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Running on empty

Most of Spain has hard and heavy winters. The exception being the Mediterranean coast and Islands which is why so many Northern Europeans choose to make their home here.

Just now the country is being lashed by storms - snowstorms, heavy rain, floods and high winds. It's not like that here of course. It has been cool and we have had persistent rain the last few days, the sort that soaks through your shoes and leaves the bottom of your trousers sodden. Temperatures, though, have generally remained in double figures even overnight.

Spain has marked seasons with spring and autumn being usually sunny and warm whilst summer is roasting hot. However, as I've said before, winter is probably more comfortable in the UK than here because Spanish Mediterranean houses are designed for warmer weather. No cavity wall or roof insulation, no central heating, no carpets, no thick insualting curtains. It often feels warmer outside than it does inside.

When it rains keeping the house clean is almost impossible. Tiles, unlike carpets, don't hide the mud dragged in on shoes and mopped floors refuse to dry. An oddity is that there is till plenty of dust in the air and, when it's cool, the hot water from showering or doing the washing up condenses on all the hard surfaces leaving a sludgy film of something nasty and dirty. As I survey our flat, which has light coloured tiles and white porcelain, the word pigsty springs to mind.

One rather alarming effect is the possibility of having to roam the streets naked. In summer clothes hung on the line dry faster than a Ferrari getting from 0 to 60. Not when it's damp though. Spaniards use clothes horses, tendederos, that they leave under cover on the balconies or in whichever is the warmest room in the house. In Culebrón we have enough unused rooms to be able to hide the damp clothes on the tendedero until they dry or until they turn musty and we have to rewash them. We have technology too, a tumble dryer. Here we have no tumble dryer, no tendedero and no interior drying space. The clothes on the line have been there since Friday. The weather forecast isn't hopeful. I'm on reserve underwear.

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