LAST Sunday I discovered that spring is officially here. Up here at the Casita there are many tell tale signs that winter is over.

Giles taking fashion tips from Russian visitors
Giles taking fashion tips from Russian visitors

The days get longer, the wildlife starts to emerge from hibernation (often briefly, as spring also heightens 50 Shades’ already psychotic killer instinct, with inevitable and bloody results).

The biggest indication that spring is here, however, is that the Russian fishermen are back at the lake.

It is only in the past decade that the Russians have appeared on the coast in numbers, but boy, have they made their presence felt.

Marbella being Marbella, the town welcomed the new visitors as another bunch of guiris to be taken advantage of and held various events to promote (ie, take as much money as possible from) the new relationship.

I was once invited to Moscow Marbella Friendship Week. The press conference was at 9 am and as I arrived with my photographer, I couldn’t help but notice that the large contingent of Russian journalists – fresh from Moscow that morning – were already getting stuck into the vodka.

It set the tone for the day.

At the gala dinner that evening I was seated next to a Soviet Air Force pilot who had served in Afghanistan. He spoke no English and I no Russian, but as each guest at the gala was provided with half a bottle of vodka each, by the end of the evening we understood each other perfectly.

It is the same with the fishermen at the lake. They tend to arrive mid morning, set up their rods and nets, and then crack open the vodka.

The rest of the day follows the set pattern of lots of joking and happy singing after about two hours; someone leaping in the lake to much hilarity at the four hour mark; mournful singing as dusk falls and then shouts and the sound of punches being thrown at midnight.

Dawn breaks to reveal the scene of various bodies sleeping where they fell, save for one, who is normally heading to the 4×4 to fetch more vodka.

Growing up in the later stages of the Cold War we were told to be afraid of the Russians and even more so of the Sting song of the same name. We needn’t have bothered, however, as they were all probably lying in a vodka induced coma somewhere or just far too hungover to invade.

The fact that spring had arrived was confirmed this morning when, enjoying the first café solo of the day on my terrace, I glanced over to see a Russian at the duck gate, taking a pee into my hedge.

Let’s just say that my reaction made him hop off faster than a ballerina at the Bolshoi!

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