Here come the class of 2014 to Soller

Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
Tuesday 29th July 2014

Mike Watts
Neil Doloughan
Bill Webb


Photograph of Mike Watts by RACHEL FOX

This is the time of year when the lovely Mr Bill Webb of Webb’s International Removals spends more time in Soller and Deya than any other part of the Island .  The people who are making their family moves have waited until the school year has finished in the UK, Sweden or Germany and then they are ready to roll.  In the past this is the time they would have gone on their family holidays but this year is different they are packing up their lives and relocating to the Soller Valley .   These are the people who in years to come will laugh about the absurdity of doing a house move in the searing heat.  They will also recall the frustrations of not being able to get much done in August because of the communal shut down of tradesmen in the August tradition.  They will know then what we know now, but even with hindsight there is often no alternative but to move in July and August so that you are ready in situ for the new school term.

There are a number of us in Soller who are celebrating our tenth anniversary of moving to Mallorca shortly.  The class of 2004/05 marked a turning point in the relocaters to the Soller Valley and one that has gathered momentum ever since.  The key was to do with the age and stage in life of the people that moved.  I was part of a three generational move but my daughter and all the friends she made on her arrival tell a very different story.  They were all in their early thirties and ready to work and earn their living here. Not for them the pension and funding from the UK or other parts of Europe .  To start a business or get paid employment was crucial. The group I’m thinking about number around 20 couples and the majority of them are still here.  They have all had children born here who are now tri lingual and true European Majorcans.  The business ideas and careers ebbed and flowed along the lines of the worst recession ever known in Europe .  Some of them struggled really badly and if it wasn’t for the difficulties in selling their houses they probably would have given up and returned from whence they came.  The majority of that group have come through and are doing well.  The nights spent with a glass of wine and introspection say that it was all worthwhile and they are still to be delighted to be living in our paradise of the Hidden Valley of Majorca.

The phenomena of the young relocaters are very interesting and is capturing it for posterity.  We have a publisher who wants to tell the story of this generation and their relocation choices and using Majorca as a test sample to see if this is a Europe wide situation or specific to Majorca .  There are lots of tales to come out of this research and I am having the best time being inspired by young people with a vision and a reason for being here.  I am sure I will be sharing them with you very soon.

Meanwhile one of last years arrivals celebrated his first year living in Fornalutx by publishing ‘Under A Mallorcan Sky’ – his first book A gathering at the Ca’n Xoroi Tile Museum were delighted that Neil Doloughan had achieved his ambition and was sharing the occasion with us. Neil was a police officer in a previous life and he dedicated the murder mystery novel to Police Officers throughout the world that provides a necessary service to us all, often in dangerous circumstances.  He remembered in his dedication the two Guardia Civil officers killed an ETA car bomb in Palma Nova in 2009.  Neil was a mile or so away from the bomb that day and heard the explosion.

  The setting in the Ca’n Xoroi Museum was just perfect for this occasion and the Town Hall of Fornalutx were happy to provide the facility to introduce people to the delights of the tile collections and other artefacts.

Another author of Soller has first book published this week.  Composer Mike Watts has lived in the Soller Valley for many years and delighted audiences with his music.  He is a composer of huge merit and his works are often played in concert halls including the Auditorium in Palma and at Son Marroig.   Music is his passion and first love but he also has a penchant for writing short stories.  The days of swapping words for music scores have now ended and the result is The Mirrored Garden and other short stories published and available from Amazon on 31st July 2014.  I caught up with Mike the other day in the square and he was off to work with a local poet and set some of his work to music.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the creativity and energy in this place.  A book, a poem, a piece of music, a job, a business, a charity – there is so much bubbling away under the surface.  Some of my Majorcan friends are in awe of the effort and contribution made locally by the incomers to the Valley.  They say that their lives have been enhanced by the European migration which has brought and continues to bring people to the Soller Valley .  They join us in saying welcome to this years arrivals …

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