There’s nothing like a good dose of weather to get a conversation started. I used to think that this was a British trait, but believe me, the weather works for Spaniards too. And it doesn’t even have to be freak weather. Just normal, winter weather will suffice as a talking point. Take this morning as an example. It’s January, and it’s cold – nothing too remarkable about that – but there was some frost on the ground first thing, enough to have left a thin layer of ice on car windscreens. On a Menorcan scale, this is exciting stuff (‘it’s snowed!’ someone declared to me).
Being British means I’m often on the receiving end of weather-related comments. You know the type, ‘it’s raining, just like London eh?’ if I am unlucky enough to get caught in a shower without an umbrella, or ‘you’re English so you must be used to this cold’ on the rare occasions when the thermometer drops below 10 degrees. And after living here for several years, I get similar comments in the opposite direction, such as ‘well you were probably sunbathing which is why you didn’t read my email’ or, ‘are you sitting with your laptop on the beach?’
The truth is I tend to disappoint, being neither particularly British, nor Spanish, with regards to the climate. When friends visit, my white skin surprises them, as does the fact that, unlike some recent guests, I have no desire to paddle at Cala Galdana in January. Similarly, when the weather turns wild here, I shock Menorcans with what they consider to be hardiness. When snow covered the island a few years ago (just a few centimetres of the stuff), schools closed, Ciudadela and Monte Toro were cut off, and the radio warned listeners to stay at home. Unfazed, the first thing I did was jump in the car to go out exploring; I’d always wanted to see the beach covered in snow.
Menorca’s unpredictable weather means today’s frost doesn’t mean snow’s a certainty – it was nearly 20 degrees when we picnicked on the beach just three weeks ago. But I one thing’s for sure – you won’t catch me dipping my toes in the sea until at least June.