This Tuesday night was a big one in my family, we finally got the word that some sort of exercise can begin outside of the house. This means a great deal to my husband (an avid cyclist, don’t worry he’s not one of those cyclists which goes around in a gigantic pack, he’s a solo operator most of the time) and my daughter, La Gidg who aside from her school spends the majority of her waking hours on, beside and around horses. So, two very, very hopeful beings woke up on Wednesday morning, but I didn’t. I woke up in a mess. The lockdown has taken an emotional toll on everyone, myself included. I woke up thinking about how awful it must be for the families stuck in apartments without access to fresh air, to the spouses married to abusive partners, or the children of abusers, stuck in there for 45 days now, and still counting. In the UK there is concern about how children who would have normally qualified for free school meals, are they eating enough at home? Is there enough at home? It doesn’t take much of that sort of contemplation to have me in tears and staring out of the window in awe at how much our lives have changed in such a short and brutal way. Then I noticed the date, Wednesday April 29, my husband and I were supposed to be in London going to see a band we both like for his birthday present. We’re obviously not there. We are here. In confinement, waiting, not sure how many of our clients are going to make it financially, not sure of many things, only sure that we are healthy and that we will make it through this crazy time in our lives. Which leads me to the group www.facebook.com/groups/MajorcaMallorca which has kept me occupied and entertained and moved me to tears with its generosity of spirit and kindness over the past six weeks.
It has been a source of support for not just me but more than 2,300 members and counting. Between us we have taught 237 cooking lessons, told 211 jokes, made 180 community announcements, offered 107 self care tips, had 278 yoga,workout and meditation lessons, had live entertainment 102 times and shared 69 ideas for kids to keep them and their families entertained. When I restarted the group I wasn’t really prepared for the enthusiastic response, it gathered momentum very quickly and now is a part of many people’s day to day lives in lockdown. As I sat staring out of the window today trying to figure out what to write for this column I turned to my new Quarantine Mates and asked them what their highlights had been in the group so far. Here’s just a few of their answers, sorry that I couldn’t include them all!
Oscar and Emilia with their eggs.
Karen Goodman started it off with a lovely compliment, “Super friendly, supportive, caring , fun and diverse. Something for everybody” And then the wave of comments began, and wow it was emotional for me to read them and see how much value everyone has had from the community group that we all contribute to. Julia Church-Michael (who is known for her love of parties and lack of interest in cooking) said “ I like it when someone says “Here are the list of ingredients, I know most of you will already have them in your cupboard. I've never heard of them! Makes me laugh every time I see this”. She did then go on to admit that she had actually made mango chutney by following a recipe that my own mother had taught in the group and said that it was a great success!
The quizzes have been a great success, both Stuart Bray’s daily quiz at 19.30 and The Big Quiz on Saturday night. Hattie Halpin said “The highlight of my day at the moment Is Stuart Bray’s quiz! It’s the one thing I really look forward to everyday.” Mia Naprta said, “I love Stuart's quiz and the virtual champagne he gives the winners! I won it once and it made my day! It just goes to show how little we need to make ourselves happy these days!” A lot of people commented on how they had made new friends and connections through the group. Michaela Bowyer said, “I've made new friends that I will always share a lockdown bond with”. Whilst Yoga Marisol said “ My highlight is definitely the sense of community which has been created in this group”.
Cooking of course has been hugely popular, and we have all learnt how to do something new and enjoyed watching some of our friends become Facebook Live experts in the process. Claire Martin commented, "I’ve loved the recipes and live cooking demonstrations. I’ve tried recipes I never dreamed of trying before and glad to say they have worked. The time some people have given to the group is inspiring and it’s helped me learn new skills during lock time, that will now be with me forever: Emm Millar and Trudi Murray thank you!” Saskia Griffiths said “Emm Millar’s cooking lives have been my favourite. So creative and incredibly dedicated! I can’t wait to make all of her Anzac cookies!”
Emm Millar has been teaching us how to cook Anzac biscuits.
The Scavenger Hunt, the Easter Art competition and the other activities for kids all got a mention. Fiona Mccourt said, “I loved the scavenger hunt day. A mad mix of fun activities.” Amanda Stemp agreed saying, “I loved the Easter art competition you set up for the kids”. Katie Bruneel added, “We have felt loved even though we are all so far apart!!!!! It’s been exciting to be involved in all the challenges and kept the kids very busy and entertained”.
The group has a few rules: No politics and no rumours, not conspiracy theories, and no negativity. This has been really appreciated by a lot of people and Philip Rogan put it into perspective by saying. “With a “can-do, make-do get it up get it going perfect-it-as-you-go style “MMTAH” has been a lifesaver for people in isolation. Never straying into politics or jumping on bandwagons it's been a simple force for good. The online world has been fraught with polarised views but even people on the opposite ends of the opinion poll have met together to stretch, cook, laugh and take wild guess at stuff they know nothing about or have their kids nail it in round three!” Whilst Lauren Natalie said, “The only group I have had the pleasure of being part of with zero negativity during lockdown, only hope, motivation and inspiration. All with a sprinkling of non-judgemental attitude towards those who prefer to wrap themselves in a duvet and hide!” (Yes, I can confess that I too have had days like that). Sally Ashworth said, “I have actually loved being part of this group so far. I have left most other groups I have been involved with as people can't help themselves and even though you think you are amongst like minded people, they behave like bullies. This group has been a breath of fresh air.” Jacquie Roberts said, “It has given me such a sense of community and also a safe space to share. The genuine sense of joy of some of the competitions and the support you get as an individual is amazing. It's very easy to get lost on this island in your own little world, we all have different interests but daily life tends to keep us on a rollercoaster of our own comfort zone. I've learnt so much about myself, that its okay if I don't make the recipes but can enjoy what everyone else does just as much, I'll never be a dancer but loved what everyone did. It’s given people including myself to say “Oh, I'll have a go at that”. There is no judgement and I have absolutely loved everything. Individuals, families, businesses, kids all helping each other”.
Lexi with her winning egg from Nice Price.
Another thing which the group has done is encourage people to share and learn some new skills, and kick off some business ideas such as Ian from Renegade Martial Arts who said, “This group was the catalyst in starting live online videos. It gave us the opportunity to connect with exsiting and new clients to help support their health and wellbeing. We are grateful to this group for providing us with this great opportunity and all their support.” Now an old hand at Facebook Lives, chef Emm Millar said, “The incredible sense of community and real caring for one another has been so powerful. It is an area that anyone can come to and spend time with others “virtually” to brighten your day,share laughter, exercise, yoga, spirituality,love and tears! We have all had tears but there was always a place to go to here”.
The group has extended much further than just the island of Majorca.Linda Donnelly said, “You have reached out to friends of friends in other countries and made us feel welcome too. I’ve enjoyed reading about how you are all coping and sharing. It’s a lovely thing to think of a sunny Majorcan community when you are in cold Glasgow!” Nicola Peck said, “I like the small window into other people's lives, here on the island. It makes me feel connected to a community. But what I really like is nothing is artificially polished or filtered, there is no 'show kitchen' or perfect hair. It's refreshingly real and normal.” Alison Jayne Tonge finished off by saying, “This is one of the few good things to come out of lockdown! Well done to everyone who has been part of it. It’s been so lovely to follow everyone’s messages, recipes and even dog training tips! There really has been something for everyone!”
Make up challenge.
What’s next for us? Ironically the one thing I want to do the most is the one I won’t be able to do for a very long time, and that is host a real, in person event, somewhere on the island for this incredible bunch of human beings, but in the meantime we will continue to be in touch online and that seems to be keeping us all going. Having just hosted a poetry competition sponsored by Wine Industry, a Kids’ Art competition sponsored by Nice Price, a dance off sponsored by EMPS Property Services, two big quizzes with prizes from El Toro foods, Blackbeard's Beach Bar, Rositas in Calvia, and the Zen lounge in Magalluf, an epic day long scavenger hunt sponsored by A Ma Maison restaurant in Palma, Bamboo Beach in Son Caliu and Woody’s Bar in Palmanova. I thought, because it is Spanish Mother’s Day coming up very soon that we’d focus on some nice treats for them, goodness knows we all need our nails doing, a bit of a once over with an exfoliator brush and a bleeding good massage. I hereby announce the next “MMATH” competition to be a “No Hands Makeup Challenge” which will take place in the coming days in the group. The prizes are sponsored by Cap Hair in Port Andratx, Ssssh Nails in Santa Ponsa, Denise’s Beauty Salon in Portals, Bodhana Wellness in Portals, and the HSJ Clinic in Bendinat. You might have seen these videos where a child is behind the parent and they cannot see what they are doing but they are applying makeup to their face and the parent is trying to keep a straight face and do a commentary. And for those of us who are on our own in our houses there will be a “blindfolded” category. If nothing else it will give us a laugh. And that in the end is all you can do, right?