By Terenia Taras
Strictly Come Dancing star Brendan Cole made the permanent move to Mallorca to start a new life with his wife and two children just a day before Spain went into lockdown, and after a year of strict restrictions are now able to fully immerse themselves in Spanish life.
Throughout lockdown Brendan found himself without work and their children unable to start school and nursery but he and wife Zoe remained undeterred from their dream to start a new life on the island.
“One of the worst things for me over the last year or so has been the unknown of not knowing where everything was going, and I have hated not working. This last year of not working has been kind of mind blowing, what it does to you, said Brendan.
“From the moment I left school at sixteen I’ve worked constantly and barely had two months off at any one time. So, to go from that to fourteen months of not having any actual physical work has been just bizarre.
“You lose a sense of self-worth. I didn’t ever think that was possible because I consider myself mentally strong, nothing really fazes me ever.”
Brendan started dancing at the age of seven in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he grew up with his brother and sister. He moved to England at the age of eighteen to pursue his dancing career and after several years working on building sites and the odd office job, has worked in the entertainment industry ever since.
Without work, Brendan focused on his family life and became a self-confessed school-run mum.
“With the governments stopping the television and entertainment industry from existing, my life definitely slowed down. My days consisted of doing the school drop-off, and household chores. I’d drop the children, say hello to the other mum’s and dad’s and then I’d go home and do the garden or paint the house to then down tools and do the school run again.
“It was just insane and a forced situation, rather than a choice. I’d always envisaged that at one point I’d go, you know what, I’ve had enough of this working malarkey and dancing around like a lunatic. But to have that taken away without a say is outrageous. The fact someone else can stop you from doing something was quite hard for me to get my head around.
“I do think it’s absolutely outrageous that livelihoods can be taken away so easily, without a say or any financial help. So many people, particularly in certain industries, have been completely ruined financially. It’s very sad.”
Brendan, Zoe and their two children, aged eight and three, live in their villa that they’ve owned for the last five years in the North of the island where they remained throughout lockdown.
“My wife’s family are in the UK and my family are in New Zealand. I’m used to being away from my extended family, but I think for Zoe and her family it’s been tricky as they’ve not seen each other for such a long time, something many people are experiencing.
“It’s especially hard for the elderly. My wife’s father in particular needs that personal connection, so it was difficult deciding to go and live in a different country and how that was going to affect everyone.
“Ultimately you’ve got to do what’s right for your family. But who knew we’d be living with the restrictions for such a long time? It’s unheard of and in my opinion is rather aggressive.”
The Cole’s moved to Mallorca from a pretty little village in Buckinghamshire and have finally been able to enroll their children in school and nursery in Mallorca.
“We’re very lucky because we’ve not been stuck in a flat where we can’t be outside. The fact that the children weren’t allowed to leave the property was tough for them because they weren’t used to that, but a lot of people had it much worse. We like most, tried to do the right thing and follow the rules as the unknown unfolded. It seemed like the best thing to do, and we were lucky enough to have outside space.”
Brendan is planning to return to the UK for work shortly and as with the majority of people the family finances also took a hit, with no work and having to rely on savings.
“That’s the other thing about taking people’s livelihoods away after a year of not working. If you earn a certain amount, you generally spend that certain amount. The bills continue and so you end up having to go through every bit of money you’ve saved and money that is normally earmarked for your next ambition or milestone.
“I’m very lucky in many ways as I did have savings and my business has done well for the past 20 years but those savings were for my family’s future and when work starts again, all of those ambitions that we had been saving for will have to start from scratch. It feels like we’ve all been put back 5 – 10 years financially. But as I said, I am one of the lucky ones, most of my colleagues in the theatre or performance industry live day-to-day. They’re literally waiting for their paycheck and spend it and of course there’s no furlough or financial help for them. It’s disgusting!
“Like everyone, I still have bills and my mortgages to pay. The banks still want their money regardless of whether I, or any other person, has an income or not.
“Now as we are now into summer, finally, in the last month things have started to happen on the work front. I’ve got several exciting things happening in the UK. But over the past fourteen months it’s been very quiet and that has been tough.
“Exciting times now ahead, but until governments change their stance on the industry it’s still months away before I can properly plan my work. On the bright side, this family time has been amazing and having a full year to appreciate them is something to cherish.”
What are three of your favourite things in Mallorca;
Cycling. The views are breath-taking and cycling Sa Colobra was an achievement.
I love Deia and Formentor has a beautiful beach.
Favourite restaurant in Mallorca
Camping at Glastonbury or an open-air concert with Andrea Bocelli
Andrea Bocelli all day long, I’m too old for the other. Saying that, I’d probably love Glastonbury with the boys.
If you weren’t a dancer what line of work would you be in?
I’d probably still be in the building trade which is what I first did when I left school.
Favourite Place In Spain
I only really know Mallorca so it has to be here
Kylie Minogue or Rita Ora as a dance partner