Christmas in Mallorca

Christmas Tip Pick and Mix

I asked my real and online friends what their tips would be for Christmas: to enjoy it, get through it, or get around it. Whichever way you look at it Christmas is a time of year when we can feel overwhelmed by our own expectations of the day or our fears of how it may be different from previous ones. Take a breath, make a cup of tea, or pour yourself a glass of cava and enjoy these tips from this selection of wise folk who have all been there, and done that in one way or another.

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Be proactive

Maria van Boxtel: As many people I always miss my family and friends this time of the year a bit more than any other period. So I decided to do something different this year and make an open invitation to everyone to celebrate Christmas together. I believe when you are celebrating together it makes it easier to handle the feeling of missing your loved ones. I’m looking forward to meet people who I have never met before and have fun instead of being at home feeling miserable.

Sandra Piddock: Focus on the good memories from previous years – celebrate them and talk about them, because that’s a great way to get into the Christmas spirit, even if you don’t feel like it. And invite someone who would otherwise be alone. But make it someone you like, so you have a good chance of enjoying the day. It works – I’ve done it several times, and never regretted it.

Julie Brogan:  If you’re alone try asking around your social group if anyone wants to join you for the day. I did it last year we had a great time: 14 of us in total so we had a very merry and fun time.

Remember the Christmas story

Anne Kay: Don’t give up on the original religious reason.

Don’t max out your credit card

Sandi Oakley: Don’t overspend…it’s the thought that counts! Just do your best, no more should be expected of you or others!

Sue Carmichael: Keep to budget…..never overspend or you’ll start New Year depressed ’cause of debt!

Mara RV: Don’t give so much importance to giving presents, we don’t need more things, we need more love.

Saskia Griffiths: Presence vs Presents.

Melody Fennell: B R E A T H E….and Love.

 Pick up the phone

Graham Wilding: For expats being remote from family is upsetting, especially for those without the ability to use today’s technology…messenger, SKYPE etc.

Sandi Oakley: If you can’t get to be with friends and family make sure you talk on the phone over the Christmas – especially to young grandchildren – it will cheer you up and the children will make you laugh!

Take control of your emotions

Patricia Hartland: Decide to be happy.

Keep it in perspective

Lesley Keith: I’d tell those who dread it that it’s just one day and will soon pass.

Rachel Nicholson:  I do think it’s good to remember it’s just one day, and before you know it it’ll be here and gone. It can be, and is, a very difficult time for a lot of people. I lost my Mum not long before Christmas 2014, my Mum Loved Christmas..the only way I know how to get through it is to try and enjoy it, that is what she would have wanted.

Philip Rogan:  It’s something really important that you are addressing because for many it really is the worst time of the year. I think that some people like some of the above make an effort to put people together and that makes a big difference. In your own head try not to give it all too much importance and know that the “festivities” will come to an end soon enough and that normality will return. Obviously, for some people, it’s simply the “best” time of the year and they love it. Avoid these people at all costs!! I do think that it’s an important issue that you are writing about, a tip, take it easy and focus on work or your regular hobbies as per normal as much as possible. Give or allow yourself one day to enjoy it, treat yourself and a friend to something nice.

Make contact

Cassian Edward: I think the most important tip you can add, if it hasn’t been suggested already, is some sort of helpline and/or communication avenue for those that find themselves on their own at this time of year, helping to put them in touch with others who understand their predicament and with whom they can talk to and enable spirits to be raised. There are so many out there that have no family; are on their own in some way; and for whom Christmas is a time of isolation. A means to allow people who are lonely at this time of year to communicate or be with others is something that can make life so much more liveable and bearable.

Michelle Whenman: Visit people you know who will be alone. Loneliness affects all ages.

Do something else

Laura Anne-Marie:  I would advise if you are feeling upset that you don’t put on a bunch of Christmas feel good movies, maybe get some fresh air and do some exercise or distract yourself with a project like sorting out your clothes, what you don’t wear you can donate to Allen Graham Charity.

Helen Comben: Remember it really is only another day in the year .. and the world will not fall apart if you opt out of all the trimmings or even work the day.

Glenda Stirling-Langan: If you are not up for crimbo for whatever reason and are not wanting to do the social thing, avoid all media, start a good Netflix series and, or book trilogy and get those rainy days jobs sorted. Achieve. If you are up for crimbo embrace it, avoid negative media, plan your Christmas to include seeing everyone you want to. Keep an eye on your spending. Overall remember, it only really lasts a couple o days.

Get out and about

Angie Wallace: Foster a dog.

 Alternatively, stay in

Caroline Trevill: Another thought for those on their own is to say embrace it! You can spend the day in your pjs, eat as many mince pies as you want without judgement and don’t have to put up with annoying family members.

Eva Marie Burns: Stay in bed.

Lilly Rose: Stay in bed ear plugs and sleep from 24th till 26th December.

Birgitta Nilsson: Going to bed and stay in bed 3 days . Just a normal weekend mode.

 Do what makes you happy

Belinda Shaw: Be with the people that you want to be with (if you can) and if that is yourself then whatever keeps you happy – I am one of those people who goes with the flow – but am as happy having a Marmite sandwich at home in front of the tv or an Xmas meal with friends – depends on how I am feeling. I have had people invite me to join them because they cannot imagine spending the holidays alone – but to me it is a day like any other day just with a few presents to open if I am lucky!!

Lesley Harris: Don’t force old traditions on your new lifestyle (expats) embrace your local restaurateurs, neighbours, co-workers, and those who are present at this time. If you’ve chosen to live differently, snag a few buddies here and do it differently!

Val Eyckmans Godbehear: I don’t live an expat lifestyle but we always celebrate Christmas in the typical British way and all the Spanish and other nationalities in the family love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t think it’s a matter of just taking on the Spanish way of living but of sharing our way with them too.

Sean Herdman-Low: Do what makes you happy- don’t feel pressured into attending events or things that you can’t face. It can be a busy time of year and it’s important to put it into perspective.

Be realistic

Roberta Longo: Manage your expectations against your reality.

Embrace gratitude

Joyce Checketts: Just be thankful you made it to Christmas 2017 as many we know didn’t – happy Christmas.

Nicola Jane Grieve: There’s always someone worse off than you!!!

Take a dip

Belinda Shaw: Come to El Toro Beach on Xmas morning and watch the mad dogs and Englishmen taking a dip… That is always fun and free. There’s usually mulled wine or some other beverage being shared as well as laughs.

Take the opportunity to disconnect

Humphrey Carter: Throw the TV out of the window and enjoy some quality time with friends and family.

Caroline Trevill: Focus less on perfect and more on fun. If you’re fortunate enough to have people you love to spend Christmas with, then don’t spend your energy worrying about whether your tree is wonky or whether you mince pies are from Waitrose. Plan some games and make some fun memories.

Take it easy on the turkey

Claire Jeffery: Don’t eat animals. Be lovely to people.

Do your prep beforehand

Laura Stadler: I find best to prepare as much as possible the day before, not to be too ambitious and warn everyone not to expect me to be a domestic goddess… I’m definitely NOT!!

Keep your sense of humour

Fiona Pitt-Kethley: I once said Xmas is a four-letter word in an article and the Telegraph altered it to Christmas, which isn´t…

Escape

Lucy Dundas: We have cut our expenditure on gifts in favour of a holiday together..the memories of those last much longer than the gifts nobody remembers a few days after. Time together and experiences are priceless.

Fiona Hanks: When I was running expeditions I often happened to be in non Christian countries in December … that makes Christmas pretty uneventful and easy!

Sharon Grange: Get on a plane and go on holiday, better than spending money on presents!

Daniella Melanie B: Go away on holiday!!! Somewhere far away and just ignore Christmas!

Keep calm

James B Rieley:  In times of stress or chaotic things all around, perhaps the best thing to do is follow the red-poster’s advice from the war….Keep Calm and Carry On.

Julie Waller: Use insight timer to find a meditation or two that you like. Be fully present and enjoy the season.

Take some time out alone

Heather Donahue: Solitude is solid food.

Be prepared for the Christmas hangover

Saskia Griffiths: Apple cider vinegar for hangovers!

Offer help to others

Rosemary Grainge: Yes….don’t just enjoy yourself… Get out and about and help others less fortunate… Volunteer.

Caroline Trevill: Instinctively it feels like the best cure for loneliness might be to help others somehow. Whether volunteering somewhere or reaching out to other people who might be on their own. I’d like to think other people would be aware of people on their own and invite them in, but I suspect that’s just wishful thinking.

Gem Alexander: If you know any single mums, volunteer to watch their kids for a few hours at some point during the festive season just so they can get their Xmas wrapping done.

Tracy Courtney-Wills: if you are lonely at Christmas, best thing you can do is volunteer with a charitable organization helping to feed the homeless or needy. You get to be part of a great team of people for the day, feel needed and part of something, realise there are people worse off than yourself, hopefully have a genuinely good time in the process and go home feeling a warm glow inside.

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So, with all of this in mind, good luck, I hope you have fun, stay true to how you want to celebrate or not, and I will see you on the other side. Merry Christmas, Vicki xxx

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Christmas in Mallorca, the Grapevine continues…

How was it for you? Christmas I mean. Have you come out the other side intact? I really hope so. We have work to do this year. But first, a recap of various healthy and/or drunken activities that I was able to be involved in over the festivities.

Christmas Eve at the Cathedral in Palma, Vicki McLeod photographer

Christmas Eve

Every year that we have been here for Christmas we’ve gone into Palma on Christmas Eve and had a wander around, looking at the lights, passing by the Cathedral (we always seem to coincide with the end of the German language service so my husband often bumps into real estate agents he knows!) and some kind of chocolate and churros stop off. This year we also stopped off outside of Nice Price and put some money in the tins of the Rotary Club who were outside collecting.

The Christmas Day Dip in El Toro, Vicki McLeod photographer

Christmas Day Dip

Another traditional (and let’s face it, unhinged) event for us is the mad dash into the sea at El Toro beach at midday. It’s been organised by Emma Conlin and Leon Blakely from Universal Nautic for as long as I’ve known about it. Everyone, including the pooches, were dressed up in Christmas outfits or fancy dress. One pug in particular caught my eye. There was much merriment, and brandy, and cava. We’d taken our little dog Basil along with us for an outing but completely forgot that the midday signal to run into the water was a firework. As I was knee deep in the sea ready to take the photo and my family were lined up to run like loons into the chilly waters no one was keeping an eye on our nervous dog. The firework went off and so did he careening across the beach and into the unknown roads of Port Adriano. Forty five minutes and many tears later we found him, or he found us, either way we were reunited. Thankfully!

The HIghland Games in Peguera, photographer Vicki McLeod

The Highland Games

A break from tradition for us on Boxing Day meant a trip to Peguera beach to join approximately 130 other people to take part in hilarious The Highland Games organised by local Scot and all round jolly lassie, Amanda Hibbert and her lovely family. We competed in teams in the various events including Wellie Flinging, a piggy back race, a tug of war and tossing the caber. I’m not going to lie, I’m very proud to tell you I was the overall winner of the women’s division in the caber toss. Finally, I have discovered my athletic gifts. We were joined on the beach by a German gentleman called Phillip who was dressed in Lederhosen, he participated enthusiastically, and said  that he learnt a lot about Scottish culture in the process.

Christmas walks in Mallorca, Vicki McLeod photographer

Christmas Walkies

I believe that most Christmas activities if they are not eating or drinking should involve being outside and that at least one dog should be in attendance. Hence I like to go to or organise plenty of walks and messing about, it’s a good way to burn off some mince pies, and also get out of the house and enjoy our beautiful island whilst everyone else is away visiting their families. We were joined by a good turnout of about thirty people for our “round the block” walk around the edges of our village. Some of the walkers hadn’t ever been to s’Arraco before and have subsequently been back a couple of times since to walk as they enjoyed it so much. Perhaps we should found the s’Arraco tourist board.

Orient waterfalls, photographer Vicki McLeod

A trip to Orient and the waterfalls

A place which I have often read and heard about but up until now had not had the chance to go to see are the cascadas between Orient and Bunyola. It did take some determination to make it happen, but I was not disappointed by the beautiful walk we were treated to. Again we took little Basil who behaved himself impeccably on and off the lead, and we were joined by more friends who were inspired to come along and explore. The actual walk is as difficult as you want to make it. You wander along a path from the road down to a stile and then another one which asks you to put your dog on a lead. Then you come to the river and stepping stones (which is where you might want to kick yourself for not wearing more waterproofed footwear, so take my advice and make sure you do) there you have to hop over a few stones and perhaps get a little damp in the process. Then another short walk through a forest which could have been taken straight out of a Tolkein novel and you are there alongside the waterfalls. When we were there we watched some canyoners abseiling down the rock face through the water gushing over the side, it looked exciting, but a bit too cold for me. My companions thought it looked like something they would like to have a go at, and the guides from “Tramuntana Tours” seemed very competent so perhaps they will go back and try. We kept walking for a while and then decided to turn back and return to the cars but we could have kept going for quite a while apparently. A fifteen minute drive to Alaro later and we were sat in the main square with glasses of wine and slices of pa’amb’oli. Very civilised.  We’re intending to go to more places this year which we have not been to in Majorca, it’s not exactly a 2017 resolution as much as the same one we’ve been making for years now and not managing to realise. Next up is the Barranc in Biniarix, and then Galatzo in Calvia. I’m determined to finally visit these places in Majorca this year and get to the really special spots which I haven’t been to yet.

What’s next?

January is normally a month that moves at a slower pace for me because of the weather, but still it’s a great time of year to be on the island. We’re looking forward to the St Antoni and St Sebastian fiestas and to slowly moving back to speed after a much needed Christmas break. But there’s always plenty coming up in Majorca to keep us busy. Just as I write my husband is starting to receive his annual phone calls from professional cycling teams arriving on the island who want him to photograph them training and racing. I have started a new project which I will be writing about on Sundays in the Majorca Daily Bulletin, and also on my website http://www.mallorcamatters.com. Happy new year everyone, my best wishes to you all, I hope you have a healthy and peaceful 2017.

Christmas Survival

Xmas Tree Bauble

It’s happening, it’s here. The main event if you’re to believe the hype. Can it possibly live up to the expectations? Well perhaps we should measure our expectations to make sure that we can get through the next week or so with the least amount of stress. I’ve been reading around the subject of “Christmas Survival” and there’s plenty of articles out there on the web which can give you some ideas, but if you don’t have the time, here’s my round up of the best.

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Don’t try and do everything

If you are responsible for cooking and hosting the Christmas Day activities, then don’t take it all upon yourself. Ask other family members to bring different parts of the meal, such as snacks, salads or desserts – don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make sure you have some time for YOU, even if it’s just allowing yourself to watch one special TV show that you really want to see.

Everything in moderation

Christmas seems to be all about excess – but there is not much enjoyment in feeling the size of a padded Santa suit or as stuffed as the festive turkey! The best advice is moderation – apply it to everything you eat and drink. Drink moderate amounts of alcohol and try to alternate soft drinks or water with alcoholic ones. As for food, have a bit of what you fancy but try not to stuff your face if you can help it! Difficult I know, but try.

Get active, rehydrate and sleep!dog-christmas-xmas-bulldog-medium

You’ve got to balance your festivities with some time to rest, and recuperate. Active recovery, such as taking a walk in the beautiful landscape of Mallorca is a perfect way to do this. Follow it up with a snooze on the sofa or an early bedtime.

Don’t be on your own

If you are concerned about being lonely over Christmas, either being single or unable to spend it with family, then do something about it now. Think about inviting a few others over who are in the same boat as you and consider offering your house as a venue for the event. Also try not to turn down any invitations to other festive events, provided that you are giving yourself a chance to recover in between!

A final word…

Christmas should be fun but if you find that previous years have not been enjoyable then consider doing something about it – try something different. One way would just be to get away from it all and remove the majority of the hassle from the whole festive experience. Although – we all know how stressful preparing for a holiday can be!

Happy Christmas for me and my family to you and yours. Vxxx http://www.mallorcamatters.com

Get into the Spirit of Christmas

Stuart Bray and Caron Stott

Stuart Bray & Caron Stott

I love Christmas on Mallorca, I think it’s fantastic. We have such a wonderful time celebrating, organising get togethers, Christmas Markets, carol concerts, parades and whatnot. And always we remember to include charities. I’m proud to be a part of that as well. Each and every year there are calls for help and fundraisers which lead up to the festivities. I think it is right to have a focus on this as this is what Christmas is all about, “Peace and Goodwill To All”. Better still, get your children involved and teach them about the spirit of Christmas rather than let them flick idly through the Argos catalogue or Amazon website, bookmarking things for Santa, at least that’s what I aim to do with La Gidg!

So, who do you fancy helping? There’s a big choice in Mallorca. Here’s just a few to get you going:

 

If you want to help out with Age Concern Mallorca then you could donate non-perishable food to their Christmas Hamper campaign. You can get in touch with Jackie and the gang by calling 971 231 520.

If you would prefer to help the youngsters that the Allen Graham Charity cares for then the team would be very happy to relieve you of a nice Christmas present suitable for either a boy or a girl. You can have a chat with Rosemary who is the President of the organisation on 610 662 086 and she can advise you of what you could donate.

You could offer to help the poor and underprivileged people who are living almost hidden lives right here on the island. Mediterranea. You can contact 971 677 762 and donate milk, rice, pulses and more. (Look out for another article about this in the not too distant future).

Or you can choose to do your own thing, like Stuart Bray from Bray Marine International did last week. “You know what Vicki”, Stuart said to me “I want to organise a Christmas party for charity. Do you think that would be okay? I’d like it to be something special where the girls get to dress up and the boys have to wear dinner suits”. How wonderful, some glitz and glamour always goes down well! The party, which he held at Mood Beach in Costa D’en Blanes was exactly as he described, glittery, glamorous and with plenty of money being raised to go to charity. In fact well over 2000€ has been donated to Cancer Research following his event last Saturday night, so well done to Stuart Bray and I look forward to the next one.

So, whatever cause moves you and inspires you to act, please don’t stand and watch, get involved, and be part of the solution.

Have a splendid Christmas, with love from Vicki, Ollie and La Gidg.