Coffee and orange trees in town centre

orange trees1

This morning, December 30, Lisa and I went into Cuevas del Almanzora, the nearest town to us, to visit our doctor to obtain the first of our Spanish ‘repeat prescriptions’ since we arrived here.

These are to treat various conditions caused by my Multiple Sclerosis, irregular heartbeat and epilepsy as well as Lisa’s asthma and high cholesterol – and we will shortly be running out of the medications we brought with us from the UK.

So, having previously obtained brief medical reports from our doctor in Colwyn Bay and having had them translated into Spanish, today we could give them to our new doctor.

orange trees2 editedOur doctor works in the town’s health centre and, today, he was not there so we were seen by one of his colleagues who sorted everything out for us; we left with prescriptions for medications to last for two months.

After leaving the surgery, we decided to enjoy a coffee at a nearby café and to drink it outside in the sunshine. As we sat there, I noticed for the first time that the greenery that lines the street is totally made up of orange trees and palm trees.

Truly delightful.


Dining outdoors wearing short sleeves in December

The Mediterranean is just feet from our table.

The Mediterranean is just feet from our table.

Friday was seven days until Christmas Day, one week to go exactly, and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon meal outside in the sun.

We had returned to El Faro Restaurant in Villaricos (see for our first visit there) for its superb Menú del día (Menu of the Day) that offers an amazing salad platter and bread to share plus three courses, a

Our main course, partly eaten when photo was taken,

Our main course, partly eaten when photo was taken.

drink from the bar as well as coffee for just 12€. That’s about £8.80 or $13, a pretty good price for all that.

So, while the UK was experiencing temperatures peaking at 12-13°C/53.5-55.5°F with winds of 30mph and gales forecast, we ate lunch on the restaurant’s terrace overlooking the Mediterranean just a matter of feet away, as we enjoyed a shade temperature reaching 23°C/73°F and no wind at all. We were both wearing sunglasses and I was more than comfortable in a short-sleeved polo shirt.

Short sleeves, sunglasses and sangria. Cheers.

Short sleeves, sunglasses and sangria. Cheers.

Spain is the sunniest country in Europe and the climate on the Costa Blanca has been described by the World Health Organisation as being among the healthiest in the world. Its Mediterranean coastline, from the Costa Blanca to the Costa del Sol, enjoys an average of over 300 days of sunshine each year. When northern Europe is being deluged or is frozen, you can almost guarantee that the south of Spain will be bathed in sunshine.

After we got back home, I checked a world weather map online and I found that the afternoon temperature was almost on a par with Honolulu and higher than many other ‘hot’ places including Cape Town and Sydney.

Lapping up the December sunshine. The cardigan soon came off.

Lapping up the December sunshine on the terrace. The cardigan soon came off.

It is no secret to our family and friends that Lisa and I moved to Spain for its delightfully sunny weather, but why does southern part of the country benefit from such weather?

Having donned my researcher’s hat again, it seems that the country actually has three main climate zones: Atlantic, Continental and Mediterranean. Basically, north-west, central and south-east respectively.

Well, we live in the province of Almeria which, along with most of Murcia and Alicante, has what is described as semi-arid climate – indeed, Almeria is said to be the driest part of Spain. Although we have not experienced it yet, having only arrived last month, it is very hot during the summer with average highs of 30°C/86°F but temperatures can exceed 40°C /104°F and the drought usually extends into the autumn.

South-east Spain is known for having a sub-desert climate, with rainfall as low as 120mm/4.7in a year in the Cabo de Gata which is supposedly the driest place in Europe.

We know our winter has yet to arrive and fully expect it to be cold but our neighbours tell us that only occasionally can we expect a morning frost and that snow has only been seen once in the last eight years. We shall see!