Tuesday, 30 June 2015

6 Beauty Spots in Mallorca and 1 Ugly Problem

There are so many 'firsts' when you move country. The first piece of real post (thanks Gramma!), the first new friend you meet, the first piece of paid work. This week we had our first friend come to stay.

We rented a car and set off across the island and soon our jaws were dropping at just how beautiful it was. Here are the best bits...  

1. Lookout at Cabo de Formentor




2.  Sunset at Cap de Formentor 




3. View of Playa de Formentor  



4. Unnamed Beach in the Cala Blava area





5. Cala Pi 



6.  Rockpools at Es Raco de S' Arena





 And the 1 UGLY PROBLEM?

7. PLASTIC!




I spent a very happy half an hour exploring the rock pools of Es Raco de S'Arena - which at first glance seemed so clean. But when I looked closely I found so many tiny flakes of plastic, as well as balloons, and bigger pieces like plastic bags and bottles. There was even a can of furniture polish, that judging by the Arabic writing might well have floated all the way over from Africa! 

It's such a tragedy that we are so careless in our disposal of waste. Even though there are recycling containers everywhere in Spain, so many people just can't seem to be bothered to separate their rubbish. I feel strongly that we could be doing better - and it starts with the little decisions. 

Can we buy products with less packaging? 
Could we be recycling more? 
Is it really worth buying our children balloons at the cost of marine life suffering? 

If we don't take more care of our world, I worry these beautiful places won't stay beautiful for much longer!   




Saturday, 27 June 2015

Blog Tips at Winchester Writers' Festival 2015

Unwinding after the 1st day at the festival!
I led an intensive blog workshop at this year's Winchester Writers' Festival. I had eight enthusiastic attendees and five hours in which to share everything I've learned about blogging in the last six years. 

I take hours preparing for workshops because I love to read about successful bloggers and find out what advice they offer. I'm grateful to Joy the Baker and Jim Lin of the Busy Dad Blog, for their top blog tips: 



Tips for a Successful Blog

Consistency is a big deal. If readers feel like they can count on you for consistent, reliable, beautiful content, they’ll definitely come back. 

Being accessible is important. I love readers to feel they can connect with me on Facebook or Twitter. 

Being an enthusiastic and vocal part of a growing community helped my site. I joined baking groups online, and I would comment on fellow bloggers’ work nonstop.” 


“Be authentic, or else you will never enjoy it enough to put the work in. If you aren’t funny, don’t try to be. If you aren’t deep and thoughtful, don’t try to be. 

Make connections. Be social, be useful, be entertaining and be friendly. 

Be patient. That’s why you have to do it because you love it, not because you want to make money from it. It must be a passion, not a job." 


Planning blog workshops forces me to look at my own pattern of blogging and assess what I need to be doing. For blogs to thrive they shouldn't be too random, but have a definite theme, and voice, and fulfill expectations... 

"The narrower your focus, the broader your audience," writer and entrepreneur, Jeff Goins writes. 

Goins sets some excellent questions in this exercise to focus your blog content. I shared them at the workshop and was thrilled to feel a boost of energy in the room as vague ideas developed into clearer ones.  


Two attendees sent me their blogs a couple of days later: Footprint Marketing UK and Kill the Boss - Turning Corporate Bollocks into Comic Fiction - I wish them good luck on their blogging journey!

I'm back in sunny Mallorca now but I will be popping back to England for a week in August. 

My next Blogging and Social Networking Workshop will be on Sunday 9th August in London. 

There are 8 places so book soon - and please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or Visit my Workshops Page for more information.







Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Venting Online - Should you ever do it?

Do you ever get a great urge to vent online? Perhaps after a particularly bad day at the office you feel the impulse to update your facebook status to:

Toungue OutMY BOSS IS AN INCOMPETENT MORON! 

Or if you're a writer and sales aren't going too well:

GrrrSTOP *LIKING* THE F*******  BOOK AND BUY IT!

Perhaps you're more of a drip feeder of your woes and post things like:

I don't want to talk about it... 
No

Why would you write that unless you wanted to talk about it?!
- feeling disappointed *sad face*

I understand it though. Caring friends will rush to leave hearts and hugs and you'll feel loved and happy. Other 'friends' will roll their eyes and unfollow you, but you won't know about them, so it won't hurt. 

Who am I to judge? I'm familiar with the impulse. I've succumbed to sharing my frustrations on facebook, often trying to prove I'm not the sort of person who spills their guts without filter, by adding a humorous photo to lighten it up. 

The sharing gives me a little rush.  But it's a high that lasts only a few seconds. Almost immediately I'll feel immature about having a hissy fit in public. Within ten minutes I've usually taken the post down, concerned that my online footprint will follow me; that word will travel to the last pair of ears I'd like it to travel to.

I believe all social networks require filtering by the user. Filtering is especially essential if you're interacting as a professional. My blog isn't the same as the diary I kept as a teenager.  No one needs that. No one wants to drown in self-indulgent - WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME? WHY IS IT ALL SO UNFAIR? -  drivel.   

So what do you do when you're from the over-sharing generation and you feel a tremendous urge to rant about a sensitive matter to the online community?

Well you:
1) take a deep breath
2) feel and accept the anger / frustration / disappointment
3) redirect it

You vent. But not about the stuff that could get you into trouble. You vent about stuff like:

1. Why do they put serviettes UNDER your sandwich?

2. Why do drivers with the worst taste in music play it the loudest?

3. Why do they call them monkey bars when there are no monkeys?

4. Why don't my socks ever make it into the washing machine TOGETHER?

5. Why do fussy eaters not just order a Margarita pizza rather than ordering something delicious and picking out all the best bit?

6. Why do mosquitoes buzz around my ear but bite my legs?

7. Why don't mosquitoes just bite my whole ear off instead of my legs so I don't have to listen to the b******* all night?

8. Why does cling film exist when after one use it's IMPOSSIBLE to tear off?

Alternatively, you can rant about important things:

9. Why is Fifa doing nothing about the Nepalese labourers dying EVERY TWO DAYS while building a F****** football stadium in Qatar? 

But it depends on your blog, I guess. 

10. Why am I still ranting when I'm obviously perfectly fine and have nothing more to rant about? 
  
So, yeah, about that urge? Do you get it? 




My nest novel #PleaseRetweet is a comedy about society's obsession with social media. For the latest news on its release, sign up to my monthly newsletter!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Being a writer has never felt so good!

Everything is swaying. The keyboard is moving back and forth. Sea Legs, Mum diagnoses. El mal de mar, my blind date from this morning replies. 

It wasn't a romantic date. My husband and I haven't been torn apart by our spontaneous move to Mallorca. It's just being a SeeMallorca reporter comes with certain perks. The day before I'd received an invite from Attraction Catamarans to go on their 'Day at Sea' excursion. The organiser said I could bring a friend. There's nothing like the words 'you can bring a friend' to remind you that you left them all behind in London.
                
Luckily I've made a few friends virtually through a Mallorca inline skating group. When one of the girls noticed I was looking for a companion for the trip she got in touch. I checked her facebook page and finding an absence of pouting selfies and soppy life-affirming quotes, told her I'd be thrilled for her to come.
                
I'm going to take a moment now to pinch myself. Any minute now I'm going to wake up. 

I don't want to wake up. I'm having this dream where I live on this beautiful island and these people want me to do all these wonderful activities so I'll write about them for their magazine. It's like being able to write suddenly has a value.
                
Nope, still not waking up.
                
I went diving for the first time on the weekend. I've never wanted to dive in my life, but the magazine wanted an article about Balear Divers, so off I went. It was incredible. If you get the opportunity, take it. 

I miss it already. I keep day dreaming about fish. Can you daydream within a dream?
                

It's strange. I didn't feel seasick on the catamaran. Four hours flew by as I chatted to my new friend. Perhaps it was all the photography. I take my role as a reporter very seriously! Part of my research involved chatting to the crew, which led to a free drink.  

No one ever used to give me free drinks for my writing before. I'm living in a state of wonder... I really am. 



Thank you world.   

Thursday, 28 May 2015

New Home, New Novel, New Job. Old Fear.

No more internet cafés for me, I am now fully connected at home!
                
Home? Does Mallorca feel like home already? Last night on the plane back from doing a job in London, I overheard a mother explaining to her little son that they'd be staying in a hotel. I bet half the passengers would be heading off to holiday accommodation. It made me smile. Not me, I thought, I'm going home.  

Mallorca Reporter Essentials!
               
After a 25 minute wait at the airport, the bus finally came and my bus pass didn't work. I realised with dismay that I didn't have a cent on me and started to get off. The bus driver waved me on, said not to worry this time. I like my new home, I thought. I couldn't help wondering if that would ever happen in London. Perhaps, but not likely.   
                
Today is my first day with some proper structure. We've unpacked our boxes, plugged in the coffee machine and have wifi, so it's time to work.

I'm beginning a new novel set in *surprise surprise* Mallorca. It involves a hen party and takes place over five days. If you've been on any recently and had to do any ridiculous dares or challenges, I'd LOVE to hear from you!
                
First Morning Plotting
As I make notes about my characters and plot I can't help feeling a twinge of fear though. Why are you putting yourself through this again? - my inner voice whines.  This novel isn't commissioned, so I could spend a year on it and never find a publisher. It's a standard risk for writers but that doesn't make it any easier.
                
I wish I could share news about my third book, #PleaseRetweet. It was supposed to be due out this summer, but now I'm not sure. The publishers are busy and I haven't heard from them in a while. I think I'd go mad if I only had one project on the go, but luckily I have many.
                
At the moment, I'm excited about my new role as a "Mallorca Reporter". My first post Top10 Attractions in Palma de Mallorca was published in SeeMallorca this week and it made me grin from ear to ear. It's a great way of getting to know the island. 

I found out the travel magazine was looking for writers after a simple Twitter search. Social media can be very effective like that. In fact, Twitter for Writers - Not Such a Waste of Time! is the title of my talk at Winchester Literary Festival this 20th June. I'll also be running a day long Blog Workshop on 21st June, in which I'll tell writers not to blog indulgently about the minutiae of their lives...

Oops. 

I probably should practice what I preach. Then again, I've been blogging for nearly 7 years. As the song goes it's my party blog, and I'll cry write indulgent updates about my life if I want to! Or something like that. I've never been very good at remembering song lyrics.  


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Camino de Mallorca - Walking to Magaluf

When I tell people I don't know how to drive, their eyes widen in surprise and I can see them trying to resolve the problem.

"You'll have to get a motorbike then," they say. 

I used to enjoy the idea of riding a Vespa over the cobblestones of some idyllic Italian town, but now I'm convinced I'd be a danger to myself and everyone else.

"Does your husband drive?" is the follow up question. They relax once they know one of us is useful.              

From the response, it would seem that living in Mallorca without a car is madness. Well, today, without husband / driver, I was determined to overcome the obstacle of distance. I needed to get to Magaluf for research purposes.  The characters in my novel are on a hen party and they may well end up there. It was necessary I checked it out.

How far away was Magaluf? Well, nearer than I'd previously thought, since I'd previously thought it in Greece. I saw a clip from a documentary on the resort once; drunken teenagers comatose on the floor, police breaking up fights, vomit and litter strewn across the streets. I remember feeling very sorry for the Greeks. 
After rifling through a drawer of maps and leaflets the previous German occupants had left (stopping to giggle for a bit over a 'Gute Fahrt'), I ended up with a map of Mallorca. Magaluf looked a finger print away. I got a ruler and tried to calculate the distance using the scale. I estimated 8- 10km. It would take time, but physically, I was capable.
Equipped with water and an orange, I set off.
It was a long walk, but it was very pedestrian-friendly. Much of the journey took place on a tree-lined path, with box trimmed hedges coated in fine dust separating me from the road. It was hot but there was a gentle breeze. I saw vineyards and the first signs of mountains in the distance. 
An hour later, I paused to eat my orange under a tree and thought of my Dad, because he'd always peeled the oranges on walks when we were little. Was this nostalgia or heatstroke? I sipped my water and pushed on.
I arrived at Palmanova two and a half hours later. The sea was a stunning blue, the distant boats a blinding white. English voices carried in the air. Restaurant menus offered options familiar to the British palate like pizza and roast beef. Topless young men paraded burns so bad I had to stop myself suggesting, in a maternal voice, to put on some aftersun and cover up for a bit. I was clearly closing in on Magaluf and it was time to eat and get my energy up before the final leg.
On my way over to Mallorca, I'd met two young girls heading out to work in Magaluf on the plane and they'd warned me about Spanish food. Funny as it's the food I've grown up on and it's one of the things that excites me about living in Spain again. 
Among the British pubs and tributes to Blackpool, I sought out a tapas bar, tucked into a deliciously spicy frito de marisco and a caña, and basked in the great sense of achievement that came with having fulfilled my mission WITHOUT A CAR. And I seriously considered the idea of walking around the whole island, a sort of alternative to the Camino de Santiago.
Of course, by the time I got to Magaluf, I was far too knackered to do any exploring. I got the bus straight back, which for only 1.50, seemed a bit of an affront to my aching legs.

For more Mallorca Pics follow me on Instagram @emilybenetauthor


  

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Alone in Mallorca - Blogging to Stay Sane

First evening alone - a good start!
What do you do when you move to a foreign land and you don't know anyone? 

Obviously you go get your nails done. At least that's where I went to seek out emotional support. I had hoped for a lively woman my age who would chat easily, invite me out for a drink that evening and within days become a really great friend. Too much to ask from a manicure? Yes. 

The reality was a surly, middle-aged woman who wasn't interested in talking, but did say I was bound to meet other Brits soon enough. I felt a bit miffed. For the record, I haven't moved to Mallorca to seek out an ex pat community. I've come to meet all nationalities. Technically I'm not even an ex pat anyway, as I'm half Spanish, though evidently my accent needs a polish. 

The woman only softened when it was time to pay. Did I seem too desperate? I hadn't spoken to anyone in two days and I have no reliable internet connection at the moment. In fact if this blog goes up, it's because I've found an internet cafe*. (*The noughties called, it wants its internet cafe back!) 

As I left the nail salon, a treacherous voice whispered: Why did you leave the country where all your friends are? But another voice, who has been through this once before, replied, Patience, it will all be worth it... 

Since my time at the nail salon had failed to fulfill my emotional needs, I embraced retail therapy instead. There's a brilliant Chinese shop beneath our flat. In Spain, a Chino shop sells everything under the sun; from mops and buckets, to earrings and dog food. I LOVE CHINO SHOPS and I started to feel more upbeat as I wandered up and down the aisles finding things on my list. 

My Trainers' First Outing in Mallorca
Lists, I feel, are key to survival while alone in a new place. Well, they are for me. Maybe you're unfazed by being alone. My husband is arriving in 4 days and I'm really looking forward to his company. Meanwhile I'm writing lists to focus myself and not succumb to a strange urge to just sleep. 

My list ranges from going for an exploratory run (TICK) to buying rubbish bags (TICK) to writing a blog (TICK) and buying a cork board to carry on plotting my novel (TICK). 

I feel much better for writing all this down. It was either blog or start talking to myself. Thanks for reading lovely people. 

Right, next on my list is finding an internet cafe... found one!