Chopin/Graves Take 2

First things first – a trip at 10:00 to Clinica Belice for my two days before PCR test. Take 2 on that too as they needed to see my passport which was in the hotel – I’m really rubbish at this travelling lark. They were very efficient and friendly and I’m promised results tomorrow evening, [received Negativo at time of writing so if they have crew I might get home!].

Then later than usual to retrieve the car and set off. Well at least I know the way to Valldemossa and with the cloud much higher over the mountains I can appreciate the gorge that leads through the Sierra Tramuntana up to the town.

I know where to park so am soon in the Chopin/Sand cells inside the monastery. It is fascinating and reading George Sand’s disgust for the locals probably explains why they didn’t have a good time here. Her Un hiver en Majorque has some joyous descriptions of the landscape among the groaning about conditions and the impounding of a Pleyel piano for weeks by evil Spanish customs. When you read the copy you realise that they were only here for eight weeks and you wonder why all the fuss? She wrote about it and he composed some of his most famous works. Guess that worth some fuss – 24 Preludes Op28 are very highly regarded by Chopinistas.

What is fascinating is to see the wall displays of facsimiles of his manuscripts with furious revisions. He hit the paper hard as well as the keys. And it is good to see his bust keeping a watchful eye on the piano they’d paid Pleyel 1200 francs for and from which he’d had so little use thanks to customs difficulties

To talk of them living in a monastery cell sounds like real deprivation and there were three adults (FC, GS and maid) and two children living there but they did have a garden of their own which Mme really enjoyed with its stunning views.

There’s not a huge amount to see and an hour and a bit sufficed. Valldemossa itself is too touristy for my taste, highly groomed streets, some interesting art but a whole lot of craftish tat. So i have a peremptory stroll, stopping of course to snap Chopin Street and WhatsApp it to my friend Jadwiga who is Polish and a Chopin groupie!

As I left the town I was struck by the large number of plane tree avenues leading to and from Mallorcan towns – there are some on the mainland but it feels rather French midi to me. I love them. Good now, but must be great in summer.

Having not eaten until four yesterday I thought ‘wouldn’t it be good if there’s a restaurant between here and Deia.’ There was and it is clearly very popular because while there were only a few diners when I arrived just before two, by the time I left it was full. I had some great sepia in a spicy pica-pica sauce and habanitas con baicon – an old favourite but here the very small broad beans had leeks, onions and peppers as well as bacon. Very tasty and timely – I thought.

The short drive to Robert Graves’ house was familiar too and I much prefer the town to Valldemossa – sorry if that makes me a tasteless Brit. There was a convenient parking spot right opposite the house so I crossed the road full of hope.

The nicest ‘P off we’re closed’ sign ever!

Once again the lack of a planning companion struck – they close at 13:00 so I should have come here first. Doh! However the gate was not locked and I crept in to have a look at the garden at least. I was caught by the very friendly and fluent English speaking gardener who said he would have shown me round the house but had to leave at three-thirty. We chatted about the problems of gardening – it rained for the whole of November and everything is behind – but he’s doing his best, upon which I complemented him, explained I couldn’t come back again this trip but be sure not to miss it next time. He allowed me to take some photos and rewarded me with a couple of incredibly juicy tangerines.

With little encouragement, I decided to carry on round the Ma10 to Soller and then head inland and back to Palma through the middle. With today’s better weather in the mountains their scale, variety and colours were amazing – just not enough safe stopping places for photography but I managed a few.

I passed through some interesting towns that would repay a visit: the Botanic Gardens at Alfaibia are closed until March, but look fun; Bunyola had some interesting buildings; and as I came to the end of the Ma2040 I found myself at the Mallorca Fashion Outlet – no point me stopping there! This is on the outskirts of the town of Inca which is linked to Palma by a near-motorway standard Ma13 so I headed on home or back to the hotel at least.

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