Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Views of Vigo Bay

Back in March a photo of Vigo seen from space appeared on the internet with the question: does anyone know which city this is? The Japanese astronaut Soicho Noguchi was up there in the International Space Station, taking pictures from outer space and putting them on the internet.

Lots of people recognised Vigo and one of the results of all that publicity was an invitation from the Diputación de Pontevedra and the Concello de Vigo for him to visit the city. Mr Noguchi has just put a message on Twitter: “Dear Vigo city, thanks for inviting me to your beautiful city! I don’t have funding to visit Spain but I apréciate your kindness!” What a pity!

Meanwhile, another group who have been publicising Vigo and its ría have been getting a little more attention. Xulio Lag
o and Roberto Brañas, aka Grupo Labra, the two artists who put up the chair overlooking Moaña have been obliged to take it down. A conservation group called Luita Verde protested at the erection of this large piece of garden furniture at the site of the Torre de Meira on the grounds that this is a protected site and has been declared a “bien de interés cultural”. They were going to take the matter to higher authorities if the municipality did not take action and so the chair had to go, but not before quite a large number of people made a final "pilgrimage" to see it..

Xulio Lago and Roberto Brañas were not impressed. According to them all the local people were “encantados” with the installation and there were no protests except from “cuatro ecologistas que deben de estar aburridos”. They went on to say that they had not done any harm
to the site and they never intended any vandalism, more a kind of sociological experiment to see how people would react. What’s more, they said, even though the site is protected it is not advertised anywhere and is, according to them, “totalmente abandonado”.

So I decided to investigate. There was not a great deal of information available. Most of what I found came from a news report from a couple of years ago about a guided visit to the site organized by the Comunidade de Montes de Meira. Up at the top of the hill there arethe remains of a watch tower, fortifications and a moat, now filled in. It was partly destroyed during the second G
uerras Irmandiñas (1467 – 1469) and further reduced to its foundations by the feudal lord Pedro Álvarez de Soutomaior in 1476. The Guerras Irmandiñas were revolts that took place in 15th-century Galicia against attempts by the regional nobility to maintain their rights over the peasantry and the bourgeoisie. Although ultimately unsuccessful, they lay the groundwork for the incorporation of Galicia into the direct administrative control of the Spanish crown, which was beginning to be created by the Catholic Monarchs Fernando and Isabel (aka Ferdinand and Isabella to English speakers). Now that’s another story altogether and one that still has repercussions to this day!

I found this video and this video which give an idea of what the place looks like. You can understand why the artists chose that place to put up their installation.

The Moana artists are not the first people to set up large furniture out of doors. A few years ago an artist called Henry Bruce set up a giant chair on Dartmoor without planning permissio
n. Although he was later given retrospective permisión it was on condition that the chair was removed by March of the following year. It seems that such installations are fated not to stand for long.

The silla de Moaña is now in pieces in the studio of the Grupo Labra while they try to find a permanent home for it. We shall see!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Where do you come from, little shellfish?

Well, as I looked out at the looming grey sky this morning I reflected in the fact that at around this time last year we were sweltering in a heatwave in Ourense. So I took a look at the weather online and discovered that they’re not having such high temperatures this year. According to the computer they should be around 20°. Mind you that’s better than our 14° and they probably have sunshine as well.

I went on to take a look at the Spanish newspapers online as well. There I found the headline, El pescado gallego pierde su ADN. ADN is Spanish for DNA. Intrigued, I went on to read the article. The journalist described going to a fish market in Cambre, La Coruña, the kind of place that attracts British tourists and their cameras because it has become a rarity in the UK. As most of our fish comes neatly packaged and wrapped in clingfilm we tend to enjoy taking photos of that old-fashioned way of doing things: putting fish on the slab, selecting the specimens you want to buy, having the assistant clean them, scrape the scales off and so on. What’s more we tend to think that all the fish will be completely fresh and, if you’re in Galicia, mostly relatively local.

Now it seems that that last supposition isn’t necessarily correct, especially when it comes to shellfish. The reporter found all the usual suspects but from unusually un-gallego places:

  • nécoras– from Scotland
  • vieiras – from England
  • langostinas – from Saudi Arabia
  • almejas – from Italy
  • pulpo – from Morocco.

Apparently the stallholders, maybe a little embarrassed, don’t bother putting the label indicating the place of origin if they can avoid it. That bit of the label gets damp and unreadable or is accidentally cut off. One stallholder admitted to putting a label that incorporates the flag of Galicia on produce that she knows is genuinely gallego. The rest she leaves unidentified.

One of the problems is, of course, the price. Much of the genuinely gallego shellfish is snapped up by posh restaurants who can and will pay top prices, prices the average shopper just could not afford. Shellfish from Scotland, despite having to be transported, can work out five times cheaper. Consequently Galicia ends up importing as much fish and shellfish as it exports.

One commentator told the reporter, “se di que o pescado máis fresco de Galicia cómese en Madrid”. And here I was, feeling all nostalgic about the delightful fish restaurants of Galicia. According tot hat report I should go to some exclusive and pricey place in Madrid for the real thing. It’s a good job I still know a few places in Vigo and around, recommended to me by vigueses who claim that the fish served in them is fresh and local.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Striking effects.

This weekend the grandchildren have come to stay while my daughter goes gallivanting in Ireland. So far we have been relatively incident free apart from an emergency run to the local opticians when the youngest grandchild decided to lose his temper with his big sister and take it out on his glasses. Result: one bent glasses frame that needed a little professional straightening. Apart from that, so far so good.

I have even found time to read today’s paper. There I came upon an article by Giles Tremlett who often writes about life in Spain. He was commenting
on Spanish grandparents more than half of whom provide childcare for their children, looking after the grandchildren on a regular basis while their own grown up children earn a living. I know people in the UK who do a good deal of babysitting in this way but it’s nowhere near the scale of what is happening in Spain. There one in eight of grandparents looks after their grandchildren for more than eight hours a day.

Now the UGT is calling on these unpaid babysitters to go on strike on Wednesday as a way of drawing attention to the way they are propping up the economy in the current time of crisis. As long as people can rely on grandma and granddad the state has no need to provide a better childcare service than exists at the moment.
It doesn’t sound as though they will get a great deal of support though. The general feeling is that you can’t just leave the grandchildren out on the street. This does seem to be rather missing the point. Surely what is needed is for los abuelos to say no and then the workers will have to take a day off and explain the situation to their employers. But in the current fragile economic climate it’s not likely to happen.

Onto other matters: Xulio Lago and Roberto Brañas have come clean as the perpetrators
of the installation on the Moaña hilltop. They are the Grupo Labra and with the help of an assistant set up the giant chair overlooking the Vigo estuary.

Their aim apparently was to give people something else to talk about than the crisis, the state of the economy and the number of people who have
been involved in accidents in the Morraza corridor. Well, they seem to have succeeded in that as TV crews from news channels have been around interviewing people ever since their artistic efforts appeared.

They also stated that they liked the idea of giving some publicity to a fine view. I can certainly vouch for the beauty of the view from up there.
Unlike many artistic installations it didn’t even cost them a huge amount. They claim to have spent about 20 euros on screws. They don’t mention the wood and paint; maybe they had that alr
eady. I wonder what their next artistic endeavour will be.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Getting your timing right.

Today, for once, public transport worked well for me. I needed some fuses, an easy item to buy you may think. If I were in Spain that would certainly be the case as there are ferreterías all over the place, veritable Aladdin’s caves filled with shelves of odd items of all different sizes. This used to be so in the UK as well but over the last 20 years or so small hardware shops have slowly but surely disappeared to be replaced by huge stores, usually located on retail parks on the outskirts of town. This is fine if you are involved in a major DIY project and want to buy more or less in bulk. However if you want a single screw of a particular size or, as in my case, a couple of fuses, it really is not convenient.

Fortunately for me, there is one of the last few remaining little hardware shops just a short bus ride away. So, clutching my over-60s’ bus pass in my hot little hand I trotted off to catch the 11.55 bus. A short walk from the bus stop got me to the hardware shop. The shopkeeper (hardware monger?) found the item I wanted and I hurried back to the bus stop to catch the 12.25 bus back home. I decided to stay on the bus beyond home in order to go to the supermarket where I did a quick run round, bought a number of things and was back on the bus home by 1.25. Job done!

Sometimes it works perfectly, unlike my last trip to Manchester which involved me in a wait of almost 50 minutes for my connecting bus. Isn’t public transport wonderful? Thank goodness I don’t have to pay for it!!!

Anyway I got back home before the weather changed. I’d been in long enough to put the shopping away and make a cup of tea when I started to hear a distant rumble which went on and on and got closer and closer. For the next hour it went on like that, accompanied by what I have to call
una tromba - a truly Galician style downpour!! Later the weather improved again but at the time it was quite spectacular.

Now, I read in La Voz de Galicia that autumn has arrived. It’s official, apparently. Here we don’t quite have the autumn colours in the picture that accompanied the article which then went on to say that they expect less rain in Galicia during the autumn. Well, yes, I can see that, it’s all been falling here on me. I’ll just have to sit back and watch it.

On the subject of sitting down, it would seem that a huge chair has mysteriously appeared on the top of a hill in Moaña, looking down on the Ría de Vigo and visible from all around. It just appeared overnight from Saturday to Sunday. People got up in the morning and there it was. So far nobody has claimed responsibility for it but it’s already becoming a place of pilgrimage. Whole families are turning out to walk up the hill and have a look at it. What’s more, there is even the beginning of an organisation to prevent the removal of the rickety-looking seat.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

One of those days!!!

Some days can be very frustrating, I suppose. Today has been one of those in a couple of respects, less so in others.

First the frustrating stuff. Public transport in this country – slow most of the time and just not there some of the time, especially if you live in the outskirts of the city. I don’t intend to go on about that though because I have bigger fish to fry.

I have been trying to enrol myself onto a Portuguese language course. I found the course I wanted at a place where I have studied languages before so it seemed like a good idea. First frustration: no on-line enrolment. Second frustration: you can’t just turn up and enrol on the day and at the time of the course. I’m sure that some people MUST do this but they don’t like you to do so and I am a fairly law-abiding person. So as I was going into Manchester today anyway I decided to pop in and fill in the requisite forms, hand over my money and go on my way.

Well, that was non-starter. To begin with the notice in the foyer directed me to a room where a lesson was taking place. Oops, I know how annoying it is when you are giving a lesson and people keep popping in. And it must have happened several times in succession because there were about four of us in the queue at reception asking for the same help. “Oh”, said the receptionist helpfully, “what does the notice say?” So we told her whereupon she commented, “That was last week’s notice.” Very good, I thought. So why was it still there?

Once in the right room, I had a little chat with my former Italian teacher and we caught up on all the gossip about friends in common. That was very nice but didn’t get me very far as he had no enrolment forms. By now I was running out of time so I arranged to pop back later. There it is again, that idea of “popping in/out/back” with all the suggestions of speed. Mistake!

When I called again later there was no sign of my Italian friend. He had been replaced by a rather inefficient waffler. There were still no forms but she had to discuss things with several people before she could go and get some. She even dithered about sending me down but realised just in time that they wouldn’t give them to a member of the public. Heavens, we might distribute them to others in the queue and get them to fill them in!

So, eventually I completed the form and waited once more while she discussed things with other people. Then, lo and behold, she discovered that the folder for my Portuguese course was missing. Consequently she could not put the relevant sticker on my form and, therefore, I could not go and pay. So I had to fill in yet another form and wait around some more. Finally, as I was about to stand up and go, accepting the fact that I should just have turned up on the first day of the course next week and done it all then, she handed me something else. Would I please sit down and do an assessment to see if the course was appropriate for me?

Now I am a very patient person; you can tell this because I never moaned about the waiting around and the lack of forms and folders. However, this was a step too far. I sort of exploded that of course I could not sit down and do an assessment there and then. I had things to do. I had a husband waiting downstairs. I had a bus to catch. I took the form away, having been told that I was not to use a dictionary and having riposted that I did not even possess a Portuguese dictionary. I was almost, but not quite, rather rude, not like myself at all. Hence this rather extensive rant.

It’s a good job that in between my two (only partially successful) attempts to enrol I managed to go to the cinema and see an excellent film. Manchester is blessed with an establishment called The Cornerhouse, a gallery cum small multi-screen cinema that shows art-house and foreign language films that don’t usually get into mainstream cinemas. This afternoon we got around to seeing El Secreto de sus Ojos, a subtle murder mystery set in Argentina which won the Oscar for best non-English language film last year. Starring Ricardo Darín, an actor I have got to know in a few other films, it is well worth seeing. Clever, amusing at times, a little bit wistful at times, dealing with violence in an understated way, it keeps you guessing as to the final outcome. I can highly recommend it.

So, on the whole, not really a bad day after all.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Ranting in the rain.

Well, we had planned on getting an old friend of ours out cycling today. No such luck. So far – around 12.30 – the rain is still falling. Autumn seems to have arrived with a vengeance! I seem to remember Septembers full of sunshine when I was still a sixth form college teacher. It was almost a given that as soon as term started the weather would improve considerably and all the new students would discover the joys of the overheated language laboratory without proper blinds and certainly without air-conditioning. This year I suspect they need to put the heating on already.

No su
ch problems in Madrid apparently, not from the photos in Spanish papers of the little Infantas Leonor and Sofia on their first day at school anyway. This link contains a video of them walking through the sunshine with Mamá and Papá. The little princesses are going to the school their father attended, the private Colegio Nuestra Señora de los Rosales.

Despite the obvious religious connotations of its name the school is described as laico, aunque si los padres lo desean imparte formación religiosa. Interesting! They don’t actually say whether the
royal children will get the formación religiosa but the Príncipes de Asturias can appear very modern and liberal. I notice that they have had no problem finding a place for their children, unlike some friends of ours in Vigo who have had immense difficulty finding a place for their five year old.

In other parts of Galicia they appear to be having school problems of a different kind. What was described as un rebaño de cabras invaded a school playground in Baiona, causing consternation to parents, pupils and teachers. Reading further into the article, I discovered that it was a matter of three goats. Their owner seems to be a local crank who lets them wander around and then plays deaf when challenged to remove them from wherever they have ended up. I did wonder whether three goats really con
stitute a flock (do you have a flock or a herd of goats?) but I suppose it sounds more impressive to say that a flock of goats invaded the playground rather than a mere tres cabras.

On the subject of threes, the gallego actor Luis Tosar, he of the impressive eyebrows, is to be congratulated for being nominated for Oscars for three of his recent films: Celda 211, Lope and También la Lluvia.

Maybe his success and his
usually very good films can encourage more Britons to learn Spanish. I mention this because I’ve just been listening to another stage of an ongoing debate, this time on the radio, about the state of language teaching and learning in this country. Spanish friends often tell me that the Spanish are rubbish at learning languages whereupon I have to reply that I know many English speakers who say the same about themselves.

The main conclusion of the debate I heard today is that while no-one will actually admit that it is more difficult to pass exams in modern foreign languages than in other subjects, they do reluctantly agree that there is what they call “an issue”. However, some involved in the discussion were expressing pleasure at the increased percentage of high grade passes in French/German/Spanish exams at GCSE, the exams taken at age 16. Well, that’s not really evidence of anything except that since the government decided in its wisdom to make language study optional after the age of 14, only the brightest pupils take language exams.

And some of those bright pupils opt not to do so because they can’t guarantee the highest grades. The general feeling is that marking is more rigorous for modern language exams, giving rise to a belief, probably justified, that languages are hard, even as hard as Maths, for example. Language teachers on the other hand would like their exams to be seen as being as easy as Maths.

Then there is the question of the oral exam: 15 minutes of stress for the student. So the new exams are changing this to a different form of ongoing assessment.
Now, I ask you, is it possible to assess language progress without an oral test? Well, come to think of it, I have heard of that happening in Spain and Italy.

That’s enough of a rant for today. I’m still waiting for the rain to stop but I will finish by wishing Princess Letizia a happy 38th birthday. May the sun continue to shine on her today.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Getting around.

Despite the fact that we were able to go cycling in the sunshine yesterday (and very nice it was too) today began wetly and just got worse and worse. By the time we caught the bus back from the town centre to our house in the outskirts it seemed as though the sky had come down and settled on the rooftops as the visibility was so poor. This didn’t stop hardy Mancunian males from parading around in shorts and summer shirts, however. I suppose it’s a kind of natural reluctance to accept that you have to put away the summer wardrobe that you have hardly had any chance to show off. It’s a good job I had plenty of sunshine before I left Vigo, that’s all I can say.

I also saw the rain falling on the cyclists in the Tour of Britain, a report which I happened upon as I was channel hopping in search of something interesting to watch. (British TV is no better than Spanish!) As I watched them struggling up wet cobbles on a hill in the outskirts of Swansea and then riding through the rain to the finish line I wondered what they were doing there when they could be taking part in the Vuelta a España. Photos in the Spanish papers show riders under blue skies. El Faro de Vigo, by the way, reports that the gallego Mosquera is doing well, currently in second place. It’s reassuring to see that Galicia is maintaining its place as centre of the universe. I do think the cycling organisations should get their acts together though. Fancy having the Vuelta a España and the Tour of Britain overlapping? It’s clearly a ploy to prevent British cyclists like Tony Martin and Bradley Wiggins from grabbing Spanish glory.

Talking of grabbing other people’s glory, here’s another story of wheeling and dealing. Many of my friends in Spain often commented to me on the state of political corruption in their country, prompting them to declare with a rather touching naivety that they could never imagine such thing happening in the UK. This is part of a strange “the grass is always greener” syndrome which many people suffer from. I always assured them that corruption is, of course, an international phenomenon and today I can give them all an example of corruption UK style. Our local MP, the chap who represents US in parliament after all, stands accused of dirty dealing. It seems that he was rather afraid that he might lose his seat and now some say that stirred up a little racial tension in his election pamphlets to persuade people not to vote for the Lib Dem candidate. Apparently it worked and he kept the seat which he is now danger of losing (along with his reputation) if the investigation goes against him. Time for a by-election perhaps.

Meanwhile, my Phil and I are trying to organise some travel plans. I recently commented on the wonders of Oporto as a flight destination from the Northwest of England. Did I perhaps put a hex on it? We are now having difficulty finding flights from Liverpool to Sá Caneiro and back and may be forced to detour via London. Do these budget airlines imagine that only southerners want cheap flights to the Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula? A shocking state of affairs!

Before we get around to revisiting Portugal and undoubtedly Galicia, however, we have a trip planned to the Balearics. Having read disturbing reports of a new activity there called “balconing” which involves diving off your hotel balcony into your hotel swimming pool I am very glad we are heading for Mallorca in a few weeks time and not Ibiza. This dangerous and in some cases fatal activity has been taken up mainly by young male British and German tourists.

I have made my Phil promise to remember that he is too mature (not to say old) and too poor a swimmer to think of getting involved in such sports!!!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The cutting edge

Today I got on my bike and rode to the local swimming baths. I have been missing the delights of having a pool in the garden to fall into at every opportunity and decided that it was time to remedy the situation at least to some extent. So off I went and was delighted to see a notice in the entrance which said that over-sixties could swim without charge. On enquiry, I discovered that this is no longer the case. One of the cuts instituted by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition got rid of free swimming for older people. Since July of this year, if we want to keep fit we have to pay for it.

I decided not to make a fuss about the legality of having a notice offering a service which no longer exists and asked about other options. The upshot of it is that I am now the proud holder of an Oldham Leisure Card which for the sum of £3 gets me reduced rate swimming, yoga classes, pilates classes, use of the gym and a variety of other activities. Not bad at all.

The dreaded cuts seem to be affecting everyone. I read that the budget airline Vueling is suspending flights from Galician airports, all three of them, for lack of financial support from the Xunta. No more flights from Vigo’s Peinador airport to Brussels from November of this year, among other lost journeys. It was already impossible to fly to any of the Galician airports from the north of England. I wonder exactly where you can fly to from Peinador. It’s not really going to be worth the money they’ve spent on extending the carparking facilities if you can’t actually go anywhere.

On the other hand, I read in today’s El Faro de Vigo that Sá Caneiro airport in Oporto is doing really well. In August more than 600,000 passengers used the airport. This was more in one month than used Peinador airport in Vigo from January to July. If you put all three Galician airport users together for July apparently it still only came to 438,877. Even the increased number of visitors to Santiago de Compostela this year hasn’t made a significant difference. Oporto, across the border in Portugal beats them hands down. There’s even a regular bus service from Oporto’s Sá Caneiro to Vigo and beyond: the Galizabus. I have to confess to our having been regular users of both the airport and the bus service. It’s not that we have anything against Peinador airport but it’s quicker and cheaper to fly Liverpool to Oporto and catch the bus than to fly Manchester or Liverpool to Barcelona, for example, and then Barcelona to Vigo.

It rather smacks of lack of forward planning on Galicia’s part. I wouldn’t like Galicia to turn into the Costa del Sol with drunken British tourists all over the place. I appreciate the exclusivity of that beautiful area too much to wish that on them. However, if they want to attract some discerning tourists it’s time to make the place a bit more accessible. In the meantime, I suspect I’ll be using Oporto next time I fly into the North-western bit of the Iberian Peninsula.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

La vuelta

Our grandchildren have gone back to school today. Peace and quiet reign in our house once more, for a while anyway. In Galicia, however, they still have a week or two of summer holidays to go. In many parts of Spain schools have already re-opened this week but Galicia, along with Andalucía and a few other regions send their primary children back to school next week and their secondary pupils the following week. To an English eye, these are amazingly long summer breaks.

Does this, I ask myself, have anything t
o do with the failure, reported in La Voz de Galicia newspaper at the end of last week, of some 60+% of pupils to pass their end of year exams for ESO (compulsory secondary education) and first year of Bachillerato? Certainly, these weeks when the rest of their classmates are still down at the beach or in the pool are spent in recuperación by some pupils. They have a last chance to repeat their exams and so progress to the next stage of their education. In some cases they end up repeating a year, although this is, I understand, only permitted once in a pupil’s education so you no longer end up with a huge, disgruntled and disruptive 15 year old in a class of 12 year olds.

It seems as though every country is having problems of one kind or another with their education system. In France, teachers are accused of not encouraging their pupils enough. They are too critical and are extremely poor at giving praise. Pupils feel undervalued and stupid and stop working with enthusiasm – you know the rest of the story, I’m sure.

As a result of the statistics about fracaso escolar in Spain, they are having big discussions about
the need to diagnose problems and offer support at an early stage – right down at primary level. That makes sense. In the UK we do supposedly identify problem children early. However, my daughter who has just started working in a primary school reports that they have had to retest all their first year juniors as the infant school they came from reported them all as being up to standard when this was very obviously not the case. The big push to be high up on the league tables for results leads schools to “manipulate” results of tests. So the Spanish need to take it carefully and not make it into another way of “testing” the teachers.

The Spanish fracaso escolar has had its consequences in our family as well. We have just spent a weekend in the deep south – actually Surrey – where our son was getting married. My Spanish sister (OK, I know she has a UK passport but she’s lived in Spain for longer than she ever did in the UK) and her husband had intended to be there. However, my Spanish nephew failed his end of year exams, becoming one of the 60+% I mentioned earlier. Consequently he needed to register this week to re-sit the year and my sister felt that he maybe needed some parental encouragement.And so they missed a family reunion at the weekend.

The rest of us had a delightful time and the sun even managed to shine on the proceedings. It’s a good job the grandchildren weren’t due back in school until today.

As for us, we seem to have been building up to this for a good
while, following a proposal on a Pontevedra beach last September but now the excitement is all over and we can get on with organising the rest of our lives: i.e. planning the next trips all over the place.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

That small world thing again!

Scanning the papers online yesterday I came across a report on the August weather in El Faro de Vigo. As August was coming to a glorious close, the article told us that the whole month had been unusually hot and sunny. Well, we knew that already. Apparently in the previous 60 days there had only been 10 on which it had rained even a little bit. Temperatures had reached a high of 35° on one occasion and for most of the month had averaged 30+°.

Here in the Northwest of England by contrast in the 20 d
ays that we have been back here we have had 5 or 6 days of rain (but quite a lot of cloud and wind) and as for temperatures, all I can say is that we have had to put the heating on in the evening on more than one occasion.

Still, mustn’t grumble! We've had the occasional good sunset: not quite Vigo spectacular but still quite colourful. And today we have had excellent sunny weather which is just as well as we have been minding the grandchildren and they were happy to play in the garden. Thank heavens for small mercies.

In additi
on the bank holiday weekend managed to get by without too much cold and wet weather. I even managed to take my friend Heidy on a walk that we have been planning for a while and have not had the opportunity to do it. As my daughter and I had published photos of one of our local beauty spots on Facebook, my friend asked me if I would show it to her on my next visit home.

So, having had good weather forecast for Friday, Heidy and I planned a walk arou
nd Dovestone Reservoir and managed a rather windy but essentially sunny promenade.

Half way round we discovered that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds had set up a stall, providing activities for children, watching y
oung kestrels learning to hover, spotting a green woodpecker and numerous other species. As we greeted the organisers, one of them suddenly called out, “It’s Heidy, isn’t it? Fancy seeing you here!” It turned out to be someone who works part time for the same college that Heidy works for and, just to make the coincidence complete, a Spanish teacher to boot.

As I have commented before, el mundo es un pañuelo. There seems to be no way of avoiding the small world syndrome.