Brighton's beach, located on the south-east coast of England. | R.L.


Every week Frank Leavers our man with the dirty Mac and half empty glass of inexpensive vino is looking at what lies just below the sophisticated gloss of island life. Come on folks; tell our Frank what’s really happening in Mallorca.

As I’ve tootled about middle England over the past weeks I have noticed a number of things that intrigue me. For instance, I don’t know if I am becoming slightly paranoid, but - everywhere I choose to drive to - appears to be chock-a-bloc full of traffic.

From motorways, dual carriageways, town centres and supposedly quiet suburbs, the roads are always busy as….! Take the other day, I thought that I’d take a drive to the lovely historic town of Stratford Upon Avon, however when I got within about twenty miles of the place of Shakespeare’s birth I found myself gridlocked in traffic.

As this was late-morning on a Monday I was more than a little surprised at the density of the traffic. I have family in Devon and so in talking to my brother, he told me that this summer the traffic in the West country has been horrific with locals becoming very cross with visitors and tourists alike as they try to get to and from work and those on holiday becoming totally frustrated at the time it takes to get anywhere.

Doubtless the present situation will ease in time as autumn turns into winter, but it seems to me that British people are so frustrated by lockdown after lockdown and (up until now) finding it both difficult and frustrating to holiday abroad are taking any advantage to get away for even a few days closer to home.

Indeed, I have read a number of reports that suggest that short breaks in all parts of the UK are becoming the - ‘must do’ for those seeking to escape from enforced limited lockdowns and generally staring at the same four walls. Older members of my own extended family seem to be regularly disappearing for a few days mid-week to fill the gaps laid vacant by no summer holiday in the sun for two years running.

Naturally enough perhaps, accommodation prices have been spiralling and the cost of a modest beer and sandwich would make even the most generous of us wince. It was noticeable that in the three Sunday newspapers that I bought, each of them ran pull-out features about holidaying in the United Kingdom and one title even had a county by county breakdown of what it regarded as the best buys.

It is also plain that the television schedules are being taken over by programme after programme praising the beauty and diversity of this country. From the perhaps expected visual treats of Devon and Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands, Northern Ireland and parts of Wales, to The Cotswolds, The New Forest and beyond.

Then we have the ‘Hairy Bikers’ investigating the cooking of Northern England whilst riding around some spectacular countryside - it is almost as if we Brits are being encouraged to re-visit our own country and remember what it has to offer. It will be interesting to find out if this rediscovery of what is on our own doorstep will reduce the numbers of those of us who wish to holiday abroad on a regular basis.

It could be that in future British holidaymakers could become a little more open to holidays that don’t include laying on a beach for ten days - as tourism, along with every other industry, may see some profound changes since the beginning of the pandemic. This is not to say that those who have an interest in sustaining and growing tourism in the Balearics have a problem, just the fact that the last eighteen months have seen the forced reshaping of a number of industries and tourism cannot escape that fact.

Interestingly, I have noticed that there has been a sudden burst of interest in what I believe is known as ‘short sharp’ breaks of between three and four days (i.e. a long weekend or a short week) this is proving particularly popular with empty nesters and retirees, who it seems, can get away at irregular intervals on a regular basis.

However, as I have mentioned before, where places such as Mallorca have a distinct advantage, is in the cost of a holiday (or a short break) here in the United Kingdom. Indeed, it could be that once life finally returns to (almost) normal and the various Covid protocols now in force have slowly disappeared that ‘tourism life’ will return to what we had before.

In fact, there is also a theory that folk that have been so starved of their holidays abroad, the whole industry will be flooded by desperate tourists once this present situation stabilises. Personally, I think that scenario a little simplistic, as I suspect that it will be a little while before any regular pattern emerges, post pandemic, and that could take perhaps five years to make itself plain enough to be properly examined.

I'm not sat-nav savvy!

I have to say that I am having a bit of a problem with a personal relationship that I have with a woman whist I’m driving my car. To be blunt, the lady who does all the talking on my Satellite Navigation system is driving me mad. Ms SatNav (for it is she!) likes to take me to places that I don’t want to go to - which if you think about it, that rather compromises her role in my life.

Julie says that I’m just being sexist, but - I contend that a chap would not continually take me down country lanes into farmers fields and suchlike. Nor, would he treat me as if I were a hubcap short of a wheel when trying to find some godforsaken place in rural England. Next week I intend to change the sex of my SatNav to a bloke who might just know where I’m supposed to be going.