Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 20.9.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • I am confused. The Local is supposed to have gone behind a paywall and, as you might expect, on Tuesday night I was told I couldn't access a page because I'd used up my quota for the month. But last night I got and read this page in my RSS feed. And then this one. And this one. Teething problems? Or am I only barred from 'premium' pages? 
  • The rapacious Spanish banks, reports Don Quijones here, are having a few problems with Brussels. But they still have friends in the Spanish judicial system. So, relief for customers could be a long time coming.
  • Talking of unpopular corporate rogues, here's something on electricity prices in Spain.
  • More interesting, perhaps, is this Fox News item - via my RSS feed! - on Spanish charcoal manufacturers.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • This is not good news for the forces of order along our coast: Colombia continues to break records for cocaine production. The South American nation produced a record estimated 1,379 tonnes of cocaine last year – up 31% on 2016.
  • Those vecinos de O Vao/Bao . . . . The gypsy settlement, said La Voz de Galicia yesterday, is a storehouse of stolen goods. There's a surprise.

  • Which reminds me . . . Apart from the 2 permanent gypsy settlements near my house, there's a rather-more-temporary one on the other side of town. Situated just before the pilgrims' hostal(albergue), it's the first thing most of them see when entering the town. Walking past it this morning, I took to wondering how many of the decrepit vehicles there had passed the compulsory inspection mine had a few days ago. Not many, I'd guess. As for driving licences and insurance . . . More doubts. As to why none of the various police forces do anything about this, your guess is as good as mine,
Finally . . . 
  • I witnessed a spiders' fight to the death on my bathroom wall yesterday. Surprisingly, the smaller (long-legged) one got the advantage of the larger one which had wandered into a silken strand and had got it wrapped round itself. David and Goliath. Sort of:-

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 19.9.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • As if the besieged and hapless Mrs May didn't have enough Brexit problems on her plate, the Spanish government – like the one it recently replaced – is determined (with the support of Brussels) to take maximum advantage from the process in respect of its aspirations/ambitions for Gibraltar. Despite the fact that at least 99% of the folk who live there reject these out of hand. But this is hardly unexpected. It's the modern version of war. And some provisions of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht need to be replaced.
  • The rejection of extradition requests works both ways, it seems.
  • Yesterday was the final day of free access to The Local. And they went out with a blitz of these items, very possibly all published previously:-
  • As it happens, I've been producing a schedule of (most of) the lists they've been issuing this year, aiming to post it at the end of December. It can be found below this post.
  • Finally on this . . . Here's Fiona Govan explaining why they've done this and why we should now pay for (most of) their stuff. I'm pondering this . . .
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • Yesterday, the president of our community asked me to give her and her kids a lift up from town at 3pm. As we waited for the latter outside their school, she called the council to tell them there was a nest of vicious and potentially fatal Asian wasps (velutinas) in our communal garden. In a panicky tone, she told them that 2 gardeners had already been attacked and there was a danger to the many children using the pool. After the call, she admitted the wasps were really only the normal variety and that nest was a long way away from the pool. But she'd felt the need to lie so that the council would act quickly. I wasn't impressed at this selfish subterfuge and sent a message to my elder daughter about this Fuck-the-Folk-Who-Really-Do-Have-a-Velutina-Problem attitude. Unfortunately, I sent it to lady in question, as she was the last person who'd messaged me . . . But at least it gave me the chance to tell her what I thought of her lies. She didn't give the impression of being even a tiny bit remorseful.
  • The velutinas are something of a nasty plague in the city, having arrived from the east. Here in Galicia the villagers use numerous names for them, as per this table supplied by the council. Some (most?) are corruptions of the real name. Which city sophisticates find very amusing. Which is probably justified in the case of Ghalopinas africanis at least:-
  • I guess I have to cite the peon of praise to Pontevedra city in yesterday's Guardian. It's pretty accurate and I suppose it'd be churlish of me to say exactly where it isn't. I'm very pro the council's actions in general but there are, inevitably, downsides to them. Not everyone is a winner. The losers include drivers who have to proceed everywhere at 30kph/19mph. And who can never find a place to park in the city, except in one of the underground parkings. These are not cheap and, interestingly, the most expensive one is near the council offices. But I guess the mayor and his mates can park there for free.
  • I wish to God my Spanish friends would stop sending me Wotsap citations of the bloody article. Five already this morning. Including one from Finland!
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 19.9.18

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 18.9.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • Belgium has refused to extradite the Spanish artist accused of upsetting some Catholics. Quite right, too. When will the Spanish authorities learn?
  • Astonishingly – though perhaps not in the light of yesterday's claim that huge mistakes are being repeated – there are increasing reports of a new construction boom here in Spain. One UK paper even refers to a 'building frenzy' along the coast. Or what's left of it. God forbid.
  • Interesting to read that the city council in Cordoba is arguing that the Grand Mosque there has never belonged to the Catholic Church, which certainly does manage the place. This rejection stems from an attempt by the Church to formalise its claimed ownership a year or two ago.
  • Every country has top folk who have some degree of protection from legal action. Spain is possibly unique in having – for historical reasons – many thousands of these. 250,000 in fact. Plus a Prime Ministerial power to pardon who the hell he/she likes. But newish PSOE Prime Minister Sanchez is threatening to bring Spain into the 21st century by abolishing at least some of these. Click here on this.
Matters US
  • The Dunning-Kruger effect - A cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. This cognitive bias of illusory superiority comes from the inability of low-ability people to recognize their lack of ability; without the self-awareness of metacognition, they can't objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence. Do they mean him?
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • A lot of attention has been given recently to electricity prices here. Not surprising when they've risen by more than 40% in a year. And are 21% higher than in (far richer) France. Any chance of a government inquiry?? Err, no.
  • During the 2002-8 boom years, it was almost amusing to see the proliferation of bank branches on the streets of Pontevedra city. There was even one southern bank – CAM – which opened one branch and then put up posters about the opening of another one 50m away. The first one duly closed and the second never did open. In fact, 18 branches have closed in the city, though it still has a (probably) high number of 48.
  • Pontevedra province has retained, in 2017, its 5th place in the national league table of motoring offence fines. After Madrid, Valencia, Murcia and Sevilla. This is in absolute terms. Once again, I'm sure its ranking would be even higher if the populations were taken into account.
  • I suggested yesterday that O Bao might be Galician for O Vao. I can say with conviction that quilo is Gallego for kilo. Maybe because – as with Y – the letter K doesn't figure in the language. Not for purists anyway.
Finally . . .
  • Matters Fiscal: If you're a foreigner resident here and you don't know about the infamously horrendous Modelo 720 law of late 2012, then you really should do some research. You might owe the Spanish Tax Office quite a lot of dosh, one way and another . . . On this subject, my own inquiries on what's happened since April 2017 have came up with zilch. This was the deadline for a response from the Spanish government to the EU Commission's December 2016 declaration that the fines arising from this law were illegally high. Theoretically, if the Spanish government either didn't reply or gave an unsatisfactory response to the declaration, then a case should have been initiated in the European Court of Justice more than a year ago. But I can't find any evidence of this happening. Anyone know anything? Having paid €1,500 for a late declaration – as against €100 normally – I'm naturally interested in knowing whether I can get €1,400 back. Not that I'm terribly optimistic even if I'm legally entitled to this, given the Spanish government's track record in these matters. Easier to get blood from stones.
  • BTW . . . If total of your overseas bank accounts is above the Modelo 720 reporting threshold, September is the month for considering their balances. The reporting requirements stipulate the use of the average of the September and December end month numbers, not just the balance at 31 December.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 18.9.18

Monday, September 17, 2018

Thoughts from Galcia, Spain: 17.9.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • Good to know that Spanish companies are not behind the ball when it comes to intrusion into our lives . . . 
  • Spanish farmers are getting into almonds bigly, as Fart would say.
  • Which reminds me . . . A relative of mine who recently arrived for 10 days with 33 kilos of baggage decided that 35kilos was too much to take home. So she left me 2 Tartas de Santiago. But I notice that they're not called this on the box – but Tarta de Almendra. So, is there the equivalent of a DOC operating here?
  • The appalling Franco family say they'll take every legal measure open to them to stop his body being moved from the Valley of the Fallen. In other countries, I suspect they'd keep a much lower profile.
Matters European
  • The EU, it's claimed, is risking chaos around the clock after next March, when states will be free to choose from several options.
Matters USA/Global
  • Here's one of the many articles published on the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. It's as horrifying as it is fascinating. The writer is not alone in thinking we're on the verge of another global crisis, as bad habits have returned.
  • And here's another article which is less than congratulatory about what was done 10 years ago to save the global banking industry. And the salaries and bonuses of bankers. At the expense of just about everyone else. It's enough to make anyone a socialist. Almost.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • I've received by Messenger confirmation of an appointment with someone in Santander bank later this week. I have no dealings with Santander and never have. A possible virus if I respond to the message? If not, how come Santander have my phone number? The branch is more than 130km from me, in Monforte de Lemos.
  • Blimey . . . There's a toll road in Norway which is 40% more expensive than our AP9 between Pontevedra and Vigo. But, then again, salaries are probably at least 50% higher there.
  • A body was found in the river on Saturday, said to be of a 'resident of O Vao'. We all know what this means – a gypsy. BTW: It's always O Vao in the newspapers but the road sign says O Bao. I guess the latter is in Gallego.
Finally . . .
  • My thanks to the ever-reliable María for proving me wrong in forecasting that no one would give me any pluses and minuses about Spain over the last 18 years.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 17.9.18

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 16.9.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • President Sánchez has gone on the attack over his Masters, publishing his thesis and threatening to sue anyone who accuses him of plagiarism. Still a way to run.
  • More generally, one commentator has talked of the masteritis that inflicts the upper echelons of the political class here. And the previously ignored ability to buy these in a country of 'low ethics'. It seems those days are over and the Spanish public has now become sensitised by the media to the widespread fakery. See the Guardian on this here
  • I've talked of how things - in this de facto federal state - are delegated to Spain's 17 regional governments and then, perhaps, to the even more numerous provincial governments. But I hadn't been aware that each of them sets its own university entrance exam - the selectividad. You can imagine what difficulties this causes, if you want to work outside your region. Especially if the latter has forced you to dedicate very many of your study hours to learning a local language which you're very unlikely to use if you work elsewhere. Some university big cheeses are now calling for a single, state-wide exam. Can't see that happening.
  • Still on education . . . It seems you're very much spoilt for choice,  if you want to take a university course. There are 3,000 of these on offer.
  • And talking of anniveraries . . . Unless you live in a cave, you'll be aware it's 10 years since Lehman Brothers collapsed and the global financial crisis began. Here's El País on how well prepared Spain is for the next one coming along the track. Not terribly well, it seems.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • So, why I am posting these 2 fotos? . . .

  • Well, because they've just appeared at the start of a 400m stretch I drive through on the way to the place where I park before walking into town twice a day. There are no houses on this stretch, in comparison to the road I drive along before I reach it which has lots of houses and a 50kph limit. The only logical explanation I can think of is that ALL roads within the Urban Zone of Pontevedra city now have a 30kph(19mph) limit, regardless of the sense this makes.
  • It's yet another pinprick and it got me wondering just how Spain has changed - for the better as well as the worse - over the 18 years here I'll be celebrating next month. So, I'm working on a list. Or 2 lists, really. Suggestions are welcome. I say this despite the fact that, in 18 years, not a single reader has ever repsonded to similar appeals. So, I won't be disappointed if this happens again.
  • Finally - and more positively - here's a nice melody from Julio Iglesias, with an accompanying lovely video on Galicia. JI comes here annually for some seafood. We're quite close . . .  :-

Postscript: The 2 new signs have actually appeared where I sometimes park my car, take out my bike and cycle into town. Maybe I'll do that every day now, rather than crawl along the 400m stretch in fear that yet another radar trap has been installed,

Postscript 2: If you're daft enough to make the trip to Finisterra after Santiago de Compostela, the small lighthouse in the video is all you'll see. Apart from the sea and the horizon, of course. Not the big lighthouse; that's in La Coruña.

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