Monday, 21 January 2019

Paella and paddling

It’s now two weeks since we arrived back in Mallorca, and the time is flying. It doesn’t help that both Kevin and I have been back to the UK already! He has gone again today to visit his son Ben who is over from Canada, but hopefully I’ll be here for a while now - it’s still lovely to be back. And the weather has (mostly) been amazing.

Our first full weekend after arriving, we got to make the most of it: we were invited to lunch at the parents of twins in Jemima’s class, Blanca and Eric. Rose and Marc moved here from Barcelona a few years ago, speak perfect English, and have always been very friendly. Rose cooked us her Valencian grandmother’s authentic paella on a gas stove outside while we chatted and Jemima and the twins played. It was warm enough for us all to eat outside, and the paella was sublime - Jemima even ate the chicken liver. Such a jolly afternoon, and so lovely to be made to feel welcome. We even learned how to pronounce paella properly: pa-eya (not pie-yeya, which apparently is what most English people say).

We also had lunch outside on the Sunday: all the time we were here last year, they were refurbishing a restaurant that overlooked our beach, but we left before it opened. It’s all finished now, so we went for Sunday lunch. The food was good, but the view was incredible: because it’s built on the edge of the marina, it juts out over the water at 90 degrees to the beach, giving you the most amazing perspective over the turquoise water and along the white sand. We sat in the sun, watching Jemima playing on the beach, gradually stripping off so she could paddle in the sea. In January...

That afternoon was a birthday party for one of the kids in Jemima’s class - because there’s only about 18 of them, everyone is invited to every party, and food and drink is always laid on for the adults too - it’s all very civilised. We met the mum of the new English boy in Jemima’s class, who seemed very nice. But unfortunately Jemima had a bit of a cough, so after cake we took her home, and I kept her off school the next day.

I’d made it clear that being off school did not mean “fun”. So we had a quiet morning at home, before going down to the marina for brunch at Flanagan’s. A bit more convalescing at home, then the weather was so good, we went down to the beach. Just glorious. I even swam - for about 2 minutes (I basically got in, then got out - it was FREEZING.) But it was fun.

The weather turned a bit after that. Jemima was back at school, so Kevin and I had a quiet few days getting back to our running, doing some work (for me), and sorting out a few things for the flat. By Thursday the sun was back: we went for a cheeky gin and tonic in the marina and sat with the sun on our faces, before picking up Jemima and taking her for a pizza.

The end of the marina near us is going through a big redevelopment, which apparently is going to take four years. They’ve taken away the boatyard that used be just where we come out of our building, and we’ve been watching them reclaim more land and begin to start putting up metal-framed structures. It’s been fascinating to watch developments as we go past there every time we go down to the marina: huge lorries dumping massive rocks that then get bulldozed into the water: massive metal empty cubes that they’ve sunk then filled with concrete (we’ve seen the divers working, and to get the concrete into the cubes they had a cement mixer on the shore with a massive pipe curving overhead delivering cement into a lorry floating on a pontoon, which then had another pipe arching overhead pouring the cement into the cube - I wish I’d had my camera). Health and safety doesn’t seem a massive priority (we have to watch out not to fall into holes or get hit by flying bits of stone) but the machinery is really impressive: massive shiny red things that look like they’re going to be doing something very serious soon. No-one has any plans of what’s being done: there’s rumours of a beach club and an underground car park as well as more shops and restaurants. But they do work hard: weekends, and long days, probably to make up for the complete ban on building work in the summer months. Goodness knows how they’re going to keep our end of the marina open as it develops - but it’s fun to see the progress.

Friday was a big day: Chameli’s, our favourite local restaurant, was re-opening after its winter break. The sign had said it would be opening on Thursday, so Jemima and I had got up early to go there for breakfast before school - but it wasn’t open, nor after school when we tried again. (Hence the very nice pizza in the local Italian instead.) But mañana we tried again: and it was open! Huevos tostadas (fried eggs) before school, and a lovely reunion with our favourite waiters. Then I was off to the airport to fly back to the UK for the first Career Retreat I was running with my friend and colleague Nicola.  

That all went very well, and I got well-looked after by my parents, including a lovely dinner at Rick Stein’s new restaurant near them. And in the meantime Kevin and Jemima had fun: dinner in Chameli’s on Friday night; Saturday afternoon at a fiesta in Magaluf (I remember this from last time: there are fiestas every weekend at this time of year); and a trip to McDonalds and Palma Jump, the indoor trampoline place on a rainy Sunday, while I was flying home.

We haven’t yet got back into some of things I loved most about Mallorca last time: the hikes, the wonderful drives through the beautiful countryside. But it’s been so busy! And the good thing is that as we’re here for longer, there’s plenty of time...

So today (Monday) we started spreading our wings a little. After a lovely sunny run in the marina, we decided to drive north to the town of Campanet for lunch, where we’d had some amazing tapas during our last visit. It was a journey of firsts for this trip: first proper sight of the mountains looming away to our left, covered by rain-filled clouds today; first sight of the orange-laden trees; first beginnings of the almond blossom on the plain; we’d even seen our first poisonous caterpillars on our run this morning. The restaurant sadly wasn’t doing tapas today (too early in the season) but we had our first proper menú del dìa, and it was a cracker: €9 each for a whole bottle of wine (not that we drank it all!), a large bottle each of still and sparkling water, bread and olives, consommé with a poached egg, fish, roasted veg and potatoes, and a caramel flan. Plus a similarly warm welcome from the owners. You just can’t understand how they can make any money. 

Then it was time for Kevin to get to the airport for his flying visit home - which meant I got to drive the 911, which was much less scary than I’d imagined. And Jemima and I shared prawn pasta in Chameli’s for dinner (I can’t be eating out twice in one day, but special treat today). 

Kevin gets back on Wed, the same day my parents arrive for a week - it’s my mum’s 70th on 28th Jan so we’re having a family visit, which will be fun. So a quiet couple of days for Jemima and I first - more work, school, scooting and ballet, and I would imagine the odd ice cream out. Normal Mallorca life.

First tooth!

The other “look” for working Mallorca-style (in an unheated flat..)

After school scoot

Pa-eya at Rose and Marc’s

Sunday lunch


Tuesday - back to school (sunrise on our scoot)

My current favourite lunch - Serrano and tomato panini (yum)

G&T in the marina


This was our first ever view of Portals

King Richard III College

Marina developments

Breakfast in Chameli’s!

My beautiful good luck flowers from Kevin

Happy Artemis Coaching!

Coming home!

Out with Daddy!

The return of the poisonous caterpillars!