Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Spanish government is making it illegal to ride a bicycle without a helmet. Surprisingly, hardly any other European country does this and it doesn't stem from any EU Regulation. It will adversely affect various groups – such as those who hire out bikes in cities – but the government says it wants to ensure riders' safety. Which is possible, I guess. But it'll also be yet another source of revenue, I imagine. A stealth tax, then.

One area where a Directive from Brussels really will be responsible for changing Spanish society is that of the olive oil and vinegar set on every restaurant and café table. The oleaginous march of progress means these are to be banned. But not, as you might think, because they're unhealthy; it's an anti-fraud measure. And we all know how assiduously the EU and the Spanish government crack down on fraud.

Which reminds me . . . A large Galician fishing company – Pescanova – recently went belly-up, another victim of La Crisis. The president sold his vast holdings of shares just before announcements were made. Clearly a man blessed with exceptional luck. Or insight.

I'm also reminded of the reports that not only the current PP president (Rajoy) but also the previous PP President (Aznar) was receiving extra salary payments from a slush fund. Which makes a bit of nonsense of those lists of minor politicians alleged to be earning more than the top dog. They may still be overpaid, of course, but, relatively speaking, not as much as previously.

Not long after I came here to Spain I worked out that all of my utility bills were composed mostly of fixed costs, rather than variable costs in line with my consumption. This is the opposite of other countries, where your bill will relate far more to your usage. Twelve years on, things haven't changed. I've just received a water bill which comprises 96% fixed costs. But at least the company has improved its bills a tad in 12 years; as of a couple of months ago, I don't need to spend 3 seconds totting up 2 or 3 numbers so as to get the volume of water used. They now do it for me. Unlike the gas company, which has recently stopped providing either the total volume of gas used or any of the components that would allow me to do calculate it. Now, that's progress. And pretty good evidence of how Spain's effective monopolies treat their customers. No Ofgem here.

Many of us will have experienced the feeling that someone is following us. But few of us, I guess, will have feared it was the devil. Not so a chap down in Murcia who, having concluded Old Nick was after him, decided to seek sanctuary in the local church. Possibly forgetting that he was driving a car at the time. And pulling a trailer full of artichokes. That's fear for you. More here, and an HT to reader Sierra.

I've mentioned Pontevedra's Porcos Bravos a couple of times. I've now learnt that their motto is “Football, Beers and Orphans". I've no idea where the orphans come in but hope to find out tomorrow when I join these Anglophiles for their fish 'n' chips celebration of St George's Day. Which is more than can be said of most Brits. Me included, normally. Perhaps we can drum up a small military parade.

For no good reason – honest – I wanted to know what the Spanish for 'to nag' was. I came up with regañar and fastidiar but these – 'to scold' and 'to annoy' – don't really seem to fit the bill. Has anyone got a better option?

Mots Justes

A preposition is a word that you shouldn't end a sentence with.

This wine completely hit the spot. It tasted of iron and granite, like it had been raised on Emily Dickinson poetry, and it had a cool thickness to it that seemed to match the London fog coiling around the street-lamps outside my window. But it also contained, somehow, tendrils of hope, like snowdrops pushing through the frozen earth. 
- Victoria Moore: Daily Telegraph.

Finally . . . Since when did the packaging and posting costs for Amazon reach 33% of the bill?


Sierra said...

I've never worked out why goods from Amazon UK (over 25GBP)are delivered to Spain free, but you have to pay for delivery from Amazon Spain

Sierra said...

P.S. According to Wikipedia, Spain has required cycling helmets on interurban routes since 2004 - but not when going uphill or in very hot weather - so that wont apply in Galicia!

Colin said...

Amazon. Not the case with the order I planned, from Amazon UK. Can't understand why it could cost 34 euros to send an order valued at 106. It's not as if something is very heavy.

Colin said...

Helmets. You are a victim of the rainy propaganda!

Ourense (up in said hills) is regularly the hottest city in Spain during the summer (and the coldest during the winter). Even down here in summer the temp is 25 plus, and 30 plus, from time to time.

Porco Jones said...

No todos los porcos bravos sufren de anglofilia. Es más, la mayoría está en la línea : "arranca ella misma de una provocación directa al mito pancéltico: invitar a unos ingleses para vapulearlos y demostrar así que son como nosotros. ¿Ingleses? Ingleses, sí. Eso he dicho."

Anonymous said...

With Amazon, you have to check who is supplying your goods. If it is Amazon itself, orders over £25.00 are pp free to Spain, however if it is one of Amazon's approved suppliers, the sky is the limit for pp although they all have to display their charges. One thing I have learned from Amazon UK is that their Customer Service is second to none in the world (in my experience). I suggest you complain to them - misleading advertising etc. and they might possibly reimburse you.
David (Sorry for the Anonymous, my Google account never seems to work for your site)

Ferrolano said...

Oil and vinegar in poxy sachets on the table in restaurants, just another way to de-personalize the meal, make the customer pay more, restaurant or bar owner lose more but, ensure that the sachet people make a well oiled profit. I can see it now, a 10 euro bottle of oil being converted into 50 euros worth of sachets!!!

But don’t worry, there will be both cheap and expensive sachets made available and we all know which ones the cash strapped restaurant will make available and, possibly a worse product than currently being put on the table. Apart from that, what is being used in the kitchen, which is out of sight??

fm said...

Un rastro fácil de seguir:
" Y luego está la Cup, claro. La Cup también se inventa el país, sabiéndolo, y lo hace a la manera de Dylan Thomas en “Bajo el bosque lácteo”. Por eso me gusta, la verdad. Lo hace de manera comunal y descarnada, en un vuelo raso a veces difícil de comprender: La Cup, en cuyo claustro pudoroso te encuentras ahora, hermano, es un programa de radio para la BBC encubierto bajo el disfraz de blogs y borracheras y arranca ella misma de una provocación directa al mito pancéltico: invitar a unos ingleses para vapulearlos y demostrar así que son como nosotros. ¿Ingleses? Ingleses, sí. Eso he dicho." extraído de " THE ANGLOGALICIAN CUP: Cando o vello Long John volveu ás illas ". Nada nuevo bajo el sol.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Alfred B Mittington agreed with Ferrolano. And no little!

Colin said...

Amazon: Yes, I wondered about this as one of the items is coming from someone else, I was going to check what difference it made deleting this (small) item, which I can probably buy in Spain anyway. In fact I just did this and this halved the P&Pm meaning the P&P was 4 times the price of the deleted item. One lives and learns! Thanks for writing.

Perry said...

Sachets are about provenance are they? Then I foresee that carafes of house wine will replaced with sealed plastic containers (with a straw) delivered to the table.

Inserting the straw will be considered as service and charged for. Saves on washing up as well; no glasses.

A restaurant that offers crap olive oil and vinegar would lose business. Locally produced condiments are likely tastier, better quality and less costly than the contents of the ubiquitous branded sachets on offer. Freshly mixed English mustard,creamed horse- radish, even Wasabi could be banned.

The meal itself might have to be sealed in plastic & boiled in hot water before being poured onto the plate in front of the diner. On past performance, how can a consumer trust labelling anyway? Neigh sir, that's genu wine beef ya got there!

Talk about the law of unintended consequences.

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