Spanish Season 2012: Out of the frost, into the fire.
As the great winter freeze finally began to set in, we at The Daily Norm swiftly decided that the time had come to withdraw from our London offices, and to retreat instead to our little Spanish outpost. And so it was that with a little luck and a lot of expense (Easyjet – once termed a “low cost airline” has almost bankrupted me with its “low cost” flight to Malaga) we have arrived on the Costa del Sol, travelling almost as far south as one can go, while remaining in the confines of our dear, albeit economically shaken, Europe.
Yesterday it was around 2 degrees and lightly snowing when I heaved my suitcase (full of Norms…who tend to be heavy) off the Gatwick Express and boarded a flight due south. When I alighted the flight the other end, things weren’t much better. There was a decided chill to the air in the deserted, white-washed streets of Andalucía, and as a result my winter overcoat remained firmly wrapped about my person. And inside it was even worse – My family and I have found ourselves needing to gather desperately around little electric heaters wrapped in the contents of our suitcases – we look like those motley crowds who gather round vertical heaters on the windy platforms in large echoey French train stations with the result that you feel like a piece of bread toasted on one side – warm and cold all at once. The problem with these old Spanish houses (our home is in Marbella’s casco antiguo – postcard perfect, but otherwise falling apart, damp and consistently calling out for repair and a lot of TLC) is that they are built for the summer. Tiled or stone floors repel the heat while small windows keep the interiors cool. It’s as though their makers presupposed that the Costa del Sol would always be sunny. But it often isn’t, and in the winter, a few hours of daily sun do not compensate for a long night of sleeping inside a refrigerator.
What a wonderful surprise then when this morning we awoke to beautiful sunshine while not only lifted our spirits but the surrounding temperatures too. As a result we found our bodies quickly warmed from 2 degrees London, through to 10 degrees Spanish night-time to a positively summery 24 degrees basking in the sunshine this lunchtime. Like all things which are scarce in life, the sunshine is never more glorious, never greater appreciated than when, back at home, you know that your friends and compatriots are suffering in the cold. It’s as though you’ve made a lucky escape and are somehow cheating your pre-destined position in life. From London to Spain this has been like leaping from the freeze straight into the fire.
Needless to say, it’s now evening in Spain, and the cold has once again descended as the electric heaters have been boosted onto full power. The problem with these temperature extremes is that you really don’t know whether it’s winter or summer, because you fully experience both seasons in a single day. The key appears to be plenty of layers and a willingness to dress and undress depending on where the sun is, where the clouds are, and how much you can cheat the winter and steal the sun. Of course it also depends on plenty of heating during the evening, and as our electricity system is about as antiquated as our house, the whole lot will probably fuse any minute. With this in mind, I shall finish this post, leaving you with a selection of my photos from the day. Hasta mañana.