Christmas preparations in the Soller valley. | A.B.

The creativity of the winter months in Soller is inspirational. So many ideas grow from people having the time and head space to contemplate the new. Chats and meeting happen and then you hear that a local radio is being discussed using a podcast platform. The next new thought is opening the activities of Soller to a new USA audience. Then more about the realities of the charitable enterprises in town. A feeling which has come from those worried about some needy people falling through the conventional Red Cross and Caritas net.

None of these are finished projects but an indication that discussions are underway and new arrivals are making their skills and professionalism available. So much talent in our orbit here, willing to be used. Incomers range from those who want to contribute to everything to those who have left those days behind. This is the ex-pat dilemma; how far do I want to involve myself?

Getting to know new people is a feature of life when you are an immigrant. Rarely will a knock on the door come to introduce you to your new tribe. You must get out of the door and seek it. Some use walking groups and book clubs to get to know people. Others regularly chat over coffee in the square. Others are to be found at the school gates picking up the youngest ones. All events involve emerging from the comfort zone with a hand outstretched and a smile on your face.

The Beach life of Puerto Soller has developed its December look. The sound of cement mixing, drilling and the cheery chatter of the tradespeople is a feature of life for the next few months. Few establishments do not use the winter to do their outstanding work. In Soller there is a huge machine and crane hovering above the site of a new block opposite the Grand Hotel. Opposite is a restaurant refurbishment, and it is an altogether busy corner.

In amongst all the commercial good news the management teams of all our local schools are not happy. Three years ago, they were promised urgent building work would be carried out on all schools. Out of that money pot came the new windows for the Institute but little else. Heating and air conditioning is a problem for some and basic repair and renewal work for many others. Petitions and complaints to the highest level have already taken place and the answer is awaited. Not a happy situation for Soller schools right now. They would love to see an army of workers arrive in the Christmas holidays to do all the outstanding work.

The sounds of winter and full employment for the people are a good news story and balances the need of the food bank so many others need. Soller is a divided city with those that have plenty and some who have very little. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and that is what we remind ourselves as we continue to donate.

The Christmas and New Year programme has been published for Soller. Our Christmas lights and tree lighting celebration is on Friday 16 December. Lots of fun that day including live music and circus acts. The other ‘back by popular demand’ events are the flying Santas. Santa's helpers fly the Valley on Christmas Eve on their microlight machines. This was a big feature of lockdown, and they continue to fly their good wishes to all.

Talking of Christmas have you got your lottery ticket yet? A couple of weeks left before the long-awaited El Gordo Christmas Lottery takes place. On December 22, the two large drums of the Teatro Real in Madrid will begin to spin the balls and the children of the Colegio de San Idelfonso will sing the prize numbers, including the Gordo. 20 euros for a full ticket or smaller amounts for a proportion. This lottery pleases so many as it has a huge distribution of prizes. My family once won 1000 euros but that was a long time ago. I think we are due another one now – I’d better buy a ticket.