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Saturday April 26, 2014

Simple pleasures are still what matter in Mallorca

Whenever friends come to stay in my rural valley it is often the simplest of pleasures that fill them with glee. An international banker once visited and spent hours pacing about the orchards, returning – with the excitement of a small boy – to the kitchen clutching a trug brimming with discarded lemons. To his chagrin I gently explained that the majority of those that fell to the earth were rotten inside hence why we didn’t use them. And then there was the svelte London fashion designer that fell in love with home produced Majorcan crisps and salted almonds and whom we found stowing away countless packets in her suitcase. Other friends have delighted in the local fiestas, their eyes on stalks during the Moors and Christians mock battle that takes place in Soller in May or the wild antics of the devils at the Night of Fire in August.

Despite living here for more than a decade I never tire of the authentic aspects of Majorcan life that make the day more meaningful and at times like Easter, that feeling intensifies. During this festive season Soller has welcomed many holidaymakers of all nationalities and so our market has run on consecutive days attracting local artisans island wide. For the first time I too played stall holder with my family for a few days, raising money for charity Operation Raleigh before my son sets off on one of its expeditions this summer. It turned out to be enormous fun and we spent the time chatting with locals, expat friends and well wishers and the hours rushed by.

Aside from raising a substantial sum for the charity, one of the best aspects of the exercise was interacting with talented local artisans such as brilliant young Majorcan illustrator, Beatrix Della Mirandola Alighieri, Soller sculptor Toful Colom, and the likes of ceramicist Caty Colom and jewellery designer Carlos Tellechea. In the course of a day I learnt how long it took to make a beaded bracelet, the intricacies of glass blowing, the rigours of painting large wrought iron sculptures, the making of ceramic shells and plates and from Beatrix, traditional fairly tales and legends of the island that feature in her illustrations.

In the evening we set off for the mountain village of Fornalutx where good expat friends Kenny Koh and Gabrielle Beaumont were launching Muxiang, an Asian fusion takeaway, which proved such a huge draw that the tiny kitchen could hardly cope with orders. With waiting times of up to an hour or more, a party spirit quickly developed with hordes of locals and resident expats enjoying complimentary wine and beers while catching up on village gossip.

And yesterday in Deia village locals and expats gathered at the home of well known British resident Lynne Franks who threw a birthday party in her gardens overlooking the azure sea. Unlike the typical soiree one might find back in the UK, there were poetry readings and impromptu musical performances that rather nostalgically reminded me of childhood parties when family and friends would each do a turn on the piano, sing or perform a comic or theatrical sketch.

It’s at times like Easter, laden with village parades, markets and simple and unplanned celebrations shared witht friends that remind me why I first felt inspired to live here and why I really can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

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