Bless the Weather

A reader of my blog recently expressed surprise at seeing a photograph of me in hat, coat and scarf here in Spain.  We have also had comments from friends saying “I imagine you are lying by the pool this Christmas” which makes me realise that many people think we have hot sunshine year round.  Well, we do and we don’t.  During the winter which is really only December, January and February we can have some very cold weather indeed especially up here in the mountains where snow is not unheard of.  This is our fourth winter here and we have woken up to temperatures of below freezing on a couple of occasions so far and had a few cloudy and windy days where the temperature has been pretty low requiring, for me at least, coat, hat and scarf.  On the other hand, when the sun is out and the wind isn’t blowing the temperature on the terrace can go as high as 26 degrees, but only for a couple of hours and once the sun starts to set the temperature drops dramatically.  The air temperature is cold too and whilst if you are in the sunshine the temperature can be very pleasant, on the north side of the house in the shade, it is perishing.  In 2005 apparently, there was a heavy snowfall in the area and various bars and cafes in town have photographs of the event on the walls.  Last winter, snow caused traffic problems up in the mountains of Alcoi and Ibi which are only twenty minutes from here.

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Snow on the hills in February

Down at the coast the temperatures are much higher.  We are just thirty minutes by car from the coast but we notice the difference if we go down to the shopping centres in Elche or Alicante having set out from here in jackets and jeans, we find people (usually English or Dutch) in shorts and T-shirts.  We took the dogs for a walk on the beach on New Year’s Day and there were people swimming in the sea and yesterday, although it was cooler and windy on the beach it was still warm enough to sit and have a coffee outside in the sunshine. If we go further south to Murcia, to visit Ikea, it is even warmer although it is generally still the Northern Europeans in summer wear, the Spanish are wrapped up warmly from October onwards.  I was reproached by the man in the bank for wearing short sleeves in November on one occasion. Obviously, the further south you go, the warmer it is and southern Spain has much warmer temperatures year round however I did see photographs of a snow covered Andalucia last year.

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Winter sunshine at Urbanova

The big difference in the weather throughout the winter is the amount of sunshine and the lack of rain.  There are very few grey and cloudy days and it often only rains at night.  There was rain off and on the other day and Steve and I were hard pressed to remember a day where we had to walk in the rain during our time here.  Usually, when it rains, it buckets down for an hour or so and then stops.

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After the rain

The weather starts to warm up significantly in April although March can be very nice but it is often windy and cloudy.  There are definite rainy seasons here and April, although warmer, can see a lot of rain.  The countryside bursts into life, the wild flowers bloom and the weeds go mad.  The weather can be gorgeous in May and June, hot and sunny without the oppressive sultry heat of July, August and often September.   The very high temperatures of the summer months are perfect for holiday makers and spending the days lying by the pool and the evenings drinking wine on the terrace.  Working in these temperatures is not so quite so idyllic although the knowledge that a swim awaits at the end of work is a lovely feeling.

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Summer Days

Swimming under the stars is magical and cools you sufficiently to sleep for a few hours.  The reason for siesta becomes apparent at the height of summer when, the intense heat of the afternoon until about six o’clock makes it difficult to anything other than doze in the cool of the shade or our sitting room on the north side of the house.  The apartment bedroom too is faces north and, if the shutters are kept closed during the day, remains cool and comfortable for siestas and restful sleep at night.  Many Spanish houses have only small windows despite glorious views and we have heard many English house hunters dismiss potential houses as being too dark, but keeping the sunshine out of the house in the summer is important.  Many English people have their terraces closed in with large glass windows which must be unbearable in summer but in winter they are lovely warm places to sit.  In fact, during our first winter here when we were trying to save money by only turning on the central heating twice a day (false economy as we have discovered), the warmest place to sit during the day was the car which heated up nicely as it faces south on the drive.

The sunshine is what makes the difference to life in Spain.  Someone once told us that in Spain you never go for more than three days without seeing the sun and the effect that this has on everything especially for me, my mood cannot be underestimated.

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5 thoughts on “Bless the Weather

  1. Hi Judith, it’s lovely when you talk about the towns, e.g. Murcia, Elche, Alicante, as having been to those places I can visualise where you are! I usually go to Spain early April and as you say the evenings are very cold especially as there is no heating in the house we stay in apart from a calor gas heater. We always have a blanket over us and thick socks! Unfortunately as my son is getting married in April I won’t be going this year – going to Hayling Island instead for a few days!!! so will miss my trip this year…. Chris

    1. Nice to hear from you Chris – apologies for leaving it so long to reply. Our first winter here was miserable as the heating wasn’t very efficient and we were trying to be frugal. One morning we got up and our bedroom was only 9 degrees – I cried I was so cold but now we have improved the insulation and enlarged the radiators and are much more cosy. Take care and keep reading and commenting.
      Judith x

  2. Hi Judith, I must first apologise for not replying to you question on your blog last November. I have only just remembered and looked back and found it. Yes we still have our house in Spain. We come out three time a year, but only for 3 weeks in January, as although its lovely to see the blue skies and sunshine I do miss my central heating back in the UK. If like you and we lived here all the time I think we would have some proper central heating put in. But not to worry we manage with electric radiators and calor gas fire. We have had the same experience with folks back in UK not realising how cold it can get when the sun goes down here in the winter. Also how variable it can be from day to day. Last Saturday morning we walked by the Mar Menor with hats and gloves on as there was a very cold northerly wind even though the sun was out. Then yesterday I was sitting in the sun on our solarium in jeans and tee shirt! Wishing you a Happy New Year. Sue x

    1. Hi Sue – good to hear from you as always. We are certainly looking forward to Spring here, although it is warmish, it is extremely windy and we are hoping that we don’t lose any roof tiles as we did last year. February and March are the worst months here weather wise although still much better than UK. TTFN Judith

  3. Oh how I long for the sun. It is very cold here and of course we have had a lot of rain ( I expect you have seen the floods on the TV. Poor people having water rushing through their homes.) Up until this week the weather has been quite mild so consequently all the Spring bulbs are popping up. This past week has been horrendous as we have had the decorator in sprucing up Ernie’s office and re-doing the bathroom. All the bedrooms are piled high with 4 TVs, monitors, printers, duplicating machine, filing cabinets. Beds turned on end etc etc. The new carpet was fitted today so hopefully we shall soon be straight. I also had a new cooker fitted today so I am feeling quite cleansed and my freshly cooked meringues look amazing!!

    Tomorrow I am starting a course called “Silver Surfers” which is designed to help people of my age understand a bit more about I-pads and computers. I do get along but need to know more. It has helped me a lot with the voluntary job I do for Wessex Counselling where I do a monthly exercise on Excel. I am alright until I can’t fathom out something then I get frustrated. Oh how I hate technology.
    My brother owned a house in Murcia up until last year so we did pay him a visit once. It was a town house with a shared swimming pool and they did enjoy the ten years they spent there.

    Had another visit to the cardiologist this week so I hope they can sort out my breathing. If you remember I saw him two years ago and he prescribed some wonderful medication which enabled me to live normally and I even cycled nine miles on holiday and was able to do quite lengthy walks. I am still taking the same tablets so why has the problem returned I ask?

    Must away how but will speak again soon.

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