It’s a subject that one would prefer to shy away from, but the Old King, Juan Carlos I of España, was briefly in his erstwhile kingdom over the past weekend. He had flown in to Vigo airport in a horribly expensive chartered jet. It was his first visit to Spain in 21 months.
He was generally given a rapturous welcome (the local daily gave him the first nine pages), and certainly so by the good folk of Sanxenxo (Pontevedra) where he went to the Club Náutico to join the regatta for the weekend. One fondly imagines that he ate mountains of caviar and drank the best champagne, but no one seems to think that such behaviour, far removed from the experience of most of his ex-subjects, was in any way inappropriate for the occasion.
And, after all, he had been in exile in Abu Dhabi for a couple of years, no doubt quietly drinking tea, weeding his garden and reading favoured bits from The Old Testament.
The journalists finally caught up with the Emeritus, and as he was setting off to Madrid on Sunday one of them thrust a microphone under the Royal nose and asked Juan Carlos what explanations he would be giving to his son. ‘About what?’ said the ex-king, as he wound up the window with a laugh.
On Monday, attention moved to the Royal Palace for what must have been a slightly frosty interview with his son – the first time they had been together in two years – followed by a luncheon (his wife Queen Sofía, just back from Miami, has tested positive for Covid and regretfully missed the meal, while Queen Letitia also decided against joining the family reunion) and then a trip to the airport with one small overnight bag (just kidding).
No press release has been issued about what went on behind the closed palace doors.
How the brief visit played with the population is down to which news-source one prefers – with everything from a clutch of flag-waving Spaniards outside the Royal Palace shouting ‘¡Viva el rey!’ on the one hand; to Alberto Garzón, the truculent leader of the Izquierda Unida, telling jounalists that ‘everyone in Spain knows he’s a crook’.
The New York Times is quoted in the Spanish media as making the point that Juan Carlos’ actions are certainly complicating the reign of Felipe VI.
Then there’s the suggestion that the Emeritus will soon be returning to Spain for another refreshing dalliance.
But, let us leave the last word with El Gran Wyoming, who has written a song to celebrate the fleeting Royal Visit.
‘British buyers snap up 20,000 homes in Spain in three months. In the Balearics 35 percent of sales are to non-Spaniards’. Headline from the Majorca Daily Bulletin here. The article begins: ‘British property buyers went on to a major buying spree in Spain during the first three months of this year, snapping up almost 20,000 homes, according to figures released last week…’ Spanish Property Insight has a similar title: ‘Foreign demand starts 2022 with strong growth’. The article brings some interesting charts of the different nationalities and ends with the remark that: ‘Whichever figures you look at, the story is the same – foreign investors are piling into Spanish property like they haven’t done since the real estate bubble year of 2007’.
From iNews here (paywall removed), we read the opposite. ‘Brexit barriers leave British communities in Spain fading away as expats put off by huge visa costs’. The article – which claims 407,000 Brits as living in Spain – says that, with some post-Brexit issues to deal with, ‘British expats find themselves grappling with a new, and in most cases, unwelcome new world’.
Helicopters are just one of the aids used by the catastro people to find our spare buildings, swimming pools and sheds. From El Confidencial here: ‘Hacienda has detected in the Region of Madrid more than 11,500 undeclared pools in its latest analysis’. It also recorded 100,000 new constructions, extensions and other buildings in the region. Even glassing in one’s terrace is a change in the structure of a dwelling, and must, of course, be reported. Understandably, it rarely is. The changes in the size of one’s built area naturally leads to increases in the annual property tax, the IBI.
Idealista News has a peculiar idea: ‘If you are tired of your home and are thinking of moving, you would be forgiven for thinking that the only option is selling your house in order to buy or rent another one. However, there's another option! House swaps are on the rise in Spain, meaning you can get your hands on another property, in most cases without any money even changing hands…’ They even list some homes where the owners want to trade away from (one can’t help but guess that there must be a hidden problem…).
Idealista is a go-to site for buying/selling property. We typed in ‘cheap home in Andalucía’, and found several houses at six thousand euros or less…).
There hasn’t been a great resignation of jobs, just a refusal to work for peanuts, says eldiario.es here, which claims that there are around 109,000 jobs out there that no one wants. El Mundo says that The Ministry of Labour recommends that businesses should pay their staff more if they don’t want to lose those who work long hours – like waiters and bar-staff. Directo al Paladar explains the issue here: from the bar and restaurant-owners: we wish we could pay more. From the staff: huh, they need slaves, not staff. An owner says on a TV show, quoted at 20Minutos – ‘In this business, a half day work means twelve hours’.
The polls are back again – in the event of an election today, who would you vote for? The main CIS poll gives the PSOE a small lead of 30.3%, the PP catching up with 28.7% and Vox at 16.6%. The DYM poll has the PP ahead with 28.4%, the PSOE following at 26.3% and Vox at 16%. The Simple Lógica survey gives the PP a three point lead: PP at 29.2%, the PSOE at 25.7% and Vox at 18.3%. This last survey also shows the popularity of the different political leaders – with a veritable gulf between Yolanda Díaz and Ione Belarra – the two leaders of the far-left.
Madrid’s Isabel Ayuso is still looking for the top job within the PP says elDiario.es here. The Party Congress this past weekend was ‘an enthronement of the new president of the PP in Madrid’ and, to help this along, says El Huff Post here, the celebration removed all memory and mention of Pablo Casado.
Alberto Nuñez Feijóo himself is aware of his party’s rise in the polls and is seeking the centre-ground says ECD here. The president of the PP says that his party will not return to the debate against the right to an abortion, so as not to play into the hands of Vox. (ECD readers are 84% horrified).
Yolanda Díaz already has a party-brand with which to begin to gather support in the process that will begin after the Andalusian elections says elDiario.es here. It’ll be called Sumar.
Andalucía Elections June 19:
La Vanguardia (paywall) says ‘The collapse of the left in 2018 and the forecasts of the polls predict a solid conservative majority on June 19’. elDiario.es says that ‘The PSOE must fight to regain the support of its traditional electorate in Andalucía in a campaign which the party realistically has few expectations of winning’.
The candidate for the Vox party is Magdalena Olona. Ms Olona is normally a deputy in Madrid – she comes from Alicante – but she will now stand down in the Cortes to run and work out of Seville. There was some bureaucratic fuss over her recent empadronamiento in Salobreña (Granada) as she doesn’t live there, indeed the town hall gave her warning last week, but the Electoral Board ruled on Monday that there was nothing improper and that her candidature stands. The Vox candidate promptly sued the mayoress of Salobreña for ‘the crimes of administrative and electoral prevarication’. An article at ECD here enthuses about the chances of Ms Olona becoming president of Andalucía (colour that unlikely).
‘The Court of Justice of the European Union has provisionally restored the parliamentary immunity of Catalan pro-independence MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Antoni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí’. Found at Catalan News here.
‘The Spanish Supreme Court has reversed its decision to uphold the pardons for the formerly jailed independence leaders. On Tuesday, the tribunal voted in favour of allowing the appeals against the pardons to go ahead. The decision happened after a change in the composition of the court. The court revoked the ruling from January 2022, with the vote of three judges against two...’ From Catalan News here. (!)
‘President Sánchez affirms that Finland and Sweden will be at the NATO summit in Madrid’. El Huff Post says that ‘The President of the Government indicates at the Davos Economic Forum that Spain will accelerate the accession process of both countries’. Spain is to host the next NATO summit in late June.
The European pig population, by country.
The Spanish cesspit activities – as the secret activities of the Rajoy Government are known – included the activities of the ex-national police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo who acted as an enforcer. From El Confidencial here: ‘Speaking on TV3, Villarejo admits that he carried out "absolutely illegal" actions to stop the Catalonian independence process, and he affirms that he would do so again’. Catalan News also reports the story here, saying ‘…that Spain plotted fake news reports to discredit the independence movement just before an election in Catalonia’.
‘The ‘trade-union’ Manos Limpias (wiki) denounces Alberto Garzón before the Supreme Court for calling Juan Carlos I an "accredited criminal" and a "thief"’. EuropaPress has the story here.
Much is being written about Pedro Sánchez referring in the Cortes to the national police in Catalonia as ‘piolines’. The joke (?) comes from the previous national government barracking the police during the independence troubles of 2017 in a gigantic Snoopy and Donald Duck cruise-ship moored in Barcelona harbour. Un piolín is a Tweety-bird from Looney Tunes. Maldita looks at the issue here.
While the old folk watch up to six hours a day of television, those between the ages of 13 and 24 manage on just over an hour average says VozPópuli here.
The monthly collection of fake news items (‘bulos’ in Spanish) from the far-right media, as always collected by Al Descubierto here. They are usually about Muslim attacks against the Spanish police, or the neighbours, or foreign rapists and other evildoers, often found in OKDiario, EsDiario or Libertad Digital and often invented for our reading pleasure. Other subjects touched on in April include banning beer and wine from the menu del día (a bulo originated in El Español) and many others of an overtly political nature.
The thermometers have fallen at last, as The Guardian writes of ‘Temperatures in parts of Spain reached the highest on record for May’. There’s still the summer ahead of us! elDiario.es says: ‘Record heat: two out of three provinces registered maximums up to 17 degrees above normal in the May heat-wave. The spike from last week, an extreme phenomenon that will be increasingly common due to climate change, has left unprecedented temperatures in seven provinces’ (our province, Almería, last Thursday recorded a peak of 34.7ºC, that’s 10.6ºC higher than the May average since 1960).
‘The mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau has sent letters to the Government, the Ministry of Transport and to the Port of Barcelona to address the limitation of cruise-ships. She describes the situation as "totally unsustainable" due to the daily arrival of large ships and summons the three competent administrations to create a working group to agree on a limit’ says elDiario.es here.
Two stories from the remarkable San Diego Union-Tribune: ‘Spanish govt chides ex-king for failure to explain conduct’ and ‘Spain’s former king mulls second visit amid swirling debate’. Here and here.
The president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, criticized this Tuesday the "humiliating treatment" that the King Emeritus, Juan Carlos I, received during his visit to Spain after two years away, with the "complicit and cowardly silence " of the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez’. Item from 20Minutos here.
The Headline of the Week must be ‘Spain appeals to British tourists to make up for a lack of Russian visitors’ says Andalucia Today here. Enjoy.
There are so many structures on the pavement now – including the extra space allowed for bars and restaurants – that local residents are getting steamed up about it. El País in an opinion piece looks at ‘The City against its Inhabitants’ here.
Oddly, football clubs are allowed to build up a massive debt without much fuss. elDiario.es says that first and second division clubs owe the banks and other lenders a total of 2,328 million euros.
Funds from the EU for the Mediterranean Corridor seem to be ending up in routes that pass through Madrid. From Valencia Plaza here: ‘With an invertebrate country, in which the train from Valencia to Alicante takes longer than the one to Madrid, the State continues to prioritize central connections over those on the coast, even using the European funds allocated for the Mediterranean Corridor…’
This is an interesting video (in English) on YouTube about the ‘empty part of Spain’. The pronunciation of Spanish names is a bit dodgy, but no doubt somebody else wrote the script. It’s worth a watch!
Around 100 of William Turner's evocative and romantic landscapes are on show at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya through September 11. More (in English) here. Over at El Español, there’s a fuller article on the subject, with several photographs of the artist’s work (tastefully decorated with McDonald’s and other adverts).
Satisfaction as The Times chooses Agulo, in La Gomera, as Spain’s most beautiful pueblo.
From The Guardian here: ‘Bandits, beaches and Roman baths – Andalucía’s wild side’. You’ll need a car (or a sturdy bicycle) for these…
A blog called BBQBoy brings the reader to Jaén here.
Cowboys in Almería
Sounds like fun. Never met Lenox. Lots of Brits around Mojácar.
My first jobs in Spain was galloping around the Tabernas area in Almeria westerns. I rarely knew the titles but they were for the most part Italian or Spanish productions. Back to back productions, my agent told me which bus to get on at the break of dawn and on the set you would be given a horse, a saddle and a bocadillo. Except for the bocadillo you had to return the horse and saddle at the end of the day and in return you were given a thousand or so pesetas according to whether you had a line of dialogue or not. All the same, sound and dialogue was usually done in post-production.
Since I was usually the only rider who looked vaguely like a cowboy, the rest were gypsies, on most occasions I got to say the dialogue. Normally something like "Let´s go boys” before galloping off in a cloud of dust. Always very scary for me because up until then, I had only ridden lazy Alabama plough-horses. The movie horses were most often very nervous and damaged horses from the bullfight world.
The gypsies had to ride as Indians in the afternoon. Mostly naked and bareback. Thanks to the colour of my skin, I was spared that.
The westerns were so bad, the cowboy thing didn´t last long, the Clint Eastwood films were the notable exception. But there was always some major production going on down there. World class actors sitting around the terraces in the afternoon. From Yul Brynner, Sean Connery to Bridget Bardot and Raquel Welsh. I think about just about everybody who worked in films showed up in Almería at one time or the other in the 60s. Now they go to Morocco or Tunisia.
As a retired financial adviser (working in Spain) I was acutely aware of some of the “dubious claims” made by a number of funeral plan companies! In particular they would offer a level of service (for sake of argument let’s call them Gold, Silver, Bronze) and you would pay a fixed sum / monthly premium commensurate with the service level you selected. So far, so good!!
Now this is where things start to get interesting, as you have agreed (& paid) a price for a service, that you hope won’t be needed for some while in the future. How do you know that what you invested say 10, 15, 20 years before, will be sufficient to provide the level of service you bought and paid for?
The answer is of course they can’t! Sadly, there are some funeral plan businesses who effectively lie to their clients, by telling them that their money is invested with guaranteed returns! There is no such thing! Indeed a BBC Radio 4 “Moneybox” investigation a few years back highlighted some of the very questionable sales tactics used by some funeral plan companies!
Sadly, I lost my wife in 2019. I used the local tanatario, who provided an excellent service. It was significantly less expensive than the plan I was offered (some years before) by a local funeral plan company, and the procedure nowhere near as complex as their “scare” tactics would have you believe!
All I would say to anyone taking out a funeral plan:
Los Celtas Cortos is a terrific group. They stepped out of character for this one from 1990. Odín on YouTube here. Loud, please!