Fed up with cold days? Head to the Med!
Now I favour an invigorating stomp through our crisp, wintry woods and fields as much as anyone else. But there comes a time, usually about halfway through January, when the woolly hat/scarf/gloves routine simply loses its charm.
I become totally cheesed off with feeling cold, everything being damp, can’t get onto the garden. Thus a cheery carrot on the calendar, namely an upcoming week in Majorca, works wonders to dispel the gloom.
Those for whom the island of Majorca conjures up images of hot, sandy beaches littered with bronzing bodies intent upon soaking up some Mediterranean rays, or sultry evenings sipping sangria at the poolside, may find this a dubious proposition. After all, what can there be to do in February or March when the normally bustling resorts are empty and the outdoor pools are not even open?
Sunshine and almond blossom
To find the answer why not begin by considering the attraction of an early spring: warm – not always hot – sunshine tempering a breeze of pleasant freshness; blowsy flowers, whole orchards of almond trees frothy with pale pink blossom, bees, butterflies and, of course, there is the chance to see and appreciate Majorca for its own sake, not just lounge around a pool.
Add to this the reliable hospitality of La Reserva de Biniorella and you can be confident that a most enjoyable experience is there for the sampling.
It’s lovely in the early spring, with its colourful gardens, laden orange trees, quiet games facilities, the restaurant as tempting and as accommodating as ever. Not to mention the companionable weekly barbecue, most likely to be consumed indoors on cool evenings, but the company is great, so who cares?
The wealth of local walks can be better appreciated in more comfortable temperatures: a couple of miles through to the picturesque Port Andratx for lunch, coffee or simply to watch the boats being painted and prepared for the new season; Paguera for the waterfront or shopping; even the climb up to the Watchtower is more readily achievable without the added challenge of searing summer heat.
Most weeks there is a guided walk, often venturing into the mountainous area to the north of Biniorella. These are popular, chatty occasions, providing wonderful “Bondholder networking” opportunities: “Have you been to Almeria yet?” “What do you think of Henllys?”
As for a day in the capital it needs hardly to be stated that having parked underground in Palma (so easily!), one can wander round the cathedral itself (in peace!) or any of the other landmarks extolled by the guidebooks (sans hordes!) and find a decent lunch without elbowing one’s way to the last vacant table.
Conveniently situated in the north-west of the island is the mountainous area known as the Sierra de Tramuntana. I say “conveniently” because from Biniorella several trips can be made into this beautiful national park, which has recently been awarded the prestigious status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For railway anoraks there is the vintage train ride from Palma to Soller, whence an equally charming tram ride conveys the now-delighted old-vehicle junkie to the coast at Port Soller, before doing the whole thing in reverse.
Sightseeing with no crowds
Even if the air is cool and the mountain-tops misty, trundling through lemon and olive groves makes for a splendid excursion without the crowds of summer. Similarly, driving to the island’s famous mountain resorts such as Chopin’s breathtaking Italianate town of Valldemossa or the monastery at Lluc is easier when congestion is less likely.
Nature-lovers, take the binos, head out to the Albufeira Nature Reserve and get into a birdwatching hide. It’s not far from Alcudia (where the Roman theatre is well worth a look). The migration season promises the chance of spotting something out of the ordinary.
One February day we departed from a chilly, snowy Gatwick. Three hours later we were sipping tea out on our balcony, in warm sunshine, taking in the restful yet energising view of the bay. The feeling was indescribable – no prescription could match the instant tonic that boosted our senses. So why not try a week or two, or three, and see for yourself what is on offer?
It’s a great way to chase off those winter blues!
Hasta la vista!
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