Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 17.4.21


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’ 

NOTE: Info on Galicia here. Detailed info on Pontevedra coming soon.


The EU is working on a ‘Digital Green Certificate’. The regulation on this is currently on its way through EU institutions and is expected to be approved in June, to be operational by the end of that month. It’s expected to show that EU citizens have been vaccinated against Coronavirus, or have had a negative diagnostic test, or have proof of having recovered from the disease and have antibodies. It will come in the form of a free QR code. It is, of course, expected to ease free movement within the EU and Schengen Area. 

Spain has said that, if EU citizens they can show this certificate, they won’t be required to provide proof of a negative PCR test or to quarantine upon arrival. Tourism is expected to benefit from the development.

Cosas de España

El Pais asks a good question here re a Spanish success story.

Until today I only knew of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans but this article cites a 3rd type – Liberica.

Another article advises that Arabica beans – more expensive on the world market – have a milder taste and contain c.70% less caffeine than Robusta beans. And that they come mostly from South American countries. As I know from living there, a major producer of Robusta beans is Indonesia (of Java Coffee fame). Another thing I didn’t know is that Spain is the only European country in which coffee – of the superior Arabica variety – is grown. See the estimable Max Abroad on this here.

Cousas de Galiza  

During my first 20 years here – and despite driving thousands o kilometres around Spain –  I was never breathalysed once. But, in the last 6 months, I’ve been done twice, each time negative. Both tests took place around 9m, an oddly early time for the patrols to be set up. I strongly suspect at least one Covid factor at work – a 10pm curfew – but there might well be others. Such as the police having a lot less to do right now.

Way back in the 1370’s a son of the English king Edward 3 – John o’ Gaunt – made a claim to the crown of Castilla, by virtue of his marriage to a Spanish lady. The real king –  John of Trastámara – declined to agree, so they decided to fight it out. JoG sailed with his army to Iberia where JoT prepared to face him on the Portuguese border, after a landing in that country. But  . . . he was wrong-footed by John’s decision to invade Galicia, the most distant and disaffected of Castilla’s then kingdoms. There . . . JoG set up a rudimentary court and chancery in Ourense and received the submission of the Galician nobility and most of the towns of Galicia, though they made their homage to him conditional on his being recognised as king by the rest of Castile’ . Which, sadly, never came to pass and so the Galicians never became British . . .

María’s Level Ground: Days 12 & 13   

The UK

Astonishingly, The latest YouGov poll gives the Conservatives a commanding lead of 43 %, with Labour’s share of the vote slipping to its lowest level under Keir Starmer yet, at 29%. Possibly even more surprising is that Boris Johnson still leads in the “best Prime Minister” stakes. A third of respondents say he would make the better head of government than the Labour leader.

Which reminds me . . . An ex-Conservative minister published his diary last week. He tells us that Johnson once asked him why the world’s leaders thought he was a fool. To which he replied, sin pelos en la lengua: ‘Just look in the fucking mirror’.


Can you have English as the de facto language of 446 million people following Brexit?, asks Lenox Napier here.

Quote of the Week

Re the negotiations between the UK and the EU on revision of the troublesome Northern Ireland Protocol: The latest meeting “took place in a constructive, solution-driven atmosphere”, which is diplomat-speak for “The parties were restrained from ripping each other’s throats out”. 

Finally  . . . 

I’ve learned 3 cake facts this week:-

1. There’s something called the Colin the Caterpillar cake, possibly originally brought out years ago by Marks & Spencer(M&S)

2. All the major UK supermarkets sell a version of this, and

3. M&S are suing Aldi in respect of its knock-off of the cake. Which presumably makes sense to M&S, if not to the rest of us.

See here for the details and images.