Does Anyone Know Where I Can Buy Some Earplugs?

When it rains heavily our street turns into a gushing torrent, with waterfalls cascading down the steps that lead to the main street. And heading in the other direction, the street climbs very steeply to join another road. The slope is surfaced with concrete which, over the years, has cracked, broken up and been patched up. It's not quite an outdoor climbing wall, but not far off!
Well, today the work begins to put all of this right, which of course involves bringing down a tracked vehicle with a jack hammer on the front to smash the existing surface before laying new drains that will carry rainwater underground for the entire length of the street, to properly resurface the slope and to construct steps down one side of the slope to make going up and down easier. All very welcome, but just at the moment, very noisy as well.


Shedding Layer

What a difference a week can make. This weekend the sun is shining, the wind has gone and my sweater is back in the drawer - well, in the laundry basket actually, but after that it will hopefully be put away. The temperature is 20 degrees, just like yesterday. Soon I'll be off to the airport to hear what kind of weather my wife has enjoyed in Surrey.


Sturm und Drang

The lightning flashed, the thunder exploded through the night sky and the rain came down like water from a garden hose. Last night was a night which announced unequivocally that the winter rains have arrived. It was a storm and a half, and this morning as I set off to take my wife to the airport for her flight to England, there were drifts of hailstones on the verges of the road from the ullage down to the motorway. Weather like this will alarm those holidaymakers who are here for a post-Christmas break, but it is long overdue and welcome for the residents. Although far from critical, the reservoirs are well down on where they should be just now. Partly this is due to the lack of rain to fill them up, but also because the farmers have been having to irrigate their land for much longer than they would want to, which is an expensive task. Water directly from the sky is free, after all. It is still raining, on and off at the moment and quite heavily, too. The forecast suggests that there is much more of the same to come over the next two weeks at the very least. With the rains comes a sharp drop in temperatures, a fact often not appreciated by our friends back in the UK; or by the politicians for that matter. Our highest temperature today, round about now, is 12 degrees. Overnight it will drop well down into single figures. So our aircon units are on for most of the day and all evening, blowing warm air through the house, which is why we are thankful for our winter fuel allowance, which I know many people think we should not be entitled to. But set against your colder winter climate than ours, we have no fireplace, no central heating, no cavity insulation (there is no cavity), no loft insulation (there is also no loft, just the flat roof that on the underside is our ceiling) and only partial double-glazing. We are not exceptional; that is standard for Andalucian houses. So despite the fact that we need the rains, it will be good to get to the other side of this season and feel the temperatures start to climb again.


Out With The Old, In With The New

The end of one year and the beginning of another; a time to which we humans ascribe great importance. Which is strange when you bear in mind that the whole business of time is a human creation. However, it does seem to be a time for looking back and looking forward. With advancing years you tend to look back further, and so it is that I have been pondering on the changes that I have seen. I recall, for instance, that in my early teens with my life before me, I thought that I would consider myself to be very fortunate if I were to live to see the year 2000. Taken in the context of general life expectancy in the 1950s, that was not being unduly pessimistic. Nor was I unduly lacking in ambition when I thought that the prospect of one day being able to earn £1,000 a year was ample justification for becoming a teacher. I never did become a theacher (well, not a qualified one) but that is another story. In my earlier adult life I was struck by the amount of change which my grandparents had had to accommodate to during their lifetimes, not least of which was surviving two world wars, in the first of which my paternal grandfather was wounded and decorated at Gallipoli, and then invalided out of the army. Nevertheless, he lived into his eighties, as did my grandmother. I think now that the things I would have considered the major changes - television, widespread private car ownership, air travel - only really impinged on the end of their lives and were not anyway of any great interest to either of them. Looking back now on my own life, my generation has experienced much greater and much more rapid change. This was brought home to me in fact when my youngest brother died nearly five years ago. The call to go to his hospital bedside came through on a Saturday afternoon. Within 24 hours, I had driven up to Beziers from Spain, his two sons had flown in from the UK, followed later the same day by my other brother. This was possible because of innovations during my lifetime - we all had telephones, fixed and mobile, and so could be contacted easily; we all had computers with internet access, and so were about to shop online for flights, which were paid for by credit card. Sat nav guided my wife and me to the hospital car park. The existence of the EU meant that frontiers were simply crossed without being aware of them. And all of this at the weekend, when in previous times everywhere would have been closed. Not even my parents, let alone my grandparents, could have made sense of all that. So when I look forward through 2014 and beyond I am mainly conscious of two things; change will continue in ways that I can’t predict, and it will apparently change at an ever-increasing pace. What will my own grandchildren one day hold up as examples of what Grandma and Grandad could never have imagined?