Kay Halley

Grapevine #65

The Sunbird team

30 Years in Puerto Portals

Eric Martin, owner of Sunbird was the first to open an office in Puerto Portals in 1986. Having been in the UK yacht sales business for 14 years, the time felt right to expand in to different waters. Sailing in the Mediterranean felt like an exciting progression. Sunshine was, of course, a huge draw to the Mediterranean and having heard about a new and prestigious marina being completed in Mallorca, 7km west of Palma town the expansion felt right. “When we saw the site we knew it was the perfect opportunity to open Sunbird S.A.” Puerto Portals combined an incredible location with clear ambitions to become a luxury destination. Eric had met Simon Crutchley, a fluent Spanish speaker whose local knowledge, great contacts and yachting experience made him the ideal candidate to manage the new operation. The potential was huge and it felt right to get in from the start. And so Sunbird Mallorca opened its doors in August 1986 – one week after the launch of the iconic Wellies, as they’d been storing their tables and chairs for them!

There is no doubt Puerto Portals is firmly established as one of the best and most beautiful marinas in the Mediterranean, with a fantastic future ahead. Thirty years after Sunbird opened its doors, Portals’ original marina resident could not be prouder to have been here since day one. www.sunbirdyachts.eu.

Mallorca Solutions Opening Party August 5 2016 Photo Credit Vicki McLeod Phoenix Media -0227

Mallorca Solutions Party

I popped in to wish Becky Bellafont Evans and her team good luck at their new office which is between the Post Office (Correos) and the British Surgery at C/Germans Pinzons 5, Local 2 in Palma Nova. Many, many familiar faces were there, along with new ones as Becky and her gang specialise in looking after people who move to the island: organising their paperwork and helping them get settled in to their new lives. A personal highlight was getting to try some of Stephanie Prather’s delicious vegan canapés (I had to be dragged away from them before I truly embarrassed myself by eating them all).

Sophie Butterfield and Comet Air Photo Credit Vicki McLeod Phoenix Media -7715

Congratulations Sophies!

My little girl, Gidg, is now fully horse obsessed. For the last three weeks she has been accompanying her mentor and teacher Sophie Cordoba Mitchell (owner of Club Caballisto Son Malero in Calvia where she rides), and stable mates Sophie Butterfield and Angelina Schlak on very, very late night expeditions. Sophie B has been competing on her horse Comet Air in three high level events culminating last week in a three night marathon. Because of the heat the competition is run at night, with most of the classes being from 8pm to 2am. (A sensible person might suggest they do the competition in winter, but hey). Gidg’s role is gopher, and video maker. Sophie managed to finish fourth (out of forty experienced riders) in the “Infanta” which is a very prestigious event, so well done Sophie and her team, Gidg included!

The Wednesday Group

In September Kay Halley from the Universal Bookshop in Portals will launch a new community group which she is going to call The Wednesday Group. Its aim is to produce knitted, sewn and crocheted items for sale by the various community groups on the island (particularly Age Concern and the Cancer Support Group). The group is being launched also as a remembrance for a lady which Kay was very close to, Cynthia, who was a demon knitter and quilter in her time and produced many blankets, hats, scarves etc for various groups. The group will be open for anyone who can knit, sew, crochet, or wants to learn. The idea is that they will produce the item and they can decide which charity benefits from it. It will also be a brilliant way to make new friends and enrich your social circle.The group will launch on 7th September.  Assocuacio Veinats 3, Carrer de la Lluna in Bendinat. You can get more information by calling 971 676 116


Pet Project: Dog of the week

Snowgun is a beautiful 18 month old German Shepherd mix, possibly mixed with either a white German Shepherd or a Husky. She is a very good, fit, healthy young girl. She is leishmaniosis negative and has no known health problems. Snowgun is very obedient, and comes when her name is called . She walks beautifully on the lead . As like most GSD she is very intelligent. She is looking ideally for a sporty family to adopt her as she is lots of fun with loads of energy,  playful but does know when to stop. Snowgun was found on the street, living as a stray before Dogs For U took her in. She is very good with other dogs and lives with 8 other dogs in the main pack at DFU. She is a perfect fun loving dog. As with all dogs from DFU. She comes spayed, fully vaccinated, wormed, chipped, flea protected, has a passport. And comes with a DFU contract.  She is a perfect girl and will enhance anyone’s life. What more could you ask for. Call Cornelia on 637 242 228.

Emma and Daniel in the wave pool

Emma-Jane Woodham

My husband and I both had the pleasure of photographing this beauty recently at BH Mallorca, Mood Beach and other locations around the island. She’s made herself infamous by doing something rather naughty on the Love Island TV show, but in reality she is a darling. Very sweet, very polite, fun and gorgeous to boot.

The Orchestra 6 August 2016 Port Adriano Photo Credit Vicki McLeod Phoenix Media -0216


I wasn’t going to refer to the absence of Jeff Lynne at the press conference for The Orchestra last week, but Richie Prior (Radio One Mallorca and columnist for the MDB) didn’t get hung up on such niceties. I watched in admiration as he politely referred to the elephant in the room in a way which meant the musicians couldn’t skip around the question “Do you think you will ever perform again with Jeff?”. The answer was quite revealing. “Jeff’s more of a studio guy. We’re more band guys. He collaborates with one guy and we like to tour”.  I only saw the first three songs of the gig itself, but I was told by friends of mine that it was really good. Well done to the team at Port Adriano for putting on some top quality acts this summer.

Simply Red

Speaking of top quality acts…. The gig of the year is almost upon us. One more week to go. Some tickets are still available I understand, mostly standing. See you there?

The Universal Bookshop in Portals Nous celebrates a milestone.

Universal Bookshop, Portals Nous, Mallorca, Kay Halley

Kay Halley

The Universal Bookshop in Portals Nous has been there for about 40 years. It is a lifeline to many residents and tourists who are avid readers. When it changed hands two years ago none of the locals could have been prepared for the incredible warmth and friendliness of the new owner, Kay Halley. Universal Bookshop, Portals Nous, Mallorca, Kay Halley It’s a testament to Kay’s determination and passion that her little bookshop has been going from strength to strength ever since. Kay’s two year business plan has come to fruition through a lot of hard work and support from her contact with local authors, businesses and friends. It has to be said that you have to work hard and be innovative in the current economic climate  so Kay has increased the stock of study books and children´s fiction and also stocks the latest best sellers. She can guarantee delivery of books by tracking her orders from a major UK supplier; if you are buying a present then you can get it gift wrapped for free and she also now offers cash back through the Lyoness scheme. Universal Bookshop, Portals Nous, Mallorca, Kay Halley Kay has gone to great efforts to reach out into the local community and offer her shop as a place for people to get together. Not only does the bookshop sell books but it also  stocks yarns and knitting equipment which has enable Kay to teach school children how to knit. Kay also encourages local volunteers to get busy with their needles and make blankets for Mediterranea NGO. She is always ready to offer advice and help to get you started if you are feeling crafty. Plus the lending library has developed to include books in German, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch and Danish with a small number in other languages. Children can also borrow books. And she has kept the prices competitive making the cost of borrowing a book around €2.50. Universal Bookshop, Portals Nous, Mallorca, Kay Halley Kay however is not resting on her laurels and plans to expand her work in the community, and add one or two more products to her stock. She recently ran a book fair (at their invitation) in a school in Palma and they have made her a ´Friend´ of the school, which will enable her to work more closely with them and offer a substantial commission which is something she is able to do with organisations. Universal Bookshop, Portals Nous, Mallorca, Kay HalleyA nice gathering of well-wishers joined Kay to celebrate her two year anniversary recently with a lovely reception and a delicious cake.  Kay who really is passionate about passing on skills and knowledge and spreading the love of reading said “Thank you for the amazing support that I have been given since coming here, it means so much to me that it moves me to tears”.  Good luck Kay, and The Universal Bookshop, and here’s to many more celebrations!   You can read about the blanket project here: http://familymattersmallorca.com/2013/12/23/the-milk-of-human-kindness/

The Milk of Human Kindness

Handmade blankets

Handmade baby blankets destined for a Mediterranea humanitarian aid centre in Mallorca.

Take one small business owner and lifelong knitter, Kay, a bunch of children including Giselle and Sophia, and Cynthia, another lifelong knitter and what have you got?

A lot of hand knitted blankets, that’s what.

Ever since Kay Halley took over the Universal Bookshop in Portals Nous she has been transforming her little locale into a community centre where people don’t just come to buy books. “I’ve been teaching the children to sew, knit and crochet. Some of them have got quite enterprising and even sell the things they make to their school friends. I know that there are a lot of handmade phone covers out there!” Kay set out to teach the basic skills required making knitted squares and they have mounted up to make several very cosy and good looking blankets.

But what could be done with these blankets? It’s still tough to accept it but in Majorca there are many people facing crippling poverty and hunger, in fact a great deal of residents living on “paradise island” don’t have a clue that there is any such problem here. Well, there is. And the situation is continually developing.  Families cannot afford to feed their children properly. Something as simple as milk has become a luxury item for some in Majorca and so a large number of children are not getting the amount of milk recommended by the World Health Organisation, which is half a litre a day, 15 litres a month. And why is milk significant (especially when many of us, me included, are constantly worrying about low fat, low carb diets)? Because it is a perfect food for growing children: it is a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamins, helping with the growth of body tissues, teeth and bones. Mediterranea is a voluntary, privately funded humanitarian aid organisation which Dr Michael Stoma and his wife Victoria founded back in 1999. It is well known for its work in Africa, and lesser known for its vital and day to day support of children who are living right now and right here in Majorca.

A stocked store cupboard, for now.

A stocked store cupboard, for now.

Back in 2009 Mediterranea realised that there was a developing economic problem on the island and so earlier this year they launched their “ESTO ES LA LECHE” project (it’s a Spanish term which translated means “It’s the bees’ knees”). Up to then they had distributed about 91,000 litres of milk to families with children. But recently the demand has rapidly increased: now Mediterranea is supplying milk to more than a thousand children who are in need across 19 municipalities in Majorca. Following WHO guidelines that would be 15,000 litres a month: that is a lot of milk. The commitment to supply milk is draining resources from other projects that Mediterranea supports. However, what is quite perfect about milk here in Majorca is that we buy it in cartons which don’t need chilling, or any special handling, and we (by that I mean you and I) can all buy extra cartons of milk and donate them easily. It is literally a few extra pennies per litre. Mediterranea now has its own drop off centre, called El Nucleo, which is just outside of Portals Nous, on the way to Bendinat. It is completely possible to drop off your milk donations any weekday. Dr Stoma and his volunteers would like us to all get into the habit of doing that. Of course if you live in another area of the island then you can  get in touch with Gwyneth, one of the volunteers at Mediterranea and she will  guide you on how to get the milk to those in need.

Gwyneth and Kay preparing to deliver!

Gwyneth and Kay preparing to deliver!

I learn all of this as Kay, Gwyneth and I are on the road to one of these municipalities to deliver the blankets. It strikes me that the solutions that both women are giving to what have become known as “Fourth World Problems” are simple and achievable. I am not loaded but I could buy an extra half a dozen cartons of milk every month and donate them. Or I could make a regular standing order to the organisation and let them get on with the shopping. Gwyneth tells me that there are about 400 members who donate monthly, but to make all of the projects secure Mediterranea really needs something like 5000 members. It’s only 20€ a month.

We arrive at the depot where we will deliver the blankets and take a look inside the food cupboard. It’s hard to fathom that milk, rice and lentils are the edge between not eating that day and having a full tummy; that some people in Majorca are so poor that they can’t afford to eat. We get to meet some of the families who receive aid from Mediterranea. I’m told that the people using the depot are mixture of cultures from all over the place: Africa, South America as well as Spain and Eastern Europe. A common thread that seems to run through them is that many worked in the building industry before it collapsed back in 2008. The depot is a humble, warm, friendly place, but I’m glad I don’t have to visit as a client.

On the journey home we were all in a reflective mood. What do you get personally from helping with a project like this? Gwyneth summed it up: “it’s the satisfaction that I am doing something small but significant to improve the life of someone who could behomeless, unemployed or just unlucky. Mediterranea helps to feed children and their families so that they don’t need to turn to crime or prostitution or eating from rubbish bins. I love to help, I’m only supposed to be doing this one morning a week but I think about it all the time, I’m passionate about it”.

And for Kay and her brood of knitters at the Universal Bookshop it’s the same, they are doing something small but perfectly formed which reverberates out and touches many more people. “I’m been imagining the children all wrapped up, cosy warm in their new blankets,” said Kay with a huge, happy smile on her face, “and the children who come into my bookshop are benefitting too. They need to be aware of children who aren’t as fortunate as themselves. We all have a responsibility to each other”.

You can find out more at http://mediterraneaong.com. To read more stories about people in Majorca visit www.mallorcastories.com

©Vicki McLeod 2013