At risk of sounding like Frank Leavers’ (far younger) grumpy little sister, I think summer in Majorca is there to be managed rather than simply enjoyed. The fierce heat and tourist onslaught is relentless, and both need to be taken into account before you even think about leaving the house.
Let’s take Edwin for example. Edwin is my beloved border terrier and he is at his happiest gambolling in a mild muddy British woodland, preferably with some pheasants to mercilessly bother. To prevent him from wilting in a Majorcan summer, his day needs to be managed with military precision. Walks are taken only in the early morning or shaded evening, preferably with a freshly dampened cool coat on his back. Water must be carried at all times, dog and human, and regular trips to the dog beach must be diarised. Dog can be periodically hosed, fanned or put next to an ice pack, dependent upon the level of tongue-out panting. They never said parenting would be easy.
Shopping is another case in point. In the winter, Eroski and FAN Mallorca are entirely at your disposal. In the summer, this activity needs prior preparation and planning. Supermarkets must be scheduled for the end of any trip so the butter does not morph into a puddle in a stifling parked car. Insulated carrier bags must be pre-loaded into the vehicle for this precise reason. Eroski may not be entered at any time when tourists may be vertical and out in great number. This leaves two windows of opportunity: early morning (they are sleeping) and late evening (they are drinking). This tactic ensures that your chances of being faced with thong-clad buttocks up the tinned meat aisle are much reduced. If there is a hint of a cloud or a drop of rain, FAN Mallorca must be avoided at all costs. Tourists often turn to shopping when devoid of ‘bad weather’ inspiration.
Dining poses another minefield. During harmless gossiping with patients at my husband’s dental practice (I do the afternoon shift on reception), I learn that several restaurants not only put their prices up over the high season but they also hide the locals’ menu and present you with an inflated foreigners’ menu if you have the slightest hint of the non-Spanish about you. Of course you must immediately say “y el menu del día por favor?” with your best accent, whereupon the waiter(ress) will gently blush and retrieve aforementioned hidden menu. It’s also wise to contemplate “where will the tourists be?” in order to try and avoid as many shrieking children and sunburned noses as possible - unless, of course, you like that kind of thing.
The roads are basically off-limits in summer, except in the event of an emergency (purchasing more ice, replenishing rosé stocks). Normal Majorca weight of traffic plus tens of thousands of hire cars equals mayhem. We all know that it’s impossible to change gear, indicate, accelerate, find your way, when you’re driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.
And, should you arrive at your intended destination without giving up and going home, the car park will be full anyway, so either stay in, walk, or put your lives in the hands of an overstretched taxi driver desperate for a day off.
The main ingredient for making the absolute best of a Majorcan summer is water. Water down your neck to keep you hydrated, water on your skin to keep you cool and water beside your meal table to feel an onshore breeze. Oh and water on your lawn if you don’t want it to turn to straw. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, park your bottom by it and have junior family members periodically bring you items from the fridge. If you can find a beach that not too many people know about (handy tip, think foot-access-only beaches), get there early and load the car with umbrellas, cool boxes, canvas chairs and trestle tables like a local. If you can afford it, book a seafront restaurant like Beach Club Gran Folies in Cala Llamp or Restaurante Illeta in Camp de Mar and, better still, find a friend with a boat who can sail you there so you don’t have to use those pesky roads.
Once you’ve added water, a Majorcan summer is a wonderful thing and believe me, there are few other places in the world you’d rather be.