Month: March 2012

King of the Road

I have an announcement to make, I now have an older male in my life. I met him online on the Second Hand Mallorca group on Facebook. He’s a bit beaten about: he’s done some mileage, and he’s carrying some scars, but he is a hard working kind of guy, and I’ve grown quite fond of him already in the short time we’ve been together. He’s spent every day with me, carrying my bags and hanging around waiting for me. And he’s blue… Oh okay, okay, he’s a sixteen year old VW Polo, and of course, he has a name: El Topolino.

It was kismet when El Topolino and I crossed paths. I had recently been let down very badly by a certain car hire company based at the airport (after careful consideration I have decided not to give them any free advertising by writing my column about them and their reneging on their promises as just like a certain Irish airline I think they see any publicity as good publicity, so I won’t be ‘naming and shaming’). So I was in desperate need of some wheels. My husband and I need independent transport but we still only owned one car, so we had been availing ourselves of a blinding car hire deal, until the day it wasn’t a blinding deal anymore. So carless and stuck it was decision time. For some reason there were two or three different old wrecks under 700€ all being advertised at the same time on the group, but I knew El Topolino’s owner so we went along to meet the old boy.

Well, it was love at first sight. There is something very liberating about owning an elderly car which frankly is already as scratched, dented and rusty as it is probably going to get whilst still driveable. Perfect for me as my ability as a driver seems to have deteriorated as my age has increased (sssh, don’t tell the insurance company!). El Topolino has enabled me to relive the carefree part of my youth when I was driving an old heap. There’s no aircon and no radio, only one of the doors open and there are a couple of ‘knacks’ you have to learn in order to get the best out of El Topolino. He’s got personality, and I love him. He’s the perfect Mallorca car. Park him next to a Porsche and you know who’s going to be nervous about the scratches? Right, not El Topolino, that’s for sure. He’s the King of the road.

Now with the warm weather coming, AND two more English language radio stations due to launch in Mallorca, perhaps there are a couple of modifications to do, but for now, I am as happy as larry with my new BBFF (Best Boy Friend Forever). Is it too late to enter this year’s Classic Car Rally?

Written by Vicki McLeod ©2012

First published in the Euro Weekly Newspaper on Thursday March 15th 2012

Say what?

I wasn’t exactly a precocious child, it wasn’t as if I excelled at everything I did. Ooh no, not by a long chalk. But there were a couple of things that I did which other kids seemed to struggle with, and there were some things which I thought I should be able to do, but just didn’t do so well at.

One of those was, and is, public speaking. I thought I could do it, but I couldn’t and then I could do it, but only when I wasn’t thinking about it. Strange. I remember being entered into a debating competition at school, there were two other kids in my team, and we were supposed to be talking about the pros and cons of zoos. I stood up all full of hopeful ignorance and proceeded to die a death up there trying to propose the motion, I was a total failure, and I have never forgotten the humiliating embarrassment of it. It was appalling. My mum was in the audience and she was livid, not with me, but with the teacher of her fourteen year old daughter: ‘I cannot believe that she let you down like that’. Apparently my death onstage was down to lack of preparation, and that wasn’t my fault. Result, thought I. Followed by, I will never ever, ever speak in public again. And I managed to achieve that for many, many years.

In fact it wasn’t until 2007 when I accidentally ended up presenting a radio show that I said anything in public. But that wasn’t really IN public as there was just me, a computer full of songs and a wall to talk to, I couldn’t see anyone, so it wasn’t too frightening. I’m much better with words that have been written down, you can mull over them you see. But the spoken word, once you’ve said it, well you’ve said it haven’t you? No going back. Scary stuff.

However now and again, in fact this week even, I have to stand up in front of people I don’t know and say stuff. This is a challenge to me. And I almost always make a prat of myself, or at least I always feel like a prat. After a recent (and v poor) display I decided that this had got to change. It must be kismet as just like that a professional stand up comedian and teacher Logan Murray is going to be running a one day course in Public Speaking at Mood Beach in Costa D’en Blanes. (He’s also teaching a weekend stand up comedy course which my husband is going to do. We decided only one of us could do it as we would fight over who was funniest). If you want to join me then you can get more info from Glynis at . At some point after this date I shall be restaging my debate almost thirty years later on ‘Cruelty or Conservation, are zoos fair?’ just for my mother’s benefit, okay, and mine too, I admit it.

Time to celebrate

What are you doing next week on Thursday March 8th? It’s a big day all around the world, a national holiday in some places, it’s ‘International Women’s Day’. It’s marked with events and parties, rallies, demonstrations, conferences and all sorts of gatherings in countries as diverse as Argentina, Belgium and China. The event started 101 years ago and was in support of the Suffragettes who campaigned for equal rights for women.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have equal rights, and indeed can’t imagine what sort of person I would be if I had to mind my Ps and Qs and not do exactly what I wanted to when I wanted to. I am an equal to other people in the world and my daughter is equal, and I have some very feisty women to thank for securing those rights for me. But there are still millions of women around the world who don’t have this luxury; there are women who don’t have the chance for the same sort of free education as I benefitted from. We take a lot of things for granted don’t we? Well I do anyway. It’s important to remember and to celebrate what we have, and to thank the people who came before us, and make sure that our kids know about where they’ve come from and where they’re going to.

But International Women’s Day (IWD) is not all worthy thoughts and good deeds. Last year I was involved in the organisation of an IWD event at Mood Beach. About one hundred women gathered to spend the day together, learning and talking about subjects which ranged from health to business. It was an amazing, celebratory, revelatory day for many of us.

This year I’m involved in the event again, and this year it is moving to The Lindner Hotel in Bendinat, a bigger venue to cope with the anticipated larger audience. There will be speakers presenting on subjects as diverse as sex, business, personal development and the future of the world! For example, Marga Prohens is one of the youngest members of the Parliament in the Balearic Islands. She is passionate about promoting an entrepreneurial spirit amongst young people. Marga will talk about the systems in place which can help anyone who is in the process of realizing their dreams of setting up a business, as well as about particular aspects in local politics which affect women and their families. Elisabet Shatouris, an internationally acclaimed evolution biologist and futurist, Jamie Catto motivator, speaker, filmmaker but best known for being part of the band ‘Faithless’, will also talk along with other fascinating subjects.

There will be chances to meet new people, to get involved with charities, and to meet up with women’s groups from around the island. The event is being supported by Calvia Council and the Balearic Government, along with local businesses IFA Spectrum, FIX-it Mallorca and ACN. And there will be a market stall area for small businesses to sell their wares. The whole day including a buffet lunch is 49€ per person. (And it is per person, not per woman, as men are invited too of course!).  You can buy online and find out more about the day at

So, bring your mum, bring your daughter, bring your friends. It’s time.


By Vicki McLeod. Published on March 1st 2012 in Euro Weekly News

Sick notes

We have been besieged again with illness. But this time it’s not just us. Evil flu and cold bugs have been spreading around the island. Amazingly, only the women in our house have been affected. La Gidg and I were struck on Saturday afternoon. I think I prematurely sent her back to school on Tuesday as when I picked her up from school she still looked game, but no, within three minutes she was conked out on the back seat. Bad mummy.

It’s pretty normal isn’t it to have to work through illness, especially if you work online, or make yourself available to people to contact you online. Many of my messages in the past three days have read ‘Hi Vicki, sorry that you aren’t very well, could you just do this thing for me….’.  It’s only the click of a mouse after all, right? So I guess I only have myself to blame.  So instead of getting annoyed with myself for not taking some time off to get better faster I asked my Facebook friends for their cures for the common cold. Some of them are pretty sensible, some of them sound pretty unpleasant, but each of them apparently works…. it’s up to you if you try them!

There were plenty of votes for whisky, honey and lemon. Victoria Davis said ‘it won’t cure you but you’ll sleep!’ Natalie Jackson’s dad always went for alcohol and vitamin C although she goes for the more sensible Lemsip.

Quite a few went for garlic.  Belinda Shaw’s granddad used to put cloves of garlic into a bottle of whisky. Garlic, which contains a ­chemical called allicin, can zap the cold viruses that lead to infection.

There were also a lot of votes for cayenne pepper and other spices. Lord Martyn Rose chomps on hot chilli peppers and gets himself around a good curry, he swears by them. Another friend, Alison Garbutt, stands by honey with ground cinnamon. She said she’s been using it every day for over a year and hasn’t had any colds or flu. Certain spices have been found to be beneficial bug fighters, including cayenne pepper, which contains an active ingredient called capsaicin that beats congestion by thinning the mucus in your nasal passages so you can breathe more easily.

Lisa Bonner came up with an unusual one, which I think is a variation on the German ‘wear wet socks’ idea for coughs. She told me to put Vick’s Vapour Rub on my feet and put socks on as it stopped coughs immediately!

You might also want to get stuck into some chicken soup which Selena Garfield said was ‘like Jewish penicillin’.

My more sensible friend, and the only one actually qualified to comment as she is a nurse, Sally Luxmore, said ‘night and day nurse! The old saying is treat a cold and it will last two weeks, let it run its course and it will take a fortnight’. Sage advice there, basically she’s saying there’s nothing you can do. Just drink lots of fluids, get indoors, keep warm, and find someone to supply you with plenty of cups of tea.

If you’re up to it now might be a good time to go and check on any neighbours you have that are elderly, just pop in and say hello. If they’re feeling under the weather they might need a bit of support, so don’t forget to do your good deed!


By Vicki McLeod

Published in the Euro Weekly News 23rd Feb 2012