Monday, August 16, 2010

No exaggeration

Jiminy Cricket sheltering from rain underneath a leaf - Actually this was just a practice drill the other day when I watered the garden.  He was a great poser and sat very still so I could get my snapshot. Click on the photo to enlarge it and look at the water 'bubbles' on his body and legs.

IN CASE you thought I was exaggerating about the Terral - turns out it was the hottest night in the last 68 years which is the time they've been keeping proper weather records here (I learn something new every day).  Since then temperature has dropped slowly and tonight is blissful.  A cool breeze bringing in the rain.
We're on a yellow Meteo Alert for heavy showers and a good ol' summer storm as of midnight tonight.  I love thunderstorms just so long as I'm safely inside and not sheltering under a solitary tree on the hillside.
Electricity always goes out when we have a storm. It's mathematical.

Weather today: Overcast with some sunny spells. Felt a lot cooler, especially this afternoon. High 29ºC/84ºF. Low 21ºC/70ºF (what a difference).  Light westerly breeze 18 km/h. Pressure 1020 mb and descending. Relative humidity 87%. 25% chance of rain. UV Index 9. Snow above 3,700 m – and yes, there is still snow on the Sierra Nevada. Information source: AEMET. Silly comments: Yours truly.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The terrible Terral

A helicopter douses flames just behind the village.  The pilots do a remarkable job flying with all that water and the drag it creates on the aircraft. 

IT INVARIABLY strikes us foreigners as strange, when on a very, very hot day, the Spanish will shut all their windows and doors. Just the opposite of what you’d expect. Leaving everything opens means a welcome breeze can flow through your house. Except when the terral starts. Then it is no breeze, it is a blast of blistering hot, dry air. “Terral” whispers one neighbour to another. “Viene terral” (terral is coming), shouts the next to another as they all scuttle inside to shut up the houses, lower the blinds and stay off the streets.

There are several kinds of terral but the one that is loathed here, on the southern coast of Spain is that which comes in from the west, over Portugal then turns sharp right and comes bearing down on us from the north, across the scorched land of the Iberian peninsula, bringing with it extremely hot, dry temperatures.

If you have never experienced terral – a near enough comparison is to heat up your oven and then when it reaches top temperature open the door. That blast of scorching hot, dry air is what you feel when you step outside the aircon here on a terral day.

So there we were last night, The Hockey Star and I happily settled in our comfortably cool aircon watching The Tudors (boy, are we’re hooked on this series at the moment) when – blaff – out goes the electricity.

The fact that last night was the first official feria evening when the mayor proudly hits the switch to light up our fairground with thousands of non energy-saving light bulbs meant that we were almost expecting a power cut. But as time dragged on and I lit my ready supply of candles, (nowhere in western Europe are there power cuts as frequently as in our village) we realised that we were in for the long haul and that it wasn’t the fair but the fact that it was the hottest night this year and everyone was using aircon or fans. Or had been. Sleepless, restless, sweaty, uncomfortable, gasping night. The electricity came back at 6am and the temperature outside was already 32ºC/90ºF.

Terral is ideal fire weather and no sooner said than done. Thick, white smoke and flames could be seen from the office mid morning as the mountainside above the motorway caught fire. Odds on it was a cigarette butt flung from some caring citizen’s car window. Fires by the motorway invariably are.

In the meantime, fingers crossed for tonight . let's hope the local power grid is up to the challenge - think I might try and get some sleep while we have aircon. Just in case.

Weather today: Ghastly. So hot and dry that I can feel the hairs in my nostrils crisping up. Severe weather warning: Yellow alert for heatwave (Yesterday was orange alert and highs of 42ºC/108ºF – Bluurgh). High 38ºC/100ºF. Low 25ºC/77ºF (Met Office erring on the side of caution). Northeasterly breeze 18 km/h this morning after last night’s gales. Changing to southerly 22km/h this afternoon which will hopefully bring lower temperatures. Pressure 1012 mb and stable. Relative humidity 33%. Officially zilch chance of rain. UV Index 9. Snow above 3,700 m – and yes, there is still snow on the Sierra Nevada. Information source: AEMET. Silly comments: Yours truly.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ayyyy, feria time is here

Estrella Morente (in the cream dress) doing her stuff - Look her up on YouTube if you want to know more...

MID August is feria time in our village. Any hope of a normal routine is useless. Anyone who is someone, and let's face it we'd all like to think we are, will be out until the wee hours dancing flamenco, downing fino sherry, paying small fortunes to let the kids ride on bumper cars and generally behaving as if the end of the world will arrive tomorrow, which it will - for those who've overindulged - the next morning, but that's another story.

You might detect a note of envy - regarding the all night partying - and you'd be right. Some of us have to stay on the straight and narrow and go to work.

But last night being Saturday we did manage to get to the village flamenco festival - the start of our annual festivities.

Flamenco has a bit of a reputation for going on into the night. And this it did - until just gone 2am.
I'd faded a while before (well we were out the night before too - as in Rome etc) and was having serious trouble trying not to fall asleep while sitting on the cement seating of our local bullring. Ayyyy,y ayyyyy, ayyyyy, something unintelligible, ayyyy, sang Estrella Morente, who is actually quite good but by the time she got on stage it was past my bedtime. Still it was good to go out and there was something rather special about sitting under the stars in a bullring high above the Mediterranean, the sea below glittering and the gypsies guitar chords drifting off into the darkness while Estrella ayed and ayed a bit more. I must go out more often....


Weather today: Strange sort of day. Quite overcast and heavy. Felt cooler although temperatures were similar to the rest of the week. High 30ºC/86ºF. Low 24ºC/75ºF. Southerly not-even-breeze, more like a whisper. Zilch to 7 km/h. Pressure 1015 mb and stable. Relative humidity 68%. Possibility of rain 5% (as if...) UV Index 10 - sizzling skin time. Information source: AEMET. Silly comments: Yours truly.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Be warned, new driver on the roads

A great moment indeed
THE Hockey Star has passed his driving test. Congratulations My Boy. First time too. Much clucking and chest puffing from mother hen. Of course.

Actually he passed it 12 days ago but it has taken that long for his provisional driving licence to come through. The definitive official driving licence could take (shrug of shoulders here from driving school receptionist, and pause while she thinks of a reasonable lie so that I don't get cross, "Perhaps two months. But of course with August in between it could be longer. As you know it's Trafico not us "... blah, blah, blah).

Still he can now drive my car, if he can still remember what to do.

All that is left is for us to hand over an almighty large amount of dosh to the insurance company this afternoon and spit-and-stick the L plate to the back window (where of course it will interfere with his rear-view vision but hey, what are side mirrors for?)

Ah yes, L plate?

Driving school receptionist "Ah well, we haven't received those yet but I'll let you know as soon as we do."

Luckily I still have MiniMama's L-plate, so we'll use that.

Be warned, there is a new driver on the road. I hope my nerves are up to it...

Weather today: Hot and sweaty. High 33ºC/91ºF. Low 22ºC/72ºF. Slight Easterly breeze 11 km/h. Pressure 1008 mb and rising. Relative humidity 68%. Possibility of rain 5% (as if...) UV Index 9 - equivalent of being roasted over an open fire. Information source: AEMET. Silly comments: Yours truly.