Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin – Tuesday 1st April 2014
April sees the start of the ‘spring’ changes to the timetable of the Soller Tram and Train. The most important change to the Tram is that it reinstates the 7am service from Soller to the Port. This early tram takes people to work and has no concession to tourists and visitors. It is the only one of the day where you can guarantee that the passengers are local and they are off to work. In Soller’s past the tram was used as public transport for the mass of Sollerics and for transporting goods from the Port to the station to be sent on down the line to their ultimate destinations. The Ferrocarril of Soller is much admired for the way it coped with the move from being local transport into being a tourist attraction. There is no doubt that the car and changes to working life and location would have been the end of the Tram at one point in its history but instead of that it’s a thriving tourist business. That being said there are many here who still see it first and foremost as a local service and they get very cross when the 7 am tram is cancelled for the winter.
April is the time when the Train increases its journeys up and down the mountain to Palma. The journey takes an hour and is considered by all of us here as one of the great train journeys of the world. I was doing some research for a literary project that Sollerweb is undertaking and I came across a fascinating snippet. The writer Kingsley Amis was married to a long suffering wife named Hilly and they had two sons Martin and Philip. Hilly Amis eventually got fed up with her husbands philandering and excessive alcohol consumption and she left him taking their two sons with her. Where To – you’ve guessed it – Soller. In the 1960’s the only means of transport was the Soller Train – it would be 35 years later that the tunnel would be opened. This meant that the Amis boys got up early every day and caught the train to Palma where they went to school. The mountain rail journey was a far cry from their London life in Primrose Hill but for four years this is where they lived and their weekdays are remembered for the beautiful train journey that got them to school and the weekends for riding on mopeds over the mountains of Soller. A peek into a bygone world in the Soller Valley and part of the literary memory box that author Martin Amis dips into.
April is the time when the engine starts running a little faster here. The ‘season’ in the Soller Valley starts in March with the arrival of hordes of walkers and cyclists but in April the Soller lovers come back. These are often people who want to stay awhile in the Valley and not march through it or cycle as fast as they can up the next mountain. The season greets them with music and poetry and endless chats over coffee in the square and next weekend gives a good example of what I mean. We start with the arrival of the Majorca Gay Mens Chorus on Friday 4th April at the Escopolies Cultural Centre – just off the Lluna at 8.30pm. This event is being looked forward to as is the Spring Concert of the Pro Musica Chorus of Soller. They have joined forces with Les Baladins a visiting choir from Belgium and the enhanced sound will make for a fine Concert on Sunday 6th April at 7.30 pm in the Convent of the Sacred Heart. The number of people who attend these events is huge and Sollerics will definitely come out of their winter hibernation for these two concerts.
As the first term of the year ends the Easter holidays arrive and the children of the Hidden Valley have to be occupied. The publicity has begun to arrive outlining opportunities to take part in a Childrens Master cookery Course, Basketball, Swimming and Football training weeks and then the special workshops at the Botanical Science Museum of Soller. To allow parents to work as the tourist season begins in Soller they need to know that the children are sorted. All the organisations do their part and the schools themselves offer play weeks and childcare. This part of life is big business in Soller and the rest of Majorca.
The final snippet of the week concerns the snails, asparagus and mushrooms that thrive in the mountains of Soller. It has just been announced that from this autumn it will be against the rules to help yourself. Payment should be made for these delicacies to the landowner or farmer and a scale of charges is set to be introduced. Only one question remains – who owns the mountains? This is a story that will set Sollerics on fire – there is already a huge issue about rights of way in the mountains which seems impossible to resolve. Add to that the collection of the beloved snails and mushrooms and its enough to push them over the edge.. This is going to be a great one to resolve in a ‘run up to election’ year. All part of the way we live in Soller.