My love affair with Pollensa and my love affair with my wife happened at the same time. We met in London in 1997 and she suggested that one our first trips together should be to Mallorca. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was being tested.
Her family had been visiting the island since she was a child and had a house near the sea in Puerto Pollensa with a Casita at the bottom of the garden. We stayed in the Casita, which had been left to her and her sister in their father’s will.
She told me afterwards that if I hadn’t liked Mallorca, that would have been the end of me. There was no need to worry, however, for I loved it from the start. I can still remember the sense of joy I felt as I cycled by the sea in search of croissants for breakfast.
We were both busy working in London and could only travel to the island at weekends, which we did as often as we could. As soon as we returned on a Sunday night from Luton airport to our house in Islington, we would open our mail, listen to our messages, make contact with the family, then look at each other and say: “Why don’t we go back there now?”
It took a few years, in which both my parents died, before we were able to move out permanently, which we finally did in 2003. Initially we lived in the Casita, but soon realised that it was essentially a holiday home, not designed for living in all year round: besides, there was no room for all my books.
We rented out our London home for two years, in case the move to Mallorca didn’t work out, but long before then we had decided to stay. By then, after looking at dozens of houses, we had found a finca at the foot of the Puig Maria, facing Pollensa town and the Tramuntana mountains behinds it.
On the day we moved in, however, we were welcomed by the mother and father of all storms and wondered if this was a bad omen.
Claire wasn’t so sure as me about the house until she had made it her own by energetic repainting and gradually adding bits to it, including a new kitchen, converting an outside terrace into a sitting room with glass windows onto a beautiful garden that she and her friend Anna had developed from what had previously been a grassy hill.
It is a perfect place for children to be brought up and Ben, now ten, and Poppy, seven, duly arrived, leading to the building in the garden (again by Claire and Anna) of a castle, a children’s shed, a tree house, swings, trampoline etc. and smartening up the swimming pool area. They also have their own vegetable plots in the kitchen garden.
At the children’s behest, I might add, we now have a dog, three cats, three chickens, two terrapins and countless goldfish, not to mention some noisy frogs in an old water tank we found hidden under vegetation in the garden.
Although we enjoyed its country feel, we always liked the house for its convenient distance from the town, just a a few minutes in the car or a ten minute walk to the shops, cafes and restaurants It is only a ten minute drive to the sea in the port or 15 minutes to Alcudia. When an international school was opened at Crestatx, just in time for our kids to go there, it seemed as though it was all meant to be.
Lockdown made us fully aware of how lucky we are to live in Pollensa, with enough space of our own to keep us sane when we were not allowed to go out very far. We appreciated the garden more than ever, as we walked round it for exercise or sat having a beer as the sun was going down.
We are spoilt for choice for restaurants and cafes in the town or the port. Pollensa golf club, with its delightful nine=hole course, has swallowed up more of my balls than I care to remember. Ben has been having golf lessons at Alcanada, Poppy skates at the local sports centre and Claire has become absorbed in paddel and netball in winter.
It is comforting to be recognised and welcomed by name in shops and restaurants, where the locals manage to follow my stumbling Spanish. Even the uncommunicative farmer at the bottom of our hill has been known to wave back occasionally.
I still, after 18 years, find it a magical place. We have big night skies, stunning sunsets and a variety of colours in the mountains that surround us. All these marvels of nature were completely unknown to a boy who had grown up in war ravaged Coventry. It gives me a good feeling that my own children have been luckier. When we visit the port, with its wonderful Pine Path, I always point out to the children the picture postcard vista of sand, sea, boats, mountains and sky.
As I open the back door to let the dog out in the morning, I first listen to the birdsong and then glance up at the mountain hovering over us and imagine dozens of Red Indians lining up on the cliff top, as in a spaghetti western.
A friend and neighbour of ours talks about Planet Pollensa, a haven of peace and safety, away from the madness of the world. He sees no point in ever leaving it, even as far as Palma. We certainly enjoy a great feeling of coming home whenever we’ve been away.
A great test of love = of a person or a place = is whether, when you are there, you want to be anywhere else. We don’t.
Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson may be happy spending billions of pounds to scramble into orbit thousand of miles up in the sky, but we are very happy to stay down here on Planet Pollensa.