Christmas starts here, or does it! Talking to friends and acquaintances it seems that the annual exodus from the island in mid - December might not happen this year. Normally, ex-pats disappear mid-month to family back wherever, as surely as night follows day, but I suspect, not this year. In a number of discussions that I have had with friends recently, it appears that all but a few ex-pat islanders have given up on the fact that they might spend an extended Christmas back in the ‘home’ country. This doesn’t just apply to we Brits, but I’ve been told the same story by German friends. To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about the status of our annual yuletide trip back to Blighty to see the grandkids, catch up with extended family and watch the mighty Southampton FC lose to almost anyone during the twilight zone between Boxing Day and New Year. With United Kingdom limitations in force regarding the number of people who can gather together at one time and at one address, I reckon it would be a brave person(s) to plan the usual family get-togethers as things stand at the moment. Optimists tell me that quarantine restrictions could be gone by Christmas, but I have to say that every British government statement up until now has hinted at the opposite. On a personal level we usually stay for up to three weeks in the UK on our annual winter pilgrimage, but if we have to self isolate for two weeks and then are limited to where we can travel to see our extended family, whilst keeping within an ‘inside’ group of - say…. 6 people, the negatives really do start to stack up don’t they? And without being unduly negative, even if certain restrictions are lifted, there is no guarantee whatsoever they will remain that way for the foreseeable future. I’m also sure that people will be determined to travel to see family over the Christmas holiday and good luck to them - but, for us, and I suspect for many others, as yet, the positives don’t outweigh the negatives. What about you? Am I being too negative, let me know what you think.
BLACK SMOKE ACROSS THE ISLAND
On Monday morning as I happened to glance out of my office window at our place in the hills above Andratx, I spied a large column of black smoke filling the sky from further down the valley in the direction of Andratx town itself. As you can imagine my thoughts immediately went to the large fire at Albufera on the island that raged for the past weekend and where 300 hectares of land were affected, while three properties were burned out and another two badly damaged. Moreover, my mind went back a number of years to the huge fire that engulfed much of the outskirts of my home town and the untold damage that it caused. However, the original Andratx fires were in late July, not the end of September - but, high winds and fire are never a good mix. It seems that a small industrial facility and the land nearby at the top of town suffered a small (not so small if you were in the vicinity!) explosion mid morning, but happily the fire was brought under control quickly by the emergency services. Nevertheless, it is perhaps a sobering thought for us all to remember, just how quickly and violently a fire can take hold in almost any circumstances.
THE BIG SLOW-DOWN
I noticed that there was an immediate and negative response to the news that Palma City council were to introduce a 30kph speed limit on many of its city roads. Each contributor to the social-media site I was monitoring, seemed to be incandescent with rage at this new ruling - but surely, I considered to myself - this protocol can’t have been plucked from thin-air without any research or public discussion? Silly me - thinking about it, probably not! However, I have to be slightly careful here, because often on these occasions, certain public anger over new by-laws are ‘revved-up’ by those seeking to make political points via public irritation over certain matters. Nevertheless, if true in essence, a couple of things cross my mind. First of all, to maintain a speed of 30kph or lower over any given distance isn’t easy as it sounds. I reckon a driver would be constantly changing between 2nd and 3rd gear whilst watching the temperature gauge very closely. Meanwhile, as motorists limp along in such a manner after paying road taxes and the like for their vehicle, they could then observe electric scooters shooting past them without a care in the world and not a centimo paid in taxation for their rather annoying, occasionally dangerous and totally uninsured vehicle.
THE OCTOBER BLUES!
As we are on the cusp of October, I have reminded myself that many Majorcans tell me that October is their favourite month. I wonder why? Would it be because the weather has moderated and the ‘sting’ has gone from the sun - or, could it be that in a normal year, October signals the end of the tourist season? Indeed, this year many folk might not be as enthusiastic, as October could just signal a very long winter with unemployment a reality and no sign, as yet - of social restrictions being lifted. And before anyone says it - I’m not being unduly pessimistic, life is tough at the moment for many islanders.
IT’S AN ILL WIND….!
It seems that as the old saying goes - “It’s an ill wind….” Indeed, as the Bulletin reported over the weekend, it appears that investment fund managers are circling hard hit hotels and hotel groups looking to acquire certain assets during these difficult times. I suppose it was ever thus! Nevertheless, at a much lower level and more modest scale, I have noticed that perhaps unsurprisingly, businesses of all levels and descriptions are up-for-sale. Many of those seeking new owners are well known and well regarded businesses that until recently were successful and profitable. I am not talking just about the odd bar or restaurant business under pressure because of Covid-19 - but, formerly successful businesses in a wide range of areas - from manufacturing to specialist service providers and everything in between. As I said before - “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.”