Flooding near the Limburg hamlet of Aasterberg

Flooding near the Limburg hamlet of Aasterberg

16-07-2021SEM VAN DER WAL

It’s been a troubling time in the world and with summer upon us, it would have been reasonable to expect a little respite, some sun and calm. Instead, we have Covid-19 in its various guises hopping about the globe like a malevolent sprite and now torrential rains have hit Europe.

While normal summer sunshine continued here in Mallorca, scenes of devastation and disaster caused by hours of flooding greeted us in the international press. Having lived in central London for many years I was astounded at the water-logged roads in Chelsea and Kensington. Friends in Hampstead experienced flooding for the first time in 20 years but the Netherlands, Belgium and West Germany seemed to have been hit hardest.

Video footage of the carnage left in towns and villages following the downpour was hard to believe. I found it so sad that one rural town lost its bakery, butcher shop, library and bridge along with many houses. Hundreds of people are still missing and at least 120 lives have been lost in Germany while others have been evacuated from their flooded homes. How do those affected (and still surviving) pick up the pieces of their lives after such devastation? I don’t know, but it certainly puts the small, annoying worries of everyday life into perspective.

The Cat’s Whiskers

During this period of global upheaval and disarray there have been wonderfully heartening stories that have proven such an antidote to the many downbeat news bulletins barging into our lives via the computer, television and radio. One of my recent favourites concerned Jean-Louis Button, a 28-year-old lonely and depressed student at Swansea University who discovered a stray cat in his hall of residence. He took it to the local Cat Protection charity and the owners were discovered but alas could not care for the pet anymore.

He looked after the feline but having learned about the problem of strays from the charity took it upon himself to raise funds. He has embarked on a 10,000km fundraising solo bike ride along the coastline of the UK which he hopes to complete in 70 days. He sleeps rough or finds small B&B’s and has so far completed 3,500 km of cycling in three weeks.

The elderly cat has been rehomed as Jean-Louis could not keep it in his student accommodation but the experience has changed his life and given him hope and a new sense of purpose. It’s so strange how often when we are at our lowest ebb, something wonderful can present itself, offering a sense of renewal and hope.

Old Fogies

According to a survey by energy retailer, Love Energy Savings, the 25 to 40-year-old age group rolls its eyes at previous generations with their love of using cash, receiving printed bills by post and keeping a hankie up the sleeve. Older people are also accused of still using cow’s milk and liking dairy products which are apparently very out of step with the times. The other thing that grates with younger people is when oldies get out formal cutlery and cut glass at dinner parties.

Thirty years ago, as newlyweds, we had a very special wedding service that cost a bomb. Each plate was made by Hungarian unicorns who only painted and designed at a full moon while doing cartwheels. Well, not quite, but you get the gist. We kept the service in a cupboard and very occasionally took it out for an airing at a dinner party and treated it with great courtesy, washing each item lovingly after the guests had departed.

Times changed, and soon we found ourselves unwilling to get out the wedding service. Instead, we bought a heap of casual handmade pottery plates and corresponding dessert dishes and side plates. The poor old posh service remained in a cupboard and still feels so out of place, especially in rural Mallorca.

It’s now hiding out in a crate in our cellar. Maybe we’ll release it one day. For now, we’re all about practical dishes, even Ikea, and not having to fret when anything breaks. The Scotsman is though adamant about Christmas. The best cutlery and crystal are polished and resurrected for the occasion. I have to say that it does feel special to have a beautifully set table but how many of us have the luxury of maintaining such standards?

Jabbering talk

So at least 47 per cent of those infected with the new virus strain in the UK are fully vaccinated adults. Well, hark the lark! People seem amazed by why so? The medical fraternity has always been honest about the vaccine in this regard (even if reluctantly so). Having it does not stop you from getting the damned virus nor does it stop you infecting others. The hope is that you won’t have such a filthy dose or die. So, as more virus strains take hold what does it mean?

More booster jabs, no doubt, and more panic on the NHS app which appears to be paralysing Britain currently. Six million Britons are having to self-isolate because of the assiduity of the spy app and many are disconnecting it for that very reason. If Britain doesn’t disable the monster soon, the economy will stall completely. It’s served its purpose and now it’s time to let it die a natural death.

Anna Nicholas’s seventh Mallorca travel title, Peacocks in Paradise, is now available to buy online at Amazon or in good bookshops in the UK and from August in Spain. Follow her at www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/team/anna-nicholas/

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