Month: March 2010

Pleasant Valet Sunday


Before we moved to Mallorca, we lived in London: cars didn’t figure very largely in our life, we didn’t need them; in fact they were a bit of a liability, expensive, impractical and no fun to move around in. Now in Mallorca we rely heavily on cars, public transport isn’t wonderful and trying to get ourselves and our child around is just not possible without independent wheels.

My husband has a motor, and so do I – mine is the trusty Kangoo which we have had since our daughter was born: it was brand new when we got it, we even went for extra airbags being the anxious newbie parents that we were.  It had that ‘new car smell’, but four years on, I’ve got to admit, it now has a rather unpleasant interior pong. After being constantly inhabited by dogs, children and with a variety of milky kids’ drinks having been spilt in it, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

I’ve tried to shift the smell. With ‘Febreeze’ and what have you:  air fresheners, incense, leaving the windows open to air the car etc. Nothing has worked. It had got to the point where I was so embarrassed by it I wouldn’t give anyone a lift in the ‘stinkmobile’.

Then my friend Mel (single, no kids, yet, whenever she comes round to our house she has to clean up before she can sit down.  I would like to do a lifeswap with her:  she has a convertible and a really nice apartment) recommended I take my smelly problem to Royston who’s opened a hand car wash in Calvia village. “A car valet?” It sounded extravagant.

When I had short hair I couldn’t understand why women went to have their hair blowdried in a salon, surely they could manage that at home. I’ve had to change my tune since I grew my hair long, I can’t make it do what it’s told myself and now I understand. So I reasoned to myself, when you can’t manage it yourself, hand it over to the pros.

I put my shame to one side and took the Kangoo along for a full valet last Saturday.  Royston had to work hard, but after a couple of hours, and one of those carpet cleaning machines, my Mummy wagon stepped out of the salon.  Royston didn’t make too much of a fuss about the efforts he had to go to: like any good hairdresser, he knew what not to say, as much as what to say, so my ‘bad car owner’ blushes were spared.

Sunday, we went for a spin through the countryside, because we could.

http://www.facebook.com/vicki.mcleod

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Conundrums and celebrations

I found myself in a quandary last weekend: I don’t get many opportunities to take the mick and have a day pass to do completely nothing. So I am quite fond of any excuse to do just that, my birthday and Mother’s Day in particular. My plan to exploit last Sunday to the hilt was thwarted when it was mentioned to me that it wasn’t actually Mother’s Day yet…. in Spain anyway.

Not wanting to be one of those expats who moves to Spain and doesn’t embrace the culture and traditions of where I am living I was pulled up short. I struggled for a reply to my friend who had brought it up. Curses, I thought to myself, I was looking forward to going out for lunch, and getting flowers.

Turning to the internet for clarification I discovered a further conundrum: Spain seems to celebrate two Mother’s Days – one in May and one on December 8th (this coincides with the ‘Feast of the Immaculate Conception’ which celebrates the Virgin Mary).  Which to celebrate?

It’s got to be said that the Dia del Padres has seemed to take precedence at our little girl’s school, every year she has come home with a gift for Daddy, but so far nothing for me for the Dia del Madres, perhaps it’s just not such a big deal here I thought. Daddy’s had a t-shirt with our daughter’s hand prints on it, a sculpture made out of those polystyrene meat trays and toilet rolls (‘beautiful darling…. what is it?’) and last year I recall that he had a piece of playdough modelled into an animal.  You know what I mean, those charmingly ugly gifts crafted with totally adoring love. Jealous, moi?  A little.

Then what do you do about your own mother, mine lives in France, and my mother in law is in Gloucester.  ‘Sorry mums, I’m not sending you your mother’s day cards until May, or perhaps December ‘cause we don’t celebrate it until then’.  Really, we shouldn’t need a reminder about thanking our parents and telling each other that we care, and it’s a shame that special days have to be created to make us remember or feel guilty that we forgot. The cynic in us all will say ‘It’s for the card manufacturers and the florists, they are the only ones that benefit’.  My little girl’s offering last Sunday, ‘look mummy, this is for you, it’s a picture of you with a crown, you’re the queen!’ didn’t cost a cent, and was a priceless work of art, to me.

So we decided as a family that we are going to celebrate them all, every single last one of those days, and every day in between as well.

Happy Spanish Father’s Day pappis, (it’s this Friday, and I can’t wait to see what imperfectly perfect thing my husband is proudly presented with).

You can find me wasting my time and chewing the fat at: http://www.facebook.com/vicki.mcleod

Peter Crouch

By Vicki McLeod

There’s a quiet, bone-loving alien in the corner of our living room. He looks like a goat, but is actually a Podenco Ibicenco, an Ibizan Hound. I’d never even heard of one a month ago, let alone considered giving one a home. But it’s typical of Mallorca, there always seems to be an animal that needs your help.

The dog was discovered by Amanda on an abandoned finca in Portol, wired up to a post and completely neglected by his owner. I don’t agree with that treatment, and neither did Amanda.  After some calls to find help to pay for the dog’s inevitable bills (thank you to Cristaleria Calvia in Peguera and their clients for covering his bills) he was liberated and arrived at the door of Riccardo Gigoli, a vet in Peguera.

A homeless, huge, scared, skinny dog: how were we going to home him? I had an idea…  In the meantime he had half of his tail amputated, was deloused four times before he was bugfree, and started to eat for England. Whilst I was working on my husband (“At least let’s give him a home until he’s better…..” bat eyelashes), I did some research on the breed. Ibicencos are notoriously calm in the house, good with children, but not great with anything small and furry as that is what they are bred to hunt (how would the cat cope, I wondered).

So, following a long conversation with my husband, the dog moved in: at first he was quiet, eating, sleeping, regaining strength. But then the more curious side of his nature started to appear, including some ‘Mission Impossible’ style raids on the kitchen. Incredibly he ignored the cat, and vice versa, ‘Dog? What dog?’

Naming the Ibiceno was a tricky process, because as soon as you give the dog a name, that’s it, he’s a family member. We struggled through a list of corny names (‘Lucky’, ‘Suerte’). Then one school-run morning my husband yelled ‘Get beeping Peter Crouch out of the beeping way’, and realised that a) we’d found a lookalike for the England football player in the lanky dog that was gratefully following us around and b) we’d just adopted the Ibizan version of the Greyhound.

He’s not the cuddliest of dogs: all bone and skin, but he has gained four kilos in a month. Endearingly he likes to be tucked up with a towel around his ears, looking just a little bit like E.T.  As I said, there’s an alien sitting in my living room, and it must feel to him like he’s landed on another planet.

You can find me wasting my time and chewing the fat at: http://www.facebook.com/vicki.mcleod

For more info about Podenco Ibicencos go and visit: http://www.ibizanhoundrescue.com

Carrying the can by Vicki McLeod

The village of S’Arracó, where I live, is well known for its eclectic and international community: we boast amongst our population artists, writers, TV presenters, filmmakers, inventors and all round freethinkers;  so, the good people of S’Arracó have seen a thing or two. Which might explain why our village in particular was chosen to take part in a recycling pilot project.

Every day we have collections for plastics, paper, glass, organics or mixed rubbish: not all at the same time though so we have to store all the other bags somewhere in the house until their dedicated day. This has lead to some spirited ‘bin diving’ from our new dog, Peter Crouch, (he is particularly keen on the plastics and organics selections) and subsequently, when he’s left all the refuse strewn around our kitchen, much cursing as we clean it all up again.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the project. We diligently wash out  yoghurt pots and separate the cellophane window from the envelope.  Perhaps our local council has gone too far though, as in an attempt to force even the older residents of S’Arracó to recycle, the Ayuntamiento removed every single public bin from the streets: leaving everyone with no choice but to either stick it all in the back of the car and chuck it in a bin whenever you drive past one, or take part and just do what you’re told.

So, what do you do about the ‘walking around’ rubbish? Especially the sorts of rubbish that a dog and a four year old little girl can produce on a village stroll (poop and empty crisp bags respectively, by the way).  You take it home with you, there’s no choice, ‘cause there’s no bin.  Try explaining that to a little girl who’s just figured out that ‘Why?’ is the most entertaining question to ask.

‘Mummy, why do I have to carry the crisp bag?’

‘You have to baby, we have to put it in the bin at home, and I’m already carrying Peter Crouch’s special bag, holding your hand and his lead.’

‘Mummy, why can’t you carry my bag?’

‘Well baby, it’s your responsibility, it’s your rubbish and you have to put it in a bin’.

‘Why are you carrying Peter Crouch’s bag for him?’

‘Well, because he is a dog, and doesn’t understand.’

‘Why?’

A conversation which goes around in circles, just as well I like recycling.