Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day Something or Other in Alcudia, in which news of my cars makes a surprise reprise, my knowledge of cycling and its quirks is expanded drastically (from nothing to a little more than just nothing) and I discover a smaller, pleasant resort just down the calla.

Eix Hotel Alcudia, Port d’Alcudia, Mallorca – Day whatever (five, I think).

I managed to shake of the lure of O’Malley’s yesterday – no football until last night – and saddled up old Trumpet for a trip into the Mallorcan hills. (Strange name for a horse, I know, be he does oddly resemble my neighbour’s father’s second wife, who has a loud voice and an even louder laugh and goes by the name of Horne. Tenuous, I know, but we must make the effort). Trumpet lasted less then half a mile, before he stopped and refused to budge any further, so I had to return to pick up the car Mr Hertz of Palma Airport had so kindly lent me.

It is when I drive a car as young as this one, a Hundai with about 4,000km on the clock, that I fully realise quite what a heap of shit my V reg 1600cc Rover 45 is. Forget for a minute the loose wings, front and back, one the result of driving into the back of another car at no more than 2mph while my attention was fully engaged on getting Radio 4 on my iPhone, the second time reversing at a slightly higher speed into one of the few low walls we have in Cornwall – i.e. had it been higher, I would have bloody seen it – it is, as Alan, of Atlantic Garage who MoTs it and applies other surgery, ‘getting tired’. (Atlantic Garages in Camelford were recommended to me a a little pricey, but good. They are, but do the job immediately and well. There's no hanging round for often two or three weeks as there was with Rob Gibbons up in Davidstow. He's a nice guy, but Alan now gets my vote and custom.

That was the first time I had ever heard that word used to describe a car, but he is spot on. I bought her with 80,000-odd on the clock, and she has since done another 120,000. Not bad going. But I keep her on, patching this and patching that because I am often in a dilemma: about a year ago, I had work her MoTed and little bits and bobs done for about £500 (I should tell you that she only cost £800 when I bought her about eight years), when, bugger me, the undoubtedly rather tired cooling fan went up the swannee while I has stuck in a two-mile jam outside London where the M4 narrows from three lanes to two (which explains the jam).

The subsequent overheating wrecked the head gasket, so what was I to do: kiss goodbye to the £500 I had just spent or spend more to keep the bloody thing on the road? On that and on other similar occasions I choose to cough up and keep her on the road. There is another very good reason for keeping her on the road and I should add a rather important point: the car is not exactly mine. She is in the name of my brother who lives in London, so that he could apply for a parking permit for the borough in which he stays. Useful, especially as until we came to that arrangement,

I had parked the car unofficially in the Daily Mail building car park, where the Mail pays thousands a year for parking spots for its ad reps and others – but not for the likes of me. All went well for many years till I was rumbled by some bloody anally-retentive jobsworth who will have had to have spent hours comparing the reg numbers of all the cars parked there at one particular time against a list of legitimate reg numbers before establishing I was a foreigner. (I have had a run-in with him since – he is one of life’s paid-up pains in the arse.) But rather than break one of my moral principles – ‘don’t push your luck’ – I had to come to some other parking arrangement.

. . .

I took off, heading for a small community called Caimari, intending when I got there to find some quite bar terrace and spend the next few hours there. But when I got to Caimari, I wasn’t particularly inspired – in my experience, due to the summer heat, very few Spanish villages or smaller towns in the country are particularly inspiring and usually pretty dead. You hardly see anyone except the odd man or woman shuffling along. So I carried on up the hill, climbing ever higher, just following my nose. And it was then that I started passing an inordinately large number of cyclists.

It is no exaggeration to say I must have, in the course of my drive passed, individually and in groups of two or three, more than 100 cyclists. At first I thought the Spanish obviously share the French passion for cycling, except in France you rarely see a lone cyclist and they speed along in one great pack. It was when I finally found my café (after turning down the chance to spend €4.50 to park in the back of beyond in a dead-end place call Lluc) that I found out what was going on. Mallorca, it seems is something of a Mecca for cyclists, and visited in the thousands every year by amateurs. The professionals move here in the colder months to practice and I was assured by the chap who told me all this that Bradley Wiggins lived just down the road in Pollenca.

The café at which I stopped was some kind of staging point, and when I arrived there must have been about 40 lycra-clad stalwarts, both women and mean, filling themselves with carbs or whatever it is they do for the return trek. Here is a picture of Donna, from Louth, in Lincolnshire,

and her putative son-in-law Stuart, from Market Rasen. They arrived long after the general horde had left and by the time they got to the café it was gone 3pm and the proprietor had shut for lunch (below).

On my way home, I took at detour and dropped in on Port de Pollenca to have a mooch, and discovered it to be rather pleasant, far smaller the Port d’Alcudia where I am staying and thus not quite as attractive to those who’s holiday heaven is lager and lime and Sky Sports (which might

seem to included me, I must admit, though I’m now too old to qualify as a tearaway). There is another pleasant marina, but here the hotels and villas are right on the beach. I heard folk from all over Europe, but it seemed especially popular with couples with babies, toddlers and young children. Today, I’m off again. Yesterday is was the hills on the western side of the island, today I think I’ll head into the central plain and see what I can’t dig up. Cyclists, probably.

. . .

I was late home and missed the beginning of the match between West Bromwich and Chelsea. Following my winning bets on Crystal Palace against Liverpool, I was going to lay a fiver on West Brom, calculating that the odds would be good, but in the event, by the time I got to the match and was able to lay a bet, they had already scored and were 1-0 up, with the odds shortening to a pitiful 1/2 (which does no one any favours).

So I decided to do nought and was glad I hadn’t backed West Brom because they soon went two up. At that point I got clever, which is always a mistake: ah ha! I thought, Chelsea being the best side in the Premier League this year are bound to bounce back and make it 2-3. I looked at the odds which were impressive: 28/1, so I put a fiver on Chelsea to bounce back. They lost 3-0. Bastards.

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