Chartering a Yacht, Mallorca

Aug 21st, 2015 Food, Inspiration, Travel

This has to be the best way to see the island.  What a fabulous experience –  diving off the back of a 50 foot yacht, into the crystal clear blue waters of the Mediterranean.  Having got used to the Pacific Ocean, the warmth of the water, as well as its clarity, almost defies belief.  The boys loved jumping off the back and splashing about.  Of course Skyer was the first to venture in.  Fearless as always.  Once he was in, Jaxon was soon behind him and then Luca – not wanting to let the British side down – braved the plunge.  We managed to coax both Jaxon and Skyer out of their life jackets for a time, so both can truly say that they have swam in the clear blue waters of the Med.

All aboard!All aboard Mezzo Magic

Leaving the port of Soller we skirted round the edge of the island, catching a glimpse of a school of dolphins as we headed out to sea.  We hugged Mallorca’s craggy coastline, and marveled at the raw simplicity of the view.  Once we were clear of the harbor gates, Grant, our captain for the day, let us all took turns at the wheel to steer.  There was not quite enough wind to unfurl the sails but we made good progress in spite of Jaxon and Skyer’s somewhat erratic maneuvers – Francessa, our craft was surprisingly easy to steer – and the boys even managed to get us going round in complete circles at one point.

SollerSoller PortSteering YachtSteering YachtSteering Yacht

We headed for a distinctive outcrop of rock in the distance.  Only when we approached did we realize that we were headed there for lunch.  To the Sa Foradada restaurant.  Fabled haunt of the rich and famous of Deia.  Perched precariously into the rock face, the restaurant is accessible only by boat and – intriguingly for somewhere so inaccessible and fairly niche, boat driven, clientele – operates on a strict reservation policy only.  Presumably to keep the odd passing cruise ship and their marauding hoards at bay.  The restaurant itself looks out over the most spectacular cove.  The shore line’s cobalt colored waters gently lapping at the rudimentary jetty for the yacht’s dinghies to moor.  As you scramble ashore a flight of some one hundred or so steps greets you, carved into the rock face, leading up to Sa Foradada.

Approaching Sa ForadaSa ForadaSa Foradada

How many times do you get to swim ashore to eat a meal at a restaurant that looks like its out of a Bond movie? We jumped off the back of boat, not before spotting a two foot large barracuda that inhabits the bay lurking about, and swam ashore.

The restaurant itself was delightful.  All the cooking carried out on a open hearth barbecue.  Rustic, yet elegant and sophisticated.  With unsurpassed views and a unique charm.  A truly memorable experience.

Sa ForadaSa ForadaSa ForadaSa ForadaBoys at Sa ForadaSa Forada

After lunch and some more swimming and snorkeling in the cove we ventured out in the small rubber dinghy that was attached to Francessa and – venturing a little closer to the coast line – went in search of smugglers caves.  We found a couple.  Some of which had reportedly been in use during the time of Franco and perhaps even more recently than that.  The boys imaginations were fired and they talked of pirates, and hidden treasure and maps the rest of the trip.

Snorkeling Sa ForadaFish at Sa Forada

The guys at Mezzo Magic, with whom we chartered the yacht, really looked after us.  It was, without doubt, our best day of the vacation.  A great way to end our family trip.  Should you ever be in Mallorca do not hesitate to book with them.  The yacht is magnificent and the guys knowledgeable, friendly and great with kids.  http://www.mezzomagic.co.uk

FrancessaFrancessa

 

Mallorcan Beaches

Aug 14th, 2015 Beach, Self Discovery, Travel

Beach excursions present a whole host of idiosyncratic challenges. Logistical, practical and aesthetic.  We searched for calm, secluded beaches with some sort of a beach club, or restaurant and found a couple that were great.  One was on the south side of the island not too far from Palma. The beach itself was a little more crowded than we would ordinarily have liked, and because the south side of the Mallorca is windier, the surf was a little rougher than was ideal for the boys, but it was still a great spot.  We managed to find a stretch of beach with a sand bank that jutted out a reasonable distance into the Mediterranean’s bath-like waters, and which allowed us – much to the delight of the boys – to venture ever so slightly further out from the shore line than good sense would normally allow.  Both Jaxon and Skyer loved the feeling of adventure that came from being out the additional distance.  They are at the age now where every crashing wave, no matter how small, presents a seemingly infinite number of ways to dunk, splash and jump about.  As each took their turn in the surf, squealing and shrieking with delight as I clung to their wrist, it’s impossible not to be moved by the purity and simplicity of the situation.  The sensation of absolute joy derived from the simplest of things – in this case – the ebb and flow of the tide – invariably makes me feel a twinge of nostalgia sending me tumbling back through the recesses of my mind to reminisce and remember similar moments from my own childhood.  Self-reflection is, for me, part of the continuing fascinating journey of parenting.  Jaxon and Skyer present me with a continual reminder of my own upbringing and give me cause to take breath for a moment and reflect,  analyze and remember events that I thought were long ago forgotten.  It’s somewhat indulgent perhaps, but I don’t seek to compare or compete in my minds eye.  Rather, for me, I have discovered that my own children’s upbringing offers me a unique and re-invigorated opportunity to look back and remember aspects from when I was a kid.  Starting – as all memories do – with places and events, before deepening and developing into sensations, feelings and finally, analysis. Moreover, I find that I am given an opportunity to re-evaluate and revisit anew the actions and attitudes of my parents.  To view them through the lens of being a parent myself.  I wonder how I would fare were Jaxon to give me such scrutiny? Invariably my parents emerge far better now, than I credited them at the time.  Creating more than a slight pang of guilt for perhaps being too tough on them.  But then I’m also drawn to the differences – both positive and negative – about each respective childhood. Opportunities, lifestyle and societal.  If I linger here for too long I can very rapidly descend into a rabbit hole of rose-tinted nostalgia.  Which quickly becomes self indulgent and self-defeating.  Instead, I remind myself that, knowing what I know now, about all the challenges of being a parent, all the shortcomings of my parents and all the struggles that we faced together – if we can all survive that, and emerge the other side – then that must, at least, give one cause for hope, mustn’t it?

It’s always great to have a bite to eat with the sand between your toes.

Mallorca Beach

Whatever happens don’t forget to bring your bucket and shovel.  Still the two key items no self respecting Beachwood Boys Club member should ever be without.  Simply indispensable.  No matter where your kids are from, be it the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles or Sloane Square, London the number one beach activity in my opinion remains the sandcastle.  It’s extraordinary to see that some things don’t change.

We have a grab bag with towels, sunscreen, bottled water and our bucket and shovel ready to go at a moment’s notice.  We learned the hard way. Forget them at your peril.

Mallorca Beach

Oh yes, did I forget to mention – the enormous, delicious beachside seafood paella?

Seafood PaellaMallorca BeachMallorca Beach

You can’t keep Luca out of the action for too long.

Buddies at the beach

The second beach that we have found is on the other side of the island, nearer to where we are staying.  Balneario Illetas boasts a beautiful cove and scorching hot white sand, offering crystal clear, calm waters that are ideal for us as the children can splash and play in near bath-like conditions.  There is also a great, bustling restaurant when you need a bite to eat and plenty of shaded sunbeds off to one side of the cove – perfect for making our HQ for the day.  It has the feel of a private beach, that happens to be open to the public.

Balneario Illetas, MallorcaBalneario Illetas, Mallorca

Deià, Mallorca

Aug 12th, 2015 Beach, Inspiration, Travel

This place is breathtakingly gorgeous.  Achingly so, in fact.  Authentic, off the beaten path, and yet sophisticated and chic at the same time.  Like a found jewel.  You instantly want to treasure it and keep it all to yourself.  We are here with my sister and her husband and their two children, Luca and Ivy.  So yes, the Beachwood Boys Club has admitted a girl as a member.  We’ll see how that goes for all concerned.  We rented a villa, which I have to say is absolutely the way to go.  As nice as five star hotels are –  and no matter the “child friendly” policy of the establishment – I never feel fully relaxed in a hotel with my rambunctious boys.  Plus there is the convenience factor that a hotel can’t provide.  So we are very happy with our villa set up.  Lots of good places for outdoor eating, a nice pool, spacious, modern kitchen with all our gadgets and creature comforts – nestled in the beautiful mountainside of the island.

The town of Deia itself is phenomenal.  Quiet, unpretentious and elegant.  It does not need to impress its uniqueness upon you.  It simply has to be.   All this, while boasting several wonderful restaurants and eateries ranging from the understated Village Cafe – the gazpacho is quite remarkable – all the way through to the family run, Michelin starred Es Racó des Teix where we found the foie gras and the amuse bouche spectacularly good.

But enough of such restaurant review type chat!  This after all is about the kids right? Right?  Well, in Deià we seem to have found that perfect balance of having enough to stimulate and entertain the children – splashing in the pool with the cousins, trips to the beach of course, visiting the local markets and towns, while keeping us older folk engaged at the same time.  We are certainly loving our nightly ritual of cooking out under the stars at the Bar-B-Q.  And long may it continue – we don’t want this week to end.

Deia montage

The founding members of the Beachwood Boys Club reconnect with their cousins.  Picking up right where they all left off, in spite of living on the other side of the world.  So great to see.

Dancing in DeiaIMG_4783

Parker Hotel Memorial Day

May 26th, 2015 Travel

Let’s be honest here.  Anywhere there’s a pool, a few other kids to play with – and corresponding adults to splash – and my boys will be happy.  The fancy hotel aspect is purely for the parents.  And the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs looked after us in fine style this weekend.  It sort of has this hidden English garden quality to it.  Narrow dusty paths, lined with rich vegetation and intermittent rose bushes either side, that twist and turn as you navigate your way from room to pool to restaurant.  Occasionally along the hidden path, an arched opening, that leads to what feels like another discovered space: a crochet lawn, fire pit, or secret garden.  All very Alice in Wonderland.

I was delighted to see Jaxon finally have the confidence to put his swimming lessons to the test.  I’m not sure that the other pool users were quite so excited.  Easily the loudest and splashiest (if that’s even a word?) kid in the place.  The entire weekend.  I had to traverse that difficult line between allowing my kid to have fun and delight in his new found abilities while keeping him mindful of everyone else in the pool and not becoming dictatorial dad in the process.  I tended towards the more laissez faire approach and I think we just got away with it.  It’s quite remarkable though to see in a few weeks the additional confidence and delight that he now takes in being able to swim – or should I really say – stay afloat – in the pool.  Skyer, interestingly enough,  seemed a little overwhelmed by the the pool and the other kids and while he has been fearless in the past he was reluctant to let go of me when in the pool which made for some awkward dunking moments and frequent instances of lost sunglasses at the bottom of the pool.

Parker Hotel Pool

A great weekend.  Our decision to take the children with us was a last minute one as this was originally just a weekend for Rachel and myself.  But after some last minute scrambling we were set up for the four of us.  The room was a little small if truth be told, but that was on us as much as them, and not quite as luxurious as I might have hoped but we made it work.  There is clearly two worlds operating within the hotel which hardly ever meet.  The adult world of pool side drinks and lazy mornings – the world I thought I was going to inhabit for three days – and the kids world – full of dunking, splashing and frequent apologies to strangers.  the world that we ended up inhabiting.

The Parker Hotel can take it – and allows each world to co-exist independently of each other very well.  I should point out that there is an adults only pool at the opposite end of the property which greatly assists in this regard.  While chic, and full of eclectic touches and sophisticated decor, it never feels too precious or rarified that your kids have to be on best behavior.

With that being said we did have a rather lucky escape with a number of the glass ornaments and coffee table nick nacks as we were checking out.  But, if truth be told, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  And in the spirit of honesty, I’m just glad they’re around to divert attention from my own behavioral misdemeanors.

Parker Hotel Kids Pool