31 January 2023

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 España/Galiza

It’s certainly been a cold week, even down South it seems. Unusually cold, it says here.

Talking of the temperature . . . Will we see a better quality pig replacing not just our ‘regular’ pigs here in Galicia but our many dairy cows as well. Not on the coast, of course, but up in the fields of the plateaux. Because of even greater than usual heat down South.

I feel a quasi-obligation to post this sort of article, even though the lily is usually gilded and the English translations are not of the best. In fact, Tarragona is one of the few Spanish cities I’ve yet to visit.

Some readers might like to know that the animal transporter that I thought a few weeks ago might have brought camels for our Reyes cabalagata is, in fact, the mobile home of a young couple and their German Shepherd. Though not at all mobile so far this year.

The UK

You have to laugh . . . King Charles has asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to mediate in the row over the attendance of the Montecito Moaners at his coronation. From Protestantism to placement in 5 centuries: how are the mighty fallen. Thomas Cranmer had to worry about getting burnt at the stake. Five hundred years later, his successor is fretting over whether Meghan is behind a pillar. The Archbishop had a dry run at this at the Queen’s funeral and we all know how that turned out: major moaning about 2nd-row status plus a bafflingly arcane strop over the precise insignia on a uniform sleeve. The peacemaker’s work is all the more difficult this time around because William, after the massive kicking he got in ‘Spare’, understandably despairs of his baby brother ever growing up and doesn’t want him there at all. Charles, bless him, despite Harry telling the world his wife, Camilla, is a dangerous villain, is still doing that classic hand-wringing parent thing of hoping warring siblings will agree to disagree and kiss and make up.


See below an interesting – and very prescient – report from the Daily Telegraph of 100 years ago. If you’ve listened to the podcast I cited the other day, you’ll know that Hitler could have been stopped very easily at several points between 1929 and and 1933. Providing lessons for the future which some believe were ignored in the case of Putin.


Trump 1: He could face criminal charges over his alleged “hush payment” to the porn star Stormy Daniels after prosecutors in New York began presenting evidence to a grand jury investigating the former president. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy . . .

Trump 2: He is to be allowed back on Twitter . . Until now, his online presence has been confined to Truth Social, to which he is contractually obliged to post his thoughts at least 6 hours before he posts them anywhere else. This raises the delightful prospect of Donald Trump being sued by Donald Trump, which I don’t think we can rule out.

Quote of the Day

Electric cars are being marketed as “the green ideal”. You’re encouraged to feel like you’re doing the right thing by helping to save the planet. The trouble is that much of it appears to be marketing guff. Who’d have thought it?

The Way of the World

When John Steinbeck was huddled over his desk, he sometimes found it helpful to imagine that the novel unspooling on the page was addressed to a single person, real or imagined. Modern writers bent on producing the great American novel also have an imaginary reader in their heads – a “sensitivity reader” who vets manuscripts for the cardinal sins of cultural appropriation, arguably offensive characterisations and insufficient deference to purity politics. I guess this might just have some impact on creativity. But what does that matter these days? When, for example ‘Huckleberry Finn’ would never get published. Possibly not even ‘The Grapes of Wrath’. Or ‘Othello’. And Where would ‘Madame Bovary’ be if Flaubert had said ‘I’m a white male. I can’t imagine Madame Bovary’? Progress?


A nice new word for something which some claim doesn’t exist at the level reported by the ‘Remoaner’ elements of the UK media: ‘Bregret’, short for ‘Brexit regret’.


Un nick: An alias

Did you know?

Ice can appear on your car windows even when the nocturnal temperature is above freezing. Because . . . . On a clear and still night, frost forms on exposed surfaces at temperatures up to 2 or 3 degrees because of ‘radiant heat loss’. Although the air temperature can be above freezing, the surface temperature can be below it. Heat transfer doesn’t just happen from an object to the surrounding air; heat can pass radiantly through the atmosphere to outer space. But the sky must be clear, as clouds block out the effect. And breezes can stop the effect, causing a surface to equal the temperature of the surrounding air.

Finally . . .

A good example of crude Spanish humour . . .

For new readers:-

1. 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.

2. Should you want to, the easiest way to to get my post routinely is to sign up for email subscription. As opposed to using a Bookmark or entering the URL in your browser.


“DISQUIETING REPORTS OF BAVARIAN SITUATION,” said the headline on Saturday January 27, 1923. The sub-head read: “FASCIST REVOLT MENACE.”

Germany, the story reported, “is threatened by a complication of the gravest kind.” Following the success of the fascist March on Rome the previous October, “Mussolini’s Teuton counterpart, Adolf Hitler, has decided to … declare ‘war to the knife’” against the Bavarian government.

This news was “of very gloomy omen”: “This Austrian house painter who, during the war, served as a simple soldier in the German army, has in Bavaria a large body of fanatically devoted adherents prepared blindly to do his bidding.” The danger went wider than Bavaria, the reporter added: “It is impossible to say what latent forces might come to the surface in his support in other parts of Germany were he once to attempt the revolution so often threatened by his disciples.”

The writer then explained how the Nazis had recently filled “six of the chief brewery halls, which are the largest places of public assembly in Munich” for angry meetings. He described Hitler’s National Socialists and their paramilitary activities more fully: they were organised in “storm troops”, “whose field-grey uniforms and Austrian kepis are now a familiar feature in the streets of the Bavarian capital”. On their arms, “they wear a brassard in the black, white and red of the old empire, and with the ‘Swastika’, which in this country is the recognised symbol of anti-Semitism”.

Hitler’s aim was to overthrow what he saw as “the traitors of November 1918”, who had forced the German surrender to the Allies. It remained to be seen, the writer concluded, whether the Bavarian government would be “strong enough to suppress this Frankenstein monster”. We all know the sad answer to that question.


  1. Should you ever visit Tarragona, which is well worth a few day’s stay you really must see the devils bridge. The so called bridge which is about a 5 minutes bus journey from the town is actually what remains of a first century roman aqueduct. When we were there thirty or so years ago it was possible to along it.


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