Snow seen on the Sierra de Tramuntana. | G.R.V.


Brrr!!! Having relocated to this wonderful island of Mallorca over seventeen years ago, I can honestly say I’ve never known weather quite like it here; particularly the recent forecast where the air temperature has been decidedly icy. Graciously blessed with an almost guaranteed average of over 300 sunny days per year, last summer proved to be the hottest on record. And by contrast, the last few weeks have felt like the coldest, so the Big Duvet is finally on!

Back in the UK people are generally more accustomed to the winter freeze. Brave souls all along the coastline have been donning their ‘budgie smugglers’ and, despite icy temperatures, are taking invigorating plunges into the ‘old briny!’ Frozen nuts immediately spring to mind, as concern over the next almond harvest here was raised with temperatures on our own sunny island plummeting so drastically, damaging plants and freezing young buds, which up until the big temperature drop, thought it was springtime!

Here in Mallorca the locals must be thinking the second ice age has arrived as they aren’t really accustomed to the cold, with many town and village dwellers never having seen REAL snow, apart from a light flurry and a white frosting on the mountain peaks.

I remember some years ago there was an unusually heavy winter snowfall across Mallorca. We were renting a townhouse in Moscari at the time, situated on the main street. One evening around 10pm we heard cheers and joyous shouting coming from outside the house. We immediately thought an impromptu fiesta had suddenly sprung up, yet on investigating, discovered half the village was outside in the road as snow fell heavily from the heavens for the first time in decades.

Considering the lack of regular, heavy snowfall here in Mallorca, the following morning we were quite surprised to find parents with children dragging wooden sledges through the village towards the lower mountain slopes. Where did all those wooden sledges come from? I grew up in the UK at a time when it seemed to snow, without fail, almost every year, yet I never, ever possessed a wooden sledge. Most of the kids I knew used granny’s old tea tray for snow sledging. But then that’s the thing with Mallorcans – always prepared!

That particular year, the snow really settled. It hung around for days. Creative individuals were driving around with snowmen perched on the bonnets of their cars. Even when the big thaw came, those snowmen clung on, growing smaller and smaller with each passing day until they finally slid off into the slush.

Although I don’t mind the cooler weather, I categorically don’t like being cold. Most houses in Mallorca these days have some form of central heating, yet that rented house in Moscari had no installed heating whatsoever.

If we switched on more than two radiators at a time the cooker wouldn’t work, or all the lights would ‘pop!’ off. It became an interesting challenge to manage the elected and limited electricity supply allocated to the property. If I wanted to use the hob then one radiator had to be switched off. Flicking on the electric kettle when the ‘rads’ were firing up was like playing Russian roulette with the national grid! We were continually adjusting the thermostats to control our domestic current. We once switched on too many appliances and the electric fuse box on the wall burst into flames.

Our elderly neighbours suggested we did what they did: forget the radiators and sit around a traditional ‘brassero’ during the colder, winter weeks. A brassero is a specific electric heater; or more authentically, a bowl of hot cinders placed under a table, which everyone sits around with legs tucked neatly under a long, heavy tablecloth. I suppose the concept is quite social. It gets the family together, and keeps the knees nice and toasty. Yet neither of us relished the idea of sitting at a table like participants at a Victorian seance. I suppose it’s great if you want to play cards, or have some needlepoint to catch up on. And although it’s charming, a brassero is not very practical, and you still need to wear something chunky on top as only the legs get the benefit of the brazier while the rest of you freezes.

We opted for buying a mobile butane gas fire which we could wheel around at leisure of whim, liberating us from the unreliable electricity rationing that Mallorca still celebrates in some of its rural locales. We have all the heat and electricity we need in our present house, so while the cold has been snapping we’ve been confidently warm and cosy.

Other Half recently purchased a wonderful winter warmer: an electric throw, which I suppose is a contemporary step forward from the Mallorcan potty full of ashes! The fabric is soft and fleecy in a neutral shade, so even when it’s not plugged in the throw still looks great swagged across an armchair. But on cooler nights, we both snuggle up on the sofa with the winter warmer pulled up to our chins, covering toes and all the bits in between. It’s also thermostatically controlled so you don’t literally ‘bake’. Yet with that in mind, I wonder if it’s possible to sit with a casserole on my lap and slow cook a stew while watching Tipping Point? It would save getting up and switching on the oven!