15 August 2022: Nasty ‘furtivos’; Nasty food; Bank woes; The declining UK; Russian tourists; & Other stuff.

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Awake! For, Morning, in the Bowl of Night, has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight
And, Lo, has caught the Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de Spain/Galiza

Galicia, I read, has declared war on los furtivos – folk who steal shellfish along its coasts. The most expensive of these are percebes, or goose barnacles. Per Wiki: In Spain, percebes are lightly boiled in brine and served whole and hot. To eat them, the diamond shaped foot is pinched between thumb and finger and the inner tube pulled out of the scaly case. The claw is removed and the remaining flesh is swallowed. I regard this as the equivalent of eating a bit of rubber dipped in salty water but I’m in a minority in Spain, where the price can reach more than €300 a kilo at Xmas. I’m not that keen on octopus either, the price of which has soared in the last year or two. Pigs’ ears and tripe are also not a part of my diet here, but at least are a lot cheaper.

My bank sent me a new credit card, overlapping with the old one which expires the end of this month. Having activated the new one – always necessary in Spain – I found the old one didn’t work. Logical, I guess. And (almost) expected, though the bank’s letter didn’t tell me this would happen. What the bank hasn’t sent me is a new debit card, very possibly because I blocked the old one when it went missing 6 months ago. So, I guess I’ll now have to go through the calvario of a phone conversation, very probably ending up with a €20 euro fee for a card with a new number.

It seems I missed the news about help from the Xunta to buy an e-bike. Too late now, as demand has exhausted availability. 

Yet more fireworks in Pv city tonight at midnight. In honour of the Assumed Virgin?

The UK  

A Times columnist: Remember Manuel in Fawlty Towers? “He’s from Barcelona” was Basil’s explanation for his apparent idiocies, which the guests (and the audience) accepted because Spanish workers were the bottom of the pile. Poor and put-upon, they took low-grade jobs in Britain to get away from political instability, poverty and rotten infrastructure. A holiday in 2022 Spain suggests the tables have turned. The airports are efficient, the roads good and the streets clean. Nobody talks about politics, because the government is sensible and stable. A Spanish member of our party described a trip to Britain a few weeks ago. Arriving at Heathrow, his suitcase took two and a half hours to come through. There was “garbage everywhere” in London; his trains were delayed or cancelled; when he managed to board one he had to stand for two hours. Departing from Manchester airport, it took two hours to check his suitcase in. “It didn’t feel like a developed country,” he said. Political instability, rising poverty and rotten infrastructure: Manuel would have been at home in 2022 Britain. Of course, the UK hasn’t been the beneficiary of huge largesse from Brussels but, nonetheless, it seems undeniable that it’s gone downhill since I left it 21 years or so. Probably just a coincidence . . .

The EU

In 1945 George Orwell reviewed a book by an Anglophile Frenchman  – The English Way  – which Orwell saw as being aimed at the British rather than the French public. It included a plea for Anglo-French co-operation, with the author begging Britain to remember it was part of Europe and that its main interests lay there. Orwell’s 1945 view was that this is an attractive project but one which is less likely a realisation now that it may have seemed when the book was written last year. However, he added, the first step towards it would be a better understanding between Britain and France. Plus ça change.


Some European countries have stopped issuing visas to Russian tourists and others are planning to do so. But not others, including Germany and the UK. A British columnists asks the obvious question: Should The West turn away all Russian tourists, as a visa ban would pile pressure on Putin and protect us from the dangers of Kremlin mischief. The Ukrainian president certainly think so but this is no surprise. The Russians, he says, should live in their own world until they change their philosophy.

The Way of the World  

Only a third of people living in Wales understand Welsh, though this percentage is higher in North Wales, where the city of Rhyl is to be found. This is in the news because one of its car park machines only gives instructions in Welsh, causing chaos and long queues. Reading about it, I wondered if this will happen one day in Galicia. Or Cataluña. Or the Basque Country.

There’s a footballer – Ronaldo – who earns £500,000 a week but is unhappy with his English club and wants to move. Alas, no team anywhere is prepared to take him on at this salary. Except one in Saudi Arabia which “is willing to hand him a 2-year contract worth more than £2 million per week.”


El Kitesurf: Kite-surfing. This is a reversal of the norm under which English nouns have –ing added to them, as with un lifting, el puenting and un spinningEl kitesurf is defined as: Un deporte extremo de deslizamiento sobre el agua en el que el viento propulsa una cometa de tracción (kite, en inglés) unida a tu cuerpo mediante un arnés, para que navegues en una tabla sobre las olas (wave riding) o realices maniobras en el aire que ni el delfín más saltarín (freestyle).

So, Los kiters: Kite-surfers. cf. English: ‘A kiter’: A fraudster; One who writes a cheque/check while there are insufficient funds in the account. Possibly only in the USA.

Saltarín: Jumping, leaping.


In the early centuries of Christianity, the city of Edessa – on the eastern fringes of what was left of the Roman Empire – was famous for having 2 exceptionally precious items:-

1. A letter from Christ to the local king, Abgar, and 

2. A self-portrait of Christ, sent to the king in response to a request from the latter.

I wonder if these are still in existence and, if so, where they now are.

Edessa, by the way, is now the Turkish city of Urfa.

To amuse . . .

For new 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.