Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pointless And Pointed

Who switched the lights off?

Zero sun, a bullseye of rain and three degrees this morning at 10 o’clock. Three degrees! Pity the poor sods who have pitched up hoping for some Spring heat. How utterly depressing.

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the Carretera Arta. Well, no it’s a crap idea - the red track I mentioned last time. Karen from Foxes was giving the situation a good once-over and was muttering darkly about drivers using it rather than cyclists, which begs the question - what is the point of it? Who knows, but the whole sorry mess is leading to sweeps as to the number of accidents (and worse) through the season.

But there is always some new roundabout furniture to make the whole effort seem worthwhile. In the middle of the new one at the Palma-Sa Pobla turn, some sleek steel thing has been erected. An executive pen-holder? A piece of dental equipment?

A fish-hook is the best offer so far.

When it stops raining, in a few days, expect a nice photo and you can all enter our quiz. Name that thing on the roundabout. My guess is that, in years to come, people will refer to it not simply (as with the horse roundabout, though even the horse in question is somewhat open to other interpretations), but far more vaguely as the Pointed Thing Roundabout. And they would of course be right. That’s it. The official name. I’ve just coined it. Rotonda Cosa Puntiaguda. I hereby claim my contribution to local culture.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Rains And Boats And Cranes

And so the crappy weather meant that the cuttlefish and boat affairs in Puerto Alcudia were not the success of last year. There were people around, quite a lot in fact, but the terraces were not thronged - too cold and too much of a threat of rain. Still, I got a tasty tapa of sepia in a tangy sauce at La Recoleta; very nice it was, too.

It wasn’t as though there weren’t folk on the terraces. Hardy groups of Germans, who will sit through a gale and plagues of locusts to ensure they are fed at the correct time, were to be noted, as they were - in some abundance - earlier in the day at Cafe Paris’s brunchtime music Sunday. Paris, Can Picafort that is. Not Paris, Paris or Paris, Texas. It is quite marked just how German Can Pic is. And being towards midday, the cry is “Mahlzeit”, one of the German language’s odder utterings, Mahlzeit being a greeting used at mealtimes. Think about it. In England all these folk wandering about at midday shouting “meal time”.

At this time of the year, Easter coming up, the first real flocks of tourists arriving, you would think that all the work that needs to be done would be through. Not a bit of it. As I said at the same time last year, there is a theory that much of the building work that occurs at this time is done purely to prove to people that something is being done (there being fewer folk around earlier in the winter to impress). Consequently, you can turn any corner and be likely to encounter some fucking crane parked in the middle of the road and a couple of weasly workers in luminous jackets who have a communication breakdown in the synchronisation of their stop-go signs.

Amidst all this work, there may though be some semblance of common sense. By the Magic Roundabout I now notice that a red track has been painted to direct cyclists off of the Carretera and onto the side road that runs parallel. Now this might just be a good idea, although it would make for dangerous times ahead for pedestrians. Watch this space.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pick a Peck o’ Pickled Picafort


The title of this site may be AlcudiaPollensa, but it doesn’t stop me from talking about other places. Can Picafort, for example. Not a place that gets much of a look-in here. Not a place that gets much of a look-in anywhere to be honest.

It’s a strange place. Nice enough. Pleasant residential areas. Neatly laid-out road system (assuming that matters). Nice hotels (an enormous number of them). But it sort of lacks something. It’s like Playa de Muro, only bigger. The front-line there does look a bit scrappy in parts, so news that some upgrading is to be done at the Son Bauló end is to be welcomed, though how much of an improvement a relatively small spend will bring about is questionable.

At least no-one has tried to set fire to the hotels. Unlike in Alcúdia. Three of them - the Sofia Apartments, the Ciudad Blanca and the Viva Golf - have all been the target of some pyromania. The suspicion is that it’s the work of a disgruntled ex-worker (or ex-workers), though the fact that the three establishments have no connection makes it all seem a bit odd, unless the same ex-worker has managed to be kicked out of three jobs. For the record, there was no great damage, just some mattresses went up apparently.

This weekend will see the second sepia and nautical fairs in Puerto Alcúdia. Sepia, let me remind you all, means cuttlefish. Bizarre though it sounds, they devote a whole weekend to budgie food. The combined event was a rip-roaring success last year, but then the weather was brilliant, which it isn’t at the moment. Winter arrived yesterday.

And talking of rips, Trev from La Sala was wondering why I hadn’t taken more of a rip out of the new road system along the Carretera Arta. Strange, I thought I had. Anyway, here are some adjectives:

Ill-conceived, lousy, half-brained, stupid, mad, poorly-thought-out, nuts. Or perhaps ... an example of innovative traffic management and circulation designed to aid both road users and pedestrians. Ok, the last one certainly wasn’t an adjective. Any other offers?

From the Business Pages: Hot on the heels of Thomas Cook (Neckermann) taking over My Travel and Aspro Ocio (Marineland etc) taking over Western Park, now we have Thomson (TUI) acquiring First Choice. Yea, yea, so it says merger. No such thing, my friends. There is always a first amongst so-called equals, and barely ever has a merger been anything other than an acquisition. Setting aside the Marineland activity, the big four tour companies are now the big two. Both German. “Sunbedsraum” by any other name.

Friday, March 16, 2007

“Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel” - Part Two

Before I get to the subject of the title, something about service.

A US retail chain, Nordstrom, made a name for itself by offering outstanding service. Not just your ordinary how-can-I-help-you variety, but extraordinary service. It was encouraged. So if a customer was in a spot, needed a lift, say, to the airport, Nordstrom would deliver.

Now Puerto Alcúdia is not the US. Little Britain is not Nordstrom, but check this out. Today a rather frail lady came into the shop. She realised she had lost a bag. Had to be in the Syp store. The bag had medicines in it and money. No sooner mentioned than acted upon. Off went Steve to Syp, and retrieved the bag.

That’s what I call service.

So, those fish in the barrel. Another easy target has to be Leapy Lee in “Euro Weekly”. Full respect to EW for publishing the letter, as a correspondent finished her criticism of the Leapster thus:

“What I really can’t understand is how a publication that seems unbiased in every other way can publish Leapy’s weekly criticism of anything and everything. His points are sometimes valid, but please can you really call that writing! It’s in bad taste and I for one would like to see him gone.”

I’m saying nothing.

I forgot to mention. A caption beneath a photo of an ashen-faced Stuart Pearce. “Pearce yesterday dismissed speculation that is facing the sack.” Amazing what the absence of a pronoun can do.

Also - reporting a US study into the effects of Omega-3, reference was made to “gray” matter. Either a straight take from a US-originated editorial release or a failure to change to British English. “Gray” in British English is only a noun - it is a unit of radiation measure. “Gray” in British English does not exist as an adjective.

Where do these two examples come from? Where do you think?

Like shooting fish in a barrel.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

“Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel”

I like this saying. When Martin Clunes once used it on “Have I Got News For You”, I made a note. Must use that some time.

“The Daily Bulletin”. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

Yesterday’s issue. Front page - Weather Forecast page 28. Er no, the Lashter actually, but only one out, page 29. See New Feature, Your Shout, p. 14. Two out, page 16.

But there’s more. Oh, yes. On the Lash page. Reference to many in British sport who have pitched up at one of his mates’ restaurants - “From Sir Alex Ferguson to Tommy Dority.” Tommy Dority? Who he? And then there’s a photo of one of the mates. With a “great (?)” of British sport - Joe Royal. Yes, yes, Joe Royal. Not Joe Royle, but Joe Royal.

Today’s issue. Aspro Ocio’s takeover of Western Water Park. Refers to “Agualand”. No, no, Aqualand.

Bad day(s) at the sub’s desk perhaps.

Like shooting fish in a barrel.

* I googled Tommy Dority. Didn’t bother after page one. Two mentions, one pertaining to, the other to a site for air medical professionals. Must be the first one then.

Monday, March 12, 2007

“Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot”

At the risk of sounding repetitive ... Yesterday’s “Sunday Times” summarised the arguments set forth by Mark Lynas in his book “Our Future on a Hotter Planet” (Harper Collins). They made for startling reading.

Lynas sets out scenarios based on increases in temperature of one degree, to a maximum of six (which in effect means oblivion, and may - hopefully - be some many years off). In the shorter-term, he sees zero chance of avoiding a one-degree increase, itself bad enough as it will set off - inter alia - coastal flooding, drought and the partial tearing-apart of mountains. That’s one degree. Between one and two-degree heating is expected within 40 years. The 2003 heatwave will be the norm, Mediterranean holidays will cease; it will be too hot. People will seek to move north or to higher ground. When temperatures were last one to two degrees higher, the sea levels were five or six metres higher - five or six metres!!!

Doesn’t sound too good, does it. No more Mallorca holidays, no more Mallorca villas by the sea, no more Mallorca. 40 years. Half a lifetime.

The Germans, longer in environmental awareness than many other peoples, are being encouraged to holiday at home, and there are concerns that this could affect what was predicted to be a second successive ”record year” for tourism. I doubt it really will. Despite their environmental awareness, the Germans are pretty much wedded to turning mahogany under a Mallorcan sun.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

“A Bicycle, Not A Road, Made For Two”

Now let’s get one thing straight; I am not anti-cycling. Indeed I am pro-cycling. Environmentally friendly, good for the health. Be it rigorous sport or a leisurely pedal regarding splendid vistas, cycling has a lot going for it.


Years ago there was one of those public information adverts that used to get trotted out about driving. It depicted a driver turning into a devil. Cyclist: same anti-Christ, different set of wheels. Not all, of course not all, but some, oh yes. Let loose on the roads in these parts, there is a breed of cyclist who is transformed into - and I can think of only one word: four letters, c-alliterative.

The pantomime-horse shoes don’t help of course, but at least they are vaguely comedic. What is not is: riding through red lights; riding on the wrong side of the road; riding in the middle of the road (ignoring the cycle lanes). Someone said today: “they (cyclists) show a lack of courtesy”. Perhaps they are getting their own back. Cyclists and drivers; ne’er shall the twain meet, except when they collide with each other.

Which brings me of course to the Carretera Arta. Alcúdia council, unlike Muro’s (the main road remains stubbornly un-resurfaced as one enters Playa de Muro), has forked out a good chunk of euros on the road’s improvement. However, as I pointed out on 11 February, there is a bit of a design fault in the new road’s layout. Did I say “a bit”?

As mentioned before, and as shown in the photo on 11 Feb, there are now many crossing-point “islands” dotted along the road. I fully understand the thinking. Helps people cross the road. Fine. Except the disappearing cycle lanes as one comes to these islands. Except the lack of clarity as to whether one can turn left. Except the mini-roundabouts that now are starting to appear. Except the bigger roundabouts - the one at the top of the Greasy Mile for instance; the turn is too tight, too tight. Coaches ...?

I fully understand the thinking. But did anyone stop to also think about not just the cyclists, but also the mopeds, the scooters, the trikes, the women on roller blades pushing baby buggies, the disabled cyclists, the horse-drawn carriages? To say nothing of the fact that your average driver here has no comprehension as to how to approach or negotiate a roundabout - or how to indicate (which is an optional extra).

There are going to be problems.

Enough of this. This blog does from time to time celebrate the sad passing of great names. Fred Trueman was one. So, I cannot allow the death of John Inman to go unacknowledged, if only because of his part in one of the most abysmal films of all time, namely the one when the staff at Grace Brothers went on holiday together to “Spain”. It was all there. The cheap innuendo, the leering at totty (not by Mr. Humphries necessarily), the culture clash with the Germans. My, how things don’t change.

Weather watch: wind, wind and more wind. The road into Puerto Pollensa was blocked for a while this morning by a fallen tree. There was other damage, and a yacht dashed on the rocks by Club Sol. And this comes on the back of a mother and father of a storm a couple of days back. Spring, that’ll be it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

More By The Way Of Scam

It was back in November that I talked about the scam whereby restaurant or hotel (or other) owners post glowing reports on - inter alia - the likes of TripAdvisor, masquerading as a happy and contented punter. It’s taken me a while to get up to speed with this, but from the end of this year - in the UK - anyone doing so can be named and shamed by trading standards or taken to court. This is all part of a move to prevent consumers from being misled.

As back in November, I confess to a vested interest in this as on the websites associated with this blog, reviews can be posted. These are subject to vetting before they are approved, though I could never be 100% sure as to the origin. Nevertheless, this move to criminalise such glowing statements using false identities is almost certainly welcome.

The reliance that the tourist places on personal recommendation cannot be under-estimated.

It is a facet of our information society that so much information is so readily available and - more importantly - we have all become ever more reliant on this information to direct and, yes, inform, our decision-making. The trouble is a potential over-reliance and a lack of discernment. What one person considers to be the dog’s bollocks doesn’t necessarily mean that those same bollocks will be hung for another - as it were.

Still, I shall continue to vet the comments that come to the websites, on which the establishments which have thus far attracted the most comment are all part of the same business. Just coincidence, of that I’m sure. But for the record they are - in Puerto Alcúdia and on - Bells Disco, Kaos Bar and El Toro Restaurant.

January seems to have been a good month for Balearic tourism (all things being relative of course). Anyway, the numbers were up by some 20%, though of this number 50% were mainland Spanish. Maybe it was the good weather.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Our Mutual Friend

And so, just continuing with headlines of a literary nature (the last one was from Ian McEwan plus a “dis” - if you get my drift), the “friend” referred to in the previous entry turned up today. His “mutuality” stems from the fact both I and James (and Karen) from Foxes know him as well. And this is a roundabout way of giving James a name-check, because he wanted one. No sooner asked, than done, James.

But there’s more. The mutual friend still suffers from this apparent rip-off by a business transfer agency. From my admittedly limited dealings with such agencies on the island, I cannot believe that they would practise what is a form of gazumping. Were I a vendor, and the agency did that to a prospective purchaser, I’d tell them to sling their hook.

Apparently the agency expressed a degree of relief when the friend said, on learning that the price had gone up, he wasn’t interested any longer. Their reasoning; we can keep the money.

I know who they are. I’m not saying, but I know. There’ll be something; there’s always something. Like another friend who stood to lose a cool sixty-odd thousand as a deposit on a property in the south of the mainland (that was never seemingly going to come to fruition). He wanted his money back. Consult a lawyer, was the response. None of the lawyers in the vicinity was interested; friends, you see. So, he found a blog. Others had had the same problem. There was a lawyer away from the area. She took up the case. He got his money back.

There’s always something. Nowadays, there’s always something. Look out.

Weather watch: yesterday was ludicrously hot. 25 degrees, word had it. Changed today, but, hell, 25 degrees in the first week of March. Global warming? Nah, just one of those things.