19 September 2022: Energy madness again: Bull madness again; A filtering challenge; A new use for a veg; A final word or two on Portugal; & 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

The data (here) on electricity prices each day continues to confuse, with yesterday’s allegedly cheap hours being almost 3 times higher than the allegedly expensive hours . . .

Another fatal goring. It looks like it’s going to be a record year for these.

A final comment on that round the world voyage of Magellan and Elcano, who was from the Pais Vasco. . . . Even though Magellan didn’t survive the trip, he’s received more recognition for the expedition than Elcano has, since Magellan was the one who started it, Portugal wanted to recognize a Portuguese explorer, and Spain feared Basque nationalism.  

I do a lot of reading in cafés. A growing problem for me is the increasing number of folk talking in English at the next table. For, believe me, it’s a lot harder to ignore chat in your native language that that in a foreign language. Even one you speak quite well. I guess it’s the aural equivalent of not being able to not read. It’s hard to impossible to filter it out. Creating a temptation to say something, For example to confused ‘pilgrims’.


Needless to say, Alberquerque continued to rampage around the Indian Ocean – and even up and down the Red Sea – until the day he died – practising the intimidatory tactics that had made the Franks so feared along the coast of India’. Just one horrific example: Passing vessels were captured and ransacked for provisions. The unfortunate crews had their hands, noses and ears cut off and were put ashore to announce the terror and majesty of Portugal. The ships were then burned. 

So, what are the final observations on this era of Portuguese expansion of the author of “Conquerors: How Portugal seized the Indian Ocean and forged the First Global Empire”. Well . .  The Portuguese both ruptured a self-sufficient system and joined up the world. They came as harbingers of globalisation and the scientific age of discovery. Their explorers, missionaries, merchants and soldiers fanned far across the world. They were in Nagasaki and Macau, in the uplands of Ethiopia and the mountains of Bhutan. They trudged across the Tibetan plateau and battled upstream the length of the Amazon. As they went, they mapped, they learned languages and they described, with a ‘pen in one hand, a sword in the other’. . . .  Though its supremacy lasted little more than a century, Portugal’s achievement was to create the prototype for new and flexible forms of empire, based on mobile sea power, and the paradigm for European expansion. Where it led the Dutch and the English followed. In the process the Portuguese set rolling endless global interactions, both benign and malign. They brought firearms and bread to Japan and astrolabes and green beans to China, African slaves to the Americas, tea to England, pepper to the New World, Chinese silk and Indian medicines to the whole of Europe, and an elephant to the pope. For the first time peoples from opposite ends of the planet could view one another – subjects for description and wonder.

As for Alberquerque . . . In Belém [Bethlehem] close to both the tomb of Vasco de Gama and a statue of Albuquerque, there is a venerable patisserie and café, the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém. It is perhaps a shrine to the more benign influences of Portugal’s global adventure. People [including me] flock here to eat its speciality, the pastéis de Belém, sweet custard tarts, baked golden brown and sprinkled with cinnamon, accompanied by hits of coffee, black as tar. Cinnamon, sugar, coffee: the tastes of the world first landed here in sailing ships.

We have a Portuguese café in Pv city selling these. Which now come in a variety of flavours. So, I at least, am a tad grateful to the appalling Portuguese pioneers.

But I’ve never smoked the tobacco the Spanish brought back from South America. Others might be grateful for this. Until . . . .

The UK  

Britain’s energy crisis seems to be worse than most (all) others and is: A national political humiliation – a direct result of a generation of cross-party policy failures and contradictions which have conspired to deliver a perfect storm of  perfect storm of high electricity prices, tight supplies and insufficient power.

The Way of the World

There is a British woman – known as “Mystic Veg” – who claims, almost certainly accurately, that she is the world’s only asparamancer. She makes predictions based on how asparagus spears land after she’s chucked them into the air. She claims to have predicted both Brexit and the death of Queen Elizabeth. Frighteningly, she now says Boris Johnson will return as PM. I think she should be shot.   


New verb: ‘To glom’. Informal. North American’.

1.To  steal.

2.To become stuck or attached to.

Finally   . . . . 

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.