Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 17.6.21    

 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: Following criticism in this blog, this is the latest (probable) development/U-turn:- Vaccinated folk might soon be able to go out of and into the UK to/from Amber countries without having to quarantine. Good news for at least me. Though, I suspect the need for several expensive PCR tests will remain

Cosas de España/Galiza 

Electricity prices in Spain are said to be the highest in Europe, just ahead of the UK’s but way above Germany’s. But I suspect the situation is worse than that because that’s just for actual KwHs, and utility bills here always have high fixed charges. Which is certainly not the case in the UK, where low users like me don’t subsidise large families in this way. To add injury to injury in Spain, the latter get a discount dating from Franco’s Catholic era. 

But, anyway, it’s good to know that a percentage of one’s bill is going to illegally finance political parties and to subsidise the lifestyle of all the ex-Ministers on the utility company boards. And on those of the telecoms companies, whose services are – surprise, surprise – also among the highest in Europe.

Church bells are being stolen across Spain, so far mainly up here in the North. Police suspect a specialist gang, which seems rather obvious to me, given what they’d need to do to get the bells down and away. Which they didn’t quite manage in one isolated village last week

As in the UK – and maybe everywhere in the world – the Tax Office here in Spain – La Hacienda – is not only detective but also the police, the trial judge and the appeal court in its own cases. And it operates on the basis that no one is honest and everyone is lying to them. And without integrity. On top of this, they can not only be very efficient but also very inefficient, as with the saga of poor María’s fine. As I’ve said, both of the 19th and of the 21st centuries.

Pontevedra’s mayor has made the city a global model of urban design. Last year, his council closed off a major route into town, claiming this was because of the Covid risk to students at a high school there and, so, temporary. No one believed them, of course, and now it’s been admitted that it’s permanent. In addition – having found that the traffic would – astonishingly – use a parallel street to circumvent the closure, the council has changed the one-way direction of that street to make this impossible. But, the mayor has told us rather loftily, There are other ways to get to the city centre. Not for long, I fear. He certainly doesn’t like cars.

I’m not sure I’ve got this right but it seems a professional rally driver fatally crashed his car up in our hills last week, while driving the future rally route when it was still open to the public. Hard to credit the degree of recklessness. But at least he only killed himself.

Talking of sports . . . TV ratings for Spain’s match against Sweden at the European Championship were the lowest for the team at the start of a major tournament since 2008. Folk must have known something I didn’t before the match, which ended 0-0 . . .

Yesterday, I wrote that you could avoid security at Pontevedra station by getting an early train. This wasn’t entirely correct, of course. You can also do this by going in the evening, after the guy who mans the machine has knocked off.

What I forgot to write was that the first voice I heard in Arcade was someone accusing me of cheating(Tramposo!). It turned out to be a neighbour, who’d assumed I’d driven to somewhere along the camino so I could walk back to Pontevedra.

The UK

I heard this comment in a podcast during my walk yesterday: In 16th century England, to get on in life it wasn’t what you knew but who you knew. I could swear I’ve heard that more than once during my years here in 21st century Spain.

Seven years ago the Leeds city council made a (valiant?) attempt to set up a zone where street prostitutes wouldn’t be arrested. But the Managed Area was a failure, as it pushed into residential areas, leading to complaints from residents of harassment and sexual assaults of even schoolgirls. This is hardly surprising, I guess, in that even Amsterdam is having to re-think its red light district policy. Too many drunk Brits, for one thing. Customers/gawpers, I mean. Not the local ladies.

The Way of the World  

I won’t be able to buy kaffir leaves for my curries any more. At least not in Waitrose in  the UK. They are now makrut lime leaves there. And soon everywhere else, I guess. After some individual – ignorant of the origin of the name – complained that the word kaffir upset her.


I wrote above: After the guy who mans the machine has knocked off. What should I say if the guard is (or says he is) a woman? ‘Operates’, I guess.

Finally  . . .

Superlatives are in overdrive in the TV commentaries on the Euro matches. Everything good is termed ‘absolutely brilliant’. And this is on British TV. I dread to think how excessive the Spanish commentators are. Or perhaps they’re actually harder to impress.