Archive for the ‘Odds & Sods’ Category

It’s quite a well-known fact that Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister is Galician, and spends much of his vacation time here in Galicia – or Sanxenxo to be more specific, about 12km from our Bodega. Indeed, when we are there in summer it is not uncommon to see groups of rather sinister looking security guys hanging round on the street corners adjacent to his building.

However, another more closely guarded secret is that U.S. President Donald Trump also spends some time here (although it can be quite difficult to hide the huge outline of Air Force One as it touches down on the tiny Vigo airstrip).

In today’s photo we can see Donald (clearly in some sort of hi-tech disguise) as he breaks ground on his new golf resort in our Province.

(Fake News Alert!)

Addendum: I forgot to mention that this is not a ‘shopped’ photo, but is actually a real Galician woman called Dolores Leis.

A day or so ago I posted an image of a local festival on our page, depicting a crazed monk beating French soldiers over the head. And thereby lies the clue: they were French soldiers.

To cut a long story short, the celebration in Mos this month is to mark a significant Spanish victory in the liberation of Galicia, as they expelled the invading French army. March 23rd 1809 signalled the beginning of the end for Napoleon’s Iberian campaign in the Peninsular Wars fought between Napoleon, the Spanish Empire, the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Portugal.

Starting in 1807, as Napoleon sought to occupy the Iberian Peninsula, the joint forces of France and Spain invaded Portugal. However, less than a year later, the French turned on their Spanish allies, and the depleted Spanish forces were easily overcome. Eventually, in November 1808 the Spanish Junta was forced to abandon Madrid.

The fight back, lead by a Spanish resistance that continually harassed the occupying forces (considered to be the first evidence of guerrilla warfare) started in early 1809, with Vigo and Pontevedra being among the very first Spanish regions to be liberated.

In today’s image (posted originally on the Instagram of that time) there is no firm evidence that monks were guilty of assaulting any French troops. Proof, if it were needed, that fake news has existed for many years!

Posted in Fiestas, Odds & Sods

Now here’s a local poster that caught my eye, originating from the small town of Mós, near Vigo. Of course, it is just one more example of the numerous Fiestas and Celebrations that take place every week here in Galicia (and all around Spain). Today I will not explain exactly what it represents, but leave you to ponder for a day or two. I must confess that initially I had no idea what it was myself, and had to do a bit of research to find out. Suffice to say that it is some sort of historical re-enactment that apparently involves monks hitting uniformed soldiers over the head! The explanation will come later….

Posted in Fiestas, Odds & Sods

Village life

April 11th, 2018

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Apart from my early childhood, I have lived nearly all my adult life in cities. Of course, I now live in the small provincial ‘city’ of Pontevedra, and when I first moved here some 16 years ago, the change was quite a shock to my system. For example, the difference between London, where I worked, and the village of Barrantes, where I work now, was…. well, like being on a different planet. It was not simply a question of size, or the conveniences that you take for granted in a big city, but it was actually more to do with the ‘culture’ of village life.

London can be a very impersonal place, where you might not even know the person living next door to you. People could be crammed onto public transport, almost face-to-face and never speak, and to be honest it’s not really the easiest place for making new friends.

Barrantes is the polar opposite! Even people you have never met know who you are, and even personal details about your life. The thing is that people talk – in fact, a few that I know never stop talking. Perhaps even unwittingly they disclose information about themselves, their families, their neighbours and their friends, I think it’s what some might call ‘village gossip’. Perhaps it’s because I’m English, and already stand out from the crowd, but I have introduced myself to many people who actually already know who I am. My fame goes before me.

Looking for a leak

January 30th, 2018

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Just before Christmas I wrote about a serious leak from a water pipe in the ceiling above the tank room of the bodega. Well, the saga continues even now. As in the case of many a water leak it isn’t always easy to find the exact source, because, as we all know, water will simply permeate until it eventually finds a place to escape (in this case the ceiling of the bodega).

Nearly one month later, and after much digging and breaking of concrete, we hope that we might have finally located the origin of our mini-waterfall. So now it is simply a question of repairing all the holes and self-inflicted damage that we have caused during our search. The first steps will be sand, cement and concrete (including waterproof membranes and paints), and then finally, repairing and re-painting the ceiling of the tank room itself.

By the way, just in case you were wondering, we were able to isolate certain sections of our water network and these have been cut off during the search – the water was not been pouring through the roof for the entire month! Fortunately, we have other sources of water to work with and we were not completely dehydrated…..

Posted in Bodega, Odds & Sods

Writer’s block?

January 23rd, 2018

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When I sit down to write our blog and/or Facebook page, I always try to think of something new, original and interesting to say – but it’s not always easy! Of course there is always work going on, admittedly at this time of year, it is mostly in the vineyards. The pruning continues apace, but what else is new?

My ‘new’ idea for 2018 is to start adding a few more videos to our pages during the year. For example, I talk about pruning a lot, but have never actually shown how it’s done. Pruning on pergolas is always a bit more complicated than the norm, it’s not simply a question of making the cut, and the old wood just falling to the floor. When the actual cut is made the old vine is still very much attached. The long canes are always well and truly wrapped around the supporting wires, and have to be removed rather carefully. Applying too much force and simply swinging on the wires would soon bring them down, and believe me, repairing wires is even more complicated – a highly skilled and specialised profession (‘alambrador’).

The actual task of removing this dead wood from the wires is known as ‘derramar’ or sometimes ‘sacar vides’, and as with pretty much every pruning related job, it  means working overhead. Indeed, the only work that is not done staring at the skies is removing the cuttings, piling them up and burning them.

Unfortunately today’s weather is not conducive to videos or photography for that matter, with intermittent drizzle, but I do promise that within the next week or two I will actually post a short clip of all the action!

You might think that living in an isolated corner of Spain, we might escape from the epidemic that is currently sweeping across Europe, and indeed many different parts of the world. I am of course talking flu, or ‘gripe’ as it is known in Spain. This year it seems that we have been hit by as many as three different strains, including ‘Aussie’ flu (H3N2 – probably from sub-tropical regions) and Japanese flu (‘Yamagata’ influenza B).

Of course jet travel now gives us the ability to fly half way across the planet in less than a day, and so it is hardly surprising that some of these viruses can have exotic, long-distant origins. Indeed, I have often thought that an aircraft cabin can be an extremely unhealthy environment, (especially if the person behind you is coughing and sneezing in your ear, and there is simply no means of escape). We may scoff at the Japanese who often wear surgical masks on public transport, but when you’re lying in your bed with your head throbbing and your muscles aching, then perhaps it’s not such a bad idea after all.

Here at Castro Martin we have not been immune – since the beginning of 2018 more than half of our permanent staff have been infected, including myself. Fortunately it appears that the flu vaccine I had at the beginning of the winter has helped to moderate some of the symptoms, but I am still staying away from the cold, humid atmosphere of the bodega until I am 100% again. I also encourage our people to stay at home when they have colds or flu, as working in a small, confined office, it will simply be passed on in no time at all.

A dog is for life

December 28th, 2017

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It’s at this time of year when charity is often at the forefront of our minds, and Castro Martin is no exception. We are now supporting a local animal refuge in Cambados (about 5km from the bodega), but not only at Christmas time, this is a cause that we support throughout the year.

The refuge not only provides temporary homes for lost and abandoned animals, but also has it’s own veterinary service, and a pet shop (the income from which also helps to fund the enterprise). So not only do we support the centre financially, but they also sell our albariño in the shop, any profit also going directly to the charity. Each bottle of our Casal Caeiro brand (sold widely in Spain), carries a special booklet, highlighting our backing of this deserving charity.

So, of all the charities around why would we select this one to support? The answer is quite simple – Angela’s sister Duliana is one of the people who helped to set up the refuge, and now spends her time managing the shop.

As always, the message here in Spain, is very much the same as that in the UK – “a dog (or any pet) is for life, and not just for Christmas”.

Circumnavigating Vigo

December 11th, 2017

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To be honest, when friends and visitors ask me, I’ve never really recommended Vigo as a place to visit – Santiago de Compostela always, La Coruña sometimes, and also Pontevedra on occasions, but never Vigo. It’s not exactly a ‘pretty’ place, there’s far too much faceless 1970’s architecture, and not too many tourist sites of special mention. It’s a very important industrial fishing port, but not much more than that.

I usually only visit when I have chores to do, and so last week, on our bridge day, I went there for a couple of things. The first errand was in a place that I know well, whilst the second was in a place that I really don’t know at all. Fortunately I managed to find both (without the aid of satnav), but then, when it came to the return journey, then that was another matter….

A combination of the unfamilar roads, changed priorities and a couple of diversions left me, quite literally driving in circles – stuck in a never ending loop. For nearly half an hour it was like being stuck in a maze – trying a different route each time, but then always ending up in the same place. Of course, owing to the road closures satnav wouldn’t necessarily have helped, and so it became simply a matter of trial and error. Groundhog day with traffic! I am convinced that the traffic planners in some of these places clearly never have to use these routes themselves, or perhaps they don’t even drive… that’s just my theory anyway.

Sometimes, when people acquire or inherit money their first impulse is to open their own restaurant, or perhaps build a wine cellar. I think that this is what you might call a ‘romantic idea’ – the fact that your name might appear above a restaurant door, or on your own wine label. Proof of this could be the number of Hollywood stars who have already taken this path (except that when they did, I very much doubt if they ever stopped to consider the long hours and hard work involved behind the scenes). Their only consideration was probably the end result – a bottle of their own wine or a nice location where they could entertain and/or impress their friends.

For us, this assumption can be something of an occupational hazard. For example, when we make a new acquaintance and mention that we have a wine cellar, you can almost see their eyes light up. Not necessarily because they expect a flood of free wine, but much more that they see it as a potential day out – a visit and guided tour of a wine cellar. In many instances they actually extend themselves an ‘auto-invitation’, by saying “Oh, we must come and visit you”. When this happens I always ask myself the same question – if we told them that we owned a shoe shop, would they necessarily want to visit and see how a shoe shop is run? I very much doubt it!

The reason that I mention this now is because this happened to us only a few days ago. Upon meeting our new next-door neighbour for the first time, at the very first mention of wine cellar, the auto-invite was extended.

The amusing side to this story (which is 100% true), is that his profession is that of undertaker. Suffice to say that we did not ask for a reciprocal visit!