The Good Life

BingoOur back garden has gone wild. The cats are thrilled: finally they’re getting to be the big scary cats they pretend to be. They’re stalking each other, birds, bugs, leaves and (hooray!) mice. I’m not very comfortable with rodents, which may be in part why we have five cats. It’s a good idea to keep them a little bit hungry, it keeps them edgy. It also keeps them close. So close in fact that I wake up every morning with at least one of the cats sat on my head, waiting patiently for that woman with thumbs to get up and get on with the most important meal of the day. I call them my breakfast escort. I do love them; they are great fun to have around. And in my opinion less isn’t more, more is more. So what other animals could we have in our house that wouldn’t upset my furry babies?

Occasionally we look after a friend’s dogs whilst they go away: the two boy cats do a runner whenever the dogs are staying, but the three girl cats steadfastly hold their ground and give the dogs a thing or two to think about. But we can’t commit to having dogs all the time in our house; we just don’t have the time to walk them. Recently we almost (almost) ended up with rabbits, it was one of those “the owners are leaving the country, and they can’t take their dog/cat/donkey/rabbit/duck with them” situation. But my husband talked me down off the ledge explaining that cats quite like catching things that run, and hop and that he feared for the safety of the bunnies.

So, failing bunnies, what about chickens?  Could chickens fight back I wondered? We have a garden which is overgrown and needs to have some attention paid to it. Could we do A Good Life? Could we dig up our garden and start growing our own food, keep some chooks, collect eggs?  You don’t have to look far in Mallorca to find someone who knows a thing or two about chickens and the general consensus from my “Chook Coaches” is that they scare the bobs off of cats and could probably hold their own. But we need a chook house and, well, chickens of course. Then there’s the crucial question: who’s going to be Margot and Jerry, and Tom and Barbara?

Apparently I have already committed the first sin which is to give the chickens names (we think Laverne and Shelley would be funny). We’re hoping to get them from a battery farm, yes they do exist here in Mallorca, and we have a contact that is active in rescuing farmed chickens.  And we have to secure the perimeter of our garden properly, we don’t want any of those why did the chicken cross the road situations. It’s got to be safe. So in this case we know what comes first, not the chicken but the hedge.

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.