Thursday, 10 March 2011

Time for a change – of clothes and currency!

I am getting rather tired of winter clothes. At the start of the cold weather there is something reassuring about wrapping up warm, sorting out matching hats and scarves and gloves. (Zen and the art of fashion: take pleasure in what you wear!) But even I am now beginning to want to put away the thick tights and matching jumpers. Oh dear, now I sound rather like one of those ladies from costume dramas or old novels, the ones who packed up their winter clothes in Spring in chests full of mothballs and stored them in the attic until the next season. Then out they would come last summer’s clothes to be assessed for how well they fitted the new fashion dictates and whether they could be adapted with a few bits of trimming.

Of course, here there is little point in packing away the winter clothes as you may very well need
your warm coat in June or July. Be that as it may, I am experiencing a serious wish to wear lighter clothes: floaty pastels and so on. Although I may still need to put a warm cardigan on top.

However, I am not going to whinge about the weather. We have had some excellent crisp, sunny days with central Manchester showing itself off at its best. And last weekend, after an overnight stop in Prestwich to see old friends we managed to organise our return journey to include a walk in Sunday’s sunshine from Greenfield station (nearest to where we live) to home along the canal towpath. Splendid!

And there are signs of spring everywhere: snowdrops and crocuses (croci?) popping up all over the place.

Today though it looks and sounds as though we could be blown away at any moment. According to a friend of mine this might be because the moon is about to pass closer to the earth than it has done for almost twenty years. Amateur scientists say this could cause earthquakes and all sorts of extreme events but weatherman John Kettly assures us that this is not the case. The moon might affect tides and lead to some unsettled and windy weather but that’s all. Well, we can all sleep easily then!

This year I have missed Carnaval although we talked about it a lot in my Italian conversation class and I’ve seen plenty of pictures in Spanish papers online. Here’s a link to some photos in La Voz de Galicia . I wonder if it was as cold and windy for the Carnaval in Vigo as it was last year.

We did eat lots of pancakes at my house but somehow a few pancakes, whether you go for traditional sugar and lemon juice or more exotic strawberries (in March?) and cream fillings, don’t quite have the glamour of a carnival procession dancing its way through the streets.

The financial crisis doesn’t appear to have stopped spending on costumes and floats for the carnival processions in Spain. The cynic is me suspects that this is part of the spectacles-to-keep-the-masses-happy programme.

I recently read about a place which is trying its own way of beating la crisis. In the small Galician fishing town of Mugardos shopkeepers have decided to accept payment in pesetas as well as Euros. When the Euro was introduced in 2002 Spaniards had three months to take their pesetas to any bank and have them changed but an astounding 1.7 BILLION Euros worth were never accounted for. Now they can still be changed but only at the Bank of Spain.

The Mugardos scheme appears to be a success. People are discovering stashes of pesetas here and there and using them to buy stuff. Some are making special trips to the town to spend their long hoarded pesetas. Presumably the shopkeepers are scuttling off to the Bank of Spain to convert them to Euros.

Of course, there will be no trouble with converting the prices from Euros to Pesetas as every price label still has the price in both currencies. Many Spaniards still prefer to think in Pesetas. As a foreigner I find it quite confusing to have somebody tell me that the rent for a flat is umpteen thousand pesetas a month; hundreds of Euros are much easier to deal with. But then, I can remember English folk who insisted on talking about prices in pounds, shillings and pence for a good few years after we went decimal.

Anyway, I wish good luck to the shopkeepers of Mugardos and to those people who discover granny’s shoebox full of Pesetas and manage to spend them.

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