Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cataluña is much in the Spanish news these days. Firstly, a number of cities there have banned the burkha in public places and, secondly, Spain’s highest constitutional court has finally ruled on the region’s proposed new Statute of self government, after four years of politically-charged deliberation. The headline decisions are that Cataluña is free to call itself a nation - even though this term will not have juridical validity – and the Catalan language will not be given primacy over the Spanish language. Despite having most of their demands accepted, leading Catalan politicians are affronted by this outcome and have called for public demonstrations of anger. How it will all settle down is anyone’s guess. Near term, it looks like a defeat for the Spanish right wing.

For us here in Galicia, it will be interesting to see how much wind this puts into the sails of our own nationalists, currently out of power.

Two different sides of Islam on BBC podcasts listened to today. Firstly, a discussion of those two brilliant but long-dead Persians, Al-Biruni and Avicenna. But then an account of the modern-day persecution of members of the Ahmadi sect in Pakistan. On the face of it, things seem to be going backwards in the Islamic world. And have been for some time.

Here's a nice paragraph on Spain’s performance last night from Prospect Magazine:- "As a spectacle and sporting performance, the evening was a pleasure. Spain scored only once but it’s a treat to watch a team that can keep possession of the ball, that always seems to have passing options, that makes shapes and movements that are easy on the eye and occasionally breathtaking in the execution."  Amen to that. I fear I won't live long enough to see it from the English team. Nor my children.

Finally . . . Here’s a foto of a junction halfway down the hill from my house.

As you can see, the rubbish bins are placed directly opposite a side-street from which school buses already had difficulty exiting even before this was done. Then there’s the new holding lane for traffic turning left, where the word STOP is written. A recent visitor driving my car down to town was understandably confused when she got to this point and so obeyed the instruction right in front of her to stop, even though she wasn’t turning left. As the location of the bins left no space for the guy behind to pass, you can imagine his reaction to this. I guess the problem could easily be solved by moving the bins. But I bet they won’t be.

Which reminds me . . . As Spain beat Portugal last night, my tip must have made someone some money, even if it wasn’t me. I certainly hope so. But, if they're euros, make sure they're not Greek or Spanish.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Talking about some bronze drinking vessels found in France, a British historian had this to say on the subject of the Celts. He was talking about Britain but his comments hold true for other parts of the world where Celtic identity is regularly claimed. And marketed. Galicia, for example . . .“The problem of studying the ancient Celts is that we’re looking at a 5th century Greek stereotype compounded by a much later 19th century British and Irish one. The Greeks constructed an image of the Celtoi as a barbaric, violent people. That ancient typecasting was replaced, a couple of hundred years ago, by an equally fabricated image of a brooding, mystical Celtic identity that was far-removed from the greedy practicalities of the Anglo-Saxon industrial world – the romanticised Celtic twilight of Ossian and Yates. Since then, being Celtic has taken on further constructive connotations of national identity. Just look at the Celtic clovers and the crosses which for many Scots, Welsh and Irish are visible statements of their tribal identity. Or the fact that visitors are welcomed to modern Edinburgh with greetings in Gaelic, a Celtic language never historically spoken there. The notion of Celtic identity, although strongly felt and articulated today by many, turns out on investigation to be disturbingly elusive, unfixed and changing. The challenge, when looking at objects like the Basse Yutz flagons is how to get past those layers of distorting mythmaking.”

Cue angry comments from young men insisting that Galicia is a true Celtic nation and, so, very different from the rest of Spain. Shame about the lack of linguistic support for this contention.

But, anyway, if you followed my advice and bet on Paraguay today, you’ll have made some money. I didn’t, of course.

I’ve since realised that the left-hand column comprises the winning teams from each of the eight groups. So there was always a probability that more of these would win than lose. But seven out of seven so far?

More importantly, it’s half-time in the Spain-Portugal match and there’s no score so far. So, with luck, it will soon be eight out of eight. Vamos a ver!
This is actally last night's blog, posted in error to another of my blogs. Another one tonight.

It was hot today. Quite possibly hotter than yesterday, when I saw 38 degrees registered on one of the town’s gauges. So, naturally, my friends and I decided to have our annual round of golf this afternoon. And quite delightful it was too, up on top of a nearby mountain on a near-empty course. There must have been something good on the TV this afternoon and this evening..

Hot as it was, I doubt the temperature ever reached the level I saw on the gauge by the bus station at 7.30 yesterday morning. An astonishing 77 degrees. Celsius. Mind you, I recall it registering this in the middle of winter too.

Notaries loom very large in Spanish life. Which is odd if you’re British because you’ve almost certainly never come across one back home. Here, though, they’re inescapable for one reason and another and – unlike lawyers – they have a very high status. I’m prompted to write this by reading of their latest incarnation – as reliable witnesses to the campaigns being run by supermarkets around ‘genuine’ price reductions. It seems no one will believe these unless a notary formally confirms the claims are true. But I don’t suppose it’s beyond the bounds of possibility that there are one or two crooked notaries in Spain.

I’m constantly astonished at how docile the dogs are of the ragged ‘musicians’ who slaughter tunes on penny whistles around town in the summer. Perhaps they’re as doped up as their masters.

Which reminds me . . . I was interrupted by one such panhandler yesterday as I was taking my lunch in Vegetables Square. Having seen him regularly en route to and from the gypsy encampment up near my house, I felt compelled to tell him that, if I wanted to spend money on buying drugs up there, I was perfectly capable of doing it directly. Which seemed to do the trick.

Finally . . . Another betting tip. There are eight matches in the current round of the World Cup and the first six have all been won by the team in the left-hand column. For the final two matches tonight, the left-hand teams are Paraguay (against Japan) and Spain (against Portugal). Go for it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Like all sensible Englishmen, I found something else to do at 4pm today – the hour of the regular ritual execution by the Germans of a woefully underperforming English team. And right now – in the aftermath of Argentina’s third goal against Mexico - I’m wondering why I didn’t pursue the thought of betting heavily on the team with a G in its name. After Uruguay, Ghana and Germany had got through earlier. The other thing I’m wondering about, of course, is whether this day of dreadfully wrong refereeing decisions will force the football authorities to take a step in the direction of 21st century technology. I’m guessing not.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering whether things are now so bad for the providers of goods and services in Spain that the customer is suddenly important. Citibank is the third operator I’ve seen in two days offering a free 900 number for enquiries. The flood gates are clearly open. The mobile phone companies will surely stop cheating us soon. Possibly even Telefónica. Sorry, Movistar.

Anyone with any knowledge of modern Spanish history knows that the years before the outbreak of civil war in 1936 were, shall we say, colourful. But I hadn’t known that 27th June 1931 saw the declaration of the Republic of Galicia by the region’s Revolutionary Committee. I wonder if this was the model for the Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico? I guess not.

We have a new regime down at the swimming pool in our communal garden. There are notices on each post there requesting that we don’t do any of the ten things listed. My visiting daughter read it and suggested they could have saved ink by just writing “Don’t be Spanish”. Which I thought amusing but very bad mannered for someone who’s a guest in this fine country. I duly reprimanded her and sent her back to Madrid with her tail between her legs.

The British say “behind bars”, while the Spanish say “between bars” (entre rejas). I wonder which is more accurate.

Which reminds me . . . My daughter told me she'd seen bocarones translated on a Madrid menu as 'wide-gaping mouths on toast'. And pimientos de Padrón as 'peppers of the voting register'. Honest.

Finally . . . I wonder what it is about the British Union Jack that makes it such a popular design for shirts and T-shirts. Perhaps the wearers don’t really know what it is. Or maybe they’re all rabid Anglophiles. Or football sympathisers.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Two weeks ago, the president of the Vigo Fishermen’s Association railed against the illegal practice of using dynamite to stun fish. This week he was arrested with two kilos of the stuff hidden in his life-jacket. On the eve of the day on which sardine prices rocket to meet the needs of the fiesta of San Juan. Such is the way of things in the city which is the capital of both legal and illegal fishing in the EU. For some, of course, there’s not much difference. Which is possibly why the EU Fisheries Office is now based there.

Prognostications for the Spanish property market continue to be depressing. Especially if you’re trying to sell a house that, against your judgment, you stupidly bought because a woman wanted you to. A couple of days ago, the Bank of Spain said it will be at least the middle of 2011 before the market begins to pick up Yesterday, the Fitch agency plumped for the middle of 2012. But who the hell really knows, with around a million properties on the market and prices still not as low as most people think they should/will be? The property expert Mark Stucklin says here that “We now know that Spain’s economic miracle of the last decade was largely just a mirage built on an unsustainable bubble in the real estate sector. When that bubble burst, as it did in 2008, it sent the Spanish economy into a tailspin.” Well, yes, Mark. But some of use were saying this before it was either fashionable or blatantly obvious. I think “phoney boom” had become a favourite expression of mine at least four, but possibly even five, years ago. One didn’t really need to be Einstein.

On a wider – but equally gloomy – front, here’s some of the latest thoughts on the possibility of Germany quitting the eurozone. Make of it what you will.

And here’s more on the unresolved issue of respective banking strengths around Europe. As I’ve asked, when will it all end? And how? And where should I put my savings?

Closer to home . . . I may have mentioned a health food shop in the shopping mall nearest to my house. In which the only customer I’d ever seen was me, buying cilantro/cilantro seeds to grind. Well, it started to open only in the evenings but couldn’t stave off closure for ever. There were a lot of these place opened in Pontevedra during the carpetbagger years. I wonder how many of them are left. Must do a survey.

I almost suffered an infarct today. I saw on the side of a packet of juice from Mercadona that this supermarket’s Customer Service department was contactable via a free 900 number. I mentioned this to my visiting daughter as being perhaps unique in Spain but she assured me that one of the many electricity suppliers she can now (theoretically) choose from also offers a 900 number. The beginning of the rot, I suspect. Can we now expect shop assistants to say “No, I’m sorry. We don’t have that but we can order one for you”. Again my daughter had a comment on this, telling me that this did recently happen to her in Madrid. With the rider that it would cost her an extra seven euros. To which she replied – “No thanks. I’ll just get it on e-bay”. One day Spain will catch up with the existence of this, and similar, net-based options. But not just yet.

Talking of said fruit of my loins . . . If you’re an adult looking for an English course in wonderful Madrid during the summer, click here.

And now for a rather important football match.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Talking to one of my close neighbours tonight, it seems that the problem of being charged for clearance of the forest may only be something which affects owners of properties built illegally higher up the hill than ours. One can but hope.

Which reminds me . . . In nine years, the only problem I’ve ever had in doing a U-turn to exit the cul-de-sac in which I live is that 80% of drivers won’t stop to let me complete it. But I had a new experience tonight when a woman driver gesticulated at me and voiced the suggestion that I drive 300 meters to do this at the end of the road, presumably because I was holding her up for a second or two. But, then, she was driving a big BMW sports car so possibly felt a cut above me in my old Rover. This is the way of things in Pijolandia. Hopefully she lives in a really big house up the hill and will have to pay a disproportionate amount for the clearing of the bit of the forest on which her house should never have been built.

On a more positive note . . . A wonderful evening in town tonight. My elder daughter, her partner and I went to my favourite tapas bar and enjoyed, amongst other things, both gambas and zamburiñas in garlic. And then were treated to not one but two free glasses of crema de orujo, a superior Galician version of Bailey’s Cream. Apply here for orders of twelve bottles or more. You won’t be disappointed.

I returned to the site of the Spanish tax office tonight, to ensure that my return was being processed before the end-June deadline. As on the previous occasion, Windows warned me it was an unsafe site and sought my permission to allow an exemption. Which is a tad ironic.

Finally . . . The football. My daughter obliged me to watch England with her yesterday and, though tense, it was not as painful as on the two previous occasions. The victory was nice, of course, but the most remarkable thing was that, for the first time, the noise from supporters drowned out the infernal vuvuzelas. Quite an achievement.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

 I went to Vigo airport at 11 yesterday morning to pick up my elder daughter. Which was a shame as she was due to arrive at 11pm. But at least my two trips allowed me to re-acquaint myself with a new parking facility there which has been ruthlessly designed to maximise both confusion and accidents. And that’s before you take into account the drivers who have an eccentric view of the one-way system both into the car-park and around the its three floors. Especially those who try to enter through the exit lane. Or block the latter so as to load passengers and their luggage. Saving all of ten seconds in the process.

But good news! The fence was finally fixed today, exactly four months after I sent my letter to the community president. Fittingly, it was electricity from my house which drove the gardener’s drill. I would post a foto but I suspect this would be even more boring than the previous one.

It turns out that last night’s meeting was not just for residents of our community but for all the folk who live on the hillside and who are being threatened with forestry-clearing bills from the local council. A new annual tax, in other words. No wonder I didn’t recognise anyone there. And no wonder the fence wasn’t on the agenda!

Talking to an estate-agent friend about the new flat blocks still going up in Pontevedra despite the massive overhang of new properties on the market, I learnt that no-one is buying them – either ‘off-plan’ or when finished – and that they’re being built “very, very, slowly”. Since “very slowly” is the norm here, I’m not clear what “very, very slowly” really means. Nor do I know where the finance is coming from. Presumably from the retained earnings of those construction companies which have survived the culling. And who presumably hope to make a killing in X years time. I can’t say I wish them good luck.

Finally . . . It’s not only exotic Indian and Korean restaurants which fail in Pontevedra. The Ambrosia vegetarian restaurant (down, aptly enough, in Vegetables Square) has now become O Pinchoviño and offers exactly the same tapas menu as all the other two thousand bars in the old quarter. The Ambrosia staved off death for a while by adding meat lasagne to its menu. But this was clearly not enough and it finally went the way of the previous valiant veggie effort to offer more healthy – or at least greener – food. Así son las cosas. But I should probably admit I never ate at either of them.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I attended a meeting of our community tonight. The only topic discussed was how we could avoid being sucked (suckered?) into paying for the clearing of forest land up the mountain, way above our houses. It seems some administrative “error” has left us liable for this. As with all land issues in Galicia, things are complex, with rights (and wrongs?) going back centuries. Though this particular issue stems from steps taken after our awful fires of 2006 to force folk to clear the combustible undergrowth from their lands. I’m not at all clear what was decided so will have to wait for the minutes. However, I’m pretty sure these won’t say anything about the fence behind my house.

On this, there were a couple of interesting comments to yesterday’s post. It seems my Dutch friend Peter was not far off when he said none of my Spanish neighbours was concerned because anything that happened would be the will of God.

What can one say about Spanish football? Despite playing Honduras off the park last night, they managed to score only twice from the twenty-plus shots at goal. Truly appalling. That’s another team I won’t be watching over the next few weeks. Honest.

As for the English team, a widespread view here is that Capello has denuded it of all the “British” qualities which made it, if not technically impressive, at least ‘noble’ in its endeavours. A pale imitation of an Italian team, in other words. Well, we’ll see tomorrow. Or, rather, some of you will. I won’t.

Timothy Gorton Ash is a British columnist whose articles regularly appear in El País. I don’t always agree with him but I was interested in this article, in which he argues that the EU can only be taken forward by an alliance of the old enemies, Britain and France. A nice thought but I wonder how feasible it is, even under the Conservative-Liberal coalition. Though I imagine reader Moscow will be in agreement with the aspiration.

Finally . . . Another article. This time by James Hawes in the June issue of Prospect Magazine. I’ve taken the liberty of cutting this and pasting it below. It needs to be read by everyone of my generation at least. He’s talking about the UK, of course . . .

We all know the problem, but none dare speak the truth. We maintain a vast sector who live workless and idle, bereft of any social function save that of state-subsidised consumers. Their useless days are spent in front of their television or computer or hanging about in parks, engaging with no one save their own age group, the temptation to regular stupefaction by drink and drugs just around the corner. For them, a regime of enforced social contribution, however much it might be resisted, would yield vast benefits in terms of mental and physical wellbeing, while helping to cure us of our public deficit by increasing national productivity without a corresponding rise in government spending.

I speak, of course, of our elders. Not those who fought Hitler, or dodged V-1s as schoolchildren, were rationed as young adults and did their national service: these stout Britons have the absolute right to swan about in red sportscars and so on for as long as they live. No, the villains are the so-called baby boomers, who should more rightly be named the eternal adolescents.

Born in 1945 or after, the eternal adolescents (general secretary, J Street-Porter) entered adulthood in a happy land of high wages, full employment, low interest rates, cheap property and social mobility. Hugely outnumbering the baffled heroes of the last hat-wearing generation, they enshrined teenage impatience as morality itself. As one of the founders of the psychotic Baader-Meinhof gang wailed: “Wait for socialism? But I’m 25 already!” The people of this generation regarded as self-evident the freedom to divorce, screw around without fear of offspring, drink their brains out, take drugs, embrace ludicrous fashions and evade intellectual rectitude at all costs. They occasionally justified their demographic revolt by pleading Strangelovian nightmares of nuclear annihilation, but the only real dangers they faced were those of terminal excess. Their ultimate term of abuse was “boring.” Their luck meant they could amass the sort of bricks and mortar of which their children can only dream.

As they now approach retirement, these perpetual teenagers are becoming abusers of a system designed to ensure a couple of years of autumnal dignity, not to bankroll a couple of decades of leisure. Not content with having had the easiest ride in history, these shameless spongers have the temerity to suggest that when they can no longer totter up an EasyJet gangway, crack open the next bottle, or recognise their own children, the nation should provide years of ruinously expensive “care.”

By what right does this most unheroic of generations expect us to subsidise further decades of their self-indulgence? Little wonder that around the dinner-tables of forty-somethings conversation has suddenly turned—in a way which would have been unthinkable 20 years ago but was perfectly familiar to those who lived in Jane Austen’s time—to the topic of expectations. One might call this the “school fees for Molly versus care fees for Mummy” question. Eternal adolescents would do well to head off the growing interest in Voluntarily Accelerated Inheritance.

And so let them work! All new pensioners will get a gap year at 65, and then be called up from 66 until 69. The resulting billions of work-hours will be of virtually no cost to the taxpayer—who already pays for them and their bus passes anyway—because there will be none of the bureaucratic idiocy which so burdens our public servants. They will merely assist existing frontline workers. Our schools are short of staff? Very well: the army of retired teachers on (unfunded) final salary schemes will provide free assistance for every classroom. Our streets lack policemen? Excellent: we already have on our national payroll thousands of men in their mid-sixties who would leap out of their armchairs, don neighbourhood watch armbands and accompany lonely bobbies: a mighty, merry force of witness and deterrence. We need more apprenticeships? Enough: on every building site, in every factory, at every workplace, let bands of experienced and horny-handed males pass on, with righteous self-importance, their lifetime’s knowledge to the skill-less and unfathered yoof. Let bands of de-retired matrons patrol the wards of our hospitals, hunting out the corners where MRSA and incompetence lurk.

Let London’s legions of Slovakian nannies yield up their rooms to elderly relatives who, if they are fit enough to bugger about down at the gym, can damn well help out with their own bloody grandchildren, not as a favour but because the government that pays them tells them to do so or else.

At a time when there are far more scary things than boredom, the family shall be reborn; the generations reconnected; the country saved. And the eternal adolescents shall finally, whether they like it or not, redeem themselves through that least teenage of notions: duty.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I read today that a Spanish singer (Iglesias Junior) had walked off the stage in the UK because of excessive noise from the audience in general and Amy Whitehouse in particular. A Spaniard upset by noise! What on earth is the world coming to?

I went to the Pontevedra Catastro today, to change the name in their records so they can bill me for the municipal taxes on my house in the hills. Needless to say, I was lacking a copy of one document so had to return twenty minutes later. Whereupon I found that – although it was an hour before closing time – a sheet of paper had been placed over the appropriate button on the ticket-issuing machine. Once this obstacle had been surmounted, I then came up against the problem of my tax number (NIF) being rejected by the computer. But my reserve identity number (NIE) did the trick and I came away feeling very satisfied I’d been able to get this simple task done in less than a day.

We had a total of three “No resources”/“No Home” mendicants on the streets of Pontevedra today. Must have been our day of the week. Which reminds me that I omitted our two ‘bag-men’ from the list of beggars I gave a week or two ago. One of these transports a phenomenal number of bags around the place, all covered by a huge sheet of polythene. If you’re visiting, you’ll normally find him in the main square, at the top of one of the narrow streets leading down to Vegetables Square. Where he stands all day rattling loose change in one of his hands, while extending the other. Unlike the ragged ‘musicians’ with sad-looking dogs, I never see him emerging from the gypsy settlement up near my house.

Well, the fence was not done today either. The funny thing about this is that, while I don’t have any kids who might fall the five metres to the concrete below, all my neighbours do. And yet they’ve shown no concern whatsoever. Quite why, I don’t know. I doubt that Spanish Catholicism contains any fatalism born of a belief in predestination. Perhaps a cultural hangover from an earlier age . . . As for the company which administers the community, I can’t help thinking they’d be a bit more concerned if anyone had a real chance of winning a negligence suit in an efficient judicial system.

But, anyway, summer officially started today. Though I thought it’d been around for a while, given the temperatures. And Spain has a must-win match in half an hour. Which I’m now off to watch. Though I’ve made alternative arrangements for England’s equally important tussle on Wednesday. Vaya La Roja! Or something like that.
Sorry, this is (again) last nigh't post, published early Monday morning.

If it’s apocalypsism you want, click here for Ambrose’s latest forebodings. In truth, there do seem to be some rather nationalistic attitudes being struck around the Old World – the very thing we sceptics felt was the seed of destruction of a political project that got ahead of itself. Where is the cavalry, one wonders. And should I move my euros to a bank in Berlin? Before exchange controls hit us.

I mentioned the other day that one is forced to waste time because – here in Pontevedra at least – people show a marked tendency to insist on face-to-face discussion, rather than sending you documents by either snailmail or email. Well, the almost inevitable corollary of this is that you run the risk of wasting even more time when either the person you’re dealing with has “just popped out for a coffee” or asks you to come back in half an hour. Both of which happened to me yesterday. I wonder if this helps to explain low Spanish productivity.

My friend Alfie has dropped me a note about the problem I’m having in getting the fence behind my house fixed:-
Dear Colin,
Oh dear, that mother-kissing FENCE of yours!!! You've been in the Reino for a decade! Do you still not know how to do things here? Get a can of spray paint. Then, in the depth of night, go to the bloody fence. Write in big red letters onto it: ¡¡¡Habla el Idioma del Imperio!!! Within 24 hours it will have been replaced.
Yours, Affable - and Efficient - Alfie.
Unfortunately, Alfie seems not to have realised that, as this picture shows, the problem is one of a missing board, not one that needs to be replaced and on which I could write his message.

But, anyway, it’s now late on Sunday night and the fence was not done today either. The Spanish use “8 days” to say “a week” and “15 days” to say “ a fortnight”. So perhaps a weekend lasts 3 days here. Vamos a ver.

But it’s not all bad news. Firstly, the Contact Me button is now installed top right of this blog. Secondly, my Franklin electronic dictionary has developed a screen fault. Which should allow me to return it and get my money back tomorrow.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This is last night's post - published late. Another one tonight.

It’s interesting to observe the Spanish-German clash over what bank data should be published. Cornered by the markets, the Spanish government has finessed the publication of data both by herself and by her EU partners. This puts the major Spanish banks in an excellent light but the question has already been raised of how partial – and therefore useful – the data is/will be. As someone has put it – “The stress testing will not count how much public debt, in the form of government bonds, is held by banks - dodging the main concern that has sent markets tumbling.” Will this never end? Meanwhile, Spain’s regional governments are all reported to have seen their debt levels soar to record levels.

Talking of revenue . . . . . I tried to process my tax return on the internet today. In the past, this has proved remarkably easy but today was another thing. Apart from my NIF or NIE (fiscal identity number or foreigner identity number), they wanted my ‘first surname’. Unfortunately, I have both a NIF and an NIE. And, like most foreigners here, I don’t have two surnames. So, as ever, it was anyone’s guess which of my first names or surname they regarded as my first surname. Plus I didn’t know – away from my office – whether they used my NIF or my NIE for their reference. But, after an hour of being told I wasn’t a taxpayer, I finally cracked the code and amended the Hacienda’s draft Return, adding my house in the hills to the list of my immovable assets. Whereupon my tax immediately rose. I rather wished I hadn’t bothered.

I occasionally talk about Spanish lack of consideration for others. Perhaps the most egregious example I witness – apart from the countless folk who walk across you – is the taking of two or three newspapers from the café rack and keeping them in a pile in front of you while reading through them. I mentioned this today to the head barman in my regular watering hole, pointing out that we had a transgressor in the place (a retired doctor, no less) who does this often, especially with the national papers. I stressed that, as a Brit-not-yet-fully-Spanishised, I couldn’t be expected to confront him about this. “Absolutely no need,” he responded. “The next time he does it, just tell me and I’ll have words with him.” Problem solved?

My Franklin electronic translator continues to give me fewer than 50% of the words I need. So I’m moving inexorably to Mike the T’s conclusion, viz. that it might just be useful for those learning Spanish who need basic vocabulary. And perhaps even conjugations. I imagine the availability of the latter consumes space that would otherwise be available for a more comprehensive dictionary.

The other disappointment of the day – of course – is that the fence behind my house has not been fixed. But there’s always mañana.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Well, whoever felt that the performance of the England team couldn’t get any worse than against the USA last week was in for a considerable surprise last night. My friend Jon had relented on his decision not to watch another England game and persuaded me to join him at his place for the match. Not the best decision we’ve ever taken. A dismal display of stunning ineptitude left far more questions than answers. And the Spanish commentators thoroughly bemused. One thing, though, is clear – I won’t be subjecting myself to the agony of watching the game against Slovenia. At half-time, I’d told Jon that even France could beat this team. At full time, I changed this to Pontevedra FC. So, thank God Spain lost against Switzerland and Germany against Serbia. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to stick my head above the parapet.

Which reminds me . . . Can anyone say why there were five minutes of extra time in Spain’s match the other night? Did I doze off during some stoppages?

The Catholic Church has calculated it contributes over thirty billion euros a year to Spanish society. Which contrasts with the mere 252 million it gets from the folk who tick the appropriate box on their tax returns. The Church says most of the money goes to social security taxes for the 20,000 priests here. Given the developments of recent years, one wonders if they have their contingent liabilities on the balance sheet.

Our friend Ambrose, though no europhile, has long been a critic of German responses to the various crises of the last year or two. Likewise – as you can see here – one of the USA’s leading economists. Impressively, he’s honest enough to use the phrase “I don’t know” in respect of a key question. But, then, who does?

Surveying the global financial scene, an analyst has opined that "Western societies have been succumbing to a psychology which decrees that tomorrow doesn't matter, at least until it arrives.” Given that I’ve said for years that the Spanish live primarily in the here-and-now, this attitude is hardly new to me.

Which reminds me . . . I went to the offices of the administrator of our community today, to ask why the fence on the passageway behind my house hadn’t been fixed since I raised it with them four months ago. Here’s the conversation that took place after the initial pleasantries were over:-
I wrote in February about the missing board in the fence of the high passageway behind my house. And I was told work was imminent. Here’s a foto just taken showing that it hasn’t been done. 
The entire walkway is going to be repaired/replaced. But we don’t have the money now. There’s a meeting of the community of 5th July to discuss this.
We’re talking about the safety of children running up and down and playing on the passageway. And about a single board that I could put up myself. There are several of them lying about the garden. There’s no question of cost. And if cost really is a consideration, why have they started this week to paint the boards you say are going to be replaced? Rather than take 10 minutes to put in a new board?
The gardener David is going to do it immediately.
I’ve heard that phrase five times now and David himself used it three weeks ago.
[She calls David]
OK. David’s going to do it this weekend.
Good. Thank-you.

Finally . . . Not long after I arrived here I noted there were five bookshops in the centre of Pontevedra, all run on Dickensian lines. Indeed, I think I even wrote that, if I had the money and the inclination, I’d buy them all, close four of them down and establish one large, efficient, profitable operator. Well, time has worked its magic and the latest closure took place this week. We’re down to two now, I believe. As for customer service and efficiency . . . perhaps too much to hope for. Especially if we get down to one monopoly operator.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Franklin electronic translator continues to disappoint. Today it couldn’t give me either de fogueo (‘firing blanks’: think the Spanish football team) or barroco (‘Baroque/arty farty’: ditto). But it did give me ‘canvas’ for lona. So all is not lost.

The Spanish – as everyone who lives here knows – just love paper. But it sometimes seems they’re averse to actually dealing in it. By which I mean they have a very strong preference for producing paper but then, rather than sending it to you, they insist you take time out to visit them so you can discuss things face-to-face. I can understand them not wanting to risk the snail-mail but why not email? I had not just one but two examples of this today. So it’s a good job I walk into town every day. To be honest, I’ve no idea whether this would happen in, say Madrid or Barcelona. It may only be a feature of towns where everyone is pretty much within walking distance of everyone else. And perhaps less concerned with the wasting of someone else’s time.

I’m currently writing up my camino experiences, for later posting on my Galicia web page.  For now, I just want to mention the Hotel Herradura in the centre of Santiago. This is a 3-star hotel which deserves at least 4 and possibly 5. It’s superbly located for the old quarter and fitted out to a very high level. Even more impressively, the staff are truly excellent, motivated by the example of the exceptionally-attentive owner. If you’re planning to stay in the centre of Santiago, you should check on availability but I wouldn’t bother for this year. The hotel has a deservingly high occupancy rate, born of satisfied word-of-mouth such as this. Maybe next year.

The Spanish unions now say their general strike will be on September 29th, which gives plenty of time to get all the summer fiestas out of the way. The leader of one of the unions has called for a change of government. As this can’t really mean he wants the right-of-centre PP opposition to take over, it can only be a demand that President Zapatero falls on his sword. And not before time, many would say.

Meanwhile, courtesy of my American friend Dwight, here’s a timely bit of perspective on the Spanish debt crisis from the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today I bought a Franklin electronic dictionary, to translate the Spanish words I occasionally stumble over in the newspapers. Sadly, it failed its first two tests - pifia: gaffe/blunder (think English goalkeepers) and motejar: to nickname (ditto). Now I’m wondering whether I’ve chucked 45 euros down the drain.

I’m also wondering when the fence down to the communal gardens will be fixed. Another week or two has passed and the only thing that’s happened – despite promises – is that one of the two flimsy plastic strips standing in for the wooden board has blown away. BUT . . . someone has started to paint the boards which are still there. Which is a start. Though it may not do a great deal for the safety issue.

Always fun to read – Our Ambrose here gives us his take on what’s happening in Spain right now. President Zapatero seems to be confident that Spain’s big banks are rock solid. And, who knows, he might be right. But the politically-run regional savings banks . . . .? Rather unlikely, one suspects. And even Santander and BBVA may have more to tell us about their balance sheets. It would be nice to get resolution of this issue, one way or another.

In essence, the Spanish government finds itself between a rock and a hard place, as (self-fulfilling?) speculation about a Spanish rescue fund reaches fever pitch. According to one analyst, this would mean eurozone Armageddon – “It would be suicidal for Madrid to use the rescue fund. The moment they pick up the phone and start talking about this, it’s the end of any remaining hope for the single currency. Spain's government just has to put on a brave face, pay the higher yields, and hope for the best,"

So, is it all the fault of markets in general and bond speculators in particular? Or does the real culpability lie with Sr Z for playing at being King Canute for so long? Well, in the end, it’s always the fault of short-sighted politicians. As if there were any other kind. In democracies at least.

Meanwhile, Brussels has demanded further cuts from Spain and we’ve unexpectedly reached the point where our Ambrose and Graeme over at South of Watford agree about the madness of the relentless pressure for further austerity. You can read Graeme here but this is what Ambrose said today:- “This is reactionary folly. The College of the European Commission should be horse-whipped for demanding yet further cuts from Spain”. Full article here.

So, will the eurosceptics be proved correct? Not to mention the cynics who believe that the result of every major reform is the exact opposite of that for which it was designed. Or will the EU get its supranational act together and emerge more united and stronger than ever? No idea. Time, as always, will tell. But it’s certainly easier than ever to be pessimistic right now.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It’s now around five years since construction began on the row of chalés behind my house, between me and the School for Granite Carvers. As work on these has recently resumed, my guess is they’ll be finished within as little as a year or so. And possibly occupied some time within the next decade. Anyway, it’s now clear that the very last thing to be done is a car-park which would have allowed the workmen to park on the site for the last six years. Rather than all along our street. I’m hoping we’ll have a party when we get our spaces back again.

Which rather reminds me . . . the unions here have now confirmed a general strike for September. September?? Well, yes. It’s already June and there’s no way summer fun-time is going to be consumed in arranging and holding a strike. Plus hardly anyone works in August anyway. So September rather selects itself.

After years of denying Spain had any serious banking or economic problems, President Zapatero is now paying a handsome price for his impression of a retarded ostrich. The opposition PP has soared way ahead of his PSOE party in the polls and things look grim for the regional elections next year and the general elections in 2012. The former have so much wind in their sails, they’re showing symptoms of folie de grandeur. Clothed in a Palestinian-style scarf, the Secretary of the PP has now claimed that her (rather right-of-centre) party is and always has been the party of the working class. Hmm.

After a long drought, I may have happened upon several new examples of Spanglish. In an ad for foot reflexology, I read of:-
(Un) kneading
(Un) tapping, and
(Un) cupping.

Finally . . . The latest person talk of the possible failure of the euro experiment is the female head of the French company, AXA. Who may or may not be called Cassandra. Referring to the prospect faced by Club Med countries (including Spain) of “years of pain for the sake of foreign creditors”, she opined that this was a pipe-dream. In the absence of overriding EU legal powers over member states, she added, “We are looking at a noble experiment on the brink of failure.” Well, maybe. Perhaps Brussels will get its act together before the various peoples speak. Or, indeed, riot. Albeit in woeful ignorance of what the politicians and bureaucrats know for their best. Or at least believe. But I wouldn’t bet on this. The initial test case, of course, is the Franco-German proposals for reforms of the financial industry. Interesting times. One thing’s for sure, the politicians are now finding out what every businessman knows – it’s a lot easier to manage growth than decline.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spain’s presidency of the EU is about to end and the reins will be handed over to Belgium. Which is a tad ironic as the host of the major EU institutions seems to be finally breaking up into its constituent French and Dutch-speaking parts. But doubtless each of these will be only too pleased to remain part of an even larger agglomeration of linguistically discrete nations.

Talking of which . . . There was another interesting comment about the English in a Spanish football report today. Referring to the reaction in Britain to England’s poor performance on Saturday and to the pillorying of the goalkeeper for his gaffe, the writer claims that no other people flagellates itself as much as the English when hopes are dashed. Of course, this may have something to do with these hopes being ridiculously overblown in the first place.

Which reminds me . . . When the previously-cited writer suggested the English were the most xenophobic people in Europe, perhaps he was confusing this with euroscepticism. An easy mistake, I guess.

But back to Spain and just to counter the (alleged) relentless barrage of negativity from me, here’s a rather positive blog post on Galicia. God knows why there are the references to luxury goods in the text. Probably some marketing trick. But it’s interesting – to me at least - that Google Reader picks up this blog but not mine.

Pontevedra city is to become the first in Spain where the speed limit nowhere exceeds 30kph (20mph). Of course, in most city streets this ranks as an optimistic aspiration rather than a limit; but here on the steep hill where I live, it’s only achievable by descending with your foot constantly on the brake. And by driving all the way up in second gear. Which strikes me as nonsensical. But I would say that, wouldn’t I?

Finally . . . Here’s an interesting comment to a post by Charles Butler over at IBEX Salad. It’s a useful insight for those of us struggling to understand exactly how the Spanish economy really works:-

Foreign investors/journalists etc. don’t understand the vertical distribution of power in Spain. Behind a formal democracy is hidden a political party elite-driven country with the King at the top of this distribution of power.

What I’m trying to say is that maybe it looks like chaos is reigning, but in fact, behind that chaos there is a vertical distribution of the power, which can make things happen very quickly.

For example. In the U.S. bailout the vote failed in Congress, but in the social spending cut in Spain, the vote was approved. In a lack of democracy environment things can happen, even if it appears by only 1 vote.

People don’t understand how Spain works. Crisis? Of course, but Spain can go to 30% of official unemployment rate and still be alive. The shadow economy is very, very big and has a better answer to troubled times than the real economy. Why? Because there are no stupid government rules, and the Shadow Economy adapts very well to reality. In fact the Shadow Economy works like a real non-regulated economy. So it can accept a crisis quicker and adapt to booms better. Just as in the case of the people who pay 50% lower salaries in illegal money.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I read today it’s twenty years since judge Báltasar Garzón led the operation on Galicia’s cocaine smugglers in Operación Necora. If this really is the episode that alienated his colleague (and ‘nemesis’) judge Varela, then the latter clearly likes to have his revenge cold.

Which reminds me . . . When my daughter wanted to talk to a cocaine smuggler here when thinking of basing a novel in Galicia, a local friend said it’d be no problem getting an interview with the biggest of the lot. He’d been to primary school with him so had the sort of personal connection that opens all doors in Spain.

There were two positive aspects about England’s abominable performance in the World Cup on Friday night. They didn’t lose. And things can only get better. Whether they do or not, my friend Jon won’t be watching any more of their matches with me. Enough is enough, he says. Then there was the chap on TV who wailed that he’d spent 7,000 pounds to get to South Africa only to witness England “playing just like they always do.” Which rather begged the question of why he ever thought it was worth spending even seven pence to watch them. At least the TV is free. And you can put your foot through it.

The Spanish press – well, El País at least – was remarkably gracious about England’s pathetic display. Though this may owe a little to the fact that the USA beat Spain 2-0 not so long ago. I was, however, struck by the comment that, although England is the most xenophobic country in Europe, their trainer wasn’t English. I don’t immediately see how the most racially diverse country in Europe can also be the most xenophobic but I guess it’s possible.

Reader Moscow regularly displays surprise – it seems to me - that any intelligent person in the UK could be eurosceptical. One reason could be this sort of article, which draws parallels between proposed new financial measures and the Common Fisheries Policy that was so disastrous for the UK. In a nutshell, the author’s (alarmist?) view is that “If these proposals go through, London will go the way of Bruges, Venice and Amsterdam: a once dominant financial entrepôt sidelined by more virile cities. The one bit of our economy with the locomotive power to pull us back to growth will be disabled.”

Finally . . . I spoke too soon about the bloody Bermuda grass. And can any reader confirm that this is basil, even though the leaves lack the waxy appearance of those pictured on the internet? Or is it only sweet basil which has these?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I have to add another beggar to the list I cited the other day - the chap who spends all day on his knees in the middle of the shopping quarter, behind a begging bowl and, sometimes, a pathetic-looking dog. He doesn’t importune but stares fixedly into the middle distance. The beggar, I mean. Not the dog. Then, as reader Lucy has reminded me, there’s the guy dressed as a clown, bending balloons into shape and handing one to each and every passing child. Or as many as he can hit anyway. Which, in turn, reminds me of the “New-Age travellers” who seem astonished you’re not willing to show appreciation for their pathetic attempts to juggle a couple of balls or wring a tune out of a penny-whistle. And who must be distinguished, I stress, from the various impressive street performers who liven up the city during the drier months of the year.

Further attempts to ascertain the reasons for the bad blood between (left-wing) judges Varela and Garzón have come up with an endorsement of petty jealousy and a suggestion that the former (a very short and unprepossessing man) didn’t take kindly to the (tall and handsome) latter trespassing on his Pontevedra patch by going after one of our best-known drug barons a few years ago. Which reminds me . . . I received a text message from my daughter in Madrid last night, telling me she was standing next to Garzón in a bar. At exactly the same time as some friends of mine were sitting next to Sr. Rajoy (and his three bodyguards) in his Pontevedra watering hole. All human life is here, it seems.

Talking of Pontevedra . . . Our market down by the river in the old quarter is truly a thing of wonder. The building itself is a magnificent tribute to the beauty of monumental granite. Assuming, that is, you can turn a blind eye to the dreadful turquoise window frames which someone must have had a job-lot of. Internally, it’s even more impressive. Two storeys of fish, meat, vegetables and flowers in an array so magnificent it had a recent visitor snapping away for a good half-hour. In truth, I don’t shop there nearly enough but I did so yesterday in a search for the ginger I need for my curries and stir-frys and which is no longer available in any of the town’s vegetable shops or supermarkets. And I did find some, even if it looked rather sad and weary. And proved to be even more so on the inside when I got home. But it’s a start.

Finally . . . One or two of you may have noticed there’s now a Contact Me line at the top of the right-hand column. There’s supposed to be a button underneath it supplied by wikiworldbook.com but, try as I might, I can’t get this to come up. All this is in aid of allowing readers to email me but I’m now wondering about this. For my email address is easy to find and a Spanish/Galician reader has just written at length to me, starting with “Dear Friend”, ending with cordial greetings and in between telling me how arrogant, ignorant and useless I am. Maybe I should re-think this.

Friday, June 11, 2010

One of our local papers has had an unusual Sunday offer over recent weeks – medals of the numerous virgins that populate Spain - Del Foro. De la Barca. De la Franquicia. De la Esclavitud. Del Rosario. De las Cabezas. etc. etc. Having never met any example of the mythical virgin creature, I’m tempted to subscribe for at least one medal.

After ten days in which neither my fellow pilgrims and I nor my house-minding daughter and her friends saw anything but sun along this coast, the last six days have seen nothing but rain and much-reduced temperatures. But we’ve got off lightly compared with other regions of Spain. And even those parts of deepest Galicia where there’s been torrential rain and serious floods. The good news – for me - is that the huge volume of water last winter has killed the awful (Bermuda?) grass which had colonised my rear lawn. This is said to be very sun and drought-resistant but can’t tolerate a lot of liquid, it seems.

Finally . . . A correction. The people who operate as self-appointed attendants at public parking areas are “gorrillas”, not “gorilas”. From the word ‘gorra’, for (baseball) cap. I had wondered about this and a couple of readers kindly put me right.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Times may well be tough but my local council still sees fit to publish a 34 page glossy brochure, giving details of all the fun events it’ll be funding between now and the end of September. I see this includes a Columbus Day, in honour of our most illustrious son. And we’re getting a concert from what was Spain’s biggest group when I first came here - La Oreja de Van Goch - but which has since given way to a series of Pop-Idol-type “stars”.

Talking of recession . . . I was wondering yesterday whether it had brought us any new examples of that strangely persistent feature of modern Spanish cities – the beggar. As far as I can see, we still have the long-standing mix of:-
- The panhandlers at every church door
- The drug addicts who wander the town at lunchtime and whom I later see coming from the retail outlet in the local gypsy settlement
- The ‘gorilas’ who demand coins for showing you an available public parking space you’ve already seen
- The old gypsy crone demanding money for reading your palm and cursing you if you refuse
- The young Rumanian women claiming to be deaf and dumb and to be collecting for an appropriate charity
- The older Rumanian gypsy women who stand outside various supermarkets all day, shouting “Ayúdame!” at everyone entering or leaving. To be more accurate, it’s “Ajúdame”. (By the way, from their girth, all of these appear to eat better than me).
And, finally, the oddest of all . .
- The well-dressed men (and the occasional woman) who sit silently on a doorstep in the shopping precinct in front of a cardboard placard on the pavement saying they have no job and no resources.

Which reminds me . . . A Spanish reader tells me my comments are prejudiced, naïve and plain wrong. And that I should substitute either ‘Galician’ or even ‘Pontevedran’ for the word ‘Spanish’, as this is Europe’s most culturally diverse nation. Making my observations nationally invalid, I guess. Well, I don’t aim for prejudice, naivety or error so, if they’re there, there’s not much I can do about it. And I think I’ll go on using “Spain” and “Spanish” and allow readers to decide whether my comments have any claim to universality.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

There was a strike of Spanish civil servants yesterday, against the 5% cut in their salaries. Whether you see it as a success all depends on who you talk to. According to the government, the turnout was not much more than 10%, compared with 60-75% claimed by the unions. Strange to relate, its relative failure is being construed as a fillip for Sr. Zapatero. Who could do with a few more, as he heads towards a unilateral announcement on reforms in the labour market which are driven by Brussels and unsupported by said unions. Who will now move to a general strike. They say.

As I occasionally cite Edward Hugh’s somewhat negative views on the Spanish economy, I was interested to see this profile of him in the New York Times today. And to note he’s a fellow Scouse. Though I can’t say I’ve noticed much humour in his blog posts.

In the interests of balance, I should record that not everyone is a fan of EH. Over at IBEX Salad, Charles Butler occasionally takes issue with him and he does so again – while taking a pot shot at our Ambrose – in the Comments section to this article. Charles, I gauge, does manage to get a laugh out of EH’s contributions. I enjoy reading (and quoting) all of them but, of course, have no real idea as to who’s right. If any economist/financial adviser ever really is. That said, EH seems to have called it correctly last year when he forecast that Brussels would effectively take over the management of the Spanish economy. But I’ll keep my head low now, in case CB reads this.

The NYT article says that EH’s main policy proposal is that Germany leave the euro. Coincidentally, as I walked the last leg of the camino, I read an article in the left-of-centre, europhilic Prospect magazine in which the main conclusion, as I recall, was that the eurozone’s problems could only be solved by the exit of either Greece or Germany. The suggestion that the latter might do this was, of course, dismissed as fantasy only a few months ago.

Finally . . . I see that the pound is now 1.21 against the euro. Maybe it’ll finally reach the 1.25 I rashly forecast for the end of last year. But what’s six months or so between friends?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

One of the letters awaiting my return from the camino was a leaflet from El Trafico giving me complete details of the harsh new penalties for sundry motoring offences. It provoked the thought that it’s a few months now since I’ve received a letter claiming that – notwithstanding my determination to stay within all the limits - I’d committed yet another speeding offence. Perhaps they’ve been waiting until the fines were doubled before contacting me. Whether or not that’s so, there’s now even more validity to my claim that the only way to avoid fines in Spain is to drive everywhere at somewhere between 30 and 50kph.

Talking of the camino adventure . . . Once I’m clear of the tasks that have built up in my absence, I’ll be writing it up in some form or other. For now, I just want to say that one of the (well-documented) joys of doing the walk is meeting, re-meeting and greeting several people along the way. So that by the time you reach Santiago, you almost regard them as old friends, even if you’ve only exchanged a couple of words. Indeed, if you bump into them in the city, you feel strangely compelled to take their photo. So it was with “the Asian woman”, “the man with the GPS” and “the German guy”, who quite possibly wasn’t German at all. But special mention must be made of the lovely ladies, Jill and Janine, who’d made their way, one way and another, from Lisbon and with whom we shared several chats, drinks and even a tapas feast in Caldas de Reis. It would have been great to spend time with them in Santiago but they’d arrived a day earlier than us and left for Lisbon before we got there. Another time, perhaps. Meanwhile, it’s good to know they found Pontevedra a charming place. Even though I wasn’t in it at the time. Or possibly because.

Talking of Pontevedra . . . I’ve mentioned that one of my near-neighbours is the judge Luciano Varela, described in this article as the nemesis of his campaigning colleague Báltasar Garzón. The writer says that Varela’s “enmity toward Garzón is no secret” but I’m struggling to find the reasons behind it. One local friend insists that Varela is and always has been an outspoken communist. If so, it might contain the seeds of an explanation. People of the far left tend to hate people of the near left even more than those of the far right. Whatever the truth, the antipathy seems to run deep as Varela’s latest decision is “widely seen as a deliberate move to humiliate Garzón”. With fellow-travellers like that . . .

Finally, here’s an interesting article on President Zapatero’s current predicament. It reminded me of a recent article in the Spanish press (El Mundo?) in which a psychiatrist suggested the besieged Sr. Z is now suffering from the mental state attributed to the captain of the eponymous ship in the film “The Caine Mutiny”. Which might explain a few things. But doesn’t bode well.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Well, most of my fellow pilgrims went home today, the weather broke and life returned to humdrum mundanity. Or would have done if I’d been able to make a start on the pile of paper on my desk. Maybe tomorrow, when the rain is sheeting down from the Atlantic Blanket that again enveloped us this evening.

Meanwhile, I see that the work on the broken walkway fence that was inminente three months ago was not carried out during my ten-day absence. I must check on the Spanish Academy’s definition of the word. Perhaps it’s a ‘false friend’.

I leave you with this account of study methods at the university of Santiago. It reminds me of the incident a few years ago, when the Law Faculty there was criticised for giving degrees to only 20% of the students. How could they possibly do more - the Dean asked – when more than 80% of them didn’t attend the lectures. Still, the Bolgona Process will change all that, surely.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Reached Santiago today in time for the 12 noon Pilgrims' Mass, which was important for some of us.

Then an excellent lunch in a little place I know well, followed by a decent siesta. Prior to evening pilgrimming.

The lovely young lady in the TurGalicia office told me I was the first foreigner she'd ever heard speaking Spanish with a Gallego accent. She said it delighted her. Eu tamén, I replied. How we laughed.

Normal service tomorrow. Possibly.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Walked today the 17km from Redondela to Pontevedra. All but the last 4-5km rural and delightful.

Now have 10 guests in my house and no time to write.