Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Weather, etiquette and such.

This year Galicia's summer has been described in some newspapers I have read as "un verano irland├ęs": an Irish summer, unusually rainy. Clearly Ireland is seen generally as the place where it rains all the time. While it's true that the summer has not been a 100% success while we've been here - there have been some dull days and there has been rain - it seems fine to me. Of course, I am looking at it from the perspective of someone whose country goes on heat wave alert if they predict more that 22 degrees temperature. The locals here want it to be around 30 degrees if they are going to call it a "proper" summer. 

On the plus side, and this even for those who complain about the lack of a "proper" summer, there have been no major forest fires around here. Last year the fire-fighting planes were out scooping up water from the bay at the end of June and the fires continued on and off throughout July and August. 

In the UK I have known people be fined for dropping cigarette ends in the street. However, that's usually because they don't want you to litter the streets. And I believe it's an anti-littering bye-law that is applied. Here in Galicia, if you travel on the roads you see signs reminding you that there are fines for throwing cigarette ends out of the car window! Not litter this time but the chance that you might set fire to the countryside. 

 We may be having lots of sunshine here but my friend Isabel's Portuguese friend complained yesterday that it was cold when she left Oporto in the morning: 12 degrees and fog until she crossed into Galicia. Then the sky was suddenly clear and the temperature went up. 

That fog can be tricky. There are reports of a section of road in the hills (only recently opened) having to be closed in some places because of accidents caused by fog. Now, I suspect that the road makers should have thought twice about building a fast road up there as it is well known that they get fog frequently. 

We have had sea mist drifting backwards and forwards up the estuary since quite early this morning. So far it hasn't reached us. It has to get really thick and heavy to affect our bit of Vigo. 

I hear that Merkel and Rajoy plan to walk some of the camino. Maybe they expect some divine guidance in running their countries. I hope they don't get lost like the young lady from Frankfort who got lost close to Finisterre and nearly fell of a cliff. She had to be rescued by emergency services. 

And now here's a bit of nonsense from France? A certain Nadine Murano, formerly Minister for Families in Mr Sarkozy's government, I believe, has been saying that it is a French woman’s duty to wear a bikini on a beach. 

 I didn't know a woman's patriotism was judged according to her beach wear. If so, there are some very patriotic Spanish women, bravely baring bodies that no longer look their best in bikinis. But maybe it only applies to French women. 

Seriously though, Ms Morano has provoked a political row by complaining that she had seen a Muslim woman sitting on a French beach in headscarf, long-sleeved tunic and trousers while her husband stripped off and bathed in the sea. 

 It seems she wrote on Facebook, “When you choose to come to a country of secular laws like France, you have an obligation to respect our culture and the liberty of women. Or you go somewhere else,” 

Equally seriously, I don't think it's anyone's business how someone else dresses on the beach. surely everyone is free to dress as they choose. If I were to appear on a beach in France in my one-piece swimsuit would I be considered culturally offensive? 

 Talking about culturally offensive, our ears continue to be assaulted by women who talk loudly, and I say this as a woman who can natter with the best of them. There was a bunch of them in a cafe where we stopped late this morning. All of them talked at once - no surprise there - but one in particular had that kind of fast-speaking, harsh-toned style that simply grates on the ears. They need a special zone in the cafe. 

As do the smokers. Hopefully, the laws regarding smoking in bars will be adapted some time in the future to insist on a section of the terrace reserved for them. The presence of hardened chain smokers can take away all the pleasure of sipping a drink on the terrace. 

And then there are the men who shout on the street. This afternoon we were treated to a full-scale row down on the street in front of our flats. We are too high to hear what they were arguing about but it was pretty fierce. Sticks and car repair tools of various kinds were wielded. A good deal of pushing and chasing was involved. One man kind of strolled around the bunch with a fierce-looking dog. But unless it appears in the paper and I accidentally come across it, we'll never know what it was all about. 

All is quiet again now, thank goodness.

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