Saturday, May 23, 2020

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 23.5.20

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
- Christopher Howse: 'A Pilgrim in Spain'*

The Bloody Virus 
  • More here and here on Swedish exceptionalism. Not looking great. 
Life in Spain in the Time of Something Like Cholera
Real Life in Spain
  • As expected, I was refused the packet for my sister and this will now be returned to the UK in 2 weeks' time. But I did manage to blague my way to getting my own package, despite the clerk querying my ID card, on the basis it'd expired in 2011 . . .
  • Most Spanish women have dark hair and brown eyes - morenas. So, it's often hard to determine who's coming towards you. When they're all wearing masks, this becomes totally impossible. Leading to unintentional 'cutting' of friends and neighbours. [In Spanish, I'm told: 1. Pasar de largo; or, most colloquially/best: Hacerse el sueco. Lit. 'To act like a Swede'. No idea why. Likewise, the alternative Hacerse el loco. 'To go mad'.] [BTW: How often do Swedes get mentioned twice in a British blog?]
  • Mark Stücklin lays into Spanish property planners/regulators here. I doubt they're exceptional by Spanish bureaucratic standards.
  • HT to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for the news that there are now a few dozen "ecoaldeas" - ecovillages - in Spain, most built from the ashes of former medieval towns. One of the first towns to be rediscovered was a tiny hamlet called Lakabe in the mountains of northern Navarra. On which this a nice video.
The UK
  • Maybe the popularity of Boris Johnson I wondered about yesterday ain't going to last very much longer:-
  1. Richard North: All this points to Johnson's luck running out. Already, there are signs that the political honeymoon is over. There will be no quick fixes and [by mid winter] Johnson's boyish charms will have long ceased to protect him from the political fallout. . .  In the political context of a recessionary winter, there will be little tolerance for the bluster and bravado which is the stock-in-trade of this government.
  2. Boris Johnson faces an ethics inquiry over ‘intimacy’ with Jennifer Arcuri. Ethics is not his strong s suit, of course. At least a bit Trumpish.
  • Dear god! . . . 20% of Brits believe the virus is a hoax.
  • Not only in Spain, then. Workers forced into furlough fraud blow the whistle on their bosses- Employees say they are being bullied to continue to work even though their bosses are claiming taxpayers' cash for furloughing them.
  • The fabulous Caitlin Moran: If there’s two things we think we “know” about the Teutonic personality, it’s that it’s a) very efficient, but b) generally sadly lacking in humour. This week has forced a full-scale re-evaluation of our European cousins as a café in northeast Germany sought to enforce social-distancing regulations with an efficient and humorous idea: the noodle hat. Café Rothe in Schwerin has reopened, but its owners wish to keep their customers safe. Consequently, they have invented the noodle hat — 2m-long, brightly coloured swimming noodles are stapled to a hat to help people keep their distance. I love that the latest weapon in the war against coronavirus is making Germans look like they are small helicopters drinking a latte, and I urge cafés in the UK to follow suit.
To wit:-

  • Be careful of what you wish for; you might well get it, says a Chinese dictum: Emerging from their coronavirus lockdown this week, many Venetians discovered they had got what they always wanted: the disappearance of hulking cruise ships and the 50,000 daily tourists who clog up the city’s narrow alleys, drive up rents and drive out locals. But . . . A Venice free of tourists means that the locals are enduring a brutal downturn without the €3 billion the visitors pump into the economy every year.
The USA  
  •  Dear god x 10!: US exceptionalism: Concerns are growing that too many Americans will shun a coronavirus vaccine after one in 5 said that they would refuse a jab. Senior medical advisers are concerned that President Trump’s name for the US effort to develop a vaccine, 'Operation Warp Speed', feeds into fears stoked by “antivaxers” that the medicine will be rushed out and therefore potentially dangerous.
Finally . . . 
  • Anyone got any views on the difference between peanut oil and groundnut oil for use in making a fish curry? I ask because they're widely said on the net to be the same thing - peanuts being a type of groundnut - but I know that views differ on this. Among good cooks, that is.
  • I can't get either here in Pontevedra, so have bought a lot of peanuts, with a view to making my own. Provided I don't eat them all first, as they're of the best quality. And very more-ish. 

 * A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant


Maria said...

If you're willing to wait and drive out, the Lidl tends to have peanut oil for sale during their "Asian week." I don't know what quality it might be, though.

Colin Davies said...

Many thanks, Maria. We have 2 Lidls in Ponters, so I will keep an eye out for a Asian Week.