Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Airports; Gib; Railways and Roads; The Suevi; And flashy Spanish feminists.

I've mentioned many times that Galicia has 3 small, inefficient international airports instead of just one, sensible efficient one. It's not alone in this. Nationwide, there are 48 or 49 publicly-owned airports, several of them small and pretty close to larger facilities. One or two have had no passengers at all since completion and others have annual numbers in the tens or hundreds. According to El Economista 10 Spanish airports served fewer than 1,000 passengers last month. Or 33 a day. Why, the magazine asks on behalf of all of us, aren't these places being closed? Of course, we all know why they were built in the first place. More on this here

Gibraltar: The storm in a bay continues its dog-day progress to nowhere and nothing. The latest developments:-
1. British warships have docked in both Gib and a nearby Spanish port, prior to a long-planned, multi-member NATO exercise in the Med. Not quite the invasion force depicted in some of the Spanish media.
2. Spanish fisherman have attempted to make a protest entry into Gib harbour and have been kept out. But it helped to pass the time on Sunday.
3. A British MEP and the Gib first minister have received abuse and death threats from numerous angry Spaniards. It's not unknown for this sort of thing to pass for argument in Spain.
4. An official Spanish map has surfaced showing the spot where the concrete blocks have been dropped to be off-limits for all fishermen, including their own.
5. It's emerged that the Spanish government permits in 3 or 4 of its own ports the bunkering it complains of in Gibraltar waters.
6. The EU has said any border tax would be illegal. Which surely won't have come as any surprise to Madrid, which can't ever have had any real intention of imposing it. They have lawyers in Madrid too.
7. The British government has said it'll do whatever it takes to stop the long border checks and noted that Brits are important to Spain's vital tourism sector.
8. The EU has said it'll get round to sending officials to inspect these checks sometime in September.
All in all, the Spanish government stands convicted both of self-damaging stupidity and of hypocrisy and it'll be interesting to see how it gets itself out of the mess it's gratuitously created. And whether the British government or the EU helps them in any way. Possibly, in the latter case, by declaring the checks disproportionate and illegal, allowing the Spanish government to stop them 'under duress' and thus save a bit of face. Whereupon the whole ridiculous spat will disappear from the media and life will go on. Leaving us no wiser as to whether the Spanish populace was distracted, for a few weeks, from the matters of corruption in high places and negligence in respect of a fatal rail crash. I rather doubt it. More importantly, will the belligerent Minister for Foreign Affairs stay in his job for being a good lackey or will be be sacked for setting back Gibraltar-Spain relations for at least 30 years? I'll let you know.

Talking of railways . . . Reader Sierra pointed out a while back that these were expensive to lay down in Spain, one reason being that excessive prices were paid for compulsorily purchased land. In same vein, it emerges this is also true of Spanish roads. These, it seems, are twice as expensive to build as German roads. The EU auditors who looked at all this said they believed some procurement practices 'did not deliver optimal costs'. And they recommended that the cause of the "considerable differences" should be analysed. I'll bet they should. More here.

Finally . . . Reader Martin has suggested the dragons flag I showed yesterday might be traceable back to the Suebi/Suevi tribe which replaced the Romans in this part of Spain and Portugal, before they themselves were ousted by their fellow Germanics, the Iberia-unifying Visigoths. For those interested, here's a truncated version of the language bit of the Wiki article on these folk: As the Suebi quickly adopted the local Vulgar Latin language, few traces were left of their Germanic tongue in the Galician and Portuguese languages. Distinguishing between loanwords from Gothic or Suevic is difficult, but there is a series of words, characteristic of Galicia and northern Portugal, which are attributed to the Suebi or either to the Goths, although no mayor Visigothic immigration into Galicia is known before the 8th century. These words are rural in nature, relative to animals, agriculture, and country life. Most notable were their contribution to local toponymy and anthroponymy as personal names borne by the Sueves were in use among Galicians up to the Low Middle Ages, whilst East Germanic names in general were the most common names among locals during the High Middle Ages. From these names is derived also a rich toponymy, found mainly in Galicia and northern Portugal and made up of several thousands of place names derived directly from Germanic personal names, expressed as Germanic or Latin genitives: Sandías, medieval Sindilanes, Germanic genitive form of the name Sindila; Mondariz from the Latin genitive form Munderici Munderic's; Gondomar from Gundemari and Baltar from Baltarii, both in Portugal and Galicia; Guitiriz from Witterici. Another group of toponyms which point to old Germanic settlements are the places named Sa, Saa, Sas, in Galicia, or in Portugal, all derived from the Germanic word sal- 'house, hall', and distributed mostly around Brag and Porto in Portugal, and in the Miño River valley and around Lugo in Galicia, totalling more than a hundred. In modern Galicia, four parishes and six towns and villages are still named Suevos or Suegos, from the medieval form Suevos, all of them from the Latin Sueuos 'Sueves', and referring to old Suevi settlements. Even more here.

Finally . . . finally: If you've made it this far, this is a bit of good news. For 50% of you anyway.


Ferrolano said...

Colin, acquisition of land by local authorities for building or expansion of roads is not always the expensive venture mentioned in your blog. In fact, recently I backed out of purchasing a plot of land as when calling for a site survey I discovered that at the moment of applying for a building permit, I would automatically and free of charge have to hand over more than one third of the land to the local authority for a “future” road expansion. I say future, because nobody knows if this will ever happen. Also, the person ceding the land has to put it in order for the local authority use.

You can easily spot these “acquired” lots as when driving along a road or lane, the hedgerow suddenly widens, to the one side or the other and the main plot of land probably has a newly built house on it. You will also see this in city areas where the pavement / sidewalk expands from say one meter to perhaps three or four.

If the plot of land has a narrow frontage, the amount of land lost may not be too significant. But in the case of the plot that I was interested in, the bulk of the land is parallel to the road with little depth. Of the 1600 M2 on offer, more than 650 M2 would be lost with no compensation. I guess that the auditors need to look elsewhere for the high cost of building roads and I would start with building contractors and labour costs, inflated by high taxes and levies.

Anonymous said...

Colin, On the subject of why Portuguese tiles are so often painted blue, Sierra kindly supplied


This says nothing on why the colour blue was chosen but has a reference to


which says on page 251

"By the end of the 17th century the blue and white style had become the prevailing fashion. This was probably due to the influence of Chinese pottery, which had reached Europe, and had been adopted by Dutch ceramists, who then created the well-known Delft blue pottery."

The article also says that polychrome came before and after the blue period.

Which all sounds a believable hypothesis.


Perry said...


The people of La Linea are being seriously inconvenienced by their own government. There is a monument in the town by Nacho Falgueras. It is a tribute to the thousands of "linenses" and "campogibraltareños" who spent their lives working in Gibraltar. Because of difficult times in this part of Spain they crossed the border every day to work and support their families. It is a tribute by the town of La Línea to all those who worked and continue to work in Gibraltar.


The Gibraltarians are patriotic.




Sierra said...

Agree on the one central airport in Galicia, but this would need to be combined with a "puddle jumper" service (6 to 20 seat aircraft) from small local airports; given it's a 2.1/2 hours road journey to Santiago from the outer reaches of the region

Anonymous said...

Colin, I see the SDC derailment has moved on a step today.


"Judge Luis Aláez now wants to question the Adif employee in charge of safety for the stretch of track between Ourense and Santiago. The date of the court statement has not been set yet as Adif has yet to identify the individual who held this responsibility."

Ahhh I too feel vindicated, Garzon will not be a scapegoat after all.

And then

The investigating magistrate noted that even though the causes of the derailment are “obviously connected to inappropriate driving due to excess speed, a more careful examination of the known circumstances in which the accident took place suggests a link with the lack of preventive security measures on the tracks, and ultimately with reckless conduct on the part of the people in charge of guaranteeing safe circulation on the stretch of line where the catastrophe took place.”

"A more careful examination of the known circumstances" - Well, er, more like as plain as the nose on your face, say every man and his dog.

So, maybe Colin there's hope after all the Judge hasn't been got at? Or maybe his postman's been on vacation and the brown envelope is just delayed in the post?

Or maybe now the decision on the S.American contract has been deferred, he feels free to cast his net a little further?

But what if Adif fails to identify the individual who was responsible? What can the Judge do then? How big is his budget and how much is spent?

And then there's all the rag tag and bobtail of other individuals with their individual negligent acts, without whom the dead would still be living. What will the Judge do about them?

I don't envy him his task.


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