Soller was very busy this summer. | A. BORRAS

The most recent hot summer in Soller was insufferable often with traffic stretching as far as the eye could see from beyond the Soller tunnel and down towards the port. There was literally nowhere to park and cafés were bursting. Our main shopping street in the town was awash with tour groups, with everyone angry, hot and fed up.

I gave up using the car locally and began walking everywhere with my trusty backpack in tow. I arrived at one pilates class to find just three other women. What’s happened to all the others, I asked? We discovered at the following class that the rest had all got stuck in an hour-long queue from the port to the town – normally a fifteen-minute journey.

The councillor for tourism in Soller has suggested stopping all promotion of the valley this year in order to step back and find solutions and yet of course, the Soller valley is where most tourists want to go as it genuinely has it all. They will continue to come, regardless of the council’s vague mutterings because Soller valley is firmly on the global tour operators’ map.

Tourism is the lifeblood for many people in Mallorca so we can’t just down tools and stop it happening. Many would lose their livelihoods, so we need to find effective solutions and a long-term sustainable strategy for beleaguered zones such as Soller.

Last week, I had an inspiring meeting with Juan Antonio Amengual, the recently appointed mayor of Calvia, and Esperanza Catalá, his deputy in charge of policing. They run a huge municipality with multiple beach resorts and yet have a really good game plan for how to make the area, which includes Magalluf, a place for both locals and tourists alike. The mayor understands the need for year-round tourism to take the strain off the summer and is keen to ensure that beaches and hotels stay open, and that a well organised calendar of cultural, literary and sporting events is organised for all. Calvia is a large municipality with an impressive infrastructure which makes heavy summer seasons easier to bear. However, lessons can surely be learnt from the experienced team over in Calvia which has devised a very impressive tourism strategy. For the first time, the municipality employed undercover police to patrol the resort during the summer season. It proved an unmitigated success with 40 per cent more arrests made, an illegal party boat caught and fined heavily, and the habit of balconing reduced thanks to levying huge fines.

Calvia is attracting the likes of luxury brands such as Hyatt and Mandarin Oriental and the old concept of creating a bad boy zone for Magaluf, Arenal and Sant Antoni in Ibiza, known as the Law of Excesses, has been scrapped in favour of a new Responsible Tourism law that will apply to every municipality in the Baleares.

Fortunately, Soller doesn’t have a problem with anti-social behaviour, but it does urgently need to up its game and create a solid tourism strategy that addresses the very different issues affecting the municipality. Urgent solutions must be found for the coming summer season unless the local council wants to witness a complete revolt by irate and frustrated locals. A lack of infrastructure to cope with overtourism isn’t pleasant for tourists either. Many in Soller told me that they were fed up with the traffic, lack of parking, congestion and high prices charged in bars and restaurants. Several said they would not be returning and who could blame them?

Whether because of climate change or other factors, the summers in Mallorca are becoming hotter and longer and this is impacting locals and tourists alike. For this reason alone, the island and specifically Soller, desperately needs an all-year-round strategy, similar to that being considered and actioned in Calvia. There are more flights and hotels staying open so now is the time to act. Mallorca needs to become an island for all seasons, not just a tourism hotspot for sardine-tin, sticky summers that have everyone steaming.

Running a marathon on the island.

On the run

A few locals have asked me for advice about how to start training for a marathon. First, I suggest that they try a short run first to see if they actually enjoy it. I always think it’s a Marmite sport. Some people really enjoy running while others hate it. I have been reading What I talk about when I talk about running by Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. It’s a thoughtful and inspiring book about the author’s love of running, its discipline and how it gives one a sense of purpose. Like me, Murakami started running in his thirties and became hooked. He is far more disciplined than me and runs every day, but we share many an idea and attitude. A close friend bought me the book and I was grateful as I had been given the original in hardback many moons ago and misplaced it before I ever read it! How crazy is that? Mind you, in a house with 2,000 books, perhaps it wasn’t so strange.

I think what Murakami and I have most in common is the fact that we don’t like to compete with anyone else but ourselves. This is the same in writing. There are many authors globally who have enjoyed greater success or sold more copies of their books than I have but it never bothers me. I like to craft my books and concepts in my own way and in my own time, and like a seasoned marathon runner, never turn my head to see what anyone else is doing. This is where danger lies. For a runner, it means destabilisation, and potentially losing one’s footing and best personal time. For a writer, it means taking a foot off a well-worn pedal, and possibly being flooded with envy or insecurities about one’s own direction and ability. When JK Rowling became an international sensation, so many embittered well-known authors griped about her success. One in particular accused her books of being poorly written, lacking intellectual value and being undeserving of so much notoriety. I disagreed at the time, and I still do. Good for JK Rowling. Should fellow writers not applaud her success and aspire to do well too? Why should it be anyone else’s business how successful another person is?

One of my friends is a brilliant academic and author. She doesn’t make much money from her books via a traditional publisher in the UK, but she cares deeply about the subject matter and is proud of her work. She moans sometimes about how she can spend three years working on a tome while a new boy, can churn out a cheap, badly written thriller in four months, and clean up. I always tell her that it’s better to write a book which brings one joy rather than one that is just a quick money spinner. I love to craft words and concepts and that brings me joy. Wise authors want to make a success of writing but not at the expense of what matters. And of course, it’s true of life in general. Better to plough one’s own furrow, rather than pay attention to the farmer in the next field. We should always follow our own path in life. Therein happiness lies.