Monday, 21 December 2015

The weather; Galician Nationalism; & The AVE.

TODAY: As I write, it looks like another lovely day is dawning. And I'll be again forced to wear my summer jacket that's fraying at the sleeve ends. No doubt some will attribute the high temperatures to AGM but I recall a warm(15C) Xmas day in the UK about 17 years ago.

GALICIAN NATIONALISM: I thought the other day that the BNG got around 15% of the vote and 5 Galician parliament seats last time round. This time, this share fell to a good deal less. Though I should say that a new party – Nós – did rather better and this may comprise people and groups who've since abandoned the BNG. I've no idea what this says about Galician nationalism. Other than it appears to have splintered. No doubt someone will write and tell me. But, if the insults continue, I will promptly terminate this blog, which I only really write as a favour to a good Galician friend. He, at least, approaches this issue with good humour. Unlike some of his compatriots.

THE AVE HIGH SPEED TRAIN: The stretch between Olmedo and Zamora has now been complete. It's reported – just before the elections of last Sunday. But the public won't be able to avail itself of it until earlier next year. Are we now on track for the completion of the Madrid-Galicia in 2018(?)? Or will the works now be suspended by the cost-conscious new government?

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other - less locally focused - blog – Thoughts from Galicia. Which majors on the elections today.

For the Pontevedra English Speaking Society, contact Dylan on 607 803 151 or 986 861 070. Calle Echegaray 16 3D.

Languages; Dogs; The Elections; & The Weather here.

LANGUAGES: There are readers who send me comments in Gallego/Galego. I don't understand them – or at least not fully – which makes it all a bit ironic. Especially as some of them, I suspect, are criticisms or even insults. I wonder what goes through their minds. Apart from annoyance at some (perceived) view of mine.

DOGS: My experience with feeding those which have been abandoned in our nearby woods and formed themselves into packs is that saffron rice is not something they're prepared to eat. Even if they're half-starved. Of course, I would't even bother to try to get a cat to eat it.

THE ELECTIONS: THE DAY AFTER: So, no one won. Everyone lost. Fascinating. The final end of Francoism and a 'centre-right' party with far-right elements?? The resignations of the leaders of both the PP and the PSOE parties?? Vamos a ver.

GALICIAN WEATHER: Today is the winter equinox, I think. Despite that, I will once again be wearing my linen summer jacket. The one that is now fraying at the sleeve ends because of unexpected over-use. I'm not betting on a white Xmas..

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other - less locally focused - blog – Thoughtsfrom Galicia

For the Pontevedra English Speaking Society, contact Dylan on 607 803 151 or 986 861 070. Calle Echegaray 16 3D.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Rajoy's retribution; Rajoy's nice insult; & .Galician weather

RAJOY: The Spanish president was clouted by a fine left hook last night in Pontevedra and the city today hung its head in shame. Not that you'd notice. The perpetrator was described variously as a schizophrenic and a 'troubled young man' who'd been moved from private school to private school because of his capacity to cause trouble. And he turned out to be a relative of Mrs Rajoy. What a nice irony.

INSULTS: During the 'debate' on Monday night, one of the these chucked at his opponent by said Sr. Rajoy was ruin. This was new to me and I was amused to see the following English equivalents: 1. mean, cheap, cruel, contemptible, shallow, heartless, callous, stingy, vicious, small, sneaky, a louse; and – best of all – a dastardly villain. So, this little word packs quite a punch.

GALICIAN WEATHER: Thanks to our Indian summer – un veranillo de San Martín - I'm still wearing a linen summer jacket that I planned to throw away months ago. This can't go on, surely. It's beginning to look rather threadbare. And it's not enough when the sun disappears behind a cloud or a building. I'll be relieved when winter finally arrives.

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other - less locally focused - blog – Thoughtsfrom Galicia. 

For the Pontevedra English Speaking Society, contact Dylan on 607 803 151 or 986 861 070. Calle Echegaray 16 3D.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Film festival; Local Corruption; & The final elections debate.

LOCAL FILM FESTIVAL: Asking about something at the town's Turismo in Veggie Square the other day, I noticed there was a 3-day festival in progress. But everything was in Gallego/Galego, presumably because the event was getting local funding. I can read the language pretty well, but am not good verbally or aurally. So, saddened, I gave it a miss. I suspect we'll never see the attendee numbers.

LOCAL CORRUPTION: I've touched on this in respect of accusations made against the mayor and the town hall. But now, thanks to my friend Trevor The Singing Organ Player, we have news of court actions being taken against the Chamber of Commerce. Where will it stop? Though they're all still innocent so far, of course.

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other - less locally focused - blog – Thoughtsfrom Galicia

For the Pontevedra English Speaking Society, contact Dylan on 607 803 151 or 986 861 070. Calle Echegaray 16 3D.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Languages; New FB friends; Elections; & A Challenge.

SPANISH: If you check the dictionary options for Spanish in Open Office (and, I assume, Word) there are at least 16 for English. But Spanish is even more profligate, with at least 20. French, though, is pretty pathetic at only 5. Even German has 6. A reflection of a centrally managed state, perhaps.

NEW FACEBOOK FRIENDS: I've now sent requests to about 15 barely-dressed young women who have Liked this blog. And most of them have accepted me. Strangely, though, all of them seem to know each other and to read the same things, all related to Os Porcos Bravos and the AngloGalician Cup Facebook page. Quite a coincidence. I should just add that one or two of them appear to have no connection to either Galiza or to the AGC folk. Or to know me from a hole in the ground. However, they've still accepted my request. Must be my charm.

ELECTION PROMISES: Before the last general elections in 2011, the PP party promised they wouldn't raise taxes if they got in.Which they did. And then raised taxes by €17billion. This time round, they're promising something even better; they're going to reduce everyone's taxes. I'm guessing this will turn out to be twice as reliable as last time.

FINALLY . . . AN INSUPERABLE CHALLENGE: I went to the Turismo in Veggie Square yesterday to get some Camino brochures. They said they didn't have these as one of the other 3 or 4 tourists places in town had them. They represented the municipality of Pontevedra – not the Rías Baixas area, the Pontevedra province or the Galiza region. But they couldn't tell me which one did. 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Galician Politics; Castellano; & The AVE.

GALICIAN POLITICS: El País says there are grietas en el viejo feudo of the PP party here in Galiza. And that this threatens the presidential ambitions of our very own President Feijoo. It would be nice if one of my Galego readers could expand on this, in whatever language.

CASTELLANO: The normal word for 'death' is muerte. But yesterday I came across defunción(es). I guess it's more polite or formal, as it was accompanied by nacimientos, or 'births'.

THE AVE HIGH SPEED TRAIN: Brussels has criticised Madrid for its handling of this vast investment. Here in Galiza we're being told it will arrive 'shortly' but my guess is still 2018 at the earliest. Or ten years late. That said, there's clearly consideration being given to the option of 'suspending' current works and bricking up the tunnels, as down in Murcia. Otherwise, why would it be reported that it would be more expensive to do this than to complete the extension of the existing line from Castilla y León?

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other - less locally focused - blog – Thoughts from Galicia. 

For the Pontevedra English Speaking Society, contact Dylan on 607 803 151 or 986 861 070. Calle Echegaray 16 3D.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Sp. Service; Local corruption; & Pensions;

SPANISH SERVICE: It's a global truism that the best thing about Spain is the Spaniards. Seeing how friendly they are, it's sometimes impossible to imagine there could ever have been a civil war here. In fact, it would be hard to imagine them even arguing with anyone, if it wasn't for the fact they're always arguing with each other. Especially on the TV. But, anyway, one wonderful aspect of this is how personal the service can be in places were you go regularly. So it is that the guy in the shop where I take my sewing challenges (la costurera) treats me as a long lost friend, greeting me as 'David'. Because I use this instead of 'Colin', for at least 2 reasons. Yesterday, I noted he'd given me a receipt with both my forename and surname on it – 'David David'. Which was nice. But it could have been 'David Son of David', following my explanation to him last time of what Davies(Welsh), O'David(Irish) and MacDavid(Scottish) all mean.

LOCAL CORRUPTION: In my Thoughts from Galicia blog today, I quote Baltasar Garzón on municipal corruption. What I don't say there is that he cites these as the town halls which refuse to provide details of their expenditure: Algeciras, Badalona, Benidorm, Cáceres, Córdoba, Elche, Guadalajara, Huelva, Jaén, Las Rozas, Leganés and PONTEVEDRA. One wonders why. But I did see the police carting away boxes of documents from our Ayuntamiento a few weeks ago.

PENSIONS: Can anyone tell me how come the average pension in As Pontes is €1200 per month but is only €580 in Quintela de Larado? Are these things decided at the very local level? And do they depend on the very local economy or the state of the very local finances? Is there no national norm or minimum?

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other - less locally focused - blog – Thoughts from Galicia. 

For the Pontevedra English Speaking Society, contact Dylan on 607 803 151 or 986 861 070. Calle Echegaray 16 3D.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Water bills; Portugal eating; & Local Thieves?

WATER USE: A couple of years ago, I received a bill of more than €600, after a leak from a garden pipe I hadn't detected for months. Since the insurance company wouldn't pay out, I resolved to compensate myself by lowering my bills. As there's no shortage of rain-water during much of the year here, the principal way I've done this is by using both this and the ample hot water run-off to flush all the toilets and by keeping the showers short. And this has paid off. My bills are very much lower and I reckon I'll have paid back the €600 in a couple more years. Of course, the bills aren't as low as they'd be in, say, the UK because the fixed costs are so high. But that's life in monopoly-supplier Spain.

EATING IN PORTUGAL: I mentioned my favourite restaurant yesterday. A word of advice - Starve yourself for several hours before eating in Portugal. You usually get enough potatoes/chips for 2 people. PLUS a helping of rice. 'Carbohydrate overload', as someone once called it.

LOCAL THIEVES?: The police are reported to have broken up a gang which was both robbing people and burglarising houses. And making enough money to stay in 4 and 5 star hotels as they moved round the country. They're described as 'Albanikosovans'. A new word to me.

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other - less locally focused - blog – Thoughts from Galicia

For the Pontevedra English Speaking Society, contact Dylan on 607 803 151 or 986 861 070. Calle Echegaray 16 3D.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Pubs; Eating in Portugal; Wild boar; & Our flea market.

RUNNING A PUB: My grandparents managed a huge pub – The Wellington – at the Birkenhead entrance to the Mersey Tunnel, not far from the (Everton) pub near Hamilton Square favoured by Os Porcos Bravos. My mother once told me that his main preoccupation was finding out just how the staff – in a cash business – were cheating him. I imagine that things are much the same now.

PORTUGUESE RESTAURANT: For those of you living in Galiza, I recommend the Cristina restaurant in Valença. It's almost the first place you see as you come off the A9 and enter the town.They offer jabali, cabrito and cordero. Sometimes all 3.

JABALIS: As you'll all know, these are wild boars and they regularly cause car crashes here in Galiza. Earlier this week, 3 cars were written off in the latest of these. The jabali died. I wonder who ate him. I wish I had.

THE PONTEVEDRA FLEA MARKET: This has moved from Veggie Square to the street by the market. The blanket-sellers are now illegal, as is the selling of clothes and shoes. This didn't stop some gypsies/Romanians/Romanian gypsies causing trouble last Sunday by taking the pitches of licensed traders. So the police had to evict them. Sorry I missed it.

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other blog – Thoughts from Galicia.

For the Pontevedra English Speaking Society, contact Dylan on 607 803 151or 986 861 070. Calle Echegaray 16 3D.

Monday, 7 December 2015

A NEW GRAPE: The owner of my regular bar has introduced me to the caiño grape, from which a red wine is produced in my neighbouring barrio of Barro, under the Moraima label. Excellent. Try and get hold of a bottle and check it out.

THE DECEMBER 20 (20D) ELECTIONS: It's reported that 42% of voters are still undecided, with only 12 days to go. All to play for, then. Amusing to see a PP poster saying simply that they will reduce taxes for everyone, if re-elected. Except for those for whom they won't, of course.

OUR LOVELY LIBRARY: Pontevedra's library is spread over 3 floors - Kids, Lending and Reference. I love it for this reason but mostly because it's just like libraries were when, as a kid, I used to visit my step-grandfather in the one he worked in – quiet. Well, not just quiet but silent. The only noise ever heard is the staff whispering to borrowers. I'm not suggesting that libraries are the only places in Spain where the noise level is not a problem for foreigners but they might well be. Incidentally, our library is open until 2am during exam times.

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other blog – Thoughts from Galicia. Which this morning is dedicated to bullfighting.

For the Pontevedra English Speaking Society, contact Dylan on 607 803 151 or 986 861 070. Calle Echegaray, 16 3D.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Xmas protest; Construction; Our weather; And a golden oldie

XMAS PROTEST: Pontevedra's shopkeepers are up in arms against the city council because the Christmas lights haven't been put up yet. This can only be because these increase the foot traffic and, so, sales revenue. But I'm not sure why. Do people really go out to see the garish decorations? Or is it that they put shoppers in a happier, buy-more mood? I can only say for sure that they don't work on me.

CONSTRUCTION: The Faro de Vigo yesterday reported that building work is down 98% on 5 years ago. I'm tempted to say it's 200% down on 2007, when I could only see builders' cranes from my window on the city.

GLOBAL WARMING?: I'm still wearing my summer linen jacket and lunching outside at midday in my shirt sleeves. It's been like this for weeks now, giving me the feeling we've moved to Andalucia. Long may it continue. I will save on umbrellas.

PONTEVEDRA: A GOLDEN OLDIE: From 2004: After a visit to my bank today, I now know what tipped me into an overdraft. It was a bill from my local council for refuse services. As with the gas bill, this is normally sent to me in January or even February, a full 6 or 7 months after the provision of the service. So, simultaneously both the gas company and the local council have sharpened up their act. This is a bit of a shock to the system. Much more of this rampant efficiency and I will have to reconsider my decision to retire to Spain. I mean, I could get this sort of treatment anywhere.

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other blog – Thoughts from Galicia. Which I've just posted.

For the Pontevedra English Speaking Society, contact Dylan on 607 803 151or 986 861 070. Calle Echegaray 16 3D.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

A Spanish Challenge; Pontevedra 2005; Facebook Friends; & The ESS of Pontevedra

A SPANISH CHALLENGE: Spanish is phonetic. So say the very least, English isn't. Especially when it comes to the modern pronunciation of old surnames and towns. Cockburn (Cóbern), Gloucester(Gloster) and, Edinburgh(Edinbura), for example. These are all mysteries to Spanish speakers. I have to confess to great amusement when my friend, Fran, told me of the utter consternation of those watching a rugby match between Leicester(Lester) and Leinster(Linster) on the TV in a local bar. They had no idea who the commentators were talking about.

PONTEVEDRA: GOLDEN OLDIES: Here's a few more things I noted 10 years ago about Galicia:
  • The banner headline of one of yesterday’s local papers was that the Asian tsunami had hardly affected the coast of Galicia. With Africa in between, this shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise to its readers. I don’t suppose it did much damage to New York or Greenland either.
  • No sooner do I stress that violence is not a feature of booze drinking in Spain when the riot squad is called out in Pontevedra to sort out warring gangs. The perils of being a topical commentator.
  • Galicia’s economy has grown to the point where it now exceeds the cut off point for EU grants to poor regions. This threatens funds for 2007 onwards. Local politicians have said it won’t be ‘fair’ for Galicia to lose out this way. Whereas it was, one supposes, perfectly fair to receive someone else’s cash for 30 years or so.
  • Iberia are complaining about the assistance being given by the Galician government to the likes of Ryanair and Easyjet. Like the local politicians with the loss of EU funds, they are whingeing about the unfairness of it all. Since Iberia’s strategy todate has made it more expensive for Galicians to fly to Madrid than to Hamburg or even New York, there’s not a lot of local sympathy for them. Especially as the low-cost operators will now do vastly more for the local economy than Iberia has ever done. Meanwhile, the state airline has threatened to retaliate by cancelling its one [expensive] daily flight between London and Santiago. This strikes me as being as futile a gesture as my moving my shopping from a churlish checkout girl this morning.
FACEBOOK FRIENDS: I've now sent requests to about 20 women claiming to live in various odd places around the world but who all seem to have an extraordinary interest in Os Porcos Bravos and a willingness to be photographed in various stages of undress. Strangest of all, they all seem to know each other. However, I fear my campaign has been twigged by the real people behind the phoney profiles, as acceptances have dwindled to nothing.

THE PONTEVEDRA ENGLISH SPEAKING SOCIETY: If my citation of this has led to an interest in joining, here's the contact details:- Dylan 607 803 151 or 986 861 070. It's located in Calle Echegaray, 16 3D.

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other blog – Thoughts from Galicia. Which I now have to write.

Friday, 4 December 2015

SPAM EMAILS: One I got this morning - from a Mrs Carleen Cardiack - calls me My sweety bear. How nice. But I'm still not going to send her any cash.

A FUNNY NIGHT: We had a pasta meal at the Pontevedra English Speaking Society dinner last night. As ever, I added lots of cayenne pepper. And, as ever, the result was a series of vivid dreams, some of them ruder than others.

FACEBOOK FRIENDS: I've now sent requests to all the pretty women who've liked my earlier posts here. I'm not convinced they're the ladies they say they are - especially the one with a Galician name living in Saigon - but, hey, I've got nothing to lose. I wonder how they choose their false fotos. And whether their owners know their pix are being 'borrowed'.

PONTEVEDRA - A GOLDEN OLDIE: Remember the phony bum? From 2005: House prices rose by an average 14% in 2004, though with major differences between cities and regions. For some reason – too much bloody building going on? – the 4% increase in Pontevedra was one of the lowest in the country. Needless to say, the Pontevedra town council has claimed it's their enlightened policies which have kept the rate of property increases to amongst the lowest in Spain. Hmm.

FINALLY: Don't overlook my other blog - Thoughts from Galicia. Which I now have to write.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

HEINEKEN BEER: Here's a video likely to appeal to most of the readers of this blog:

PONTEVEDRA PROBLEMS: This beautiful city in Galiza is where I live. Here are some of the challenges I have to face on a daily basis:-
  • Too many pretty women
  • Too many tactile women
  • Too many tapas bars, complicating choice
  • Ditto wines
  • Low prices that encourage you to eat and drink too much
  • Too many foreigners - especially Brits - now coming here in summer.

READERS OF THIS BLOG: It's a strange thing that most of the people who liked my first post yesterday were pretty women, several of them barely dressed. Can this be true or are some of the Porcos Bravos using phony fotos?

FINALLY: Don't forget that I have another blog - Thoughts from Galicia. Which I now have to write. Click here for this.

Well, it's to be Fran's dream cup final - Everton v Liverpool. With him and me on opposite sides. I look forward to much support from Os Porcos Bravos!

Do you know the blues song - St. James' Infirmary Blues? Well . .  A friend tells me that it's thought by some to be based on St James Hospital in Tollemache Road, Birkenhead. Less than a hop, skip and jump from where I was born in Devonshire Place. It's also said to have originated in an old (and explicit) English maritime song called The Unfortunate Rake. There's an a capella version of it here. Allegedly, the song also evolved into The Streets of Laredo. In fact, there are numerous derivatives and you can hear them all here. Including an anti-war anthem called The Green Fields of France. You could spend an entertaining hour or more there, deciding on your favourite version of the blues song. For me, it's Clapton and Dr John. Or maybe Hugh Laurie. Or possibly the version by the wonderfully named Fess Williams and His Royal Flush Orchestra. Or maybe that of George E. Lee's Novelty Singing Orchestra. Oh, I dunno. Pay your money and take your choice. Ain't the internet a truly wonderful thing?