Month: March 2015

Viewing the solar eclipse safely, or “How to make a pinhole camera”.


This Friday, March 20th, there will be a total eclipse of the sun, and a partial eclipse will be visible in Spain from 9am-11am. This fantastic astronomical phenomenon is rare and should not be missed, but viewing an eclipse can cause permanent damage, even blindness. Children particularly must be protected from staring directly at the sun during the eclipse.

Specsavers Opticas offers the following advice for viewing the eclipse safely – At Specsavers we agree with the RNIB, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, the College of Optometrists and the Association of Optometrists that direct viewing of the sun during an eclipse is hazardous. We suggest using indirect ways of viewing the eclipse.If you have a telescope or binoculars, you can focus an image of the sun on to a white screen, or hold white card behind the eye piece, adjusting the focus so you can see the image on the card. An inexpensive alternative is to create a pinhole camera using a piece of card with a pinhole in it to focus the image of the sun on to a white screen or piece of white card. However please always take care to shield the eyes from the sun.

If you want to make a pinhole camera, all you need is two pieces of plain card. Make a small hole (not more than 1mm wide) into one of the pieces of card. Stand with your back to the sun arranging the cards so that the one with the hole is close to your shoulder, with the other card 1 meter away. This will cast an upside down image of the sun onto the piece of paper and you can safely watch the It is very important to note that sunglasses, smoked glass, sun capes, solar filters and visors are not safe ways to view the eclipse, so please take care of your eyes and only view it indirectly.

More information can be found on, if you have any concerns please contact your nearest Specsavers Opticas to consult the opticians

Get off your butt!


Photo by Max Carr

It’s 10am on Saturday morning. When I was young (er) and fit (ter) I would have been found on a Saturday morning roaming the local cafes in London searching for the best almond croissant and latte. These days I am racing to get my kid to her activities before dashing to my own. I’m in the gym at the Country Club in Santa Ponca, lining up with my fellow “Challengers” to go through my final fitness test. We’ve been participating in the first Whole Life Challenge for 2015, and it’s been pretty tough. For a desk jockey like myself it’s vital to move my body before it atrophies into a sitting position, I get that: sitting down could be killing me slowly or at least could have some serious health implications. The act of sitting may seem relatively harmless: I can do it for hours at a time every single day. It’s comfortable, it’s convenient, it allows me to focus on my work but studies by medical journals claim too much of it has been linked to higher chances of untimely death.

You’ve got to think of yourself as an animal, because essentially we are. Before civilisation there weren’t computer chairs to spin in or sofas to slob on. Biologically, sitting is a foreign activity when taken in the amount we do it, and our bodies suffer because of this. Nearly 150 years ago, people spent nearly 90% of their day moving around. In contemporary society, we are on our bottoms for approximately 60% of the day.

This makes the daily exercise requirements of the Challenge even more important: at least ten minutes a day, but preferably a whole load more. Plus stretching, and sticking to a Paleo diet (hard if you are a wannabe vegetarian because the focus is on plenty of protein, and very little carbs) and other weekly tasks. I’ve got to say I love the Challenge, not just because of the inspiration to move more, but the feeling of being part of my team of Challengers and the benefits that has brought me. A year ago, despite living here for a decade, I wouldn’t say I had that many Spanish friends, now I have a wide social circle of people on which to inflict my confused use of the preterite tense. My own confidence has grown, and I am much, much stronger, perhaps one day soon (ish) I will actually achieve that handstand in yoga (Kevin?!).

Back in the gym the fitness test is short and intense. Ten burpees, ten sit ups and twenty lunges followed by as much rowing as possible until we reach four minutes. The end result is measured in amount of calories burnt on the machine. In January I managed to do 21 calories before my time was up, this time, eight weeks of training later, I burn 31. A fifty percent improvement which I am thrilled with, it could have been better, it could ALWAYS be better, but that’s the beauty of it, there’s no end point, there’s always room for improvement.  Thanks to my team and my trainers, I’ve made it through this one.

The Challenge takes commitment, making appointments with myself at the gym, negotiating child care and work, but the feeling of personal achievement and the knowledge that I am doing something for myself is totally worth it.  The trick is to keep it going in between times. There’s the real challenge.

The next Whole Life Challenge starts on May 2nd.

Get in touch with me on phoenixmediamallorca (at) if you want more info.

Krea Koletiva: a new wave of independent thinking in Mallorca, and me.


I was very honoured (and pleased and flattered and surprised) to be asked to speak about creativity at a Krea Kolektiva event last evening. They invite twelve people to speak for five minutes each about creative projects or their work or themselves. You can see the Krea Kolektiva project here and follow them on Facebook here.  The evening was really enjoyable, with some fabulously dynamic presentations about new ideas and projects which are underway in Mallorca, and I got to meet and make some new friends, so I am very pleased about that. I would definitely recommend you go to the next one which is planned to be on a bigger scale…. details to follow. Thanks to Matthew and Sally for including me in this fantastic idea, and thanks to Barbara for being a really cool hostess.

Every single one of the presenters, and probably all of the audience as well, would be great subjects for interviews….

So … This is what I planned to say, but to be honest I am a better writer than I am speaker, so it all went a bit tits up.  Here’s the text I wrote and then forgot to say. 🙂 


La Gidg and I 2007

It was in early 2006 , a few months after the birth of my daughter that I discovered blogging. These days every man and his cat have a blog, but ten years ago it was still quite a niche. I remember the exquisite excitement of writing and posting my first articles online and then watching the statistics rise as it was read in places as far away from me as could possibly be. How could someone in Australia or South America be even slightly interested in what I had to say about Mallorca or raising my kid? It was the biggest thrill ever! Unexpectedly I had the key to a secret room which up to that point only people who could write HTML had been able to enter. I had my own place where I could publish whatever I wanted to. I did get knockbacks, as I sent my articles to friends that I thought would read them and be nice and encouraging, but instead I received messages back asking me why I was bothering, what was the point of publishing my thoughts online? That stung, but I kept going. One thing slowly lead to another and I started to get some writing jobs to supplement my main work. So by 2007 I was running my successful massage business in Port Andratx as well as well as editing a magazine. Our daughter had just turned two.  We had bought our house in s’Arraco and we were mortgaged up to the hilt. I remember going to see an accountant who asked me what my back up plan was, and I remember looking at him thinking, shit, I don’t have a fucking plan. Then a couple of days later I was hit by a car, which put me out of action for two months. My massage business had to close, and then without decent advertising sales the magazine flopped. Then Lehman Brothers, and then the planet went bust. Within the year my husband and I were on the edge of bankruptcy. Our situation was desperate; we had mounting debts and no way to pay them. The stress and anxiety was unbearable. I remember breaking down and crying in front of my daughter and her looking at me so confused, that she started sobbing as well. If there such a thing as a breaking point I think that I reached it that day. But you all probably agree that creativity and inventiveness can be squeezed out of you when you are under a great deal of pressure, and that is what happened to me. 2 So I began to reinvent myself, and Phoenix Media was born. I pitched for PR and writing work and amazingly got clients and newspaper columns! Being inventive, engineering stories and events which feature clients, developing relationships with others, these were all using skills that I had used before in my previous lives back in the UK. And I said YES to everything. Creativity comes from saying yes and taking the risk. For me most of the time, taking the risk was no risk at all as I didn’t have anything to lose. Sometimes saying yes is a stupid thing to do, and I’ve got myself into situations where I can’t do the job.  These days I have to turn down work, which is a strange feeling after so long of being in debt. Creativity is intrinsically linked with confidence. The better relationship I have with my client, the deeper and further my imagination can develop. When you are the one expected to come up with the crazy ideas then it can be a bit vulnerable out there, so I have had to learn how to take criticism as well as praise, both of which come with their own challenges. Over the years I have written about so many different subjects, from


 the surprise snowfall in February 2012 which left me hankering after my childhood

, 4to the forest fires in 2013,


I’ve walked the streets of Magaluf and 4am with the Street Angels


I’ve swum with sharks,


I’ve interviewed artists, and  got out and about across Mallorca.

I’ve done some good as well, I think. I’ve certainly organised and promoted a tonne of different charity events, and I have my own little project which I like to do.


Pet Project is a regular column in the paper, it aims to help a homeless animal every week in Mallorca, and I am always looking for people who might be able to help me, especially other writers and photographers. You might find yourself photographing some very happy scenes like

10 or  11

But the major part of what I do is tell stories, about people.

  untitled : Plus+ Lifestyle : Página Dob

Now I am lucky that I have learnt another skill.


Despite my husband being a professional photographer I have never really known one end of a camera from the other, but last year my good friend Diana Hirsch taught me exactly that, and now I can tell my stories through images as well. 15 I like doing portraits

. 16 and I was a permanent fixture last summer at Mallorca Rocks. This is one of my favourites.

I might soon be able to tell you about another project which is just getting its legs at the moment, but I am going to wait a few days…

I guess the thing that I have mostly created is myself.

And all because of a blog.

La Gidg and I Dec 2014

La Gidg and I Dec 2014

I currently write for

  • Myself, and my clients

I am regularly published here:

And I am always interested in new people and new ideas, and I would rather write about you than tell you about myself. Get in touch. @mcleod_vicki @phoenixmediamlr phoenixmediamallorca(at)

Calling Planet Earth

On a cold winter’s morning in Boston in 1967 KV (Kathrine) Switzer was totally clueless that she was about to change the world when she lined up alongside the other runners at the marathon start line.  When she had registered for the race with her initials rather than her full first name she hadn’t known that women were banned from running, and dressed in her baggy grey sweatpants she fit right in with the rest of the runners. Four kilometres in to the run an official tried to stop her and both her boyfriend and running coach pushed the angry man out of the way, allowing her to continue and complete the run meaning she was the first woman to ever officially run. Kathrine and her bib number, 261, have inspired the name of the 261 Women’s Marathon and 10k races, one of which will be run this Sunday March 8th (International Women’s Day) in Palma.  You can see more information here at I was planning on running with my friends from the Country Club gym in Santa Ponça, but after a broken toe and a back injury I’ve had to rethink that. So instead I will turn up and cheer and take a few photos before retiring to the Diner in Santa Catalina and eating pancakes (joke, that’s a joke, I’ll only have one pancake). The starting pistol will be fired at 9am in front of the Cathedral.

It’s amazing isn’t it that we take all of this for granted, when less than fifty years ago it was considered improper and dangerous for a woman to run a marathon. Still women suffer from terrible abuse and injustices in many countries. I’ve been reading some accounts of an Indian man involved in that Bus Rape who says women should just stay quiet and let themselves be raped. Isn’t that the most appalling thing? Can you imagine a time when that was considered normal where you live? I suppose there was a time. But I am very happy that this time is over and any right thinking person I know would be just as disgusted as I am by this man.

I haven’t ever really experienced direct sexism. Perhaps it just washes over me, or I overcome it, I’m not sure. I was raised to be quite independent: my mother and my grandmother were both very influential to me as I was growing up. I also went to an all girls’ school where we were expected to just get on with it and achieve; we weren’t in anyone’s shadow. I am raising my daughter to be exactly the same. I think it’s a shame that the word “Feminist” has been given such a strange and negative image, and I am very happy that I married to a man who says he is a feminist. But then I wouldn’t have married him if he weren’t.


Equality is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day event at Mood Beach in Costa D’en Blanes, Calvia, so we have renamed it International People’s Day. The event is free to enjoy on Saturday March 7th from 12 noon until 2pm, then there is a networking lunch. There will be free wellness treatments, opportunities to hook up with new and old friends, have your portrait taken and support local charities. You can get more info and book on

Come and celebrate being different and completely the same as the other 50% of Planet Earth.

Opinionated, finally!

I turned the grand old age of 45 the other week, and I think it’s finally happened. You know, that thing that is supposed to happen to you when you enter your forties: where you just stop caring what other people think of you. For an inveterate “People Pleaser” like myself I suppose it’s no surprise that it took me an extra five years to actually achieve this, but recent events would tell me that I have arrived, finally.

Exhibit A: I wrote an article about a controversial animal rescue centre in Mallorca. After visiting the centre undercover I realised that it wasn’t as bad as many people had been making it out to be, plus the staff, without knowing I was writing about them, were very nice to me, and helpful. The centre itself even has extensive building development going on for new accommodation for the animals that are housed there. I wrote this down, in an encouraging “Go Rescue Centre!” way to give the widely criticised place some praise. We all know how it is better to praise improvements than to dwell on imperfections. The “Animalista” community of Mallorca disagreed with me and fell upon my article as proof that I was 1) a terrible journalist (perhaps), 2) a moron (…), 3) had been there with the full knowledge of the centre (no) and 4) had been paid by the centre to write it (no)! Better still, they did online in English and Spanish, over and over again for about 48 hours. I even received hate mail. I had just written what I had seen, rather than what they wanted me to write. And that made them mad. It was a very upsetting two days of not wanting to look at my emails, but I took advice from good friends and colleagues who said, do not reply. So I didn’t. On Day three I woke up and it didn’t bother me anymore.


Exhibit B: It will be International Women’s Day next weekend on Sunday March 8th. There will be several events going on to mark the day in Mallorca, I am already attending two of them myself. Every year for the past five I have organised an IWD event with some friends of mine. This year, we decided to do it differently. The theme of IWD this year is “EQUALITY” so we decided, why not include men and make it International People’s Day instead. This felt completely right to me. Living in Western Europe I don’t feel that I am discriminated against because of my sex. There are plenty of places around the world where women are subjugated and abused, but until men and women live equally this won’t change. So of course, I announce that this year it will be IPD, and immediately the messages begin criticising the decision. Particularly it seems from women who have never ever supported one of the IWD events, ironic really. But I stand by it; it feels right to me to do it this way. Why should we seek to separate men from women? We should be celebrating the freedoms that women have here in Europe.  The subject of equality is just as relevant to men and boys in the workplace, in the media and in the home. So next week on Saturday March 7th from midday to 4pm at Mood Beach there will be a free entry International Peoples’ Day event with stalls, business networking, charities, lunch and fun. Guys and gals, chicos and chicas, men and women are equally welcome. Stall bookings and lunch tickets from

More articles from me at

On the Barcelona Bus

On the buses

We went to Barcelona last week for a jolly, taking advantage of our island residents’ discount on flights. The last time we went was when La Gidg was three months old and we (deludedly) thought that it would be easy to do a pit stop in Barcelona on our way back to Mallorca after her christening. It was hell, she didn’t stop crying for the whole 48 hours of our visit and we could not wait to leave the hotel and get home. With that in mind we knew that we wanted to visit Barcelona again, but when she could express herself in other ways that weren’t ear piercing screams. So, now that Gidg is nine years old and very good at making her feelings clear, it was with reasonable confidence that we booked again to go. But this time not in a hotel but in a funky Barcelona crash pad with . The apartment was very nice, big enough for the three of us, with all the bits that you might need including one of those fancy coffee makers and it even had some TV in English.

But we weren’t there to stay in, we were there to go out! And out we went. The apartment was right in the middle of Barcelona which was very exciting! I know it sounds a bit odd coming from someone who voluntarily lives in a village: I really love the traffic and the buzz of the city, but I’d forgotten how tiring it is. So went around the city on the tourist bus which is nice to be able to flop on there instead of walking and just be driven around and told what is what. I won’t tell you to sit on the top deck in the freezing cold, which is what my husband and daughter were insisting on me doing, but perhaps you will get to visit when the weather is just a little bit warmer.

We were in need of some expert advice on the Saturday morning when we had to make a quick pass by a health clinic so the guys at Barcelona Check In told us where to go. After that we awarded ourselves the rest of the day to eat tapas at “The Best Tapas Restaurant in Barcelona” Cerveceria Catalana (can’t be sure it’s the best we’d have to go round them all in the interests of fairness, but they were definitely very good), take a disco nap back at our crash pad, and then later we met up with a very old friend to have something called “Flexitarian” food (that’s veggies, oily fish and more veggies) at Flax and Kale (  We all felt very cosmopolitan whilst drinking our cold pressed juices.

Then it was Sunday, and time to go back to sleepy village life. We didn’t really find our city legs in the time we were there; perhaps you can take London out of the girl after all. Or maybe we just have to go back for longer and soon!