When I came back from Dubai and Kyiv, I decided not to go away for a while, mainly for economic reasons! But with spring in the air, there is no better place to be than Girona! And certainly, during the summer, I very rarely go away. For many years, the Costa Brava was the dream destination for us Brits and now I can go to the beach on my bike! But my long-term plan is to go somewhere warm in the winter such as Colombia but that is a long way off. There is the summer to enjoy first.
If you are bored with politics, you can skip to the section about building a bridge! Where all the photos are!!
I know I have written about it before but I think that the uncertainty about Brexit and the political situation here are making me a little stressed. Brexit is just so crazy now that words fail me. MPs are abandoning their parties, there is still no agreement and goods are being shipped to the Far East which will arrive after the UK leaves the EU. That is assuming Brexit is not delayed. And what is the point in doing that? If they can't find a solution now, what difference will another 6 months make? David Cameron, you have a lot to answer for.
Here, we have local elections in May to coincide with elections for the European Parliament and a general election in April. And in everyone's mind, there is the trial of the 12 politicians in Madrid which will span both elections and undoubtedly influence the result.
To me, the conflict here comes down to, "The right of self-determination". Does it exist for Catalunya or not? In a way, the trial is about this one principle. In my opinion, if every region in Europe had the right of self-determination, we would have small countries (or cities!) popping up all over the place. A United Nations charter is often quoted but that applies to regions which are under oppression and have no freedom. And although this is often raised as being the case here, it is simply not true. Catalunya has a great deal of autonomy and freedom.
My objection to independence is simply pragmatic; I don't see how it could work in economic or logistical terms. If the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is a huge problem, have a look at the border between the rest of Spain and Catalunya. Most of Spanish road and rail transport with the rest of Europe passes through Catalunya, through the border at Perthus. If Catalunya achieved independence, according to the Constitution, it would automatically be outside the European Union and would have to re-apply for membership. I believe than even Quim Torra, the current President of Catalunya recognises that because recently he was talking about a trade agreement similar to that of Canada. It would be enormously complicated. Would it not be better to find some consensus short of a total split?
It is funny, after a lifetime of being a true-blue Tory in the UK, I am now part of the PSC team promoting Manel Roqueta as our new mayor. PSC, Partido Socialista de Catalunya. In fact, in the world as a whole, I am "socialist". I believe in sharing natural resources. When Scotland had its referendum for independence, much was said about the value of crude oil in the North Sea. But I felt that it was not "their" oil. Anyway, that is all water under the bridge. I thought is was madness to offer Scotland the opportunity to break away from the UK, in the same way as Catalunya deciding its own fate. In any case, it would not be certain that a legal referendum here would result in the wish for independence. And people like me who do not have a Spanish passport, despite being resident here, cannot vote anyway.
Although I am part of the team, I will not be standing as a councillor. I enjoy the summer too much to be sitting in an office dreaming about the municipal swimming pool next door.
From what I understand, I will still have a vote in the local elections despite no longer being a European citizen in May. There was a treaty signed recently between the UK and Spain called the Voting Rights Treaty which allows this. I assume it is still valid in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
A bridge over the River Ter
I have long been frustrated by the lack of a foot crossing over the River Ter where I live in Celrà. The nearest crossing is either just beyond Flaçà or Saria de Ter which is almost part of Girona. In order to explore the other side of the river, I had to take a bus into Girona and then another bus out to St Julià de Ramis. The first time I did this, I took the wrong bus and, although the stop was called, "St Juilà de Ramis", it was miles away from where I wanted to go. The second time, I was much wiser.
There is a new attraction at Sant Julia, la Fortalesa. For many years there was an abandoned fort on a hill overlooking the river valley back to Girona. I drove up there many years ago. Then for about 5 years, there were two cranes operating on the site and now we can all see the result. There is a museum of jewellery, a restaurant and a luxury hotel and restaurant. It is an easy walk up from the Ajuntament of Sant Julià on the NIIa to la Fortalesa.
On my second visit to the other side of the river, I was looking for a possible site for a bridge but maybe there is not sufficient demand to justify the cost. The obvious location is a concrete roadway which stops abruptly at the river on the side of Celrà. Oh, the frustration, a few metres away is Medinyá. Well, it is not the most beautiful town in the world but directly opposite my bridge "site" is a path which, one way, leads to Figueres and the other direction to Sant Julià de Ramis and Sarria de Ter. I took the latter route and it was wonderful. It follows open land close to the river and next to the AP7 autoroute. Then there is a bridge over the River Terri and then a signposted walk by the river, with a number of signs showing typical wild-life in the region. I followed the path right down to the corner which is very close to the railway and the C66 road between Girona and Celrà. Then I followed the river back to the Ajuntament of Sant Julià de Ramis where I arrived in good time for a bus back to Girona.
|the concrete roadway, from the Medinyà side (A)|
|another view of (A)|
|This is where I normally visit...(B) but from the Sant Julià side!|
On the internet, I found a website which described how to build a suspension bridge. I contacted the guy who built it (he is in Seattle) and I bought his book. But when I sat down by the river crossing where the roadway ends, I though that it would be better as a cable-stayed bridge. It would be asymetrical getting most of its strength from the concrete.
|it is crying out for a bridge!|
This is my dream, to build this footbridge. I would use local tradesmen. There is even a source of cable because there is plenty of that in the overhead wires of the abandoned railway into the industrial estate. Maybe I will wait until we have our new Ajuntament, maybe Manel will be mayor! At the moment, the ruling party is the far-left CUP. We in the team want a village for everyone. We speak Spanish at our meetings which is great for me because I don't speak Catalan. I understand it reasonably well but I would have no idea how to construct a sentence.
Oh, I nearly forgot. Ad Mundi in the railway station in Girona has started selling my cards again!