Monthly Archives: November 2016

Have you seen this weather?!

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Have you seen this weather?!

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.

 

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Remembrance

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Remembrance

Today, the 11th of November, is Remembrance Day. It would also have been my Nanna’s birthday; she would have been 95. Even thought my dear grandparents passed away in 2001 and 2003, I still think of them every day. They were kind, generous and my golden couple; in love with each other for over 63 years. Today’s Remembrance feels especially poignant for me, as I type here in Spain, my current home. Today I feel like Europe and America are saying RIP to the rights so hard won by my grandparents and millions of others in the Second World War.

In Europe the far right is gaining popularity in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, to name a few. America has just landed itself the next Adolf Hitler as President elect, thanks in part to the almost 50% of voters who didn’t bother to vote at all. These people have no right to protest or be unhappy about the outcome, as their laziness/apathy/ignorance played a part in it.

The point which brings me to Remembrance is this: people died in the World Wars trying to secure their freedom and therefore mine. WWII especially battled against fascism, discrimination and genocide. While society back then was much less accommodating in relation to LGBT and women’s rights, Europe and parts of the US have come a long way since then. The country I now call my home, not too long ago ruled by a Fascist dictator for around forty years, was one of the first in Europe to legalise civil partnerships.  Sadly, Spain too is swinging to the right, like the rest of Europe and apparently, the USA.

The fight against narrow-minded extremism is one we need to fight every day. The USA, ‘Land of the Free’ is no longer. There are parallels between 1930s Europe and the terrifying situation they have now. The rise of the right being preceded by a time of economic crisis; people looking for scapegoats and finding immigrants and refugees convenient to lay the  blame upon. Ruthless megalomaniacs fanning the flames of people’s suspicion and fear to create hatred. Countries looking to close their borders to solve their problems, instead of looking at their own greedy governments and financial sectors.

This blog could go on forever at a volatile time like this. Voting may simply be a matter of putting an X next to the lesser of two evils. It may be something of a Hobson’s choice, but it is a choice we have the right to make. People died so we could live in the closest thing to a democracy we have a the moment. What has happened in the USA should be a lesson to all of us who are lucky enough to have the right to vote. USE IT, or risk hosting the frightening farce that is playing out now in America.