Thursday 8 August 2013


I never knew I was so good at doing nothing. There have been hints, rumours, periods of mild inactivity, but never to the extent that is now occurring. Or not occurring. Very unusually I'm on holiday, but this is a different kind of holiday. A doing nothing holiday. A sitting round the pool holiday. A frittering, sploshing, splashing, flopping kind of holiday. I didn't think I could cope with so little, but it turns out I have hidden talent.  Normally my holidays involve harsh weather, vaguely inhospitable places, being reasonably far from the beaten track, and typically quite far from other people. As I type this from the poolside in Majorca, there are about 300 other happy people in very close proximity. Many of them are very small, and are making more noise than you can possibly imagine. Three of them belong to me, for this is that rare event, a family package holiday. Almost Costa del, but not quite, despite the beer being on free vend. The hotel is fantastic, and not just because of the beer, or the two mythical words "kids" and "club" - it's pretty much a perfect set-up for families, from the size and shape of the pool, to the rooms, to the variety of food on offer, and of course the activities. I am aware that this makes me sound like a boring 38 year old trip-adviser user. Oh.....

We've been here since Sunday afternoon, and our list of achievements is as short as it is glorious. This is patently the way it should be. I normally come back from holidays more tired than when I left, generally flying straight in to my desk. My children have a huge love of water, in fact I'm quite at home in it as well. Did I hear someone say Minke? Family holidays have up until this point mostly involved Scotland, and thus warm water is out of the question. Here however we can stay in all day, and largely this is exactly what we have done. Everything we need is here (except birds), and so there is very little need to go anywhere else. Mrs L developed mild cabin fever on day three, so we took a little drive out to Cap Formentor - a lighthouse with stonking views at the end of a rocky and extremely steep peninsula. The road terrified her so much that she is now quite content to sit around the pool for the duration. Pilates and aquaerobics are definitely on the agenda, I just have to work out what to tell the hire company about the gouge marks in the sides of the passenger seat. OK, so it was a bit windy, and she was on the outer edge for half of it, but with me at the wheel what could possibly go wrong, and with the promise of Cory's Shearwater and Eleanora's Falcon at the end you would have thought that she might have coped better.

Both species were present, but at some range. Perfectly identifiable though, including decent-enough views of the underwings to confirm that these were indeed the Scopoli's race of Cory's Shearwater. Interesting to watch them both from above - the lighthouse is perched a couple of hundred metres above sea-level - sheer cliffs on one side enable you to see birds cruising past below you. Other than this one outing, I've left the hotel once. We're staying quite near to Albufera National Park, a rather special wetland area. I nipped out one evening for a quick wander - Stone Curlews, Night Herons, loads of traditional waders, and Spotted Flycatchers everywhere. I've been meaning to go back but lethargy has taken over. I did bring bins and a modest amount of photographic equipment, but I'm finding that I'd much rather be sat with my toes in the water with a cold beer in my hand, than schlepping the 500mm round in searing heat. After all I do an awful lot of the latter, and very little of the former. At home there is always something that needs doing, and rarely will you find me sat on my ample backside doing nothing. Here there is nothing to do, and for the first time in a long while I do not have a to-do list. Before I came I harboured vague ambitions of photographing Audouin's Gulls on the beach, but every time I start thinking about it I'm finding it to be sounding far too much like hard work, and so I'm still sat at the hotel and it's now Thursday, time nearly up. I may yet get round to it, but don't count on it. Anyway, this holiday is about the kids. Sure, I need a holiday, but I'd choose birding somewhere (as I frequently do). This is about them - a family-friendly hotel in a popular destination. Pool, sun, chips and pizza. Lots of ice cream. Lots of other kids, gangs, friendships. No romances yet, they're all still too little, but give them a few years. You can see it already - there are plenty of families here with slightly older kids; massively self-conscious teenagers, gruff fathers. That'll be me in a few years. My youngest, and chief consumer of pizza and chips in the face of heaps of fresh seafood and salads, has been admiring the many and varied tattoos on offer. Another challenge I expect to have to face down the line. Maybe I'll get one too...

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