8 May 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

I’ve often wondered who’s driving the occasional large black car that passes me on the A52 en route to or from Madrid travelling at very great speed and without regard for the speed cameras there. I now realise one such driver could have been the president of the Ourense region, José Manuel Baltar, who was clocked doing 215kph there a week or so ago. José is, I think, the son of a previous powerful – and very corrupt – president but he might not be able to get away with what could be more than just a civil offence.

Talking of roads . . . I recall that, when I first came here, and remarked on the wonderful intercity road network, the response from a cynical Spanish friend was that I’d not be so impressed once the roads needed maintenance. Truth to tell, this prediciton hasn’t been borne out. The network is now more wonderful than ever.

As is the train network. And the metro system in Madrid. It struck me today that no one born after after I first came to Spain in 1971 would have much experience – or even knowledge – of Spain as it was back then. Which makes it understandable that they would laugh at British sytems that aren’t even a bit new. I imagine that things in Poland, say, are much the same.

Well, The Times fashion correspondent agrees with me – and doubtless many others: The prize on Saturday went to Queen Letizia of Spain. In Spanish, la palma, I guess. [The RAE: Gloria, triunfo.]


Back in 1970s Britain, Portuguese Mateus Rosé was very popular, and not only because you could turn the flask-shaped bottle into the base for a table lamp. I was reminded of this when reading about another North Portuguese wine which is very fashionable in ‘middle-England’ right now.

The UK

That Coronation Concert . . . There was quite a stage for it in the grounds of Windsor Castle last night, and the backdrop was even more impressive. Lionel Ritchie seems to have gone down well. As did gold-clad Katy Perry. One commentator wrote: The incredible setting and staging could have put U2 and Pink Floyd to shame. It was science fiction with a fantasy feudal twist, spectacular back projections on the castle walls creating mind-bending vistas beneath the darkening sky.

The last word on the coronation, from the estimable Caitlin Moran: How was it for you?


I’m confused. There seems to be a cost-of-living crisis in Germany, being taken advantage of by a far-right group. I thought crises in Europe were confined to the UK and were caused by Brexit.


The next European superpower?

Quote of The Day

A Twitter comment on the coronation: Seems kind of weird the Queen’s not here. She usually turns up to stuff like this.

Did you know?

When I complained about Google Maps, My daughter told me a Madrid taxi driver had cited this alternative, suggesting it was superior for the spider’s web of Madrid’s outer motorways and their tributaries. I’m giving it a try.

Finally . . .

In case you missed it, a nice prelude to Liverpool’s week . . .

I seriously doubt that this is an accurate statement . . .

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.


  1. Haven’t tried Waze, must give it a go.
    Been trying Movitt, it’s good.
    Google maps is alright, unless you start going down dark barely visible country lanes.

    Polish super-power! Not sure they would get there, but after the UK, Poland is the only other European country that has stepped up with the situation in Ukraine, much to Germanys embarrassment (I hope).


  2. I visited Poland in 1990, and then a few times between 2008 and 2017. I certainly noticed the change. But classic Telegraph, the article does not mention the EU even once. Much of Poland’s success is atributable to its EU membership. As is that of Ireland, now twice as rich per head as the UK. But of course Brexit is best forgotten, least we hurt the feelings of those who voted for it.


  3. Indeed. And the biggest beneficiary of EU funds, taking over from Spain. Hardly surprising that they love the EU more than the UK ever did. As with France and the CAP.


  4. Mateus was also popular in the 80’s US. I remember the song they used for the commercials, Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce. I will forever associate that song with that wine.

    Parts of Galicia only entered the modern age of roads in the past thirty years. I remember driving to the Costa da Morte shortly after getting married, in the mid 90’s, along roads that barely took two cars, potholed within an inch of their life. Now, you’ve got veritable highways in the area.


    • Just played Time a Bottle. Remember it but not very well. Seems to be from the early 70s. tho’ the ad was in the 80s. Good choice for a wine ad . . .

      My 2nd wife – British but had been married to a Gallego – brought me to Galicia and, in 1999, thought all the Galician the roads were still like that. She’d left Galicia before the construction of the A3 in Portugal and the AP9 in Galicia and had no idea they existed. So we stayed the night near Oporto airport and drove up the coast road to Caminha, then La Guardia and through Vigo city. Absolutely unnecessary! Could have got to Pv within an hour and a half! Not 3-4 hours.


  5. Buen día Colin,

    Regarding Waze — if you have privacy concerns, review all of the
    permissions that are required for this app.

    Hasta la próxima,



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