Saturday, April 30, 2011

They were there


After watching hour after hour of the Royal Wedding yesterday, we still did not catch sight of the Spanish royals who were present. I had to search the Spanish press this morning to find this picture of Queen Sofia, Prince Filipe and Letitia outside the Abbey.

And now for the bad news

Spain's unemployment rate jumped in the first quarter of this year to 21.3 per cent, a Eurozone record and the country's highest level since 1997, with more than 4.9 million people now out of work.

"This data is very negative and grave," said labour minister Valeriano Gomez yesterday.

The government  has tried an put a semblance of positive spin on the figures by suggesting that the true figures may actually  be less than this. The notion is that there are a significant number of people are employed on the black market, an issue  that the government wants to investigate and stamp out. 

The hardest hit group are the young. Between January and March, 90% of the 256,500 people who lost their jobs were under 35 years. Youth unemployment now stands at 860,000 or 45%. In four of the communities (Andalusia, Canary Islands, Valencia and Extremadura) more than half the population under 25 years are unemployed.

None of this bodes well for the recovery of the country. The hope is that unemployment will now have peaked but the expectation is that it will not fall significantly until at least 2012.

Friday, April 29, 2011


The Royal Wedding today was a fine example of what Britain does best, it is hard to imagine that any other country could have staged a better occasion.

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It had all the ingredients for success; London and Westminster Abbey were scrubbed up and looking at their very best, the crowds were enthusiastic and union jacks were on display everywhere. Then we had the perfect couple, a handsome Prince and a stunning bride in the most beautiful dress. The flowers, the music, even the trees were a delight. Everyone looked happy and the weather stayed dry.

And what about James Middleton? How many 23 year olds could have delivered the lesson from Romans 12 with such perfection and under the glare of so many people both in the Abbey and worldwide?

It made you proud to be British.

The age of the ni-ni

The economic crisis has meant that more and more children are staying with their parents until they are well into their thirties. Shifting them out of the house is hard. You do feel sympathy for their situation but at the same time, having spent so many years supporting them, it is time to have your house back to yourselves not to mention the fact that you would like to be released from the financial burden of having to care for them.

In many cases, there are genuine reasons why these young people cannot support themselves. However, I suspect that for quite a few, living at home is just too comfortable for them to even consider leaving.

In Italy they are known as "bamboccioni" – or big babies, in the UK, the government has coined them NEETS – not in employment, education or training, In the US the phenomenon has been labelled "full nest syndrome" and here in Spain they are called "ni-ni" – as they are neither working nor studying.

Now I read that a “ni-ni” from Andalusia in the south of Spain took his parents to court demanding a monthly allowance of 400 euros after they refused to give him anymore money unless he tried to find a job.

Thankfully, the judge at family court number five in Malaga, ruled against the man, who has a degree in law, and told him he must leave his parents' house within 30 days and learn to stand on his own two feet. The judge said that the man had "sufficient ability to work" and could not expect his parents to support him, although they had taken over the monthly repayments on his car. He did, however, order them to pay their son 200 euros a month for the next two years "to help with his emancipation".

This is apparently not the first such case in Spain.

Last summer a student from Lugo in the north-western region of Galicia sued his parents for 800 euros a month claiming his 600 euros allowance was insufficient. The case was rejected.

In 2007, a 22-year-old from Seville took his parents to court after they refused to up an allowance of 150 euros a month despite the father being out of work and only receiving unemployment benefit of 700 euros a month. In this case, the judge also ruled against the plaintiff but ordered the parents to pay his university tuition fees and provide an extra 150 euros a month for books.

A local eye on the weather

imageAs you know, I try and find decent weather reports from a variety of sources so that we know what to expect for the week to come.

Weather forecasting though is notoriously unpredictable and even the so called professionals often get it wrong. Add to that the fact that local weather can be very different a few kilometres away and it makes the whole process a bit hit an miss.

Things should improve though now because this morning I read about a young man in Orihuela who has set up a professional weather station on the roof of his building.

Twenty year old, Pedro José Gómez wanted to be a meteorologist from the age of 3. His father encouraged him by teaching his son how to read the sky. At the age of nine young Pedro was taking readings of maximum and minimum temperatures each day - recording them in a notebook. Now, of course that work is done for him by a computer program which records temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, air pressure and rainfall.

All this information was relayed firstly via his blog and then via a website and his Facebook page for people to read. As a measure of his success, his website had 54,000 visits in January alone and he has 600 followers on Facebook. Not surprisingly, Pedro has won several awards for all this work both at national and at European levels.

You can Google the name "MeteOrihuela" and find out for yourselves just what the weather has in store for today. Follow the link to his Facebook profile which will then take you to his website

Something to look out for


Last year, the local police association from Virgen de Monserrate lit up the cross on the top of the mountain behind Orihuela (Cruz de la Muela ) as you can see in this picture from the newspaper Información. It was the first time this had been done for twenty years.

This year, to celebrate the feast of the cross, they will be up there again but this time the cross will be visible from all angles and not just from the direction of Orihuela.

Let us hope it is clear on Sunday night so that we can see it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

His day in court

The Bigastro ex mayor, José Joaquín Moya appeared in court yesterday and admitted that municipal employees had been involved in work on the project next to his house at Vistabella. When he was asked if he had paid for the work he told the judge that he did not know and that he would have to check back on his accounts.

In a further twist to the case, it seems that the Bigastro council surveyor had also been involved in the project. He was the one who drew up the plans and applied for the licences but again Mr Moya does not recall whether he paid for that work.

With regards to the two council workers who had been reported at the site, the ex mayor said that one had come to take care of the chickens and the other to look after the garden. Both, he claims, visited outside working hours; the man who came to look after the chickens was given lunch and the other was paid a small amount for his efforts.

Moya claims that the allegations made against him were a ploy by the opposition party prior to the 2007 municipal elections and adds that he did not explicitly authorise the use of council vehicles after hours.

Not surprisingly, over one hundred of the council workforce signed a letter of support for the mayor denying the facts of the case at the time.

Too soon to say

Frustratingly, we were unable to watch the match last night between Barcelona and Real Madrid. No matter, it was apparently a scrappy match anyway with Barcelona keeping possession and Real Madrid preventing them from scoring. It was also an ill tempered match resulting in Pepe being sent off for a foul on Dani Alves followed by the Real coach Mourinho for making a comment.

In the end the game was sealed by two goals from Lionel Messi, the second of which was apparently pure brilliance. Like Shalke, Real Madrid now have a mountain to climb if they are to appear in the final at Wembley on the 28th May.

It is too soon to say I know but I would not be surprised to see a repeat of the 2009 Rome final this year in London except of course with a different result!

PS Whilst Real Madrid have won this championship 9 times and been runners up on 3 occasions, Barcelona have only won it 3 times and been runners up on 3 occasions. The last time that Real Madrid won it though was in 2002.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Two down and two to go

If the Copa del Rey match was anything to go by, the next two games could be “lively” for the referees.

Just to remind you, the first game of the four between Barcelona and Real Madrid was the league game which they drew. Since Barcelona have all but won the league for this season that was a fair result. Real Madrid then went on to win the King’s Cup for the first time in 18 years. The game however was spoilt somewhat by the number of fouls committed by both sides.

Now comes the two important games to decide who will reach the finals of the Champion's League. The winners could well face Manchester United if they cement their 2- 0 lead from the first round at Schalke. These are matches that both teams are desperate to win.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Real Madrid v Barcelona, SFL1, L1, 19:45 (UK time)

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Barcelona v Real Madrid, SFL1, L2, 19:45 (UK time)

It makes you think

The Internet is such a wonderful tool, it is hard to imagine life without it these days. However, using the Internet does leave us wide open to abuse by the “bad guys”. As fast as companies shore up the security of information that they hold on us, criminals find ways to breach those defences in order to obtain lucrative details about our lives.

We all know that we should use a different secure password for each account we have on the Internet but we don’t. To make matter worse, we readily supply vital details to anyone who requests it on the Internet without a second thought.

Now we read that Sony are contacting around 70 million of their customers to warn them that details including their names, addresses, dates of birth, passwords and security questions have been stolen. The electronics giant also admitted that the hackers may have gained access to people’s credit card details.

Experts described the security breach as a “nightmare” scenario, which could leave millions of PlayStation users open to identity and credit card fraud. Phew, I don’t have a PlayStation so I am not one of them. It does make me think of how many different sites I have sent details to including my credit cards.

It isn't just Sony that has suffered from this kind of problem, earlier this month, US firm Epsilon, which manages data for companies including Barclaycard, Citigroup and hotel chain Marriott, confirmed that millions of email addresses had been stolen in an attack on its servers. However, the data stolen in this case was limited only to email addresses.

In March, online retailer warned that customer emails and some personal information had been stolen, though the company stressed that credit card details were safe. In January, cosmetics firm Lush admitted that credit card details belonging to some of its customers had been stolen in the run-up to Christmas. The company advised customers to contact their bank.

The wheels grind slowly

The judicial process in Spain is notoriously slow probably because of the large numbers of denunciations that have to be dealt with. Eventually though, justice prevails, the guilty are dealt with and the innocent are let off.

In 2008, José Antonio Ricart for the PP in Bigastro and Carmen Castaño for the Greens filed a complaint about the mayor at that time, José Joaquín Moya. They alleged that he had used council employees and materials from the town to construct a rural hotel at Vistabella where I understand he lives.

The judge handling the case, has called for the municipal secretary, Antonio Saseta along with two other employees to provide evidence at court No. 4 in Orihuela in May. In the meantime, Sr. Moya has to appear today as a defendant, since he asked to postpone his appearance on 29th March.

This is hardly the crime of the century. However, taken along with the other imputations made against the former mayor, it builds up a picture of how he may well have abused his position as mayor during the later years in office.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fiesta time

Next weekend, the Holy Cross area of Bigastro will hold its annual celebrations which I know are always popular with the people from Villas Andrea.

Saturday 30th of April

Midday - Tapeo in the district.

7:30pm – Judging of the Floral Crosses that people put up outside their houses.

10:00pm – Food, Live Music and Discomóvil.

Sunday, 1st of May

11:30am-  A parade around the streets by the Society Musical Union of Bigastro.

Midday - Solemn Mass in honor of the Santísima Cruz to be held in the Park.

2:00pm– Preparation and tasting of a Great Paella for all the neighbours and assistants.

5:00pm – Children’s Games in the Park

The full picture

I have now had a chance to view the photo’s that the Mayor’s secretary, Angela, took of the Encuentro. I know she thinks that my pictures are often better than hers but that is not true, they simply show a different perspective. Angela tends to concentrate on the people involved whilst I go for more of an impression of what is going on.  In that sense, I believe our pictures complement each other rather than compete.

I would highly recommend you look at both sets to get the full picture of Sunday morning.

PS I particularly like this one that Angela took of Mary.

Courses for women

20110426_cursocThe Progressive Women's Association in Bigastro have set up two new courses aimed primarily at women.

The first is a course of basic English to be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9pm to 10pm in the Auditorium.

The second is a cookery course scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9pm to 10:30pm at the headquarters of the association.

Both courses have a fee of 17 € for members and 20 € for non members.

If only they could offer the cookery course in English, that would be interesting!

No party in Bigastro

I haven’t heard of any special celebrations here in Bigastro for the Royal Wedding on Friday; there just aren’t enough Brits here in the town to warrant one.

In nearby Rojales though, things are different. The town hall there have organised a “Royal Wedding Day” to take place in the market square.

There will be music all day, a model Bride and Groom, classic cars from Noche del Coche, a children's tea party, a fashion show, live music and entertainment from 11am until late.

Add to that dozens of market stalls, International food, wine tasting, tapas, paella, a penalty shoot out, a human fruit machine etc. and it sounds like fun. It looks like the weather should be good with a forecast high of 21 and plenty of sunshine.

Unfortunately, the forecast of London, where the wedding will take place, is not so good. It will be cloudy and there could be showers during the day. The following day though is forecast to be sunny!

Monday, April 25, 2011

For Manuel and Eli Robles Sanchez

I have posted the pictures I took of the Cofradia de la Samaritana on Good Friday to my Flickr album which I hope the administrator will allow me to link to their Flickr group.

It was better in Britain

Torrential rain meant it was the first time in almost 80 years that all of the six night-time processions in Seville were cancelled. The last time this happened was due to political unrest in the lead up to the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War.

It was no better on the Costa del Sol where many would have visited for an Easter break. There, strong winds and rain, kept the beaches clear and the cafes and bars full. 

Meantime, Britain enjoyed the best Easter weather the country has had for many years. We watched our daughters and their friends on Skype as they prepared for a barbeque wearing SHORTS!

The good news for them is that the fine weather should continue for today but will then become cloudy as they return to work on Tuesday. The weather in the south will stay sunny  and warm but by Friday there is a chance of some light rain.

Don’t be fooled

image The weather we had the other week might have led us to think that summer was upon us. then it turned nasty just in time for Easter.

Thankfully the weather stayed dry for most of the parades in this part of the country including the Encuentro yesterday morning in Bigastro which looked as thought it could be rained off at one point.
image Looks like the middle of the week could be best weather wise.

Let’s hope it stays fine in the UK for the Royal Wedding on Friday.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Boy were they loud

If you were wondering what all the commotion was about this morning, that was the Encuentro. It is the moment when Mary discovers that her son Jesus has risen from the dead and so is cause for celebration - hence the fireworks.

I can only tell you that, however loud they might have seemed at Villas Andrea, they were an awful lot louder down in the town where they were being set off. The other thing I can tell you that you needed to be up early to witness all this. The procession starts, on time, from the church at 7:15am.

Now obviously those of you who enjoy an extra hour or two in bed will have missed it. For your benefit, here are the photos that I took. I met Angela outside the church so I know that she will be posting pictures on the town's web site as well.

And for those of you who think it is the same thing every year, let me tell you it isn’t. True, there are certain features that are common from year to year but each time there is a new twist which makes it worthwhile going to see.

Now I need a shower and perhaps a cat nap to catch up on my lost sleep!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A night to remember

The weather stayed fair, so Pam and I went to Orihuela to watch the general procession for Semana Santa and were so glad we did.

Night was starting to fall as the first cofradia set off on their long route around the city. Pam and I were well placed at the old bridge near to the start so it wasn’t long before the first of many nazarenes came past followed by the beautifully decorated pasos.

The air was laden with the scent of incense and lilies as paso after paso passed by. Some were accompanied by the sound of drums beating out a solemn rhythm, others had cornets or bugles as well. There were several bands parading including our very own band from Bigastro led by Thomas.

Raquel Diaz was home from her studies in Barcelona especially for Easter and was spotted in the band playing her flute.

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You can see the rest of my pictures from this event here.

PS A big thank you to our neighbour Manuel for giving us lots of sweets, they kept us going all night!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Keeping an eye on the weather

We still haven’t decided whether to go to Orihuela tonight or not. There is a chance of some rain today but generally the forecasters say it will be cloudy rather than rainy. The low temperature will be around 12 degrees which means we’d need to wrap up well. 

As for the rest of the weekend, they all seem to agree that there could be showers over the weekend and we could even have some thunder on Sunday night.

A record paso

Said to be the largest paso in Spain, The Last Supper, owned by the Brotherhood of the same name, has thirteen figures on it ( the twelve apostles and Jesus), is eleven and a half metres long, three and a half metres wide, it weighs 2,500 kilograms and takes 150 costaleros to carry it on their shoulders. Mind you, it used to weigh 3,000 kilograms before they removed two of the side poles and could accommodate up to  208 costeleros.

One of the unique features of this paso is the food on the table. Everything is natural and is provided by the local markets. Forty kilograms of  fruit including melons, bananas, pineapples, apples, oranges even radishes are carefully arranged on the table for its procession. The tray of pascual lamb which represents the main course, is prepared beforehand but again is natural.

Is it any wonder that this paso features in the Guiness Book of Records and that hundreds or people queue up just to watch it being prepared?

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Real Madrid might have won the match but they haven’t been able to keep the cup thanks to Sergio Ramos. Just as well he isn’t the goalkeeper!

In his exuberance, Sergio Ramos dropped the Copa del Rey that they won last night from the top of the bus during the victory parade.

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Although, Ramos claimed that it wasn’t damaged, these photos show that it was in fact crushed under the front of the coach.


As used as I am to getting decent photographs under a certain amount of pressure, I would have found this a real challenge:

On Sunday 10th April, the Photographic Association of Torrevieja organised its 3rd Fotomaratón.

At 9:30am, 75 photographers assembled at the Man of the Sea monument and were handed a disposable camera along with a lost of objects and situations to capture. With a time limit of four hours to complete the task and instructions to take photos at each location, this was a daunting task for even the most experienced snappers.

Now the organisers have to get the pictures developed and printed ready for judging. The winning photos will be displayed on July 22nd at the photo exhibition to be held at the Centro Cultural Virgen del Carmen.


image With Easter being late this year, we might have expected some decent weather. Last week was just perfect, if only that had continued!

Just look at these forecasts for the Easter weekend.
image It looks like it will either be rainy today or just cloudy. Looking out of the window at the dark grey sky, I’d bet on rain for at least part of the day.

For tomorrow it is anybody’s guess. The forecast is gloomy.

Pam and I will not waste our time going to Orihuela just to find the Good Friday procession cancelled.

As for Sunday, I was looking forward to getting up early to take some pictures of the Encuentro in Bigastro. The forecast though is for rain which might see that cancelled as well.

And they say they sun shines on the righteous, this will be the third Easter out of seven that we have spent here that has been spoilt by the weather. Damn it, we've even got the heating on.

I’m talking about football–again!

I can’t believe I am doing this because I have no interest in football, never have. I put this change of face down to the influence of my son-in-law to be. 

Arsenal had the chance to inch closer to Manchester United in the Premier League last night with their game against Spurs but threw away a 2 goal lead to finish 3 all and put themselves in the third spot behind United and Chelsea. Apparently it was a thrilling game to watch.

More important though, Jose Mourinho won his first trophy with Real Madrid last night. The match was only spoilt for me by the number of fouls and yellow cards handed out by the ref.

Now I know nothing about football but even I could see that because Barcelona spent so much time keeping the ball in the midfield with their clever passing, they failed to get into the goal area where it counts. And even when their star players did manage to penetrate deep into the Real Madrid half, they were robbed of their chances by defenders using whatever means it took. Oh and let’s not forget there were a few brilliant saves by the Real Madrid captain as well.

On the other hand, Real Madrid had difficulty in keeping the ball. But when they did, their strikers moved like lightening towards the Barcelona goal, leaving most of their opponents at the wrong end of the pitch.

Whilst Lionel Messi never looked like having a chance to add to his 49 goals this season,  Cristiano Ronaldo had al least three chances to add to his total in the first half. He finally made it with a well placed header during the first period of extra time.

The teams next meet in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday 27 April.

Easter procession in Bigastro

The likes of Orihuela and Torrevieja may boast some of the showiest processions during Easter but Bigastro has one of the most important.

The infant school, La Paz  held their own procession complete with nazarenes, ladies dressed in traditional mantillas, Romans, musicians playing processional marches and of course costaleros carrying the paso "la virgen de la paz".

When you look at the photos, remember that these children are aged between 3 and 6.

Thank you Angelina for sharing these wonderful pictures with us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Worth braving the cold for

Ayer, Martes Santo, marcharon por las calles de Orihuela dos imágenes del siglo XVIII, obras del escultor Salzillo, que forman parte del grupo más valioso que posee Orihuela.

Yesterday morning it rained followed by a thick blanket of cloud over Orihuela but thankfully it stayed dry for last night’s procession.

The two cofradias, El Perdón y el Ecce-Homo who were scheduled to take part started the parade at 10pm whilst the two cofradias, La Samaritana and El Prendimiento that had cancelled due to rain on Monday, had to wait until midnight to set off.

For the onlookers, it must have been worth braving a cold night to see the some of the most famous works by the Murcian sculptor, Francisco Salzillo and others. Nuestro Padre Jesús de la Caída (1754) is considered to be one of the sculptors finest works. In the parade also were: Veronica (J. Diez, 1942), El Calvario (Galarza, 1942), María Santísima del Perdón (Quintín de Torre, 1952) followed by el Perdón (1777, Salzillo, and 1943, Rabaza), La Sentencia (1965, Víctor de los Ríos) and Cruz Penitencial (1953, Orrico).

It would have been daybreak  this morning before some of those taking part finally got to bed.

Double bill

At the Municipal Auditorium Francisco Grau next weekend:

Saturday, April 23rd at 7:30pm
Saxophone and piano recital
Saxophonist Julio Gomez will entertain us with pieces from his magnificent musical repertoire.

Sunday, April 24th at 7pm
Theatre: The Buscon by Francisco Quevedo 
El Buscon is the only novel written by Quevedo. It chronicles the adventures of Don Pablos, a buscón or swindler. Pablos sets out in life with two aims: to learn virtue and to become a caballero (gentleman). He fails miserably at both

DobleK Theatre presents their version of Juan Vicente Perez adaptation of the work, under the direction of Alfredo Zamora.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A bad start to Easter

Last night, the Cofradía de La Samaritana, la Hermandad de El Prendimiento and the Sociedad Centuria Romana were due to process through the streets of Oruhuela, that was until the rain started. By five minutes past ten, the presidents of the three groups had met and decided that the parade would have to called off. Six hundred members of the brotherhoods along with the members of nine bands had to trundle back home disappointed.

This was not the start to the first Easter of International Tourism that Orihuela had hoped for. According to current weather reports, Thursday will be the worst day this week, Friday may start out with some rain but should clear up by evening. I certainly hope so because Friday is when the main parades take place.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Not all that promising

image After the glorious weather we have had recently, most would have been hoping for a decent Easter.

It is the first time in the year when visitors flock to the coastal towns and to Orihuela to watch the Easter parades – the largest of which is on Friday
image Thursday and Friday look to be the least promising which is such a shame. A lot of time and effort goes into preparing for the parade on Friday but they dare not risk bringing the pasos out if it looks as though it will rain.

We shall just have to see.

Getting better and better

The first time we heard the choir in Bigastro they were good. Each time since, they have just got better and better. Last night they were just fantastic!

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The voices of the two soloists, Susi Gálvez Mespies and Susanna Vardanyan, just make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

A day to be seen

We know that Palm Sunday is supposedly the day when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey and the townsfolk laid palm leaves in front of him.

In Bigastro it also a day when you dress up, put your children in their finest Sunday clothes and go out to be seen. It is therefore a day when everyone hopes the sun will shine and the rain will not make an appearance.

The parade starts in the park and moves on through the streets of the town back to the church.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

It’s not true

There are people who would have you believe that all the Brits who originally came to live at Villas Andrea have either sold up or have their houses currently on the market; that is simply not true. The majority, like Pam and I, are happily settled in their new environment and have no desire to leave.

When we came to Bigastro, Pam and I had not expected things to be the way they were. For one thing, we thought that the majority of the houses would be sold to people intent on living here permanently. We were therefore surprised to find the number that were bought as holiday homes. We also thought that the majority of people would have come from similar backgrounds to ours and again were surprised to find, for example, the diversity of where people came from.

It is true that, since Pam and I first came here in 2004, a number of the original residents have sold their houses and moved on; some for financial reasons, some for health reasons, others simply could not settle to the Spanish way of life, yet others miss the friends and families they left behind. A number of the original residents simply got “itchy feet” and moved on. Those people probably never settled anywhere in particular when they lived in the UK.

Not all the leavers have returned to the UK, some have moved to other parts of Spain or other European countries. For sure, the flood of people, particularly pensioners, leaving the UK to live in Spain and other European countries has slowed down to a trickle; that probably has more to do with the worsening exchange rate than the quality of life here. Because of that, many of the houses that have sold recently have gone to Spaniards which is not a bad thing because it makes for a better mix on the estate.

Sadly it is unlikely that the people selling at the moment will see a return on their investment let alone make a profit because house prices in Spain are at an all time low. You can now buy a nice three bedroomed house on a decent plot of land for the same price you would have paid for a two bedroom apartment a few years ago.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Going to any length for a vote

Some candidates in the forthcoming local elections here in Spain will go to any lengths to attract attention.

Sole Sanchez, of the newly formed Partit Democratic de Ciutadella (PDC) on the island of Menorca was reported to equality officials over a poster which showed her revealing her naked breasts squeezed by a pair of male hands. The title of the poster was, “ Two Big Arguments”. In another of her campaign photos, the lady is shown in her underwear, tied up and on her knees in sadomasochistic style.

Opposition candidates in the Spanish town objected to the posters for being “sexist” and “demeaning to women” and complained to the Institut de la Dona (Institute of Women) which demanded they be withdrawn.

Too late though, every young man with blood in his veins has probably seen the posters by now and decided who should get their vote!

PS  Raúl does not have to go to these extremes in Bigastro, a photo in a suit should be enough to win the ladies vote here at Villas Andrea!

Well worth a visit

The Consortium for Economic Development of the Vega Baja CONVEGA has produced a special site that provides all the information you need about Easter in this area.

With over 500 pages, the site has all the schedules for processions, the itineraries and descriptions of the fraternities.  There is a photo gallery with over 800 pictures of the various pasos and views of the different localities. Well worth a visit.

    A guide to good food

    imageThose of you who like to eat out should grab yourselves a copy of the newspaper Laverdad either tomorrow or on Monday. It it there will be a free guide to 99 different places to eat in Orihuela.  The guide includes everything from places where you can buy a drink and a tapas to restaurants where you can enjoy a full three course meal.

    The information in the guide is also available at the website This first edition is in Spanish but there are plans to produce an even more comprehensive guide in both Spanish and English for October.

    NB When I visited the site this morning it was very slow to load so you may need to be patient. Trust me though it is worth waiting for.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Just what is a ZAL?

    It is a Zona de Actividades Logísticas or dry port for goods in transit,  something which has been promised to the Vega Baja for a few years now. Along with the ZAL will have to come the necessary transport links to make it work.

    Mario Flores, the Regional Councillor for Infrastructure,  met with mayors from the Vega Baja the other day in Orihuela and promised that the project to install a ZAL in the region would now go ahead. However, he did not mention a timeline nor the budget for the project not even its proposed location.

    There are several towns that are hoping to host the ZAl including San Isidro and Callosa.  It will form part of the Mediterranean corridor and is regarded as far more important to the region than the arrival of the high speed train (AVE). The installation will be funded regionally, all that the town which hosts the ZAL will have to do is provide the land.

    Now the mayor of San Isidro says he just hopes that this was not an election ploy on the part of Mario Flores and that the project will go ahead during the next mandate.

    A special present for Mother’s Day

    ACOBI, the retailers association in Bigastro, are giving a gift to all mothers who make a purchase at one of their shops.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Voices of angels

    A Concert of Song

    On Sunday, April 17th at 7pm, students from the adult choir of the Sociedad Unión Musical de Bigastro, under the direction of Susanna Vardanyan, will  delight us with their varied repertoire and vocal range.

    Ryanair are not happy with the new terminal

    Ryanair has continued its growth and domination of the budget airline market with an 8% increase in passenger number in March of this year and a staggering 73.5 million seats sold so far this year.

    They have also announced that despite the actions of other travel companies, and despite their reputation for charging for any sundry item or service that they can, they will not put a fuel surcharge on any of their flights ever.

    All of this together, and the promise of frequent low price sales, have ensured that passengers are gaining confidence in the airline and seem to be quite happy to pay for what some people may consider to be premium services.

    Despite this growth in loyalty and traffic, Ryanair have now announced that they are planning to slash their base in Alicante by 80% because the new terminal wants them to use the so called “airbridges” which they say will increase the cost to the airline by some 2 million euro per year.

    Ryanair has been operating at Alicante Airport for over five years without the use of airbridges and they consider that forcing them to use the covered facilities are an abuse of the airport authorities monopoly for which they have submitted a formal complaint to both the Spanish government and the European Commission.

    In a move designed to force AENA’s hand, Ryanair have announced that, from October this year, they will reduce the number of aircraft based at Alicante from 11 to 2 resulting in a loss of half of their scheduled flights on 31 routes. That means less than 200 weekly flights, compared to their original plan of 600. They also anticipate that their actions will create a loss of 2.5 million passenger places and 2,500 jobs.

    Routes cancelled will include Bournemouth, Cork, Kerry, Doncaster, Humberside, Kerry, and Knock along with reductions to Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester in the UK alone.

    The financial implication for the airport is estimated to be in the region of 18 million euro from fees directly paid to the airport authority, and the loss of 12 million euro in lost commercial revenue.

    Ryanair points out that the new terminal at Alicante has exactly the same boarding gate stairs as the old terminal, which they say would allow Ryanair’s flights to continue to apply the same walk on/walk off boarding facilities which have been in place since 2007. They say that using steps to both aircraft doors reduces turnaround time and thus cost.

    You know this strikes me as being a major piece of bluff on the part of Ryanair. The company knows that AENA cannot afford such losses having just completed the new terminal. At the same time, Ryanair will not want to reduce the number of its flights to Alicante because they are in the business of expansion not reduction. It’s not as if they could move to another airport because there isn’t one nearby that could cope with that capacity.

    It is very much a case of who is the more powerful, the airline or the airport – we shall see who gives in first.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    The new roads


    The mayor mentioned the new route into the town on Sunday which takes you through Sector D5 towards the road out towards Torrevieja. This map shows the roads through the new development.

    Easter in Torrevieja


    MORNING: At 10.00h.: SOLEMN BLESSING OF THE PALMS at the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Then will begin the traditional procession to the Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, with images of "OUR FATHER JESUS ​​TRIUMPHANT" and "San Juan Evangelista
    ITINERARY: Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Zoa, Knight of Rhodes until reaching the Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception.
    AFTERNOON: At 20:30 pm: SOLEMN PROCESSION from the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with the participation of the following guilds, "CALL" and "OUR LADY OF HOPE AND PEACE."
    ITINERARY: Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Zoa, Ramón y Cajal, Avenida de la Libertad, Maria Parodi, Ramón Gallud, Clemente Gosálvez, Knight of Rhodes until his arrival at Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception.


    At 22:00 pm: SOLEMN PROCESSION
    From the Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, with the participation of the following guilds, "CALL and SAMARITAN WOMAN", "OUR FATHER AND JESUS ​​IN THE LAST Supper", "OUR FATHER PRAYER OF JESUS ​​IN THE GARDEN OF OLIVES" "Holy Christ of the Flagellation", "SAN PEDRO repentance" and "OUR FATHER JESUS ​​CAPTIVE (the Nazarene)."
    ITINERARY: Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, Caballero de Rodas, Patricio Pérez, Ramón Gallud, Zoa, Knight of Rhodes until his arrival at Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception.


    At 22:00 pm: SOLEMN PROCESSION
    From the Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, with the participation of the following guilds, "CALL", "Christ crucified and Holy Mary of Silence" (which processions only with the image of Our Lord Jesus HEALTH), "OUR FATHER JESUS FALL "," Saint Veronica "," SAN JUAN EVANGELISTA "and" OUR LADY OF SORROWS "
    ITINERARY: Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, Caballero de Rodas, Patricio Pérez, Ramón Gallud, Zoa, Knight of Rhodes until his arrival at Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception.


    At 22:00 pm: SOLEMN PROCESSION to start from the Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, with the participation of the Brotherhood "OUR LADY OF HOPE AND PEACE
    ITINERARY: Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, Caballero de Rodas, María Parodi to its intersection with Ramon Gallud.
    At the same time, and from the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, include the following guilds, "CALL" and "OUR FATHER JESUS ​​THE FALL" accompanied by the traditional "SPANISH MANTILLAS (Cofrades member of Saint Veronica).
    ITINERARY: Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Zoa, Ramón Gallud to its intersection with Maria Parodi.
    At the confluence of the streets with Ramon Gallud Maria Parodi, arrivals and unified all the guilds participating, will be called "Meeting in the Via Dolorosa" between the images of Jesus and His Mother, "the Blessed Virgin."
    ITINERARY: Then follow the procession through the streets Gallud Ramón, Patricio Pérez, Campoamor, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, Joaquín Chapaprieta, Knight of Rhodes until his arrival at Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception.


    At 23:00 pm: SOLEMN PROCESSION OF SILENCE from Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, with the participation of the following guilds, "CALL" and "Christ crucified and Holy Mary of Silence." At the end of the image, the Coral "Francisco Vallejos" They chanted "Lord I get tired of life" and "Mother of Silence."
    ITINERARY: Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, Caballero de Rodas, Patricio Pérez, Campoamor, Turkish, Gabriel Miró, Orihuela, Knight of Rhodes until his arrival at Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception.
    At 24:00 pm: SOLEMN PROCESSION OF THE DESCENT OF CALVARY, from the Plaza del Calvario, with the participation of the Brotherhood "OUR LADY OF MERCY" to the image output Coral "Francisco Vallejos" singing the song "The Passion of the cake Aunt."
    ITINERARY: Plaza del Calvario, Holy Trinity, San José, María Parodi, Knight of Rhodes until his arrival at Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception.



    At 19:30 pm: SOLEMN PROCESSION AND MAGNA BURIAL OF CHRIST, from Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, with the participation of the following guilds "CALL and SAMARITAN WOMAN", "OUR FATHER AND JESUS ​​IN THE LAST HOLY DINNER "," OUR FATHER JESUS ​​IN PRAYER THE GARDEN OF OLIVES, "" Holy Christ of the Flagellation "," SAN PEDRO repentance, "" Our Lord Jesus CAPTIVE (the Nazarene) "," OUR FATHER JESUS ​​THE FALL " "Saint Veronica", "OUR LADY OF HOPE AND PEACE", "Christ crucified and Holy Mary of Silence", "OUR LADY OF MERCY", "Holy Sepulchre (Lying)", "San Juan Evangelista and "Nuestrso LADY OF SORROWS."
    ITINERARY: Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, Caballero de Rodas, Patricio Pérez, Ramón Gallud, Del Mar, Knight of Rhodes until his arrival at Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception.


    HOLY SATURDAY - "Drums"
    At 22:00 pm: After the "Solemn Easter Vigil" of the Parish of the Immaculate Conception, "POPULAR DRUM" general expression of joy as the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. All persons who wish to participate may come with its own drum.
    Itinerary: Avda of Habaneras (Bus Station), Antonio Machado, Zoa, Ulpian (Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: 2 laps), Moriones, Caballero de Rodas, Joaquín Chapaprieta, La Paz, to the Plaza Maria Pastor Ramos (1 second stop), to Then follow the itinerary Gosalvez Clemente, Maldonado, Plaza de la Constitution (2 laps), Ramon Gallud, Bazan, Caballero de Rodas, Maldonado, Bazán and Maestro Francisco Vallejos (FINAL).



    At 08:00 pm: SOLEMN PROCESSION OF THE MEETING, from Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, with the participation of the Brotherhood "SAN JUAN EVANGELISTA, the image of the Immaculate Conception (Patroness of Torrevieja)" and " BLESSED SACRAMENT IN PALIO "
    ITINERARY: "St. John the Evangelist" and "Immaculate Conception." Archpriest Temple of the Immaculate Conception, Caballero de Rodas, Azorín, Photographers Darblade to its intersection with Conception.
    ITINERARY: "Blessed Sacrament under a canopy." Archpriest Temple of the Immaculate Conception, Caballero de Rodas, Clemente Gosalvez, Fotógrafos Darblade to its intersection with Conception.
    At the confluence of the Calle Concepción with Fotógrafos Darblade will take place the traditional "encounter."
    At the time of "meeting" release "Flower Petals" from the balconies of the houses located at the confluence of the Concepción and Fotógrafos Darblade. During the return of the procession to the Temple act Arciprestal, will launch the traditional "Hallelujah" from the balconies of the houses of way.
    ITINERARY: The Return to the Temple of the Immaculate Conception Arciprestal run along the streets Concepcion, Ramon Gallud, Bazán and Knight of Rhodes until his arrival at Temple.


    MONDAY (San Vicente Ferrer)
    After the Eucharist, will start from the Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, the transfer of "BLESSED IN PALIO" accompanied by the Banda Musical "Musical Union Torrevejense"
    ITINERARY: Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception, Caballero de Rodas, Clemente Gosalvez, Canon Torres, Azorín, Knight of Rhodes until his arrival at Temple Archpriest of the Immaculate Conception.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011


    I get all sorts of emails from people who are trying to scam me on the Internet. The theme of this message is all too familiar but notice the change of direction. This is no longer a Nigerian diplomat who seeks my assistance, this is the fourth son of Muammar Al-Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator.

    Dear Friend,
    My name is Al Muttassim Billah Al-Gaddafi (born 1977), a former Libyan Army officer
    and the National Security Adviser of Libya. I am the fourth son of Libyan leader
    Muammar Al-Gaddafi. I want to believe that you are familiar with the stories on the
    media about the unrest in Libya, as the Libyan National Security Adviser to my father,
    I have warned him to step aside and allow the people of Libya to have their peace
    but he refused, I cannot die with my father, but during this period my father gave
    me US$400 Million Dollars cash to keep. I was able to move US$40 Million through
    diplomatic immunity luggage system to an undisclosed location abroad for safe
    keeping which I will disclose to you if you come to agreement with me.

    Due to our restricted movement, I would want you to present yourself as the beneficiary
    of the funds, based on this I will issue an authorization letter instructing the
    release of the deposit to you under 24 hours of confirmation and verification. You
    will be entitled to 30% of the total sum as your share while 60% will be for me,
    I will inform you when to transfer my share to me when the problem in my country has
    finally calm down. The remaining 10% is to cover all expenses that may be incurred
    in the course of this transaction. This arrangement is known to you and me alone for
    security reasons. I will not be able to communicate with you on phone because I am
    hiding in a secured place. If you are able to handle this deal kindly send email to
    me on my private email:, I awaiting your positive response,
    may Allah's peace be upon you.

    Al Muttassim B. Al-Gaddafi

    A close run battle

    In a straw poll conducted by Vega Baja Digital, an online news bulletin, the two main parties were almost neck and neck.

    96 -42.3% PSPV-PSOE (Socialists)

    95 -41.9% PP (Conservatives)

    So, it looks like a close run battle with everything to fight for in this region of Spain.

    The main opposition Popular Party (PP) has enjoyed a double-digit lead over Mr Zapatero's Socialists during the past year.

    However, in a poll published on Sunday by the newspaper El Mundo, the PP had a lead of between 7.1-7.9 percent over the Socialists depending on who replaces Mr Zapatero, compared to 16.5 per cent during the last poll published on March 9.

    The poll showed that the Socialists would capture 37.8 percent of the vote with Defence Minister Carme Chacon, 40, at the helm of the party against 44.9 percent for the PP or 37.7 percent of the vote with Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, 59, a pillar of the Zapatero government since 2004, against 45.2 percent for the PP.

    Holy week in Orihuela

    Last year we watched the Good Friday procession in Torrevieja so this year we will be visiting Orihuela to watch the processions there.

    This video will give you a taste of what to expect and this link will provide more information about Easter week in Orihuela.

    NB Search the site and you will find fascinating pictures of the city dating back to 1903.

    These are the main parades that will be taking place.

    Palm Sunday

    00:00 pm: HORN, TWIN AND CLARINES. Of the various guilds, brotherhoods and Stewardship announced through the streets and plazas of the city the beginning of Holy Week.

    01:00 pm: ACTION OF THE TWO GROUPS OF SINGERS OF PASSION, HORN, AND TWIN CLARINES. Of the various guilds, brotherhoods and stewardship in University Square.

    11:00 am BLESSING AND PROCESSION OF PALMS. Church of the Monastery of the Salesians to the Holy Cathedral. SOLEMN MASS Held by the Hon. and Rt. Bishop ..

    11:30 am Blessing of Palms and RAMOS. Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat, with a procession to the Royal, Illustrious and majestic Church of St. James Parish

    Holy Monday

    22:00 pm: PROCESSION OF THE BROTHERHOOD OF "THE SAMARITAN 'AND THE BROTHERHOOD" The Arrest. " Departure from the Church Museum of Our Lady of Mercy to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Monserrate.

    Holy Tuesday

    22:00 pm: PROCESSION OF BROTHERHOODS "Forgiveness" and "Ecce Homo." Departure from the Departure from the Church Museum of Our Lady of Mercy to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Monserrate.

    Holy Wednesday

    18:30 pm: PROCESSION OF THE STEWARDSHIP OF OUR VERY ILLUSTRIOUS FATHER JESUS ​​OF NAZARETH. Church of Santa Ana (Franciscan Fathers), to the Shrine of Our Lady of Monserrate.

    Holy Thursday

    23:00 pm: PROCESSION OF THE BROTHERHOOD OF SILENCE. Royal, Illustrious and majestic Church of St. James Parish. During his tour play the SONG OF THE PASSION for the Singers of Primitive Passion "Federico Rogel (Pl Cathedral of Santiago and Senate) and singers of the Passion (C / Alfonso XIII, C / San Pascual).

    Good Friday

    19:00 pm: Procession of the Passion. Leaves from the Shrine of Our Lady of Monserrate up to the Museum Church of Our Lady of Mercy.

    Holy Saturday

    17:30 pm: PASSACAGLIA by marching bands and drum and bugle participants in the Procession of the Holy Body of Christ.

    Easter Sunday


    12:00 pm: TAMBORA of joy at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Plaza of the Friars.