Covering everything from the major news of the week and burning social issues, to expat living and la vida local, EL PAÍS’ team of English-language bloggers offers its opinions, observations and analysis on Spain and beyond.

Majorca’s mountain challenges

Por: | 20 de octubre de 2014

Majorca's mountains, perfect for cycling

You probably know that Mallorca is a big favourite with cyclists, but perhaps you didn’t know that it’s also becoming a destination for charities to raise significant amounts of cash through “Challenges”.  A couple of weeks ago 25 cyclists of varying abilities and sizes, and ages, gathered together and took on some serious mountains over a three day challenge, covering 300km to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Led by Dan Marsh from the cycling concierge company, Marsh Mallows ( and facing climbs of four to six per cent gradients up the Tramuntana Mountains, stretching along the backbone of the island, the adventure certainly gave the visitors a taste of the toughest terrain Majorca has to offer, and some of its fantastic culture. The main group participating came from CAPITA (who are in the business process management and outsourcing solutions business in the UK). They travelled over as a big team and are on target to raise a whopping £50,000 for the famous children’s hospital.

The ride was photographed by Oliver Neilson. Dan Marsh told me about how the event went.

  Dan gives a briefing

“We broke the adventure up into three day stages” Dan told me,  “Firstly we had a “Prologue” which was a 30km ride with a 360m vertical climb including a timed category 3 climb of Coll de sa Creueta mountain (4km, 193m vertical at 5 per cent). The next day we did a flatter stage: 145km with 1,350m vertical climb, but including another category 3 climb of the Ermita Bonay, 3.7km, 187m vertical at 5 per cent. And the last day was the big one, the Tramuntana mountain stage; 140km with 2,400m vertical climb – including the category 3 Coll de Soller mountain (4.9km, 253m vertical at 5.8 per cent) and the timed category 1 Puig Major mountain. Soller to Monnaber tunnel (14.2km, 821m vertical at 5.8 per cent)”. Now, if you are a cyclist living in Majorca then you may have attempted some of these climbs, or even do them every weekend, or alternatively wouldn’t dream of ever, ever trying and think they’re all mad. It must be pretty tough to keep a group of people of mixed ability and fitness together, and indeed frustrating for everyone involved, if one group want to shoot off at top speed and the others can’t keep up. But Dan, has a technique to allow everyone to go at their own pace, “On day one the riders climbed Coll de sa Creueta, this was an exercise to assess their fitness as their recorded times seeded them into 3 groups.  Then each group had two guides, who coached and guided them for the next two days. We work with very experienced and talented guides including John Sowerby owner of BICI Metrics bike fitting in Mallorca & Juan Horrach ex-pro rider for team Katusha.”

You're smiling now....

Day two sounded quite fun, mostly because it was on the flat. I’m not sure that I would cope well, or even have the will to try the steep mountain climbs that they were doing. “Yes, the next stage was our long, flatter stage. In terms of distance and vertical metres climbed, it is similar to Ride London 100. The terrain is undulating, and with a likely head wind for the first part of the day, it was always going to be a challenge! It took them into the heart of Majorca and combined some of the quieter country roads with some of the more popular cycling routes. 

“The day kicked off with a 5km ride along the Bay of Pollensa. Passing through Can Picafort and then inland onto the rolling roads to Petra. Here they tackled the main climb of the day, up to Ermita de Bonay (a monastery built in the early 1600's) at 301m above sea level, the bird’s-eye view from the top allowed them to see the Bay of Pollensa, with the backdrop of the Tramuntana Mountains in the distance. While it is a short 3.5km climb averaging 5 per cent (10 per cent in places), it will gave them a taster of what to expect the following day. The route then passed the villages of Vilafranca, Porreres, Llucmajor and Randa. Then we quickly descended into the town of Montuíri. From there, we headed to the town of Sineu and the afternoon refuel stop at Son Matgi outdoor velodrome. Before they arrived back to the hotel they headed towards Llubi, Buger and then to Pollensa town. The final road is straight and undulating – which is a killer for energy, so they really worked hard on this stage.”

Straight up!

Saturday on the other hand did not sound like much fun at all. But then this is why these guys were sponsored to do it: it’s not supposed to be easy. ”The final stage was all about the mountains. The route took them along the valley floor and through the vineyards of Binisalem and Santa Maria. Then we headed towards the lovely village of Bunyola and into the Tramuntana. The 4.9km of the Coll de Soller going north was a nice loosener before the main event. At the top of the Coll de Soller we stopped for lunch and admired the panoramic views over Palma before the real work began!

“Following 61 hairpin bends and the technical descent into the amphitheatre of Soller, we regrouped before we tackled the longest climb on the island – Puig Major. The 14.2km, which featured in Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins: a Year in Yellow documentary and part of this year’s Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) pro event, was a timed climb.” You can only imagine how hard it was for some of the less fit members of the group to get up that mountain, but they did it, and well done to them all. All in the name of charity and challenge.

The best part of going up is the going back down again, and they definitely enjoyed the 25km descent down to Port Pollensa and a celebratory drink in Tollo’s, where Bradley Wiggins headed following his 2012 victories in the Tour de France and Olympic Games. You can only imagine how sore their legs were the next day! But somehow they managed to hobble back to the airport and back to their lives.

As Mallorca continues to change and develop new offerings for tourism it’s wonderful to hear these sorts of events are not only helping our local businesses grow, but also benefitting good causes around the world. Dan Marsh is also involved in Calobra Fest which by the time of this article being published will have just happened. It’s a time trial up Sa Calobra, a steep and iconic 10km climb. It’s an exciting new event and one that they think will become very popular. Check out


 Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only English language daily paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki. 


The look is one of pity, shame and quizzical uncertainty. I’ve come to know it well.

“But they are not in the Premier?” comes the inevitable question / riposte.

I shake my head. “No…”

But my audience is no longer listening. And I walk off, distraught at the impossibility of explaining my support for a lower league English football team to a Catalan.

Barcelona may well be a footballing city. But supporting any team that isn’t Barça - and at a push Espanyol - in the Ciutat Comtal is an experience akin to Sisyphus pushing his boulder up a hill: a series of futile frustrations, laborious disappointments and general indifference played out on an infinite loop.

The team in question is Norwich City FC, currently residing in the English second tier after a three-year stint in the Premier League. For the football fan in Barcelona, however, they might as well be playing on one of the smaller moons of Jupiter for all the attention they receive.

It was OK when Norwich were in the Premier League: there would be the occasional televised match on Spanish TV and Norwich would pop up from time to time on the news when they were handing a particularly vicious whipping at the hands of Luis Suárez.

(Yes Barça, your new player has, for some unfathomable reason, a whopping grudge against Norwich, last December making Premier League history by scoring a hat trick of hat tricks against the club. I have no idea why Norwich raised his hackles so. But if you could persuade La Liga bosses to let Norwich take part you’ll be guaranteed at least two goal fests a year.)

Admittedly, Norwich would rarely be part of the Catalan football dialogue when they actually won. But I took what I could get and the peak of the Barcelona / Norwich City crossover would see me in a city pub with as many as one other Norwich supporter, cheering on the team in a conveniently timed - i.e. nothing else was on - Premier League encounter.

But in the Championship, the stupidly named English second division, things are different. The 24 teams who battle it out there represent some kind of parallel footballing universe to the Catalans, who may well be aware of the logical possibility of an English second tier but will never experience its drag on their lives.

Maybe I shouldn’t care about such local indifference. The internet means I can follow Norwich’s matches from the comfort of my own bedroom, then drone on about their performance ad infinitum without troubling my front door.

But it is the sheer ignominy of the situation that really gets to me - the disbelieving pity in the eyes of the Barça fans as they try to work out why on earth I wouldn’t give up Norwich in favour of their own Champions League-winning, €100m spending, La Liga-record setting team.

“But you like Barça too, right?”

“Well, they’re OK. I prefer them to Madrid.”

Another look. “You’ll learn,” it says.

At other times it looks like the Catalans are deliberately snubbing Norwich. Both Sport and El Mundo Deportivo have 50-odd pages to fill with sport everyday - predominantly football - covering Barça news of such phenomenal banality it makes we want to go back in time and kill Gutenberg before he invents the printing press. So surely they, between them, could find a lowly paragraph for Norwich’s record signing / new manager / winning streak, among tempting “special” offers of Barça steak knives?

But no. Not a sausage. And I’ve pretty much given up looking.

Even worse is the lack of televised matches. Norwich matches are still, from time to time, on British TV. Those happy Barcelona pubs with Sky subscriptions could theoretically then still show them.

But they don’t. And if you have never experienced the despair of having your team’s all-important, table-topping local derby crowded out of the TV schedules by Stoke versus Hull and Getafe v. Elche then you can only take a rough guess at my pain.

Maybe I should be grateful for small mercies. At least Norwich have never lost to Barça. Manchester United have done so, several times and in several important matches over the past few years and my Manchester United-supporting, Sant Sadurni-dwelling friend is reminded of this by his in laws whenever they meet up on social occasions.

As such, you can understand his undisguised fury when his three-year-old daughter came home singing the Barcelona hymn after being taught it in nursery.

So if it comes down to indifference versus antipathy, I guess I’ll take indifference, sad and solitary though it may be.

You, Barcelona FC, can have your Champion’s League wins and world’s best player. We, Norwich City, have the world’s oldest football song, a celebrity chef owner and the Pride of Anglia title.

And I think you know what’s better.

Pieter Hugo_Kin: Images of a Fractured South Africa

Por: | 09 de octubre de 2014

Thoba Calvin and Tshepo Cameron Sithole-Modisane, Pretoria, 2013 Copia cromogénica, 105 x 139 cm © Pieter Hugo, courtesy Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yossi Milo, New York
Thoba Calvin and Tshepo Cameron Sithole-Modisane, Pretoria, 2013
© Pieter Hugo

South African photojournalist, Pieter Hugo (Cape Town, 1976), winner of the World Press Photo prize for portraits in 2005 and a finalist in 2012's Deutsche Börse prize, has a new series of his work on display at Barcelona's Fundació Foto Colectania until 10th December. Unlike his previous commissioned projects in neighbouring African countries such as Ghana, Botswana and Nigeria, where the award-winning series The Hyena & Other Men (2005) was set, here Hugo 'comes home' to his native South Africa, a place that he calls, 'fractured, schizophrenic'.
    Hugo has explored the relationship between documentary and art in previous work but in this new series makes a more definitive break with photojournalism's rules; its pseudo-objectivity, its emphasis on the hard, fast, visual statement. In taking on a country as vast and complex as his own, one that leads research in the fight against the Ebola virus, yet where many still adhere to the belief that illness is related to witchcraft, Hugo offers no conclusions. Instead, he cites German filmmaker Werner Herzog in his proposal to offer a more genuine 'experiential truth'.
    The word 'kin' evokes family ties, close and distant, historical and emotional. The images on show include members of his family, his wife Tamsyn pregnant with their second child, his parents Lize and Gideon in bed, 'dad with his hangover like every day', Ann Sallies, the woman who worked for his parents and 'who raised me'. There are casual encounters, too, most of whom he 'met in bars' and who agreed to pose for him. Landscapes and still life images also contribute to what at first appears a wholly eclectic display, were it not for Hugo's own presence in them, a distinct 'way of looking' that draws them all together.

Daniel Richards, Milnerton, 2013, Copia cromogénica, 103 x 82 cm © Pieter Hugo, courtesy Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yossi Milo, New York
Daniel Richards, Milnerton, 2013 © Pieter Hugo

As a tall, white South African Hugo reluctantly personifies his Dutch colonial heritage, and despite his easy-going manner he is quickly guarded, as if self-consciously aware that his nationality, appearance and profession combined place him in a position of untenable responsibility.
    Brought up, 'in a household full of artists', Hugo took up photojournalism by default: 'in the apartheid era there were only photographs that spoke about the social and political situation of the country. Yet I realised very quickly that I didn't enjoy this way of working, that of stepping into a state and quickly getting a picture that gave you a sense of context and meaning and filing it that same evening...'
    Kin represents the uncertain conclusion to a slower 'process' that he started eight years before; a time, he says, 'when I was feeling incredibly frustrated and conflicted by the place I lived in. So I thought, let's look at this place, let's look at it hard and really take it on and engage with it.' The result: distinct images that beguile with their harmonic compositions, their painterly vertical or horizontal formats, their earthy colour schemes and almost varnished appearance. Yet come closer, and a sense of conflict is never far beneath the surface. Subjects, though complicit, seem wary, suspicious or even hostile, as if demanding understanding yet offering back only half-truths. Wide empty spaces around them are designed to 'allow the images to breathe', says Hugo, yet they may also seem to press upon them, diminishing or threatening to subsume them.

Green Point Common, Cape Town, 2013 © Pieter Hugo Copia cromogénica, 105 x 135 cm © Pieter Hugo, courtesy Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yossi Milo, New York
Green Point Common, Cape Town, 2013 © Pieter Hugo

Tradition and modernity make uneasy companions. Hints of the contemporary banal: a plastic shopping bag, a frilly bedspread, juxtapose with incongruous tartan suits, evocative of another time, another place, or pristine tribal outfits that seem kitsch in their modern setting. In the landscape, Green Point Common (2013), the branches of a tree are swept violently right with the push of a one-directional wind, as if climatic conditions align with equally powerful historical forces.
    'When I started working as a photographer I was trying to situate myself in the environment that I was in, and 20 years later it's what I'm still doing,' says Hugo, who admits that the sense of resolution that he'd hoped Kin would bring has eluded him. 'I've failed ... I've ended up even more conflicted,' he says. 
    Yet the success of Kin is that it transmits exactly this dilemma, and with extraordinary clarity. Hugo's need to find his place in a society so deeply divided, where people, 'seem to speak a different language'. His awareness that he too contributes to this divide as much as he bridges it, empathising with the woman taken from her own family to raise him yet hiring someone like her to look after his own kids. Kin feels like a reintroduction to South Africa, a country so easily vilified or romanticised. But this time it is one made with the door held open.

Pieter Hugo_Kin_ @ Fundació Foto Colectania, Barcelona until 10th December 2014 
@ Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson, Paris from January 2015
all photos © Pieter Hugo, courtesy Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yossi Milo, Nueva York
For more of Alx Phillips see: 

Carolina López: 'We are still drawn to the irrational, the magical'

Por: | 25 de septiembre de 2014

The more we try to make sense of our world, the more we crave the weird and the wonderful. Metamorphosis - Fantasy Visions in Starewitch, Švankmajer and the Quay Brothers, a new exhibition at Madrid's La Casa Encendida from 2nd October to the end of the year, draws us into the dark imaginations of two individual and one twin set of artists, all of whom work or worked on the fringes of film, animation and art. As its curator, Carolina López Caballero, explains below, the show developed in continual dialogue with its protagonists and 'puppet masters', the artists, Jan Švankmajer (1934) and Timothy and Stephen Quay (1947), and Irina Starewitch, the daughter of stop-motion animation pioneer Ladislas Starewitch (1882-1965). The effect is a deliberately disorientating yet revelatory experience – the kind of show that you go into, but never really come out of.

Carolina Lopez interviewed at the CCCB, March 2014Who are these artists? 

CL: Most of us will recognise something of their work, they are massively influential. Yet they remain obscure, marginal, so protective of their visions that they might spend a decade fighting to find funding. 
Ladislas Starewitch was Polish. He held onto his Polish passport despite moving around and eventually settling in France in the 1920s. He spoke six languages, and you find as many Russian and Polish elements as French ones in his films. He became hugely famous but he never went mainstream. 
Jan Švankmajer is from Prague. He's 100% Czech and his art is inextricably linked with its capital, the 'magical city' of André Breton. He still lives there. 
Timothy and Stephen Quay are American. They studied graphic design at the Philadelphia College of Art, where they came across some amazing posters by Polish artists and became absolutely fascinated by them, by the designs, but also by the worlds they discovered within them, of theatre and art. This was, of course, the pre-Google age. They moved to London and enrolled at the Royal College of Arts. Almost immediately upon their arrival they took a trip to Poland. So while all these artists are from different places they meet in the same place.

Jan Švankmajer, Frame of Conspirators of Pleasure, 1996, Courtesy of Athanor Ltd. Film Production CompanyWhy bring them together in one show?

While often associated with the ‘creative animation’ world, these are all 'artists' in the less categorical sense: they make films, they work with their hands, and they draw on a myriad of literary, cultural and scientific references. I wanted to engage the wider public by exploring these references and also making links between the artists. Also, I think, nowadays we are increasingly drawn to the irrational, the poetic, the magical! And these artists are fascinated by those times when art and science merge, that vein that runs through history, from the Renaissance through the 18th century spirit of discovery, into the 19th century Romantic fascination with feeling and the darkness of human nature, all the way to 20th century symbolism and surrealism. Their desire is to transform, to 'metamorphosise' all these references into something coherent, complete, aesthetic. 

Quay Brothers Domitorium - The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, QBFZ collectionWhat are the big themes of the exhibition?

The Cabinet of Curiosities 
After I went to Prague to suggest the show to him, Švankmajor wrote me this wonderful letter saying that he envisaged it like a huge cabinet of curiosities. He said, 'at museums you learn things, but with a cabinet of curiosities you experience them'. Museums tend to impose a 'rational' order on exhibits by putting the same sort of things together, we wanted to juxtapose different kinds of objects: a Goya print with a shell; a painting with an African mask, inviting imaginative narratives between them. Švankmajer created his own cabinet of curiosities for the show. He brought 150 objects over from Prague that represent some 10% of his own private collection! 

Forests and Fairy Tales 
We start and end with a forest and a fairy tale. At the beginning, the 'simple' fairy tale narrative is introduced by Starewitch and from there the discourse gets increasingly sophisticated, moving into what you might call the ‘anti-fairy tale’, the anti-narrative until the Quay Brothers' installation, which is what they call 'a forest within a forest'. Almost all of Švankmajer's literary references are Czech: Kafka, but also Edgar Allen Poe and (Goethe's) Faust. The Quay Brothers draw on Polish writer, Bruno Schultz, and Robert Walser's novel Jakob von Gunten inspired their film, Institut Benjamenta (1995). There is a line of dialogue at the end that goes, ' I living in a fairy tale?' which brings us back to the beginning of our show.

Ladislas Starewitch at his work table, c. 1923 ©Collection Martin-StarewitchScience and Imagination
All the artists touch on science. Starewitch was an Entomologist yet brought dead insects alive. Švankmajer loved the 'moment' of alchemy, the 'spark' of transformation. The Quays are fascinated by anatomy and museums of medicine, and also disease - defying the push for perfection. They've made three 'documentaries' on the theme, two of which are on display. Then, rather than bring anatomical pieces all the way from the Mütter Museum (College of Physicians) in Philadelphia, we decided to find pieces that we thought the Quays would like from here. We worked with the Catalan Museum of the History of Medicine where we found that beautiful 'Venus' with the necklace, which they loved!

Art and the Unknown
The Quays were really into the 'Monsù Desiderio' painting (Les Enfers, 1622) they had a postcard of it and I asked them if they'd like the original and they said, 'Wow, yes!' So we got it from Besançon (Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'Archéologie). When Jan saw it he started gesticulating like mad, we got the translator and he said 'Thank you! Thank you!' it turned out to be one of his favourite paintings and he'd never actually seen it in real life before! We also incorporate Spanish works previously unknown to the artists: the Goya's, yes, but also the photographs of Joaquim Pla Janini and Josep Massana.

Quay Brothers, frame of Street of Crocodiles, 1986 ©Koninck Studios LtdWhat kind of experience is this for a visitor?

These artists are used to working on and in their own uncontaminated world; their vision is intimate, unique, a 'world on a table top', as the Quays put it. We try to recreate this while offering a visitor enough clues to orientate her or himself. So the show is linear in that we introduce each artist in turn but labyrinthine in that its structure is invisible. We filmed interviews of the artists in their studios to draw the visitor into their world, and while we include captions on exhibits with further information, we keep them small and out of the way. We also wanted go beyond La Casa Encendida itself, so we got in touch with other museums in Madrid, the collections of which fall within the universe of these artists. We're working with Museo Lázaro Galdiano, which also has an amazing collection, the Museo del Romanticismo (Museum of Romanticism) and the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (Museum of Natural Sciences) – all of them are really excited to be involved.


Metamorphosis - Fantasy Visions in Starewitch, Švankmajer and the Quay Brothers
La Casa Encendida, Madrid - 2nd October 2014 until 11th January 2015
Read more by Alx Phillips:

What goes around comes around

Por: | 17 de septiembre de 2014


Some might say that Richard Krugel is crazy; others may say he is brave. I think he must be a bit of both to even think of attempting to swim (yes, swim) around the 360 kilometre long coastline of Majorca, but that is exactly what he is intending to do this month to raise money for The Allen Graham Charity for Kidz. This swim, which has never been done before, will be taken in an anti-clockwise direction, starting and finishing in Portixol.

Richard will be traveling from South Africa early next week to prepare and intends to start the swim on September 20th. It will be the first time he has been in Majorca after leaving a decade ago.  “I was working in the Super Yacht Industry in Majorca when on 4th July 2003 I got the news that my brother, Ewald, had died back home in a motor car accident.  I couldn’t get a flight back to South Africa immediately so friends of mine took me to a quiet beach where I could cry, we drank a bottle of cognac, and I got the idea to dedicate a swim around the island to the memory of my brother.

“After my brother passed away I stayed with my parents for a month, I returned to Majorca after the funeral, but somehow it was never the same again, a piece of me had been taken away. In 2004 I returned to South Africa, I have been here ever since. The idea had always lingered in the back of my mind that I would return. I now work as a trader in the Futures Market: it’s difficult, but I love it, I don’t see it as a job. The idea of the swim remained a dream for me, until I heard of some other friends who had done a swim in Africa of a similar distance, this rekindled my idea and I started to train.


“I’ve now been preparing for the past 3 years, lost weight, got a coach who helped me not to burn out, and got involved with Rosemary and Joanne from The Allen Graham Charity: they’ve been helping me to organise all of the paperwork and permissions for the swim. The thing which will really motivate me to keep swimming will be raising money for this charity; I really hope everyone will sponsor me.”

Richard is in a strict training routine, swimming for between three and six hours a day, six days a week. “If I had been doing another sort of job I wouldn´t have been able to train the way I have, the US markets open at 3.30pm so that leaves me the whole of the morning to swim and spend time with my children and my wife.”

“What do I think about when I am swimming? I just shut my mind off, the first two kilometres are the most difficult, once you are in a rhythm your arms go numb and you just keep going. It is really important to visualise what it will be like, what the start will be like, and visualise the end when you get out of the water. You can get into a meditative state, that makes it easier. The more tired you get, the longer it takes to get into that zone. Apparently I will be a zombie for the first seven days and then I will get better according to my friends who did the Madagascar to Mozambique swim. They say I will sleep a lot and eat a lot. I’ve been doing feeding practice in the water as I am not allowed to touch the boat during the stages, if I did so I would be disqualified. I will be taking energy smoothies, and supplements, and I have been getting B12 injections as training this hard really lowers your immune system.”


“It’s called Mallorca 360 because of the distance in kilometres that I will have swum by the end of the challenge. I’m aiming at covering 20 kilometres every day with the intention of completing the swim in eighteen days, weather permitting. But rather than aim at distance I am swimming in blocks of time. I decided to come over in September because the sea temperature and weather is good for swimming at this time of year. Instead of saying how many kilometres I will aim to complete in each stage I will be doing it in blocks of time. Three hours, then two and then finally a swim of one hour. Three hours of swimming is quite a heavy strain on the body and the mind. I don’t want to swim during the dark; I really need to have sunlight, to have daylight. That’s the plan at least.

“I will be trying to swim from a beach towards another beach each day but there are a few places on the island where it won’t be possible to get to a beach at the end of the day so I will have to get on to the boat, take a GPS location reading and then start from that same point the next day. The open water swimming association have categorised this as a “stage swim”. For it to be recognised as a record you need to swim every day even if the weather is bad so I have to get into the water every day from the day I begin.

“I’m really looking for people to participate in this with me; I am hoping for people with Stand Up Paddle boards and Kayaks who can travel beside me, it will help to make me more visible to other vessels and give me much needed support: both physical and moral. I have also have a support boat which is sponsored by an old boss of mine; we’re going to have a traditional Majorcan Llaut which moves slowly. And I will also have a land based support crew who will be in communication with radios to bring me my supplies for my rest periods.

“I am quite nervous. The magnitude of this has begun to hit home now. But I’m excited as well. My head’s there. If I can complete this it will be one of the three swims I want to do. I want to swim across the English Channel and swim across False Bay in Cape Town, which is like the English Channel, just with 100% more sharks.”

To contact Richard visit or

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only English language daily paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki. 

Authors (Bloggers)

Jessica Jones. Hailing from the north east of England, Stockton-on-Tees native Jessica has had a passion for all things Hispanic from an early age. She has lived in and written about France, Chile, Spain and Germany and has been contributing to the Trans-Iberian blog since 2012, when she moved to Madrid after graduating from Durham University.@jessicajones590

Joseph Walker. A graduate of Leeds University, Joseph is a sports journalist based in Madrid, and has written on and covered a wide range of events, from the Champions League to Gibraltar’s first ever UEFA match and Spain’s national rugby team. He writes columns for several websites and will pen his thoughts on the latest goings on in sports-obsessed Spain. You can find him on @joe_in_espana

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Jeff Wiseman is an experienced journalist and comedy writer. He was formerly editor of ‘InMadrid’, a monthly English-language newspaper in the Spanish capital, and has contributed scripts and sketches for radio and television in the UK. Published his first book, ‘Shawley Nott: Comic Tales from England’s Strangest Village’, in 2013.

Billy Ehrenberg is an Journalism MA student at City University in London. He lived in Spain for three years, in Granada, Madrid and A Coruña, translating and teaching English. He has written for The Times, The Western Morning News and The Plymouth Herald in the UK and has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2013. He enjoys telling stories with numbers and infographics, data visualisations and general statistical tomfoolery. He tweets from @billyehrenberg

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisf3757

Eloise Horsfield is a writer and translator currently based in Seville. Her work has featured in various UK nationals including the Daily Telegraph and The Sun. Originally from London, Eloise cut her journalistic teeth at the Olive Press, an expat newspaper on the Costa del Sol. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @EloiseHorsfield

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