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21-02-2017

Warming the winter’s cold

If there’s anything worse than being hot, it’s being cold! Blankets, shawls, ponchos, dressing gowns. These are the home workers’ equivalents of the business suit.

This January, temperatures in the usually balmy Valencia region plummeted, and we had a cold snap, the likes of which have not been seen in decades. Snow fell in our swimming pools and on the beaches, and although it didn’t ‘stick’ for very long, the villas on the mountainsides looked pretty with their white, snow-capped roofs. This was the day we left for a road trip in Andalusia. It was just as cold there, but there was no need to be economical with the thermostat in those posh hotels! Back home again, I miss the bathtubs with the lashings of hot water, but even with gas heating, my bill was a whopping €200.

Unless you have fixed rate electricity contract, fluctuations in energy prices will be hitting you in the wallet by now. This year’s unusual weather conditions are causing hardship, since the price of electricity in Spain has shot up to such an extent that many families cannot afford to heat their homes. Consumer associations are warning people to be ready for a 20 per cent rise on their January electricity bills, since solar and wind production has been hit by extreme weather, coinciding with increased demand.

Rising energy prices particularly hit self-employed people who work at home. We are not lucky enough to be able to go into the office and swan about in short sleeves while our employers pick up the bill. No, we creep around looking like tramps in our pyjamas and fleecy dressing gowns, praying that nobody comes to the door. At long last, this year, the government is allowing professionals without business premises to write off 20% of our electricity and gas bills, and about time too!

Although I already have a fluffy footwarmer, another option I am considering is a Spanish mesa camilla’. If you have never seen one of these, it is usually a round table topped with a big thick tablecloth, sometimes as thick as a blanket. This hides a metal frame, which holds a heater called a brasero. These used to contain embers, but these days they are electric. You put your legs under the blanket and the bottom half of your body gets hot, very hot, even burning your legs if you stay there too long. The Spanish even have a special name for these burns, which they call cabrillas!



Juliet Allaway

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