Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Winter in Asturias

Winter? But it's almost May! I woke up on Sunday, however, to a crisp, brilliant white landscape and falling snow. It's melted now, although it's still pretty damn freezing. The previous couple of winters here have been a lacklustre affair without the heavy snowfalls I'd become accustomed to -  a little dusting here and there, and that was about it. This winter, as you can see below, was a different kettle of fish altogether (and has been rather a shock to the system, and the cats). What I can say, though, is that the landscape has been stunning. Enjoy the photos!

The White Car Economy or Henry Ford Turns in His Grave

Most readers, if not all, have to be aware that Spain is going through a difficult time at the moment, and that's putting it simply. One of the measures that our most splendid President Rajoy (or the Famous Disappearing President, as R calls him, since he's almost never to be seen) has come up with - apart from asking the lovely EU for hundreds of millions to prop up our failing banking system while making huge cuts in Education and the Health System, is what is known here as the Plan PIVE. I'm not quite sure what PIVE stands for, but it means that if you have a car that's 12 years old or over, you can pop along to your friendly dealer and part exchange it for a brand spanking new motor and get a whopping €2,000 discount. In reality, the discounts can be much higher as the industry battles to keeps selling, stay afloat and maintain some 4,500 Spanish jobs - even more important this month as unemployment has hit a record high of over 27%.

The result of this is that we're seeing a lot more new cars on the road than you would expect. The effect took a while to kick in as families, recognising a good deal when they saw one, and probably knowing that their current car wouldn't last much longer, scrimped and saved to find the money needed for the minimum deposit to then be able to finance the rest of the payment. What is showing, is that a large percentage of these shiny new cars are white. In other words, there's just about enough money to get the car, but no more to pay for fancy extras, such as a dash of colour. To quote a Spitting-Image-Favourite, Tory MP (and both shock and disgust myself in the process) it's "back to basics". I myself am partial to a bit of white: it looks a lot more stylish than certain colours and doesn't go out of fashion. Plus, and after a bit of internet research I'm not sure if this is true, it's cheaper to insure that a black, red or yellow car, or so people believe. So savings all round. R and I have even turned it into a game - spot the new white car, or as we say, pointing wearily, yet again "coche nuevo blanco". Something else I have discovered is that the cars selling most are the superminis and the cheaper makes. Dacia Spain, for example, has sold out of all its smaller models for this year. If you want a bargain €6,000 car, you'll have to wait until 2014, Kia is on the verge of a similar situation with the Rio. And what are being pushed in all the car ads at the moment are the remaining larger family saloons. It seems, therefore, that there are people who can afford new cars, but with no extra trimmings. Even those who are buying more expensive auto-mobiles are opting to save those extra euros and go for the cheaper white: in my area I've come across both a new, white Range Rover and Nissan Qashqai (it was hard not to notice the latter as it almost ran me off the road, but that's another story). 

And why, you may be asking yourself, have I suddenly taken such an interest in, and become so knowledgeable about cars. The answer, as you have probably guessed, is that I am soon to become the proud-ish owner, with a lot of help from my ever-practical mother, of a new Clio 3, and yes, I have asked for it in white.