A church icon in Palma near dog walk

One of the many great things about Palma is the many churches. I don't know what exactly this thing is called - road icon indicating that a church is near? Unfortunately this and many other of the lovely icons or paintings on display, including on the churches themselves, have had to be covered in metal mesh because of vandalism. Grrrrr. 

This particular church is about 15 minutes' walk from my house, and a place to which I frequently take the dogs. We now live in an urban environment, and unfortunately I can't let them off the leash everywhere because they are both traffic idiots who have been hit by cars, but outside the church it is safe. 

Palmanova Church

Sunday morning we were hanging around the church when an unusual sight caught my eye: A young man dressed only in a beard and some kind of underwear, I think it is known as Y-fronts, wandering through the courtyard, looking a bit lost. No shoes. Oh no, another victim of stag night "fun"! 

He immediately addressed me in Norwegian.

"Sorry to disturb, I'm looking for a hotel." 

"What hotel?"

"That's the thing, I don't really know." I bet! I thought. "It was Mari, Mal... rosa?"

"Valparaiso?"

"Yes! I've been walking in my sleep. It's very inconvenient." 

"So, this happens a lot?" 

"Oh yes, all the time." 

I walked him to the hotel, a few minutes' walk away. I wonder if he walks in his sleep in winter in Norway. That would be really inconvenient. Not least because his choice of underwear pattern. Cartoon characters with space ships, moons and stars?  Come on! Who would be seen dead in that, let alone walking around the city asleep?

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O people who don't want the Mandarin juggernaut to take over Hong Kong and the world: Please know that the fight for Cantonese world supremacy (in which, unlike under the Mandarin world supremacy,  the other languages can do whatever the hell they want) rages on! Your Cantonese Fundamentalist (under whose non-leadership, unlike under other fundamentalists, everybody can do whatever the hell they want) may live in exile in Spain, but I have not withdrawn from the fight. 

Now I have lived in exile for six months, and it's time to share my new life with the world. Warning: Contains the depiction of the enjoyment of alcohol - at 12:00 NOON! 

 

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Guess what happened last week: My Cantonese student (victim) on Skype, Ah-Fu, came all the way from Switzerland to eat Sichuan food! What a great but slightly expected surprise. He was just as delightful 'live' as he is on Skype, which says a lot. Unfortunately, apart from a quick foray to an Armenian (!) restaurant,  I didn't have much time to explore the island with him, because I had to prepare the Sichuan lunch for 16 people. 

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We did have time, however, to make a little film in Cantonese (watch this space!) and to learn how to look up Chinese characters in the dictionary. Well, ah-Fu did. I already know it, natch. 

The big day came and so did all the people who had signed up; very unusual in this town. 

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10 nationalities!

Ways that make cooking Sichuan in Palma easier than Hong Kong: Most of the ingredients are available from a ten minute's walk away or less. I don't have to worry about the weather because 1: It's always good and 2: The eating is in the living room, not precariously on the roof, threatened by sideways rain most days.

Ways that make cooking Sichuan in Palma more difficult and time-consuming than in Hong Kong: The water from the tap is disgusting and full of calcium, so I have to dry each glass with a tea towel right after I have cleaned it instead of letting it air dry. 

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So there you have it, whether you live in Palma or abroad, there's always a Canto lesson near you. And a short walk, plane or car trip will let you enjoy lovely food in great company! But unfortunately, for now I can only cook for people who are actually in the same house. When will these techno-people invent a food-bearing Skype?!?

亞虎 - Ah Fu - Tiger

川菜 - Chuen choi - Sichuan food

外國 - Oi gok - foreign 

 

There they stand in the corner of my anteroom, accusing me. 

 

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Yes, my two banjos! On which I never play anymore! 

In church two Sundays ago, one of the songs was Amazing Grace, a beautiful song to be sure, but all I could think of was the excellent new title thought up by my friend Ellen on a train in Hunan province: A Grazing Face. 

As you can see, I mean hear and see, I'm in DIRE need of a banjo teacher. It all went to hell after my teachers Adam Petrashune (who appears in the video with his superior string skills) and his brother Austin left Hong Kong. This is the one thing in my life I really can't do by myself! Are there any banjo teachers in Palma? Or better, Adam, can you move over here? 

 

Yesterday was an exciting day in the old El Terreno Country Club! The venerable photographer Stuart Pearcevenerable photographer Stuart Pearce came to take photos for - wait for it - my old employer South China Morning Post! 

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Yes, apparently rumours about my lovely new gaff have swirled through the ether and reached Hong Kong and the lifestyle editor of Sunday Post Magazine. I was so excited - the fact that I had to style the house, which is really just a fancy word for tidy the hell up, only put a mild damper on things. No really, you think you have a tidy shack but when you start looking and thinking about rooms in photographic terms (lifestyle!) you realise it comes up woefully short. 

You can't have half-eaten apples on the table, for example. Also, a few days ago I bought a brand-new doggie brush so I would only need to hoover once every day instead of three times, but no. I've been taking about a pillowcase worth of hairs off the two hounds every day, but still the floors look like the back of a ginger gorilla in a Turkish bathhouse, billowing with brown hairs. 

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As it happens, I was cooking Sichuan food for a birthday party that night, so I only had to tidy up once. Win-win! 

The editor wanted me to style the garden as well, so naturally I chose my favourite sit-wear, handmade by the incredible talented Lina Benjumea, to brighten up the mosquito-riddled morass. 

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