Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 1.6.21

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’ 

Detailed info on Galicia and Pontevedra city here


The UK: The Indian variant (now called Delta) is making for a very complicated situation. Richard North: Such are the variables that even a competent, trusted prime minister would be hard-put to choose the right path and make his decisions stick. Johnson could thus find that, whatever he does, he will be condemned – with plenty of people willing to join in. To that extent, the next 2 weeks could prove to be make or break, for Johnson’s political fortunes and for the nation as a whole. We are indeed at a pivotal moment.

Spain: Will it escape Delta?

Cosas de España/Galiza

Spain in figures: Birth rate, retired and foreign populations, and life expectancies.

It might surprise you to know that the famous French and Portuguese caminos are not the only ones you can walk in Spain. In fact, there are over 40 of them – really – and it seems at least one new (‘genuinely authentic’) route is added every year. This week I’ve read of one by sail – La Navega el Camino – which officially starts in the Basque port of Hondarribia and sails across/down the north and north-west coasts of Spain, to end near Padrón. This year’s version – like most of my life, as it happens – is dedicated to women. Click here for info, in English. Obviously, if coming from the UK you have to get your boat to Hondarribia, via La Rochelle it seems.

As you all know, Ferdinand and Isabella vanquished the last Moorish stronghold of Granada in 1492 and agreed a deal with the outgoing Emir Boabdil under which freedom of religion would continue. Four things of note:-

1. Their victory united Spain for the first time since the Visigoths had left it, many centuries previously.

2. The deal with the Moors was stamped on by the Pope and then resiled on by F&I.

3. This led to the immediate expulsion of the Jews, followed by the Moors 10 years later in 1502.

4. The first institution set up by the new unified state was the Inquisition, charged with rooting out Jews and Moors who were faking their Catholicism so as to avoid exile.

Life in Spain: I called my doctor’s office for an appointment yesterday and had 2 problems, the traditional one and a new one:-

1. Having explained, yet again, that I only had one surname, the secretary told me she couldn’t find it in the computer. Doubtless because they had one of my 2 forenames down as the first of 2 theoretical surnames. But she did finally find me via my ID number.

2. The doctor’s name is Lopez, which I pronounced twice as Lopeth, before having to spell it out for her. After which I heard her say it, South American style, as Lopess. Happily, a friendly waiter later confirmed my pronunciation was perfect to him . . .

Well, our president has said he hopes we can soon dispense with the bloody masks but it seems Castilla la Mancha might beat us to this. Its president says his government plans to end compulsory use outdoors ‘by July’. So, there’s still time for us to sprint to the front. 

The first 20kph signs have appeared in Pontevedra. And, if you were cynical, exactly where you’d expect them – on the edge of the city as you come down from the AP9 autopista at 80kph. Onto a road which was previously 50.

The Way of the World

Some interesting data on wealth distribution here. No surprises about the USA. Especially if you’re reading – as I am – The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good?

Spanish  . . . .

Courtesy of María . . . Un carter: A crankcase. Derived from the name of the English engineer who invented this in the late 19th century. 

Finally . . .

A UK TV ad. The next generation toilet cleaner . . . How did we survive without it?