1 June 2022: Tourists and buyers; Solar plans; Brit nostalgia; Airport grief; & Other stuff . .

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Dawn%2BBox%2BDay%2B2015.JPG
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 or Galiza 

Lenox looks at Spanish tourism here.

A propos: Info here on the looming ETIAS requirement for Brits visiting Spain, and elsewhere in the EU.

Converting abandoned villages – A relevant article on ‘The arduous and joyful task of restoring a village ruin’

And, relatedly, digital nomads are said to be taking on the Spanish property market, helping to cause a 25% increase of interest in property from foreign buyers over the first quarter of this year.  

Good news: The EU has approved Spain and Portugal’s plans to temper energy prices. This reflects the large amounts of renewable energy used in both countries and their scant connections with the European power grid.

On the theme of renewables . . . Germany supports Spain’s plans to construct a large solar module plant – a gigafactory for the assembly of solar panels  

The UK  

A bit of nostalgia from Carol Midgley: 

There’s talk of 2022 being like the 1970s, what with jubilee street parties, the return of Abba, imperial measures and power cuts, but there’s so much more we could exhume. Clackers, for instance: a creation of dangerous genius and something to give today’s health and safety pantwetters a stroke. This top-selling toy was two heavy, hardened ceramic balls on pieces of string which you clacked under and over your wrists, or behind your legs if you were feeling swish, and which caused a litany of bruises, bone fractures, smashed teeth and bloodied eyeballs.

True, it was a bummer if your dad was on a 3-day week because you might not get a Tiny Tears or a Chopper bike for Christmas, but there were so many upsides. No fretting about bulky children’s car seats when driving on holiday — they just tipped us all in the hatchback with a few cola cubes. If you wanted to see your friend you didn’t snapchat them from bed, you walked round on your actual legs and knocked on the actual door. Which meant that children then were thin, not pavement crackers in 46in-waist school trousers. No one wore seatbelts or thought twice about balancing a baby on their knee while driving, possibly after a few brown ales (not condoning it, just saying). No one seemed to think paedophiles had been invented, so you’d be left outside a pub in the car with bottles of pop and crisps, feeling life couldn’t get any better.

Politicians always evoke the 70s as a bogeyman but for some of us that doesn’t work, because it was also a thrilling time filled with David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, Tiswas, Vesta curries, cassette tape recorders, waterbeds, sausages and beans in a tin, and “johnny jackets” – transparent anoraks in the sickly pink hue of a Durex.

What was nice about the 70s was that youthful innocence still, just about, existed. We could laugh for days over one saucy seaside postcard, such as a busty barmaid misplacing two flagons of orange squash and asking: “Have you seen my big jugs?” Imagine kids of today raised on internet porn seeing anything subversive enough to laugh at in a cartoon of a swimming instructor asking a woman in a bikini: “Now, would you like to try a length underwater?” Those were the days, my friend.

On the other hand . . . A quote from someone else: Britain is broken because it has forgotten the lessons of the 1970s. If there is a comparison with today, it is a sense that things were broken and we were being run by a government with no real idea how to fix them. It all seemed bleak back then, though to be young was very heaven.


Let Germany lead the rebuilding of Ukraine, says the author of the article below . . . Instead of trying to overcome German anxiety about being involved in (another) shooting war, Scholz’s priority should be to get Berlin to think more deeply about rebuilding post-war Ukraine. Meanwhile: One open question will be whether the billions of dollars of oligarchical and Russian state assets frozen under sanctions can be confiscated and turned into a kind of reparations fund for Ukraine


Re those ‘transparent’ government lies about Liverpool supporters: To be fair, French public opinion did not buy them, says a French columnist, who adds: In view of the omnishambles of the Champions League Cup Final, in which Liverpool fans were penned in for hours, pepper-sprayed, and finally made the scapegoats of the whole snafu by several ministers, Paris isn’t fit to host the 2024 Olympics. Years of sports, policing and urban planning complacency contributed to the Champions League fiasco. Worse is yet to come. Oh, dear.

The EU

Because of its power of veto, Hungary has been excluded from measures aimed at reducing reliance on Russian oil, leading to the question: If the EU can’t even agree on the imposition of catchall sanctions, what hope for a European army and all the other accoutrements of the superpower status the EU pretends to.

The Way of the World

Uefa has continued to employ an ethics and disciplinary inspector despite discovering that he had been reprimanded for [illegally] placing thousands of bets on matches — even backing his own national team to lose.

Finally . . .

This happened to my visitor last Friday:-

For passing readers: 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.


Let Germany lead the rebuilding of Ukraine: Roger Boyes, The Times

Scholz’s leadership is marked by foot dragging at crucial moments in the Russian invasion. Day and night artillery barrages are flattening eastern Ukraine. Yet Germany supplies weapons only when under maximum pressure. It tries to sidestep the most effective energy sanctions against Moscow. Scholz continues to think that a solidarity visit to Kyiv would be a pointless publicity stunt. Accelerating Ukrainian membership of the European Union, or actively looking for alternative ways of blocking Moscow’s westward incursions, is regarded as too difficult.

The core problem seems to be that Scholz, who at the outset of the Ukrainian war had announced with some fanfare the need for a sea change in German policy, is asking the wrong questions. At a Catholic conference this week he sat on a podium and asked the audience whether we should be fighting violence with violence. That was typically one of the talking points raised in German conscientious objection tribunals in the Cold War to test whether a candidate for military exemption was trying to swing the lead. It was a sophomoric question and not the issue of the hour. Which is: how does the West stop Putin’s attempts to tear up the European security order? What tools are available? How does the alliance act when a non-member is attacked?

Scholz ducks and weaves because he lacks the confidence to help shape Nato policy. Instead he is in a state of drift. Initially Ukraine was risibly offered 5,000 helmets by Germany. Then Scholz came up with his impressive-sounding sea change — Zeitenwende — speech, offering an extra €100 billion for Germany’s defence. It turned out the sum was actually a way of meeting its long-neglected Nato commitment to spend 2 per cent of its GDP on defence over the next five years. Other pledges followed and fell short. Germany promised to backfill Poland’s inventories after Warsaw sent tanks to Ukraine, but according to President Duda failed to deliver. Some armour may be coming after training of Ukrainian crews but only deeper into the summer. Light defensive weaponry has made its way into Ukrainian hands but the impression is that Scholz is worried Ukraine will escalate the conflict by firing into Russian territory. And he is worried, it seems, about the reputational damage of German panzers again going head to head with the Russians.

All this goes to show that Scholz has not freed himself from the legacy of the former chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Like Schröder, whose father died as a private in the pioneer corps retreating from Russia, he has long agreed with the premise that Russian energy imports were a way of guaranteeing Putin’s good behaviour. Like Schröder he saw maintaining good relations with Moscow as a strategic imperative. Though they come from different generations, both were Young Socialists at a time when American sabre-rattling was seen as more destabilising than what Russia did in its backyard. This view was shared by many Germans but is now under challenge from conservative foreign policy thinkers like Norbert Röttgen who in an impressive new book takes both his former party leader Angela Merkel and Scholz to task. “We outsourced our energy to Russia, our growth market to China, our security to the US,” he writes. It was the German duty to reclaim its sense of agency. “If we don’t defend it, we will lose it.”

Instead of trying to overcome German anxiety about being involved in (another) shooting war, the priority should be in getting Berlin to think more deeply about rebuilding post-war Ukraine. Better surely to lean on Scholz’s previous experience as finance minister than on his patchy grasp of the Donbas battlefield. And build on a positive consensus about the German post-war experience of the Marshall Plan in stabilising the economy, constructing modern state institutions and creating security. It won’t be easy. Estimates suggest at least $600 billion will be needed; there is no idea yet of how the war will end, whether Ukraine will be partitioned, whether Russia tries to manipulate a fake ceasefire.

But Scholz will have a chance to exhibit some toughness in dealing with Putin. One open question will be whether the billions of dollars of oligarchical and Russian state assets frozen under sanctions can be confiscated and turned into a kind of reparations fund for Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking to a Davos audience, made a powerful point: “If the aggressor loses everything, then it deprives him of his motivation to start [another] war. Values must matter when global markets are being destabilised.”

This will be a legal nightmare, one demanding financial expertise and a great deal of stubbornness: let Germany work on the options now rather than live in naive expectation of it becoming a decisive arms supplier for Ukraine. We have discovered already that given the years of German under-investment in defence, counting on its weapons is like squeezing blood out of a stone. Instead of guns and guts, better by far that Berlin concentrates on being an enthusiastic part of a western masterplan to turn post-war Ukraine into a modern, resilient state rather than Putin’s satellite.