7 April: 2022: Bye bye masks?; Galician olive oil; Drake’s progeny; Ukraine: Russia; China, & Other stuff

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’

Cosas de España/Galiza   

So, we won’t have to wear mask indoors – except on public transport and in hospitals and care homes – after April 20th. Which is good news.

Even better news is that – after more than 300 years and thanks to the discovery of indigenous trees good enough to permit both domestic and global competition – Galicia is going back into the olive oil business. The Times has the story here, commenting that Galicia’s humid climate gives the olives and their oil a unique smell and taste. Of drizzle? Seafood?

It’s hoped that Galicia can repeat its success with neglected grape varieties, both red (Mencia) and white (Albariño, Godello and Ribeiro). Let’s hope so. Meanwhile, shares in my new olive oil company will be available shortly.  

En passant, Pontevedra’s urban rival – Vigo – is nicknamed A Cidade Olívica – The City of Olives. It’s said that, after a local war, the victor ordered all our olive trees to be cut down, as they ‘symbolised peace’. (Me, neither). The tree features in the city’s seal and there’s one of them still flourishing in the city centre.

Not to be outdone, Pontevedra also has an olive tree in the city centre, outside Correos, in – you guessed it – Rúa da Oliva/Calle de la Oliva//Olive Street.

Lenox Napier says he likes his car’s number plate – LNX. It reminded me that, after I’d told my neighbours that mine – HMG – stood for Her Majesty’s Government, at least one of them has persisted in believing I’m a retired British spy. Possibly related to Spain’s much-hated arch enemy – El Pirata, Francis Drake.

I like to tell all Gallegos/as who are blond with blue eyes that they’re descendants of Drake’s men, who ravaged this coast for years. Rarely goes down well.

The UK 

Post Brexit . . . It’s so important to get on with reforms to improve productivity and growth. All the levers are now in our hands, says a columnist. And it’s true that, now it’s out of the EU, the UK needs to take far more of its own decisions. Shame, then, that its PM and his cabinet seem to be the least competent in living memory. But is Labour really much better?


Why Russia is losing the war.


Putin’s regime: Back in 2007, a courageous investigative journalist – Ivan Safronov – was on the verge of exposing procurement corruption in the Ministry of Defence, until he suddenly fell to his death out of a first floor window. Astonishingly he was about the 160th journalist to meet a violent end in post-communist Russia.Understandably, a precise number isn’t available. It’s often said that people get the government they deserve but I guess this really only applies to democracies. Maybe it’d be more than harsh to blame the Russians for their repression. They surely want to keep breathing. And not falling from windows.

So, one thing’s for sure – the war against Ukraine won’t be ended as a result of domestic pressure. As someone has written today: Without a genuinely independent media, uncontrolled by government or politicians, everyone except the bravest becomes an accomplice to atrocities. And, to say the least, Russia’s media doesn’t fit the bill. And hasn’t done so for a very long time.


Beijing has routinely  boasted about its approach to Covid and contrasted its relatively insignificant infection and death rate with an apparently chaotic western response which has seen citizens die in their hundreds of thousands. But  . . . The boot is now on the other foot. Chinese vaccines have proved relatively ineffective, and unbelievably almost a half of the over eighties have not been fully vaccinated anyway, leaving little option but to respond with renewed social distancing measures. There is a certain justice in China getting its comeuppance, given its previous triumphalism and culpable as it was in the origins of the pandemic. Need I add that: Beijing can’t admit all this either to its own people or itself. 


Zasca: Can’t recall ever hearing it, until today. Used in a debate in parliament:-  

1. A cutting answer, disappointment, chastisement. 

2. An interjection imitating the sound of a blow or expressing the effect of a sudden movement. He gave me another blow, Zasca! He turned around and, Zasca! He jumped. 

3. An interjection indicating a surprising action or an intention to scold. When you least expect it. Zasca! Punished by not getting a dessert.

Finally . . .

Wha’s your favourite smell? Not sure I know myself but was interested to read that, globally, it’s  . . . . vanilla.

Another of those senseless strap lines in a TTV ad, this time from a frozen food company: Eat in full colour!

For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.



  1. Have been reading this daily, although originally signed up as doing the Camino in May.

    It’s great to get a different slant on what’s being reported in Spain versus England. Although I’m avoiding some of the news at the moment as its so horrific, your update is a nice mixture of news/observations.

    Liked by 1 person

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