Learning to see through new eyes.

Diana Hirsch

Diana Hirsch

Diana Hirsch is like a breath of fresh air. Her passion, sincerity and enthusiasm for her life and her work make her a pleasure to spend time with, and to cap it off, she is extremely good at what she does: photography, and the teaching of the art. It seems a little controversial to some that photography should be considered an art form, but to Diana it absolutely is: “The art of photography is a very recent gift to humanity that moves us often in unforgettable ways. Modern life would be inconceivable without images”.

Diana has been working as a photographer for many years now, and specialises in creative photography, weddings, and portraits. Her photographs express joy, beauty, and humour, very much like Diana herself. There are transferable skills that good photographers and teachers share: the ability to connect with people, put them at their ease, and guide them gently into what you want them to do. “There was a time, many years ago, when I was asked continually whether I’d like to share my knowledge, to actually teach how I take photographs. I thought, why not? And that’s how I got started. I have been teaching photography courses and holding workshops for many years now and can say that, for me, teaching my art is as fulfilling as photography itself. So “Photoclasses Majorca” is not just a photography school, but rather my second passion as a photographer”. And so it is in this capacity that I find and meet Diana and attend her Beginners’ Photography Classes.

“Anyone can take pictures. Even a machine. But not everyone can watch. Photography is art only in so far as to use the art of observing. Observation is an elementary poetic process. The reality must be shaped, it wants to speak and reveal”. Friedrich Dürrematt

Getting up before dawn pays off

Getting up before dawn pays off (Photo by Vicki McLeod)

I’ve been interested in photography for many years now, but being married to a professional photographer (Oliver Neilson) doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to pick up the knack. I’d wanted to take my own photos, and increasingly have had to for my work, but always with a generous dash of hit and miss as I didn’t really understand the second hand camera that I had acquired for myself. I knew that I was not going to learn (like many others do) via You Tube or the internet, as I have to learn in a group with a teacher. I knew that if I just tried to learn at home in spare moments that I would never pick up the skills that I needed to start to make photographs that I would be proud of. I also knew, just like my father hadn’t been able to teach me to drive a car when I was 17 that my husband, as brilliant at photography as he is, would not be able to teach me to drive a camera: we’re just too close and it’s a great way to start an unnecessary row!

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved”. Ansel Adams

Happy Snappers!

Happy Snappers! (Photo by Danyel Andre)

Enter Diana Hirsch and her 20 hour (three day) intensive course.  The first two days are in a classroom, and the third out on location. It’s aimed at beginners wanting to understand their DSLR cameras, and who want to say goodbye to using the fully automatic mode. We start our course with theory sessions and Diana explains the process of photography, features and properties of lenses, cameras, some special effects such as motion blur, freezing objects in motion, and learning how to control and manipulate your shutter, aperture, ISO, the art of composition and using light, under and over exposure, and depth of field.  Diana tells us that “the word “Photo – graphy” comes from the Greek words meaning “to draw with light”. This is a wonderful explanation for what we are doing when we press the button.
A good photographer paints with light, conveying a unique message in such a way that can never be recaptured”.

Getting right into it

Getting right into it (Photo by Danyel Andre)

We go outside of the classroom occasionally to practice the theory and soon I cannot wait to get on location and really get stuck in to it. When Sunday morning dawns I am already up, in the car and on my way to our meeting spot in the north of the island. We arrive just before the sun rises and set up. Soon we are taking some of the best photographs I have ever done, and without all the hit and miss, accidental elements that have littered my shots up until now. We go to several different spots and learn and practice and shoot, shoot, shoot.

Reviewing the images we’ve taken (Photo by Danyel Andre)

After a few hours we have all taken a lot of photos and we retire to a bar to look at what we have achieved. We are all delighted with our results, and it’s great to share the experience with each other. “Now you will “see” photos in places you would never have imagined, “ says Diana, “Photography is not only used to make an exact copy of the world around us but to surprise, to move, to impress, to motivate and to dream… You have to keep it up now, you have to keep taking photos and enjoying it!” and I know there’s no stopping me now.

Sunrise over Playa de Muro (Photo by Vicki McLeod! Yes, me!)

I have been very fortunate in the past year or so to meet a few really fantastic teachers who have helped me personally to move forwards with my own ambitions and dreams and I count Diana Hirsch amongst those people.  As we finish our last session on the Sunday afternoon I realise I owe her a great debt now, she has opened up a world to me that I have always longed to understand, and now I am on the other side of the door, exploring, and seeing in a different way.

“To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis”. Henri Cartier-Bresson

Diana teaches courses in English, German or Spanish. You can get information about her photography classes here: www.photoclasses.eu . More examples of Diana’s work are here www.white-majorca.com and here www.dianahirsch.com. Tel +34 649 910 951 or email: info@fotokurs-mallorca.de To read more articles about people on the island visit http://www.mallorcastories.com

“I dreamt of exactly this”.

Vicki McLeod, photographer, Mallorca

Jake Bugg
Palmanova July 2014
©PhoenixMediaMallorca

It’s quite a sleepy Jake Bugg that stumbles down from his room to sit on a sunny hotel terrace on the afternoon before his gig at Mallorca Rocks Hotel. He’s got good reason to be tired as he seems to be permanently on tour. His manager, Jason, lists the European cities and countries that they will be crossing in the next six months, it’s intense, but apparently that’s the way Jake likes it.

Jake Bugg’s first album entered the UK album charts in October 2012 at number one, toppling Mumford & Sons making him the youngest British male at the age of 18 years and 8 months to premiere at the top of the charts with his debut album. This past year has seen him steadily rising up the bill for festivals, last Sunday he played his unique skiffle and blues flavoured songs to more than 70´000 people in Glasgow at T in the Park.

The media love him, and love to talk about him, his clothes, his supermodel girlfriend, his alleged dislike of One Direction and Harry Styles; they also love to speculate about whether he’s moving to the States or if he’s going to do a Dolly Parton inspired country album, so I guess we’ll start with that.

“Dolly Parton at Glastonbury, yeah. I don’t normally read my reviews but I couldn’t help myself from reading about that one. It said I was really inspired after watching Dolly Parton’s set. But I couldn’t even have watched her set as I was on straight after her and didn’t have the time so I don’t know where that came from. I like country music, Jolene’s a great song, Dolly has great songs and a great voice. Her show is pretty cool: it’s like the story of her life through her music. But, I’m not going to be releasing a Dolly tribute album anytime soon, let’s just clear that up now”.

I  warm to Jake immediately, he’s very laid back, something which seems to have been misunderstood for sullenness in some quarters, but he’s a polite lad from a working class estate in Clifton who’s worked very hard to get to where he is. It was when Jake was twelve that his uncle gave him his first guitar lesson one afternoon after his beloved football training. “My uncle just started showing me a few chords, he said the guitar was going to gather dust in the corner, I played these two chords he showed me and I just fell in love with it. I was thinking, wow I can make this cool sound, well it weren’t cool to everyone else but me at the time, just by moving my fingers a little bit, and I just couldn’t put it down. It became a hobby”.

He perks up a bit when we start talking about football and a smile spreads across his lips. “When I picked up a guitar I kind of fell out of love with football, but now I’m getting back into it. We’ve got some matches coming up against our support band soon and Notts County have said I can go and train with them”.

There was always music in the house when he was growing up. His mum had a very diverse taste, from boy bands to Beethoven. “My mum knows a lot about different types of music, the weird thing is she never liked the blues, no one in my family liked the blues, so that was my own little disco really, which is probably why I fell in love with it a little bit more. I heard the story about Robert Johnson going to the cross roads and selling his soul to the devil for his music: the story just pulled me in and then I heard his songs and they haunted me.  I read that people like Eric Clapton, and The Rolling Stones heard his music and thought it was two people playing when it was just him on his own; he was just a great, great musician. {Robert Johnson was an Afro American blues musician recording in 1936 and 1937} It was just soulful: they had nothing back then, they were living on the cotton fields, they had nothing, they were just sat out on the porches playing music and singing from their soul, just beautiful. They had it so hard, it was another world: you can’t imagine it now. I’m so thankful he gave us something very special, great music that still exists today, and a lot of stuff transcended from it, it was the roots for country, and rock and roll.”

Jake grew up on an estate in the Clifton area of Nottingham, he didn’t have any money to go out and spent most of his time at home practising and practising the guitar. “My first public gig was when I was fifteen. I played in this little bar; there weren’t many people in there. I took my cousin and my uncle. I was nervous but I was excited at the same time. I played a mix of my own stuff and covers. My cousin who was in a band had told me that you should have half an hour’s worth of material so I tried to write half an hour’s worth of stuff so that I could just go out and do gigs. Then I started gigging and I met Jason who became my manager. He got me into a recording studio and I got a record deal pretty quickly. It was amazing how easy it was to get a record deal. Every artist out there, that’s what they strive for. But when you get the record deal that’s when you realise actually that was the easiest bit of it all, and that’s a mad realisation. Then the hard work starts. The record label will probably sign ten acts in a year and maybe one of them will do well. When I was signed there were other artists around who got signed at the same time that were doing maybe a little bit better than me and then their careers didn’t take off and you’d see them going further down the bill as I was going up. It’s scary because it makes you think ‘when is it just going to stop, when is it going to end’. You can sit in bed and worry about it every night like I do for two minutes and then you have to think, well the time I am spending worrying about it I could actually be using it to be productive to help maintain my career and keep going up”.

Even though Jake is only just twenty years old he seems to have an old head screwed firmly onto his young shoulders. He’s quite philosophical about his success and seems to take the attention in his stride, “There might be highs and lows, if you look at someone amazing like Leonard Cohen, if you put his career on a chart it doesn’t always go up, it flows, it goes down and back up, sometimes it plateaus, so you have to be prepared for that. Keep your fans in mind, they’re the ones that are going out and buying your records but also don’t make a song which doesn’t feel like it’s you. It’s got to come from you, that’s the important thing”.

“With any art format there’s always an element of self-indulgence. With my stuff, especially with my first album, the songs are about where I come from, my experiences, and what I’ve seen, but even so people have just related to it anyway. It’s mad to be able to go to really different parts of the world like Japan and South America and for the audience to be stood there singing your songs back to you. It’s like, wow, my songs are about the little estate where I come from and you lot are singing them back to me. It’s very strange”.

“You try to pick out those similarities when you travel around, you’ll see something and “oh that’s just like that thing back home. It’s like dreaming, you know when you dream you are in your own house, but the stairs are the other way around or something’s upside down, it’s not quite the same but it’s very familiar. I wrote the whole of my second album on the road.”

Jake is clear that the backbone to any successful career in music is the music. “I’d say the most important thing, in my opinion, the key to it all, is songs. You have to have songs which people relate to and have a connection with, that they want to watch you perform live, that’s what is going to propel you: songs are the answer. All these people who are around today, all the legends: people like Neil Young and Led Zeppelin, you remember them because they have great tunes. If you write songs which are powerful enough for people to appreciate then they’ll appreciate you as well I think.”

It is inevitable that his experiences have changed him from the naïve Clifton boy he was into the experienced professional musician he has become, “On my first album all the things I was singing about were from me observing and experiencing life on my estate, but on the second album I was looking at it from the outside in. I’ve doing all right for myself and you go to see your family and your friends and you have little conversations with them, and they’re worrying about bills or what so and so is doing nowadays, or who’s gone to prison, and you hear stories about kids that you’ve gone to school with and grown up with, and you hear about them dealing, I would never have thought that person would have gone that way. It’s sad really.”

Indeed music, his precocious talent and a good dollop of luck have saved him from potentially a similar fate. “For me it’s my outlet, it’s what keeps me sane and makes me feel good inside, expressing my emotions and things that I don’t feel that I can talk about, I project them through my music. It makes me happy, at the end of the day when you want to cut yourself off I will just sit in the corner and pick up my guitar and go into my own little world.”

“I hope that I manage to maintain what I have achieved, I’ve already achieved more than I could have dreamt of”, he stops himself, checks himself and smiles, “well no, I dreamt of exactly this. When I was a kid I dreamt of being able to see Metallica, I never thought I would be actually clashing with them at different stages at Glastonbury. It was ridiculous really; it couldn’t have gone much better for me I think. I just want to keep doing my shows, and keep making music for people to listen to.”

That night at the gig in Magalluf I watch young British men on holiday who look exactly like Jake passionately singing Jake’s songs back to him. At least it doesn’t look like Jake is going to need to sell his soul to the devil anytime soon.

Jake Bugg was talking to Vicki McLeod

©VickiMcLeod2014 http://www.mallorcastories.com

Photos of Jake in performance CLICK HERE 

“We will not be silenced”

Rainbow Warrior Open Boat in Amsterdam

Ibiza is best known for all-night clubbing with an A-list celebrity crowd and partying, but it  is also home to two national parks, environmentalists living off the grid on solar power, and is considered of such ecological and cultural importance that the UN designated the Balearic island and its surrounding waters a world heritage site. Despite this the Scottish oil company Cairn Energy has been granted a license by Spanish central government to explore for oil off of the coast of the white isle at the nature reserve Es Vedrà.

When the news broke there was public outrage and local people and even local politicians were in agreement that this should not happen. In February 2014, more than 10,000 people marched through Ibiza Town, and around 60,000 signed a petition against oil exploration in the region. Twenty people posed naked covered in mock oil for a piece of performance art. The battle went online, with a social media blitz by celebrities who regularly visit Ibiza, including singers Dannii Minogue and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Everyone thought that the threat had been thwarted. Sadly, no as was highlighted recently when Greenpeace’s flagship The Rainbow Warrior arrived in Ibiza and then came on to Majorca to spread the word about the impending threat to the Balearics.

Cairn Energy, whose plans to look for oil in the Arctic have made it the target of green campaigners in the past , says that although it holds licences to explore for oil in the Gulf of Valencia, to the north-west of Ibiza, any seismic testing or the drilling of test wells is pending. The company is awaiting a decision on its environmental impact assessment by Spanish authorities due in late summer, which will determine whether it can continue. The government says Spain imports more than 99% of its oil and gas, at great expense, and that it must ensure energy security.

VM: How long have you been with Greenpeace? How did you become part of the organisation? Captain Stewart: I was born in Oregon in the U.S.A. I am a professional commercial captain and I had been volunteering for Greenpeace and participating in manifestations. In 1989 I heard about the job vacancy for Captain on the new Rainbow Warrior and applied for it. It’s very important that we follow all of the regulations as Greenpeace is frequently targeted by organisations and we have to have everything in order. It’s very important to have sympathy for the goals that Greenpeace is working towards: you need to be an activist at heart and have a sincere wish to make changes and motivate people.

What is the most important thing you have done during your time with Greenpeace? The campaign right now is definitely the most important one I have been involved with. My biggest goal is to end the age of fossil fuels and save the biodiversity of our oceans. We must stop this runaway train which is out of control. If we continue like this we’re going to be extinct. We are losing the Arctic ice: we will face environmental disaster, the sea levels will rise, there will be hurricanes, and typhoons: that will be our future. Can you imagine parts of the world being uninhabitable? We could have more than 50 million refugees.

The urgent challenge is how we are going to get off of fossil fuels. We have to do it, and we have to do it now if we are to avert disaster, if we don’t we are leaving our next generation to suffer. We have to stop. If we don’t stop then we have lost the battle of climate change.  We have to draw the line here. As the Arctic ice cap melts you will be faced with an extreme mega drought in the Balearics, are you ready for that?

What do you think is the most important thing we as individuals can do for the environment? We can do a lot through our own personal choices and actions. We can minimise the use of fossil fuels in our day to day lives, we can ride a bicycle rather than drive a car, but the main thing we must all do is lobby the politicians. We must vote out the politicians who are supporting oil exploration and vote in politicians who support clean energy.

Does it make any sense to you that the big oil company Cairn has been given the rights by the Spanish government to even propose this exploration?  You shouldn’t let these people into the Balearics. We don’t want the government to support the reckless actions of Cairn. The main economic employment in the Balearics is tourism. Cairn claims that with the exploration there would be economic benefits, but there would be none for the inhabitants of the islands, all the money would be kept by Cairn and any employment would be given to cheap immigrant labour rather than locals. Far from representing a domestic, independent energy source, the fuel could be exported and sold to the highest bidder. The profits would belong to Cairn, not Spain. In fact the oil drilling would destroy many beaches and the livelihoods for the fishing community in the Balearics.

What is involved in oil exploration? What happens? Central government have given the license to explore despite the desires of the local government. The first stage of this is the seismic (acoustic) tests which are due to start in November. Marine acoustic tests devastate marine life, interfering with the ability to orientate, breed and navigate. Eggs and larva are destroyed and internal bleeding, injuries and eventually death, are the result. The area where the drilling is proposed to happen is home to oceanic Posidonia, a giant sea grass only found in Europe. The Posidonia, a flowering plant commonly known as Neptune grass, creates a five-mile underwater meadow to the south of Ibiza. It provides an important place for fish to breed, and serves an ecological function by cleaning the water. The proposed drilling site is also in the middle of a cetacean (dolphins) migration corridor.

How big would the threat be of an oil spillage? How likely? If they start drilling in a deep water environment as they proposing to do, there is no way they would be able to contain a leak. Cairn is looking at exploring for oil at depths of 1,000-1,500 metres, which would mean its platform had the same characteristics of Deepwater [Horizon, the source of the 2010 BP oil spill]. If there was a spill, it would be the ‘Balearic problem’ because of the currents. Even in the Gulf of Mexico they couldn’t clean it up. If there were an oil spillage it would affect all the coasts of the Mediterranean: France, Italy, Spain. The entire sea would be inevitably fouled. And to add insult to injury what happens when these sorts of leaks occur? Who do you think pays for them? It isn’t the oil company who pays for the clean-up; it is paid for with public taxes. They are not held liable for even a fraction of the cost.

-

The Greenpeace info says that the activists erected an “oil containment barrier” at Es Vedra. What is an oil containment barrier? Why did you do that? We did a demonstration with an oil containment barrier. They are a bit of a joke really as they don’t actually work in open water. They are supposed to float on the surface and make it more difficult for the oil to move around. But the reality is that it would not be able to contain a spillage as it is not effective in high seas or rough weather. We want to make sure that you understand that if you as a country allow this drilling to happen that you are going to wipe out your biodiversity in the Balearics. You will wipe out many species of sea life.

-

Do you think the campaign has had any effect or impact? People have been visiting the ship at every port of call, and we have been very pleased with the response.  We have been partnering with Mar Blava Alliance and we are very happy to support them in what they are doing to protest and oppose this drilling. I can tell you the people I am speaking to everywhere we go are very concerned about what is happening.

In our study, Energia 3.0, we show that by 2050, a future scenario of a global energy model without fossil fuels, using 100% renewable sources of energy is both technically possible and economically feasible. Greenpeace see the world as being on the cusp of an energy revolution, compelled by the pressures of climate change. Even the extremely moderate United Nations say that burning fossil fuels is the principal cause of global climate change. This, they insist, has to stop. For the future of everyone.

What would be suitable replacement energy sources for the Balearics? We have a lot of options for renewable energies, many of which are completely feasible. The only thing we have to do is get the political will to change and to insist on change.

What can we do as individuals to prevent the oil exploration happening in the Balearics? 

Visit http://alianzamarblava.org/en/  and sign the petition, follow them and Greenpeace on Facebook, Twitter, whatever you use.

Sign the Greenpeace petition against oil exploration in the Mediterranean http://www.greenpeace.org/espana/es/Que-puedes-hacer-tu/Ser-ciberactivista/no-prospecciones-petroleo/  (put your Passport number where it says DNI if you don’t have that number, and leave the phone number blank).

Like https://www.facebook.com/ibizasaysno

Share this article on the social networks. Let people know what is happening. Use the hashtag #ProspeccionesNO

Join the campaign against drilling for oil in the Arctic Sea – whatever follows there will irrevocably determine the future of the planet.  http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/what-you-can-do

The Rainbow Warrior III in London

Has Greenpeace changed anything about their campaigning approach since the problems the Arctic Sunrise encountered in Russia? We are not going to allow ourselves to be silenced; we will not let anyone silence us. We are increasing our campaign for the Global Arctic Sanctuary.  Five million people have signed to support us. We will not allow any government, country or company to illegally imprison our crew or our ship. We will take action when and where we deem necessary to continue to push for the end of the use of fossil fuels. 

Where are you headed for now? We’re on our way to the site of the Concordia in Italy because Greenpeace disagrees with the proposed moving of the cruise ship. We believe there are easier and less risky ways to salvage the wreck.

Captain Joel Stewart was speaking to Vicki McLeod

As we go to press the Spanish government has granted Cairn Energy an exploration permit and is currently waiting for an Environmental Impact Assessment to start seismic testing.

Simple lifestyle changes you can make. Recycle, treat your local environment with respect.  Don’t leave litter. Support businesses which are actively making an effort to do the same. Don’t use the plastic bags from the supermarket. Take a reusable one or use boxes if you have a car. Cut your plastic consumption by buying 5 litre bottles and refill your small bottle each day. Cut down on use of your private vehicle. Use public transport, walk, or cycle.

Background information: The Guardian, Greenpeace, Ibiza Spotlight

“It’s what you are to each other that counts”

Rosemary Stone  Portals  May 2014

Rosemary Stone
Portals
May 2014

“I was adopted as a baby in Bristol by my parents Ray and Hilda Stone. Until I was ten and my mum’s friend had a baby I thought that everyone was adopted. My parents were wonderful, they loved and respected each other and taught my adopted brother and I to do the same. I first came to Majorca when I was 21 years old, working as a nanny in a kids’ club in Cala Mesquida. It was quite a lonely place: 2 ½ hours’ drive to Palma back then but I really liked the weather. In the UK I’d worked with wards of court so it was lovely to see children on holiday having a great time!

“I decided to stay and found a governess job through the Bulletin. I looked after two little girls who I’m still in touch with thirty five years later. I went on to teach at Queens College for many years whilst I had children of my own, Xisco and Laura. I loved teaching so it had to be something very special to make me leave: I eventually did when I followed my dreams and set up “Biz Baleares” helping people set up, buy and sell their businesses, navigating the maze of paperwork and set up costs. My business soon earned itself a good reputation and was well known although not always popular because of my strict code of business ethics as I would only sell businesses that I considered viable. Many people coming to Majorca face ruin through poor financial planning and unrealistic expectations. I am very happy that many of the businesses I worked with are still thriving today.

“I first met Allen, the man who was to eventually become my second husband, in 1990. But I didn’t really start to get to know him until I attended his church in Santa Ponsa with my good friend Sue. Everyone thinks that church should be a serious place but Allen didn’t and he made the service so much fun, telling jokes and even performing magic tricks.  Allen had been helping the orphanages on the island by buying the children Christmas presents and soon through my connections at Queens, The Bay Entertainers, Brownies, Guides and so on I was being given money to pass on to him for the children. The Allen Graham Charity 4 Kidz was founded in 1992, it is dedicated to helping disadvantaged children and young adults in Majorca who, through no fault of their own, do not have the opportunity to develop the skills that ensure a secure and safe future.

“I am now President of the charity; we support children in care and leaving care. It’s a voluntary post, very rewarding and very emotional. It always shocks people when we tell them about how many international children are in care in Majorca, they have been abandoned, badly treated, abused or, for various reasons, have parents who are unable to care for them. We have seen many of the children grow up; the charity has a wonderful relationship with all the homes which is great as we get to know the children and them us. Last year when we had a stand at the “Crew Show” at Mood Beach one of the waitresses dropped her tray when she saw our logo, she ran over and gave me a big hug and said “your logo reminds me of all the wonderful times especially Christmas growing up in the children’s home, thank you so much for giving me so much”.  I am so proud of the progress made by the children we help, they have had such a bad start in life. We are helping so many of them in so many ways, the charity has an apartment for them to live in when they turn eighteen, we put them through college and help them through the tough times. We’re their family in many cases. Just like their contemporaries in “normal families”, they need to feel they have a future, one that is full of opportunities, hope and happiness.

“In September 2008 I was cycling through Albuffarra in Alcudia when I had a strange sensation in my left arm. I drove to Palma and popped into a chemist where they took my blood pressure, and was told to go straight to Son Dureta. Eventually after having a very severe Angina attack I was fitted with three stents in my arteries, and then another two three years later. I was amazed that I had had no symptoms, no warning at all, so I decided to put more time into looking after myself. I read a book called “Reversing Heart Disease” and started exercising at the Country Club in Santa Ponca with a wonderful trainer, Lidia, and watching my diet. I don’t eat any red meat, or any type of oil, spreads or dairy products. I train at the gym three times a week and try to exercise as much as possible every day. I have lost 15 kilos, reduced my cholesterol and have been able to lower the dosage of the tablets I am on. People are always telling me how much better I look and that’s a great indication to me that I am doing the right thing. Now I am just getting on with my life and enjoying everything.

“Allen and I married two years ago. We are very much in sync with each other and work well as a team, he makes me laugh, and is everything I  could wish for in a husband. My two children are my best friends, we are always in contact and I see them often. I also see so many of the children that I taught in Queens College and of course from AGC. I have realized over the years that it doesn’t matter whether your parents are your blood relatives or not. It’s what you are to each other that counts”.

Rosemary Stone was talking to Vicki McLeod

You can find out more about here: www.agrahamcharity.org To contact Rosemary about business email: fixitmallorca@hotmail.com  To read more articles about people on the island read http://www.mallorcastories.com

 

 

You have to be responsible for yourself

Steevi Ware, Mallorca, Phoenix Media

I’m married to Noelia and we have three boys. After years of working for other people in various businesses here and in the UK I began to run my own business: plumbing in Cala D’or, locally I am known as The British Plumber.

“My family and I got into “Preparedness” when the Millennium bug was a threat.  There was a lot of talk about what might happen to computers and communication systems as 1999 became 2000. So many people were saying that we might experience some problems it seemed okay to come out of the Preparedness closet as it were. Preparedness means that you are ready for any conceivable local disaster. It’s not about being Bear Grylls and living in a jungle, it’s about thinking ahead and using your imagination to make sure you can cope with any problems that come your way.  I started to wonder how my family could cope if we suddenly didn’t have any electricity or the supermarkets ran out of supplies, or we didn’t have any water. Then I thought about how we would manage that over a longer period of time.

“I realised that the infrastructure in Majorca is such that there are weaknesses in the system. So I started to put measures into place which would help us to cope with those eventualities. We have a coal fired power station on the island. There is a backup station in Palma, but if it went out what would you do? If there was a big road traffic accident and it blocked your way home, what would you do? What could happen to you? Do you think you should keep a few first aid supplies, basic food rations and a spare mobile phone battery in your car perhaps? Do you even have a smoke alarm in your house? I go into a lot of homes as part of my job and you would be surprised how many families don’t even have a basic smoke alarm fitted in their home. It only costs a few euros and is very simple to fit and yet so many people just don’t have one. In my family home we have a smoke alarm, and a CO2 alarm, plus a fire extinguisher. These are basic pieces of equipment I think that we should all have.

“What would you do if you or a member of your family was taken ill and you couldn’t get to the hospital? Do you know First Aid? How far are you from your closest medical centre or doctor?  You can keep an App on your phone from the St John’s Ambulance Service which guides you through helping someone in need. The technology is there and it’s free.

“Did you know that a supermarket typically only holds enough supplies for three days? What if there were a transport strike and you ran out of water? It happened a few years ago on the island and everyone bought food in a panic. Noelia and I decided to prepare for this by buying an extra tin of food and an extra bottle of water each time we went to the shops, just to make a store. And it’s not just for this sort of situation, what if you had the flu and couldn’t leave your house for a few days? Could you and your family cope without you going to the shops or bringing food back into the home?

“Over the years we have set up a few systems set up in our house, I have to admit that yes we have spent a bit of money on it. We use a solar oven which is on the roof terrace, we can bake bread in it, it doesn’t brown but it’s fine. We have a rain water filtration system, and solar panels. I’ve set up some back up batteries for if we ever have a power cut.  I think of a problem and then I come up with five possible solutions for the problem and choose my options from there. But we’re also naturally resourceful people Noelia and I: there isn’t much waste in our house, we use leftovers rather than fling them away. It shocks us when we see people throwing food away.

“A couple of years ago Noelia bought me a book called “The Unthinkable” written by Amanda Ripley.  It examines the mentality of people who are put in crisis situations. She explains why we react in certain ways, and how we can train ourselves to deal with it in a more productive and useful manner. It changed me and how I approach problems and stress, I would recommend it to everyone.

“A hundred years ago what I’m doing now would have been called “common sense”, but we have been made dependent and lazy by modern society and all of its conveniences. Noelia’s Majorcan mother can remember having a couple of hours of electricity a day and that wasn’t even half a century ago. They still live quite simply, they aren’t doing it now because the world’s going to end or they think they have to be prepared for any eventuality, they just do it because they’ve always done it.

“I know some people think I have gone over the top, but I like to be thorough, and feeling like we are ready for anything and that I’m protecting my family means that I don’t worry. I know I can’t protect them from things outside of my control, but anything that I can prepare for I will. It is a natural parenting thing. We aren’t like those “Doomsday Preppers” you see on the Discovery Channel: we aren’t living in a bunker, they’re strange people,  it seems to me that they can’t wait for something to go wrong!

“When you look at the big picture and consider the things which you can’t control then that is overwhelming, but we can do something about the smaller things. It gives you a lot of confidence to be prepared.”

Preparedness enthusiast, Steevi Ware was talking to Vicki McLeod

You can see the original article here.Steevi Ware 

Steevi runs a Facebook group called Mallorca Survival.  If you would like any advice or want to share information then he is happy for you to contact him on Facebook or via email at info@british-plumber.com .

To read more articles about people in Majorca visit http://www.mallorcastories.com

 

“I followed my dreams and my life changed”

 

Babet Berkhof, Oliver Neilson, photographer, Mallorca.

Babet Berkhof
April 2014
Portals Nous
©Oliver Neilson     

“It was a poster of the Dutch version of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a very hot guy called Berry de May that kicked off my interest in bodybuilding when I was a teenager. I was born and brought up in Holland and this man was very popular over there. He was (well, is still) gorgeous and I was fascinated by him as he became the European Heavyweight Champion and then the World Heavyweight Champion. He was the ultimate showman on stage and invented amazing posing sequences for his competitions. Everyone else had The Backstreet Boys on their walls, but I had Berry! I simply adored him.

“The bodybuilding world is very friendly; they’re like bikers but without the bellies. They pretty much greet each other without knowing each other, obviously they can tell who works out a lot and who doesn’t. Yes the competitions can get a bit fraught, but the atmosphere in the gym is a bit like being part of a big family. Everyone looks out for the others. It’s a lifestyle that I have always loved and felt welcome in. The general public misunderstand body building. I’ve been asked all kinds of things: was I born a man? Do I take steroids? But I don’t give a damn what you think and that has set me free. I’m extremely harsh and critical of myself anyway and no one can beat me on that.

“Why do I work so hard? My parents were very hardworking people so I picked up the work ethic early on. I worked in my Dad’s café and juice bar from when I was twelve as part of the family team. I wasn’t brought up to believe that “stuff” defines you: like having the best car means you’re important.  My theory is that if you keep producing then eventually you’ll be alright.  I had a day job and twenty eight hours in each day to pursue the dream. But that’s what I’ve always done.

“After a couple of very bad experiences working with partners in various businesses I decided to go on my own and that’s when my life changed. I started to put myself and my own dreams first; really I don’t know what took me so long to do it.  I started designing clothing about ten years ago: I loved body building and going to the shows but it bugged me that they had ill-fitting bikinis and posing suits on. Why work so hard to make your body the best it possibly could be only to be let down by baggy bikini bottoms which covered up parts of the body which needed to be shown off to the judges?  I started working with Luis Vidal who is a champion body builder himself and lives here in Mallorca and we designed and made his posing suits. Well, it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

“Then I started working on the women’s range and designed for another champion body builder Fanny Palou. I’d seen her doing her routine once when she had what we could call a “wardrobe malfunction” she couldn’t pose because she had to hang on to her bikini. So Fanny was very happy to work with me and wear my bespoke bikini designs.  You have to be aware of the different regulations for bikinis, some Federations won’t allow certain cuts so I guide the competitor through the maze and help them choose the one that is going to suit them and show them off the best. It’s the personal service and attention that I give to them and the fit of the costumes which seems to really appeal to my customers.

“I offer off the peg and customised bikinis, and pretty much everything else you could think of for fitness and body building competitions. I make the initial suit designs and market the business, and I employ a seamstress who hand makes each bikini or posing suit. I’ve got about seventy different designs on the website at the moment. They are made by hand in spandex and lycra and then decorated with Swarovski Elements which are beautiful crystals.  Pretty much everyone who wears the suits wins in them. I like to think they’re lucky.

“Bodybuilding, especially for women, is changing. They no longer have the Miss Olympia competition which used to be the highlight of the year. Now they do a physique class which is still based on muscular definition, but is nowhere near as heavy as it used to be. I have competed in the past but I get terrible stage fright. I love preparing for the competitions but I didn’t love show day. So instead I coach people who are interested to compete. But you have to be very committed if you want to work with me. I started this year with eight people, and now I have two left. The others dropped out because it was just too tough for them. It isn’t easy preparing your body to this level. There are a lot of changes you have to make to your eating and your lifestyle to make sure that you will be ready. I hold up my end of the coaching deal, but if you can’t or don’t then you’re out.  The people who taught me about bodybuilding did it as a way of passing on their knowledge, you would go to meet them at the gym and you would never dare to think of not showing up. That would have been the height of disrespect. It’s old school really, but we have a lot of scientific and nutritional knowledge which we work with as well.

“I think diet is a horrible word; it resonates with failure for me. I have a set eating regime which I stick to, it’s boring but it works, it takes the decision making out of the process and lets me think about other stuff instead. It feeds the machine, that’s it. I eat boiled eggs, chicken, rice, turkey, green leaves, but if I want a cookie, I’ll have a cookie, if I want two cookies, I’ll have two cookies!”

Babet Berkhof, owner of Divas Fitwear, was speaking to Vicki McLeod

For more information visit http://www.divasfitwear.com To read more articles about people in Majorca visit http://www.mallorcastories.com

You can see the published article here: Majorca Daily Bulletin article.

“You can make simple changes in your life and see amazing results”

Oliver Neilson, photographer, Chetana Annette, Dr Sandeep Shirvalker, Bodhana, Mallorca. Phoenix Media

Dr Sandeep P Shirvalker
Portals 2013
©Oliver Neilson

“I was born in Saswad City near Pune in India. My parents were secondary school teachers, but they are both retired now. My father was a headmaster and taught English, Sanskrit and History, and my mother taught Hindi. I grew up with my two brothers, and they now work in the pharmaceutical and IT industries respectively.

“From as early as I can remember I wanted to be a doctor. I would play with my friends and my brothers and they would have to be my patients when I gave them check ups with a toy stethoscope!  It was my dream from a very early age and I always knew I would become a doctor.

“I took my Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and surgery as soon as I could. The course itself is almost five years long, with a compulsory internship year in a teaching hospital. The syllabus includes allopathic and ayurvedic subjects: anatomy, physiology, ayurvedic principles, diagnosis, pharmacology, gynaecology, surgery, ENT, paediatrics, and general medicine are all in there. The course is governed by the CCIM which is the Central Government of Indian Medicine. Then I continued and studied for my MD which was a further three years post graduate course, I specialised in herbal medicines at Pune University.

“The basic principles of Ayurvedic medicine are related to the human subtle energies called Doshas. They govern the body with elemental changes, we call them “humours”. Every body has a unique percentage combination of these doshas, if they are influenced to change through your lifestyle then this can lead to illness. You can be one or a combination of three different doshas: Vata people are usually thin, tall, skinny, always nervous with dry skin, they’re talkative and can’t tolerate the cold. Pitta people are usually always hungry, also they have short fuse, can’t tolerate heat and complain about digestive problems. Kapha people are usually bigger, calm, slow, although they may eat less than the Vata people, and they tend to complain about respiratory problems. But it’s normal for a person to show elements of two doshas, or sometimes all three. Understanding your dosha and how you need to treat it will help you to avoid illness, you have to be careful what foods you eat depending on your dosha and what you use to fuel the digestive fire, “Agni”.

“Ayurveda has a very big role to play in treating some very challenging disesases, and it also helps to prevent a person from developing ill health. I have seen good results using Ayurvedic principles in cases of infertility, PCOD, rheumatism, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, chronic pancreatis, NIDDM and many more. It is also a very good support system for people who are having chemotherapy, renal failure, cardiac disease, asthma and diabetes. It works well when Ayurvedic medicines are supplementing modern medicines. The side effects of chemotherapy can be controlled very effectively, and this has been well documented by scientists.

“In the West Ayurvedic medicine is still not very well known. The research and statistics are still not shared with the public in the West. Ayurvedic has previously only been known as a massage therapy for relaxing, but it’s much more powerful than that. The proper medicines are yet to be marketed in great quantity, some people still think that herbal medicine is some sort of magic, or a joke.

“You have to see Ayurvedic medicine as a lifestyle management system: I prescribe the proper diet according to your body type, recommend body cleansing procedures and rejuvenation therapies. These combined have a great effect to health and longevity.

“It was about twelve years ago when I met Chetana from Bodhana when she was in India. She came to me for a consultation and was very impressed with the results. We became friends and she started to bring me to Majorca to treat people there. She knew there were people on the island who were interested in the principles of Ayurveda who wanted me to go over and share my knowledge.

“I fell in love with Majorca as soon as I arrived. It has so many beautiful sights and people, and it’s quite accessible for me to get there from India. I visit Ibiza and Portugal as well and combine my trip with a little vacation. Sometimes my wife and son come with me for a few days as well.

“If you ask me if the people in Majorca have different diseases to the people in India I would say the causes are different, they are more related to modern lifestyle, precisely there are more stress related conditions here. Other than that it’s the same as the rest of the planet. Being a doctor is the most satisfying job in the world, knowing that I am helping people to be healthy. They have to follow some simple changes in their diets and lifestyles and the impact that can have is amazing.”

Dr Sandeep P Shirvalkar was speaking to Vicki McLeod

To find out more about his Ayurveda clinic visit www.bodhana.com. To find out more about Ayurveda visit www.researchayurveda.com To read more articles about people in Majorca visit www.mallorcastories.com

Click here to read the article: Sandeep