An eon of years ago, back in Old Blighty - before Covid19 had taken hold of the world; before the manufacturers of food blenders had gone into liquidation; before launderettes had been taken to the cleaners; before tarmac companies had reached the end of the road, and dog kennels forced to call in the retrievers, I freelanced for an advertising agency in North Devon. One day, for no explicable reason, conversation turned to the subject of cartwheels, and within the blink of an eye, the entire agency traipsed outside to demonstrate their acrobatic talents. I mean . . . a cartwheel! How difficult could that be?
I used to perform wonderful cartwheels as a child. People called me ‘The Spinner’, that’s how good I was! And throwing a cartwheel is probably something you never forget; isn’t it? Like riding a bike? Or breathing! Well that was my train of logic as I limbered up outside, waiting for my ‘turn’.
I remember quite clearly, that those first underwheeling attempts from overenthusiastic colleagues were pathetic! Not really cartwheels at all in my book. Bent spines, floppy arms, all delivered with a vague attempt to get both heels off the ground in what resembled a drunken tumble. Now, MY cartwheel, on the other hand, was going to be magnificent - ‘The Spinner’ was back!
I thrust forward, charged with adrenalin, arranged my spokes, and cart-wheeled like a pro down the extremely long front driveway. Disastrously, my rusty cart wheeled out of control as speed kicked in, and I whirled through the main entrance into the path of an ice-cream van like a runaway Catherine wheel. It was a close call. But then that’s the trouble with nostalgia. Sometimes, things like cartwheels should be left safely behind in the past. But not everything need be! Some nostalgic experiences should definitely be repeated, never forgotten, and dragged screaming into the present; especially in a time where many social possibilities surrounding our future lives are taking a bashing.
For example - take life out here in Majorca. Other Half and I have lived on this glorious island for the past fifteen years, and been visiting for at least 30. We used to go on all-day drives the length and breadth of the land. We would pack everything from the fridge into an impromptu picnic hamper, and do all the tourist stuff, visit all the distant beaches, seeking out those hidden, isolated coves and calas that Majorca is so famous for.
Back in the day, we would go to all the fiestas in all the villages. In fact we would go to the opening of a clam shell; we were that thirsty for the wealth of island customs and treasures. We were Majorcan culture junkies, and never tired of the Tramuntana backdrop, or hikes through the rambling countryside. We were mesmerized by the gravity defying dry-stone walls which lined the twisting lanes, and the ancient olive trees that seemed to be holding both the walls and the island together. And being able to do all those things with a back-up of 300 days of sunshine was the reason for relocating to Majorca in the first place. In a nutshell, we lived the island to the full. We picked the lemons. We ‘lived the dream.’
Over time, like rusty, discarded cartwheels, we grew out of those long, impulsive drives. There was always something nearer to hand! We became, sadly to say, a bit too local, and stayed closer to our end of the island, only venturing further when friends visited and we wanted to show off our forgotten places! We hadn’t lost any of our enthusiasm for this wonderful island or the many thrills it offered. We just seemed to have become too settled to be as spontaneous as we once were. And felt comfortable just being part of the backdrop that makes up the colourful tapestry of island life.
However, with lockdown, and recent restrictions on doing anything with the same confidence, we started slipping down memory lane. And with wonderful memories to fall back on, as soon as those restrictions were lifted, it became an ‘all change’ game, and time to take stock. This past summer we made a killer list of all those favourite things we used to do. There were no cartwheels involved, just re-visits to some of the most amazing places buried in our past. Idyllic drives, enjoyed in the safe environment of the car and viewed through a sparkling windscreen were still just as idyllic!!
Valldemosa, Deya, Orient, Soller, Banyalbufar, Estellencs, Cala Figuera - the list is long and endless, with far too many places to mention in full. But there, close to the top, is the Pine Walk at Puerto Pollensa.
With the noticeable lack of tourists due to the complications of Coronavirus, Pine Walk and the beaches of Puerto Pollensa have been understandably very quite, albeit at times, borderline deserted. It’s very sad that the impact and consequence of Covid-19 has delivered such a disastrous drop in tourism all across the island, yet in terms of appreciating its sheer beauty, Puerto Pollensa has never looked lovelier.
Even at the busiest of times, the calm, tranquil Puerto is never that bustling, but seeing it almost devoid of people was somehow quite surreal and simply magical, reminding me of that first spectacular impression we embraced, all those years ago when we visited Pollensa for the very first time.
Yes, things have certainly changed this past six months. But if anything, it has made me realise more than ever, that Majorca has so much to offer. And I can’t wait for everything to be back to normal so we can continue to indulge ourselves in even more nostalgia, and re-visit even more forgotten places, which over time, seemed to have slipped off our radar.
Another magical place I plan to definitely re-visit is Playa es Trenc, an amazing natural beach on the southeast coast, and possibly one of the best beach on the island (well it was ten years ago!). Personally, in the archive of my memory, with its sugar white sands, rolling dunes, and crystalline turquoise waters, Playa es Trenc beats anything in the Caribbean.
For our day at the beach, we used to set off really early, and break the journey by stopping off at Felanitx, where we would begin our ritual by taking coffee with an ensaimada while people watching in the busy, central square. Next, we sought out our favourite local bakery, and purchased the best spinach, pine-nut and sultana quiche, EVER! Too many sweet pastry choices to mention but needless to say, we left loaded to the gills with gourmand goodies for the heavenly picnic on the sand which lay ahead.
After an idyllic day in paradise, the drive home was always equally as spectacular. We deliberately left the beach late so we could cross the island with the sun dipping from the orange streaked sky, burnishing the countryside of swaying cornfields with amazing copper hues and amber golds. Our usual route would take us home via Petra, where we would stop at a ‘Celler’ restaurant for a hearty Majorcan speciality. More often than not it would be ‘lomo con col’ – succulent pork and spicy sobrassada wrapped in cabbage leaves then braised to perfection in a glorious jus, with pine nuts and raisins so plump they were fit to burst in the bowl. All this washed down with the local vino poured from a cracked terracotta jug. Very rustic. Very Majorcan. And that my friends, was a day definitely worth repeating, with not a cartwheel in sight. So hang on in there! Things might not exactly be back to how we want them just yet. But if everyone behaves themselves, then that time will come. And when it does, we shall be able to enjoy all those things, over and over again! Life the second time around is sometimes even sweeter, so never say die!