Sebald Fornells Menorca 28.08.15

Mindful that reading about other people’s holidays is amongst the things I like to do least, here follows a short blog post about a walk I took in Menorca last week. In the background churning WG Sebald’s ‘Rings of Saturn’, itself a collection of walks down the Norfolk and Suffolk coast to places like Dunwich, Lowestoft, Southwold and Bungay. Places familiar to me but with all new historical baggage – the origins of sericulture, empire, heroes, new money, grand monuments and the temporary nature of things.

3km walk along a cliff path from our apartment to the port of Fornells and back. Deserted in full afternoon sun. The landscape is historic, volcanic, alien dinosaur country. Grey bubbly volcanic rock, rust-red-jagged-scale-like rock, flat black rock with lines of white crystal. No plants. Blue sea. Eagle. White branches and trunks rest in rock spaces (don’t want to say “look like bleached white bones” but they do).

The path is marked by upturned bucket shaped concrete pillars embedded DPMT with engraved metal plates on top, and stacked rock cairns left by walkers. The route goes up and down and left and right, more than forward. Eyes on the next step for fear of tripping, then look up to surprise yourself on the cliff edge and high up – steep right, drop left.

Nearing the town 3 horses standing on a cliff of concrete blocks and building site rubbish with bicycle and washing machine. Two black, one branded grey. Now some small dry plants and low crouching trees.

The path turns 90 degrees away from Fornells up a rise towards a tower, passing low stone shelters with coca-cola crate seating. The path is friable oatmeal, or cracked red clay.

Fornells port is in a bay guarded by a big martello-style tower, built by the British and contemporary with those dotted along the East coast against Napoleon. On the rise is a natural cave dedicated “Ermita de Lourdes” a shrine to the Lady of Lourdes.

Then Fornells town itself. Clean white and terracotta houses, pavements, flowers, busy restaurants, cars and boats. The castle (El Castell de Sant Antoni) remains are being excavated and are covered in a rusted iron viewing platform, wooden walk ways, plate-glass skylights cover the uninspiring remains plus broken gin bottles and cans.

Walk back is under cloud with sunny intervals and quicker. More people on the path, in the sea. Broken Spanish. Back to family. Swimming pool. Two gin and tonics cost €15.