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Diary - A Majorcan idyll

 

Someone on the live chat line said, 'Are you going to tell us about your holiday Delia?' So here I am with the full hols report. Actually have you noticed how holidays are getting more exotic of late? I have two friends who have just returned from Borneo. Yes, Borneo, would you believe? They apparently wanted to watch the orang-utangs, and that's not all. Two more of my friends are at this moment walking across the Arizona desert with huge packs of water on their backs. They actually like walking in the heat looking at empty canyons and meeting up with the odd rattlesnake or scorpion. Well it takes all sorts as they say… When it comes to boring old me I can hardly admit to where I head for. I just have to wait for the incredulous, 'Oh yes, oh, oh how lovely, Majorca!' It's okay though, I do understand where they're coming from.

It was the stuffed donkey brigade that were responsible for Majorca's slightly tarnished image, but in the scale of things it was just a tiny bit of coast that sported battery hotels, cheap package holidays and lager-swilling louts who returned to England with the said life-sized, stuffed, sombrero-capped donkeys. I always remember them tumbling out on to the baggage carousel looking like the latest victims of foot and mouth.

Thankfully there is a lot more to Majorca than that – in my opinion it is quite simply the most beautiful Mediterranean island, which stretches some 60 miles long and between 30 and 50 miles wide, situated about halfway between the coast of Africa and Europe: two enormous imposing mountain ranges surrounded by sparkling sea.

Getting there is a doddle. No long-haul flight, no jet lag, no jabs, just a blissful two hour and twenty minute flight to Palma, quicker than the train from London to Manchester. Our destination, the mountain village of Deià, is only 40 minutes from there. We usually have two holidays a year and why Deià is usually one of them is because it is totally geared up to what we call an 'El floppo'. If you want to chill out, spend the best part of your time horizontal reading, playing Scrabble whilst you sip chilled wine and whilst you gaze at mountains and sea and indulge in a daily siesta, it has to be said Deià is our place.

Let me first explain Deià itself. After leaving the flat, windmill-covered plain that surrounds the port of Palma you begin an ascent of the winding climbing mountain road whilst it carries you upwards following the coast line. What you see are steep imposing mountains that rise up straight out of the sea with nothing in between. Deià is a remote mountain village precipitously perched in virtual layers carved out of the mountains with a beautiful church on the top layer. I'm sure it has not changed in centuries – whilst the Moors at some stage carved out terraces for the cultivation of olives, figs and citrus fruit, space is at a premium so happily there is absolutely no room to build and expand. In fact so short of space are they that if you want to be buried in the tiny churchyard you'd have to be buried vertically!

What all this means is sheer unspoiled beauty – a tumble of steep narrow streets with a backdrop of vast mountains and an unspoiled uninterrupted view of the Mediterranean. Deià has its own specific colour. The light is special somehow and the whole village is an earthy brown kind of beigey pink – it's almost as if the sun had the palest of pink filters. The houses, buildings and pantiled roofs are all bathed in this pale pink glow. Only the vibrant colours of the Mediterranean flowers that spill over roofs and out of window boxes divide and separate the pinkiness. Deià also has its own special very rural sounds. Along the terraces and amongst orange and lemon trees laden with fruit there are soft tinkling goat bells, braying donkeys, in the morning assertive cockerels greeting the first light and at night utter bliss – a whole colony of sweet plaintive-sounding nightingales which you want to fight off the sleep and listen to but can't.

There are only two hotels in Deià and we have been going to one of them on and off since we first got married 30 years ago. The Es Molí. Why? Because put simply they just know how to do it. How to run a hotel. Some of the staff are still the same and believe me they get everything right.

Firstly it's not a glitzy hotel inhabited by bored rich posers in designer clothes talking on mobile phones all day. It's elegant and tasteful and very Spanish in a laid back sort of way. Everything works: the plugs, the mirrors are in the right place, the rooms are well designed and very comfortable. Like the rest of Deià it's built into the side of the mountains in beautiful layers and in the terraced garden filled with flowers there is so much space that you never feel it's crowded.

The pool is extra large and kept always in pristine condition. If you want to be by the sea there is a terraced area two miles away belonging to the hotel and a bus to ship people back and forth. The service at the Es Molí is the best we've encountered anywhere – if being on holiday is being waited on, cared for, cosseted, this is it – nothing but nothing is too much trouble. So we laze, we swim, we eat and drink. The day begins at breakfast on the terrace overlooking the village and the sea – homemade preserves, eggs with bright orange yolks and a little thing which means a lot to me – lovely coffee that always comes hot.

Lunch is on a pretty flower terrace overlooking the pool with the sea beyond. Every night an apéritif on the terrace as we watch the last of the pink filtered light leave the mountain top followed by dinner in flower-scented gardens – lots of typical Majorcan home cooking and lots and lots of outstanding Spanish and Majorcan wines. Sometimes we go to a family-run restaurant in the village called Jamies where they do suckling pig with the crispest crunchiest skin ever, local lobster, freshly caught red mullet and the very best aïoli. Our last little holiday ritual at the end of the day is coffee with local Spanish brandy called Fundador that isn't very strong and tastes faintly of caramelised sherry.

So there is my hols done and dusted, batteries recharged and now back to work and seven pounds to lose and right back to square one until next year.


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