The weather is just perfect for an early-year swim in the sea. Perhaps if I didn't live here I would take up my own kind offer and jump off a handy rock and splash about for a bit before staggering out for a refreshing glass of tinto de verano, easy on the ice. However, since I do live here, I tend to forgo the splashy stuff and get straight in to the bar for my order. I mean, it's still too cold for us thin-blooded locals, and anyway, come to think of it, I haven't swum in the sea besides a couple of ill-considered visits after an extended lunch for about twenty years.
I may have developed a very slight case of hydrophobia, the fear of water, which is apparently a side effect of rabies. As far as I know, no other signs of this dreadful plague are in evidence on my person and I wonder if it might just be a minor and slow-moving dose that I could have picked up that time I was savaged by a bad-tempered vole which I was attempting to attach to a hanky prior to parachuting the rodent from the roof of the family home while I was still of a tender age. Still, sixty years on and I'm still going strong, no twitches or obvious widow's peak, although I do like to keep the windows open during the full moon just in case.
The sea is protected by Costas, a selfless organisation that makes sure that the primal brine isn't sullied by anything beyond an occasional bather while the pristine sands of the coast are free from skyscrapers, dog messes, barns, garages, piers (a huge no-no) and, above all, any suggestion of permanence from those temporary 'dismountable' buildings which we call 'beach bars'. Anything really, much beyond a happy sprinkling of 'Blue Flags' which denote 'excellence' in the beach facilities, cleanliness, showers and wheelchair access together with no interference in Mother Nature's soft and salty embrace. So protected is the sea these days, that I wonder exactly what the showers are for - are they like swimming-pool showers, where you are meant to wash yourself down before getting in so as to keep the sea-water clean?
Apparently, the Costas people have decreed that any tussocks of grass which grow on the sand, or any seaweed washed up onto the shore, can't be removed by the local town halls (except after midnight when the ecologists are all tucked up asleep on their futons). In short, the sea and the beach belong to us all, are to be left au naturel, and we have free access and use for all its treasures, except of course when told differently.
The other day, I took the dog down to one of those 'unimproved' beaches along the coast a way. No metal benches, beach bars, life savers, peculiar white-painted cabins - with the inevitable 'Goofy was here' graffiti: no football or beach-ball courts, no playpens, swings or broken whirly-things, no flags, dustbins, informative signs in three languages, showers, accordionists, tulip-vendors or public lavatories. Just a few of those colourful motor-caravans as favoured by the wealthy trekkers from the far north that the police are now talking about fining after three days camping outside of the 'approved areas'. Peaceful. I even anticipated seeing a few dolphins near the shore nodding and squeaking at us. They're asking for fish really.
My dog seemed to be happy enough with the lack of clutter on that particular beach and ran about chasing pebbles and bits of flying seaweed (oops!). I took my socks off.
Things went well until I began to drive home with the window up to stop the cloud of sand and dust thrown by the wheels. The car stank of warm and wet hound and the thunderhead of dust, it turned out, upset a group of hiking Germans dressed in old-fashioned shorts who were coming the other way, intent on discovering the next-door beach. Boy, did I get an earful.
On reflection, I should have been carrying a Blue Flag.
From The Majorca Daily Bulletin here. 'The British still top international property spenders in Spain despite Brexit. Overall, international buyers in Spain increased by 80% since 2019'. It says that '.In an analysis of one of the largest data sets in the industry (consisting of buyers from 194 countries and 154,460 properties for sale with over 3,000 estate agents) it was found that the British, who have long played a significant role in the Spanish property market, have (just) managed to cling on to their number one spot. This is despite losing significant ground to German and Dutch buyers since Brexit.'
'On buying property in Spain, you should be mindful the title is clean. It is fairly common the previous owner is in arrears. In Spain, debts follow the property not the debtor. Meaning, when you take over the ownership, you also take on all the existing debts from the previous owner'. Item from Idealista News.
The Olive Press considers 'The importance of regulation in the real estate industry' here.
'Green light for a megaproject in Málaga with 870 apartments, offices, shops and a hotel
The Directorate General of Costas has given its approval to 'La Térmica', one of the largest residential projects on the Andalusian coastline and the most important in Málaga city'. Idealista News has the story here.
'A plague of locusts': Barcelona battles port authorities to curb cruise tourists. Councillors and residents hope to limit the number of day-trippers arriving by boat to preserve the city's streets and character'. The Guardian reports here.
'Tourism law conflict continues on Gran Canaria between property owners and exploitation industry (my italics)'. An item found at The Canary News here. It says that '.The conflict between homeowners in tourist areas and the tourist companies is exacerbating existing tensions between the needs of residents and tourists. The island has long been a popular destination, but the influx of visitors has put a strain on the island's resources and led to a housing shortage. Many local residents feel that the government has prioritised the interests of the hotel industry over their own interests.'
'The discovery of a massive underground reservoir of natural hydrogen in Spain could deliver the cheapest H2 in the world'. An Anglo-Spanish company Helios Aragón says it could produce naturally occurring hydrogen from a giant underground reservoir in the foothills of the Pyrenees for ?0.75 per kilogram - about half the current cost of producing grey H2 from unabated fossil gas.'. An item from Insight here.
Income tax season - la renta - began this week. elDiario.es notes that 'The Government approved numerous tax measures in the General State Budget this year that will not affect the income campaign that corresponding to the 2022 financial year'. How to do your tax return in three minutes? - a video at El Huff Post (if it works).
Opinion from elDiario.es here: 'The Spanish economy stands out in Europe with a strength that exceeds all expectations. The keys to resistance to inflation are the labour reform, the Recovery Plan, lower energy prices, shock measures, the protection of pensioners and the rise in the minimum wage'. The article says '.Despite the successive blows, different factors are supporting economic activity -the Gross Domestic Product grew by 5.5% in 2022 and is expected to grow between 1.6% and 2% in 2023 to complete the reconstruction of the shock due to the Covid. The main keys range from the intense growth of corporate profits, to the deployment of the Recovery Plan, and go through a never-before seen job stability in our country, due to income protection measures (increases in pensions, the minimum wage and the minimum vital income, the cap on gas prices, the transport discounts...), due to the moderation of energy inflation and, finally, due to the good performance of exports.'. Tuesday's El Economista has adjusted figures here: 'The International Monetary Fund has revised upward the growth of Spain for 2023 by four tenths, while it has revised downward by the same amount the advance for 2024. In this way, the GDP will increase by 1.5% this year and 2% in 2024, compared to the 1.1% and 2.4% announced in the January forecasts. However, Spain remains the absolute leader among the large euro countries in terms of growth.'
The El Español newsletter tells us that 'The PSOE fears that Sánchez will weaken the party to enlarge Sumar'. The news-site expands on this here with: 'Doubts in the PSOE with Sánchez's plan to help Sumar grow: "Not aiming to win outright could be expensive"'. The worry comes from a PSOE baron called Emiliano García Page, the president of Castilla-La Mancha (he's an old-fashioned socialist), who claims that Pedro Sánchez is working for a victory for the two parties - with Podemos to be quietly excised from the electioneering.
El Mundo has a similar view here: '.The main conclusion is that Pedro Sánchez's PSOE could have made a serious miscalculation when promoting Yolanda Díaz's candidacy to get rid of Unidas Podemos as a necessary partner...'
20Minutos have an interview with Isabel Díaz Ayuso here, with video.
The latest video from Podemos is at El Huff Post here. They have a big public meeting in Zaragoza on April 15.
Following from a recent story of padrón-padding as we approach the local elections, the INE has now identified 180 municipalities where the number of residents has suddenly grown - municipalities where, in most cases, there are less than 1,000 inhabitants on the census. Público has more here. In one village in Extremadura, the census rose last year by around 15%.
From El País in English here: 'The decline of Llanito: Gibraltar struggles to preserve its singular linguistic identity. The use of Spanish is falling among the younger residents of the British overseas territory, and with it, a unique kind of Spanglish that older folks have been proudly speaking all their lives'.
From Euractiv here: 'After more than two years of post-Brexit delays, the UK has promised to introduce a light-touch set of customs rules on goods from the EU later this year. In a recent proposal, the UK government said that the new regime would introduce a trusted traders' scheme known as the UK Single Trade Window - a single digital gateway to reduce bureaucratic requirements for regular importers and exporters.'
'French and German tourists turn their back on Brexit Britain. Industry leaders fear new entry restrictions and the UK's tarnished image among some Europeans have caused a decline in EU visitors'. Item from The Guardian here.
'EU countries are building fences all around their borders with third countries & this is how they look'. An item from SVI here.
Opinion from El País here: 'Last week, El Mundo published on its front page an image that, as things are, bordered on a miracle: Yolanda Díaz and Pablo Iglesias posed together again, almost embracing and surrounded by photographers. It was a cooked image. The paper made clear at the top and at the bottom that it was a picture created by artificial intelligence. The debate, of course, was served...'
OKDiario are up to their tricks, this time forgetting to remove the word montaje (scam) from their computer coding while reporting false news. The story is based on a photo purporting to show Pablo Iglesias and his wife the minister Irene Montero, at home, with some cocaine.
Fuss this week after a TV3 jape offended the sensibilities of the Andalusians. A show called 'Està Passant' had invited the Virgen del Rocío - complete with a comic andaluz accent - to drop by and crack some inappropriate jokes. The Abogados Cristianos (a kind of hangover from the Santa Inquisición) understandably took offence and has denounced the participants in the show for escarnio - which translates as ridicule. There's a law against ridicule? (Full show here; a brief and tasteless taste, here). No worries, Jorge Buxadé from Vox promises that he will close down the Catalonian regional TV as soon as the party takes control (YouTube here). Catalonian TV3 says that for its part, it will always defend satire as 'a symptom of democratic health' (La Vanguardia here).
The World Health Organisation warns that the dengue, zika and chikungunya mosquito Aedes aegypti is active in southern Europe and there may be cases this summer. La Razón blames global warming for the increase in the area where these mosquitos may be found.
There is a growing row between the ecologists, supported by the European Union, and the strawberry growers with the backing of the Junta de Andalucía, over the increasingly scarce supply of water in Doñana. elDiario.es says: 'The Andalusian Government ignores the Consejo de Doñana and endorses the irrigation law despite the alert due to the critical situation of the park. The Junta charges against the "lack of interest of the State", which insists that it will go to the Constitutional Court, and ignores the warning from the European Commission and the scientific warning about the "unsustainable critical point" of the wetlands. From CadenaSer here: '59% of the lagoons in the Doñana National Park have dried up in the last decade. The hand of man, mainly due to intensive agriculture together with the tourist centre of Matalascañas, has exacerbated a process in which climate change has also intervened'. From Público here: 'The Government of Spain has closed down 220 illegal wells in Doñana so far and plans to close another 496 while the PP insists on expanding irrigation locally. The efforts of the Guadalquivir Hydrographic Confederation are not enough to eliminate those greenhouses located outside permitted areas and the WWF asks that farms with irrigated land outside of management be closed'. From EPE here: 'On Wednesday (yesterday) the Andalusian Parliament (will) vote on the bill promoted by the PP and Vox that plans to expand the irrigated hectares in the surroundings of the Doñana Natural Park. An initiative that the Government of the nation has asked to be withdrawn, with the notice that it will appeal to the Constitutional Court, and that the European Commission has warned that it will lead to fines, showing its "concern" and "astonishment" when considering the plan "a flagrant violation" of the warnings already given from Brussels, with a final judicial sentence that asks to stop exploiting the Park's aquifer.'. From Wednesday's letter to subscribers from elDiario.es: 'The Andalusian government declares itself in default against the EU, which threatens fines, and against common sense: it intends to legalize the illegal irrigation networks that are stealing water from the park's natural aquifers. All to irrigate the most important crop for any short-term politician: that of votes'. The regional TV CanalSur says that no water from Doñana is used by the greenhouses, but other 'superficial' water instead and that the regional government is obliged 'to help the 600 or 700 families without prejudicing Doñana'. From Lifegate (December last year) here: 'Doñana National Park (Parque Nacional y Natural de Doñana), located on the Atlantic coast of Huelva province in Andalucía in southwestern Spain, is a nature reserve characterised by its lagoons, fixed and mobile dunes, and marshlands. It was created by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in 1964 and is currently managed by the Doñana Biological Station (EBD). The park has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1994 and is one of the most extensive wetlands in Europe, covering an area of 543 square kilometres'.
The lack of water on Fuerteventura (Canary Islands) is "particularly serious": already water has to be brought in by buckets in some areas says El Diario de Avisos here.
This Monday it was confirmed that Don Juan Carlos has everything ready to return to Spain in a few days, between April 19 and 23, in order to participate in a series of sailing sessions in Sanxenxo (Pontevedra).
'Bewilderment among veterinarians over the Animal Welfare Law: as they do not know what to tell pet owners since they have not yet received any instructions to be able to follow the new regulations that will come into force next September'. ECD has the story here.
'Heineken has this week announced the exciting launch of Cruzcampo in the UK, the top selling draught beer in Spain. Cruzcampo 4.4% ABV lager will only be available on tap and will be exclusively sold in pubs.' Item from Spanish News Today here. (Cruzcampo enjoys a poor reputation in Spain).
Mercadona is lowering its prices on 500 items from this week 'without any adjustment in the quality' says 20Minutos here.
Diari de Barcelona (catalán) has a piece on 'hostile urban architecture' (that's to say, seats with spikes in them to stop tramps from sleeping on them).
Juan Tamariz (wiki), is the best card magician in the business (and my favourite). See him here on YouTube (in English). Something more about Juan and his magic on YouTube here.
The nineteenth century British photographer Charles Clifford and his portraits of Spain here at El Reto Histórico.
Les Luthiers with La importancia de saber inglés on YouTube here.