The Church Bells of Sant Miquel

One does not often have the opportunity to climb up to the sanctum sanctorum of a Mallorcan belfry, but yesterday was my lucky day.

I have a thing about churchbells and bell towers; in fact, I might have told you this much before. I have been interested in climbing up to see the bells of the parish church in Felanitx for a number of years now. My repeated requests had always been well received and agreed to in principal, however, there had always been some excuse or other as to why not next year, or why not during the summer, or why not when the festivities are over and done with. I might easily have given up. But no, perseverance made me succeed in the end, and yes, yesterday I was finally invited to climb the 33 metres of the Campanar de la Església de Sant Miquel in Felanitx, and there they were.

I was impressed. For some reason, I had expected to see six bells, but there were but five. Each bell has a name, N’Eloi, Na Cor de Jesús, Na Extremuncío, Na Combregars and Na Vespres, and each one has a specific function. The biggest of the Felanitx church bells only rings four or five times a year, on special church holidays such as Good Friday, Corpus Christi or Christmas. Another bell is only rung for a funeral. Only two of the five bells are rung on a regular basis and for each and every church service. N’Eloi, the biggest of the Felanitx church bells, was founded in 1680 and is now 330 years old. Quite impressive, really. N’Eloi is the top one of the two bells in my photo, in case you are interested.

The photos were taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 30th, 2010. The time was 12:18:36 and 18:30:01, respectively.

The Church Bells of Sant Miquel

Waning Moon, Crescent

The waning moon is entering its last quarter today, October 30th. The crescent moon is quite an important symbol in Mallorcan life by way of Mallorcan heraldry. Over the centuries, coats of arms and other armorial bearings have frequently made use of the crescent moon. Ramon Llull may have been the first nobleman to utilise the half moon shape in his crest (one crescent) here on this island, but other Mallorcan families of nobility followed suite, such as the Verí family (three crescents), the Berga family (five crescents, see photo), the Zaforteza family (nine crescents), the Burgues family (twelve crescents) and many others more. Before the crescent moon was used in Mallorcan family coats of arms, it had been used in heraldry of the kingdom of Aragón.

A very nice book on heraldry, family crests and matters of nobility in Mallorca has been re-published by La Foradada (Nobiliario Mallorquín, Joaquin María Bover, Castellano only). If you are more into the Internet than books, you might want to consult this website (Castellano only).

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 14th, 2010. The time was 13:1:27.

Waning Moon, Crescent

There’s a Hillside of Heather

Between now and January, you will find many Mallorcan hillsides full of the Mediterranean heather of the Erica multiflora variety. The evergreen plant grows in abundance in Garrigues and pine woodlands. Now in the Autumn its spectacular and delicate pinkish flowers open, all clumped at the end of the branches.

As always, the plant is useful in a variety of ways. Bees love it and produce a very special honey from the Erica plant. Heather flowers and plants have been gathered for centuries to be made into herbal medicines. Heather tops were infused and used as a tonic to treat consumption, coughs, nerves, depression and heart complaints. Heather tea, liniments and ointments were used to help treat arthritis and rheumatism. Folk medicine considers the plant effective as a remedy for hyperlipidemia and in helping to reduce cholesterol. In mediaeval times it was thought that the plant could dissolve gallstones. In Mallorca, the plant’s wood is used in the process of furniture making and for producing tools. The rootstock can be made into musical pipes.

We will celebrate a wedding reception tomorrow, and we shall be having the Erica multiflora as part of our table decorations. Hence the photo.

The photo (top) was taken near Felanitx, Spain. The date: October 28th, 2010. The time was 14:04:22. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of herbarivirtual.uib.es.

Muchas gracias.

There’s a Hillside of Heather

Adventure Sports

Quite a number of adventure sports can be enjoyed in Mallorca, such as archery, hiking, caving and speleology, canyoning, rock climbing, abseiling, diving, mountain biking, rafting, canoeing, kite surfing, parachuting and paragliding, plus probably a few more. Especially parapente (paragliding in Castellano) as well as kite surfing have attracted a steady number of followers over the last few years, here on the island. The Spanish Championship in paragliding (free style), for instance, was won in 2005 by a young Mallorcan man from Campos del Port. Paragliding can be seen to be practiced near Randa, Alcúdia and Bahía Grande.

Whilst extreme sports always entail a certain risk factor when gravity is involved, they are said to be safe in general, provided one follows the guidelines and acquires a level of training before one goes out practicing the sport on one’s own. But, there are exceptions to the rule, as always. Sadly, there was a fatal accident two days ago near Llucmajor, when a young German resident had an uncontrolled impact whilst paragliding, resulting in a crash landing (photo below). The victim leaves a pregnant wife behind as well as a young daughter. The cause of the accident is still unknown and an investigation is in process.

Both photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es. The video clip was also borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of YouTube and nortonroad.

Muchas gracias, and thank you very much.

Adventure Sports

Caseorum Maioricarum

The hand-crafted production of caseorum in Mallorca, cheese to you and me, was first documented in the 13th century, during the time of the Regne de Mallorca (Kingdom of Mallorca). For some reason, since then the production of milk products has been centred around the south east of the island, between Manacor and Felanitx, Llucmajor, Campos del Port and Es Llombards (Santanyí). Apparently, cheese brands like Piris, Grimalt, Prilac or Burguera use between 4 and 12 litres of milk, depending on the type of cheese, for the production of one kilogramme of cheese. Traditionally, cheese in Mallorca was produced from a mixture of milk from vaca (cow) and oveja (sheep), with sometimes cabra (goat) milk being added for good measure. Today, most Mallorcan cheeses sold seem to be made of milk from cows only. I, however, prefer the vaca/oveja variety.

Sadly, La Crisis seems to be the cause for the Piris company to now terminate their business. Piris was founded in Campos in 1944 but, recently announced their imminent shut-down. A small cheese maker in Son Mesquida (near Felanitx), whose name I do not now recall, also closed down a couple of years ago, and so did El Caserío in neighbouring island, Menorca, in 2008. Perhaps we do not eat enough cheese.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 14th, 2010. The time was 11:52:06.

Caseorum Maioricarum

Sucking Suckling Pigs

The eight little piglets in my photo are five days old today. When I took the photo last Sunday, they were only just three days old, and they were sucking their lives away. If they are male piggies, they will be 45 days old or thereabouts when they are taken to the market to be sold as suckling pigs. The females may be reared to the age of 270 days before they are sold to the Embutidos factory to be made into Sobrassada, Butifarrón or Camaiot. Mallorca’s gastronomic delights are at their best when Porc Negre (black pig) is used. Give it a try, just do not to think of the little suckers.

If you are interested in agriculture, animal husbandry and the art of raising black pigs, you might want to earmark Dijous Bo next month, in Inca. A Concurso Morfológico de ‘Porc Negre’ Mallorquín will be held there on November 18th, now for the 19th year running.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Spain. The date: October 24th, 2010. The time was 13:22:41.

Sucking Suckling Pigs

Following the Red Dot

Mallorca is a great place for hikes and walks, and there is no better time than now. The Autumn sun is out on most days with the temperatures still being warm and moderate. The scorching heat of the Summer months will not be back until next year.

We went for one of our favourite hikes last Saturday from the Castell de Santueri to the Santuari de la Mare de Déu de Sant Salvador in the Felanitx area. Basically, we had to follow the markings of a red dot. Sounds actually easier than it was in real life. We had done the hike before but, as this is not an overly popular trail, the track was now partly overgrown and partly washed away from the storms and downpours that had occurred over the past twelve months. As a consequence of nature’s ways, the dot markings were not always visible and, guess what? We lost our turnings on more than one occasion. Still, with the monastery’s statue of the Cristo Rey in a prominent position, we knew what we were aiming for and eventually arrived at our destination, safe and sound. The countryside is in a delightful state right now, presenting the vivid colours of Autumn. Apart from Oak trees and Pine trees, there was plenty of Garrigue and shrubland with herbs and bushes, including Heather, St. John’s Wort, Strawberry Trees, and a plethora of delightful wild flowers.

The photos were taken near Felanitx, Spain. The date: October 23rd, 2010. The time was 13:35:47 and 14:03:58, respectively.

Following the Red Dot