Island life – Mallorca, Spain

MALLORCA, SPAIN – This summer I wanted to go to an island in the Mediterranean. I’ve had this strong desire to swim in this sea because it just looks fantastic.

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I wasn’t wrong.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMallorca, excluding Magaluf, is beautiful and well worth a visit. I stayed in a somewhat dumpy 3 star hotel in Cala Ferrera on the East Coast which redeemed itself quickly with its easy access to a splendid beach. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Most days were spent on the beach tanning and swimming (well mostly me – my travelling buddy didn’t want to swim as it would ‘ruin her make up’ – her words not mine).

It’s funny but we found ourselves settling in to the pace of the island right away and doing as the tourists do. Within a few hours we had each bought a lilo (we left this on the balcony on our last day – typical). And then in the afternoon I bought some goggles. Followed by a snorkel the next day. It didn’t really end there. We also bought an umbrella (did not make its way back to the UK) and spent too many hours looking through the rather rubbish touristy shops in the area that sell stuff ‘made in China’ (think plastic) with the Mallorca name on it.

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I signed us up for a few day trips with local tour organisers. A coach picked us up from our hotel and took us to a town called Sinue where there was a buzzing market with lots and lots of interesting things to buy including livestock and pony rides. This place was a lot of fun for me and the food stalls were excellent and most prices were more than reasonable.
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We also stopped off in Formentera where we walked to a wonderful look out point and saw the island’s coves and cliffs followed by a dip in the sea. It got a little hairy when I saw jelly fish inches away from my face!! Oh I forgot. The other thing that was inches from my face was the nudity. Yip you can count on Europe to give you topless chicks and men in tiny speedos. Sadly so many of those who were channelling their earthy side were those with too many curves or senior citizens. In fact each day there was this overly tanned and wrinkled couple that would parade topless in front of EVERYONE . And sometimes he would tuck his speedo into his bum to get rid of the white bits. I’ll spare you the graphics (coz some things you just can’t unsee) and instead let you think of the sea instead.

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After five days in Cala Ferra our last night was spent in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the island. One of my favourite excursions was a ride on a vintage train from Palma to Soller, a coastal city that’s full of charm.

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The line for the train is long, but it’s worth the wait. Once at Soller you take the tram (imported from San Francisco) to the Port of Soller. Soller is busy as it’s picturesque, vibrant and has a lovely waterfront.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think I timed it just right because I fell in love with Palma quickly…not too many tourists giving you the sense that you have the place to yourself. I loved walking up and down the small quiet alleys. Poking my nose in lots of different shops. Eating pastries and local cuisine. Stumbling upon hidden gardens and cool vespas.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo you have a favourite island in the Mediterranean that you would recommend? I’m going back to Mallorca. But I’m keen to explore new places too. Would love to hear your recommendations…

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Clifton Greens

MAIDA VALE, LONDON - One of my favourite outings for the week is heading off to Clifton Greens in Maida Vale to do my fruit and vegetable shopping.

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Clifton Road is a busy street in Maida Vale that serves the local area with all your necessities. There are several independent shops such as the organic butcher, this gem of a fruit and veg shop, Clifton Greens, as well as some cafes (I love Baker & Spice’s almond croissants) and a beautiful florist.

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In the past I’ve headed to Tesco (I’m weaning myself off of this convenience store in London) and heading to more mom and pop places. I think I overspend on food. And worse, I waste a lot of  food too.  I think I spend too much because I go into a shop to buy milk, but come out having purchased many items that are not necessary but simply wanted.

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So I’m now trying specialist shops and seeing if I spend less and also less frequently.

Clifton Greens has a good selection of fresh fruit. A great deal of the fruit is imported in the UK so you don’t get the quality you want sometimes, but this shop hasn’t disappointed me and as a result, I’m eating more fruit and hopefully I’ll stop reaching for the junk food…i.e. chocolate and pastries all the time! Price wise it’s a fraction more. But worth it.

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The last days of Christmas

LONDON - It’s sales season now in London and I hit the stores in search of a bargain. There were thousands of people on the streets carrying bags with recent purchases. I forced myself not to buy anything until after Christmas and it was well worth it because so many shops are doing 50% off. Bargain time!

Anyway, here’s a few snaps I took that capture the last days of Christmas.

This reindeer is enormous!

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Okay, I know I’ve posted a photo of this tree earlier, but it looked so great again today. I love it. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was by far the oddest tree I’ve seen this year. It’s sponsored by a liquor company. I loved the older man in front of me gazing up at it. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just around the corner from the Covent Garden High Street is an area that sells supplies for dancers. I find them a bit intimidating to be honest. Reminds me that I can’t dance and that I eat too much. But I loved this Christmas tree of ballet shoes. So cute.  Christmas collage1

Anyway, that’s all. Got any great Christmas photos from your area?

Vintage postcards

LONDON - I wasn’t looking for a shop that sold yesteryear stuff, but I found this one quite by accident, and it had a little surprise in store for me. It’s called A. Gold and it’s close to Spitalfields market between the City and the East End.

During the week it sells ready-to-order sandwiches and coffee to the lunch crowd. But they also sell traditional products sourced from around the UK that look like something your grandmother ate during the war.

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I slowly wondered to the back of the shop and took a look at all the different products neatly placed on the shelves but I soon got lost while rummaging through a large pile of vintage postcards. They were being sold for 50p each so I bought a few.

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This one reminded me of the Victorians. They loved their seaside holidays. It is dated June 25th 1907. It was posted from Littlehampton at 11:15 am and reached London by 2:30pm on the same day. Here’s the reverse. It reads:

Dear Ethel

Thanks for P.C. Weather is fine but very windy.

Love from Elsie.

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I love how the English always worry about the weather. I’m not to sure what P.C. is though.

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And here’s what it says on the back. It’s dated 18th August 1906 and was sent from Gateshead. I can’t quite make out the destination address and I’m puzzled as to why the sender would write upside down…

Dear Miss Soulsby

I am coming tomorrow by the train you mentioned. Sorry I could not send word before but mother only came today so Lucy won’t be coming.

Janet.

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How interesting that a postcard was used to send word rather than a telegram. It’s all so different from our world today where we chat online and text each other instantly.

Now here’s another interesting postcard.

John Bull, the man drawn below, is a personification of Britain in general and England in particular, and his character was often used in political cartoons back in the day. This postcard was mailed to someone in Surrey on the 10th May 1906. And I’m assuming at this time that England/Britain was worried about foreign imports surpluses and trade in general.  See how the crate in the front with the writing MADE IN GERMANY is so prominent as is a second crate that has MANUFACTURED IN USA written on it. Two big economic threats, still to this day. As this was before the First World War, this period would be the last time that Britain would be a superpower before it gave way to the US.

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Here’s what’s written on the postcard.

I hope you will not forget the rollers (sp? not too sure of this word) as promised. I hope you are all quite well. P O’Larey.

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The final postcard is bit more fun. It was send in 1905 to Miss K Gay in Norfolk.

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Notice anything unusual about the message on the left?

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Take a closer look.

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The author wrote the message back to front. You need to read it with a mirror to make out what it says. Here is what I think it says.

Dear K

Could not resist sending this card, but could not find Egypt. Do you happen to have it___way. Should like it so much. Am going home Friday, worse luck. I will write a letter next for I have such a lot of news. With love from Mary.

Hmmm…I really hoped I was going to be decoding some lost WW2 message written for the allies, but instead, it’s just a missive from Mary to K about nothing!

Did you read the poem as well? Notice anything a bit controversial? Glad that word is no longer in circulation.

I really loved browsing through these postcards. So many of the others mentioned the weather. I suppose that’s something we want when we’re on holiday, good weather. But I do love the sense of nostalgia you get from a postcard and who doesn’t love getting mail in the post. The only thing I receive in the mail are my bank statements.