Sunday, 20 February 2011

Transport matters … and other stuff.

Yesterday I looked out of the window and saw snow on the hilltops. Later I saw a number of cars drive past with snow on their roofs. So the weathermen were right again; well, at least partially. Lower down where we live there was no snow, just a chill wind and some general dampness, not picturesque at all. But at least we have not had the storms which I understand have been battering parts of Galicia.

Once again I have been reminded by a yo
ung friend that I have been neglecting my blog. It must be something to do with the routine, mundane sameness of my life at the moment. Little of note has been going on to merit a great deal of comment. I could go on at length about the public transport system here but I will keep it fairly short. Every Thursday I go to a Portuguese class (where, coincidentally, our topic for the last two weeks has been transport) which finishes just before nine in the evening. I then rush across Manchester (there are quite possibly people who regularly see me coming and leap out of my way) to catch a bus to Oldham. I have to rush because my connecting bus to Delph leaves at 9.50 and if I miss it there is not another for an hour. (You can see why public transport might have me ranting at length!)

Last Thursday I arrived at the windy bus station in Oldham at precisely 9.50. However, there were people waiting at the relevant bus bay so I asked if my bus had already left. Not at all; these people were waiting for th
e same bus and had been there for ten minutes already. Some fifteen minutes later when the bus had still not shown up we decided that the timetable was just a notional thing. Possibly there is a general transport regulation which states that bus services need timetables but there seems to be no suggestion that it is necessary to try to keep to them. Certainly our bus appears to come and go according to the whim of the driver and on Thursday finally showed up twenty minutes late!

On the subject of the driver’s whim
, on one occasion the driver, chatting to a friend, missed his turning and carried on to the next turn to get back onto his route, thus missing out two bus stops on the way. Heaven help the poor people who might have been waiting at those stops! This is the kind of thing we have to put with!!

Today began dull and grey but I decided that I was
going for a long walk anyway. Not for the first time I was struck by certain similarities between the Saddleworth area where I currently live and the countryside of Galicia, certainly in the Pontevedra region. I have photos of the hills behind Pontevedra which could be pictures of some of our favourite walks here. It has to be said that those photos do not feature the eucalyptus trees which have adopted Galicia as their natural homeland, despite the protests of traditionalists.

However, Galicia does not yet appear to suffer from the ubiquitous Saddleworth
“green”. It must be the extra damp in the air here but trees can be green all year round, even when their leaves have fallen. Even the stones turn green eventually!

And then I saw something in the garden of a big house which reminded me again of Galicia. On some of my first visits to that delightful province I saw what looked at first like small family tombs in the gardens, little stone buildings raised up on stilts. Surely the gallegos
didn’t keep their dear departed in a kind of garden shed? No, of course not. This was the famous hórreo, a kind of storage place for any kind of produce you want to keep out of the way of rats, hence the stilts. I have been hunting through my photos for an example but cannot find one so you will have to take my word for it that the wood store which I saw in a Saddleworth garden does just about resemble the poor relation of the hórreo.

And finally, proof that there is justice in the modern sporting world after all. My cycling hero, the Madrileño Alberto Contador, should very likely be back in the Tour de France this year defending his title once again. He had been suspended because of dodgy drugs test results from last year’s Tour. However, his appeal has been successful and the ban has been lifted. Alberto is back on his bike!!!

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