By Shirley Roberts
In the writing I have done in my career nothing has caught the imagination more than the series of ‘Nan’s Days Out’ stories published regularly in the Bulletin. These true stories are all based here in Majorca and tell the tales of my days out with one, two or all of my granddaughters. As this year trundles towards its end the book by the same name occupies my mind. Due for publication by Easter I am now on a mission to revisit for photographic purposes. I take pictures all the time but some locations need to be snapped again to get better light. Where is my photographer friend Gary Lloyd Rees when you need him?
Gary and Kate spend a few months every year with us in Soller from their home in the snow lands of Canada. This year they got locked down with us for many more than their usual eight weeks. They are due back in February 2021, just in time to improve on my photographs for the book. I really hope they are able to travel. Always great to spend time with them and this year has an extra dimension as his pics and my words finally leaves for the publisher.
For new readers let me set the scene a little and remind you of some of the places we have been this year. Twenty years ago I was part of a three generational relocation from London to Majorca. My granddaughters have, and still are, enjoying an idyllic childhood here. Of course life moves on and the oldest is now in her third year at the University of Sussex. I still get to grab her, when she is home for holidays, to take a trip with Nan, and she indulges me. The younger two are still living their family, school and hobby life here. In normal weeks I get to do the school run into Palma with middle one and often pick up the youngest from school in the Port of Soller.
Nan’s Days Out have few rules except it shouldn’t cost more than the petrol and a picnic. Sometimes we come across entry fees and lunch of the menu del dia variety, but that is not standard. The music in the car is very important on a road trip and the speaker and connectivity is out of my hands with three savvy technophobes in the house. We take it in turns to choose the song and have been known to sing to the sheep and goats in remote parts of our island. I have eclectic musical tastes now since listening to their choices for years.
We have our favourite trips which are visited every year. The three on our doorstep in the Soller Valley are those to the Gardens of Alfabia, Raixa and the outdoor pool club of Can Penasso. The girls have grown with the Alfabia visits and running through the water fountains. This is a spot where a button is pressed to water the vines. Every generation of children I know from this area has their memories of running through the spray and returning to do it over and over again.
Raixa is further down the Soller road. on the right. and improves every visit. The Consell of Majorca now own it and improvements are ongoing. The beauty of this glorious house tucked under the mountains is just a gentle oasis. I love the meander round the garden and standing at the bottom of the steps of the ‘Stairs of Apollo’. This house was cleared of all possessions before it came into the public domain. The girls and I love to walk the house to see what new bits of furniture have arrived. The kitchen is particularly funny as IKEA seems to have supplied much. Together with the audio visual screens hanging in many rooms it all seems a very odd mix of ancient and modern.
Then the trio of trips is completed by the Can Penasso Roadhouse swimming pool. The name of the restaurant changes regularly but for us it will always be Can Penasso. The pool behind the hedge on the main road is found by few unless you are a resident of Bunyola. This used to be their public pool until the funds were found to build one in the village. This is the nearest our location has to a beach club in the summer months. A great pool, sun loungers, umbrellas and access to food and drink all day for a minimal entrance price.
Nan’s Days Out are a very special feature of my life. I enjoy the time spent with my girls and learn and laugh a lot. So many in Majorca do not have their families here and in this Covid year are desperate to see them. I hope that the next months will bring millions of grandchildren to visit their Nan’s in Majorca. If you follow in our footsteps occasionally I promise you some great days out.