Month: December 2008

Back to basics

Well, it’s cold here now. And it’s time to get busy with the wood burning stove. It’s quite therapeutic to have to clean it out, lay the fire with twisty bits of newspaper and twigs, and then gradually build it up as it catches and starts to defrost the house once again. There’s been snowstorms and weather you only read about in the Bible on the island for the last couple of days so I’m not actually exaggerating.

We’ve been lucky enough to have friends who live on fincas with lots of fallen trees and own their own chainsaws, so it’s been easy enough for Ollie to take the dog into the woods for an hour, carve up some wood, deliver half to our friends and take the other half for ourselves.

Alternatively you can buy wood from the wood lady who lives in Andratx. No one knows her real name, but she’s lived in Andratx all of her life along with her husband, brother and two sons. One day she told me that she had been to Barcelona . . . .once. They sell wood, and seem to live amongst bags and bags of the stuff in their house; you can catch a glimpse of it when you knock on the door which declares ‘Lena informes aqui’. When I first arrived in Mallorca I thought that Lena was a psychic who informed inside . . . it wasn’t until the first winter came round that I realised that Lena is the Spanish word for Firewood. Doh.

In the credit crunch though, even shelling out for a bag of firewood for the paltry sum of €4.50 a bag (when you get through 3 or 4 a week) is a bit steep. So, it was back to basics last weekend when although there was wood available, there were no chainsaws working that we could lay our hands on. Off to the woods we all went, Gigi included (note Dolly having a little rest on top of the tree whilst she was off looking for twigs), to gather and saw and chop. It wasn’t long before I started to get that Little House on the Prairie feeling, and began to fantasise about living in the middle of nowhere, with just my man, my baby and the dog for company: living off the land, harvesting nuts and berries like an overgrown squirrel. We got a good enough haul and then tumbled back down the tracks to civilisation (the Renault Kangoo living up to its name as it bounced up and down over the bumps).

The back to basics feeling lasted all the way to yesterday when the weather blew up the electricity supply to our friends’s finca, and we realised that there was absolutely no way we could cope without Strictly Come Dancing, Facebook and online streaming. Although, if anyone wanted to buy us a Christmas present then we have our eye on a sexy little chainsaw at Leroy Merlins . . . .

Saturday December 13th – Dynamics

We went to the local Christmas fair this morning, an ideal place for picking up little knick knacks and bumping into people we haven’t seen in a while. In fact I managed to bump into someone I don’t remember how I even know, but she definately knew me. I kept the conversation going (in Spanish I’ll have you know) whilst trying to figure out a) what her name was, b) how she knew me or indeed c) any tiny clue at all which would mean I could personalise the conversation beyond the mildly interested, ‘And how is your family?’ style of questioning.

I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t manage to identify her, but we wished each other a very merry Navidad and my daughter, Bobo and I walked on our way.

Living in such a small community, after living in London, came as quite a shock to me when I first moved here – I couldn’t get used to people knowing my business, or thinking that it was okay that they knew my business. And sometimes you get too close to someone that you subsequently regret doing it, and occasionally you know that if you bump into certain individuals that there will be words ‘said’. So it was with an anxious heart that I came face to face with a couple who have been avoiding me for a few weeks now: actually, ignoring me would be more accurate. We drop our kids at school, I frantically wave at them and they pretend as if they haven’t seen me as they drive away in their car. Well this time, there was no escape, they had a stall at the fair, and I bluntly, but politely, stood there in front of them until they had to say hello. It went okay, whatever thing it is that they are cross with me about, wasn’t mentioned. I bought something from their stall, gave them an idea for another place they could go to sell their stuff, and left…. feeling rather proud of myself. Have bridges been mended, is it all good now? Who knows, in this little village it can be all smily happy people to your face, whilst behind your back it’s et tu brute and the knife sharpener.

But what else to do except be nice? I don’t know why they have been avoiding me, I don’t know even if it’s just my imagination; perhaps coincidentally they both need visits to the opticians, or is it that I am finally beginning to get close enough to the local village people to be treated as one of them in some cases?

The Mallorquins have an odd personality trait: (which has been confirmed by other Mallorquin friends of mine), even if you know them really well they will not say hello to you first in the street, in the fear that you might snub them or not recognise them. That they will be humiliated by the fact that you did not return the greeting. Interesting that such a tough, resiliant race of people should also be so sensitive.