesday January 23, 2013

Fiesta or fiasco? Spain’s love affair with fun


At a recent dinner party in London I found myself robustly defending Spanish fiestas, the annual lively festivals and street parties that form the backbone of community life in Spain.

One of the guests alluded to the giant Tomatina fiesta in the village of Buñol in Valencia at which as many as 50,000 people participate and throw more than 150,000 ripe...

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Friday January 18, 2013

Majorcan politicians in bad odour over imported waste


There are many things for which Majorca can be proud but being the owner of the largest incinerator in Southern Europe should not be one of them. Recent news that the Balearic regional government deemed it a devilishly good idea to import waste from other European countries to feed the monster Son Reus incinerator north of the capital of Palma...

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Friday January 11, 2013

The real truth about Magaluf


Majorca is suffering from a colossal hangover following the sensationalistic documentary, The Truth about Magaluf shown on BBC television earlier this week. Exposing the tawdry underbelly of the island’s most notorious ‘bad boy’ resort has seemingly upset the sensibilities of local officials and sent shivers down the spine of the British expat community living in Majorca. Manu Onieva, the...

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Sunday January 6, 2013

When Barbies, kings, giants and angels stormed Palma


In my local plaça yesterday a group of young children sat excitedly discussing what they hoped the Three Kings –Los Reyes Magos- would be bringing them later that night. While in the UK Christmas pretty much wraps up after New Year’s Day, here in Spain, the biggest event of the Christmas calendar is yet to come: the arrival of the...

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Sunday January 6, 2013

The naked truth about racy calendars


It may seem curmudgeonly but when I heard about a bunch of Spanish mothers baring all for a calendar to raise funds for a school bus service, I gave a mighty groan. What is this rather banal obsession with stripping off for worthy causes?

Following the inspirational Calendar Girls story it seems that every woman, man and his dog have decided...

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Saturday December 29, 2012

Spaniards feast on world’s largest…?


OK, here goes. What is 5m long, almost 2.5m wide and weighs a whopping 300kg? The Plumpest turkey? No, that gong went to Tyson of Peterborough in 1989 who weighed in at a poultry, sorry paltry, 39kg. The world’s largest flesh eating slug? Good try. Actually I’m talking about the world’s largest polvorón, a crumbly, Spanish almond biscuit.

Since 2001 the...

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Friday December 28, 2012

Simple pleasures are the best


Some Majorcan friends popped round for a festive supper this week and everyone generously brought gifts. There were bottles of home brewed cava, herbes, the local herbal liqueur, brandy and red wine, a sack of walnuts, a bowl brimming with kiwis, fresh honey, homemade bread, ensaimadas, the snail shaped pastries, and jars of homemade dried tomatoes and jam. No one...

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Friday December 28, 2012

Some Spaniards have all the luck


As I shopped in my local town last week everyone talked of only one thing: El Gordo, the Fat One, the world’s biggest lottery. When I mentioned to a shopkeeper that no, I hadn’t bought a ticket for the annual Christmas draw taking place on Saturday 22, December, her mouth fell open like a fish in distress. Why ever not?...

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Tuesday December 18, 2012

Beware scorpion stowaways on the plane


I’ve always considered packing a suitcase a rather perfunctory exercise but not anymore. Oh no. Not after my recent encounter with a sly little black scorpion that had rather presumptuously taken refuge in a small suitcase that I’d pulled down from the attic. Absentmindedly I flipped back the lid and did a lively and impromptu war dance when I saw...

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Tuesday December 18, 2012

Will women-only clubs catch on in macho Spain?


In London a friend was waxing lyrical about the new spate of women-only clubs and restaurants that seem to have taken the Capital by storm. There’s Grace Belgravia, a new spa cum social club, The Sorority club in Holborn, STK, a female friendly American steak chain, Dea Latis, a beer tasting club and soon actress Eva Longoria will be...

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Monday December 10, 2012

Why some pranks can get out of hand


The recent maelstrom following the hoax call made by two Australian radio presenters to the King Edward VII hospital gave me pause to think about pranks I’ve carried out over the years.

On 28, December it will be Día de los Santos Inocentes, the day of the innocents, here in Spain, an opportunity for jokers to have fun at their...

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Saturday December 8, 2012

Christmas Mallorca Style!


Christmas might well be knocking on our doors and rattling the shutters but here in sleepy rural Soller life continues at a rather sedate pace, interrupted only by the odd whisper of the festivities to come.

In Café Paris, my favourite haunt in Soller town, coca de patatas have arrived, the deceptively light and spongy seeming iced buns that have a...

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Saturday December 8, 2012

Food Glorious Food: do international school dinners cut the mustard?


As a self confessed gourmand who looks forward to Christmas with the fervour of a pig on the scent of a black perigord truffle, I was dismayed to hear from an eloquent young reader studying in Spain that food served at her international school was hard to stomach.

I shall spare the blushes of the school in question but suffice to...

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Saturday December 8, 2012

Expat Blog Gold Winner 2012!


The results of a global competition in which bloggers were nominated from 100 countries have been announced by expatsblog site In total 55 bloggers were nominated for Spain and to my absolute delight I was voted the winner. There’s something rather strange about receiving an intangible ‘gold’ award. You can’t put it on your mantelpiece and you can’t pass...

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Monday December 3, 2012

Expat Blogs Awards to be judged 6, December!


My thanks to all of you kind readers who have so generously left such wonderful comments on the Expatsblog site Bloggers about Spain, nominated by the site, will be judged this Thursday, 6, December so if any of you have a spare nano and have not left a comment on my nomination page yet, there’s still time.

Monday December 3, 2012

Majorca hits the jackpot with new flight routes


It’s hard to imagine that come 2013 Majorcan residents, British expats and holidaymakers will literally be spoilt for choice when it comes to flight routes between Palma and London.

For the last few years there has been growing concern within the tourism and business sectors about the closure of highly popular routes such as the regular daily British Midland service that...

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Monday December 3, 2012

Independence at a price?


Catalan regional president Artur Mas must be licking his wounds following Sunday’s snap election in Catalonia, Spain’s wealthiest region, which saw him re-elected albeit with his majority slashed.

In what has been regarded as a Pyrrhic victory, Artur Mas’s Centre-right Convergence and Union party, CiU, which put its weight behind a separatist agenda, lost 12 seats leaving it with a mere...

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Monday December 3, 2012

Hunting trip costs Balearic Tourism Minister 'deer'


Politicians the world over often strive to strike a pose but draping a pair of bloodied deer’s testicles on the head while making a double victory V sign, probably isn’t the best way to garner public support as Carlos Delgado, tourism minister for the Baleares, has just learnt to his peril.

Highly embarrassing images were leaked to Ultima Hora, one of...

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Monday December 3, 2012

End of an era for British Consulate in Mallorca


During his seven year stint as British consul of the Baleares, Paul Abrey made it his business to communicate effectively with the local British expat community as well as a good number of the 3.5 million British holidaymakers visiting the islands annually.

Coming from the private sector Paul was a breath of fresh air, the sort of roll up your sleeves,...

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Monday December 3, 2012

How to be an old soak in Mallorca


With winter knocking on the door and much of Majorca on the brink of hibernation, it’s understandable that many a British expat makes all haste to the home country for a little life and cheer.

Of course there are those of us that cherish these months of blissful tranquility when the resorts slumber, fires crackle in the grate, and the silver...

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Friday November 16, 2012

An eye for an eye


In recent weeks there’s been growing animosity between one of our cats, a rather rotund and greedy stray named Doughnut that we adopted a few years ago, and Tiger, the fierce German cat next door. Actually to be accurate, Tiger is a large macho Spanish cat whom our benevolent German neighbour adopted as a kitten.

Just before setting off for a...

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Friday November 16, 2012

The plight of the homeless in Spain


Once again, eight months on from Spain’s last general strike, protesters have taken to the streets of the country to rage against the government’s austerity policies and the role played by banks in the financial crisis that has seen tens of thousands of people evicted from their homes.

Following the death of 53-year-old Amaia Egaña who jumped to her death from...

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Thursday November 1, 2012

How to stay calm and carry on, Spanish style


A Spanish friend recently returned from a holiday in London and enthusiastically showed me some touristy spoils from his jaunt. Curiously his gifts- an assortment of gimmicky T-shirts, mugs, bags and stationery-were all imprinted with the words ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’. He told me that this soothing message would surely delight family and friends during Spain’s...

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Thursday November 1, 2012

Why Majorcan schools continue to ignore the elephant in the room


Some years ago, encouraged by Spanish friends, my husband and I opted to send our nine-year-old son, Ollie, to a newly opened private Majorcan school that their son Juan would also be attending. Having previously studied in the English language at an international primary school in Palma, we knew Ollie would be facing quite a challenge as the only English...

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Thursday October 18, 2012

Why is everyone getting itchy feet when I’m staying put?


Early yesterday morning I jogged along a mountain track in the Tramuntanas shadowed by a large thunder cloud that leered down at me all the way up the hill until it was quite certain that I was nowhere near shelter. Then it struck. Seconds later I was deluged by rain as lightning flashed across the sky, the mountains bellowed...

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Monday October 15, 2012

Expat Blog Award!


The Expat blog website has very kindly nominated my site for entry to its Expat Blog Awards. The site editors have asked that if any of you kind readers have time, to briefly log on to my page and leave a positive comment against my blogs listed on the site. It would only take a few nano seconds and...

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Saturday October 13, 2012

X marks the spot:Caesar’s assassination and a petrified dolphin


While Roman history buffs have been celebrating a Spanish archaeologist’s apparent discovery of the exact location of Julius Caesar’s assassination in Rome, oceanographers here in Majorca, have been dismayed to learn that a fossilised ‘dolphin’ found in a subterranean sea cave was in fact just a lump of wood. You can’t win ‘em all.

In a report produced by the Spanish...

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Wednesday October 10, 2012

Baying to the moon


Ever since living in rural Majorca I’ve got used to the somewhat unusual topics that crop up at Majorcan dinner parties that would never in a month of Sundays wriggle there way to the table at a chic London soiree. And let’s not get started on the excitable and heated discussions that inevitably revolve around food and local traditions.

Take the...

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Wednesday October 10, 2012

The lone wolf who hated the world


Juan Manuel Morales is sitting on a park bench in a T-shirt and leather jacket in front of a gnarled old olive tree with his arms spread out in relaxed fashion. From the photograph it’s clear that he’s a handsome youth with dark tousled hair and warm brown eyes who wears a shy, somewhat wistful expression. In another image shown...

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Wednesday September 19, 2012

A big thank you!


Well, after far too long an absence from the site (severe wrap on knuckles) this is just a brief bon mot to thank all of you kind readers who bought my most recent tome, A Bull on the Beach. To my delight the book was favourably reviewed in the Daily Mail a few weeks ago and the Daily Telegraph also...

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Wednesday September 19, 2012

Why Spaniards are singing for their supper


In our local port dark waves caressed the shore while under a balmy, star splashed sky I listened to the old crooner on the promenade and waited patiently for the inevitable: the moment when a hat would be passed round and we, together with our fellow diners, would be politely asked to cough up a few centimos.

At one time I...

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Wednesday September 19, 2012

Winter warmth payment fuels bitter expat debate


As the minister about to declare war on British expat pensioners claiming winter fuel payments, Iain Duncan Smith will no doubt wisely be planning ‘staycations’ for the foreseeable future. Should he dare to step outside the UK, there’s a good chance he’ll find himself at the mercy of a ‘grey power’ lynch mob.

A recent ruling by the European Court of...

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Monday July 9, 2012

A Bull on the Beach is out now!


A huge thank you to all of you who have already bought my new Mallorca title, A Bull on the beach, the fifth in my series.

The official launch takes place this week in Mallorca at the beautiful new five star Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel-the kind host of the event. I will also be having a book signing and reception this...

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Wednesday June 20, 2012

Spain tops the list for lost and stolen British passports


Most British holidaymakers dread the thought of misplacing a passport while on holiday and yet every year more than 6000 are either lost or stolen in southern Europe-4000 in Spain alone- forcing the victims to fall on the mercy of the local consulate.

In an attempt to underline the importance of being vigilant and keeping thieves at bay, the Foreign Office...

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Monday June 11, 2012

Dead to the world


A man found dead in the hallway of his home in the tiny village of Cañizal in western Spain had apparently lain undiscovered for more than 15 years. Disturbing stories like this often pop up in the world’s media but there’s something particularly shocking about this one.

Last year the documentary Dreams of a Life, explored the sad circumstances surrounding the...

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Monday June 11, 2012

Spain's still standing


According to many in Blighty an exodus of miserable British expats, tails firmly between their legs, devalued euros rattling in their threadbare pockets will soon be returning from Spain to fall on the mercy of the British government.

Newspapers are filled with teeth rattling reports of Spain’s imminent demise, rising anger and discontent on the streets, banks on the verge of...

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Wednesday May 16, 2012

Interview with Talk Radio Europe!


Thanks to Rod Younger, founder of Books4Spain, a recent interview between Talk Radio Europe presenter, Mark Curry and me, has now been uploaded onto Youtube. You can hear the interview here

For a fantastic selection of books about Spain, do pop by Rod’s excellent site, Books4Spain If for some reason the link doesn’t take you there directly, go to...

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Tuesday May 15, 2012

Majorca’s still attracting the big fish despite economic gloom


An estimated one million disgruntled Spaniards took to the streets of 80 cities on the mainland yesterday to protest about the government’s new labour reforms and spending cuts in public services. As angry chants of “Trabajo, Dignidad, Derechos” meaning “Work, Dignity, Rights” rang out from town squares from Madrid to Catalonia, here in Majorca all was blissfully calm.

Much as...

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Tuesday May 15, 2012

May the Border Force be with you


Recently, returning to Majorca on a midday flight from Gatwick, I sauntered through a fairly empty Palma airport and made my way to the small booth that serves as border control to have my passport checked. There was a dribble of a queue and as luck would have it, one of the passport control officers -a former boyfriend of our...

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Tuesday May 15, 2012

The sad fallout from holiday balcony deaths in Spain


At a central London underground station late at night three very tipsy middle-aged people swayed precariously on an escalator ahead of me, and then without warning, the woman pitched forward and fell down several steps. Thanks to the speedy reactions of another passenger her likely continued descent was blocked but she suffered nasty cuts and bruises.

Meanwhile in Majorca yet another...

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Tuesday May 15, 2012

Why Spaniards tick off other people’s children


In our local park the other day a group of teenagers listlessly kicked a ball about until one youth noticed a portly old man shuffling along the path close by. Grinning at his chums he was on the point of aiming the ball in the pensioner’s direction when all of a sudden a furious male observer came running over, shook...

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Tuesday May 1, 2012

Flying by the seat of one’s pants


Now look here. I don’t know which passengers Skyscanner interviewed for its recent ‘perfect seat’ air travel survey, but they’ve got it all wrong.

Having questioned 1000 airline passengers, the flight comparison website concluded that the window seat 6A is the most desirable money can-or in the case of some budget airlines-cannot buy. I’m not at all sure about that. As...

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Tuesday May 1, 2012

Where eagles dare


Eagle attack

As foreign destinations go, Majorca is rarely feared for its predators although one of my unfortunate hens, Lucky Clucky- perhaps more fittingly, Not-So-Lucky-Clucky- has just been killed by a wily genet. Much as these masked raiders with their long bushy, banded tails and spotted coats look rather appealing, they are complete rotters, often killing purely for sport.

The little devils are...

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Tuesday April 24, 2012

Why languages should be compulsory in British schools


In rainy London for a few days and feeling homesick for Spain, I popped by Gail’s bakery in St John’s Wood, for a coffee and croissant and was asked if I had a loyalty card. When I explained that I didn’t because I lived in Majorca, the woman at the counter cheerfully broke into Spanish. She explained that her mother...

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Tuesday April 24, 2012

Fraud abroad and the benefit cheats


It seems that Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has a new cause. Having declared battle on benefit cheats in the UK, he has now set his sights on Spain.

According to the government, Spain is the number one country for fraud abroad with many Britons lapping up the sun while falsely claiming to be living in...

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Saturday February 4, 2012

Winter Wonderland in Mallorca!


Well what do you know? For the first in 25 years Mallorca has experienced ground snow and the locals just can’t get enough of it. Today we awoke to piles of soft fluffy white snow covering the enture garden, cats, donkeys, henhouse, car…just about everything. The Tramuntanas looked absolutely spectacular in their new pristine winter coat and there wasn’t a...

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Monday January 30, 2012

Bull on the Beach is on the way!


Dear Readers and Visitors, I’m happy to report that “A Bull on the Beach” is now finished and will be published this summer. Aside from yet again cataloguing our own chaotic and happy antics living in rural Mallorca, I take a look at the wonderful farms that despite massive obstacles and EU interference, still exist here.

Many young Mallorcans are...

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Monday January 30, 2012

Are cruises all they’re cracked up to be?


Watching images of a listing, drunken Costa Concordia lolling like a beached whale in shallow waters off the coast of Isola del Giglio, made me consider once again, whether cruises are really all they’re cracked up to be.

Grim passenger accounts of the panic and mayhem that ensued shortly after the unwieldy wedding cake of a cruise ship hit a rock...

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Monday January 30, 2012

Sensational book links Princess Diana with King of Spain


It appears that poor King Juan Carlos of Spain is entering what might later be known as his Annus Horribilis. As his son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, faces allegations of corruption, a potential scandal acutely embarrassing to the Spanish Royal household, along comes another spanner in the works, in the form of Catalan journalist, Pilar Eyre.

Miss Eyre has just unveiled La Soledad...

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Monday January 30, 2012

How a Majorcan nun changed a doctor’s life


After the working day many of us might contemplate, with some relief, a few hours free time in the evening but for one Spanish doctor in Majorca, that’s when his other working life begins.

Back in 2010, Dr Jorge Muños, head paediatrician at Palmaplanas USP hospital in Palma, was visited by Sister Magdalena Ribas, a Majorcan nun and nurse, who...

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Friday September 9, 2011

In tough times community matters most


Early yesterday morning as I puffed up the winding, country road to Fornalutx, a nearby mountain village, I heard a toot toot from a battered old car coming down the hill. ‘Get a move on, lazy bones!’ a man grinned from the window. I shot a glance, long enough to clock it was Llorenç, a local tradesman. Running past the...

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Friday September 9, 2011

Thank you!


A big thank you to all of you who have left cheery messages on the site after receiving my latest newsletter. I am ashamed that it has taken me so long to send it but I always seem to have something more pressing to do…er hem, do you ever use a similar excuse? Today I whizzed off to see Dr...

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Thursday September 8, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg should be applauded for his Spanglish bloomers


Some people are natural linguists. Others, sadly, are not. When Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York, addressed his citizens via a television broadcast on the eve of hurricane Irene, he also attempted to reassure the city’s large Hispanic community with some choice Spanish phrases.

With an endearingly deadpan delivery worthy of Mr Bean, the mayor unleashed what can only be described...

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Thursday September 8, 2011

It must be love?


When the Duchess of Alba, one of Spain’s wealthiest women, announced last month that she would be marrying her civil servant boyfriend of three years, Alfonso Diez, a snort of cynical laughter erupted from many quarters.

Let’s face it, why would a 61 year-old presentable male be interested in an 85 year-old pensioner with a rictus smile and taut facial skin...

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Thursday September 8, 2011

Hollywood takes Mallorca by storm


Oh the excitement. As I walked into my local café, the owner grabbed my arm and thrust a Mallorcan newspaper into my hands. He pointed urgently at one of the headlines. Actors Tom Hanks, Halle -or “Hayay” according to my Mallorcan chums –Berry, Jim Broadbent and Susan Sarandon, would all soon be jetting off to the island for the making...

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Monday June 20, 2011

Holidaymakers to be fined for flaunting the flab


It’s been a long time coming but after years of patiently enduring the sight of tourists strolling through its streets in a state of undress, Barcelona’s city council has issued a ban on exposing the flesh.

Residents and local businesses in the historic Catalan Capital have grown increasingly irate with holidaymakers who stray from the beaches in wholly inappropriate clothing and...

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Monday June 20, 2011

A taste of Spain, but what about Britain?


Many moons ago I was idly chatting with Ignacio Vasallo, director of the Spanish tourist office, about the possibility of holding a massive Spanish street event in London. A year later, he made it a reality and created A Taste of Spain in Regent Street, a huge annual event which incorporates Spanish culture, food and entertainment. He’s even replicated the...

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Monday June 20, 2011

Why a small village in Spain is feeling blue


Out of the blue, the tiny, traditional village of Juzcar, a pueblo blanco in the Genel Valley in Andalucía has found sudden fame as Sony’s chosen venue for hosting the world premiere of The Smurfs 3D. But becoming the blue-eyed boy of the valley has come at a price. To satisfy the forthcoming invasion of tiny smurfs, known as pitufos...

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Monday June 20, 2011

Euo-commuting isn't for the faint-hearted


Having braved the hordes at Gatwick passport control and security -during which my hand luggage was searched to within an inch of its over-packed life-I hopped onto a bar stool in the departures lounge and reached for a glass of cool Chablis. It was then that a piercing alarm reverberated through the terminal, followed by an announcement that we should...

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Monday June 20, 2011

White Knight Protestors Save Homes from Repossession


The other day a local Majorcan bank manager told me that the town’s notary had been twiddling his thumbs of late. With few buying property despite the drop in house prices his role as marriage broker between vendor and purchaser with all the Spanish officialdom that that entails had been severely diminished. Instead he had found himself having to witness...

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Tuesday May 3, 2011

Nudists bare all at Spanish gym


In Spain it always seems to be the Catalonians in the north east of the country who court controversy and raise eyebrows. After all it was the socialists in the region who devised an election campaign with a risqué television advert whose protagonist had an orgasm while casting her ballot. It was in Catalonia that the first “queer kissing flashmob”...

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Tuesday May 3, 2011

Are we mollycoddling our unemployed youth?


It’s laughable to imagine a son suing his parents for unpaid pocket money and even more ludicrous when the man in question happens to be 25 years old. And yet in Andalusia in Southern Spain a judge has just ruled against such a petition, ordering an unemployed young man to leave his parents house within 30 days and to find...

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Friday April 15, 2011

Superstitious Spaniards fret about Waity Katie's ring


The Majorcan women in my local town are very concerned that Prince William chose to give his future bride the 18-carat sapphire engagement ring that belonged to his mother, the late Diana Princess of Wales.

They all loved Princess Diana but they worry about her ring. Their view is that it will bring “Waity Katie”-a moniker that has stuck fast over...

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Wednesday April 13, 2011

Majorcan Tourist Board Shoots itself in the Foot


According to Pedro Iriondo, president of the Majorcan Tourist Board, the millions of Britons who travel annually to Majorca on budget airlines such as easyJet and Ryan Air are not quality tourists. Perhaps he’d like to share his views with David Cameron who recently celebrated his wife’s birthday with a Ryan Air trip from Stanstead to Granada?

Today when I popped...

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Monday April 11, 2011

Giant extinct bunny discovered on Menorca


The discovery of the fossilised remains of an enormous extinct rabbit on the island of Menorca, has proven of great excitement to old fossils like me living in the Baleares.

The creature named Menorcan King of Rabbits (Nuralagus rex) by local palaeontologists weighed at least 12 kilos and was ten times the size of its extinct mainland cousin and six times...

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Monday April 11, 2011

Majorcans, Parisians and Mr Zarkozy's ostrich


Did I have something to declare? An odd question. Standing in the customs zone of the Eurostar terminal in Paris Gare du Nord, I pondered what in my holdall of crumpled clothes, books and toiletries, could possibly have raised suspicion. Then it dawned on me. The ostrich.

In faltering French, more rusty than the corroded iron lid on my ancient well,...

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Monday April 11, 2011

Planes, trains and Spanish politicians


Si, si, señor. It’s that time of the year again when politicians are on their best behaviour, kissing babies in the street, cracking jokes with the elderly, cutting ribbons and generally acting as ingratiatingly as possible with all and sundry in the run up to the big event: regional and municipal elections.

In Spain there’s a cut off point for unctuous...

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Monday April 11, 2011

Looking a gift suitcase in the mouth


Now, I know I’m going to sound ungrateful and thoroughly undeserving but the truth is that there are times when a gift placed in my hands holds as much pleasure as receiving a grenade or possibly a starved piranha. Let me qualify that.

When, as an expat, I trundle back and forth from Majorca to the UK for work or to...

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Monday April 11, 2011

Nick Clegg's a crying shame


There’s been much guffawing and rubbing of hands in the media at Nick Clegg’s recent girly outpourings during an interview for the New Statesman magazine. The revelation that he is hurt by the public’s apparent loathing for him and how he is reduced to tears listening to music describes a man possibly al borde de un ataque de nervios-on the...

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Wednesday November 10, 2010

Bingo! Gambling Pensioners busted by police


A group of Majorcan pensioners were enjoying a regular weekly bingo game in the company of their local parish priest when all hell broke lose. Heavily armed police officers stormed the Son Cotoner club for senior citizens in Palma and ordered the players not to move as they sealed off all exits and inspected documentation.

In some bewilderment the elderly priest,...

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Wednesday November 10, 2010

Queer Kissing Flashmob fails to offend Pope


A campaign orchestrated by gay activists on Facebook to embarrass Pope Benedict XVI on his 32-hour visit to Spain was regarded as a bit of a damp squib on Sunday night when it failed to live up to media hype and pre publicity.

Gay protestors failed to catch the Pope’s eye
Bizarrely and some might say offensively entitled “Queer Kissing...

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Monday October 4, 2010

Size matters to Spain’s most obese man


Spare a thought for Gustavo Moreno who has become a reluctant star of the Spanish media this week. He is, dare I say it, being feted as Spain’s most obese individual who at only 31 years of age, weighs 260 kilos.

The good news is that in recent months Colombian born Mr Moreno managed to shed 20 kilos but according to...

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Monday October 4, 2010

Spain's errant knight to become YouTube hit?


Some years ago I foolishly attempted to read both volumes of Don Quixote, the 17th century masterpiece by Spanish author, Miguel de Cervantes. It didn’t help that I had bought them in the Spanish language. Reading all 1000 pages of the epic tale in English would have proved challenging enough.

It’s fair to say that I persevered and managed to read...

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Tuesday February 9, 2010

Zapatero praying for time in Washington


Sorry to be a bit of a killjoy but why exactly was the socialist prime minister of Spain, José Luis Zapatero, giving an address at the ultra conservative, national prayer breakfast in Washington this week?

At a very big pinch his socialist party might purport to have agnostic leanings but in the main it has introduced sweeping reforms to clip...

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Tuesday February 9, 2010

Another one bites the dust in Mallorcan corruption scandal


As if the corruption scandals engulfing Majorca just couldn’t get any worse, a series of fresh allegations and arrests have been made. Rather like a Brian Rix farce it’s becoming hard to remember who’s who in the regional government as new characters embrace the spotlight only to be booed and booted off stage, more often than not in handcuffs.

In the...

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Tuesday January 26, 2010

Should Spain be digging up its past?


It is almost inconceivable to imagine the terror felt by poet and playwright, Federico Garcia Lorca, as he was led stumbling to his death at the hands of a right wing Nationalist death squad during the Spanish Civil War. The date was August 1936, shortly after the hostilities began, and it is believed that he was shot and dumped...

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Tuesday January 26, 2010

It's never just been about Maddie


When I popped into the local newsagent for my papers, the woman behind the counter began clucking when she saw a front cover image of little Madeleine McCann accompanied by a report on the latest episode in the whole sorry affair.
‘Terrible, isn’t it?’ I muttered in Spanish, fumbling for my euros. She nodded. ‘Absolutely. How could...

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Tuesday January 26, 2010

Is Spain right to cut off health care scroungers?


Think about it. You need a hip replacement but the NHS is overloaded, advising that it could be many months before you can ever hope of admission. Then you learn about healthcare in sunny Spain with its sumptuous public hospitals that offer excellent patient care and treatments virtually on the spot. What do you do, wait in the

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Monday November 9, 2009

A Stamp of Approval


Waiting in the queue at our local post office, the correos, I was approached by Miguel, one of the staff, who asked in confidential tones about the British postal strike. When I told him it was being called off, he touched his heart as if I’d just delivered life saving news and joyously announced the decision to the other counter...

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Tuesday November 3, 2009

Red Rag to a Bull? Bullfighting: it's just not cricket.


These days I’m a bit of a bulldog when it comes to bullfights.

Spanish friends have tried valiantly, over the years, to convince me that the corrida, the bullfight, is an event of historic, aesthetic, religious and cultural significance but for me it is nothing more than an outmoded and voyeuristic blood sport.

I’ve read Lorca’s Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Medíjas with...

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Monday November 2, 2009

Everyone Loves an Old Bag


Savvy Majorcans like nothing better than the odd freebie and what could be more tempting than the offer of an old bag, or to be more exact, a traditional wicker basket?

As the leading producer, and third largest consumer of plastic bags in Europe, Spain isn’t known for its commitment to recycling. But recently it seems to have had an epiphany...

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Thursday October 29, 2009

House Today, Gone Tomorrow


Having a bad hair day? Try being Florentina Mora, a Majorcan chef from my local town of Sóller, who has inadvertently fallen foul of Ley de Costas, the Coastal Laws of Spain, and on November 5 will see her family’s beachside home demolished.

Florentina’s in-laws purchased this romantic old landmark on Cala Tuent beach back in the 1920s with all the...

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Saturday October 24, 2009

Stephen Gately: A Tragic End to a Holiday


There I was pottering down one of Palma’s long, leafy avenues today en route to a meeting when I came across a complete scrum of media with zoom lenses poised and cameras ready to roll. Too curious to walk on by I approached them and asked in Spanish whether someone famous was about to arrive. ‘Do you speak English?’ a...

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Saturday October 24, 2009

You Say Majorca, I say Mallorca...


Oh here we go again. When I first came to live on the island of Mallorca, I couldn’t get that oafish rhyme out of my head of, the water in Majorca don’t taste like it oughta, and it started me questioning how the word really oughta be pronounced. The local British newspaper, inaugurated in 1962, is called the Majorca Daily...

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Saturday October 24, 2009

Growing Up Is a Risky Business


My twelve year old son, Ollie, came home from his Spanish school, talking about a great trip he’d just had, visiting a newspaper printing works and a radio station in Palma. Did I have a problem with that? Absolutely not, but I found it odd that once again, I knew nothing about it beforehand. In his previous English school we...

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Saturday October 24, 2009

Is It Cool to Kiss Babies?


It never ceases to amaze me how here in Mallorca it is customary to see men of all ages making complete fools of themselves in the presence of babies and children. Yesterday for example, I was on my way home from the local market when I noticed a young, bronzed Adonis bobbing up and down by a parked car while...

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Saturday October 24, 2009

Whatever Happened To Mr Mayor?


There’s been much in the media about the lack of civic involvement in sorting out local street crime in the UK and I think it’s a fair point. Where is the mayor when you need him? In truth, I’ve lost track of exactly what a mayor in the UK is supposed to do, aside from rattle his chains and glide...

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Saturday October 24, 2009

Have Overpriced Restaurants Had their Chips?


I’ve just received a surprising invitation to sample free canapés every Friday night at the Palma based restaurant, Fosh Foods. Why am I surprised? Simply because Marc Fosh, the only British chef in Spain to have received a Michelin Star, has thrown off his mink mantle and opted for chic and cheap. So sure is he that times are changing...

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Saturday October 24, 2009

Hidden Treasures


This may be the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness back in Blighty but in Majorca it’s the beginning of the seta season, or to be truly Majorcan, the month for bolets, mushrooms. With Maria, the mushroom queen of our valley, leading me astray early one morning in the Tramuntana mountains, I discovered why fungi gathering has become an...

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Saturday October 24, 2009

All About a Goat


There’s a frisson of excitement in Soller, my local rural town, and it’s all thanks to a dead goat. One hundred years ago, an eccentric Edwardian scientist named Dorothea Bate from the Natural History Museum in London, came to rugged and tourist-free Majorca and found, in the deep recesses of a sea cave, the oddly shaped cranium and jaw bone...

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Saturday October 24, 2009

Goodbye to All That


Now that I live in Majorca I often guiltily recall, how despite living in central London with museums and art galleries practically tripping me up on the doorstep, I rarely got round to visiting many. Of course I blamed the stress of London life and work but I really should have made more effort. Yesterday, in glorious sunshine, I found...

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Tuesday June 16, 2009

Top 5 Must Read Books for July!


Well, having suffered a week or gastroenteritis, an experience my 12 year son Ollie was also lucky enough to share with me (ho ho) I at least had a little cheer-me-up moment this morning with the following review from St Christopher’s Inns publication and website:

‘‘Goats From A Small Island by Anna Nicholas’‘
‘No one is more of an authority...

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Tuesday March 17, 2009

Unleashed from the crypt!


Ok, that’s a tad dramatic. My little cellar isn’t so very crypt-like although the white walls, unpadded as yet, and the general silence would without doubt appeal to a trapist monk. Well, dear readers, I have finally put my next little tome to bed and to say I am maaaaaa’d out would be an understatement. For some months now I...

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Thursday December 18, 2008

Goats from a small island-Grabbing Mallorcan Life by the Horns


The time has come to announce the forthcoming tome. Sorry dear readers but there WILL be another and this time I am taking Myotragus as my theme. My, er, WHAT???? You might well be forgiven for not knowing about this little creature, which translated from the Greek means, ‘mouse goat’. Until about five thousand years ago this dwarfed...

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Thursday December 18, 2008

Shopping Frenzy


It’s a funny old thing, but whenever I enthuse about my regular shopping forays to our local town of Sóller, London friends view me with some skepticism. How, they ask, can I find the weekly grind of grocery shopping so enthralling? Well, I say, shopping in our town is not a perfunctory affair but more of a social event, an...

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Thursday December 18, 2008

Miguel the Toro


Something I haven’t been aware of in the UK before but which is alive and well in Mallorca, is the parking pitch phenomenon. Driving into Palma on a busy day when parking is near impossible in any of the underground car parks or on the street, we head for the small plaça by Es Baluard museum in the hope that...

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Thursday December 18, 2008

Bored Stiff


So a clever professor at Michigan University has discovered that when we are bored our brains simply disconnect. In a simple experiment, placing volunteers under an MRI scanner and showing them streams of numbers, he was able to ascertain that our self control, vision and language become greatly affected by boredom. Now this is very opportune research as far...

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Thursday December 18, 2008

Thin Londoners


A record is soon to be announced by the government. Apparently Britain will shortly be able to hold its head up high and proclaim itself the world’s fattest nation. America is currently the reining king but we are fast catching up as the nation of fat. Isn’t that something to be proud of? Well when back in London recently, I...

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Thursday December 18, 2008

Christmas Elf & Safety lollipop Ban


Santa’s happy elves are working 24/7 to get those presents wrapped up in time for the big day but in one part of Hampshire, a breakaway group of killjoy elves are hell bent on making Christmas a misery for locals. In festive mode, school crossing patrol officer, Kevin Simpson, decided to attach glittery tinsel to the top of his lollipop...

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Thursday December 18, 2008

Dreaming of a White Christmas


A vicar in Dorset has announced that he is banning the hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem, from his church this Christmas because it is outmoded and doesn’t reflect the conflict happening on the West Bank. Shocked by a recent visit there, Mr Coulter cannot now tolerate this festive ditty because he maintains that Bethlehem isn’t a nice little town...

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Thursday December 18, 2008

CHILD’S PLAY


During the summer a Mallorcan friend begged me to teach English to her daughter. I hesitated. After all I’m not a qualified teacher and lessons with a Mallorcan speaking seven year old sounded like a bit of a challenge. Finally I agreed. After all it would only be for the holiday period. ‘That’s great’, she enthused, ‘because I now have...

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Thursday December 18, 2008

Wrapping up Christmas


All being well, in a couple of days time my husband, son and I will be in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to share some Christmas spirit with 70 orphaned girls from 3 to 17 years old in a small orphanage on the perimeter of the city. What’s that got to do with sunny Spain you may ask? Nothing at all. Well,...

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Thursday September 25, 2008

The Wild Woman of Borneo


Well, appallingly, I see that I have failed to submit a piece to my own website for some months. Tsk Tsk. What kind of writer am I? Still, I hope I might fall on your mercy, dear reader, given that I have just arrived back, jet lagged and grimy (40 hours in transit-4 flights and 13 hours on bumpy tracks)...

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Friday July 18, 2008

Just a Minute


For fans of the long-running Radio 4 show, Just a Minute, I hear from my friend, Nicholas Parsons, the show’s chairman, that the new series is currently being recorded and taken out on the road around the UK. Interestingly Just a Minute, which you can tune into via the BBC website began in 1967 and is now in its...

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Friday July 18, 2008

Chippies shaking with despair


Chippies across the north of England and Scotland are digging a hole for themselves-quite literally. It transpires that new regulations at Gateshead Council have put an end to salt shakers with seventeen holes being used in local fish and chip shops to cut down on salt consumption. The chippies dilemma is that the largest supplier of salt shakers in the...

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Tuesday June 24, 2008

A Sporting Chance


It came as no surprise that a school in the UK has banned sports day for fear of one of the children stumbling on loose mud or twisting an ankle on a random mole hill. It is indeed laughable but England has become such a nanny state that this sort of utter tosh is now the norm. Long gone are...

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Tuesday June 24, 2008

I'm Alright Says Tom!


Why is it that politicians never learn when to keep their traps shut? If things weren’t bad enough for our Gordie, he now has his rubber-band mouth Transport Minister, Tom Harris, lecturing the nation on how lucky they are. With food bills up, house prices sliding into oblivion, pay rises below inflation and petrol costs going through the roof, this...

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Monday June 16, 2008

A Non-Human War


Some months ago I contacted a raft of global animal charities about a story of a mistreated street dog in Brazil which countless friends had asked me to investigate. Most organisations were hugely helpful and one in particular sent me regular news and then began sending me updates on animal cruelty worldwide. It’s an outfit based in the States and...

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Monday June 16, 2008

Lonely Freedom Fighter


All hail David Davis! The man is a veritable God. For once a politician has had the guts and garters to stand up for what he believes in. I have always thought Mr Davis rather grey and mousy but no, he is a true lion in rodent clothing. May Gordon and his ghastly nannying team quake in their boots as...

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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

Heart of Stone


There are few things worse than a fool sounding off on a subject he knows nothing about except perhaps when it comes to a Hollywood icon spouting on world affairs. Gabbling breathlessly at the Cannes film festival, actress Sharon Stone surmised that the devastating earthquake in China which has claimed countless lives, was probably due to China’s Karma. In a...

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Thursday May 22, 2008

Don't Cry for Me London!


If anyone thought Ken Livingstone would be weeping with his newts having lost the mayoral race, they can think again. Within a few weeks of defeat, our Ken is happy again having managed to secure hugely lucrative after dinner speaking contracts with a top London firm. He is rumoured to have secured more than £100,000 in speaking fees already. Unlike...

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Wednesday May 21, 2008

Willie Won't He?


So, thumbs up to Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways for snubbing a ten percent bonus of £700,000, to indicate his remorse for the extraordinary fiasco that unrolled at the opening of Terminal 5. It would be foolish to imagine Willie didn’t want the dosh. His canny reasoning for not taking the money was that he’d have been eaten...

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Wednesday May 21, 2008

Ramsey the food tsar


Gordon Ramsey

It always seems incredibly bad taste for one super chef to sound off about another, and none more so than in the case of bruiser Gordon Ramsey, who as self appointed food Tsar of Britain, has lambasted Delia Smith for giving the thumbs up to tinned food, and other chefs for using vegetables and fruit out of season. Ramsey believes...

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Wednesday May 21, 2008

Jacqui Jobsworth


One of Gordon Brown’s biggest mistakes was awarding the post of Home Secretary to the ineffectual and dreary Jacqui Smith whose robotic voice could challenge that of a Dalek in any voiceover competition. Time and time again she has made embarrassing gaffes and naïve, contradictory statements which show just how out of touch the government really is about the state...

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Wednesday May 21, 2008

Boris on a Roll


It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of what is happening in London with bouncy Boris Johnson at the helm. Much as it’s the glorious honeymoon period for the new Mayor of London, one has to admire his shrewd early moves which are impressing Londoners across the Capital. He has already appointed a tier of bright, no-nonsense,...

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