Saturday, 15 June 2019


On our plane yesterday, sitting just behind us was a woman who kept talking through boarding and take-off, directing her travelling companions to their seats, commenting on what they could see through the window. She did a repeat performance as we came in to land. “Can you see the river yet? There’s Porto. We’re just passing Porto. You can see the sea. We’re coming in to land. Yes, we’re definitely landing. We’ve landed.” This last presumably in case we perhaps thought we were still up in the air. “This is Porto airport.” Just in case we thought we had gone back to Manchester?

I couldn’t work out whether she was a nervous flier or just a busybody chatterbox.

Later, as we sat in the airport cafe waiting patiently for hours for it to be time to catch our bus, I listened to a family at the table next to ours. They might have been talking something Eastern European or it might just have been very dense, unintelligible Portuguese. At least three times the father of the group read out long texts from his phone, or maybe stuff he had found on the internet, quite lengthy pieces anyway. These he read at breakneck speed. I doubt that his listeners could really take in what he was saying. They didn’t seem terribly interested anyway but I simply did not know anyone could speak at such speed!

After they had left, their place was taken by a group of young Frenchmen. Hipsters by the look of them, shaven heads and those very fashionable beards. Late twenties I would think. They drank beer and discussed drinking habits, going into details of their taste in champagne, the different sorts of wines to be drunk at different times of day and with different types of food. All very technical and knowledgable. All rather loud and cheerful. Do young British hipsters talk so authoritatively about wine and food? In public and at top volume?

When we arrived at Vigo, finally, we decided to walk from the bus station to our flat. We had spent a good deal of the day sitting down and it was a fine evening. A brisk walk would do us good. En route we stopped off at As Cobas, one of our regular cafes-with-wifi. This one has the added advantage of serving very generous, and usually very good, tapas with a glass of beer. As it was too late to buy supplies at the supermarket, this seemed a good way of having a little something before retiring for the night.

The table adjacent to ours seemed to be hosting a discussion group, about five men and one woman. At first it looked like an fairly ordinary, in other words loud, Spanish conversation over drinks but it became clear that there were some dominant personalities. The token woman was not backward in coming forward, talking at length about some topic or other and not at all reluctant to criticise her companions. One of the men was quite forceful too.

Most impressive however was the man nearest to us who on several occasions went into what I think of as teacher mode. He obviously felt he had something important to tell the rest of the group and was determined not to be interrupted. So he raised his voice and slowed down his delivery but maintained a rhythm that did not provide any opportunity for others to butt in with their rebuttals or confirmations. Wow!

When we left the cafe he was still going on and on and on.

We left him to it and went on our way, inspecting the improvements to our street as we walked along. 

The last time we were here they were in the throes of replacing the pavements, something which had been completed in other parts of the street in the previous year, leaving our stretch in a parlous state. Now it is quite pristine, fine white paving slabs all along the length of it. Very smart indeed. I much prefer this to the increasing British habit of replacing old-fashioned paving stones with tarmac. At least that is what seems to go on in Saddleworth.

Full marks to Vigo for providing a pleasing street environment!

The plants in the central reservations need a bit of attention now but no doubt that will come. And this morning the street cleaners were out with their brooms and trolly-bins, keeping the place tidy. 

Now, why is that not done in the UK?

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