Monday, 20 June 2011

Our Mallorcan Odyssey

It seems awhile back now that we left Cornwall overland to  Mallorca, probably the most visited island in the mediteranean and an island of contrasts.
.I am not the sort of person who wants to go out and party in Magaluf. Nor do I want to play bingo in a hotel or listen to a poor man pretending to be Rod Stewart! No offence to Rod just the man!  We wanted to find the other side of this lovely island which has been overun by so many other cultures.  Had Mallorca kept something of its uniqueness ,beauty and charm? The island whose wonderful climate and magic had made it a magnet for writers,artists and musicians.
We spent a day in Barcelona ,the Sagrada Famiglia was even more amazing than I had imagined and we wandered in the old part of the city. Far too much to see in just one day but we had to take the overnight ferry to Mallorca.
 When we arrived the next morning we saw standing majestically before us the Cathedral of Palma and I imagined George Sand and Chopin arriving to the same sight full of anticipation..
 George Sand was one of  my main reasons for this trip.I love to make literary pilgrimages ,there is a special magic about standing in the places where a hero or heroine once stood. I like to think that somehow through the web of time connections  are still being made but I am a terrible romantic!!

The south of the island is called the plain and it was here that agriculture was the main living until  mass tourism which was encouraged by Franco became a more viable way to make a living. There still are many small farms  that  families have kept going. It is sublime for a person from more northern climes to see oranges, lemons  and figs growing on the trees. Slashes of blood red poppies cut across abandoned fields. Mallorca also has  some gnarled and ancient olive trees ,witnesses to the many waves of conquerors.

The day came for the visit to Valldemosa and I was really excited. I have visited other places where George Sand lived and worked but this was a special place.She, her lover Chopin and her children came to Mallorca for one winter in a hope that the milder climate would be benificial . Maurice and Chopin both had weak  chests. After several adventures and  various discomforts they ended  spending the winter in the old Cartuja of Valldemosa . Since the 14 th century monks had inhabited this venerable old building dishing out alms and medicine to the locals.The monks apothacary is still preserved in the Cartuja . However in George Sand and Chopin's time cells were let out to travellers. They rented several rooms that were lovely and spacious when the weather was good but cold and drafty when the  winter weather arrived.

This was the view from their rooms.
Another view from the small garden  their rooms lead onto.

Chopins Piano
Chopin composed some of his most beautiful music while staying here despite the wet weather and the hostility of some of the locals. It seems they  found a cigar smoking woman,and her sick lover a bit too modern for them.
The lovers would have looked out over this Patio .

I really loved my time in Valldemosa but we had to be off to Deia the home of Robert Graves the writer and poet. Known locally as Don Roberto he was a loved member of the community who had obviously grown used to writers and bohemians with strange ways by the time he got there with Laura Riding. Laura Riding was an american poet, his lover and  his current muse. After their affaire ended unhappily Robert Graves continued to make his home in the village. He and his 2nd wife Beryl brought up a talented family but Don Roberto continued to have various Muses.
 Deia has been the inspiration for many writers, film actors musicians . It is a glorious place  set among tumbling,verdant terraces  where vegetables grow amid  the flowers.
I shall  have to return to this Mallorcan idyll again as I have only touched on its enchantment for me. I still have the food to talk about and the amazing landscape of Formentor. I hope You enjoyed coming along with me!

Monday, 6 June 2011


Do you remember the post I did just before going to Mallorca about the presssed flower in the book about George Sand?
Well this is the plant growing still in the garden of the rooms that George and Chopin stayed in when they were at the Cartuja  together. I have picked another piece and added to the book !
This is the view from the garden .
I am going to post more about this visit but Summer is so buzy and I shall be away agian for a week in London wth Mum and old friends. I am going to the Victoria and Albert Museum to  the exhibition " The Cult of Beauty" I am excited about that!
I have also had a birthday,I am going backwards now I think!