21 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

A couple of years ago a kind friend treated me to a gourmet food tour of Madrid. The last stop was at a place near Plaza Mayor famous for its calamares(squid) sandwich. It was frankly disgusting. I was reminded of the experience yesterday when tackling calamares in a central Madrid tapas bar. As before, these were rings of (ex)frozen squid, the eating of which was akin to chewing on rubber. If you want great calamares, come to Galicia, where they melt like butter on the tongue.

Be warned about the risk of trying to board a plane with a huge pastry in your hands. At least if you’re compelled to flay with Ryanair.

I read a book review which cited the irresistible allure of the village hardware shop, where all things bright and beautiful are sold. I immediately thought of the ferretería on Rúa Real in Pv city, passed every year by more than 130,000 camino pilgrims. But not by one of my Dutch visitors, who sees it as Aladdin’s Cave and has to be dragged out of it, enraptured by the sight of all the little boxes that line the walls of the place.

Here’s The Guardian which the almost unbelievable story of that wine theft down in Cáceres. Carried out by Priscila Lara Guevara, a former beauty pageant contestant from Mexico, and her partner, Constantin Gabriel Dumitru, a Romanian-Dutch man whose eye for fine wines was matched only by his longstanding aversion to paying for them.

The UK

We used to look at the morbidly obese and say: “Only in America,” but Britain is becoming similarly gluttonous. Twenty-eight per cent of Brits are now obese, compared to just one per cent in 1950. Meanwhile, more than 60 per cent are overweight and this figure is expected to rise to a horrifying 80 per cent by 2060.Yet curiously, as the nation has got fatter, the less inclined we have been to face up to our own flab. Britain now has the third-highest obesity rate in Europe, after Malta and Turkey, and yet successive governments have tried and failed to do anything about it despite almost 700 different policies over the past 30 years. At this rate, every single person in the UK will have Type 2 diabetes by the end of the century. Though, long before then, it will be a prisonbable offence to call someone ‘fat’.

The EU

Interesting . . . Under rules designed to foster closer ties between member states, Brussels is to force train drivers to speak English. Sources say that this is set to be selected as the common language, despite misgivings among some EU member states following Brexit. Who’d have thought it?

Quelle surprise . . . The decision is likely to rankle MEPs who called for English to be banished as a language in the wake of the UK’s Brexit referendum.

Quote of The Day

The receptionist at a London hotel asked me to fill in a form with my name and address. I did and then handed the sheet back to her. She said: “Awesome.” I wonder if that word is perhaps being stretched a little beyond its meaning these days.

The Way of the World

According to this columnist: We’ve reached peak woke. Its virtue-signalling champions are being humiliated. The excesses of radical students, ‘victim’ celebrities, and Left-wing companies have become laughable

Let’s hope so but, against that . . . First the world of books was infested by censorious “sensitivity readers”. Now, it seems, the world of comedy could be next.The Cambridge Footlights troupe is offering young comedians a “sensitivity reading” service in order to check that their jokes don’t “punch down” – that is, they don’t make fun of people who are less powerful or privileged than the comedian. In modern progressive circles, “punching down” is considered to be the greatest sin a comic can commit. Good comedy, we’re endlessly informed, punches up, not down. A nice thought. Well-meaning. But total nonsense. In reality, our funniest comedians have always “punched down”. And we’ve enjoyed it. Whether today’s students like it or not, the truth is that comedy audiences love to laugh at characters who are less fortunate than themselves. – Losers. Failures. Social inadequates.  Because it makes us feel better about our own failings and inadequacies.

No one more so than David Brent in The Office.


Ironmonger: The Anglo-Saxon term for a ‘hardware retailer.

Someone is writing a book on the clichés most hated by Brits. These are said to include:-

  • Awesome
  • I’m not gonna lie
  • My bad
  • It is what it is.

Did you know?

Mosquitoes typically bite humans between 10pm and 2am. But . . . Eating certain herbs and spices could stop them biting you. They’re said to be repelled by elevated levels of eucalyptol – found in mugwort, sweet basil, rosemary, sage and cardamom and . . . toothpaste and mouthwash.

Finally . . .

Off to see a Lucien Freud exhibition this morning. Not sure I’ll like it but . . . parental duty.

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.


  1. My experience with mozzies, is that they bite me 24 hours a day. Tiger balm seems alleviates the irritation. It also appears to keep them away if I smother some on my knees feet, elbows wrist and forehead when I go to bed. At worst I het a bum bite.

    Are you back in Pv Colin?
    Is somebody checkng your postbox?

    If you said NO to both questions, might be worth getting it checked. In our house we are 4 “empadronados”. Yesterday we received 32 letters addressed to each individual,. We all got one each from PP, PSOE, Vox, Cuidadanos, BNG, Podemitas, Alternativas de no se que, Independientes de no se que. Aside from feeling sorry for the postie, ours have gone directly in the pile of fire starting materials for when the bilbaina is lit up. On the upside pre-election means we have seen local roads asphalted, pot holes filled in, water leaks too, parks cleaned up, a few trees planted, brush cutters reopening country pathways, and plenty of feelgood promises, that will all be conveniently brushed aside come the end of May.


  2. During the 13 years I lived in Spain, I was bitten only once by a mossie, my wife was bitten 2 or 3 times a week. It may have nothing to do with it, but I love Marmite and eat it every day – my wife hates the stuff and has never eaten it. Coincidence? I don’t think so!


  3. Have to agree about the 2023 fatties. Take a look at this film from 1967. Flower power fluffies.

    Eulogising the British car industry in the year before Heath took us into the common market.

    Awesome: That’s a word that has lost all meaning. The correct definition is: Causing feelings of great admiration, respect, or fear! When meeting these dim cretins with whom, up with one I am supposed to put, my response to “awesome” would be “What is? Have I caused you to have great admiration respect for me?” I could then enjoy watching the subsequent mental fumbling, as an explanation is sought in order to excuse their glib & thoughtless response. Otherwise, they will never learn the existence & use of other adjectives, like these listed below.


    English is so expressive.


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