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It’s that time of year when Mallorca residents find themselves extremely popular with people they haven’t heard from all year. The UK school summer holidays are upon us, and so are hordes of visitors.

Even Casa McLeod is preparing for VIPs this week: we’re not all that popular as a holiday destination given the ‘unique fixer upper opportunity’ status of our house, and our inability to stay in contact with our friends in the UK, so this is quite an unusual situation. My friend, Deborah, and her two children are coming to stay for a week and my family is on red alert. We have all been practising washing things up AND putting them away, not walking around in just our pants (well, it is hot now) and putting dirty clothes into the washing basket. It’s all looking good. I just hope we can keep it up for their entire stay.  I haven’t seen her in 17 years you see, and I want to have a wonderful time catching up with a very important girlfriend from way back when without worrying about my family’s lazy housekeeping techniques.  I’m not sure that should overly concern me, as if I remember rightly she was even more of a sloven than I was when we lived together many moons ago.

Benjamin Franklin said ‘Visitors are like fish, they should go off after three days’, and it’s certainly true that extended visits can stretch friendships to the limit. But some of us don’t have that option, I’m thinking about those family visits. You love them, but living cheek by jowl tends to expose tensions and different opinions on lifestyle that aren’t a problem when you are far apart from each other. It’s a delicate subject, and a sensible approach in my opinion is always to plan for some ‘alone time’ during the visit to decompress rather than let a brewing row escalate into something you can’t undo. Easier said than done though, I know well enough.

Cleverly my husband and I have managed to have our rows before our visitors arrive: in our efforts to prepare for them we have been attempting a few DIY activities. The by-products of some new shelving, an outside plug socket and a new garden bench were a contused middle toe, a big hole through the top of the washing machine and an extended grumpy fit on the hottest day so far this summer. It wasn’t pretty, but the shelves look good.

So now all that is left to do is do a ‘big shop’ before one of my oldest friends arrives, fish isn’t on the menu.

(first published 3 August 2010)



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