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29: Carrer d'Es Marques de Comillas

Everything got done in time and they moved in. Out came their treasures from Holland - the silver samovar, the Dutch china, Ivan's superb collection of Royal Danish "year" plates, one for every year of his life; his magnificient ivory chess set and the big lamp from Hong Kong. And, of course, the Pelican souvenirs and his Russian decorations. The Pelican souvenirs overflowed out of the penthouse studio and on to the stairhead.

They were mixed with other trophies; the scale-model aeroplane presented by the staff at Schiphol; another model, given by Fokkers: "To Ivan Smirnoff, ace commander of the Fokker F IX, the first aircraft of more than nine tons weight that ever flew successfully on the 14.500 km flight Amsterdam - Batavia"; the clock and the barometer, each set in an actual propeller blade and standing as high though only quarter as slim as a grandfather clock. The big Clifford Harman trophy for the finest flying achievement stood downstairs in the hall, it was too heavy to haul up the steep stairs.

To the Cala d'Or crowd the Casa Smirnoff was a fascinating place, an Aladdin's Cave, you never knew what treasure you would unearth next.

The residents found the same quality of unexpectedness in Ivan himself. The only constant strain he showed was a deep and interested sympathy. Everybody made him their confidant. The residents begged for advice - though they seldom took it; he became a sorter-out of other people's problems, which amused him vastly since he was very conscious of never being able to sort out his own.

The local peasantry adored and revered him. He was infallible. He was always willing to listen to them; he went in his car to make long-distance telephone calls on their behalf from the nearest public telephone, miles away, at S'Horta.

Once accepted, it was easy for newcomers to get to know the neighbours. With windows and doors open all day everything you said was, in a way, a public declaration.

There was no passing traffic because Cala d'Or was on the road to nowhere. So every car that flashed down the dusty hill from Calonge was bringing somebody to the colony - who? To which villa were they going?

'Cala Gran' is seen to the right!
In 2000 a new house was built on the site, but the name 'NIKIVAN' still remains.

They got a lot of friends in Cala d'Or. An English family - three generations - lived at Casa Aventura. At Las Almenas were Juan Homs, a rich Spaniard, and his American wife, Marjorie. In a beautiful rambling villa farther on lived relatives of Juan Belmonte, famous Spanish bullfighter. More English at Casa Veverne, the very first villa to be built in Cala d'Or, Commander Denis Pelly and his handsome and accomplished wife, Constance.

Ivan's greatest friend was to be Don Carlos - the Conde Franquinet de St. Remy, an Italian nobleman. He was married to English Norah at the British Embassy in Paris and their adventure in search of a country brought them, holidaymaking, to Cala d'Or. The Franquinets were both journalists.

Ivan, Carlo and Don Antonio Armangue Feliu, the squire of Porto Petro, a little fishing village along the coast a few miles south, became as devoted as the Three Musketeers. Perhaps it was the adventurous lives all three had led that made them "simpatico", tolerant of each other's failings.

Most of the residents went wintering off for a London or New York season, or to Madrid, Paris, South America. Though Ivan was now living on his pension it was always easy to get air tickets "home" to Holland, and the Smirnoff's went there, whenever they felt like it, to be honoured and entertained as a national hero and his wife.

One of the numerous birthday reunions in Amsterdam. Ivan in centre.

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