Home is where the heart is. And our hearts and home are firmly in rural Mallorca, at our finca. We cannot imagine going back to live in England, but quite a few of our friends and acquaintances have done just that. The recently published NatWest IPB Quality of Life Country Index* – based on a survey of 1,804 (strange number, eh?) British expats by the Centre for Future Studies – reported that 63 per cent of those living on the European continent had thought about moving “back home”. We’re firmly in the other 37 per cent: Mallorca is our home.
Back to Blighty
Last evening we met up in Palma with fun friends Karen and Ian, who are spending a week’s holiday on the island. Until two years ago they lived and worked here. They went back to the UK – not because they didn’t like living on the island but, rather, because it can be difficult to make a decent living here.
They’re very happy back in England, but clearly also miss the island. We miss them – as we miss other friends who have left. Some have sadly regretted their move away from Mallorca. It’s easy to forget the negative aspects of your home country that probably influenced the decision to leave it in the first place. It’s also easy to adapt to the more relaxed pace of Mallorcan life, and forget how fast-paced life is back in ‘the old country’.
Of course there are some things we miss about England, including our families and friends, rivers, the rolling Cotswold landscape, good bookshops, and Waitrose. But we enjoy having relatives and friends to stay with us here, and have found compensations for the other things. One day, if Euromillions surprises us with a substantial win, we may even find ourselves holidaying back in the homeland. For now though, this is home – for us and for our David Austin rose … a little piece of England on Mallorca.
The first rose of autumn for our David Austin ‘Lady Hillingdon’ rose.
*For information, Spain slipped to 11th position in the index. From 2008 until 2011 it had held 7th position. Portugal came in at 12th. Top of the list was Australia.
When we first moved to Mallorca we brought with us a beautiful rose called ‘Celebration’ – a gift to us from a friend called Judy, with whom I’d worked at the BBC. It had happily been living in a pot in the UK and when we arrived here we located it carefully on the terrace, so that it wouldn’t be subjected to the fiercest heat of the day. Sadly, Judy passed away too early (a victim of cancer) and the lovely rose she’d given us took on a new significance. So we were very sorry to lose her rose as well.
Not knowing a lot about gardening – and roses in particular – I assumed that the climate wasn’t right for roses. But our Swiss neighbours have recently landscaped their finca‘s garden and planted a lot of David Austin roses. Perhaps if I bought roses direct from this renowned rose grower – whose roses are exported around the world – they would survive?
Best of British
It had to be worth a try. I ordered two bare-root climbing roses from the efficient export department of David Austin, on the Shropshire border in the UK. When the roses arrived, through the post, the challenge began. I knew where I wanted them to go: one was to climb an almond tree near the house (where its fragrance would surely drift towards the guest room window); the other would climb the wall on our dining terrace and scent our summer evenings. There was just a small problem. The earth at the bottom of the wall was more rock than soil – and the soil was pretty solid too.
This was another consequence job: as a consequence of buying the rose – the delightfully named ‘Lady Hillingdon’ – The Boss had to create some means of planting it. He duly set about building a raised bed for the ‘lady-in-waiting’, into which we could put some decent soil and compost. And I must say that he did a pretty fantastic job of it. Her Ladyship obviously approved as she’s growing rapidly – and we (or rather The Boss) will have to erect a trellis pretty soon.
Lady Hillingdon in her new home on Mallorca
Something’s been snacking . . .
The other rose – ‘Golden Gate’ – was duly planted (without too much difficulty) at the base of an almond tree. It got off to a great start until I checked it a day or two ago and found that every leaf has been eaten, leaving just a few bare stems. Will it recover? I’m afraid I haven’t a clue!