WHEN I was a small boy growing up in the wilds of Staffordshire, it always seemed to snow on my birthday in January.
Seeing as we lived in a house that was accessible only by country roads, the fact that the route between me and my prep school was covered in a thick white blanket would normally have meant that I would be granted a few days off school, so that I could get on with the serious business of setting up my Scalextric.
My plans for a day of slot car action, however, were more often than not scuppered by my dad.
Having raced at Le Mans, competed at the ‘green hell’ of the Nurburgring and driven in the World Cup Rally from London to Mexico, the matter of a few snowflakes wasn’t going to put him off. With steely professionalism and great skill, he would strap me into the back of the car and we’d set off, picking up a few more small boys who had the bad luck to live on our route.
He’d deliver us safely to the school gates and then would be back for a second lap at 4 o’clock.
I was never very popular with the other boys in January…
When I moved to Spain, however, I abandoned the idea of ever seeing snow on my birthday. Until this year.
I woke with the usual mid life crisis feeling of impending doom anyone in their very late 40s will identify with.
As I stumbled blearily into the kitchen I noticed that I could actually see my breath – and normally my breath isn’t that bad.
Coffee in hand, I wandered out onto the terrace and was amazed to see La Concha, Marbella’s emblematic mountain, blanketed in white. Not just a few faint flakes but proper alpine stuff.
A quick recce up the track a little later revealed that the snow lay only a few hundred feet above the Istan road, and was the heaviest fall since the 50s.
Friends in Coin and Benahavis had posted photos of gardens covered in snow and in Ronda they were wandering around muttering about White Walkers and ‘winter is coming’.
The Refugio de Juanar was jam-packed with parents and children building snowmen and having snowball fights, while the disaffected youth of San Pedro made their annual pilgrimage up to Ronda, built a snowman on the bonnet of their Seat Leons and then raced at breakneck speed back down the the coast, to try and arrive with said snowman still intact.
They make their own fun in San Pedro…
Personally I thought the only sensible thing to do to celebrate my birthday was to go for an impromptu dip in the (bloody freezing) waters of the Istan lake.
And in the split second before I hit the water and my screams echoed down the valley, I reflected to myself as I glanced up at the snow-covered La Concha: ‘I know I wanted something white and powdery for my birthday, but this is ridiculous.’