Andratx

Stand up for James.

James, ready to rock

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t find myself amazed and grateful for the life I am living. One of the great things I get to do is to meet interesting people doing unique things, and so this week I met 18 year old James Fitzsimmons. James has been living in Mallorca since he was a toddler. He lives in Andratx with his mum Sharon. One day, when James was eleven his friend rang him up and asked him if he wanted to go kayaking, James said yes, and literally the rest is history. He found a sport which suited him and he it, and very soon he was out on the water as often as he possibly could be. He started to compete and rose through the ranks of his peers to start winning Open Water Kayak races as a junior. And now as an adult, in the Under 23 category he is already winning competitions against older and more experienced “paddlers”.

James now has the opportunity to go to Tahiti and compete in the World Championships (or “World Champs” as he endearingly calls it). His training schedule is relentless and his dedication is impressive, but when you hear that he is doing it with very little organised or formal coaching or support then you begin to be really, really impressed with him. Since turning eighteen and becoming legally an adult, he doesn’t get the same sort of help as he would have done when he was seventeen and younger. Which is an incredible shame. So James’s mum Sharon is fighting to raise the funds to get her son to the South Pacific to compete. If you want to show your support you can join in at Sa Vinya in Es Capdella, Calvia on Sunday September 20th from 16.00 to 20.00 where there will be a fun fundraising event for James (they are planning to put his kayaks in the swimming pool and invite people to try to get into them, it’s much harder than it looks, so there could be a few splashes!). Sponsors for logos on his boat are also being sought to help him raise the 4000€ he needs to get to the competition. When you look around and see so many disillusioned young people it’s wonderful to see one so driven and quietly determined to succeed. Please support or sponsor James and wish him luck in his big World Champ. You can do this by contacting Sharon Grange (jamessurfski@gmail.com 639385874) or Izzy Newman (639693922) or by visiting the Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/Surfski18

A damp squib

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Last night I read a statement from the Mallorca Cricket Club which actually made me exclaim out loud. The Bonfire Night party which was scheduled for November 1st and had been going for twenty years has had to be cancelled due to “unforeseen and difficult circumstances”.  Over the years the event has grown and grown and has pulled in the support of some big businesses on the island and of course the helping hand of the local council, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the central government in Madrid who have clamped down on the particular requirements for any public gathering over three thousand persons. “We’ve become victims of our own success” is an understatement I think, but here’s some of the actual statement from Rob Hughes, Honorary Secretary, Frank Leavers, the Chairman, Eric George, Club Captain and Andy Diamond, the Club Treasurer.

“We were advised only last Thursday that certain a number of new ‘measures’ would have to be put in place before we would be allowed the proper certification to be granted. In all honesty, we could not comply with all of these rulings and given the huge costs of these ‘improvements,’ if implemented, it would be almost impossible to the club to financially ‘break even’ on this once a year family event. Indeed, if the weather should be against us over that weekend, it could be ruinous for the club given all the extra measures that would be needed for Bonfire Night to go ahead. Over the years we have prided ourselves on the fact that we have always kept entry prices low so that Bonfire Night was genuinely a family night out.

“Frustratingly for us at the club, we actually ‘wrote-the-manual’ that has kept everyone safe over the years and that same ‘manual’ has been copied by many other organisations looking to run community events. Nevertheless, central government has spoken and we would not be party to any attempts to ignore the rules and regulations. In short, it could be said that Bonfire Night at the Cricket Club has become a victim of its own success………but for many of us at the club this whole situation is grossly unfair”

Surely though there is an argument that this is a cultural event for the British? Just as various religious and cultural days are celebrated for other races and creeds, and are protected because of that, why couldn’t this special event have been given the same status? The “Nits de Foc” for example, are all about fires, and fireworks, and yes they are completely under control from the point of view of the Dimonis and the Fire Brigades, but they aren’t controlled as to the amount of people attending or where or how they interact with the fire. You are positively encouraged to “dance with the demons”! At the cricket club everyone is kept back from the bonfire by barriers and the controls around the detonation of the fireworks is strictly regulated.

As the overall future and new location of the Cricket Club still seems to be uncertain this event would also have brought them some precious funds for the coffers. What a shame, for them and for us, that we have probably now seen the end of an era, not go out with a bang, but fizzled out, like a damp squib.

http://www.familymattersmallorca.com

Vicki McLeod 2014

What’s left . . .

forest fire, Mallorca, Andratx, photo by Oliver Neilson This week’s Family Matters isn’t written by me, it’s written by my husband Oliver Neilson who went up the Estellencs road on Saturday afternoon (the first day it has been open to the public since the fire). He is very familiar with this area having walked it on countless occasions with our dog, and also guided walkers through it as well. He first published this on his personal Facebook account on Saturday night, so far it has been shared a staggering 193 times. This is his account.

“I took a drive up into the mountains today to check out how much the Andratx fire had taken of the Tramuntana. I drove up the coast road from the Andratx townhall, pretty much to the seat of the fire, at about 20 kmph all the way with my chin on my chest. Around me were my fellow gawkers, some on four wheels, and some on two. All struck dumb by what we saw. The devastation is endless; it stretches from horizon to horizon. From both sides of the road, from the valley bottoms, to the mountain tops. The tarmac and the road signs are charred. Boulders dislodged from the ancient earthworks have rolled onto the road, charcoal blackened on one side. If you have lived in Mallorca for more than a year or two then you will probably have seen a fire, and some not so far from you. The helicopters or the cool yellow planes arrive and in an hour or so all that is left is steaming undergrowth and we can all get back to what we were doing.
“This one is of a different magnitude all together.
“We all felt our hearts swell with appreciation as we saw the planes dip down between the pedalos for another belly full of anti-fire ammunition and kidded ourselves that they had it under control, but a drive up the coast today put the enormity of their achievement into very sharp focus. Its charred embers look like hell today, so to have been there when it was ablaze must have been unimaginable.
“There are isolated houses and casitas that sit as tiny islands of green, in an ocean of grey ash and burnt ochre foliage. No doubt spared by a very timely dousing from a Canadair full of Portals bay, or a helicopter’s bucket full of Andratx municipal pool.

“Go take a look if you get a moment, remind yourself how beautiful this place is, and how lucky you are to be here, how very, very lucky we are that the pilots and fire fighters are….well….cool.

“…and get involved in the many operations to restore this unique place for ourselves and our kids. Ajuntament D’Andratx and GOB Mallorca are worth checking out as they are already looking for volunteers. We have lost a beautiful chunk of nature in this fire, perhaps we can gain a wider community if we all pull together in putting it back”.

Beautifully written, I think. Well done O.

Ollie is looking for bilingual Catalan/English speakers who want to get involved with GOB and help to liaise with the British (non Catalan speaking) residents who want to help. If you can help please get in touch with us, or leave a comment. Thanks!