Here’s Paul Whitelock’s personal review of the year – of events which have affected Spain in general and the Serranía de Ronda, where he lives, in particular.

WELL, what a year it’s been! From smoking bans to earthquakes, from toppled politicians to strikes. Oh, and Ryanair was up to its usual tricks, of course!


  • A proper smoking ban is finally introduced in Spain, so that we can now go for a drink without having to inhale other people’s smoke.
  • Ryanair starts 2011 as it left 2010 – mired in a row with the authorities! This time it is a row over charging if passengers arrive without their pre-printed boarding passes.
  • Spätzle auf Spanisch, a documentary about the long-standing links between Montejaque, Benaoján and German partner town Knittlingen, is aired on German TV.


  • We move house. There was probably other more important news this month, but we are so busy, we don’t notice!


  • Spain celebrates 25 years membership of the European Union.
  • It is announced that there are four million “black” workers in Spain. That means lots of income tax not being paid. It also means that the unemployment figures are probably even worse than those published.
  • A series of strikes at Spanish airports are threatened. The issue is the proposed privatisation of some airports and probable redundancies.
  • The maximum speed limit is reduced to 110 kph – to save fuel – but is restored to 120 a few months later.


  • Ryanair introduces another new charge.
  • Easter rains ruin the Semana Santa processions throughout the region.


  • The Spanish local elections result in a huge shift to the right. Many councils change hands, even in traditionally socialist Andalucía.
  • Earthquakes rock the town of Lorca in Murcia.
  • Ryanair blackmails Spain over fines imposed by government.


  • Ronda gets a new council formed by a coalition between the Partido Popular and  the Partido Andalucista. The new mayor, a woman, Mari Paz Fernández, is from the PP.
  • Júzcar, a village in the Serranía de Ronda, is chosen to promote the latest Smurfs film and is painted blue!


  • The running of the bulls festival of San Fermín, takes place as usual in Pamplona.
  • Prime Minister Zapatero resigns and announces general elections for November.


  • We became grandparents for the third time – Lotta is born on 4 August.
  • The weather is unbearably hot! Thank goodness for shade, swimming pools and sangria!


  • The Feria de Pedro Romero in Ronda is again a success, despite la crisis.
  • The poignant 10th anniversary of 11-S (9/11) is remembered throughout the world.


  • The former mayor of Ronda, Antonio María Marín Lara, is arrested on charges of corruption and is released on bail. Toti vows to clear his name; the question is will he manage to wriggle out of it this time?
  • Winter arrives with a vengeance at the end of the month with storms, rain and freezing night-time temperatures.


  • 20 November (20-N) is the 36th anniversary of Franco’s death.
  • It is also the date of the Spanish general election, which the PP win by a landslide. The new PM is Mariano Rajoy.
  • A high-speed rail freight route is announced, which will devastate one of the most beautiful valleys in Ronda. A vigorous campaign against is started.


  • We do a grand tour to visit family in Germany and England, but are glad to get back home.
  • UK PM David Cameron isolates the UK from the rest of Europe over plans to renegotiate the EU contract. This means the UK will have no say in the future direction of the Union. Press reports that the Foreign Office and the Treasury have contingency plans to evacuate British citizens residing in Spain are denied vigorously by the government.
  • As we scoff our grapes at midnight, and make our buenos propósitos del Año Nuevo, New Year resolutions, we can wonder what is in store for us in …

… 2012!

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

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