Month: March 2013

Weather or not.

by Nicola Tennant BrownIf you had told me nine years ago when I first moved to Mallorca in July 2004 that the winters were going to be the coldest that I had ever experienced, I would have laughed at you. Heartily, and for a long time.

If, you had also told me that my most favourite household gadget would be, not the washing machine, or the kettle (both of which seem to die on a regular basis despite Calgon) but the electric blanket, then I would have asked to take your pulse and wondered if you were sickening for something.  Not one of my UK friends or family believes me when I tell them that it gets properly cold in Mallorca in February.  But it can´t have just got cold from the winter of 2004 onwards can it? So why on earth are the buildings in Mallorca so ill prepared for cold damp weather? I don´t get it. We live in a stone house, stone cold. (Now I know where that expression comes from). We can stick it out for most of the winter but the depths of February are pretty miserable given that we have no carpets, no curtains, the windows are single glazed and we only have a wood burner. Hence my love affair with the electric blanket.  Perhaps the Mallorcans are just tougher than they look, how does everyone else cope? Fuel is so expensive now, I know of many people who can´t afford to put on their heating if they are lucky enough to have it because electricity is so costly. It´s student time, i.e. put on another jumper, and get under the duvet.

This chilly weather is a very good reason to have pets. We have five cats who function as mobile lap heaters, neck warmers, hats, and one of them is very keen on getting under the duvet with us and cuddling up in the crook of an arm. They also work as terrific alarm clocks, how many people are lucky enough to be woken by a chorus of purring cats all hoping that their telepathic messages are being received: FEED US, FEEEEED US! I call them my ‘Breakfast Escort’ every morning it´s a different cat sitting on top of me, its nose literally millimetres from mine.

I do take a great deal of pleasure in explaining to newcomers to the island about a) how ridiculously hot it gets in August and b) how painfully cold it is in February. I love their faces and the confused looks that run across them. Mallorca’s weather is great isn´t it? There is a wide range of it to choose from and the best bit is that we don´t have to put up with many overcast or grey skies. I can placate myself with the knowledge that we will quickly be back to blue skies and sunshine, and in six months’ time I can moan about the heat and not being able to think straight. Bliss.

You can read more and contact me at www.familymattersmallorca.com by Vicki McLeod©2013

PS You can see photos of the snow in Mallorca from 2012 here.

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Ignorance was bliss

Le PetomaneI have just had a conversation with my husband that I don´t think either of us thought we would ever have. We have just discussed, in detail, the contents of burgers of two well-known Fast Food places (I feel calling them “restaurants” just a little farfetched) and praised both of the businesses for seemingly getting through the horsemeat hoohah unscathed, so far. We did deviate into an argument thinly disguised as a debate about how these burgers were cooked as he did seem to know a lot about this, looks like he may have been doing some research, all in the name of science, of course.

When I was a kid, indeed for the entirety of my childhood, I was obsessed with horses. Like many girls I was mad about ponies. I worried myself the other day by considering the fact that I have probably eaten horsemeat, and just not really caring. It turns out that I don´t think you should mind eating horse any more than I mind eating any other animal, in my opinion it´s no worse than eating dog, or cat, or cow, or chicken. If you eat one, then why not the other? My choices come down to squeamishness or how it tastes.  I have knowingly eaten ostrich in Sydney, Australia and donkey in Verona, Italy (it´s the local meat, it´s in everything) but I couldn’t bring myself to try chicken´s feet in Taipei, Taiwan (too bony), or octopus in Mallorca, Spain (too, just too everything, yak!).

What I do object to is the meat industry´s deception of its customers. It didn´t occur to me that perhaps it wasn´t what it said it would be on the tin. Silly Vicki, what a chump. Ignorance was bliss though, ooh, how much do I love a banger, and what about my husband´s ‘Boy Chocolate’ as he calls it (chunks of salami), and how useful to have a couple of ready meal lasagnes lurking in the freezer for those moments when I don´t have the time to cook. Wonderful. But sadly, these days are now no more.  It´s been a wakeup call for a lot of people I think. Reports have said that the sale of horsemeat has gone up, great news, eat what you like as long as you know what you are eating and you have made an informed choice.

So I would like to take this opportunity to thank the abattoirs who managed to mix up (deliberately or not) horse and cow meats, because it has finally pushed me into seriously thinking about what I eat and what my family eats. I know have a definite leaning towards more and more vegetarian and even vegan (I know, sounds extreme, but in reality quite delicious) cooking. There are side effects to this: lowering cholesterol, reducing the cost of the shopping bill, but most notably, increasing the amount of farting competitions my daughter and husband can have with each other. There´s an upside to everything if you look hard enough.

Family Matters Mallorca by Vicki McLeod ©2013

PS The photo is of Le Petomane who made his fortune by farting tunes in music hall shows. Both La Gidg and my husband both harbour ambitions. . .

Dance little sister.

1br-logobg-webLast week I was writing about how much I wanted a revolution. Turns out I’m not the only one. What are you doing on Valentine’s Day?  Fancy a dance around Plaza Espana with a billion people? What, McLeod have you finally lost it? Okay, let me rewind.

You see, I just “Googled” ‘how many people live on the planet?’ as I couldn´t quite get my head around it. Wikipedia says that the United States Census Bureau estimates that there are over seven billion people living on the planet now. Today. That´s a lot of people. So there´s about 3.5 billion females (Adam, Eve, law of averages, I didn´t use Wikipedia for this bit so maybe I am a little out). We accept that? So how about this statistic, (it will shock you), one in three women on the planet will be beaten or raped in her lifetime.  So, elementary maths, that means that about a billion women will be in some way physically or sexually abused during their lifetime. That is one billion mothers, daughters, sisters, partners, and friends. Yet, most of the world remains silent and indifferent. The time has come to put a stop to the violence, and to the silence that surrounds it. It is appalling, and I WON’T accept it. I´m thinking about Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head for having the audacity to think that girls have the right to education in Pakistan, and I am thinking about the young Indian woman who was gang raped on a bus. And that´s just two high profile stories in the past month. Imagine a billion of these stories.

On February 14th, 2013, one billion women and those who love them are invited to walk out, rise up, dance, and strike to demand an end to violence against women and girls. Already, thousands of activists and organisations around the globe have signed on and events are being planned in countries all over the planet.  Women’s, human rights, labour, economic justice, environmental, faith-based, and LGBTQ groups, as well as artists and high profile lawmakers are coming together. Rosario Dawson, Thandie Newton, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington along with Yoko Ono, Jessica Alba, Anne Hathaway, Donna Karan, Jennifer Lawrence, Dylan McDermott, Robert Redford, Lily Tomlin, Rosie Huntington – Whitely, Zoe Kravitz will be rising and dancing, plus many more. http://www.onebillionrising.org  is part of V-Day (www.vday.org) which is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler’s award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works.

So the idea is: if you don´t accept this, and you think you would like in some way to show that you refuse to accept violence against women and girls as a given then you can stand up and be counted. You don´t have to turn up at a demo in the middle of Palma, you don´t (although, it will be great, you have to be at the Plaza Espana in Palma at 3.30pm on Valentine´s Day, wear some pink and bring flowers, and prepare to dance with what could be quite a lot of other people, imagine how exciting that would be!). Instead, if you prefer, you can do your own thing, if you visit http://www.onebillionrising.org and get some ideas about how you can participate. It can be by writing about it, getting your local school to participate, by tweeting about or changing your Facebook profile photo to the logo of the One Billion Rising. There are a lot of ways to show your support. Please join activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities, and women and men across the world as we express their outrage, demand change, strike, dance, and RISE in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women.  See you on the dance floor.

www.familymattersmallorca.com 

Family Matters Mallorca by Vicki McLeod©2013