Still chilly, but sunny in the Parque Juan Carlos last week.
A couple of weekends ago I took Sunday lunch at Casa Mingo, one of Madrid’s oldest restaurants. Rightfully famed for its delicious Asturian Chicken and chorizos, together with its thirst quenching cider, this unpretentious restaurant is a firm favourite. We ate outside on tables in the sun and later crossed town to meet with friends and sit at an outside table as we sank a few beers in the Retiro.
The weather this year has been depressingly awful with rain, wind, cold and yet more rain. Not what the average holiday maker would regard as normal Spanish weather. “It’s an El Niño year”, people have remarked as they battled the massed forces of umbrellas on the pavement. But two weekends ago the clouds relented and we were bathed in glorious sunshine.
The following day, Madrid’s local TV news had shots of happy, smiling people sunning themselves and there was almost a festive mood in the air as those interviewed expressed their joy at winter’s departure.
The next day it rained.
It was cold, miserable and following that sunny weekend, very depressing. Like an unwelcome house guest, the rain stayed for the rest of the week.
It made one think that perhaps global warming was not such a bad idea.
But Spring summoned up a little more resolve and a week ago made a brave attempt at a resurgence. On the Saturday morning I had to attend a meeting and found a colleague sunning himself on a street bench in Conde Duque before the event. It was almost a shame to have to go inside. Five more days of sun followed. Temperatures reached the high teens. On Wednesday I met with friends and felt brave enough to forego the sweater and replace the thick winter jacket with the light summer one.
But as we say here, “Hasta la quarenta de Mayo, no te quiter le sayo”, which roughly translates into, “Until the fortieth of May, don’t put your jacket away”. The English expression, “Don’t cast a clout ‘till May is out”, means the same thing. Those are wise words. That false spring preceded an evening of thunderstorms, more torrential rain and a myriad of comments on Facebook that a collective depression was taking hold.
But hope springs eternal, or rather, in Spring we eternally hope, and all this week my local bars have been setting up their summer gazebos and arranging the outdoor furniture. It hasn’t rained since Thursday, so with any luck those terrace tables may soon see some use.
The clocks went forward last night. We will have an extra hour of sunlight in the evenings. Holy week, Semana Santa, has just begun. The population of Madrid has decreased as those with holiday homes flee to the coast or the hills. The kids have a couple of weeks off school. Next weekend is Easter with its religious parades. Then we look forward to San Isidro.
I remember my four lines of doggerel from last year:
It’s Spring in Madrid
And the warmer weather
Brings Hemlines and Necklines
Now I remember why I love to live here. Happy Springtime everyone.
PS. Given that my usual optimism regarding the weather often has adverse results, I am not quitting my winter jacket just yet.