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There's More To Life Than Work (Andrew Pena)

A Galician Adventure

I spent a week in August visiting Galicia, the North West tip of Spain. It is the place that my family originate from and where I spent a few of my early years. It is a region that is a natural counterweight to the hustle and bustle and intensity of London life.

Nothing much happens commercially in Galicia although I did learn that it has become one of the centres of European drug smuggling fuelled by some local fishermen organising themselves into a drugs cartel to supplement their diminishing income from dwindling fish stocks.

It is a place that has a surprisingly deep connection with Britain being the launch pad for the Spanish Armada. The scene of another Great English Escape, the Battle of Corunna, where the British army was able to sail away from the clutches of the overwhelming Napoleonic forces.

Each year I go to Galicia, I find it a more interesting place to explore. When I was younger, I experienced all its traditions, festivals, and country ways as being at odds with my own personal ambitions and views on life.   My relatives would try to whip up my enthusiasm by regaling me with bizarre stories of people, incidents and places which seemed to have no place in a normal world.

There was a fascination with death, and the beauty and cruelty of life, which I did not understand. The 8am ringing of the church bell – for whom the bell tolls – to signal a death in the village. The afternoon peril of a local tradition - traversing a slippery oil clad gang plank style pole that had to be negotiated as you tried to avoid a 30 foot drop into the Sea whilst battling against an armful of octopi.

 

There was the ultimate hangover cure; the fireworks at dawn to signal that the fiesta of the night before had officially ended and that you should begin to steel yourself for the morning procession to the Sea. And, of course, we have El Camino (or The Way); the medieval pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella; a road on which, legend says, you meet good and evil; St. James and the devil.   There are many routes to Santiago and where my family live in Spain is co-incidentally on the route from the coast known as “The English Way”. Finally, and to leave you with no doubt as Galicia’s pride of place in the world, there is Cape Finisterre, literally the end of the world encircled by La Costa da Morte (the Coast of Death).

How, you may ask, does all this connect with being a lawyer and building Cubism Law? I suppose it starts with beginning to understand that there is some point to these strange goings on in Galicia.

It is the culture and way of being; how people connect, communicate, engage and enjoy being with each other despite their differences. It is what, for all its eccentricities, makes Galicia an extra-ordinary and unique place to live and visit. A place and environment that forges a vibrant and closely knit community; a genuine togetherness based on a love of the land and sea and a long heritage of traditions.

So, for me, Galicia is a symbol of my desire to do something meaningful with Cubism by building a business founded upon a fun, engaged and "can do" client-focused culture. Building something where the community is as important as the individual; where collaboration and helping others is cherished and where, as a common goal, we are looking to create something which, like Galicia, is genuinely greater than the sum of its parts. So, adopting an English Way – the best of British - but with a Galician twist.