Month: February 2014

Wakey Wakey

Jesus, Mari Carmen and Celia, ready for action

Jesus, Mari Carmen and Celia, ready for action

The island is waking. Can you feel it? We’re coming out of hibernation, the almond blossom is out, the little yellow flowers are springing up in pastures, and the weather is perking up. My events work has started for the year, I’m preparing for networking events, charity fundraisers, International Women’s Day, a brand new comedy club, the Crew Show and that’s just the start. At Mood Beach in Costa D’en Blanes where I do the majority of my events the staff team is back from their winter holidays and the kitchens are open again for Sunday lunch, Menu del Dias and Menu de la Noches.

It all happened on the same day. Mood reopened, world famous cyclists belted up and down the Paseo Maritimo in Palma (every year it’s a really exciting event and doesn’t seem to be promoted properly why aren’t there loads of people there?), and my little girl did us proud in the Pauline Quirke Academy production of Bugsy Malone. She’d been rehearsing for months: learning her lines, singing the same songs over and over again, fretting about her gangster outfit. It was great fun for her to be involved and quite a big commitment from us. Every Saturday morning from last September we’ve been doing the hour long round trip to get her to rehearsals.  The immense feeling of pride that I had as I watched her onstage last Sunday made all the hours we’d put in to make it happen worth it. I like PQA, its main aim is not to produce a bunch of Bonnie Langfords. No, it’s about encouraging presentation skills, team work, listening, concentration and confidence. The teachers at PQA should be delighted with their achievements: organising a show with forty ish kids in it is very much like herding cats. Now try to get the cats to remember to sing and dance. Yep, you get the picture.

Photo by Philip Rogan  Our gangster is the one on the far right.

Photo by Philip Rogan
Our gangster is the one on the far right.

The kids did two shows, and of course I had to go to both shows. I didn’t want her to feel that she was performing on her own. Well, she wasn’t as both performances were packed out. What a thrill for them. I was an emotional wreck by the end of it: too much whooping and teary eye pride-filled moments. The final one being when Gidg was presented with the “Most Improved Student” certificate.  I was a mess.

Tired and proud.

Tired and proud.

The next day was a school day; we all struggled to wake up on time.

What do points mean?




“I’ll do it later. Do I have to? I don’t want to!”

Sound familiar? My daughter and I have been fighting like cats recently. It takes a regular pattern. Saturday afternoon we get in from activities or shopping or whatever other business we have had to do. Lunch is done and then it’s time for the weekly clear up. And door-slamming, roof-raising all-out fight.

Did cavewoman fight with their children about putting their mammoth furs away? Do the tribeswomen from the Amazon have to badger their offspring to put their reeds and beads back in the right place? No, because they didn’t have extra stuff that needed anywhere to be put. They didn’t have eight different versions of the same t-shirt. They didn’t have attachments to pink plastic or a collection of summer clothes which should be put in a bag or given to charity. It’s a high maintenance occupation having too many possessions. And mostly it’s not myself or my husband or even Gidg which are responsible for the incoming and ongoing “Stuff” problem.  At Christmas time when we were visiting our relatives in the UK we had to drag two enormous laundry bags back across the country and on to Easyjet. And they were filled with pink things and miscellaneous stocking fillers and other cack.

So although I want to lose my temper with Gidg about her inability to keep her room tidy, it’s not exactly her fault. But the problem remains, and I refuse to tidy it up for her either. It’s time for her to take on some level of interest in her own surroundings. And hence the rows. That was at least until it was suggested to me by Julie Staley and Jay Hirons, the good people at the Kip McGrath Education Centre in Palma and my friend Pete Branch who is a teacher in Brazil that I use a points system.

“Right then chick, I am going to give you a points for doing things which are helpful. So you can get a point for helping to do the washing up, you will get a point for clearing up your bedroom, and when you have twenty of those points you can have a treat”. Her eyes shone and her brain started ticking. Suddenly my little girl went from being a grumpy tweenie to a motivated strategist. An interesting shift that’s for sure.  We haven’t had a row in two weeks, her bedroom is more or less tidy, I can see the floor anyway, and she’s seeing opportunities to be helpful. She’s not had any points removed for being lippy, but that would be the case.  We’re currently at 17 points, we’re three away from a horse riding lesson. Oh, and that’s another proviso, the points win her experiences, not prizes.

Keep the home fires burning

My heroes

My heroes

It’s quite the coldest, darkest, trickiest part of the year now isn’t it? Everyone wants to hunker down and hide indoors. We got a load of new wood in last weekend with some serious hunkering down in mind. My husband gets quite Neanderthal (“Man Make fire”), he does like to stoke up the wood burner as if it is the Flying Scotsman.  So we were pretty toasty and comfy on Saturday evening, right up to the moment when I realised that the roof of our house was on fire.

Downstairs we didn’t realise that there was a problem. But upstairs there was a weird smell.  It turned out that this was the smell of the ceiling burning. At first I just thought that the new wood had a peculiar smell. The chimney goes through the room where our office is, that’s the room with the PCs and the cameras, in fact all the things which we use for our jobs. When I discovered that the roof of our office was aflame I didn’t exactly panic. It was confusing. How could it be possible that the ceiling be burning? My husband and I swung into action with buckets of water. It was at this point that I realised that I hadn’t ever rung the Emergency number before: I had to Google “Spain Emergency Number” (it’s 112 by the way). I got as far as “I have a fire in my house” in Spanish before I started freaking out and losing the ability to understand or speak any language except gibberish. Meanwhile my husband switched to “Man Put Out Fire” and got on with it.

The Bomberos joined us from Santa Ponca, and we were also visited by our Local Police and then the Guardia. Together we figured out what the cause of the fire was: the sap from the newly cut wood was condensing at the top of the chimney and ignited residual soot.

The police and the firemen impressed me with their attitudes: they were calm, friendly, and thorough.  As you do, I ended up chatting with one of them and discovered that he really liked cats. Absurdly we talked about our cats that were all lined up on the stairs in a “What’s going on?” formation, whilst his colleagues went up on the cherry picker ladder to check the fire was out completely. It was nothing like the horrendous destructive fire that ravaged through our valley last year, but these were some of the guys who had been fighting it. I’ve got to say that I thought they were fantastic.

So: the fire was put out, and no one was hurt, but it certainly spooked us. What if I hadn’t smelt the strange odour? What if we’d nodded off downstairs, what if, what if? The next night we sat in living room in our jumpers, coats, hats, scarves and gloves, the cats were pretty miffed there wasn’t a fire to arrange themselves in front of. They’ve submitted their complaint in triplicate.