Sunday, July 23, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 July 2017

Morning high (7.18am): 24.1C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 24 July - Sun, cloud, 31C; 25 July - Cloud, 27C; 26 July - Cloud, 28C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 2 to 4.

Fine today, possible showers currently forecast for tomorrow through to Wednesday.

Evening update (20.00): Well, not so fine in that it was mostly cloudy all day. High of 31.4C.

The Drunken Meltdown Of Tourism

While millions of tourists were last week enjoying themselves in saturating every available last piece of beach, pool area and road, tourism itself was undergoing a form of meltdown. The vast majority of these massifying millions were in blissful ignorance of the fact that their apartments - some say the source of saturation - would no longer be there when they returned: they had been airbrushed into legalistic oblivion. This was probably due to most of them being drunk. Those who had some awareness were forming the queues of refugee hordes being processed for repatriation, more normally referred to as getting the flight home after the jollies.

Passport control collapsed (as it has been collapsing for some weeks) and tourists themselves collapsed as a consequence of 24/7 binges at all-inclusives. Nothing was said about beaches and roads collapsing as such, but we have by now come to accept that their collapses are givens: the politicians and the environmentalists keep telling us so.

Drunken tourism was at its most drunken inside Palma town hall. Drunk on his newly acquired powers, Noggin the Més Nog was wielding the mayoral wand in hot and determined pursuit of tourist miscreants. Can we expect him to join police patrols and slap a few Germans on their calves with his wand? Maybe, but given the size of some German tourists, the wand might come off second best.

Drinking was firmly on the agenda as he summonsed all manner of officialdom for a Noggy-style dressing-down. Hoteliers came and went, the national government's delegate was invited in for a chat, and they were preceded by the German consul, closely followed by the British vice-consul. Quite why Lucy was there was a bit of a mystery. It isn't unknown for Brits to avail themselves of the occasional alcoholic beverage in Playa de Palma, but let's be honest, when it comes to Palma drunken tourism the Germans are European champions - and by some considerable distance. It is they, rather than the Brits, who form vast Panzer divisions of Germanic youth armed to the teeth with colossal buckets of Jägermeister mixed with Rushkinoff as they re-introduce lebensraum, only this time at the Ballermann.

Maria Salom was Noguera''s final guest for the week (the tour operators are in for their wanding this coming week, which should be fun). As national government delegate, she's hardly the sort to be cowed by an upstart, new-to-the-post mayor.

So Maria was not about to be browbeaten by the wand. Instead, she somewhat surprisingly confessed that there is a security issue in Playa de Palma, i.e. it's overrun by drunken tourists. But, she was able to announce, this lack of security is being tackled by her having requested (and received) a month's extension to the National Police summer reinforcements. Which is all well and good, but Noguera was probably hoping to hear that there would be significantly greater numbers arriving - like now - in order to stop drunken tourists vomiting into Arenal residents' letterboxes.

Meanwhile, the meltdown - aided and abetted by tropical temperatures - was taking place in the air-conditioned debating hall of the Balearic parliament. Such was the drama of the occasion that some chose to dress for the occasion. Salvador Aguilera of Podemos, normally attired in an array of agitprop t-shirts, wore a tie (either borrowed or acquired from the charity shop). Prior to the meltdown debate, Salvi had tweeted that the government's holiday rentals' legislation was set to be blasted into the far blue yonder of the Mediterranean. Podemos were not for voting.

And once they didn't vote for a crucial article in the bill, no one, especially the government, had a clue what was going on. It was only when the lawyers pointed out that the government would be unable to collect the millions in fines' revenues from Airbnb and others that there was the shattering realisation of what had been done. Apart from apartments having been consigned to a Kafka-esque non-existence of neither authorisation nor prohibition, the revenue from the fines to have been earmarked for establishing illegal street sellers' cooperatives would evaporate. Complete meltdown. There was really only one thing to do: go and get drunk.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 July 2017

Morning high (7.02am): 22.7C
Forecast high: 33C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 23 July - Sun, cloud, 29C; 24 July - Sun, cloud, 29C; 25 July - Cloud, 28C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Southeast 3 occasionally 4.

Steamy feel to the morning. Steamy day ahead.

Evening update (20.30): High of 34.4C.

The Absence Of Tourism Strategy

“I think it’s better to have those drinking ghettoes, Playa de Palma and Magalluf, where people go, rather than these intellectual types of tourists who tramp over everything in their search for the untouched bit, the original Mallorcan, and the residential tourists, who buy up property, buy a car, usually two, swimming pools, and want gardens with plants and grass like at home but that need water.”

Who said this? It might surprise you to learn that it was a spokesperson for the environmentalists GOB. These are the words of Gerard Hau, quoted from an article in The Guardian in May last year. They are words which encapsulate themes of recent days and weeks and point to different extremes of Mallorca's tourism. At one end of the spectrum is the low-grade drunken tourism and its vandalistic in-resort tendencies. At the other is the high-spending luxury class and its own vandalism of the countryside. Within the context of the furore over the holiday rentals' legislation, residential tourism in the countryside has been largely ignored, and by residential tourism one means second homes that are both for rent and just for use by owners.

Among their objections to the legislation, Podemos were determined to put an end to a savaging of the countryside in the pursuit of the up-market rental. Ideologically, one would expect them to, but otherwise they are on the same page as Gerard Hau. He, however, was going at the issue from a different perspective. At the time he was quoted, Mallorca was in the grip of drought (or at least near-drought). His concern was resources: water, in this instance.

The Hau thesis, coloured by an unnecessarily all-embracing pejorative attitude towards tourists of the mass who go to the principal resorts (only some of these tourists are drunks; the vast majority are not), echoes the philosophy enshrined in the so-called Benidorm Effect. Establish areas of high-density tourism and they are very much more efficient in terms of resource use. Spread tourism with little control into low-density or virtually uninhabited areas, and the resource use is highly inefficient.

For Podemos, there is an obsession with eliminating provisions in law that the Partido Popular introduced in 2012. The Delgado Law (the 2012 tourism act) facilitated touristic development on rustic land: the territory which doesn't have a satisfactory translation in English. Rural is inadequate. But whether from a politically ideological perspective or from economic or environmental perspectives, the arguments about countryside tourism, about drunken tourism, about holiday rentals in general all arrive at the same point. What does Mallorca want from its tourism? And what overall strategy is there for this?

The simple answer to the first question is the vague notion of quality. The word is so loose and woolly as to be meaningless. And who, let's face it, ever advocates tourism without quality?

There are degrees and grades of quality. It has long been known that in Mallorca there is a type of tourism I have described in the past as social-services tourism. This isn't anything to do with the winter, sometimes subsidised tourism for senior citizens. It has to do with the tourism that is provided with a social service by the island. It commonly pitches up in an all-inclusive, extracts the social service benefits on offer, and then disappears, quite probably clutching a false claim form. The net result for Mallorca is a loss.

The evidence of this type of tourism has existed in rigorous academic research for almost thirty years. The drunken tourism of today's headlines is the inheritor of the past. All that time - thirty years at least - and it still has the capacity to shock politicians (and others) out of their complacency.

The degrees of quality are such that the principal tourism market sector - the family - can be stigmatised for being insufficiently wealthy. This is not a social-services or drunken category, it is a normal, regular segment of the market which might choose an all-inclusive on economic grounds. If the offer is there, then why on Earth shouldn't it? There may not be enormous splashing of cash, but there are none of the behavioural negatives that are dogging Gerard Hau's "drinking ghettoes".

More than ever, the current arguments reinforce the fact that there is so little coherence in terms of a strategic approach. The rentals' legislation highlights this. There should of course be some greater liberalisation. Not a free-for-all but regulation that recognises market dynamics and, yes, can generally permit a tourism of "quality".

But political flip-flopping, competing ideologies and competing favouritism (be it to hoteliers, the environment, whatever) erect constant barriers while at the same time shifting the sands of regulation without adequate regard for joined-up strategy. The arguments, one fears, will be the same thirty years from now.

Friday, July 21, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 July 2017

Morning high (7.20am): 23.5C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 22 July - Sun, 33C; 23 July - Sun, cloud, 28C; 24 July - Sun, cloud, 29C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 2 to 4.

No sign of any rain overnight, and the morning is bright and sunny.

Evening update (20.30): A cloud and sun mix; high of 31.6C.

Mass Versus Quality: Hotel Jobs

Now here's an interesting point. Workers in the food and beverage sector - chefs, waiters and others - are willing to take jobs for lower salaries if the conditions are more to their liking. In other words, if a hotel (this mainly applies to hotels, but not exclusively) provides a working environment with a commitment to training, to high standards and good professional relations, it will attract talented personnel prepared to accept less money than they would receive at an establishment without these attributes.

The point is made by Antonio de Juan, who is the CEO of Talent Chef, a company which specialises in recruitment for the food and beverage sector. His words have been quoted in an article in Hosteltur magazine. It is a particularly interesting point, given the Balearic government's insistence on employment quality and salaries to match. In certain instances, it seems that workers will forego the quality salaries in preference to the quality employment: the government appears to have its work cut out in pairing the two.

De Juan's conclusion is that a tourism of the masses without quality has repercussions for the quality of personnel and for their availability. The matching of higher salaries and higher standards of employment can be found in some overseas countries. There is therefore a drain of talent from Mallorcan and Spanish hotels because of this.

A problem is, and it is another one that the government would like to deal with, creating tourism of the masses with quality. The notion can seem mutually exclusive. How do you retain mass and also ensure quality? It depends on how mass is defined, but in Mallorca the mass is increasing without a discernible impact on quality. This is the evidence, for instance, of hotels in Magalluf chucking out more badly behaved tourists than ever before. So long as tour operators and hotels operate according to principles of mass and volume, the situation is unlikely to change. The mayor of Calvia might plead with the providers of tourists, but he can't mandate what type of client is brought. This is the very point that the mayor of Alcudia has made regarding spring-break students, the cause - so it is said - of much of the Magalluf malaise this year. Town halls, regional governments have no power over this type of business decision.

One feels for people who work in some hotels in Mallorca. Chefs, who might earn decent money, churn out stuff for the masses. Their talent goes to waste. Their professional abilities are not reflected in their output. The same applies in the bar/restaurant sector.

Clearly, though, this doesn't apply across the board and also doesn't apply solely to the kitchens. One goes to somewhere like the Meliá Palma Bay Hotel and can witness the fine attention to detail and scrutiny in preparing tables. The quality of personnel extends to management. This same attention was evident in a tour of the five-star Palace de Muro Hotel. It was from the now director who, once upon a time, had been on the management at Bellevue in Alcudia. A very different place, during a tour there much time was spent picking up litter. A forlorn task, but at least there was a constant attempt at dealing with the downsides of mass all-inclusive tourism.

Mallorca has the means of developing talent. The university's Hotel and Catering School, to give one example, is where certain Michelin-starred chefs in Mallorca trained and received instruction. Some hotel chains have their own in-house training set-ups. Their commitment to quality has been exported. A reason for high standards elsewhere is the insistence on quality that characterises the likes of Iberostar.

But in Mallorca there is a vast gulf, which is the consequence of the diversity of hotels. In order to satisfy the masses, this is inevitable. So, one wonders if the mutually exclusive notion of mass and quality can ever be harmonised. One very much doubts it, and so there will be an enduring mismatch between the quality of salaries and employment.

The government, of course, is more concerned with an employment quality in terms of contracts: full-time, well-paid, adherence to strict working hours would be ideal. But it also concerned with the nature of jobs, given that they reflect the overall quality (or not) of the tourism offer. The hoteliers' federation is on the same page in this regard. It advocates quality without a loss of quantity. But what quality do they put first? The job or the pay? Is it both? In some cases, yes, but not all. The federation is set for a major scrap over pay negotiations next year. Unions are demanding that their profits go towards significant pay increases. If these are forced through, are passed on to already high hotel prices, have ever more tourist tax added, the mass part of the problem might well be solved.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 July 2017

Morning high (7.27am): 22.9C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 21 July - Sun, cloud, 29C; 22 July - Sun, cloud, 30C; 23 July - Sun, cloud, 29C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 2 to 3.

Bright start but expected to cloud over with the possibility of some rain, especially this evening.

Evening update (19.45): High of 32.1C. Fairly cloudy now.

Holiday Rentals: The Charade Exposed

So, after all the build-up to the holiday rentals' legislation, we remain - or rather, apartments remain - more or less where they were: in legal no man's land. One of the government's key legislative initiatives is a greater shambles than it had appeared that it would be. It was never going to be easy to cobble together satisfactory legislation, but the result is ever further from satisfaction. Apartments, as far as tourism law is concerned, only now exist in the form of an "habitual dwelling". Otherwise, technically they have been airbrushed from the real-estate landscape.

For all the talk of fines, the level of which are hardly any surprise and mirror penalties elsewhere in Spain, of the age of property eligible to be holiday lets, of the zoning of these lets, etc., the core of this legislation was apartments. While the 2012 tourism law keeps being quoted, apartments have been on the legal periphery for very much longer. The time had come for there to be a more definitive status. The time has come and all that is definite is that nothing is definite.

The government (PSOE and Més) is mightily angered. It will, as it typically does, place a political sheen over events in defending the pact with Podemos. But it has suffered a major assault and for a "stellar" piece of legislation, to boot. Podemos bared their teeth and, unlike with previous last-minute wobbles, they were prepared to be wolves. There was no pretence this time.

Podemos had always wanted to prevent the possibility of opening up holiday rentals in apartments. Their ploy of the call for "emergency housing" in Palma and Ibiza was a strategic move to disguise the real intention: the prevention of apartment touristic letting. The government's anger is made that much greater because this legislation has been so complex and so long in the making. When it came to the time to vote, Podemos cuddled up to the Partido Popular. While Podemos were citing citizen rights to housing, the PP were remembering their friends at the hoteliers' federation.

It is said that the government had attempted to persuade Podemos to stay onside by agreeing that the forthcoming housing law would complement the rentals' legislation. Podemos were having none of that, although there is obvious sense in joining up these two legislative strands. But to do so in a totally coherent fashion would demand a different legislative approach. As it is, housing is housing; tourist accommodation is tourist accommodation, even if it is housing. Toni Reus of Més pointed this out to Podemos. The rentals' legislation was neither a housing bill nor an urban planning act.

Out of the mess we nevertheless have a curious situation whereby apartments can be eligible for licensed authorisation. This is if they are owners' "habitual dwellings". This is if these dwellings are in the right zones (which will now take a year to determine). This is if residents' communities give a majority favourable vote (Podemos are still agitating for a unanimous vote). This is if these dwellings are up to the required standards. This is if they are at least five years old (and Podemos want to make this ten).

Agreement for habitual dwellings is apparently a nod in the direction of the reality of the collaborative economy at its most basic level. A family - they always refer to families in a somewhat mystical style - that needs to add some income will be able to do so. But only for a maximum of sixty days a year.

What is it with these habitual dwellings? Will families uproot themselves for the whole of July and August? Presumably they will. Or would. Where do they go? Rent out someone else's habitual dwelling? Or do they go to one of their other dwellings? How many other dwellings do they have?

The legislative process, you may or may not be surprised to learn, has not finished. There will now be "developments" of the legislative detail. Tourism minister Biel Barceló referred to these in hinting that apartments could be salvaged, i.e. be specifically subject to the same rules as other properties for holiday rental. But so long as Podemos have anything to do with the legislation, his muted optimism appears misplaced.

All this does is exacerbate the confusion and uncertainties. These developments could also entail, if Podemos get their way, the likes of properties having to be a minimum of ten years old.

Laws, one always hopes, are designed to create certainties. This legislation does not. It is a dreadful mess. Ultimately, though, the mess has only so much to do with holiday rentals. There are the politics which hover above. Podemos have claimed victory, one to be milked for all it's worth in appealing to the housing-deprived citizenry. It is a victory which finally and transparently exposes the charade of the Armengol pact.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 July 2017

Morning high (6.31am): 24.7C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 20 July - Cloud, sun, 31C; 21 July - Cloud, sun, 29C; 22 July - Sun, cloud, 30C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southeast 4.

A clear enough sky early on. Wait to see if there is the thin cloud that persisted for much of yesterday. Tomorrow and into Friday, the possibility of showers and the odd rumble of thunder.

Evening update (20.15): There was the cloud, rather more of it than yesterday at times. Quite breezy too. High of 33.8C.

Podemos At The Government Crossroads

Will they or won't they? Alberto Jarabo, for now still the leader (general secretary) of Podemos in the Balearics, says that the party will enter the Balearic government this autumn. He says this, or so it would appear, on the authority of the national organisation, and Pablo Iglesias in particular.

Something of a game-changer has occurred in Castile-La Mancha. The PSOE president of that region - Emiliano García-Page - has been unable to get the budget approved. In order to do so, Podemos are entering the government. In the Balearics, Podemos have already started to set out demands for the 2018 budget, most obviously their call for a doubling of the rate of the tourist tax. If this cannot be agreed, it has been stated, they will not approve the budget. A similar situation to Castile-La Mancha could therefore obtain.

Podemos, once upon a time, had a policy of not joining administrations led by PSOE. The socialist party was as much of a target for Podemos as the Partido Popular was. PSOE was part of the reviled "casta", a corrupt two-party-dominated system. It was also a party from which Podemos could take their electoral pickings more easily. Being ostensibly left-wing, it represented a more direct target than the PP. Already shaky, PSOE suffered at the elections: a reflection of its inherent weakness, the enduring product of the socialist government's handling of the crisis, and of the arrival of a different type of political grouping, i.e. Podemos.

There was never total consistency in this Podemos policy. They became part of the Council of Mallorca's administration in 2015, just as they did at Palma town hall and in other municipalities. Governments - regional and national - were a different matter. However, this inconsistency has enabled Podemos to cut their teeth in lesser administrations and to get the electorate used to their presence. By not being in government per se, they have sought to appeal to the electorate as the body which holds PSOE (and Més) to account while at the same time acting as a sort of shadow element of government. This off-stage influence of the government is one reason why some in PSOE have bridled at what they see as Podemos's undisguised "moral superiority".

Within Podemos ranks, there is still disagreement about joining governmental forces with PSOE. The far-left anti-capitalist faction has opposed the development in Castile-La Mancha. Laura Camargo, who is the likely successor to Jarabo, is part of this faction; Jarabo is not and nor is Pablo Iglesias. Jarabo says that the possibility of Podemos entering the government is not one that he has conjured up; it is the national organisation which has raised the possibility and that the Podemos citizens' council in the Balearics would have the final say. Perhaps so, but if Camargo does become general secretary, the possibility - one would assume - would disappear. No firm decision will be made until the election of Jarabo's successor. Jarabo doesn't really want Camargo to follow him.

In an interview at the weekend, Francina Armengol made clear that she has no interest in there being a remodelling of the government to facilitate Podemos. In 2015, Podemos decided not enter the government because they didn't trust PSOE. Armengol believes that there is greater trust now, but she remains committed to how things are. The problem would arise, however, if the budget for 2018 couldn't be approved. Armengol insists that the situation is different in the Balearics. Budgets and important laws have been approved and passed. They may well have been, but this doesn't mean to say that they will be in the future. She also faces the ongoing matter of the Més contracts, and the possibility of Biel Barceló being cited by a judge. Camargo has said that Barceló's continuation as vice-president and tourism minister is reason alone for not entering the government. Were he forced to resign, though, this particular situation would change.

For Podemos, the ambition is to govern. The dash to power in 2015, although impressive, was not as strong as Podemos might have hoped. They didn't achieve a "Macron" and as time goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that they ever will. As it is, they may well have plateaued; forced, just like PSOE, to join alliances. Neither of the two principal issues which brought them to the fore - fighting corruption and austerity - has gone away. But they haven't managed the real breakthrough they might have wished. Ciudadanos, with the same issues but from a different political perspective, appear to be going backwards. The same might happen to Podemos. Without genuine, direct involvement in government, the electorate might just tire of them and of their influence of policies without responsibilities for them.

If Podemos seriously want to be part of the Balearic government, it might be now or never.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 July 2017

Morning high (7.36am): 23.1C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 19 July - Sun, cloud, 32C; 20 July - Sun, cloud, 30C; 21 July - Cloud, sun, 29C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southeast 3 to 4.

So, according to Aemet, the heat wave has come to an end. All things are relative, it has to be said. Temperatures up to 46C on the mainland were not experienced here. Thank God.

Evening update (20.00): High of 34.4C. A sort of cloud for much of the day.

The Man Who Painted Cala Figuera

They were celebrating the fiestas for the Virgen del Carmen in Cala Figuera at the weekend. This was the Santanyi Cala Figuera (there are others - Calvia, Pollensa), the name of which owes everything to the fig tree. The sea in the cala, the cove, is deep. The formation, a type of Y-shape between cliffs, is narrow. There was a tiny fishing settlement in the nineteenth century. Development, as such, only started to occur in the mid-twentieth century at around the time when Francisco Bernareggi died.

The fiestas were an occasion for remembering Bernareggi and so for highlighting the contribution of the south-eastern coast of Mallorca to the island's painting tradition. The Tramuntana mountains and Palma are most commonly associated with the painters of the last century. Santanyi played its part as well, though this is often overlooked.

This was the coastal area where Pep Costa Ferrer was instrumental in creating Cala d'Or in the 1930s. Don Pep had a similar vision to Adan Diehl, the founder of Pollensa's Hotel Formentor: a haven of artistic and cultural endeavour. He had at one point considered the same promontory as Diehl. Cala d'Or (what was to be named Cala d'Or, that is) was significantly less expensive. Rather than a single hotel, Don Pep conceived a development, one that famously reflected his Ibizan origins.

But before Costa Ferrer stumbled across the coves that were to inspire his vision, Bernareggi had been hard at work. An Argentine, he first came to Mallorca in 1903 at the age of 25. Other Argentine painters were to arrive in Mallorca, most notably Hermen Anglada Camarasa, attributed with having founded the "Pollensa School". But they came some ten years later than Bernareggi. He was therefore more of a pioneer and as the son of a Catalan he had moved with his family to Barcelona in 1895. He enrolled at the school of fine arts - a peer and friend was Pablo Picasso.

His parents were to later spend long periods in Mallorca. They had a villa - Es Corb Marí - by El Terreno in Palma, one of the most important centres for foreign artists and writers. Bernareggi, following the path of the Catalan painters, such as Santiago Rusiñol, initially chose the Tramuntana for his work, capturing scenes of Sa Calobra and Soller.

It was 1919 when he moved to Santanyi, where he was to live - on and off - until his death in 1959. An exhibition the following year confirmed his arrival on a broader Mallorcan scene. There were to be two particularly famous works. The first, in 1927, was Bonanza. This captured the essence of the cala at a time when there was so little development. The narrow entrance, somewhat forbidding to those unfamiliar with it, can be seen in the background. In the foreground is an imposing pine tree, a natural feature but possibly also a nod in the direction of Pollensa and Costa i Llobera's poem about the pine of Formentor. There is a copy of the painting in the town hall in Santanyi.

The second work, in 1934, is more famous. It is also more vibrant than Bonanza and has a special place in the cala's history because of its name - simply Cala Figuera. The colours and clarity of the work were the product of how Bernareggi went about the painting. From original sketches, he would then paint around noon so that shadows were lessened and he could reveal the full character of his subject. It is a work that was undertaken on the terrace of a summer house that belonged to a pharmacist friend.

Bernareggi returned to Argentina at the outbreak of the Civil War, but he was to return to Mallorca and to resume his work in Cala Figuera. Santanyi town hall, in remembering his contributions, says that it was he who opened the door to other artists who were to create their own compositions of the Santanyi coast. As important as Don Pep and the artistic crowd he attracted to Cala d'Or, Bernareggi displayed a corner of Mallorca that was much less known than the more typical subjects of the Tramuntana.

He was to say of his work in Cala Figuera that it was a cove with soft lines. It was "Hellenic", he noted, granting it a place in distant Mediterranean culture. There were "harmonies in the water" of stones and enamels.

Many were and have been the tributes to his work. One of the more astonishing was in the Spanish newspaper ABC. In 1925, as part of a series on Argentine painters, a profile praised him got the "marvellous transmission of his thoughts through his brushes". His work was "unblemished". It was full of light. It communicated the emotion of nature. And it communicated the little part of paradise he had found at Cala Figuera.

* Photo: Cala Figuera by Francisco Bernareggi.

Monday, July 17, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 July 2017

Morning high (7.14am): 20.5C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 18 July - Sun, 31C; 19 July - Sun, 31C; 20 July - Sun, cloud, 30C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North-Northeast 3 to 4.

Evening update (21.00): High of 33.4C.

Snow White And The Seven PSOE Dwarfs

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most morally superior of them all?" The mirror answered, as mirrors do: "you are, oh Queen of Podemos". With this, Her Royal Bootness, Laura Camargo, cackled as she returned to her plans, plotting governmental domination of Snow White, the sweet and friendly Francina. Meanwhile, the Queen's not entirely faithful Humbert, Alberto Jarabo, was seeking to make amends for not having metaphorically killed Snow White. Podemos will be inside the government come October, he announced to the dwarfs of PSOE. And the tourist tax will be doubled, he shouted. The dwarfs nodded in humble obedience. He stopped short, for now, in cancelling Christmas, though this could be a demand for passing next year's budget, as is the 100% increase to the tourist tax and the elimination of the 50% discount that currently exists for April (and possibly also March).

Snow White and the PSOE dwarfs were preparing to go to their tiny cottage for the party's congress. Snow White told the dwarfs to be less subservient to the Queen. Podemos claim moral superiority, yet this is an expression of populism, she opined. The Queen and Humbert, to say nothing of the Lords of Podemos in Madrid, can engage in "bad practice" and brush it off as forgivable because they believe they are morally superior. PSOE will not bow to such populism, she made clear. PSOE will fight corruption transparently and PSOE will demonstrate that the party will do what it says it will do. The dwarfs all cheered, albeit they weren't entirely sure what she was talking about. There again, very few people are.

At the cottage, the idea will be to plan their own dominance, but the dwarfs were shuffling nervously, looking at their tiny shoes. "Who'll be sleeping in our beds," they asked, mangling their fairy tales. "We'll still have to get into bed with the Queen," one horrified dwarf maintained. "Err. Yucky," the other dwarfs chimed. Snow White replied: "Never fear, for I will one day consult the mirror in strict accordance with the principles of consensus and dialogue. I shall be the most morally superior of them all."

With this, the dwarfs uttered a collective hoorah, still not totally convinced that they had a clue what she was going on about. But it sounded good, and there was more heartening news for them. Snow White explained that a handsome prince is travelling through the lands. His name is Pedro. He will fall in love with Snow White's plans for progressive politics of the left, predicated on pacts and a system of federalism. The dwarfs were now becoming ecstatic, but one noted that this will still mean having to give bed room to the Queen. "Don't we want to govern on our own?" At this, Snow White's sweet and friendly face turned sour. For as and when she looks in the mirror, she knew that she will only see the image of the Queen staring back at her.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 July 2017

Morning high (6.56am): 25.2C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 17 July - Sun, 31C; 18 July - Cloud, sun, 31C; 19 July - Cloud, sun, 32C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 3 to 4 temporarily 5 around midday. Swells of one metre.

Happy Virgen del Carmen, especially to folk in Puerto Pollensa, where they'll be running with demons and letting off fireworks tonight. And another warm night it will be.

Evening update (20.15): High of 31.1C.

The Sun Always Shines On Magalluf

And The Sun was not only on Magalluf. It was The Sun what did it, along with The Mail (among others). It ventured last week to where no sun in fact shines but where the air-con doesn't work. Thousands of British holidaymakers were being condemned to spend their entire holidays camped out in queues for passport control at Palma airport, deprived of cooling air and even bottles of water.

Does The Sun have a specific strategy for Mallorca? One that it doesn't have for all other holiday destinations? It can appear so. There again, passport control mayhem is a surefire media winner. Vast queues of bedraggled tourists, begging to be released. What could be better? And for the privilege of doing so, they'll be stumping up twice as much tourist tax next year. Rip-off Mallorca, The Sun will say.

Still, one trusts that the interior ministry might have sorted things out by next summer, assuming that Britain hasn't been bombed by the combined forces of the 27 member states. "We'll fight 'em on the beaches," The Sun will maintain. But the beaches will be those of Brighton and Skegness, not Magalluf.

Ah yes, Magalluf. Now where were we? All that high-quality tourism converting the resort into a giant beach resort of high-spending, respectful tourists with as much interest (if not more) in culture and heritage as in lying on beaches. Unfortunately, and much to Calvia's chagrin, not everything is going according to plan, and it was The Sun what told everyone. Again.

This time, though, Calvia took exception. They're considering seeing The Sun in court. Enough was enough. Declaring Magalluf a war zone and defaming the local police was too much. The Sun's special envoys to Magalluf might be advised to go even more undercover.

It's fair enough, the town hall wanting to sue. But where might they file an action? In a UK court? Tricky business taking a Murdoch paper to court or any other paper. Expensive as well. The town hall might consider asking the UK justice minister to change things, just as he plans to do with false claims. But dealing with false claims isn't the same as suing for defamation. The Sun will return. Watch out, Magalluf.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 July 2017

Morning high (7.45am): 23.2C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 16 July - Sun, 30C; 17 July - Sun, 31C; 18 July - Sun, 33C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 5 easing 3 to 4 by the evening. Swells of one to two metres.

A sunnier day today. And a fine night for the beach party in Puerto Pollensa and demons in Santa Margalida.

Evening update (20.30): High of 31.5C.

Alcudia's Three Weeks Of Mayhem

The so-called Mallorca Island Festival is over for another year. As each year, it has left a trail of complaints about noise, behaviour and vandalism. Also as each year, it has been studiously ignored by the media. Might this have to do with the fact that it is Spanish students causing the complaints? If British or German counterparts were the protagonists, you can bet that everyone would be told about it.

Some people say, well it is only three weeks, let's have some perspective. True, it is only three weeks, but it is three weeks too many for residents who are denied sleep, for those whose cars are trampled on, for businesses which are robbed, for other businesses which suffer because a regular type of tourist isn't present.

Now it's finished, there is talk that there is just one year left to run on a contract (not that anyone seems to know this for certain), that Bellevue doesn't want to renew it because of all the hassle it causes. And hassle there most certainly is. It is hardly unknown for fire alarms to be deliberately set off in Bellevue blocks, but not with the regularity which occurs when the "festival" is occurring. But hassle isn't the right word for the destruction inside the blocks. Hassle isn't the right word to describe what one understands to be the very low prices paid for the students' all-inclusive accommodation. Hassle isn't the right word to explain the reputation of Bellevue being further sullied on social networks, especially TripAdvisor; and by extension, the reputation of Alcudia.

For BlueBay, which manages the complex, the series of holidays for students does nothing for its reputation. It should be being praised for the long-overdue efforts to try and improve Bellevue. Instead, there are the brickbats that are the consequence of a form of tourism vastly more extreme than anything else which is experienced at Bellevue.

Inevitably, assuming that it is correct that there is just one year left to run, reaction will be to do nothing, an attitude that has prevailed ever since the student holidays started (which was at least in 2013): Mallorca Island Festival has been the name for the past three years; prior to this, it was known as Mallorca without teachers. Timidity is how one might best describe the approach of residents and indeed of businesses. It is a timidity which has been exacerbated by a lack of coordination and mutual support among different groups affected. In a sense, the residents and businesses in and around Bellevue have got what they deserved.

Alcudia town hall is all too aware of what goes on. Numerous have been the individual representations made to the mayor and the town hall. But individuals don't get very far. As with all administrations, they want what they consider to be valid interlocutors, associations with whom they can discuss issues. The failure to create such an association is a reflection of this timidity and of a neglect of community.

The fundamental issue with this festival is the location. Bellevue is probably the only place that could accommodate it. But what has been overlooked is the nature of Bellevue. This became a hotel by accident. It was not originally conceived as a hotel. The campus style of the complex is evidence of what was developed - a single urbanisation named Bellavista. On this urbanisation, as things were to turn out, are hotel apartment blocks and residential apartment blocks. They share the same space.

The principle of coexistence, enshrined in law and for which, at local levels, town halls have responsibilities to guarantee, is an expression of mutual respect. People need to live together. There is give and there is take, but coexistence frowns upon excesses. The principle applies everywhere, but it is especially acute on a single urbanisation and a single space. On the Bellevue complex, the give and take is understood. Of course there is noise. By its very nature there will be. Among the thousands of guests at any one time there will clearly be some who don't behave themselves. But this is, in a way, incidental. It is not organised.

With the festival, there is organisation. And this organisation, because of the offers of ferrying the students to off-site clubs from just before midnight and of ferrying them back again, can only lead to one thing. Noise. Coexistence is one thing. Breaches of bylaws regarding noise are another.

Such was the level of complaints to the 112 service that the call centre, which can geolocate the source of calls, was responding by saying that the local police need to be called. There wouldn't normally be such a response. But what, in all honesty, can the police do? They are stretched enough as it is. Should there be a permanent presence (plus the Guardia)? Both forces have other matters to attend to. They are not to blame, nor is the town hall. The blame lies elsewhere.

* A photo just after dawn on one morning of the so-called festival.

Friday, July 14, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 14 July 2017

Morning high (6.59am): 24.4C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 15 July - Sun, 30C; 16 July - Sun, 30C; 17 July - Sun, 31C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North-Northeast 4.

Cloud early on, already breaking up, though it could linger.

Evening update (20.30): Light cloud for most of the day. A high of under 30 for once - 29.2C. 

Barbarela And Men On The Moon

Tomorrow marks the 48th anniversary of the opening of what for a time was arguably the most famous disco-nightclub in Europe. On 15 July 1969, Club Barbarela in Palma's El Terreno opened its doors, revealing the most up-to-date lighting system and sound equipment. The room was an octagonal shape with the feel of a Roman theatre, the idea of a Catalan interior designer, Xavier Regàs i Pagés. The club, which was the brainchild of Pepe Roses, took its name from the 1968 science fiction film Barbarella in which Jane Fonda starred as the heroine from the French comic series of the same name and involved her pursuing the mad scientist Durand Durand, who was to later bequeath his name (minus the d's at the end) to the group Duran Duran.

You might notice that the name of the club wasn't exactly the same. It shed one of the two l's for copyright reasons. Its logo was distinctive - a female figure in black silhouette with arms raised behind her neck in a type of dance gyrating posture. It is an image which suggests that it was inspired by the American singer and actress Marsha Hunt, who had shot to prominence the previous autumn when the musical Hair opened in the West End. The suggestion is there, though she wasn't the inspiration. It was a local girl.

The logo was designed by an Argentine, Carlos Rolando. There were 311 proposals. His winning design earned him 2,000 dollars, which was a significant amount of money then and indicative of the scale of the business that was anticipated for the club. Rolando said of his image that it was the first time that an erotic image of the human body (female) was permitted by the censors. Barbarela had immediately stamped its mark. It broke rules, and the club itself was groundbreaking.

It has been said of Barbarela that it was very much more than just a disco. It was pioneering, it was special. It was the first "macro-disco" in Mallorca. Its size - 2,000 square metres - was highly ambitious. Go-go girls and boys danced on five platforms. The bar was 34 metres in length. The timing of the opening may not have been wholly incidental. On 16 July, Apollo 11 with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins was launched. Barbarela, the club with a sci-fi name and the best that technology could provide, coincided with real science and the first men on the moon. Such was the club's status that the opening was broadcast on national radio. The public couldn't see it and nor could they see the logo, which probably satisfied the censors, but they could hear it. Barbarela was definitely special.

A month after it opened, on 15 August, the club was host to its first great British pop act - The Hollies, by then without Graham Nash - who were that revered in Spain that they appeared on the front cover of Fans, the country's leading music magazine. A report of their concerts, two of them, said that they sounded just like their records: they were "consummate showmen".

Other acts which appeared included Wilson Pickett. He put on two shows, as had The Hollies, with the start times having been mid-evening and in the wee small hours. He attracted some 3,500 people to the two concerts. The punters were overjoyed, though it would seem that local musical professionals were - for some reason - less than taken with him.

Barbarela was to also stage a music contest, which I'm supposing was not long after it opened. This was one of the more extraordinary events that it put on. No fewer than 142 acts took part. They were given fifteen minutes maximum to perform just two songs, one of which was the competition song and the other an example of their repertoire. The winning group was Los Bravos, a name by then already associated with Mallorca for some years. Of the numerous other acts, there are two which even now stand out. One was the Dutch prog rock band Focus, who were to attain international recognition for the yodel sound of Hocus Pocus. The other was Gong, the band formed by Daevid Allen after he left Soft Machine: Allen had been one of Soft Machine to have visited Robert Graves in Deià.

Pepe Roses had wanted to make Barbarela a temple for pop music and a place where young people of all nationalities could come together in Mallorca. When it opened, he said that it was a "young woman of the present day and for the year 2000". But by the time that the twenty-first century arrived, the young woman had passed into middle age and then retirement. Barbarella of the film was of the 41st century. Barbarela the club never made it to the 21st century.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 13 July 2017

Morning high (8.23am): 25C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 11
Three-day forecast: 14 July - Sun, 29C; 15 July - Sun, 30C; 16 July - Sun, 31C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Northeast 3 to 4. Swells of one metre from midday.

Evening update (20.30): High of 31.7C. Cooler day therefore; all things being relative.

The Podemos Influence On Tourism Policy

Podemos have been threatening to scupper the government's holiday rentals' legislation. They have engaged in brinkmanship grandstanding in the past, as with the tourist tax law, and so have earned the criticism of the Partido Popular for "crying wolf" because they don't see their threats through. Things are unlikely to be any different this time.

The reasons for this latest bout of messing with the PSOE (PSIB) and Més government are twofold. Podemos insist that the government doesn't appreciate the scale of the problems with finding residential accommodation and that the legislation doesn't do anything to bring down the cost of renting or indeed purchasing. Nor does the law guarantee a right to housing. The second reason is that Podemos are demanding that the law includes a declaration of a housing emergency in Palma and Ibiza. This would entail the total prohibition of holiday rentals.

From a legislative point of view, Podemos are blurring two strands - one has to do with holiday rentals, the other with housing. There are two separate pieces of legislation going before the Balearic parliament. In essence, what Podemos would like is a unified bill, but this won't happen, much though - and Podemos would be right in this regard - the two strands are clearly linked. The government, meantime, justifiably argues that there would be encroachment into powers of town halls and island councils. Were there to be, then the legislation could end up becoming mired in the courts. It might do anyway, but for other reasons.

In fact, both Palma town hall and the Council of Ibiza have indicated they will use provisions in the new bill to severely restrict rentals. A specific declaration regarding emergency housing wouldn't therefore be necessary.

Previous experience suggests that when push comes to shove and votes are finally cast, Podemos will allow the legislation to go through. Although Podemos have been engaged in their usual last-minute attempts at horse-trading, the bill will surely be approved. Different alterations to the legislation should enable this. One is to increase the fine on websites like Airbnb for publicising unlicensed properties to 400,000 euros. Another is to give owners the chance of offsetting fines of up to 40,000 euros by providing so-called social rental.

The approval on Tuesday, assuming it does indeed go through, will be three days before PSOE (PSIB) convene for their congress. As mentioned in a previous article, this congress will be crucial for the party in mapping out its strategy leading up to the 2019 election. Central to this strategy will be issues related to tourism.

For Francina Armengol to secure a second term as president, a new "pact" will have to be arrived at. This is a cold fact for PSOE, as it is never in a position to get close to a majority: the Partido Popular is far too strong for this to ever happen. The congress will therefore have to take into account what the relationship with other parties might look like, with the Podemos relationship key to Armengol's ability to continue as president.

The PP could return with a majority, as it has in the past, but this is by no means certain. For all the at-times chaotic appearance of the current government, it has nevertheless presided over a period of improved economic conditions. The PP will attack it on jobs and on pay, but the electorate are unlikely to be convinced that the PP would do any better. In this respect, Armengol will be hoping that next year's wage negotiations and settlement for the hotel and hospitality sector bring about improved terms. Just as important, as mentioned before, will be any agreement on a special economic regime for the Balearics. A good one, and the PP will find it that much tougher to win.

The nature of the current pact or of a future one will, nevertheless, be an ingredient for the electorate to consider. When it comes to tourism policy, the tourist tax won't -as it stands - be a factor. In 2003, when the PP came back to power, it was an issue, as the electorate were concerned by an impact on tourism. Circumstances are quite different now. A Podemos demand for a doubling in the rate of the tax - a stipulation made for the party approving next year's budget - might be something for the public to baulk at. Or it might not be, given the "saturation" narrative.

Podemos do have the power to influence policy, and this can be seen in what the congress will consider in respect of limits on the number of tourists. PSOE, it is understood, is to change its tune. The congress will consider a limit on summer tourism numbers. A "battery" of proposals are to be presented in order to achieve a limit. The tourist tax is likely to be one of them. A doubling, and Podemos will take the credit.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 12 July 2017

Morning high (8.51am): 25.8C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 13 July - Sun, 29C; 14 July - Sun, 29C; 15 July - Sun, 30C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 3.

Yellow alert for high temperatures, so the forecast for 30C is likely to be well exceeded.

Evening update (20.15): High of 35.3C.

Twenty Summers Of Division

It had been twenty summers since I had last experienced a late June and early July in England. They stressed that it had been hot the week before. I enjoyed the drizzle and the moderate temperatures. They were a surprisingly welcome change to Mallorca.

That last summer was 1997. The spring had heralded a new beginning. England and Britain had an optimism. The glorious weather of 1 May had taken the people to the polls. On 2 May, equally glorious, the people knew that Tony Blair was prime minister. There was joy in the land. Oh how it was to evaporate. The about turn on freedom of information, an early victim of Blairism, was an indication that a pup may have been sold to the public.

Blair, the consummate actor, was to overplay his hand during the service, but he had previously captured the mood. Late in that summer, I had put on Five Live as I habitually did in the morning. Peter Allen was presenting, when Peter Allen wouldn't normally have been. It soon became apparent why. Blair did at least appreciate what Diana meant to the people.

That was twenty years ago. In fact, the last time I was in England (in winter) was seven years ago. It was the last time I had actually left Mallorca. I realised this because of the expiry date on my European health card: the acquisition of a replacement was to prove to be less straightforward than I had remembered the process having been. I now have the replacement, but I travelled without it.

At the time I left England, there was a growing disappointment with Blair. The policies of David Blunkett had been making me uneasy as well. There were mutterings of police state. In my part of west London, there were the signs of some form of breakdown. This was heavily multicultural London. I knew Caribbeans, Asians, Irish, Poles, Lithuanians. There was occasional tension but generally there was harmony. Coexistence had been good. But by 1998, I had begun to wonder.

It was saddening. The Poles, for instance, were long embedded in local society. They had been since the Second World War. When Diana's body was brought to England, it was to RAF Northolt, the one-time base for Polish airmen, with the Polish War Memorial close by. It was a time, in the late 1990s, that predated the outright hysteria of the right in targeting other cultures. Yet one could feel the seeds of the discontent. I was to later discover, while in Germany three years later, how these seeds were being organised. Farage was just one name in a crafted strategic approach that was quite different to the blatant and simplistic thuggery of the National Front or BNP.

I returned, albeit briefly, to the green fields and woods of the northern Home Counties. This is an area where rock musicians live in discreet tranquility, unmolested by neighbours or prying eyes. Everyone seems to drive an Audi, including the twentysomethings. Apparently it's all due to highly favourable leasing arrangements. It is an area largely unaffected by the sickness of England.

Before going, there had been a radio discussion. A German journalist, resident in England for years who works for a German paper, had used the word sickness. She had suggested that there aren't quite the same extreme societal divisions in Germany as there are in England. It was Grenfell to which she was referring and not to terrorism, of which Germany has had its own sickening fill.

Theresa May isn't Blair. She failed to capture the public mood. Grenfell was and is symptomatic of social failure, hastened - it has to be admitted - by the over ambitions of the European project. This ambitiousness - so much expansion, so rapidly - was the root cause of Brexit. Immigration was just one element, but one that lay at the heart of the far-right's strategy that had initially been developed in the late 1990s: a time when it was not paid sufficient attention in exposing. The egghead fascists, Holocaust deniers and others of the late '90s were the progenitors of Steve Bannon: all they lacked then was the technology.

It was, in a way, reassuring to, for instance, be served at the easyJet check-in at Luton Airport by a lady wearing a hijab. What has happened in recent years is a denial of the one-time harmony of west London and of other parts of England. This denial is understandable, but to fully understand it, one has to make reference to the process initiated in the late '90s. The far-right was in it for the long-term.

There was an almost reluctance to talk about Brexit. There were those who had voted to leave but who now questioned why they had done so. The frightening wealth of the northern Home Counties notwithstanding, there was nevertheless an underlying sense of uncertainties. Brexit is only cause. But then, the thinking would be very different elsewhere, including North Kensington. Division. It has been twenty summers in the making.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 11 July 2017

Morning high (6.50am): 21.9C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 12 July - Sun, 31C; 13 July - Sun, 29C; 14 July - Sun, 29C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 3 to 4.

Evening update (20.30): High of 33.8C.

Dragonera: Forty Years Later



July 1977. It is a date when something highly significant occurred. An incipient environmental consciousness in Mallorca found both voice and direct action. It was extraordinary, an act played out against the background of equally incipient democracy. It was a time when public administrations - local authorities, police - were only starting to come to terms with what democracy entailed, a feature of which was the right to protest.

The date has in fact a far greater symmetry than mere month and year. It has entered Mallorcan folklore as 7-7-77. The day, seventh of July 1977 when fifty people occupied the island of Dragonera off the Andratx coast. It was a landmark protest, one that confirmed a movement of environmental conservation, something that had been all too conveniently ignored during the Franco era.

To understand the full background, one has to go back three years earlier. The island's owner sold Dragonera to a company called Pamesa for some one hundred million pesetas (around 600,000 euros at the rate that was used at the time when the euro was introduced). The understanding was that half of the island would remain in its natural condition; the other half would be developed and would include a marina. (The island's area is slightly under three square kilometres.) In fact, the plan was to involve the construction of four developments with capacity for some 4,000 people. Essentially, the whole of the island was to be built on. The alarm bells were set off.

It's important to appreciate that there were pockets of environmental resistance prior to the establishment of democracy. One organisation was GOB, which was founded in 1973. Although ostensibly an ornithological group, GOB's activism was to become far more broad-based. It was one of several organisations which voiced its opposition to the Dragonera plan in 1974, the year before Franco's death.

A joint statement from GOB and the other organisations was sent to the mayor of Andratx. It referred to the irreversible alteration that the project would entail and to the importance of Dragonera in the context of Mediterranean flora and fauna. It called on the town hall to defend scientific and social rights. Around the same time, the issue reached an outside audience. The Paris-Baleares magazine alerted France to the plan, while the Council of Europe was petitioned and requested to recommend that the Spanish government made Dragonera a nature park, which would mean that it couldn't be developed.

Two years later, in 1976, there were more moves to prevent development. This time, the opposition could also count on the Fomento del Turismo, the Mallorca Tourist Board. But all the petitions, the requests, the publicity were to prove to be to no avail. In what now seems one of the most astonishingly ridiculous acts of premeditated environmental vandalism (even by Mallorcan standards of the 1960s and 1970s), Andratx town hall approved the plan.

When the definitive project was published in the Official Bulletin on 5 July 1977 - it was given the green light by the provincial committee for urban development (there was at that point no Council of Mallorca or regional government) - the decision to occupy the island was taken. Two days later, with by now the whole of the Spanish media aware of what was going on, two boats with fifty people crossed the short stretch from the Andratx coast.

They were to be described as variously anarchists, leftists, artists and ecologists. They may well have been, but there were many people in Mallorca who certainly didn't fall into the first two categories, if any of them, who were outraged and supported the occupation. The occupation was to last two weeks. There were meant to have been many more occupiers, but boat owners were "persuaded" not to take them. The Guardia Civil kept watch, whereas in previous times it might have opted for its own direct action; the force's neutrality was to later be acknowledged after officers initially landed on the island to check on things. However, the occupiers were, up to a point, starved into giving up their protest.

The movement behind the occupation was known as Terra i Llibertat - land and freedom. It inspired enormous support from across Mallorca, and the occupation genuinely marked a major turning-point in conservation. The official reaction was to be uncommonly swift. The president of the Provincial Deputation, Gabriel Sampol, stamped his signature in opposing the development. The matter was to end up in the courts, and in 1984, following repeated demonstrations, the Balearic High Court dismissed an order that had permitted construction. Eventually, on 14 July 1988, the Council of Mallorca approved the purchase of Dragonera for 280 million pesetas. In 1995, it was given nature park status.

Last week, the events of 1977 were remembered. Sandra Espeja, the environment councillor at the Council of Mallorca, referred to how direct action awakened the people and transformed policies. Dragonera was a landmark.

Monday, July 10, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 10 July 2017

Morning high (7.22am): 21.1C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 11 July - Sun, 30C; 12 July - Sun, 30C; 13 July - Sun, 29C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 2, East-Southeast 3 to 4 from midday.

Evening update (21.30): High of 34.5C.

PSOE In The Balearics Preparing For Election

PSOE, otherwise known as PSIB, will be holding their regional congress at the end of next week. Francina Armengol is assured of warm rounds of applause, having already secured her re-election as party general secretary. Four more years, they may well chant, this being how long she has been re-elected for. In under two years time, others (i.e. the electorate) will be invited to grant her four more years as president.

Not that it will be simple for her. The history of PSOE (PSIB) presidents of the Balearics - there have only been two of them, Armengol and Antich - demonstrates that pacts are necessary. For all her unconvincing words about the "progressive" pact of the left, the involvement of Podemos is as capable of arousing suspicions as used to be the case with the Unió Mallorquina. Podemos may be of the left (which the UM were not), but the pact has been no easier than when Maria Munar effectively called the Antich shots before the UM were finally destroyed by the anti-corruption prosecution service.

Past the halfway mark of the administration, Armengol now has to plot the route to the 2019 election. History tells us that she won't have to concern herself with a new or reconfirmed pact, because the Partido Popular will win; as it did in 2003 and 2011 after the two Antich administrations. However, it is not yet obvious that history will repeat itself. The PP has a new leader, Biel Company. More in tune with the PP of the old Balearic school, meaning that he is not a rabid anti-Catalanist in the style of José Ramón Bauzá, Company presents a more acceptable PP face. But under two years away from the election, it is by no means certain that he will secure the mandate.

Company and the PP find themselves in an awkward situation. The PP have backed the calls for a revised economic regime for the Balearics, and the national party - in the form of the Spanish government - appears willing to finally make this a reality. The ink won't be dry on any agreement until some time next year, but if it represents a favourable outcome, then the Rajoy government may well deal a blow to Company.

Doubtless aware of this possibility, the deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaria, is crafting a higher profile for the government's delegate in the Balearics, Maria Salom. The PP's one-time Council of Mallorca president, Salom is to effectively be "relaunched", as is the delegation. What this means is that the national party wants to impress upon the Balearic public the key roles played by Salom and by Madrid in Balearic affairs. Consequently, as and when a new economic regime is confirmed, the spin machine will seek to ensure that it is Madrid which is seen to be delivering largesse. It will be the national government (i.e. the PP) which makes lives of Balearic citizens better and not Armengol and her regional government.

The problem for Rajoy, Sáenz de Santamaria and Salom (and also Company) is that the electorate might not buy the spin. The economic regime is fundamental to the next election. It's highly doubtful that Madrid will grant the Balearics all the items on the shopping list, but some key ones may be forthcoming. If the financing system were to be overhauled and the Balearics were able to keep more income tax and IVA (VAT) revenue than the islands currently give away, this alone would represent a massive result for Armengol. However, delivering a reformed financing system requires - as Rajoy has pointed out - an accord among regional presidents. Given that many regions benefit from Balearic tax revenue, they will be loathe to accede to Balearic demands.

Nevertheless, it would seem that some new and more beneficial arrangement will be hammered out next year. And lurking in the background is what Congress might have in store. With Pedro Sánchez restored to PSOE's national leadership and with the Rajoy administration on shaky ground, there may yet be a drive towards a provisional form of federalism, which is what Armengol has been advocating. One says provisional because federalism couldn't be rushed, but the principle would mean a different approach to tax revenue and regional powers.

More immediate than any reconstitution of the regional relationship with the state would be the nitty-gritty of the new economic regime. The Balearics have a justifiable, even moral claim for a system to compensate for insularity. Madrid does now appear to accept the argument, but for Armengol and PSIB there is greater urgency in mapping out the path to 2019. The party won't win on its own, which raises the issue of a future pact and therefore dealings with Podemos in particular. And already there are signs of shifts in policy, e.g. on tourism, that bear something of the Podemos mark. These shifts will be on the agenda at the congress, and I'll consider them in a following article.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 9 July 2017

Morning high (8.18am): 22.4C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 10 July - Sun, 32C; 11 July - Sun, 30C; 12 July - Sun, 31C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 2 to 3, locally Northeast 4 in the afternoon.

Feels a bit fresher this morning - all things being relative. Outlook remains sun, sun, sun all the way with highs this week into the low 30s.

Evening update (20.30): Coastal high of 31.3C; inland high 33C.

Germans Taking Umbrage

When Maria Antonia Munar and Celesti Alomar, respectively the former president of the Council of Mallorca and regional tourism minister, once advocated a greater quality of tourist and took particular aim at the Germans, the reaction was one of outrage in Germany. Or one should say among certain elements of that country's media. As always, the words of the politicians were blown out of proportion, but the press in Germany, e.g. Bild, managed to whip up sufficient offence for the number of German tourists to fall sharply in 2002 (there were other factors, i.e. the ecotax and a faltering German economy at the time).

There is now something of a repetition. Palma's mayor Antoni Noguera has referred to "rubbish" tourists from Germany (his term might also be translated as junk or even scum). Bild has taken umbrage and so have opposition politicians in Palma. Irresponsible, says the PP's Marga Duran, ignoring the fact that Noguera was talking about recent incidents which quite clearly demonstrate that there is a breed of German tourist (in Playa de Palma) which is indeed rubbish.

The non-Bild-reading Germans will be among those agreeing with Noguera. He has called out a sector of German tourism and was not wrong to have done so. What Bild and some others might care to reflect on is the fact that this issue does crop up fairly repeatedly. The message might eventually get through.

The difference now is that Noguera has taken specific aim at behaviour. Munar and Alomar were more concerned with spending power, as was - in 2013 - the then deputy mayor with tourism responsibilities Alvaro Gijón. He had advocated a policy of increasing quality in Playa de Palma. His words were misinterpreted, Bild believing that "our favourite island" was coming to an end. Gijón was planning a resort for the rich in "Germany's most popular party zone". The assault on Gijón and the defence of German tourists was such that the paper took issue with any attempt to deny tourists the right to take "buckets of sangria" onto the beach.

One of the images of Playa de Palma over the years (and it is the case elsewhere) has been the bucket of booze with long straws. There is now renewed talk of banning supermarkets from selling the booze buckets, which is another aspect of the general attempt to eliminate rubbish tourism on a broad scale in Mallorca. It was this image that Bild defended, and so also defended the right of German tourists to get drunk. The headline was something along the lines of "hands off Ballermann", i.e. let the tourists drink at Balneario 6, which has long been the epicentre of drunken tourism.

A further difference now is that Noguera's rubbish tourism is not confining itself to the earlier season. Residents' groups are saying that it extends into the main season and they are identifying a type of tourism which unashamedly only comes to drink. As such, therefore, moves to promote greater quality in tourism and to place families, responsible tourists in general over the low-grade category are failing. Once more, the tour operators need to share some of the blame. But above all, it is the tourists themselves who are to blame. Rubbish tourists? Kick 'em out.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 8 July 2017

Morning high (8.13am): 23.8C
Forecast high: 34C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 9 July - Sun, 30C; 10 July - Sun, 30C; 11 July - Sun, 32C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Southeast 3 to 4 backing North in the afternoon.

With a peak of 29C overnight, expect a steamy old day. Fair bit of cloud anticipated today. Cooling down somewhat tomorrow.

Evening update (20.45): A spot of rain around midday and some rumbles of thunder. Otherwise fine though with a fair amount of light cloud. High of 35C (inland Pollensa); 33.7C on the coasts.

The Coca-Cola Square Of Vilafranca



They're going to create a new square in Vilafranca de Bonany. It will cost just short of a quarter of a million euros and involve the transformation of a disused plot of land in a part of the village where there is currently an absence of public spaces. There will be orange trees, a fountain with small fish, and shade for the elderly to practise some physical jerks. The elderly are quite important in this regard, for this will be the square for the Vilafranca grandfather of Coca-Cola.

In 2009, Pep Mascaró acquired a certain fame. He was well-known in Vilafranca but not outside the village. He had lived a long life. He was 102, with six children, 33 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren. Yet he was to give a message that life can seem short. It was part of the global campaign "Open Happiness" developed by McCann-Erickson for Coca-Cola.

L’amo en Pep de Son Bats was how he was known in Vilafranca. He had appeared on a programme for the IB3 broadcaster and was then put forward by one of his numerous relatives as a candidate to take the central role in an advert to be developed by McCann-Erickson on behalf of Coca-Cola España. The grandfather of Vilafranca, as he was also known, undertook a special journey. He took his first plane journey to meet a newborn baby, Aitana, and to convey a message of happiness.

"Hello Aitana, my name is Josep Mascaró and I am 102 years old. I'm lucky, lucky to have been born, like you. To have been able to hug my wife, to have met my friends, to have said goodbye to them. You will wonder what the reason is for my coming to see you today. Many people will tell you what to think of about these times: that there is crisis, that you cannot ... . Ah! ... This will make you strong: I have known worse moments than this, but in the end the only thing you're going to remember is the good times. Do not dwell on the nonsenses. Find what makes you happy. Time goes very fast. I have lived 102 years and I can assure you that the only thing you will not like about life is that it will seem too short. You're here to be happy."

Pep died in August 2012 at the age of 105. He had attributed his long life to his simple farming upbringing, to his never having smoked, to his having cycled and run until very late in life, to his having practised "gymnastics" - those physical jerks for the elderly. After he died, they gave him a plaque. Now, the town hall wants to give him a square.

When they build the square, they should think about putting up another plaque, one that contains Pep's message. Yes, it was of course a Coca-Cola ad designed to tug the heart strings. Some dismissed it as cynical marketing by a global multinational. Others ignored the nonsenses. They celebrated Pep's life and Pep's message.

The square will be a nice honour. The Council of Mallorca will probably end up paying for it. Perhaps Coca-Cola could chip in. There again, it might become Plaça l’amo en Pep de Son Bats, sponsored by Coke.

Friday, July 07, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 7 July 2017

Morning high (8.05am): 24.3C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 8 July - Cloud, sun, 34C; 9 July - Sun, 31C; 10 July - Sun, 32C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Southeast 3 to 4.

Very warm overnight. A peak of 28 degrees in areas around five in the morning. The yellow alert remains in place for high temperatures. In the south of the island, the maximums are expected to rise to around 39C.

Evening update (20.00): Sort of clouded over a bit in the afternoon. High of 37C inland (Sa Pobla). Cooler on the coasts: 32.1C.

The Disgrace Of Alcudia

It's half past midnight. The fire alarm has been let off in one of the three Fedra buildings on the Bellevue complex. Two security guards are some metres away from the building. They don't react. They continue to chat before eventually wandering towards Fedra. Passing them are a few regular tourists. These are arrivals, trudging the distance from reception, the rumble of the suitcase wheels lost within the ring of the alarm and the roars and screams. These are not cries of fear. These are the sounds of the nightly disgrace of Alcudia.

One guard wears the brown shirt of the security firm that has been hired for the so-called festival. The firm is Tasp Seguridad. According to the festival organisers, Finalia Viajes S.L. (C. Girona 34, Igualada, Catalonia), this firm was established in Mallorca in 1968. It is providing twelve "professionals" who offer cover 24/7. The guard with the brown shirt is with another who wears blue: he is Bellevue. The two explain that there are four security guards for the eight blocks that are to the eastern side of the Bellevue entrance road - the Apollo, Ceres, Diana and Fedra blocks. They all house students from the mainland who are there for the "festival", a marketing term (with registered trademark) for a holiday that has become an excuse for total disruption of normal coexistence in this part of Alcudia, an excuse for vandalism, for excessive drinking, for unacceptable behaviour which matches anything that Arenal or Magalluf can offer.

Finalia, in a letter of 15 February this year, said that the festival is in collaboration with teams of teachers and parents associations as part of a celebration of the end of the school course (baccalaureate). There are no teachers on the site and nor are there any parents. Do these parents know what occurs during the "festival"? Would they be so collaborative if they knew, for instance, about cars being damaged, about shops being robbed, about groups of students doing runners from local restaurants, about regular tourists being jostled and pushed aside in the restaurant, about the nightly screaming, mayhem and chaos that lasts from the middle of June until at least the end of the first week of July?

One of the guards says things are not normal. The behaviour is not normal. Nor is the fact that regular tourists, towards the end of the festival, are being allocated to the blocks most adversely affected, namely Fedra and Diana. What perverse form of hotel administration decrees that these tourists, some with families, should be placed amidst this carnage? They have arrived with the fire alarm going off, with students bawling and roaring, with a scene of bedlam. The guards have as good as given up. What were they ever going to have done? Hundreds of students who come on a rotational basis over the duration of the "festival": the four on the shift are no match for these hundreds. They are helpless, useless, and they know it. They are also regretful. They understand that residents and other tourists are being harmed. Things are not normal. They can do nothing. There are no police, no Guardia. They are alone, as are the residents and tourists.

Someone says that the students are paying fifteen euros a night all-inclusive. If so, is Bellevue really that desperate for clients? Perhaps it is. The hotel's acceptance of this festival (the existence of which was denied by a person on reception when tackled by a resident) merely reinforces Bellevue's chronic reputation for lack of care. The festival drags Alcudia's image further through the mud, a negative image which is largely the fault of Bellevue and Bellevue alone. Why, one wonders, does a company like BlueBay, which manages the complex, have anything to do with this "festival"? It is a hotel chain which, otherwise, has a more upmarket profile, especially elsewhere.

With the regional government trying to convince tour operators not to bring drunken (junk) tourism to the island, it should include Finalia on this list. It probably won't, because what happens in Alcudia is of marginal interest, when compared with Magalluf and Arenal. If this were a tour operator bringing British or German youngsters, the world would know about it. Spanish, and there is general silence. Who, among the media, draws any attention to it? 

The Finalia marketing, as revealed by its February letter, is laughable. It talks about presentations made to parents in which explanations are given about Alcudia's "magnificent beaches" and "the precious church of San Jaime (Sant Jaume)". Thousands of parents, it continues, subsequently opt to visit Alcudia as a result of their children's experiences. Of course they do.

This marketing, as shown on the festival website, includes the "collaborative businesses", some of which aren't businesses, such as the Spanish government, the Balearic tourism ministry, the government in Catalonia. Are these administrations willing collaborators in drunken, excessive, junk tourism? Are they giving their blessings to chaos and the breakdown of order? Are they collaborating in the annual disgrace of Alcudia?

* The photo is from the Jolly Roger Facebook page. It shows a whole load of students trooping past the Lago Menor en route to Hidropark. Tourists at the waterpark, it has been reported, have opted to leave because of the "invasion" which regularly occurs.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 6 July 2017

Morning high (8.07am): 20.6C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 7 July - Sun, 32C; 8 July - Sun, cloud, 33C; 9 July - Sun, cloud, 30C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 3 to 4.

High temperatures again. A yellow alert today.

Evening update (20.30): High of 34.6C.

Targeting All-Inclusives Doesn't Stop Drunkenness

They've been fighting again in Arenal. Germans, that is. One was knocked unconscious during a scrap that took place around half two in the afternoon. The incident may well have been missed unless one was looking at the Spanish or German media. Arenal, Playa de Palma don't register like Magalluf does. Had the location been Maga, had the protagonists been Britons, you wouldn't hear the end of it.

Not of course that the local politicians aren't aware of fighting in Arenal. These politicians are very much aware of Arenal (Playa de Palma) and Magalluf. They are the only resorts they are aware of. There is political capital to be had from both.

When politicians wish to be seen to be getting tough with drunken tourism, they show their interest and displeasure in these two resorts. They ignore all others. There is political capital and there is media capital, even if the British have no real interest in Arenal and the Germans feel likewise when it comes to Magalluf.

The Balearic government, bless it, is going to tackle drunken tourism (and its related incidents, such as fighting). The government will do this by introducing measures to curb access to so much free booze in all-inclusives. At a stroke, therefore, it is wishing to make itself popular among the locals, who despair of both drunkenness and all-inclusives (as well as Magalluf and Playa de Palma), by combining the two in a package of apparent toughness.

There was a revealing photo with a report of the brawl in Arenal. It showed a group of young tourists (presumably German) with a container of alcoholic beverages. This container was on the beach. Many were the bottles. There was a second photo. A young tourist (again, one assumes he was German) was seated on a bench. He had just vomited on the ground.

There have been other revealing photos, such as ones for Magalluf when drunkenness and fighting rear their ugly heads, i.e. every day. What was so revealing about these photos? The clue lies with the first photo. Can you figure it out? Remember that the government is drawing the strands of drunkenness and all-inclusives together. Are you getting warmer?

If not, let me explain. The photo with the container of bottles would have been taken some time in the afternoon. At precisely the sort of time when inmates of an all-inclusive would be getting legless. In their all-inclusive. Not on a beach. The other photos (as was the case with the first one) have one absent thing in common: wristbands, i.e. all-inclusive hotel wristbands.

If you are drunkenly availing yourself of an all-inclusive's alcohol, you would not take a sizable container full of bottles purchased from the nearest supermarket to the beach. If you are not availing yourself, then you would. The clues are obvious in these various photos. Tourists get drunk because they get drunk. Not because they stay at all-inclusives. The photographic evidence is clear in this regard.

Yes of course there is drunkenness at all-inclusives (certain ones, the economy-class ones). And if the government wishes to reduce this drunkenness brought about by the all-inclusive booze, then fine. But targeting this in-hotel booze is no remedy when a particular class of tourist just wants to get drunk. The government is missing the point.

And what, in any event, will happen if all-inclusives have restrictions placed on them? The nearest bars will sense an opportunity. Come outside the hotel, and drink as much as you can with us, they'll advertise. Though of course the government (or let's say Calvia town hall where Magalluf is concerned) is attempting to stop bars from doing cheap deals. If the bars can't do this, then the supermarkets will gladly take up the challenge.

The point isn't being missed entirely, however. The government also wants tour operators to stop bringing drunken tourists: Palma's new mayor, Antoni Noguera, call this breed "junk tourists". And will the tour operators grant the government its wish? Will they hell. For all their grand words about responsibility (normally of a sustainable, eco-style), the tour operators (the large ones) don't give a toss who they sell holidays to. When their businesses are as vertically integrated as they are, then of course they don't care. Volume has to be sold: both beds and airline seats.

The government can ask, but it won't get anywhere. The tour operators even openly admit that there is a market for the type of tourist who just wants to come and get drunk. But by saying it will get tough on all-inclusives, it can demonstrate (it will believe) that it is determined to root out the problem. Pilar Carbonell, the tourism director-general, says that the tourism law is to be modified in order to introduce restrictions. Ah yes, Pilar, whose grasp of her role was summed up when she once came to Alcudia and seemed totally ignorant of the existence of the island's largest all-inclusive (Bellevue) and of certain practices that all-inclusives adopt.

But then there's no political capital in Alcudia, a reflection of which was the complete refusal of her ministry to take any notice of communications regarding Spanish students at Bellevue. Among the latest of these was a group which decided to trample on a car and dent its roof (captured on video). An isolated incident, claimed the organisers, studiously ignoring town hall complaints in previous years about students vandalising town hall property.

Incidents, you see, are only ever isolated. Like the fight in Arenal. Which is nonsense put out by the police, as the residents maintain. If these incidents were only ever isolated, then why would anyone wish to legislate against drinking or against a class of tourist?

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 5 July 2017

Morning high (8.03am): 20.6C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 6 July - Sun, 31C; 7 July - Sun, 31C; 8 July - Sun, cloud, 31C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Northeast 2 to 3.

Evening update (20.00): High of 32.2C.

Green Remembered Hills

Dennis Potter's play Blue Remembered Hills took its title from an A.E. Housman poem. Although Potter's play was based in the Forest of Dean, Housman's poem was A Shropshire Lad:

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

It is many summers since I was last in England: twenty I calculate. The Forest of Dean melts into the Cotswolds, and they into the Mendips. From there, on the periphery of Bath Spa, I swapped its valley in travelling to the Chilterns, Ashridge Forest and the Golden Valley.

They had been lamenting the heat. It had been as hot as Mallorca the week before. On the flight, the pilot announced that it was 15C at Bristol Airport. Twenty degrees lower than the oppressive, Sahara aired atmosphere of the Mediterranean. There was a light drizzle. The sky was a grey. It was how one remembered it. The blue of eternal childhood summers was probably a myth. The blue remembered hills were green remembered hills. Those of an English summer, enlivened with precipitation, leavened by the nimbostratus cumulus that can so easily descend and thicken from the higher cirrostratus.

The sun would come out and would then disappear. The drizzle would create its olfaction of an English midsummer. A unique sense of smell. An elusive dampness of fern and rosemary. The green remembered hills carpeted in their orderliness, a neatness so evident from the air. The competing greens invaded by the occasional ochre with lines scored as though they were the elements at the back of a refrigerator. The French have some capacity for this, though theirs has a visual compactness that is more haphazard with dabs of intense darkness, as if army fatigues have been embedded into the countryside. The English have an organised landscape, the inheritance of centuries. Broad fields of green remembered hills.

Someone, more than just someone, asked what I missed. In a flash, I would say the landscape. The country lanes that are unlike Mallorca's. Here, the lanes are lined with dry stone or with nothing at all. They collapse into acres of sienna agriculture or into thin air. The English lanes are embankments of vegetation, of wild sweet pea. They are the aisles of churches passing through steeples of trees.

Returning to Mallorca, the sky was clear, the route's entrance was at the north of the Tramuntana. The whole of the coastline to Dragonera was visible. Dramatic, they will say. For it is. It is a different landscape, but it appeared suddenly alien. Left behind was a land of lost content, fleetingly remembered. England.