As a dutiful wife and mother I spent many years providing a traditional family Christmas, but now our sons are married and have children of their own they would find it difficult to travel up from the south of England to be with us, and we are reluctant to face the horrors of the holiday motorways to go down to them. Anyway, we don't want to spend the holiday season squeezed into temporary beds and sitting on the sidelines with nothing much to do, only coming into our own when there are sprouts to be prepared or babysitting to be done. We are tired of fighting for the computer because the grandchildren want to play games while we want to surf the Net.
We can reach Spain more quickly and easily than we can travel down to Southern England, and more often than not in winter we find ourselves in Majorca. What other island has dramatic mountains, fertile valleys, beaches and ancient cities all within easy reach? Of course we have been rained on in Majorca, and we have even seen snow, but our overall memories are of golden light on the green fields and the brilliant blue sky above.
Once we have arrived and checked into a comfortable hotel, knowing that there is a rep to look after us if we need help, we hire a car and visit our favourite places.
We go to La Granja and see what's new there. We love the miniature theatre with the audience of welldressed dolls! We walk up Alaro, go round La Reserva, then dress a little more formally and visit Palma.
In the evening we relax in the bars and restaurants which welcome our custom so warmly in the winter months when customers are fewer. When the vast majority of tourists are greyhaired as well we don't feel out of place. We can have a bottle of wine with our meal without our children looking gently concerned.
At the end of last year we had three weeks of comfort and good food without the bother of shopping, cooking or cleaning, but with great festival meals and lots of good company. Thank you, Hotel Santa Lucia, and thank you, Monroe's, for your excellent coffee.
My youngest granddaughter has a picture book, The Story of Grandma'. Grandma is a plump little lady, always dressed in black and with her white hair drawn back into a bun, who apparently never leaves her neat little house where she spends her time baking cakes, while Grandad sits smiling with his hands clasped on his walkingstick. Perhaps in 10 or 15 years I may feel like imitating this role model, but meanwhile there is a whole world to be seen.
Unless every resort builds on every skyline and every olive grove is cut down to make room for more villas, we shall return to Majorca. I've got my passport and a credit card, and I've already got the brochures for next winter.
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