Soller's church. | JESUS CARRILLO


A few years ago, some summer renters arrived at my neighbour’s house. Two days later, I passed their house with some eggs which they gratefully received. They spoke English and told me that they would eat them for dinner but were leaving the next day. Somewhat shocked I asked them why. They told me that they couldn’t deal with the sound of the nearby church bells, the calls of our cockerel, hens and peacock, the local donkey baying, the birds chirruping and the dogs barking. If that wasn’t bad enough, they told me, there were awful tractors and mowers, and motorbikes making a terrible noise on the American road in the distance. I explained that some Saturdays we had a few noisy boy racers coming over to Soller. As for the other sounds, I tried to reassure them that this was normal country life.

They were very pleasant but told me that it was the most stressful few days they’d endured on a holiday. They had hoped for complete silence. I jokingly suggested a monastery in the mountains or perhaps an urban retreat behind triple glazing. But they are not alone. Last week it was revealed that in the beautiful Tuscan town of Pienza, the mayor has been forced to silence the traditional bell tower because the largely American summer guests cannot cope with the sound. The bells now can no longer strike between 10pm and 7am. This has in turn upset locals who are used to their bells and want them reinstated as they cannot sleep without the sound. Horses for courses.

I understand that different sounds can unnerve newcomers when on holiday, but the countryside is not a quiet place. There is a huge amount of noise and that is its beauty. Mediterranean rural towns and villages often have churches with noisy bells and in my book, this is also to be respected. While on holiday we should embrace local culture and traditions and not try to silence them because they don’t suit our tastes. Better to move on to another place, go home, or put up and shut up, gracefully.

What’s up, doc?

A well-known longevity doctor (yes, apparently there are such things) declared in a UK newspaper recently that he’s aiming to live to 180. I commend his optimism but wonder if he might be a little delusional. This is a man who has treated the great and the good, including, it seems, Bill Clinton. He proudly outlined his daily bedtime routine for optimum health and smugly revealed that although his biological age was 63, he was actually 45 in health years. Frankly, he looked his age and his night-time routine, dining at 7pm seemingly alone, reading quietly and ensuring that he relaxed in a hot Epsom salts bath before bed at 9pm, seemed so solitary and sad. He slept in a darkened room with perfect air con temperature, blackout blinds and eye mask and appeared not to have any normal daily household tasks to complete before sleep. I cannot imagine anything grimmer than surviving to 180 when all my loved ones were dead, especially having to follow this utterly tedious, antisocial routine. Presumably, he’ll die of boredom before he achieves his goal.

Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley plays Eva Price

Let them eat cake

It’s the silly season and you can bet your life there’ll be a plethora of ridiculous stories in the UK press. My favourite this week concerns an actress named Catherine Tyldesley who has apparently appeared in the TV soap Coronation Street. Her promotional company sent a begging email to Rebecca Severs, owner of a bakery in Keighley, suggesting that she might consider offering 100 cup cakes and two large cakes for a birthday party being planned by the celebrity in September. The star’s name was not mentioned but that soon came to light. The PR company had offered in return credits on their socials of 700k followers and a reference in OK magazine. However, the bakery owner rejected the ‘offer’ and sarcastically exposed the request for freebies on her own social media channels. Her stance was that celebrities should be supporting small business owners, not trying to get their products for free. The actress herself came out in fury, accusing the baker of seeking free publicity which seemed mightily unfair.

Having been in the PR game in London, I can confirm that this happens every day when it comes to events. So many celebs feel entitled not to pay for anything, offering in return PR exposure. The classier celebs do not act in this way. Of course, these days, so-called influencers are everywhere, touting their many followers on social media as a reason to live the life of Riley and not have to pay for anything. So often the people they prey on are the ones who need the most financial support.


Mr long legs

I’m the first to admit that when I see a big spider crawling in the bath, I give a little shudder. All the same, after stints in the Amazon where large tarantulas would be lurking openly in the wood supports where we slung our hammocks, I’ve got much better about them. In the jungle, most tarantulas won’t attack you unless they feel under threat. I got to like a big furry chap I named Harold who’d clock you at night with his eight big black eyes but leave you to sleep. Actually, tarantulas have appalling eyesight, so he probably just saw a big pink blur. The only time you needed to worry was if a tarantula reared up on its front legs, hissed and showed its fangs. That luckily never happened to me.

So, bathroom spiders here are a far cry from those tricky chaps. Many people rinse round the bath to flush unwanted spiders down the drain, but the poor creatures die a lingering and horrid death by drowning. Science says that spiders don’t feel pain due to their nervous systems and lack of pain receptors, but others refute this. So, since the jury is out, in the last week I’ve saved two big spiders, one in my bath and the other in the pool. I just couldn’t bear the idea of them drowning slowly, knowing that all I had to do was offer them a helping hand. Irrationally, we think spiders will run up our arm when we try to rescue them but they are keen to get away. I use a ruler or stick for them to climb on and then release them out of a door or into the garden. So far so good.