Thursday, May 31, 2007


Am I unusual?

Many of you will know about my work with published guides here. What many will not know is how personally I feel involved. Not just with the guides. More than this.

For several weeks, months even in late winter and spring, I have no life other than the guides. I live them. And I live the businesses they represent. That’s the problem. That’s where maybe I am unusual.

These businesses. Some of them are run by friends, or rather by people who have become friends. Others are run by people I like. Others are run by people I barely know, but I admire for what they achieve. Only rarely could I not care a toss.

Over these weeks and months, I can see these businesses and people in my mind. I do the simplest of things. The making of a coffee. The opening of the gates to the driveway. The turning off of lights at night. Somehow, some way, they all bring a business to mind.

I’m too close.

For these weeks and months I live all this. And then come the printers. One year it was the plotter. Another year it was the capacity in the production management system. This year it’s the elections. Always some reason. I don’t blame them. But I wonder what goes through their minds when they turn off the lights at night.

Now the guides are done, they’re out, but it doesn’t stop. In the mind all the time.

That’s why this valediction. I will remain in some capacity. I’m not going away. And there are many other things to do. But I am going. And so when I turn the lights off at night, maybe I will just think again of those businesses and think it’s been a pleasure. And it has been. Cheers.


P.S. Ne’er fret. The blog continues.

Index for May 2007

Advance Passenger Information - 26 May 2007
Alcúdia’s old power station - 23 May 2007
All-inclusives - 30 May 2007
British tourists - 21 May 2007
Bus timetables - 2 May 2007
Cafe Art 66 - 5 May 2007
Carretera Artà - 21 May 2007, 22 May 2007, 30 May 2007
Elections - 13 May 2007, 22 May 2007, 28 May 2007, 29 May 2007
Es Turó - 20 May 2007
Eurovision Song Contest - 12 May 2007
Expatriates - 29 May 2007
Horses - 24 May 2007
Jellyfish - 15 May 2007, 24 May 2007
My Travel - 21 May 2007
Oxygen Bar - 9 May 2007
Property prices - 1 May 2007
Public holidays - 1 May 2007
Rafael Nadal - 20 May 2007
Restaurants - 20 May 2007
Road accidents - 30 May 2007
Rubbish - 5 May 2007
Smoking - 25 May 2007
Son Serra de Marina - 24 May 2007
Time - 15 May 2007
Tourism - 25 May 2007, 27 May 2007
Weather - 23 May 2007
Weirdness - 20 May 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Seasoned viewers of this blog will know that two of the issues I have paid particular attention to are road accidents/deaths and all-inclusive hotels.

I’m sorry to say that both have have reared their ugly heads once again (and I say “ugly” in respect of all-inclusives only because I have strong first-hand experience of the deleterious effects they have on friends). No flippancy today.

There are more flowers on the roadside. These heartbreaking tributes. These pitiable monuments to loss. These flowers adorn the hedge just up the road from me in Playa de Muro - on the carretera. They are there because of the crash around 7:30 last Saturday morning. I didn’t go and look. I just heard the peeping of the police, the sirens, the revving of engines caught in a jam. I had no need to look. I did once when I heard the crash right outside a couple of years back. When I helped a neighbour with a hose. When I saw firemen cutting the car bodies. I had no need to look again.

I spoke to a local policeman about it a few days later. “Fatal,” he said. That’s pronounced “fatahl” here. Yes this means fatal, but it also means awful. That’s what he meant.

“El Defensor del Pueblo” is how the Ombudsman is called here. El Defensor has decreed that he will not approve any regulation against all-inclusive hotels in the Balearics.

Let me be clear. I have no axe to grind with all-inclusives. I have said it before that they represent not only good value but also consumer choice. Indeed it offends me - as a believer in the free market - that the all-inclusive and the primacy of the consumer should or could be undermined by governmental action that limits this free market and choice. But.

I know an awful lot of people here. An awful lot of people who run bars and restaurants. I know an awful lot of stories about the effects of all-inclusives.

Perhaps I should harden my heart. Accept the dynamics of the market. I do, but I also don’t.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Am I Bothered?

“Elections? Face? Face? Elections? I AIN’T BOTHERED!”

Oh Lordy, Lordy, “The Bulletin” gazes in a navel direction. Why do so few expats vote?

Answer’s simple: they ain’t bothered.

Setting aside straightforward apathy, there are a number of reasons for the lack of interest: don’t understand the voting system; don’t understand the language and therefore don’t understand the messages; don’t know who the politicians are; don’t know what the political parties are all about. Don’t know. Don’t understand. Don’t care.

People should care, of course they should care. But it goes deeper. Gather together a sample of a hundred expats and ask them who the leader of the Balearics Government is. Ask them to name the mayor of Alcúdia, or of Pollensa. See where it gets you.

The fourth estate and local politicians may believe that they are trying to engage expats in the political process but they are not. “The Bulletin”, a few days back, referred to the “wining and dining” by politicians of, well of I’m not quite sure. Perhaps the editor of “The Bulletin” and some buffers from ESRA and other expat groups.

Fact is that most Brit expats have way more interest in political matters back home. And the fourth estate reflects this. Take our old mate Leapy Lee. Not uncommon for him to sound off about Blair and the awfulness of Britain. “The Bulletin” does try. But it is essentially a British newspaper with some local stuff tagged on, and that isn’t a criticism.

If the press and politicians were really serious about engaging the expatriate community perhaps they might think about producing election specials which detail what the parties stand for, who they are, how the voting system works, why it is important to be involved. Not just the odd article, but a full supplement. Perhaps some of the money that goes into printing all those damn posters could be diverted into producing such specials. But only if the political parties were really serious. But are they bothered?

Pop Quiz: To all of you who said Alice Cooper, a copy of the Partido Popular manifesto (unused).


Monday, May 28, 2007

I Wanna Be Elected!!

Well, actually I don’t, but for those of you gripped by election fever and gagging for news as to who’s in and who’s out, here’s a summary.

Balearics Government: The Partido Popular has lost its overall majority and will need to create a pact with the UM (Unió Mallorquina) to stay in government.

Alcúdia: Stays UM but with a coalition.

Pollensa, Santa Margalida, Sa Pobla: Stay PP with coalitions.

Muro: goes PP with a pact.

There, I am sure you all feel better for this information.

Pop Quiz: “Royal Scam” was our old chums Steely Dan. And today’s title is from ...? Easy.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Royal Scam


Restaurant: Las Sirenas in the Paseo in Puerto Alcúdia. Couple having a meal. Another couple finish meal, join the first couple to enjoy a drink together. Innocent enough?

The couple that joined the first couple finish drink. Then go. Bill for their meal?

First couple is presented with a 50 euro ticket.

First couple doesn’t have to pay after intervention of other diners.

Watch out. Perhaps I’ll give details of what they look like. Listen up, lowlife, there’s always some stroppy bastard on the Internet who’ll get you. Watch out.

Meantime, which country can lay claim to having the worst tourists?

No prizes for guessing it’s the Brits. But, one of this blog’s favourites, Jeremy Clarkson (a favourite because he knows how to rant; really, he doesn’t play at it, he does it) disputes this. The Russians, he reckons. To give you a flavour, he finishes his piece in “The Sunday Times” thus: “A lout from Liverpool may vomit on you and that’s nasty. But a Russian would happily garnish your pizza with a dash of polonium.”

In recognition of this contribution to fraternal tourist diplomacy, I’ve linked “The Times” site.

Pop Quiz: JK’s Spanish hit was “Una Paloma Blanca”. Today’s title is stretching it a bit. But we’re back to a previous Pop Quiz band. Who did “A Royal Scam”?


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Advance, Advance!

Knickers in a twist time?

Spain, ahead of other European countries, will introduce the so-called Advance Passenger Information system from 13 June. This requires all passengers from non-Schengen countries, such as the UK and Ireland, to give full name, date of birth, nationality, passport number before travelling. If this is not done in advance, the info will have to be collected by check-in staff. Consequently, there are dire warnings of delays, of people not coming to Spain, blah, blah... . It is questionable why Spain feels the need to bring this in now as other EU countries will not be doing so for up to 12 months. Ok, the introduction coincides with the start of the peak season. But when should Spain introduce it? It will presumably be operable in future high seasons, so what’s the problem now?

It is the case that new-generation passports contain all the relevant information, so there may be a bit of overkill here, but fact is, folks, we have to live with this sort of inconvenience (not that it is, to be honest). More pertinent, I suppose, is what this information collection does in terms of deterring terrorism, which is the point of it all. Forged passports anyone?

Pop Quiz update: I was waiting for Andrea to come up with Jonathan King. And so the corollary is - apart from anything else he may or may not have done, what was Jonathan King’s greatest crime in musical terms? Clue: it was a “Spanish” hit.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Cough, Cough

A few days ago I got an email from Ben, he of the Piccadilly site that is linked here. The gist of this was, what’s the deal with smoking nowadays since the introduction of smoking restrictions some 18 months or so back.

Anyone in England, coming to terms with the rigorous anti-smoking laws in public places, might well ask what restrictions. Setting aside the confusion of the Balearics applying a different interpretation to the mainland, the basics of the law are these:

Any bar/restaurant over 100 square metres must have separate smoking and no-smoking areas.
Any bar/restaurant of less than 100 square metres can opt to be smoking or non-smoking.

Overwhelmingly the smaller establishments have opted to remain smoking zones. In larger establishments, the separate areas are a joke as physical barriers are barely in evidence. But moreover, the policing of all this has been pretty woolly. “The Bulletin” today has a good article about this (you see, I can praise it sometimes!). It quotes findings from the Spanish consumers’ association which reveal that a “blind eye” is often turned towards the issue, while a request for information on fines from the country’s autonomous regions drew only four (out of 17) fully completed answers.

The fact is that the anti-smoking laws here are totally inadequate. England’s (and Ireland’s and Scotland’s) may seem draconian, but perhaps they are necessary. That said, there’s something to applaud in the fact that Spain doesn’t go too far in proscribing what people can or cannot do, and where. Though the other side of this coin is that I still feel the tobacco sale law verges on the iniquitous (in the sense of a functioning free market) in creating a form of monopoly whereby bulk purchases of tobacco are only possible through the limited number of licensed tobacconists.

The season had a stuttering start in April. But now hotel occupations have grown, and the prediction of an even better year than 2006 may yet prove to be accurate. Again quoting from “The Bulletin”, the MD of one tourist group is praising the efforts of the Balearic Government and Tourism Ministry for the promotional strategy which is bearing fruit. Well, good for them. And I suppose this praise has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact the elections take place on Sunday.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Horse, Of Course

Look away now, if you are easily offended. I am going to talk about shit. Or rather I am going to get to this via a typically circuitous route.

The other day I asked for nominations for the weird. Let´s go big here, well relatively big. Forget the mere restaurant or bar, I hereby nominate Son Serra de Marina as not just the weirdest place in northern Mallorca, but in the whole of Mallorca.

Son Serra is a ghost town even in summer. You can fully imagine tumbleweed rolling along the empty streets, and a toothless old gummer manning a one-pump garage that doubles as a bar (with no drink of course).

Can anyone tell me what the point of Son Serra is? It's as though it was developed as a mini Can Picafort and then someone forgot it was there. Unlike Can Pic, there is nothing save for less than a handful of restaurants and a nautical club that always seems shut.

Well, there is one point to Son Serra. Its beach. I’m not talking the beach where the houses end, which is constantly chocker with sea detritus, I’m talking the one further along where the Germans get their kit off.

And now I start to get to the point. Ok, I admit I have been to this beach too. It’s a very nice beach. But you can be lying there, minding your own business and suddenly be aware of a rumbling. A rumbling of hooves coming ever closer. You look up and there’s this posse of cowboys galloping towards you. It’s the Rancho Grande boys taking dobbin for a spin.

Now there is something extremely liberating and thrilling about riding horseback on a beach. But.

Horses have this tendency to crap when you least expect them to. Indeed horses are remarkable in being able to produce a motion whilst in motion. Humans can only do this trick with the aid of a dodgy curry.

So, my point is, you get these horses coming along and having a dump on the sand. Why is this seemingly ok? Dogs are meant to be banned from beaches as they too are less than decorous and choosy when at their toilet. Maybe it’s because of the volume. At least with a horse you can see only too clearly what it’s produced, and steer an avoiding course. A dog. Bit trickier. So, I suppose that’s the reason why horses can go on beaches and dogs can’t.

Enjoy the beach.

At the same time as a minor oil slick caused beaches around Magalluf to be closed for a short while, word comes of worries among Balearic hoteliers as to the jellyfish problem. Specifically, they are calling for measures to eliminate the pesky little monsters. But to suggest that jellyfish may cause tourists not to come to the islands is probably stretching a point.

Pop Quiz time: Come on down, Mark Draper. “Red Rain” was of course Peter Gabriel. Mark, you get the hour’s point-duty as no-one´s got the Crusaders’ line-up. It was: Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Wayne Henderson and Stix Hooper.
No prizes for knowing that Peter Gabriel was an original member of Genesis, but which disgraced music entrepreneur was instrumental, as it were, in the development of Genesis’s early career?


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Red Rain

Lord Rogers, it would appear, is one of a number of architects being lined up to develop the hideous old power station next to the commercial port in Alcúdia. The deal is that it would become some form of science, technology and arts park. Sounds ominous. Sounds vaguely familiar, too. Think Millennium Dome. Architect: Lord Rogers.

There’s no doubting the thing has to come down, and let’s hope it does, rather than some sentimentalist, seeing art deco where none exists, getting a preservation order slapped on it. Think Battersea Power Station, and the seemingly never-ending attempt to redevelop that. At least Battersea has a form of charm; the Alcúdia station has none whatsoever. So, do away with it.

But why a science, technology and arts park? The Mallorca Council, and doubtless other politicians, see this as a means of regeneration and winter tourism. If they want winter tourism, I have a much better idea. Build a Center Parcs. I mentioned this ages ago in respect of Playa de Muro. Now they have the perfect opportunity. Something people would come to in winter, unlike a science, technology and arts park. May sound as though I’m a Philistine. I’m not. But give people what they want, not what politicians might think people want and end up, potentially, with a white elephant.

Strange weather time. It’s been raining dirty. Hence today’s title and Pop Quiz. One of this singer’s finest moments. The first (non-chorus) lines are “I am standing up at the water’s edge in my dream. I cannot make a single sound as you scream.” Who? And to be nice, I’ll give you another day to answer The Crusaders’ question.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Road Movies

I decided against slagging off the Carretera Arta once again. I decided against taking issue with the notion that is now an aid to traffic circulation. You’ve heard it before. So I decided instead to highlight the benefit, the possibility, the opportunity. Job creation for the police. That’s what it is. Aid to traffic circulation? There were police on point-duty at the roundabout at the top of the Greasy Mile this morning. That’s how much of an aid.

On Test Match Special yesterday Geoffrey Boycott was saying that the people who set the international cricket schedule love the sport, but they have never played it at a top level and don´t understand the sport at that level.

The people who have designed this road doubtless love roads. They love tarmac, white lines, roundabouts, traffic islands. They love data collection on traffic movement. They love operational research models of traffic movement. But have they ever driven on this road?

They can love Google Earth maps of the roads, their own personal road movies. But they don´t know the plot and the actors.

Within operational research there was a development some 30 odd years ago called soft systems methodology. Essentially, this was an extension of the consideration of the human element in systems. Behaviour, if you like. The people who love roads don´t seem to love behaviour. I’ll give an example. I nearly crossed a red at the Sa Pobla roundabout this morning. But I was doing what any driver does. Looking to the left to wait for the chance to go. I wasn´t looking skyward to the lights.

One of the additional problems of the road is that the crossings (and therefore the lights) are too close to the roundabouts. Their proximity does not take into account driver behaviour.

But I said I wasn’t going to slag the road off. So I won’t.

Apparently election fever has gripped the island (trust the good old “Bulletin”; never one to stint on the hyperbole). All I can say is that I must have hypothermia because I am neither gripped nor feverish.

“Street Life” was sung by Randy Crawford, and she recorded it with The Crusaders. Today's quiz: can anyone name any original members of The Crusaders? An hour’s point-duty at the top of the Greasy Mile to anyone who can.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Street Life

Remarkable what you find in the street.

I’m not talking the what was quarter-full plastic bottle of Coke in a bag that was conveniently left under my car and the contents of which (the bottle that is, not the car) were sprayed into my neighbour’s garden by the force of a too rapidly reversing several hundredweight or so of Nissan. No, I’m talking the My Travel schedule of arrivals from Leeds-Bradford, replete with a dirty great tyre mark. What, I thought, were those sheets of stapled A4 littering up the pavement?

Cracking stuff that's what, though mercifully without home addresses, as I could have otherwise faxed a copy to my old acquaintance in Pudsey, Arthur “Lightfingers” Lightfoot, and recommended he got his jemmy and glass-cutting equipment out of the attic and gone on a bit of a night tour of the West Riding.

Still, you can’t have everything. But the sheets make interesting reading.

Which hotel in the whole of Mallorca is the most popular with this - admittedly limited - sample of northern sorts? Answer: the Sol Alcudia Centre. 17 of them. Lagomonte comes second, with Alcudia’s dominance only challenged by 10 heading off to the Bouganvilla Park in Sa Coma. Indeed Alcúdia is by some way the destination of choice for Tykes. Puerto Pollensa gets a measly eight, all of them in the Oro Playa. Not even Magalluf can apparently compare with Alcúdia when it comes to the affection of the White Rose.

Fascinating, I’m sure you’ll all agree. In future, perhaps My Travel (and Thomson, Thomas Cook etc). might just email me the lists so I don’t have to pick them up from the street. You don’t know where they’ve been. The email address is below.

Streets, roads. Roads, streets. Here we go again with the daftness that is the remodelled Carretera Arta. Now, the traffic has undoubtedly been slowed down. That’s the good thing. But one of the benefits that was alleged for the changes to the road, prior to their being done, was that they would aid the circulation of traffic. Wrong.

By high summer in past years there has always been a queue going towards the junction with the Greasy Mile. Now the queue can extend back almost as far as Eroski Syp. There always were lights here, but now they seem to be more frequently on red. Thing is it is only May. It’ll be murder by August, murder when it’s really hot and drivers are getting fractious, murder when drivers use the side-roads and try and jump the queues. Best advice is to just avoid the road completely.

A while since the Pop Quiz. But it’s back. Today’s title. Who sang it? And with which band did she record it?


Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Weird

The hunt is on.

In my life as a publisher of tourist guides, I am constantly bombarded by publicity for restaurants etc that emphasises their atmosphere, their sunny terraces, the quality of their food, their specialisms (Spanish restaurants love to announce that they are, inter alia, “specialists in meat”, which has never sounded much an enticement to me, at least).

But what I do not come across, what is never publicised is whether a place is just weird.

Weirdness comes in many guises. Weird location, weird food, weird people. And weirdness is a positive, in my book at any rate. Forget your romantic ambience, I want restaurants, bars, anything that are nuts, strange, left-field, off-the-wall, bonkers. I want ghoulish ambience, ghoulish people, bearded women, restaurants with no food, bars with no drink, the inhabitants of Bedlam.

Where are these places? They must exist. So tell me. The weirder the better. And, rest assured, the weird will be given its place in the sun (irrespective of terrace) on this blog. The rules for the search are that the weirdness must be an advantage and this weirdness would make you return. So, come on ...

Meantime, the merely magnificent. Recently I discovered an astonishing restaurant near Santa Margalida. Hardly a difficult place to discover as it sits next to the main road. Except that is that no-one ever goes to Santa Margalida, which is hardly surprising as there is little worth going for if you are the average tourist. This is a mistake, however. There is a quite impressive church, totally oversized given the size of the town, and an impressively unremarkable monument thing. Santa Margalida would be a good entry for weird towns, for which I invite more input. And it should be noted that the castle-looking affair as you go towards the town belongs to one Demis Roussos, so I was told. Not weird as such, but worth a trek to spot the large Greek.

Anyway, the restaurant is Es Turó, which is part of the very old S’Alqueria des Comte. Very, very impressive. So here´s a piccy.

Manacor’s favourite son and muscle-bound tennis heart-throb, Rafael Nadal, declares in today’s “Sunday Times” that his favourite music includes Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams.

Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams. God forbid.

Go back almost a year - to 27 May last year in fact - to find out why I cannot stand Bryan Adams.

I found out yesterday that Leapy Lee was actually born Graham Pulleyblank. He goes up in my estimation.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

All The Time In The World

I thought to say that the Spanish don’t understand time. But I have reconsidered. They understand it only too well. They take the abstract and extend it to its extremes. How else can one explain the – literal – moveable feast that is midday and hence lunchtime?

Perhaps it’s a trait of Spanish culture that they can treat the abstract with such regard. Picasso was but mere canvas to a national pastime, as it were.

The mañana ethos is too facile a description of the Spanish ambivalent adoration of time. It implies a tomorrow, when that tomorrow rarely, if ever, comes. Except when it suits.

To the northern European expat conditioned – variously – by WASPish or Prussian punctiliousness and punctuality, the void that is Spanish time can be hard to fathom.

And so is the Spanish attitude to communication. This is especially unfathomable, given that the Spanish nation has had a mobile phone surgically grafted onto to one of its collective ears. Yet, they don’t phone. They never phone.

I say all this from experience. I still don’t get Spanish time or Spanish communication. How long have I been here? I can’t say. To do so would be to seek to make tangible the abstract. Perhaps I should go native.

To other matters … Here we go again. Summer’s barely on us and the papers are screaming about jellyfish. Unlike last year’s plague, which didn’t happen, it might be a tad more likely this year. Apparently the little blighters have been loitering with intent in the waters around the Balearics during the winter rather than pissing off elsewhere, as is normally the case.

Some of you may know that the Spanish for jellyfish is “medusa”. I have an awful confession to make. I was once in a rock band that was called Medusa. Wasn’t my idea, honest. It was a lousy name especially as we were part of what was the at-the-time south-west Surrey music scene that spawned Graham Parker, The Jam and The Members. Medusa. How embarrassing.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Vota Vota Vota

There’s an election going on. And remarkably it doesn’t involve Tony Blair. Thank God. That Trimdon speech out-did even a Serbian Eurovision winner for sheer feigned emoting.

No, these elections are local to here. And I can’t avoid them. This fucking poster turned up on the telegraph post outside my house a couple of days back. It shows a rogue’s gallery of various worthies (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt) all shot in a field, which is probably what should happen to most politicians.

The poster belongs to the PP (Conservatives to you and me). Last time there was an election, a group of PPers turned up at the gate and attempted to engage me in conversation. The foreign vote was very important, they said. Maybe it is. But I don’t vote for any of them. Not through apathy, but because there is no real attempt to engage “foreigners” in the local political process. Well, none that I am aware of, at any rate.

But if a similar group pitches up this time, what I want to know most is what they plan to do about the weeds growing in the road. Those nice green weeds heading skyward towards a poster of politicians in a field.

And just by the bye. As some acute regular readers of this blog will know, I publish local guides. I was at my printers yesterday. The print shop was full of posters for this and that politician. Printers are log-jammed at this time of year, what with getting menus, cards, maps, guides etc all done. Into this mix come the PP and PSOE and the rest. Brilliant timing.


Sing Something Simple

Eurovision. An annual event, and an annual feature on this most Euro of blogs. The Spanish take this nonsense seriously, but given that it is indistinguishable from the rest of Spanish television, this is not surprising.

The contest has never been about music. Now it is a glorious and cynical exploitation by the mobile industry of the diaspora and the nationalistic and xenophobic tendencies of the not-so-long liberated eastern Europe and near Asia. They should just junk the song part and move straight to the voting. Brilliant.

But it cannot be taken seriously. If it were, how could one possibly explain the UK entry. Only at one level was it spot-on – a couple of homosexualists and some dodgy totty. Pretty much like any cabin crew. And for anyone who wondered whatever happened to Timmy Mallett, it would appear he’s now Ukrainian.

For what it’s worth, there was but one song that grabbed me. Despite or perhaps because of the George Michael rip-off, Turkey was the stand-out.

Meanwhile … after all the dire weather, it is now starting to large it. Perhaps all those predictions of a hot-hot-hot summer might come true.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Too busy. Too busy. Little time. But, in the irregular series of who is new and where, here we go … Oxygen in the Avda. Mexico just near the Greasy Mile has a new Dave, and an Amanda. And to prove it, here’s a photo. Nice place, nice folk.

I thought long and hard about taking a photo, but no. There were flowers on the Carretera opposite the Delfin Azul. It’s the anniversary of the terrible road accident last year. I didn’t take a photo of the flowers. Too intrusive.

And always keen to oblige with those neat little sites. Added to the links is one for Piccadilly. It's from Ben, who I hadn't seen for years until I bumped into him at the Vamps opening gig. Check out the site - good pics.

Pop quiz update – Geoff has been good to enough to let me know that it was one P. Townsend who wrote “Run, Run, Run” after all. And he can claim his Transunion timetable when next here. R. Dean Taylor was the male Motown artist. Female? Kiki Dee.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Load Of Rubbish

There are facts of interest, and then there facts of no interest at all. But, never let it be said that something of no interest prevents me from telling you about it.


There’s a lot to be said for rubbish in Mallorca. Or at least its collection. First-rate. None of this two-weekly, maggot-ridden, tubercular, Third-World rubbish collection in benighted blighty. Every night here.

And, despite separate containers for recycling, don’t worry, just chuck it all in to the general container. Batteries, broken plastic garden furniture, nuclear waste. In it all goes. That’s my type of rubbish collection.

But, and now I come to the fact of no interest, there is other rubbish collection.

During the winter there was a beach rubbish-clearing exercise. Cost a cool 600,000 euros. No matter, this investment brought about a total collection of 168,757 kilos of rubbish. Impressive, huh?

Well, what is impressive is that great armies of the otherwise unwashed unemployed have seemingly had the job to count the rubbish. Rummaging around landfills with sets of scales, doubtless.

But where does it all go? I have the answer. It came to me after bumping into Paul Danks. As an accountant, I bow to his numeracy skills. The four thousand holes in Puerto Pollensa sounded an under-estimate to Paul. Probably right. But whatever the number, they can stuff them full of 168,757 kilos of beach rubbish.

Always in pursuit of some new bar or other that you should patronise, word up for Café Art 66 in Cala San Vicente. Strange place for a chill-out bar, given the blueness of the rinse of the average Cala tourist, but maybe the Cala will become this summer’s cool. Or maybe it won’t. Whatever, good luck to Ramon, it’s a very nice place.

Sitcom quiz – Blakey was of course played by Stephen Lewis. But now we’re back to the pop quiz. Here’s a belter, courtesy of Maconie and Radcliffe. Huge prizes. A copy of the Autocares Mallorca timetable to anyone who knows the name of the first white female artist to record for Motown. And … a copy also of the impenetrable Transunion bus timetable for Pollensa for those who also know the name of the first white male to record for Motown.

And while on Maconie and Radcliffe, they have given this blog its current record of 2007. Laura Veirs, “To The Country” from her CD “Saltbreakers”. Blissful.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

On The Buses

Here’s a strange thing.

I go to the tourist office in the paseo in Puerto Alcudia. Marina, do you have a new bus timetable? Oh, no, Autocares Mallorca aren’t bringing us any. Why not? Don’t know.

So, I go to the main tourist office in Alcudia. I ask Magdalena the same question. Same answer. Same lack of explanation.

So then I go to the Autocares office. Why aren’t you taking copies of the bus timetable to the tourist offices? Er, one girl passes me on to another. Something about tomorrow, or maybe, or something. Who knows?

Now, this might seem a slightly arcane subject to highlight, but it has a serious side. Fact is that the bus timetables always start on 1 May. Fact is that tourists need this information. Fact is that, among the top five questions tourist offices get asked, is what are the times of buses to …

Now personally I think worrying about what time a bus may or may not turn up is a form of stress best left at the airport check-in. When and if they come, they come. If you can get on, fine. If you can’t, just wait, or give up.

But this sort of thing matters to tourists. So, why is there such a disjointed approach to provision of information? Autocares Mallorca may not be a state company, but they are a stakeholder in the overall success, or otherwise, of their local community, of which tourists form a vital part.

Not to worry, the timetables will probably turn up tomorrow, or maybe they won’t.

Ok, so we’ve moved on from the pop quiz. Now, it’s old sitcoms. The title of this piece is from one. So, here goes. Name the actor who played Blakey? Easy.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Start Of Summer

First of May. Public holiday.

When isn’t it a public holiday here? I get endlessly confused by public holidays. Just when you think it’s some religious deal, turns out to be nothing of the sort, like Constitution Day. So May 1 is boring old Labour Day. Not a saint in sight. You could be forgiven for thinking that the only saint who is not celebrated here is Simon Templar.

Not that Labour Day will be given its rightful celebration. Oh no. The first year in Britain when this became a holiday I was still at university. My what a craic. We kidnapped a prominent member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, got him drunk and took compromising photos. All in the best of taste of course.

Spain may have enjoyed something of an economic miracle, but it still tries its hardest to suppress productivity. Take a saint, any old saint will do. Have a holiday.

That economic miracle, that economic boom, has been based to a large extent on property, and property prices. Well, things are not looking so good. The Spanish stock market has been hit by investors divesting their property stocks in anticipation of the bubble bursting in the Spanish property market. About time, too. Property is overpriced. Not necessarily wonderful news for all those on Estate Agent Street in Puerto Pollensa. Or maybe it will be, if property becomes more affordable.

But back to saints. The Catalan for saint is sant. I heard a joke yesterday. Who’s the saint for food? Santwich. Doesn’t really work in its written form, but I thought it was quite funny.

One other thing about the first of May is that denotes the start of summer, in that here spring and autumn more or less don’t register in people’s consciousnesses. Summer is May to October, in other words the main tourist season.

Pop quiz – the title of the last piece came from Jefferson Starship, in the days when they still were Jefferson.

Index for April

British products - 17 April 2007
Cafe Bony - 17 April 2007
Can Picafort - 27 April 2007
Corruption - 27 April 2007
Cyclists - 19 April 2007, 25 Apirl 2007, 27 April 2007
Didis Coast Adeventure - 25 April 2007
Driving - 7 April 2007
Eroski Syp - 17 April 2007
Estate agencies - 19 April 2007
Grupo Boulevard - 11 April 2007
Language -17 April 2007, 19 April 2007, 21 April 2007
Peter Maffay - 25 April 2007
Nordic walking - 25 April 2007
Parking - 3 April 2007
Religion - 11 April 2007
Road deaths - 13 April 2007
Roads - 20 April 2007
Roundabouts - 7 April 2007
Sa Pobla Cricket Club - 1 April 2007
Sunbeds - 27 April 2007
Taste of India - 3 April 2007
Tourists - 3 April 2007, 7 April 2007
Traditions - 21 April 2007
Trencadora - 25 April 2007
Vamps - 3 April 2007, 11 April 2007, 15 April 2007
Weather - 13 April 2007