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Calmer in Palma

Yesterday I flew down to Palma for a couple of days which by choice necessitated me setting off for Gatwick at the unearthly hour of 4.00am. This might have seemed like madness but there was indeed a method in it, as perhaps everyone (including myself) might have hoped. Firstly, it was cheap. Secondly, though I was not to know this in advance, the flight was only about 60% full which yesterday meant I had a whole row of three seats to myself. And thirdly, being essentially nocturnal, it was not a particular hardship for me to rise at my normal time (somewhere between midnight and 2.00am) and go about my normal business, have a shave and shower, pack my kit and make myself a light breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast and a mug of black coffee before I received the inevitable ‘Your driver is on his way’ text twenty minutes before the agreed time. In fact, upon this occasion, it was a ‘Your driver has arrived’ text.

Call me old-fashioned but I like to engage with taxi drivers when I hire them. most of them, of course, are ‘doing this’ temporarily having either lost a previous job and/or because it suits them whilst they conduct a beauty parade of City venture capitalists lining up as candidates to buy into their next big business idea.

Yesterday’s, a middle aged gentleman from the Sub-Continent, was in the latter category yet I liked his style. He’d been a restaurateur down in the West Country but his business went bust and so he’d moved lock, stock and barrel (including his family) to London in order to try again. He explained how his principles would not let him compromise and yes, he’d gone bust, but sometimes in business this sort of thing happened. Diners in his restaurant sometimes complained about the expense of his menu, but he was only interested in fine dining quality and, whether they liked it or not, that cost.

For example, some had taken umbrage at the menu cost of his basmati rice, citing the fact they could buy it at £1.50 per bag in at least two very well-known supermarkets. Why was his as much as £5.70? His response? They were only showing their stupidity. Of course they could buy basmati rice in a high street supermarket for £1.50 a bag: so what, so could he. But had they actually tasted it? He only ever bought the very best quality basmati rice – wholesale price £5.30 per bag – which is why he charged his diners £5.70 for it. If they didn’t like it, they were most welcome to walk home, buy a £1.50 bag of basmati rice from their favourite cheap supermarket on the way, and chew on that whilst watching Eastenders.

Upon reaching Palma I made my way to the perfectly clean and tidy boutique hotel a little way off the main drag that I like to frequent on my occasional visits here. My UK travel agent, as ever, raised his eyebrow (and one nostril) in distaste when I asked him to book it but as I said to him I know what I like and I don’t like paying through the nose every single time I walk through his door. And I do like this place – the bathroom, for example, is small but its fittings are high quality and the walk-in shower brilliant.

Straight after checking in I nipped out for a ham and cheese Mallorcan version of a baguette and a Coca-cola in a nearby cafe and then returned to my room for a kip. It’s called pacing yourself, folks!

Later I went for a stroll beside the marinas. There’s a lot of very expensive nautical hardware round these parts, you can take it from me. I caught up with one or two people I know and then sat outside a street cafe opposite the marinas to people-watch. There are worse places in the world you could do it. In the evening I met up with my son and a business colleague of his – plus others – in a cafe/restaurant up the hill behind the main drag where the tourists don’t go but ‘people in the know’ do because, many of them being multi-millionaires and used to the very best, they make it their business to find out.

The evening was very convivial and in many respects fascinating. At its top end the yachting industry is a weird mix of those who can afford mega-yachts, and therefore don’t usually have to ask the price of anything because to them it doesn’t really matter, and those who supply services of one sort of another to them, for whom – generally-speaking – the price of everything matters very much indeed because somewhere in the mix that’s how they make their living.


About William Byford

A partner in an international firm of loss adjusters, William is a keen blogger and member of the internet community. More Posts