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November/December 2005 | Blue Spanish Skies

November/December 2005 | Blue Spanish Skies

Out Erasure front man Andy Bell, who owns a villa in Mallorca, tells us how to spend an idle day (or seven!) on the rugged Spanish isle.

Over the past two years, when he wasn’t busy recording his first solo album (Electric Blue, due from Sanctuary Records on October 4), Erasure’s electro-pop swooner Andy Bell was most likely relaxing his overworked chops in Majorca, Spain, the sun-kissed Mediterranean island where he and his longtime boyfriend Paul Hickey spend copious amounts of slowed-down time.

How often do you and Paul go to Majorca?
We only go to Majorca in our spare time, which can range from six months to a short two-week break. It’s always very hard to leave once we are ensconced there because it is so relaxing.

How long have you lived there?
We’ve had the house now for 12 years.

I’ve heard it described as a farmhouse.
A finca is usually described as a Spanish farmhouse surrounding a central courtyard. We used the original plans of the old farmhouse as a blueprint for the new house. We have a large music hall, which is great for parties, and a kitchen that used to be an olive press. The house is constructed from the local stone, which is very sturdy, and all the windows have wooden shutters and French-style outdoor shutters in olive green (this is Majorcan law, as it is built in a conservation area). The house and the whole village of Deià are cradled in the mountains of Es Teix, which means it can get quite stormy at times. I love being under the low-hanging clouds and breathing in all the negative ions—it makes you feel great. Also, I prefer the wintertime because it rains a lot and the [river] torrents come alive. The Festival of the Three Kings is a particularly magical time when the children of Deià march down from the house in a candlelight precession and make their way to the church to collect Christmas presents from the altar.

Have any of your songs been written in the villa or inspired by Majorca?
We have recorded a few albums there—including Erasure in 1995, Cowboy in 1998, and Love Boat in 2000. There’s nothing more special than singing outdoors on a starry-lit night when the air is absolutely still.

What’s the strangest thing about Majorca?
The eastern side of the island is where all the horrible high-rise tourist hotels were built in the 1960s. This is where all the English yobbos go. It can be like Times Square, though. I’ve only ever seen it on the television on one of those Spanish cop programs. The rest of the island is largely unspoiled and wild.

What do you enjoy most about living there as opposed to England?
The thing I enjoy the most is the laid-backness of the Spanish people. There is no such thing as being late. Also, people don’t push and shove. In the supermarkets, the families stand around their trolleys gossiping. You can go out any time of night, any day of the week—dinner doesn’t usually start until 10 p.m.

How affordable are vacation rentals in Majorca?
You could get a package deal from Europe for about $530 for a week rising to about $440 per night at a luxury hotel.

Where do you tell your houseguests to go if they only have three days?
To a sunset classical concert at the house of Archduke Luis Salvador, which overlooks the sea with a lovely garden, gazebo, and sheep. [It requires] a hair-raising drive from Deià to Pollença, which is the next nearest little town with a port.

What if they have a full week?
I would definitely visit the Moorish barrios, the cathedral, and the marina of Palma de Mallorca—it is a beautiful city. Take a cocktail by the fountain at dusk. A walk in the mountains from Deià to Valldemossa is a must. It’s best to find a guide because a few people have fallen from the Archduke’s bridle path—but the views and air are spectacular. Just watch out for the mountain goats and hunters!

So, what’s the perfect way to spend one day in Majorca? Run us through the itinerary.
Don’t wake up till about 10 or 11 a.m. Have breakfast in bed: a boiled egg, some cheese, cold cuts, crusty rolls and butter, with a glass of sweet fresh-squeezed orange juice and a cup of strong Spanish coffee with warm milk and lots of sugar. Otherwise, go to the village and have a crusty tuna fish bocadillo—that’s a crusty roll smashed with tomato, olive oil, and salt. Don’t forget your juice and coffee. Then take an hour or two reading the papers, with more coffee or a glass of red wine. Take a casual stroll down to the beach or just laze by the pool. You can have lunch by the sea in a little beach bar shack and go for a swim. Don’t stay too long in the sun without plenty of high factor cream because you’ll burn. A little siesta in the afternoon is de rigueur to sleep off the sun. Have another swim and start getting ready for the evening meal. Aim to finish around midnight because no one goes out till then. Don’ go rushing around the island like a maniac—just kick back and relax!

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