The past few days have seen a dramatic change to the landscape of Soller. Not so many people on the beach and many more with heavy hiking boots and sticks ready to tackle the mountains. The hotels are still fully booked but the type of visitor has changed. The day trippers following the umbrellas of their guides throng our side streets and tumble into the open square in front of our cathedral like church of St Bartholomew. The cruise ships have a very popular excursion to Soller on their itineraries and we welcome people from all over the globe to the Hidden Valley.

Incidentally I know I am annoying some of you by making reference to the Hidden Valley – ‘it’s no longer hidden you tell me -why do you keep saying it is?’ All about branding I say – this was once the Hidden Valley of the Island of Majorca and its charm was preserved for this generation because it was. It will take many generations before the tag looses its impact. The tunnel that opened this place up to the world is not twenty years old yet. So sorry folks -Hidden Valley as a SollerShirley brand is here to stay!

The changes in type of visitor is not the only change around here. The serious house buyers are in town and being given the VIP treatment by the agents. There are times of the year when houses for sale are looked at by wistful holidaymakers imagining what it would be like to own a place here. That changes in October as these people have already done their research and now are ready to try and do a deal. Try being the optimum word because a deal is an alien concept here with so few people left who are desperate enough to accept the offers that people start the process with. Sense usually prevails for the people who are really serious about living in the Hidden Valley and they generally do what generations before them have and agree a price that both of them think they could have done better with.

This week sees the start of ‘evening classes’ Soller style. We have two organisations that will give us action packed evenings, excursions and even mini holidays. Can Dulce occupies a fine Soller Palace building near the centre of the City in Calle Gran Via. It offers a choice of twenty new hobbies and interests for the people of Soller. From Dance to Needlework and from Yoga to Hip Hop its all here in this building five nights a week. Learn to play the piano or guitar – no problem! The other organisation with more of a similarity to the Womens Institute in the UK is to be found under the auspices of ‘The Ladies of Minerva’. They meet round the corner from Can Dulce in a hall above the Guardia Civil office. This is where I go every week to have a fix of country music and join the Line Dancing Soller matrons strutting my stuff with the best of them. You are welcome to join both these organisations but its best if you sign up this week at the beginning of term. They like to fill in the register and give you the required number of ticks – it’s all part of the procedure!

There are a number of determined women pounding the Soller streets at the moment. They are in training for the TUI marathon at the end of the month. They represent various levels of fitness and they are all trying hard to be in the best shape possible to complete the marathon in their best personal times. They are running for a great cause that has touched their hearts. The RANA Foundation is a relatively new charity in Majorca and it is hitting the subject of child abuse full on. RANA (Red de Ayuda a Ninos Abusados) is a non-profit association for the Balearic Islands, whose function is to prevent ill treatment and sexual child abuse through community awareness, education and the promotion of a multidisciplinary approach. They have developed an educational programme that educates young boys and girls abut this subject called YELL REALLY LOUDLY – based on a story by the same title. For the general public they offer guidance and support services for suspected and confirmed cases of child abuse. This is in addition to the work they do with adult victims of child sex abuse.

Nina, Katia, Karen, Mitch and Jay are Soller mums and carers for children who believe passionately in this cause. So as the days turn to autumn and they are pounding the Soller streets in training we all give them a wave and are proud of the effort they are making for this special charity. More information can be found www.fundacionrana.org.

So much to do and so little time – whatever your choice you will find it all in the Hidden Valley of Soller.

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