Sunday, August 31, 2008

I wrote the other day about Anglo-Saxon - well, British - drinking habits. These, it seems, have now crossed the Channel. Will they now wend their way south over the Pyrenees? Have they already done so with the institution of the botellón, which lacks only mindless violence to make it truly authentic?

I sent emails to both a British and a Spanish company today. By pure coincidence, they were both architectural firms. I expect I'll get a reply from the former but not from the latter. This says something about the respective 'impersonal'/at-a-distance and 'personal'/face-to-face cultures but I also wonder whether it doesn't explain why things can be so much cheaper here. They don't employ so many people that every letter - however trivial - can be answered quickly. The staff are all hard at work, doing more serious things.

Russia - What to do?
How to respond? One UK commentator's view - The US and EU must be tough. But can the EU meet such a challenge or must it be left to the US? The Russians are not going to be impressed by rhetoric from Brussels. It was, after all, Stalin who asked "How many divisions has the Pope?"The truth is that Europe remains terribly weak militarily. Only Britain and France are significant military powers and they are both overstretched. Furthermore, on oil and gas, Europe is deeply divided, with Germany too dependent on Russian gas to be prepared to fight for a really tough European energy policy.There has also been a disinclination by the EU to consider the use of hard power to achieve political ends. The EU has seen itself as the champion of "soft diplomacy" just as Russia has reverted to its historic role as an expansionist empire. So, it will be interesting to see what 'EU position' emerges from tomorrow's emergency meeting. And how amusing Russia finds it.

Is this today's most depressing headline - Is Chelsea the next President Clinton?

Christopher Booker is rather sceptical about Global Warming. As he puts it today - As the estimated cost of measures proposed by politicians to "combat global warming" soars ever higher, "fighting climate change" has become the single most expensive item on the world's political agenda. As Senators Obama and McCain vie with the leaders of the European Union to promise 50, 60, even 80 per cent cuts in "carbon emissions", it is clear that to realise even half their imaginary targets would necessitate a dramatic change in how we all live, and a drastic reduction in living standards. . . But a new "counter-consensus" has been emerging among thousands of scientists across the world. Given expression in last March's Manhattan Declaration by the so-called Non-Governmental Panel on Climate Change. This wholly repudiates the IPCC process, showing how its computer models are hopelessly biased, based on unreliable data and programmed to ignore many of the genuine drivers of climate change, from variations in solar activity to those cyclical shifts in ocean currents. It really is time for that "counter-consensus" to be taken seriously. You can read more here, if you want to hear both sides of the story. Feel free to disagree.

Less seriously - When I write a message on my phone, the predictive text facility always gives me if for he. Not too bad but what about P33 for see? Can anyone explain this irritating occurrence? Or how to stop it?


Weatherwise, the general feeling is this hasn't been a good summer. Statistically, though, it's well in line with the 30 year averages. We think otherwise because we've been spoiled by a recent spate of hotter/drier summers. One consequence of this year's wetter weather is that the price of that ridiculous delicacy, the percebe [goose barnacle], has risen to €148 a kilo.

Specifically, Thursday and Friday nights saw some terrific thunderstorm activity along this coast. I thought I'd paid a high enough price in the loss of both sleep and electricity but then I read that cars down in Pontevedra had had their windscreens smashed by 3cm hailstones. Today's local papers report that more than 200 people have made denuncias at the police station about damage done by the ice. I wondered why they had to go through this bureaucratic step and then realised the insurance companies wouldn't believe them if they just made a simple claim.

Finally - the next bush for identification. I believe these are the same variety. The small yellow flower is just visible on the first . . .


David Jackson said...

Here's a tip if you ever need a denuncia just for the insurance or paperwork: just go to, fill it in, print it off then they give you a time to get stamped at your local police station. Nice and simple.

Midnight Golfer said...

Definitely in the Daisy/aster/sunflower family of Asteraceae. Probably a chamomile. It's easier tell which type of chamomile by the smell.

I guess: Anthemis tinctoria (wild yellow chamomile)

It may be a Senecio, like Dusty Miller, but without the dust.

Colin said...

Thanks again, MG. You seem to be very well informed on this stuff.

And thanks to David, too, for this useful tip. But hope I don't need it.

Victor said...

Not sure if that's the case, but If you have any questions regarding architectural matters in Galicia, I'll be very happy to help you with that (if I know the answer). And, even though I'm a Spaniard, I promise I'll answer your email.
My email address:
v b a s o a a t g m a i l d o t c o m
Let's hope that keeps spammers away...

Colin said...


Many thanks for your offer. My query, though, is 'particular' not general. It applies to the house I've just bought in the hills. Specifically water flows around/under it . . .

Victor said...

I think I didn't explain myself very well, sorry about that, and please, excuse my bad English. I meant to say that i'm an architect, and it's particular queries I can help you with. I'm not very much into the history of Galician architecture nor interested in participateing on debates on that topic.
The offer still stands.

Colin said...


Many thanks again. I could well take you up on your kind offer.

Victor said...

We are about to start a couple of projects in Cotobade, and we'll be around there quite often for the next year and a half or so. Just let me know if I can be of any help.