Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The rain in Spain

Falls mainly on Bigastro or so it would seem. To say that we have had a lot of rain overnight is an understatement. It won't be enough to see us through even part of the Summer of course but at least I won't need to water the garden for a few days.

So the best laid plans of mice and men as they say. Wednesdays are supposed to be our beach days. We didn't go last week because we were too tired after all the activity of the weekend but were supposed to be going today. The beach chairs, umbrella and cool box will just have to stay where they are.

The weather reports show it getting better by the weekend. We may have to re-schedule our week and go food shopping tomorrow and then perhaps go to the beach Friday.

Oh decisions - decisions!!!

Sunday is of course the day of the Aire 06 show. We really need clear blue skies for that otherwise we won't see much of the spectacular displays that are promised.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Getting ready

You can guess how we intended to spend Monday.

.. this is the pony tail palm we bought last week which Pam wanted me to show you.

Monday, May 29, 2006

¿Hola que tal?

So what kind of Sunday did you have? Hopefully a peaceful one. I went out for a ride on my bike exploring further the Huerta which is the market garden area on the other side of the main road.We then spent the afternoon lazing in the sun and dipping in the pool. Later on we had a BBQ.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday. In fact so good we might do the same again today.

Saturday night we went to Pilar de Horadada to watch the Campeverde theatre group perform a couple of comedy sketches. Very good they were too. I couldn't help but notice though that not only were the actors all of a certain age but the audience were too.

John was directing me back from the theatre and made a hopeless mess of trying to get us out of Pilar. I don't think he realised that was good drinking time we wasted driving round the back streets of the town.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

As it happens

So yesterday turned out to be a better day weatherwise than I thought it would be. Although there was thin cloud it didn't stop the sun from shining. We still went shopping though.

The good news is that Pam's prescription for her glasses hasn't changed. The even better news is that the optician didn't charge for the eye test. Sods law though - last night when I took my contact lenses out and went to put my glasses on one of the srews flew and the lens dropped out. So I have to go down to the optician to get a new screw put in. Now why didn't that happen the night before?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Small consolation

Those of you in the UK who have had rain on and off for the last two weeks will not comiserate with us. However a little sympathy wouldn't go amiss.

It's May - nearly June and the weather here is not great. It should be hot and sunny not mild and cloudy. Temperatures should stay in the mid twenties not be struggling to keep above 20. Most distressing though are the clouds that keep rolling over. They are not the sort that provide rain just obscure the sun. We like to see the sun. It's what we bought sunglasses for.

I mean come on - this is Spain for goodness sake. The place where people come to get a tan and escape from the cold northern climate. Folks have paid good money to holiday here and enjoy themselves. They don't want to go round in trousers and sweaters. They've got suitcases full of shorts and T-shirts to wear.

OK the odd day has been brilliant - blue skies, hot sun without a cloud in sight. How can you plan your week on that basis? We need to know that each morning we'll get up to sunshine.

Ah well I suppose we'll just have to have another day of shoppping. Actually Pam needs some new glasses because she can read better without the ones she has so we have a good excuse. Let's hope the optician speaks some English otherwise when he asks "is this one better or worse" she might just give the wrong answer. With the weather as it is she won't need them to be tinted.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What we missed

We decided against going to the beach. There was a layer of thin cloud about and a strong breeze which meant we would have been sandblasted rather than tanned yesterday. Instead I got on with some much needed gardening; tying in new shoots on the climbers, potting on the tomato seedlings and clearing out the weeds and grass. I also took the cover off the pool and stored it away for the summer. Now the water is at 26 -28 degrees C it is plenty warm enough for swimming.

Just to show you what we missed though here are some pictures of Guardamar beaches. Guardamar has 11km of white sand beach from the mouth of the river down to Campamor. Although the beach in the centre gets very crowded in August there is always plenty of room if you are prepared to walk a little.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Delighted shepherds

Any shepherds in the area would have agreed that a red sky at night was indeed a sign of good weather at least for the morning. By 5pm yesterday though the clouds had rolled over and the wind had picked up. By 7pm it was calm again.

The sunset last night was just dull. It doesn't seem to have made any difference though - the sky is brilliant blue and the sun is shining. Wednesday is now our beach day so let's hope that the clouds stay away until at least 6pm.

Prize for the breast photograph

Bigastro Town Council are trying to promote breast feeding by offering a prize of 200€ for a photograph that promotes " Maternal Lactancia, Quality of Life of the municipality of Bigastro ".

I wonder if they are looking for a judge?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Red sky at night......

Yesterday we had this spectacular sunset. I'll let you know if the rhyme we learnt as children is true.

Speaking of seeing red.... There was a meeting last night at the Pedrera called by the Villas Andrea Residents' Association. It appears there have been more shenanigans with someone sending the Chairman an anonymous letter. One of the committee members read the letter out and it seemed to us that there were some very good points raised in it. Those got lost though when the Chairman made a statement saying he had had enough. We weren't quite sure whether that meant he was resigning. It didn't matter though because a huge wave of sympathy swept over the meeting and he ended up being convinced to carry on. All very dramatic and a total waste of our time.

By the time we had walked back and chatted to several people on the way it was past 9pm and we hadn't eaten. We are told that Spanish people don't eat their evening meal until 10pm or later. I just don't know how they survive - we were darned hungry.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Great for parties

John Reed arrived today with our candles and floating solar lights so we are all set to amaze our daughters when they come out in just less than three weeks time.

For those of you who don't live in Bigastro (which I guess is most of you!) the candles are available from Fun Products but don't expect to get them at John's prices.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Why does my head hurt?

San Isidro must have been a really good guy because he brought us perfect weather yesterday to celebrate him. The procession of people accompanying San Isidro left the church at about 10:30am and worked its way through the town and up to the Pedrera. There were several watering stops on the way and of course the procession was accompanied by fireworks.

Once San Isidro was safely installed in the hermitage, the party began and lasted until he was carried back down to the town at about 7:00pm. On the way back the procession stopped at the top of the town where everyone watched a fallas being burnt and ate lettuce with potatoes.

We followed the procession down into town and then called in at Miguel's bar where we had tapas and drank until 12:30am. The bill for all of us at Miguel's was 23€.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

This is Spain Exhibition

This weekend at Los Montesinos we have the expats exhibition of home, garden and lifestyle products. There is eveything from lights for the garden to powerboats on display in three large marquees. In fact this year the exhibition has spilled outside onto the adjoining street.

Pam and I went yesterday and spent a good few hours meeting people, chatting to the exhibitors and picking up information about a whole range of useful items. For example there was a company selling protectors for your car tyres. Not an item that you would need in England but here in Spain the sun can perish the walls of tyres long before the treads are worn out.

There was also a device called the "Mosquitoeater". Rather than just deter the little biters with sprays and citronella candles, you destroy the females which then disrupts the breeding cycle. Having already been bitten this year we were quite interested in that but not at the price they were charging!

What we did buy were three floating lights for the pool and some amazing candles from a guy called John Reed who looks after quite a few pools on our estate. The candles look like any ordinary candle you would put on a table outside at night. When you light them though there is an LED in the bottom which glows up in a sequence of seven colours. Most unusual and very attractive. You can contact John at

We also met Andy from Zbeds in Guadamar where we bought our main bed from. Andy came from Bromborough on the Wirral so we had got to know him well when we bought the bed. From one shop in 2004, Andy now has three shops. Good luck to him, he is a nice bloke who gives good service and so deserves all the success he gets.

Perhaps even more spectacular

Last night at the corrida de toros it was the turn of the caballeros or horsemen to fight the bulls. All three of the caballeros showed why in Spain bullfighting is regarded as an art. The skill of these men on horseback had to be seen to be believed.

Out of the six competiions there were four ovations and three ears awarded. Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza was awarded the ears of both the bulls he fought and was carried out through the Puerta Grande to an appreciative crowd.

As you can see, the Plaza de Toros is obviously the place to be for the beautiful and rich of Madrid

Friday, May 19, 2006

It's getting hot in here

According to our weather reports parts of Spain reached 40 degrees on Wednesday. Now that is hot. Our thermometer was just over 30 yesterday and it felt really hot then. We walked down to the market and had a very sweaty walk back up the hill. Our Spanish class in the afternoon was cancelled so we lounged in the pool and under the sunshade. By teatime it had clouded over but was still very warm.

Even the wasps were trying to get in the pool yesterday. The clever ones keep their wings up and fly off. The dozy ones get stuck and have to be fished out with the net. There must have been at least a dozen caught in the pool yesterday and they all have to be removed before Pam sets foot in the water.

It's funny how you can read weather reports online and get such conflicting stories. The BBC say it is going to rain in Torrevieja today but the Spanish satellite TV station Meteo says it will be cloudy to start with getting clearer. Looking out the window it is very cloudy so I hope Meteo is right. More important though we need it to be clear but not too hot for Romeria San Isidro tomorrow.

You can access Meteo online at Meteo Sam and see what the weather is like in Europe. Although you can get the menus in English, he only speaks Spanish. Not a problem though because the visuals tell the story anyway and he is fun to watch. Try him!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Saturday taken care of

San Isidro is the patron saint of Madrid hence the Feria which runs throughout May there and the nightly bullfights at la Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas.

He is also the patron saint of farmers and so lots of towns in Spain, including Bigastro, have a special day to celebrate him. This year's Romeria de San Isidro is on Saturday.

The statue of San Isidro will be brought from the church and carried through Bigastro all the way up to the Pedrera where there is a chapel specially built to house him. As you can see he will be accompanied by "pilgrims" en route.

Once he is installed in the chapel, we will all enjoy an afternoon of free wine, beer and paella punctuated by the odd firework.

More football

I can't believe this is the third post in less than a week about a game I don't really like. Still when your neighbour is a passionate Arsenal fan and they are playing Barcelona in an important match then it is hard to ignore.

We watched the game and did feel sorry for Arsenal. Tierry Henry nearly made it Arsenal's night on a couple of occasions. Ronaldinho on the other hand looked disappointing. Still on the night Barcelona took the silverware.

Even if we hadn't watched the match we would have known who won by the sound of fireworks set off in celebration around Bigastro. I might have to apply a little TLC when my neighbour appears this morning.

Anyway enough of the beautiful game. Well at least until the World Cup when maybe I will mention it again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A hard life

We went to Eroski yesterday and Pam bought a coolbox so we decided to go to the beach today to try it out. On the way there we bought a couple of chairs to sit on because we are a bit past lying on the sand.

Guadamar beach is so lovely especially at the Campamor end where it is backed by dunes. There is so much space especially at this time of the year. Added to which I think you get a better tan by the sea than you do in the garden.

So we had a wonderful day out. Oh yes and did it beat working in school? I think we all know the answer to that one.

More cup winners

On Saturday the 13th the girls from Bigastro beat the girls from Torrevieja in the final of the "Torneo de Fútbol Femenino de la Vega Baja" at Dolores. The score was a very convincing 3-1 for the stars of Bigastro C.F.

I can confidently say that, unlike Liverpool, they didn't block any roads or cause any chaos during their celebrations.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Noise and peace

It looks like Bigastro is to be invaded by motorbikes on the 11th June. The riders will take a route from Murcia to Petrer passing through different towns on the way including Bigastro. The idea is to spread the message that life is better without drugs.

The ride will see the culmination of a week’s activities in Bigastro aimed at preventing drug dependency amongst the young.

From what I can understand they are expecting up to 7,000 bikes. That will wake the place up a bit!!

On Sunday 21st May there is a free trip to the Chicamo River. Hopefully there will be more water in it than there is in the Segura.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A lazy day

Apart from a few little jobs and a cycle ride, yesterday was spent just lying in the sun and dipping in the pool. When I say lying I really mean sleeping. The weather was just gorgeous - blue skies all day and warm sunshine. Not so hot that you could feel it burning the skin - just that comfortable warmth that sends you to sleep. So why chase around getting all hot and sweaty? I meant to clean the car and the paving but then there is always manana.

We think our new neighbours came around to see their house last night. The lights were on outside so we knew there were visitors there. Pamela, who went up on the roof to observe, said there were two young children but she didn't see the parents. It would be nice to have a Spanish family actually living next door as long as they don't make so much noise that we can't sleep outside in the sun.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


To Liverpool FC who beat West Ham in the FA cup final. The many southerners on our our estate will be smarting at that one.

They'll just have to hope that Arsenal beat Barcelona in the Champions League.

Flamenco and more

Last night we went with our friends John and Jean to Rojales to watch a flamenco show. The lovely theatre there was packed with Brits, Spaniards and Germans. In fact they had turned 300 people away from the all ticket show.

The costumes and the dancing were brilliant. We quickly understood why this troup were so popular. Mostly girls but they did have two young boys of about 12/13 who were amazing and will be excellent by the time they are in their 20s.

As a bonus, a local school of jazz dancing put on a short performance to finish the show off. They were equally good and demonstrated just what talent there is in the area.

The next performance will be in November. We must make sure we book early for that.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

European Day

Torrevieja has over 140 nationalities living within its boundaries, not all of them European, of course. This year the civic celebrations for European Day were held in the main square in the town and there was an audience of several hundred present to watch the ceremony that began with some singing by the Nordic Gospel Singers.

When the Mayor appeared he raised the blue flag, with the golden stars representing the member states in the corner of the square. The Mayor then gave a short speech reflecting on the background to the EU and its relation to Torrevieja itself. This was followed by speeches from representatives of three of the 'foreign' communities residing in Torrevieja, the Belgians, the English and the Swedish. It was perhaps ironic that as the English representative gave his speech the weather that had been temperamental decided to go 'British' by starting to drizzle. That was not enough to dampen the occasion though, and a number of acts by folk groups from different countries such as Finland and Ireland followed.

I don't suppose they had a similar ceremony in Birkenhead or even Liverpool.

Not everyone's taste

I don't really want to start a debate about the wrongs and rights of bullfighting. We live in Spain and accept that bullfighting is a part of the Spanish culture. It is clearly not popular amongst most Brits here and not even amongst many Spaniards. I don't suppose anyone really enjoys seeing bulls being killed but that is the inevitable end game of a very spectacular display of courage and skill by the participants.

The month of May is when Madrid celebrates its patron saint San Isidro. As part of the celebration the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas hosts fights each night. Las Ventas is regarded as being the best bullring in the world and attracts crowds of 25,000 each night to witness the spectacle. Tickets are expensive especially for the better seats on nights when top bullfighters and the best bulls are taking part.

We watched the two nights which were broadcast on Canal + last year. This year, with a little more understanding, we were able to appreciate the spectacle more. Wednesday night they had a thunderstorm in Madrid which did nothing to dampen down the quality of the fights. Last night the weather was perfect but the crowd didn't warm as much to the matadors. No one was awarded the bull's ear or carried out in honour at the end of the event.

So, not to everyones taste but still a marvellous spectacle.

OK just one more moan then

The weather here has been very variable. It is warm but not necessaily sunny. Some days start sunny and then cloud over other days we have the reverse. This is not the weather we expect for Spain in May. Let's hope that June is brilliant when the girls some over.

Right end of moan.

Tonight we are going to see a flamenco show in Rojales with our friends John and Jean. That should hot things up for us!!

Sick of moaning

The reason why there have been no postings since Wednesday is that the connection has been down again. We'd only got it back on Tuesday when the engineer came and set up the security key on our access point. By Wednesday evening it was off again. We had a text message to say that there had been a major component failure at our site which they were working to sort out. Anyway we are back online for the moment so fingers crossed the connection keeps working - well at least long enough for me to finish this post!

End of moan

I had an email from a guy called Leslie who lives on the other side of our estate. He'd found his way to my "Moving to Spain" site and this blog and had read everything I have posted. I emailed him back and he came round with this wife on Wednesday night to see us. I was amazed that, not only had he read all the postings but could remember a lot of the content as well. It was really good to know that someone had benefited from our experience. We hope that they are as happy here in Bigastro as we are.

John, our next door neighbour completed the sale on his house yesterday and has headed off back to France with his cousin Wayne. John had suffered problems with his business and his health which forced the sale. Poor John was absolutely devastated at having to give up his dream of living in Spain before it had really started. We hope he manages to sort his life out and that good fortune shines on him again. Now we'll just have to wait and see who our new neighbours will be.

Thursday we went back to our Spanish class to see our teacher Ana who is now a "senora". We didn't get any work done but did have a good chat about the wedding and her honeymoon. We gave her a selection of our pictures in an album we'd bought back in the UK. She was thrilled to bits because she hasn't seen any photographs of the wedding yet. She told us that the professional photographers had taken 2,836 photos on the day and it would be 3 months before they got the album. Let's hope they got some decent shots out of that lot!!!

The wedding reception was apparently excellent and lasted until 6:00am the following morning. The honeymoon cruise though was variable. Her husband, Angel had an abscess in his mouth which he'd had treatment for before the wedding but which flared up again whilst they were away. The weather they had was variable and the pizzas they served at the buffet on the boat were all tomato and cheese. Worst of all though they didn't have chocolate for breakfast. I think she was glad to get back to Spain.

As we were leaving the class she called us over to her car. There in the boot she had presents for us all from the wedding. They were so beautifully wrapped that we were loathe to open them. Inside there was a glass bell, a beautiful scarf and a smart keyring. We think the presents were from her Godparents and her sister. So not only is Ana a poppet, her whole family are poppets as well.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I'm wearing sunglasses

Women are fine tuned subconsciously to detect the qualities they are looking for in a man - just by looking at his face, US research suggests.

Women can spot subtle signs of interest in children in a man's face, and accurately assess his level of the sex hormone testosterone, it claims.Child-friendly men were rated as good long-term bets, masculine men as ideal for a more short-term fling.

You see we men are much less subtle. The face is probably the last place we look!

I'm not ready for la Vuelta de España

How did they know that I've just got a bike and are just looking for places to ride?

My trips so far have been around the huerta which is the market garden area the other side of the main road. It is nice and flat so easy to ride around. There is also very little traffic so it is safe as well.

Should I go and further my integration into Spanish life?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Taking their time

The Guardia Civil in Santa Pola arrested a man in connection with a car robbery after matching his fingerprint to one found at the scene of the crime last Tuesday.

H.F, age 34 and from Morocco, was arrested for stealing a car on the 26th June 2005, which was later found on the 9th July in Guardamar. When the Guardia Civil found the vehicle, they conducted a search and found a fingerprint, and identified the criminal. After identifying him, they had to find and arrest him, which took place last week.

He is now in police custody.

Barrio de la Santa Cruz

Last weekend the District of the Holy Cross in Bigastro held its own fiesta.

Saturday morning the children entertained themselves with the kind of traditional games that their parents played in their childhood. Then there was music and dancing.

Sunday they held a traditional Mass to honour the Holy Cross in the Park. In the afternoon we went down for the giant paella which was washed down with wine and beer.

It was good to see so many people from Villas Andrea participating this year. Hopefully it demonstrates our willingness to participate in local events or perhaps it is just that we enjoy a free meal!!

Even more horses

Remember you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

More horses

The Spanish love horses and love dressing up. So on Saturday in Torrevieja they had the parade of horses as part of the Annual May Fair. The parade assembled outside the church where they held a special mass. With the mass over the parade followed a route through the town down to the fair ground at the sea front. There they paraded around the fairground for the next hour or so.

Taxing times

Residents are entitled to pay taxes in Spain rather than in the UK on private pensions. In our case we have to pay tax in the UK on our Teachers' Pension. However, to avoid dual taxation and also to avoid property tax we had to register with the Spanish tax people or SUMA.

Last week we went down to our fiscal adviser to complete this process. Inevitably there was a lot of paperwork involved. First we had to fill in Forms FD9 from UK Inland Revenue in both English and Spanish. Along with this we needed proof of our adress i.e. two recent utility bills, proof that you we are residents i.e. copies of our residency cards and recent copies of the padron showing registration at the local town hall. Finally we needed proof of payment of tax i.e. P60s. Now because Spanish tax years run December to January and UK ones run April to April we needed P60s for two years.

The next stage is to change our driving license to a Spanish one and then we should be finished for the moment.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Caravaca de la Cruz

This year for the first time in the four years that Rosa's Tours have been taking parties to the wine horses fiesta at Caravaca the sun shone all day.

We arrived in time for the procession of horses that were due to race in the afternoon. This was followed by the procession of Moors and Christians groups. After a delicious lunch we went back to see the horses race.

Anyway back to the beginning. The story goes that the town was under siege by the Moors and the water supply to the town turned bad. People were falling ill so they sent out a party on horseback to find fresh water. They actually came back with wine which not only made the people better but also restored the quality of the water supply.

Although it is a fanciful tale it's a good excuse for the fiesta that is held on the 2nd May each year. There are obviously two facets to the proceedings. One is to consume large quantities of wine and the other to race the horses. The actual race takes place on the last 100m or road up to the church at the top of Caravaca. Each horse is accompanied by four young men who race alongside it.

There are actually two competitions; one for the fastest horse and the other for the best dressed horse. There ought to be other competitions; for the person who consumes the most alcohol, the person who ends up with the filthiest clothes and the person who leaves moving out of the way of the horses longest. Inevitably there are accidents and the proceedings stop to allow an ambulance to negotiate the winding road up to the church. By 5pm when the racing finishes most of the young people who attend are too drunk to either know or care which horse has won. These people have stamina though because they all go home, clean up and go back out for the night time party that lasts until the early hours of the morning.

Back to the library

I said I shouldn´t speak too soon and I was right. The connection was working last Tuesday before we set off for Caravaca but was dead as a doornail when we got back and has been dead ever since. Apparently the signal from the trasmitter was bouncing off the satellite which was causing problems with the connection. I have no idea when the service will be back so for the moment I´ll be down here in the library keeping you up to date whenever I can.

I´ve got loads of photos of the fair at Caravaca and the May fair at Torrevieja to post but they will have to wait.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Next door

John who bought the house next door as a holiday home for him and his partner Margaret has had to sell it. He had a car import business in the south of England which was running into trouble at the end of last year. He tried to sell his house in the UK so that he could keep the house in Spain but the market in the UK was very sluggish. He ended up selling all the cars he had in stock just to make ends meet. Anyway he has a buyer for his house here in Spain and has reluctantly come over to finalise the sale.

We've been round there a few times just to make sure that everything was alright. We even tidied up the mess that the pool people had left. The pool itself had stagnant water in the bottom but was OK. Now he tells me there are mosquito larvae in it. Let's hope the new owners move in pretty fast and get it cleaned up. The last thing we need is a plague of mosquitos next door to us.