After the past few days here in Valencia, it would be rude not to indulge my British side and talk about the weather. Here we go!
One of the reasons we moved here was for the Spanish weather. Wall to wall sunshine and bright blue skies for most of the year. This has provided massive relief from the strangle-hold of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I normally suffer from for half of the year. (See previous Winter blogs). Here in Valencia, I cheerfully cycle to work in the Winter sunshine, feeling light and happy to be alive. My only gripe is that as a northerner, I feel I have gone soft. I now consider 10C to be, ‘Bloody freezing! Why didn’t I wear my woolly hat today?’ Yes,seriously. But then, we have spent the summer months living every day life in an almost unbearable, humid 35C. So maybe I’ve toughened up against the heat.
Anyway, it isn’t the heat that I am here to write about today. So accustomed have we become to the predictable sunshine, that when it rains, we literally don’t know what the hell is happening. We suddenly have to consider what shoes and coat to wear; whether we should cycle or catch the bus to work. Gloomy weather also brings mixed feelings: disappointment that the sun is not shining; sadness and lethargy because of the low light; and oddly, homesickness. Grey skies and rain remind us, especially the northerners, of home. So although I am irritated that the sun is not powering me through the day, I am also nostalgic for all the people and places I have left behind.
That is, until last weekend. Never, not even in unpredictable, tempestuous little England, have I experienced storms like we had on Sunday in Valencia. I was rudely awoken at 11am (I had partied until 5am) by crashing thunder which had penetrated both the closed window and my earplugs. I managed to snooze a little but eventually got out of bed to a heavy rainstorm and leaden sky. Late afternoon provided a slight break in the clouds, revealing some less-grey sky. But by 5.30pm rain to rival that which instigated the building of Noah’s ark descended. It did not stop. Lightning like I have never seen before lit up the whole sky for hours on end. I think that the light which warns aircrafts of the high bridge at the City of Arts and Sciences was struck by lightning, as the light went out and hasn’t been on since.
As former residents of York, a city which frequently floods and did so on an epic scale last Christmas, you might think we would be used to such torrential downpours. The rain is obviously reminiscent of home, but certainly not the lightning. However, the piéce de resistance had to be – wait for it – the tornado. Yes, the tornado, just 13km down the coast from us, in El Perellò. It certainly explained all the rain, which is still falling, two days later. It was even raining in the Metro, two levels down. The platform was soaked, a few buckets dotted uselessly under the multiple leaks, along with one wet floor sign. In true Spanish disregard for health and safety, I saw the water dripping through the lights, down onto the electric lines of the Metro while people bustled though as normal.
This a city clearly as unprepared for rain as Britain is for heat. The pavements are all shiny tiles and marble, waiting for you to slip on your arse as you try to dash through the rain flowing in rivers through the saturated streets. That said, you won’t see a Valencian without a brolly when it’s raining (that is, if they even dare to venture out), and I’ve seen several of them wearing wellies. Considering how rare rain is in this city, there is no shortage of waterproofs. The tornado and torrential rain are not normal in Spain, although the locals seemed less impressed/shocked by it than I was. Maybe this fascination with the wether really is just a British thing. I am sure the sun will shine again soon. That is one thing we can count on here.