Bay Watch

At 8.30 this morning, as I swim out across the millpond still surface of water that might actually be warmer than my bath, there’s a song rattling around my brain. It goes something along the lines of

‘It was thirty years ago today…

…dum di da…

That I first came to Pollenca Bay…’

Now I’ve got to be honest and admit that I can’t be precisely sure that it was thirty years ago to the day that I first came to this island. Thirty years is rather a long time. And some of us don’t have the memory they used to! But it must have been pretty close. Because the first time I came to Puerto Pollenca I was pregnant with my son. And it was September. And he’s going to be thirty in December! (How it manages to be possible that I’ve got a son who is going to be thirty is a whole other question? But we won’t go into that one here!)

So as I was saying… It was thirty years ago that I first came here. My mum and dad were renting a one bedroom apartment behind the Ila d’Or and I came and slept on the sofa-bed for a few days. We did pretty much the same sort of thing we still do today. Wandered into town along a Pine Walk that looked not hugely different to how it does now. Could it have been narrower? My memory says it was. I do know that the path was of beaten earth, with here and there the roots of the pine trees twisting up through the surface. There were certainly no sunbeds or umbrellas on the beach; the villas along the sea front were not so smartly dressed as they are now. Were all the apartment blocks there? Most of them I think.

I do remember that thirty years ago there were boats moored in much closer to the shore, so that when we swam we had to negotiate our way between them. Was the water quite so clear and sparkling in those days? I’m telling myself it’s cleaner now than it used to be. Not all change is unwelcome!

Sis Pins and Miramar – definitely both there; been there a lot longer then I have. Corb Mari was called the Bec Fi – in those days my dad’s favourite restaurant. We used to go to La Lonja for dinner, but the jetty was wooden and we sat at tables by the water’s edge and threw bread to the fish. On the way home after dinner we often stopped at Katy’s Bar (now a private house just after you get to Little Italy) for a late night lamumba. We ate lunch at the Ila d’Or – beaten earth under the pines, plastic chairs and tables, and the bar was built of wood with a straw roof rather like the swanky new beach umbrellas that have appeared on the beaches this year. The food in those days was simple: squid, sardines, tortilla. But the white painted hotel was as quietly elegant as ever and the view from the bar at sunset was – as it still is today – impossible to beat.

So there have been a few changes. Which in thirty years is inevitable. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is the way that the water of Pollenca Bay has stayed blue and beautiful and better than anywhere else in the world.

I wish I could show you some pictures of what it used to look like. Unfortunately back then I was more interested in taking pictures of my family than the view. But for those that are interested here are a selection of more recent pictures taken at various times of the day from various locations around the bay.

 

And if anyone has any old photos or memories from those far off days I’d love to hear about them.

 

 

 

 

Happiness is….

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking. As you do. When you’re away for a month. With lots of time to sit around and do that kind of thing.

And one of the things I’ve been thinking about is the definition of happiness. And I’ve come to the conclusion that for me happiness is when I’m living in the moment, when the moment is where I want to be, and when there is absolutely nothing about the moment that I would change.

And I know what I’m talking about. Because out here in Puerto Pollenca those moments are blessedly frequent.

Like every morning. Because every morning I get up. And the sun is shining. And I put on my swimming costume. Wrap myself up in a towel. Leave the house. Walk the couple of hundred yards to my favourite view in the world.

First view of the bay
First view of the bay

I kick off my shoes, drop my towel on the jetty. Say good morning to the ‘the bird that isn’t a heron’ that always stands at the end of the jetty at this time of day. And walk into water that is translucent and gleaming and body temperature warm.

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This isn’t swimming, this is a daily baptism. I breaststroke my way out to the boats. Tread water, look back at the view of Pine Walk from the sea. The up and down roofs of the villas and apartment buildings, pink and cream and white and yellow, clustered along the water’s edge, shaded by the pine trees.

I swim back to shore, slide sandy feet into flip flops, pick up towel and head back to house for breakfast.

Happiness is….

Spot the difference….

So I’m on holiday in Puerto Pollenca. And I’m doing the things I always do when I’m on holiday in Puerto Pollenca, like swimming in the crystal clear waters of the bay,

Pollenca Bay
Pollenca Bay

wandering along Pine Walk to the Illa D’Or,

Pine Walk
Pine Walk

soaking up a bit of sun, trying not to eat and drink too much so that I don’t come home the size of a house. And it’s all pretty much how it usually is, which is pretty much perfect.

Except for something’s different. And the something that is different is that when I’m sitting in the sun reading one of the books I’ve brought out with me, and beside me other people are sitting in the sun reading one of the books they’ve brought out with them, some of them are reading…. MY BOOK. That’s the book written by me.

I cannot begin to tell you how extraordinary that feels. Extraordinary and unanticipated and…. kind of amazing. Because they seem to be enjoying it. And I get to have a lovely time talking about the characters and the places and the plot. Which I love doing, because I love the characters and the places and the plot. Because the characters feel like family to me, and we all love to talk about our family, don’t we?

So here is Sue. And she’s reading The Greenyards Legacy.

photo copy

And if you’re interested, (which of course you are, aren’t you?) you can find out what she thought about it by clicking here.

Exciting, huh?

Let them eat cake….

You know that proverb ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it’? Well here’s a question…. who says?

And another question…. why not?

I mean for crying out loud, you can’t get away from cakes at the moment, whether it’s baking them, eating them, having them, trying to stay away from them. And I bet you a tray of chocolate butterfly cakes with butter cream icing that with all the cake making going on at the moment there are plenty of people out there who are having and eating at the same time. No matter who says you can’t….

And you know something….. I reckon I’m one of them.

I came to this decision a couple of nights ago as I sat in a short sleeved shirt at 7.30 in the evening, guzzling a vast gin and tonic, with chilled out music wafting through the airwaves around me, looking out across the millpond water of Pollenca Bay. Pollenca Bay EveningSo Graham and I turn to each and grin and say ‘how lucky are we?’ And that’s when we have the ‘cake and eat it’ discussion. Cos someone has said to him that his trouble is that he wants to ‘have his cake and eat it.’ And after giving this a great deal of thought he has decided that his reaction is…. yeah, too damn right, you bet I do!

And this week we reckon we got it just about right.

We weren’t supposed to be there. I was meant to be hard at work, nose to the grindstone, garden designing my butt off. He was meant to be hard at work, nose to the grindstone, doing whatever it is he does when he isn’t having a wonderful time with me. But thanks to me putting my course on hold and him deciding that there is more to life than playing it safe, we booked last minute flights and went out to shut the house up for the winter.

Except for it was still summer out there. The weather forgot to change and we had blue skies and temperatures in the eighties. So you see what I mean – cake, have, eat. Simples.

So Pollenca this week was chocolate and coffee and carrot – all my favourite cakes rolled into one. Some had pink icing….

Pine Walk Pink
Pine Walk Pink

IMG_1493IMG_1501Some had red….IMG_1491

Some orange….

IMG_1516 Some even had blue…. IMG_1497There were multi coloured cakes….IMG_1510 And cakes with no icing at all….

Pollarding in Pollenca!
Pollarding in Pollenca!

And I’m going to leave you with this image. Spotted yesterday as we walked along Pine Walk beside the water’s edge. You can’t see them all but there were actually three dogs in the boat with this rather gorgeous girl.IMG_1494Who knows where the four of them were going….IMG_1495But I thought you would like to share them with me. Because they’re fab. And when things are as fab as this, having and eating at the same time are…. well it’s obvious isn’t it…. they’re a piece of cake.

Where would you be?

You know those places…. there aren’t many of them…. The places that are top of the list when somebody says to you where would you rather be? Well where I’d rather be is wandering along Pine Walk in Puerto Pollenca.

And when I find myself somewhere I wouldn’t rather be. Like stuck on the M25 in a traffic jam. Or wide awake in the middle of the night. Then I take myself on an imaginary walk.

I open the front door of my house and step out into bright sunlight. Past the red hibiscus by the side of the path, out through the gate, and I turn left and walk between whitewashed apartment buildings. Wave at Tony as I pass the little supermarket, that sells everything from lilos to local wine, cross the road and take the turning that leads down towards the Ila d’Or hotel.

But at the end I don’t turn left towards the hotel. Instead I turn right, taking the path that runs behind the old stone villa with the shady garden of pine and palm trees.

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Only a matter of fifteen metres and I turn left again. And no matter how many times I do this walk, (which is a lot), I always have to stop. Because here, framed by the wall to the left of me and the stone building on my right, is the best view in the world. The blue water of Pollenca Bay, stretching out in front of me like it knew I was coming and has been waiting for me.

First view of the bay
First view of the bay

Pine Walk. Half a mile of pathway that meanders under the ancient pine trees, along the edge of the bay, into the centre of the port of Pollenca. I walk by the edge of water so clear I can see fish darting away from my shadow. Past the graceful old villas owned by the Spanish families who can be seen sitting out on warm nights, gossiping and laughing together, their children playing by the edge of the sea.

In recent years some of the villas have been crumbling, the paintwork on the wooden shutters cracked and fading, their balconies propped up by acros. But the past couple of years have seen a transformation – those villas that have been left to decay have had a facelift. They’ve been restored to utter gorgeousness.

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When the Spanish do style they really do IMG_0448style. Elegant, understated, fabulous.

As I walk I get a stiff neck craning, trying to peer in and see what new wonders have been introduced while I’ve been away. Things might be tough in mainland Spain but you’d never think it on this island.

From where I stand the horseshoe bay seems totally enclosed, more lake than sea. The water stays shallow for metres out, tempting even as unenthusiastic a swimmer as me to paddle, sand reassuringly firm under my feet, until I take a deep breath and plunge forwards. And you know what…. it’s not cold at all. Of course it isn’t. What did I tell you? It’s blissfully wonderfully warm.

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I know I’m coming to the end of Pine Walk when I reach the first of the restaurants and hotels that look out across the bay. But I don’t stop. I keep going until I get to Cappucino. The bar that opened a few years ago in the old Sis Pins hotel. Cafe con leche, (or, if it’s that time of day, Gin and Tonics so big I could swim in them), chill out jazz playing softly, and a view to die for.

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To quote a couple of Irish doctors who shared the walk to Base Camp with me: ‘Where would you be?”