7 signs of Spanish springtime

For the rest of the world, springtime and the definition of any season is officially marked by  the Astronomical or Meteorological seasons.

The science behind the seasons

What’s the difference?  Astronomical seasons refer to the position of Earth’s orbit in relation to the sun (taking into account equinoxes and solstices). Meteorological seasons are based on the yearly temperature cycle and calculate the meteorological state as well as timing with the calendar to determine a clear and definitive transition between the seasons.


Spain is different

Got that? No, nor me. It’s far simpler in Spain – and as we all know: Spain is Different. 😉

There are 7 clear signs that Spring and warmer weather have arrived – Spanish style. It’s like the flick of a giant imaginary switch. Perhaps you recognise these signs, or perhaps you know a few more? Let’s see…


Changes afoot

The floor tiles INSIDE the house change from icy polar old to reasonably warm overnight. You’re no longer in danger of losing your toes from severe frostbite for misplacing your slippers. Hey, bring on the flip-flops. Ah, I see, you never took them off… Time to paint those toenails.


Raising the Parasols

Parasol – the clue is in the name of course. Into storage go the patio heaters, up go the parasols. Bars look alive with busy terraces. Yes, hold that comment,  I know they have outside terraces all year round down there on the coast, but we’re at the top of a mountain 🙂


Hearty stews be-gone

Bowls of spicy, tasty Callos and pig’s innards are whisked away, and tapas is replaced by little mounds of Russian Salad (which incidentally can be either a soft and creamy delight or a splendid saucer of cat vomit).


You ate THAT?!

Wash that down

Red wine? No Camarero, mine is a Tinto Verano – ropey red over ice topped up with lemonade and splash of Martini if you’re lucky. Very refreshing it is too…



The smiling Cura

Ah yes, the Vatican’s best envoy, the Parish Priest, has a noticeable spring in his step, and he’s wearing a slightly creepy benign smile. Why? It’s the start of fiesta season – which means a substantial leap in the number of congregates, and a louder jangle of coins in the collection basket.


Step talk

A better gathering than Mass. The scrubbing of front steps and the scraping of chairs means the start of ‘doorstepping’ season. From the plaza to our front door is a 3 minute walk but it can take 3 hours with a delicious stop or twenty to sip the proffered wine and (literally) chew the fat. . politics, religion, football, farming and family are discussed at length.

Besides, how on earth would anyone know anything without the front step gossip? Sheesh. Yep, that’s my step. 🙂


The Birds and the Bees

Big blue carpenter bees, chatty and fat Swallows, busy Housemartins, they all back, and they’re all keen to start a new family. Sit back, pour another Tinto Verano (don’t wait for summer) and just enjoy springtime, in fact ANY time, in Spain.






Spanish Dreams? Reality Bites

“Are you mad?  Ah – go for it – lucky ba$tar*s.  Can we have your furniture?”

I admit most of our friends took the realistic approach when we shared the fact we were decamping from our very normal life to a leaking shack/money pit 1115 metres up a Spanish mountain.


But, wait, stay right there.  This is not a “Hey look at us, didn’t we do well” lifestyle post.

It’s been, well, great – and almost 10 years on we are happy enough with our lot – although it has not always been easy.

Especially the cold and hard winters we have endured since we arrived with boxes of linen and cotton clothes, and a selection of flip-flops – our woolies and 15 tog quilts gaily abandoned in a Newport skip.


©Carol Byrne


But –  this is the middle of summer.  Spanish summer.  The sun has got his sombrero on. Woop – right?

The expectation

Calls from home – wet and windy Ireland calling…

“You must have a great colour”

“How blue is the sky?” (This last one usually asked through gritted teeth, as in Ireland we wear the sky as a grey bobble hat)

“You’re off for dinner? Oh imagine, sitting OUT”

“Saw your area on A Place In The Sun – it looked FABULOUS.”   Er, no, you didn’t.  Just Christopher Columbus and us made it this far up a blasted mountain.  Maybe Mallory if he was lost.

Image of a glossy highway sign on blue sky

The reality

Actually no.  I’m a faded brown, sort of sludge colour.

Why? Well, since our day (note the singular) on the beach this year, when we overdid the idea of a day off and turned deep Gamba pink, we haven’t sunbathed.

I did buy a relaxer-lounger garden chair, but haven’t managed to sink my bum in it once.


Wiki commons

Wiki commons



It’s too bloody hot.

So, envy-filled friends and family, imagine a different picture.

Closed shutters, drawn curtains.

The fan whirring and pushing hot air around.  Re-runs of A Place In The Sun on TV.

Flies.  Big flies.  Flies that might normally be indicative of a dead body in close proximity.

Little flies.  No-Sees.  They salsa through the mozzie nets, laughing at us, and with needle precision torment us all night.

We eat out – sure we do.  At 11 or 12 in the darkness when it’s cool enough, the mosquitoes have us for postre as we sit there sweating and heavy breathing.

Entertainment is mostly checking the dogs for ticks.  And then checking us for ticks. *Shudder*

So, dear friends and family, look fondly at that ‘soft weather’ – and be bloody grateful.


May Day

Or should that read MayDay – a distress call for help?

So here I sit, greeting 3am, and 4am and …

Insomnia is an old friend – we’ve learned to ‘agree to disagree’ and put up with each other.  It’s not so bad, self employment means I can grab 40 winks siesta later in the day, and rural Spanish village life means I can nod off to barking dogs, motorbikes, car horns, church bells and the odd braying barren of mule.

Today is the first of the month, and I have a soft spot for May.

The weather is going to be brilliant for our village fiesta, starting with a (loud) bang today and ending with a littered village and a few sore heads on Sunday.


Santa Cruz brings us visitors, mates of The Girl, Spanish in-betweeners, all male and beardy and starving. They’ll arrive politely, and within a few short hours deplete the fridge, wreck the house and probably puke (hopefully in the toilet).  A runny egg sandwich and a banana in the morning will sort them out.  Kill or cure as we say.

Just The Boy missing from the festivities, he’ll soon be home from Wales after his first year of studies and life on his own.

The Girl is helping out with preparations by going climbing for the day with Cliff, something to do with a gorge and putting bolts in. A 6 or 8 hour trek that gets her nicely out of any menial duties…

That’s okay, I was young once 🙂

Childhood memories of May, Catholic Ireland and her parades and flowers, wrapping Peony roses from the back garden in newspaper for the May altar at school, not a petal left on their heads by the time I struggled and slipped up the school hill.

Lucan village parade. A wide white satin ribbon that never stayed on my poker-straight hair, despite my mother’s best efforts to decapitate me with hair-clips.

Communion dresses and scratchy net veils on a second outing, hissed reminders to stand straight, pull up your socks. “Is that chewing gum in your mouth Carol Byrne??”

Quavering voices, and digs and giggles as we pretended to embrace a pious air.

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today!
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.
O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.

Bring flowers of the rarest
bring blossoms the fairest,
from garden and woodland and hillside and dale;
our full hearts are swelling,
our glad voices telling
the praise of the loveliest flower of the vale!

Actually, I have no idea why I have a soft spot for May!  Anyway, here goes, beds to make, strategic buckets to place, party feet on, liver prepared…vamos!

Cruces in May of Spain or a damp memory-making parade in Ireland, or indeed wherever you are this May weekend, enjoy. x

Tonight, Matthew, I’ll be… Bridget Jones

Knickers. You guessed….red knickers for luck of course, de riguer and a la mode for NYE in Spain, doncha know? Yes, it’s that night again, they roll around with such speed these days, anyone would think we were growing older.


Tempus might Fugit but we’ll be doing the same old thing here, freezing our asses off in the village Plaza, tradition dictates we have a grape for each chime of the midnight bells and a gulp of cheap Cava to wash them down. By the time the last bell tolls we’ll be doing Brando/Corleone impressions and laughing our heads off, whilst simultaneously kissing and wishing everyone a Feliz Ano Nuevo – (actually that translates as a happy new arse and not a year as I don’t have the requisite accent on this silly UK keyboard.)

I will indeed wish for a new arse, slightly less padded and much more svelte as I roll out the same old resolutions, as 5:2 begins again in earnest – only to be a forgotten friend – or fiend – by February. Sure we have our health – what more do we really need?

The more padded version of this derrière will be snugly – slightly too snugly – encased in red knickers for good luck tonight. Although we all know luck is something that’s made and worked on. And I’ll wish tonight for all of you the same – so have a great one, whether it’s cosy by the fire with Jules and his piano, or freezing in your own home town square/pub:

Athbhliain faoi shéan agus faoi
¡Feliz año nuevo!
or Happy New Year!