No Socks Please We’re British


WELL the predicted heatwave has arrived, and with it the even more predictable moans about it being too hot. It happens every year so I shouldn’t be surprised, but really! Given that if you ask pretty much any expatriate in Spain why they left the UK, the bad weather will figure in most people’s Top 5, and if you ask them why they chose Spain the sunny weather figures in most people’s Top 5, it really is a bit bemusing, or is it?

I suspect that most people just haven’t figured out how to deal with the hot weather. Living and functioning ‘as normal’ in a sunny climate is significantly different than basking in the sun for two weeks on holiday, when the fact that the sun slows the brain down to a crawl is actually a good thing, and the aim is to get brown to avoid the embarrassing “you didn’t get very brown” jibes on your return.

Of course the hot weather (and with temperatures in the high 30’s and low 40’s it has been very hot), brings out the inevitable hints and tips on how to survive the heat, and they are as relevant to the expatriate as they are to the tourist. I read one such list recently that had all the usual suspects, but a rather intriguing suggestion at the end:


* Avoid Alcohol: we all know it dehydrates, but seriously! Go on holiday and not drink! Live in Spain as an expatriate and not drink!

* Drink Water: a lot of water! To put this into context a couple of litres a day is the norm, aim for 3-4 during a really hot day

* Small Meals: eat a small amount regularly, avoid large meals, especially during the day

* Light Clothing: loose fitting, light clothing and a hat

* Sunglassses & Suncream: not just when actually sunbathing but everyday, all day

* No Socks: I kid you not! Seems that as the feet swell in the heat, then the elastic in the socks cuts off the circulation, making the blood hotter and therefore the body has to work harder to cool down.

An admirable list I am sure you will agree, but it could have been condensed into one single bit of advice really:

* Observe & Emulate How the Spanish Live: they drink, but late into the night when the sun has gone down. They eat big meals, but late at night when the sun has gone down, they sunbathe, but late into the afternoon when the sun has lost its intensity. They dress sensibly, and ………. no socks!

Talking of feet, I can’t help but think that the proposed Tourist Tax that the Barcelona authorities are said to be “mulling over” would be a case of shooting oneself in the foot. They are considering introducing a 1€ a day Tourist Tax, and with 6.5 million tourists during 2009 that adds up to a serious amount of money. Barcelona would be the first city in Spain to introduce such a Tourist Tax, but I suspect not for long.

One person who is probably happy though is Michael O’Leary at Ryanair, as it will at least detract from the re-announced plan to charge 1€ to visit the bathroom on Ryanair flights in the future!

By Chris Marshall


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