December! Yet again we’re in the depths of winter, and Christmas is almost upon us.
Logs are doubtless burning in fireplaces and the daily ash cleaning is in full swing.
Feet are scrunching on cold tiles, hopping rug to rug in the search for slippers and socks. Electric blankets are ticking away through the night. Many will be wondering why they ever came to Spain in the first place, believing it to be bikini weather twelve months of the year, as they donated their winter clothing to charity shops back ‘home’ in the run-up to leaving permanently.
I recall the first time we arrived in December in the year we took possession, and everywhere was freezing. Ice had formed on the street in the rivulets of someone’s car- washing endeavors and we had no water, power, or phone. The pool installers, in their wisdom, had disconnected the water supply believing we wouldn’t be returning for months and Iberdrola had decided to simply disconnect us. Why wouldn’t they?
A certain ‘middleman business’ had provided them with the wrong account details and our bill hadn’t been paid. We slept in our clothes and coats that night two decades ago, following an evening at a nearby restaurant huddled around their log fire until closing time. Racing out first thing, with only a bottle of water to rinse our chattering teeth, we headed down to the Port to lift the veil on events.
The Spanish woman who had made the error offered only a careless shrug. Luckily the bank was adjacent to the office and our power was restored by 3 pm, with a hefty reconnection charge. In between, we were racing around the couple of people we actually knew, in our tiny hire car buying a portable gas heater and torch, and hunting down the Repsol offices to buy a bottle of gas to use it. The device needed inspection before issuing a contract, so another trip back and forth, fitting in closing times along the way while trying to get the water back on. It was complete hell. I cried and swore I’d never visit Spain again in the winter. The villa offered the charm of a mausoleum. Luckily, we were only there a week, endlessly mopping condensation-dribbled windows and shivering like Santa in a snowstorm. The Ghost of Winter Past.
Three Kings beckons in the New Year and we will hopefully be sat in front of our own roaring log fire, fitted the following summer, skipping rug to rug clad in thick-soled boots and thermals, extending Christmas like a true Spaniard, with hot chocolate and Carlos the Third brandy for breakfast.
Until then, a cracking and spitting Youtube fireplace will take its place on the television. Works a treat.
Naturally, with a Roscon de Reyes cake.
I bid you Season’s Greetings with the poet Longfellow…
‘I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!’