Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Minorca Regiment

The Minorca Regiment was raised in 1798 by Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Stuart from German-speaking prisoners of war of Swiss regiments, formerly in Spanish service, when Minorca was under British control on December 12th. 1798. 

François Théodore Rochard (French, 1798-1858)
An Officer of the 96th Regiment of Foot, wearing double-breasted red coatee
 with gold epaulettes and collar, white cuffs, black breeches, crimson sash tied 
at his waist, white cross belt, the belt plate bearing 96, and 
a gilt-handled sword on his left hip

The regiment embarked to Gibraltar en 1800 and in 1801 took part in the expedition to Egypt to dislodge a French army of occupation. During the Battle of Alexandria, French cavalry charged the British infantry and were about to break through the lines, such was the ferocity of their charge, but the Minorca Regiment advanced in support and launched volley after volley into the mass of cavalry with devastating effect.

The regiment embarked for Portugal in spring 1808 for service in the Peninsula War. It saw action at the Battle of Vimeiro in August 1808, the Batalla de Talavera in July 1809 and the Battle of Bussaco in September 1810.It also fought at the First Siege of Badajoz In February 1811 and the Battle of Albuera in May 1811 before sailing for home in October 1811.

 The regiment was dispatched to Canada in May 1814 and took part in the Siege of Fort Erie in August 1814 before arriving back home in July 1815. It was renumbered as the 96th (Queen's Own Germans) Regiment of Foot in February 1816 and was disbanded at Limerick in Ireland in December 1818

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Common Crane. Occasional visitor at Es Grau.

It could be said that today winter has arrived with all its severity to Menorca. Rain and cold winds have hit the island since last night.

The Common Crane is not a bird that is seen every year in Menorca, but this morning there was in the Albufera de Es Grau a group of specimens enjoyng the swampy meadows.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

walking off the beaten tracks

Still very good weather, which invites to do long strolls.

Ses Coves Noves. A farm which appears already listed in an old 1722 British map of Menorca. So the house can be over 300 years.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Bindweed. "Corritjola Borda"

Hedge bindweed or bellbind (Calystegia sepium) with its pure white trumpet flowers is a familiar sight, choking plants in borders and twining around any plant shoot or cane.

According to an old Menorcan superstition if seeds of this plant are placed under the pillow we can have telltale dreams.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Hort d'en Biali

Still beautiful weather althought is already the end of October.

Hort d'en Biali farmhouse.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

End of Summer storms

 Vortex seen just off Mahon Harbour, yesterday.

Just a few hours later

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The 'Secret' in Mahon harbour

Like many other millionaires, the Walton (owners of the supermarket empire Wal-mart) have visited with their superyacht the port of Mahon.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Purple Swamphen

Purple Swamphen, Porphyrio porphyrio, also known as Sultana Bird, is a rare bird breading in Menorca in the last years with its large feet, bright plumage and red bill and frontal shield is easily recognisable in its native range.

 Photographer: Barbara Salva.

Romans kept purple swamphens as decorative birds at large villas and expensive houses. They were regarded as noble birds and were among the few birds that Romans did not eat. A purple swamphen is depicted at the bottom of the famous garden fresco from Pompeii.

Plinii the Elder already (AD 23 – AD 79), mentioned in his work Naturalis Historia that either Majorca and Menorca provided the Romans with those birds.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Stone carved alquerque board.

Alquerque is known to date back at least as far as 1400BC, since boards have been found cut into the roofing slabs of the temple at Kurna in Egypt. A game called Quirkat is mentioned in an Arabic work of the 10th Century AD. 
The earliest set of rules is found in the 'Libro de Acedrex, Dados e Tablas', a magnificently illuminated manuscript compiled between 1251 and 1282 by order of the King of Leon and Castile, Alfonso X. The game's Spanish name, derived from 'El quirkat', was alquerque.
This stone carved alquerque board is located in Toraixer prehistoric site, in Es Castell.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Wild flowers in May

Cistus salviifolius
Hippocrepis balearica

Ferula communis
Vicia benghalensis
Gladiolus illyricus
Anacamptis pyramidalis

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sanitja and Malva Sylvestris.

The Sanitja port or Sanisera is a natural port located next to the old roman town Sansiera. The port is in the Caballeria cape and it has an approximately lenght of 800 meters and very little depth which represent a perfect shelter against Tramuntana wind for boats.

The port isn’t very exploited and you can barely see few little wooden boats during high season. The entrance to the port used to be very protected by the Sanitja Tower, a british Tower of Defense built of stone and mortar in 1801. The inside of the tower can’t be visited because over time, it has deteriorated significantly and it’s almost demolished.

The scientific name, Malva sylvestris, is just as lovely as this flowering plant in the Malva genus, and is more popularly known as high mallow or common mallow. This plant is often found in fields and hedgerows and has a striking purple flower. It is native to western Europe, but has spread to portions of the Mediterranean and northern Africa, and has been imported to much of the English-speaking world. 

 The flowers and leaves of this unique herb are used for medicinal purposes, particularly in topical applications as a pain reliever.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ornithogalum Arabicum

or Llágrimes de Sant Pere. 'Sant Peter's tears' is how we call this plant in Menorca.

In full flower, close to Algendar, today.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Holly Week in Menorca. When the islanders express their devotion.

Although I am not a particularly religious person, I can not ignore the feeling of huge hurt and compassion shown in the processions of Holy Week in any town in Spain.

In Menorca, many people take part in the processions, either as Nazarenes, wearing their long tunics and hidden faces, or as part of the brotherhoods of centurions (representing the Roman soldiers who executed Jesus), or as components of the bands of drums and sacred music that accompanies them. 

 Our Lady of Solitude is one of the best-known and most widely-followed images in the town. 

The large group of brotherhoods, with their images, is really overwhelming.

All the pictures today, by Javier Coll.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Teatre Principal in Mahon.

Take your seat as the action begins and get transported to 17th-century Scotland and let the talented Orchestra Simfónica de Les Illes Balears and the Royal Opera de Valonia (Liegge) take you on an exhilarating, high-drama flight of murder and madness. From secret rendezvous between lovers and tragic duels at dawn to the chilling bel canto notes of the unhinged bride in Lucia's aria "Il dolce suono," this tale of star-crossed lovers unfolds entrancingly over three captivating acts.

Friday June 2nd at 9 PM and Sunday June 4th at 8 PM

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Binifaell Vell

Binifaell vell is the name of a farm that has existed for hundreds of years near Sant Climent. According to the inventory of archaeological sites in Menorca, there are the ruins of a Talayot of considerable size in their lands, so this morning I took advantage of the day to get there.

I have not been able to find the talayot. Although ancient ceramic remains are seen in different places and even a 'moló', which is a prehistoric hand mill, I have had to settle for photographing the old farm building and the flower of chicory.

Common chicory, Cichorium intybus is a perennial herbaceous plant of the dandelion family Asteraceae usually with bright blue flowers. It lives as a wild plant on roadsides in its native Europe, and is now common in North America, China, and Australia, where it has become widely naturalized.

The chicory plant is one of the earliest cited in recorded literature. Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: "Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae" ("As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance"). It is not only an edible plant as it has also traditional medicinal uses.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spooky weather

Several tornadoes lashed last Saturday the west coast of the island and Cala Galdana. Fortunately there were no injured people but many trees plucked and small boats sunk

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Orchids blooming in the Spring.

Anacamptis pyramidalis is practically present on the whole island. At the beginning of summer, it often makes large colonies in meadows.

Its red-violet spike, conical at blooming, is quite distinctive. Flowers are numerous, close to each other showing a three-lobed lip and bearing some small lamellum-shaped excrescences at base. These lamellae are useful in guiding the proboscis of pollinating butterflies. 

According to the wikipedia this orchid is especially common on the Isle of Wight  and was designated the county plant in 2008. In Menorca is quite common too.

The dried and ground tuber gives a fine white powder, called salep. This is a very nutritious sweet starchlike substance. It is used in drinks, cereals and in making bread. It is also used medicinally in diets for children and convalescents.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cattle egret in the wet meadows at 'Sa Marjal'

The cattle egret is a popular bird with cattle herds for its well known role as a biocontroller of cattle parasites like flies and ticks. 

The presence of this bird in Menorca has gone from being sparsely wintering to abundant and sedentary in the last years. It can be seen in the newly plowed fields and accompanying the herds of cattle grazing in the meadows.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Es Fus de Sa Geganta

This Menhir, or standing stone, is very close to the prehistoric settelment of 'Torralba d'en Salort'. I have no doubt that it is in one way or another linked to it, althought  menhirs are not frequent among the works of the Talayotic culture of the primitive inhabitants of Menorca.

Its popular name 'Es Fus de Sa Geganta' means the Spindle of the Giantess and refers to one of the many legends that are told about it.

Another one of those legends speaks of a man of colossal dimensions that lived in the times in which the natives constructed the megalithic Taulas and Talayots that so much abound in Menorca. The inhabitants of the village worshiped him for his strength and ability to work and that admiration made him vain and arrogant.

The Gods, offended by this vanity, buried him beneath the earth and only left him a finger outside, pointing to the sky, pointing to the Gods who do not forgive that humans, however powerful they may be, forget that they are just that: humans.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mussuptá de Sa Talaia

One of the nine farms that have that name that has an unmistakable Arabic phonetic root and that, therefore, before the Spanish reconquest of the island, that is to say, more than 700 years ago, there was already in this area an extensive farm named Mussuptá.

It seems that winter is coming to its end and some changes are already perceived.