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Posts tagged ‘Palma de Mallorca’

Norms Palma Series: Santa Eulalia

Palma de Mallorca is full of plazas and piazzas whose leafy trees provide welcome respite from the heat of the summer and an autumnal auburn glow thereafter. Whatever the time of the year, they are always full, as the Norms bounce their way through on an evening perambulation or enjoy a glass of their favourite cocktail, amaretto sour.

Here are the Norms in one of their favourite Palmanese Squares, the Plaza Santa Eulalia. Named after the great gothic church which sits at its centre, the Plaza is a grand square indeed and the perfect spot to indulge in the Norm-watching activity which fills the Norms’ two wide eyes with enough action to thrill them for the day.

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Norms on the Plaza Eulalia (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Mallorca Moments: The Sea at Sunrise

As much as I love the autumn, one thing which I find somewhat depressing about the ongoing march of the year is the reduction in light. It seems that as each day of the year begins, there is a little less light available to assist in the difficult emergence from under the warmth of a snuggly duvet. Nevertheless, work does not wait for any man, and the need to start the day shrouded in a Wintery darkness will soon become a reality. However, every seasonal change brings with it its fair share of visual spectacles, and now that the light is fading, my customary morning walk now coincides with the precise moment when the sun rises above the silhouette of Palma de Mallorca’s impressive gothic cathedral.

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While Palma’s autumn sun rises make for quite a spectacle, it is the effect of the morning light on the water in the port which really entices me. Enveloped in a warm glow varying between a nectarine yellow and a peachy pink, the gentle movement of the water against the port’s forest of white yachts and sailing boats creates reflections and ripples which are a true vision to behold. Readers of The Daily Norm will know that I am no stranger to the charm of a good ripple – these watery movements have inspired many an artwork in my past repertoire. But in the current light of autumn, Palma’s ripples are surely at their colourful best, a fact well in evidence in this collection of photos.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Norms Palma Series: On La Rambla

Norms adore flowers. When they get a hint of floral perfume wafting in the air, they follow it like a dog going after a bone. For them, flowers encase the very merriment of life and encapsulate the hopes of spring. They are the very best manifestation of Nature’s natural gift. And so when it comes to the city of Palma de Mallorca, one of the places you will regularly find a whole host of Norms will be La Rambla, the beautiful tree lined avenue whose wide central promenade plays host to the majority of the city’s florists.

Walking along La Rambla is like that moment of entering the ground floor of a department store. A waft of dense perfume greets the senses and sends them spiralling into a full-flow of memories of Spring days and surprise gifts. And on La Rambla, you are greeted not just by an assault of delicious smells, but buy a host of colours too. Flowers and plants of every shape and size can be found there, and there is a gift for every Norm in need.

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Norms on La Rambla (2016 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

So here we can see the Norms bouncing along La Rambla, enjoying the trickle of the fountain which sits at the avenue’s climax…some Norms even like to do their laundry there, which frankly others feel is one step too far beyond excepted social norms. But be that what it may, one Norm norm is accepted as a fact. Buy a Norm some flowers and you will make him or her very, bouncily, happy.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Inspired by my surroundings: Paseo Mallorca 2

I am on a mission. To capture the beauty that is all around me. Sometimes it feels like an impossible task… the ever changing light and the relentless choice of angles makes my head spin. I feel like Monet rushing between canvases trying to capture haystacks at different times of the day. Yet I plough on, aiming to capture (in however many canvases it takes) the essence of my Palma neighbourhood: the Paseo Mallorca

My second effort in this regard is a painting of the bridge which crosses from Jaume III, Palma’s principle shopping street, stretching over to Santa Catalina, the cool kids left bank-styled area of town. The bridge itself is fairly decorative, albeit that it is somewhat simplified in this interpretation. But what struck me more than the bridge was the sweeping great curve of the white block of flats which sits at the centre of this view. Never a major fan of mass construction, especially in these kind of Mediterranean landscapes, for me there is a real space-age elegance about these 70s style blocks, glowing in the sun against the unchangeably blue skies, especially when contrasted with the soft edges of the many trees below.

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Paseo Mallorca 2 (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

2015: My year in photos (Part 1 – Mallorca)

Ever since I started The Daily Norm I have ended the year with a look back at my year in photos – in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 – and here I go again. Every year I found the exercise not only intensely enjoyable, being able to relive my favourite moments of the last 12 months through some of my best shots, but also extremely rewarding. For in surveying just how much I manage to have done in each year, I consider myself extremely lucky to have seen, smelt, breathed and experienced all I have.

And this year is no exception, for 2015 has been a year of significant change for me, not only because I have been following a completely different career path, but because it is the first complete year I have spent living in a completely different place… the paradise island of Mallorca.

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Franciscan Monastery, Palma

Alfabia pondlife

The almond blossom season

Fishermen paraphernalia, Puerto Andratx

Photos can communicate so much better than any words just quite how beautiful an experience it has been living a year on this Mediterranean island. From the consistent days of winter sunshine, when a glass of wine caught outside by the sea in January felt like I was cheating the seasons, to the incredible pink almond blossom which filled the mountainsides in the Spring. From the endless inspiration which the charming trees of the old town of Palma de Mallorca provided, to those sumptuous days of summer spent on beaches of turquoise waters and powdery white sands.

The monastery of Miramar

One of Mallorca's many windmills

Treasures of the Bellver Castle

Sunshine on New Year's Day

Autumn colours

My year in Mallorca has exposed me to some incredible sights; the rippling craggy Tramuntana, the Cap de Formentor; the Caves of Drach and the awe-inspiring mountain village of Deia, and while I have also seen some wonderful places outside of the island this year, such was the level of beauty seen in Mallorca itself that this year my photographic review had to be split in two. This first part looks back on my year in Mallorca. A true paradise which brought a glimpse of joy every day.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  

My Mallorca Sketchbook: Café at the Calatrava Hotel

In today’s Daily Norm post I continue sharing some of the pages of my flourishing sketchbook, and this time it’s a double whammy. Both were sketched during the balmy days of summer from the same table outside the Calatrava Boutique hotel in Palma de Mallorca. It’s one of my all time favourite spots in Palma… Alongside the sea but exhibiting none of the exhausting heat of the beach thanks to the shade provided by huge twisting ancient trees. Plus it’s just outside the main tourist thoroughfare of Palma meaning that tranquility really can be enjoyed here, in the middle of one of the Mediterranean’s busiest cities. 

Cafe at the Calatrava Hotel (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Cafe at the Calatrava Hotel (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

These sketches capture two aspects of this leafy patio in front of the suitably lavish boutique hotel – both looking beyond the cafe towards the incredible row of knotty trees, and then back towards the buildings of, and adjoining the hotel… glorious because of the intricate lattice work of their windows and the delicately ageing facades. 

Looking towards the Calatrava Hotel, Palma (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Looking towards the Calatrava Hotel, Palma (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown 2000-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included on this website without express and written permission from Nicholas de Lacy-Brown is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Discovering Mallorca: Palma’s secret city

Regular readers of The Daily Norm will remember that I am utterly captivated by the charms of a cemetery. It’s not a morbid fascination – far from it. For me, cemeteries are amongst the most beautiful and thought-provoking places you can visit. Somewhere to escape the noise of life, to reflect on the emotional strength of people’s devotion to their families, and to admire some of the most startling sculptures you are likely to see in a small compact space. I have been to many cemeteries in my time, not least here in Spain where the mix of sunshine strained through shady cypress trees is particularly poetic. But if the cemeteries I have seen here before were works of poetry, the municipal cemetery in Palma de Mallorca was nothing short of a masterpiece of theatre.

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Located close to the outer ring road, the cemetery is not exactly walkable from the centre of town, and as a result, it was not until now, with a hire care at our disposal, that we were able to pass by. But this cemetery was worth the wait. Never in all my life have I ever seen such a vast collection of intricately crafted, magnificently devotional sculpture and stunning architecture in such a compact space. The cemetery is probably the biggest I have ever been in, but it is also amongst the most crowded, and row after row and row after row of tombstones are loaded not with simple flat graves, but elegantly and theatrically decorated with stone crosses, angels and other elaborate sculptures so that the result is a veritable forest of ancient stone.

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And most magnificently of all are the series of lavish little side chapels which line the perimeters of the cemetery. Utterly elaborate, constructed in a number of styles from baroque to classical and even 20th century modernist, this collection of buildings looks like an ancient empire, resembling the kind of spectacle which may have been found when entering a roman forum lined with temples.

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But that was not all. For beneath ground level, a secret staircase led down into what was probably the most spectacular aspect of the whole cemetery – a vast double horseshoe-shaped catacomb itself lined with tombs from floor to ceiling, flooded with light from holes in the ceiling, and slowly sprinkled with dust gently falling in the rays of sunshine. It was like something from Indiana Jones, and with road names engraved in latin we felt like we have been catapulted centuries back to an ancient civilisation.

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It was only when we emerged back into the heat of the Mallorca day, the sounds of the nearby ring-road resounding nearby, that we realised we had just found Palma’s secret city.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Discovering Palma: Boutique Shopping

Of the many characteristics of Palma de Mallorca which make the city such a charming, vivacious and engaging place to discover, one of my favourites has to be its proliferation of privately owned boutique shops. From shops crammed with local produce, to fashion boutiques selling unknown designers, sweet shops full of jewel like offerings and basket weavers with their rafts full of artisan hand-woven products, Palma is a city which promotes the hand made and locally created, as well as supporting local business men and women in setting up their own shops. Unlike the UK, whose high streets have become such a depressing spectacle of widespread commercialisation, with privately owned shops being priced out of the high street to be replaced by the same monotony of big chains which appear in every town and city across the country, Palma’s streets are full of one-off unique boutiques. This makes a stroll through Palma, or a quest for that perfect distinctive gift an enthralling experience – there is so much to choose from in shops each individually different from their neighbour.

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As is so often the case with privately owned boutiques, these shops are a pleasure on the eye, as shopkeepers vie with one another to dress their windows, shop walls, ceilings and floors with the most plentiful and creative offerings. So many of the shops have stood the test of time, and as a result can be found within the original distinctive art nouveau casing created when the shops were first conceived. Take the stunning Forn Fondo pasteleria on the Carrer de la Unio for example: this enticing sweet shop can be found enveloped in a blue and gold decorative modernista shop front which is itself good enough to eat, and straight out of the golden era of late 19th century street scenes. Then there’s the La Pajarita Bomboneria and Charcuteria on the Carrer de Sant Nicolau whose red panelled frontage complete with stripy red and white awnings looks like something straight out of Dickensian London.

Forn Fondo

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La Pajarita

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Asides from the sweets, some of Palma’s most visually enticing boutiques are those selling the local savoury specialities, from sabrossada sausage (which is a little like chorizo but softer), to local goats cheeses and the famous Mallorca salt. These shops are a treat for tourists, who cannot help but gaze in wonder at Aladdin’s caves full of local produce, with sausages of every shape and size hanging from the ceiling, and shelves loaded from floor to ceiling with local wines, olive oils, jams, salts and pickles. You’ll also find a good many ensaïmadas, the spiralled local pastry sold in what look like hat boxes all over town.

Aladdin’s Caves of local produce

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Finally, Palma is evidentially an artistic and creative hub, and asides from the significant collection of galleries, fashion boutqiues and interior design emporiums, you will also find a number of artisan shops where crafts men and women live and work, selling their handmade wares expertly crafted with years of experience behind them. Gordiola glassworks for example is a kaledascopic heaven of multicoloured glass, all blown by hand and made at the site for generations. Then there’s the wonderland of weave that is the Mimbreria Vidal, a father and son basket shop which is one of the last remaining shops on the island to ply this traditional Mallorquin trade, and where basket and weaved items of every shape and size, from chairs to laundry baskets are made to order. Unable to resist the charm, several of their baskets are now being put to very good use in my bathroom.

Gordiola glassworks

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Mimbreria Vidal

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And that is the thing about Palma’s boutique shops. They make you want to buy, to support local trade. For there is nothing nicer than the friendly face and attentive service inherent in a business privately owned. I just hope that, against the trend of towns and cities the world over, these private shops continue to thrive far into the future.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

Miro’s Chocolateria: the C’an Joan de S’Aigo

If it was good enough for Joan Miro, then it is certainly good enough for me… For the C’an Joan de S’Aigo is a café with a venerable history and a list of clientele past and present so long that it can probably count all of Mallorca’s most famous residents among its number, including the great artist Miro himself. Nestled within the maze of nostalgic alleyways which make up the oldest core of Palma’s centre, the C’an Joan de S’Aigo was founded in 1700 and as such is Palma’s oldest eatery. Founded when the cafe’s namesake had the idea of bringing down ice from the Tramuntana mountains and serving it richly flavoured in the earliest form of ice cream, the C’an Joan de S’Aigo is today equally famous for its rich pickings of local pastries and steaming hot chocolate.

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Despite the age of this quaint faded café, the locals of Palma have never allowed it to go out of fashion: When we sampled the café after our dip in the sea last weekend, it came after several failed attempts to visit previously – for each time we have been along, the place has heaved with locals who head to the café at the traditional merienda hour to sample ice cream piled high from small glasses and creamy indulgent hot chocolate. But it was worth the wait. Sat amongst the traditional interiors packed with blue and white ceramics, colourful glass chandeliers, copper kettles, filigree vases and wooden thrones, we feasted greedily on a sampling of the cafe’s local pastries, all of which tasted all the better when coated with a velvety layer of that legendary hot chocolate.

For Dominik, a sweet bun made, surprisingly, of potatoes (coca de patata) was a light and fluffy counter to the liquid silk of chocolate steaming in a cup before him. For me, a richer, creamier ensaïmada – the local specialist pastry which you can find all over town and which tourists buy in their plenty in what resemble giant hat boxes. Made in Mallorca even before the C’an Joan de S’Aigo was founded, the ensaïmada is made from dough which has been repeatedly folded with pork fat – much like puff pastry – and then either served sprinkled with sugar, or filled with other such goodies. And my filling of cold custard oozed and melted as it dipped into the hot chocolate with as much unctuous delight as melted butter on a warm crumpet. 

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Thoroughly disgusted by our self-indulgence, but rather rewarded by our dip into local culture, we swiftly decided that a visit to C’an Joan de S’Aigo must become a weekly tradition. How else can one become integrated into Mallorquin society?

The C’an Joan de S’Aigo café can be found hidden away just off from the church of Santa Eulalia on the Carrer Can Sanc 10. It’s open daily 8am-9pm except Tuesdays.

Move to Mallorca: First days

If I could describe the sensations, thrills and excitement of moving to a new life in the heart of the old town of Palma de Mallorca with an analogy, it would be to compare it with the overwhelming exhilaration of entering a department store at Christmas, full of sparkling temptations, gleaming pleasures, grand architecture and flashing lights across every square centimeter: a treasure trove of excitement so intense that your body quivers with anticipation and shakes with the indecision of not knowing where to explore first. Such has been the irrepressible thrill of moving to Mallorca, to an apartment set within a maze of streets so intensively packed with the charms of Spain and the prettiness characteristic of any historic quarter that we can barely breathe for happiness.

Palma viewed from our apartment

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Not only are we like children around a Christmas tree when it comes to exploring our airy new modernista-style apartment, but look outside the window and the bleak busy grey road view of our previous London home is replaced with a burrow of streets lined with apartment blocks painted in every colour of an artist’s palette, enhanced with ironwork balconies, lamps and other decorative embellishment, and brought to life by the residents who lean from their balconies watching the world go by, hanging their washing out to flap away in the warm autumn breeze, or putting out their little caged birds and fluffy puppies to breathe the optimistic fresh air of the new day. With so much to look at out of our 8 balcony windows, and such a plethora of vantage points to watch the constant day to day buzz of this bustling little quarter of Palma, I am reminded of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, where James Stewart’s character would sit day by day living vicariously through the many lives he could see unfolding amongst the apartments opposite his own.

All the charms of Palma

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But of course far from living vicariously off others, our greatest pleasure has been to leave our new apartment and explore the charmingly charismatic streets of this region and beyond. A mere 48 hours into our new life, we have sampled the local fluffy pastry, ensaimada, over a creamy coffee, riffled through a shop’s worth of traditionally made baskets and weaved furniture, strolled along the golden sandy beach and alongside the popular boat-filled marina of Portixol,  scraped clean a huge pan filled with a moist and richly caramalised seafood paella, gulped down a good glass or three of chilled white wine in the surprisingly hot Autumn sunshine, strolled around huge deserted churches lit by flickering candles as though awaiting our visit, and shopped more than we ought in order to add some local touches to the London interior schemes we are importing to Spain.

…and here’s a few more

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There has been so much to see and do that I could split these mere 48 hours into a panoply of Daily Norm posts. But to do so would be to deny you, the reader, the full impact of a city ripe with a resplendent array of visual treasures, and consequently in posting photos of the first two days, I am bringing you a sampling of many treats we have discovered as we began our new life in Palma de Mallorca last weekend. And what a life it is set to be…

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.