Blogs in this series

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.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Starsky and Hutch and the like

Everybody knows that Italian men are cool. Everybody knows that Italian men don't wear socks. Before I came here I presumed that Spain was, probably, more or less like Italy - both have wine, olives, sun and the Mediterranean. So, just before I left the UK in 2004 I bought some Timberland loafers. All leather, no problems with sweaty feet. At least that was the hope.

I still have the Timberland shoes, I don't wear them often but they are still in excellent condition and they smell fine. I never have taken to going sockless. Spaniards wear flip flops in summer anyway. The cords that I bought from GAP, when it first opened in Cambridge, which is definitely a long, long time ago, are no longer a baggy fit but I still put them on from time to time. In fact there are lots of things I still wear that I brought from the UK in 2004 which makes them at least 13 years old. Some, like a big Marks ans Sparks Starsky and Hutch inspired cardigan, that I only now dare wear around the house, are much, much older. Some things, the inherited things, that we brought with us, tools for instance, are ancient.

When we were first setting up house in Culebrón we had to spend bucket loads of money. Obscene amounts of money.  Some things we'd brought with us but most of that was personal stuff, books and clothes, rather than household and we certainly didn't have settees, cookers, televisions or even drinks coasters. We had to buy beds too and although the sizes, in centimetres, were slightly different from their UK equivalents they were basically the same. Spanish pillows were usually long bolster type things but we managed to buy more normal, for us, individual pillows, locally. Over the years some of those things have been replaced but others soldier on. Pinned to the sofa by my laptop yesterday evening for a couple of hours I suddenly realised just how pain in the bottom uncomfortable our 12 year old couch has become. Even I am finally beginning to notice that lots of those original things are getting to be very long in the tooth.

The duvet we sleep under came from John Lewis in Peterborough. I bought it for the flat that I lived in there in the 1980s. It's a standard sized double bed duvet. Maybe six or seven years ago we were in IKEA in Murcia, when it first opened. I was quite taken with a duvet cover they had so I bought it, along with pillow cases. It didn't fit - far too big. They didn't fit - far too small. Obviously the Swedes have funny sized duvets and pillows. Primark sells ordinary size duvet covers - I've always thought the Irish were a sensible, level headed bunch -  and when they opened a shop, also in Murcia, we bought another cover. Once out of the packet it did not exude quality. It appeared to be made out of near transparent cloth and looked as though it cost exactly what we paid for it.

By now our original UK duvet covers were definitely showing their age - split seams, missing press studs, old fashioned designs and faded colours. Maggie thought so too and she went Internet shopping. When her purchase turned up neither of us cared for it much - photos are one thing but the actual product is another. There was nothing for it we were going to have to pay Inditex prices. I went to Zara Home and searched through the covers and cases in their funny drawer like shelves.  Quilts are not uncommon in Spain but they're not as common as they are in the UK. I looked at the prices - there were some covers for 40 or 50€ but there were lots more at 60, 70 and 80€. Pillow cases were sometimes 30€+. None of the bed-wear seemed to be close to the 190x190 cm size of our duvet and although I wasn't keen to engage with anyone working in the shop, for fear of being bounced into buying one of the expensive ones, I had no option. The person I spoke to was convinced that I was a stupid foreigner who couldn't speak Spanish properly or at least couldn't measure in centimetres  - 220x220 cm was, she assured me, the size for a double bed cover. It seems that whilst Spanish beds may be more or less the same size as British ones the Spaniards prefer their covers to be bigger - more wiggle room, fewer feet sticking out, which is probably better but we won't think about that just now!

Time plodded on with no new duvet cover. I was on Amazon Spain looking for camera batteries or similar but some strange algorithm showed me duvet covers, at the bottom of the page, as - relacionado con productos que has mirado - related to the products you've looked at. All I can surmise is that Amazon has me completely pegged - either that or they are spying on me in some more traditional way. The duvet covers were a reasonable price, they seemed to be the right sort of size, pillow cases were the right size and price too and everything was in plain colours so that the chance of the photo and the real thing being miles apart were slim. I was so overwhelmed that I even bought the matching colour fitted sheet. And guess what? It was all fine.

But it just goes to show. Things are similar here -no socks-  but different -flip flops not stylish loafers.

1 comment:

Myriam said...

I've been buying and using Swedish beds/matresses/pillows for the last 20 years, since IKEA exists in the Península. And hadn't heard about "Spanish pillows usually long bolster type things" since very long time ago. I thought they didn't exist anymore. A Japanese futon is the best solution for me. If I move someday to a place where I expect to be forever (how I wish) I'll be happy having just a futon. I'll roll it and keep it in the wardrobe during the day. Pure minimalism. I am so fed up of having so many useless stuff that I have to think of, clean, order, maintain, look for,.... I only dream of a house well insulated, not big, with plenty of natural light, with civilized neighbours, in a city full of trees, and cinemas and theaters and museums. If you know where it is, please tell me. :)