British tourists at Palma airport. | R.I.

Like the summer swallows, which return faithfully to Mallorca each and every year, as soon as Easter has been put to bed, the annual pilgrimage of friends and relatives visiting family residents on the island also kicks in. One of the perks attached to living here on this beautiful Balearic isle is that you are never shy of a visitor or two, irrespective of whether you really want them!

It’s a common dilemma amongst the ex-pat community here on Mallorca, with many unable to admit that having a home on this sunny holiday isle is akin to offering an open invitation to all and sundry, who just so happen to be hanging-on like fruit to your specific family tree. Whether it’s an ageing aunt, a beloved sibling, a needy nephew, or a distant cousin twice removed whom you haven’t seen since their christening, they all seem to suddenly get in touch, shortly after Easter, to book their little sojourn in the sun. After all, it’s been such a long time since they’ve seen you - almost a year to their last Mallorcan holiday, in fact!

I often wonder, if we’d all re-located to Grimsby, would the rallying relatives be so keen to book out two weeks of their valuable year to come and visit? OK, undoubtedly some friends and individuals are a joy, but it’s often difficult to be totally honest and just say ‘no’ to those who seemingly are just seeking two weeks under your roof, eating your food and drinking your drink, whilst contributing virtually nothing except the pleasure of their scintillating company. Hello! Reality check on red alert!!!

A simple test to sort the wheat from the chaff, and determine the true value of your visitor’s intentions, is to inform those doting relatives and friends that you no longer have a guest room due to a massive refurb project, but are happy to book them in to a nearby hotel. You will be amazed how suddenly their desire to see you diminishes when a freebie holiday is no longer in their sights.

Hopefully, most holiday visitors will plunge their hands into their generous pockets and contribute towards food and drink, yet having additional humans in your home also means additional work, along with invisible, external expenses like electricity ( air conditioning, showers, etc. ), and petrol, as you ferry guests around on their constant outings showcasing bars and restaurants which are not always sustainable on a fixed budget. When you live on a holiday island you don’t generally eat out every day, or visit bars as often as your visitors thoughtlessly like to encourage. And as soon as one set of visitors leave another set seemingly arrive, with barely enough respite to recover, either financially or physically. All that extra laundry, washing, ironing and cleaning is a side to the holiday visit that guests NEVER see! It’s truly tiring - but you just have to keep smiling, grin like a grateful lunatic and step up. Or be completely honest and farm them out to local hotels and B&B’s, leaving you free to enjoy their vivacious company at your own leisure, without the financial expense of their personal visit.

Naturally, when living here on the island, we all like showing off a bit, by inviting people to stay from time to time, reflecting how lucky we are to have made the move from Old Blighty! And it’s great to see old friends and share our fortuitous Mallorcan lifestyle. But if you’re not careful, it can escalate and easily get out of hand, leaving you in a position where you find yourself inundated month after month with no time whatsoever to enjoy the island spoils yourself.

Before we relocated to Mallorca, we sold our house and rented a property ten miles down the coast from our old stomping ground in UK, losing contact with quite a few people who eventually turned out to be more ‘acquaintances’ than friends. When these ‘acquaintances’ caught wind that the house we were building was complete, and we were finally off to sunny Mallorca they instantly rallied. “Oh, don’t go off without leaving your address,” they crooned. “We must come out to see you.” “Why?” we replied. “You didn’t bother to come to see us when we moved ten minutes down the road. So why would you possibly want to come all the way out to Mallorca, unless of course you’re after a freebie holiday?” People’s faces tend to drop like lead curtains when they are confronted by truth. Needless to say, we never saw or heard from those particular acquaintances again.

You know in your heart if people really want to see you, so don’t be a soft touch when the phone starts ringing and Great Aunt Ethel is on the line once again to book her regular ‘fortnight freebie’ in the middle of July. Be generous, but don’t be gullible. Vet your visitors and enjoy your own island summer at your own pace. Happy Holidays!