Hugh Thomas's book, Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, is almost 700 pages long. One reason is that there's no known fact that goes unstated. With the welter of data he provides on family connections (e.g. for those on Columbus's ships), it's sometimes like listening to a Pontevedra pija telling you who's who in the city's social circles. Anyway, I hope his other facts are more accurate that his statement that Bayona/Baiona lies in the mouth of the river Miño. It doesn't. Unless they've moved it since I was last there. And destroyed La Guardia.
So, the Greeks will be given the next tranche of cash, with which to pay back foreign banks. Did anyone in the world seriously believe they wouldn't be?
Here in Spain, there's much talk about next year's elections being brought forward to late this year. There's also some talk of La Crisis forcing the elimination of one level of government – that at the provincial level – but I can't see this happening before the elections. If at all. Even though there's probably an irrefutable case for it.
And here in Galicia we've taken note that Portugal has cancelled sine die the AVE high speed train link between Lisbon and Madrid, originally targeted for 2013. And that someone has cast aspersions on the opening of the line between Santiago and Ourense in December this year. Not looking good.
Which reminds me . . . I should correct my statement of yesterday that an average of only nine people a day were using the AVE between Toledo and Cuenca. In fact, it was six.
Spain's quota for mackerel has been doubled. Which rather surprises me, as it's a much undervalued fish here. And so sells for only around two euros a kilo. Strange people. Especially as they adore the bland hake.
I finally had the oak trees trimmed at my house in the hills yesterday, essentially to please my neighbour. Being Galician, she then asked - with a straight face - if she could have the branches that had been cut off. You can imagine my reply. Anyway, the point of mentioning this is that – not for the first time – I realised that the guy who'd done the pollarding had forgotten how much he'd verbally quoted me. And that I could've got away with giving him at least 20% below this. But I didn't. Next time, though.
Catalunya Caixa, a savings bank, claims that Spain had 800,000 unoccupied new homes at the end of 2010. Of these, 85% were built as holiday homes along the coasts. The banks forecasts that this 'overhang' will increase by 150,000 new homes this year and 125,000 in 2012. To say the least, this conflicts with government claims that there'll only be 200,000 new properties left on the market by the end of 2013. As to the truth, it's anyone's guess. And I do mean guess.
Talking about guessing . . . Here's Moody's view on the Spanish regional debt problem:- In the absence of credible commitments by the regions to take the steps needed to achieve sustainable improvements in their fiscal positions, we believe the central government will find it very hard to achieve its overall fiscal targets. This is likely to exert further downward pressure not only on the ratings of the fiscally weak regions but also on the sovereign’s rating as it risks derailing the country’s fiscal consolidation plan. More here.
Finally . . . I've received a bizarre email from someone calling him/herself Ecleon. This is the text:- “Ya se me paso, aqui estoy feliz, si si si, sientame ya. Mientras te mando al chinopu.” I don't know and can't find out what a chinopu is but the attached picture seems to be of a very small penis. A Google search suggests this isn't either a virus or a spam. So, can anyone shed any light on it?