20 April 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

Hard to believe but Spain`s football royalty are arguing about which of them had Franco as a supporter. But not as a good thing, of course. Rather as a mark of disgrace.

Less hard to believe is the suggestion that the disgraced ex-king had the title ‘Emeritus’ bestowed on him by . . . himself. Right now he’s back in Spain, just down the road in Sanxenxo[Sanshensho] for a spot of sailing and fine dining. Not everyone is happy about this, least of all his own son, the current king, who’s disowned him.

Bullfighting. Sometimes done with dwarves as the matadors, for amusement. Of the audience, not of the bulls or the matadors. And usually for stag or hen nights. But maybe not for much longer. For legislation is coming that’s based on a EU directive prohibiting shows involving the humiliation of people with a disability. 

Freeing up ‘bad bank’ houses to ease the housing crisis sounds like something that should have been done years ago but there are several negatives about it, it seems. One of them is that the houses are in the wrong place. Then there’s the fact that, in reality, they are few and far between. Only 42 in the whole of Galicia, for example. More on this here.

It’s a shame to get stuck in a Rioja rut, says this columnist, only ever drinking this Spanish red wine. Galicia’s Mencia grape gets a blessing – as a somewhat lighter red which is of a chillable and red berryish, low-tannin, low-or no-oak style. Simply put . . . It’s nice and fruity,

The EU

The EU’s proposed new digital regime for travellers entering the Schengen zone (which comprises most European countries) has been delayed again. Originally due to come into force in 2022, the introduction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) has been pushed back several times. Until recently it was expected to be implemented towards the end of this year. But now it seems there has been a further delay until 2024. And there is speculation that it won’t be in place until after the Paris Olympics, which end on August 11, next year.

(A)GW/The Way of the World

Officials responsible for a South Wales park say it’s being renamed the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park because its existing name of The Brecon Beacons is unacceptable, as the symbol of a carbon-emitting beacon goes against its efforts to fight climate change. Critical comment on this madness here

Dressing up a power/money-grab as furtherance of a worthwhile cause – eg Net Zero – has a long history, of course. It’s said that the Crusades, for example, had a lot more to do with land and money than with religion.


A very small sample suggests this difference in local pronunciation of a final D:-

  • Madrid: Madreeth
  • Covid: Cobeed

Perhaps because the stress with Covid doesn’t follow the rule but falls on the first syllable, whereas with Madrid it’s on the 2nd syllable.

The Cuban waitress in my watering hole says assooka, not athooca for azucar. And serbessa, not therbetha for cerveza. I wonder if this is because Cuba was colonised at a time when no one in Spain had, allegedly, begun to emulate a lisping king. In the same way as all ex-British colonies use the short A, not the long one of the London affectation of the 17th or 18th century. Barth for bath, for example.


  • ‘Speciesism’: Prejudice towards the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of other species . . . Claiming that humankind enjoys a higher moral status than other beings.This used to be known as ‘Humanism’ – the celebration and centering of human consciousness and experience.
  • ‘Greedflation’: Taking advantage of inflation to price-gouge. See here on this.

Finally . . .

My neighbour’s box-shrub fence is infested with caterpillars of the ‘very clever’ Box Moth, giving us both hours of fun, picking both these and their cocoons off the branches. Until he gets what’s recommended here.

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.

Finally, Finally . . . Another Flashback. 7-9 October 2015

Cosas de España/Galiza

Fed up of being assaulted by the people they fail, the country’s driving inspectors have gone on strike. Given Spain’s low levels of violence, this is a tad surprising. Unless the problem is confined to certain parts of Andalucia. Where people do occasionally shoot each other.

Around 2000, John Hooper asked if the Spanish, in the age of the internet would give up their preference for doing things face to face. I have to say that’s not my impression. Others may differ, of course, but I still seem to need more time than I should in solving problems.

President Rajoy has admitted he hasn’t done enough to counter corruption. He also agreed the Pope is a Catholic and that bears defecate in the woods. HT to Private Eye.

There are said by some in Spain to be two Spanish nationalities: 1. Spanish, and 2. Anti-Spanish.

Spain is blessed with several superb medieval cities but Segovia is possibly one of the ‘superb-est’. But there are one or two rules to observe when first visiting it:-

  • Get a street map before you go.
  • Place no reliance whatsoever on your satnav/GPS. They can’t cope with the city’s one-way system. Nor with its practice of bollarding-off of its streets.
  • Go in the cooler months of spring and autumn and try to avoid ‘bridge’ weekends, when Spanish tourists take up most of the hotel rooms.
  • Remember that, as elsewhere in Spain, the Turismo office maintains neither Spanish nor normal hours and closes at 6. Or, rather, 5.45 – to allow the employees to leave by 6.

As a result of satnav problems, we took at least 30 minutes to get out of the city last night and 45 to get into it today from our hotel 8km outside it. And this included a long stretch through what may well have been a pedestrian area down to the aqueduct. Which didn’t do much for my popularity.

A sign inside the bus station: TOILETS: We are reforming the bus station. Please, you should surround the building and enter through the front door to access these.


You’ll be familiar with food trucks from which you can buy various fare. In Madrid, I’m told, these are increasingly common, in a trend known as ‘Madreat’. Geddit?


I wonder how many people, looking at its ambitions for regional hegemony, realise just how large its empire was before Alexander the Great destroyed it.


Having noticed papers suddenly piling up on my desk, I decided to check why. They were primarily bank chits for the last 5 months, reflecting the absence of statements for that period – since Banco Pastor took over my (Citi)bank. Checking with the lovely Ariana, I learned this wasn’t because they now only issue internet statements but because they hadn’t got their act together yet. Impressive, eh? No communications on this, of course.


  1. “I wonder if this is because Cuba was colonised at a time when no one in Spain had, allegedly, begun to emulate a lisping king. ”

    I believe- the answer is no. Latinamericans adopted southern Spanish accent because they had to go through exit ports at Seville and Cadiz, with a stop over in the Canaries. Cuban accent and Canary Island accent are very similar. But I guess you knew that.

    “I wonder how many people, looking at its ambitions for regional hegemony, realise just how large its empire was before Alexander the Great destroyed it.”

    The Sassanid empire 600 years after Alexander was probably even larger. As was that of the Safavids 1800 years later. But I guess you knew that as well. Beautiful country Iran, or was last time I visited in 2017.


  2. Hola Colin,

    Regarding your observations of Spanish pronunciation and the purported
    lisp in Spain — you may find this interesting:
    ” Where Did Spaniards Get Their ‘Lisp’ From? First of all, there was and
    is no lisp

    My Spanish teachers have been from Madrid, Barcelona, and Peru.  I much
    prefer the ceceo of Spain — for the sound and, especially, because it
    makes it easier to understand and correctly spell words that are out of
    context.  For example, abrazar and abrasar are pronounced the same in
    Mexico and, without context, you wouldn’t know whether what is going on
    is cooking or hugging.  And, you wouldn’t know how to spell the word
    being said.  In Spain, there is no ambiguity regarding what is meant or
    how to spell each of these words.  Other examples:  zeta / seta, azar /
    asar, bazar / vasar, caza / casa, cien / sien, ciento / siento, cocer /
    coser.  Maybe it would be different for a native Spanish speaker of any
    region, but, for me this makes it easier to think in the Spanish of Spain.

    If you go to Latin America, be ready to be kindly corrected in how to
    speak Spanish properly — without a “lisp” 😉




  3. Many thanks for that, Aleksandras.

    I read a couple of other articles on this and ended up even more confused . . Not only is there seseo and ceceo but something in between, the label of which I’ve already forgotten . .

    One reader suggested all emigrants picked up the seseo en route Westwards in the Canarias . .




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