SPAIN IN GENERAL                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3.12.10

If you're either already living in Spain and want to compare you own experience with mine - or you are thinking of moving here - you might enjoy reading the following. Please note that these are not to be taken too seriously. If you disagree strongly [or even weakly] with what I have written, feel free to tell me so on colindavies@terra.es

After I had been in Spain only a few months, I recorded my initial observations. This is the link to them. If you are Spanish and sensitive, please note the caveats I make in the introduction.... Initial Observations on Spain

If you feel that these are insufficiently positive, then I offer, firstly, my own list of Spain's positives and, secondly, this article by John Carlin in recompense..... Spain - The Place to Live

And here is something else offered in compensation, written after I had been reproached [by Spaniards] for depreciating Spain....Spain v. The Rest of the World

Here, in like vein, is a page of quotations on Spain and the Spanish..... The Spanish - Selected quotes from domestic and foreign observers

Since mid November 2003, my observations on life here have been published on the following blog site:-   Thoughts from Galicia

Unless you live on the Costa del Sol - or have taken the decision to move there - you may find my somewhat jaundiced view of that coast of some interest....    The Costa del Sol

Here's a little bit about George Barrow....... According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he was born in 1803, in Norfolk, England and died in 1881, in Oulton Broad, wherever that is. He was, in short, an "English traveller, linguist, and one of the most imaginative prose writers of the 19th century." In more detail... "Borrow was the son of a professional soldier and led a wandering childhood as his father's regiment was moved around the British Isles; these peregrinations inspired memorable passages in his masterpiece, Lavengro (1851). Between 1815 and 1818 he attended grammar school at Norwich, and it was here that he began to acquire a smattering of many languages. An attempt to apprentice him to the law proved unsuccessful, and early in 1824 he decided to try his luck in London. There he remained for about a year. At length his health collapsed, and he went on a long bohemian pilgrimage through rural England. His adventures, including many contacts with Gypsies, provided some of the background for Lavengro and The Romany Rye (1857). He strayed back again, however, to Norwich, where he completed Romantic Ballads, translated from the Danish (1826). In Spain, while working for a Bible society, he found his literary homeland, whence came the raw materials for The Zincali: An Account of the Gypsies in Spain (1841) and for his brilliantly picturesque, yet highly informative, travel book The Bible in Spain (1842). Its success was “instantaneous and overwhelming.”

By his own admission, George wasn’t terribly successful at pushing Bibles in Spain. But he did have a great time, falling in love with the country and its people in the process. “She is”, he wrote, “the most magnificent country in the world. And I have found much that is noble and to be admired amongst the Spanish people, who have always treated me with kindness and courtesy”.

The Bible in Spain is hard to get hold of in book form but you can download the text from:- http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=415

Here's George Borrow's book on Spanish gypsies - The Zincali. A fascinating read.

And here are some extracts from my friend Peter Missler's marvellous book on one of the great characters described by Borrow - Benedict Mol, The Treasure Hunter of Santiago. Click here for details on how to get your hands on the whole thing.

Talking of writers, here's a list of Spanish authors cited by Michael Jacobs in his entertaining book, Between Hopes and Memories: A Spanish Journey

Here are the memoirs of a French hussar officer, M. Rocca, who fought during the War of Independence in Spain, from 1808 to 1811.

In 1912, an Englishman called Aubrey Bell wrote a book called "Magic of Spain", of which this is the Intro and the Preface. This is his fascinating view on the Spanish Character, possibly out-of-date. And here is his view of travelling in Spain, which certainly is. Plus his dissertation on crossing the border with France. Go here if you want to read or download the whole book - http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924028472979

More recently, an expert on the ancient world - Alfred B Mittington - has brought his knowledge and expertise to bear on an issue which troubles the governments of both Spain and Britain. Not to mention Morocco. This is Gibraltar, of course. Click here for this fascinating exposition of the factors at play.

Another friend of mine - Peter Missler - has written this fascinating anlaysis of why and how the Spanish spend huge sums on their daily and annual lotteries. And of the beliefs and superstitions which surround this expensive and occasionally fruitful activity.