Una Gran Sorpresa

A few days ago, a large padded envelope from Spain dropped importantly onto our doormat. It contained a big surprise - the pictured book above - a celebration of 20 years of s'Albufera, a Parc Natural (bigger in importance than a nature reserve, but smaller than a national park) in Mallorca. The reason why I'd been sent it? To thank me for the time I'd spent out there researching aquatic invertebrate populations. My name's in the book (as an investigacio and principal collaborador del Parc, doesn't that sound grand?), as are loads of stunning photographs like the one below. It sums up the memories I have of the place: the picture is of Ses Salinas, a now disused salt pan complex where salt was dried for use in cooking. Now it's one of the main feeding grounds for all kinds of birds (s'Albufera is a RAMSAR designated wetland), both resident and migratory, and it's also where two of my invertebrate sampling sites are located.

Photo copyright: Miquel Angel Dora

I haven't been back to the project since 2000 (I went 2-3 times a year from 1994) as one of the aims of my study was to ensure someone continued with it locally, instead of me waltzing in from England from time to time. On going through the pages of the book, I realised how big a place s'Albufera still has in my heart. As well as sumptuous photographs of the Parc and its wildlife, there's plenty of the staff too - such as Biel, Pilar, Pere, Margalida and Xisco - thus it makes me feel like I've found an old treasured family album in the attic rather than receiving a book. This feeling was enhanced when I opened the accompanying letter from Biel: it began - Apreciada (= valued, fond) - English is often considered to be the richest of languages, but there's nothing like Spanish for setting the tone of a whole letter by the choice of the opening word. I'm so touched by this gesture.

Now I need to press my half forgotten Spanish into service to write a suitable thank you - and I want to book a flight to revisit one of my favourite places in the whole wide world. I also need to find a way of converting my slides into digital format, so I can show you more of this wonderful area.


  1. Fascinating. I'd love to go back to Mallorca - it was such a very different place from what I expected (or even feared, to be honest).

  2. What a great blast from the past this must be for you. No good deed goes unpunished and you have received your just reward.;-) Have fun browsing, if that pic is anything to go by, that book must be an utter delight.

  3. Hi VP, what a wonderful gift to drop on your doormat. This gives us more insight into your real life too, for those of us who only know you from garden blogging. Hope you can get the slides into a format to share with us, I know Spain is a most beautiful place.

  4. That looks like a fabulous book, just going by the very classy front cover and the one photo you shared. Wow, to be a part of something like that must be wonderful. Please do get those slides up on the computer.

  5. I have seen gadgets that allow you to feed negatives and slides into them, and they store the images on an SD card, that can then be used much as any other digital image can. When I remember the brand name ( it alludes me) I'll drop you an email with the details.

    Looks a wonderfully interesting project though. Lucky you!

  6. What a lovely surprise and fabulous photo. I also have good memories of Mallorca although we've only been to the quieter bits.

  7. What a wonderful and obviously well deserved gift.

  8. This must have been wonderful for you! You did a great job overthereThanks for your visit to my post about the concentration camps. I'll answer your comment on my blog. That's where it belongs.

  9. EB - It always surprises me how quickly you can get off the tourist track and find a very different place

    Yolanda - Thanks, the book is absolutely gorgeous

    Frances - I'm considering using a transfer service. Much quicker and probably much better than my DIY efforts

    Carrie - I will be, don't you worry!

    Zoe - I have one of those gadgets and it made me want to tear my hair out! Whether I have the one that does the job properly is a different matter.

    Arabella - you can't get much quieter than s'Albufera!

    HM - Thank you.

    Reader Wil - thank you and thanks so much for your post about your WWII experiences in Java - it was most moving.


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