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Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Friday, January 20, 2017


My guess is that you know that it snowed here yesterday. A good thick layer of snow in Culebrón. I missed most of it. In fact I must be the only person in Culebrón who doesn't have a photo of somewhere looking very Christmas card. I took a few snaps today but by then the thaw was well under way.

There was 33mm of precipitation in Pinoso which, Google tells me, normally bulks up to about 33cm of snow. I'd have said it was less than that, maybe 15cm, but I wasn't here to see the snow at its height so I am not a reliable source.

I drove to work through reasonably heavy falling snow but, by the time I got to work, the snow was nasty wet rain instead. Cieza is nearly 400 metres lower than Culebrón. By the time I came home the ploughs had done their stuff and I followed the car width wet tarmac ribbon, hemmed in by snow, occasionally hitting big compacted lumps, all the way home. It wasn't easy getting up the slope to the house though and I had to dig the snow away to actually get the car into our yard. It's been melting like mad today. Water pouring off buildings and roads looking very picturesque in the bright sunlight.

At the height of the snowfall Maggie was persuaded by friends to take the lift offered in a four wheel drive and leave her car in town. She probably couldn't have got home anyway as the main road that passes our house was closed. Apparently the closure was because so many cars were sliding off the road that the Guardia Civil thought it the best move.

Lots of the comments against the photos that Britons living around here posted on Facebook were from friends surprised that it had snowed in Spain. Actually Spanish snow isn't at all unusual.

For a long time now Spain has often claimed to be the second most mountainous country in Europe after Switzerland. Again, with the help of Google, I understand that the criteria for that claim are not clear and that places like Norway, Slovenia, Greece, Austria and Italy beat it on most of the obvious measures. Nonetheless it is a pretty high country in general and it can, authentically, claim to have the highest percentage of its population living in high areas in Europe. Everybody knows you get snow on top of mountains. Any photo of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania proves that. So lots of Spaniards who live in the Pyrenees, up the Sierra Nevada or in the Picos de Europa have to live with plenty of snow every year. Spain has stacks of ski resorts.

The Spanish word for Hell is infierno. The Spanish word for winter is invierno. An old joke about Madrid says nine months of winter and three months of Hell. It's droller in Spanish.

We originally considered living in Burgos. Some Spanish chums warned us off by saying it was like Siberia in winter. We had a couple of different pals who lived there. One of them told the story of entertaining a group of Muscovites on some sort of International Exchange. The Muscovites complained that Burgos was too cold.

One of the WhatsApp jokes that I got yesterday about the weather was a temperature scale. It argued that when the temperature dropped below 24ºC people from Seville put an extra blanket on the bed. The mentions of Burgos suggested that its people would button up their shirts, as they drank ice cold beer and ate ice cream on the cafe terraces, as temperatures sank to -8ºC and that they would only actually go inside the bar when temperature dropped to absolute zero.

Whenever there is a description of the Spanish Civil War Battle of the Ebro, fought around the area that includes the city of Teruel in Aragon, there is always mention of the number of soldiers who froze to death because of the low, low temperatures. Figures vary but it seems that they were regularly below -20ºC

Maggie and I were trying to decide if it's the third or fourth time it's snowed on us whilst we've been here. My photo albums seem to suggest that it has been two reasonably heavy snowfalls, with another that barely counted, before this one. This weeks fall is definitely the heaviest we've experienced here. So, it may be relatively unusual that it snowed in Alicante and Murcia this week but it's not at all odd for it to snow in Spain.

And, whilst we're on the topic of sunny Spain I'd just warn you that should you ever decide to go to Galicia or any bit of Green Spain, up Asturias and Cantabria way, whenever those places are on the news for whatever reason it always seems to be raining.

Wrap up warm.

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