Saturday, November 17, 2018

That is a lot of water

The Segura after the rain

Santa Cecilia

The Last Supper

Following the opening of the classroom, we were treated to an enthralling dance spectacular.

Inaugurating a lecture room for the University

Last night, representatives from the University at Alicante and the lady mayor signed an agreement to create a lecture room for the university.

In my photo there are the representatives from the University along with the lady mayor and the councillor for fiestas.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

I was unlucky

The rain we were promised came in the early hours of the morning.

I woke to go to the toilet and could hear distant thunder. Then I heard the rain outside the bedroom. The thunder got closer and the rain increased in intensity. Eventually, it calmed down and I was able to get back to sleep.

In the meantime, Pam just slept through it!!

Looking at the statistics for Orihuela it seems that 25mm or rain fell between about 5:30 and 6:30am. That must have been the time I woke up. 

The map shows that the whole of the coast is on alert for rain with Valencia on red alert. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

My gotcha

Here is Fonta at the event on Sunday, snapping away at the audience.

Note to Fonta, you need to bounce that flash upwards to avoid nasty shadows - especially in portrait mode. I had a fair bit of work to remove the shadow on the wall on my left in your photo.

He got me

Often, when Fonta and I are taking pictures at an event, we capture a quick shot of each other. We try to do it without being noticed.

Fonta certainly succeeded here, I had no idea he'd taken this until I saw it in his Facebook album.

Gender violence

Complete the weekend

So, Friday we are invited to the opening of the new classroom followed by a dance spectacular, Saturday there is the showing of the DVD that has been made collecting accounts from the senior citizens of the town and now we have a choral concert on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Speaking about the old days

The Town Hall has produced a compilation of anecdotes from some of the oldest members of the community. In the DVD, the neighbours talk about the food they prepared, the musical tradition, the games they played etc etc.

The end result of this project will be screened this Saturday at 6pm.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Part one

The first part of my video about Bigastro, made using my drone, is live on YouTube.

I now need to move on to grabbing shots of the town and video of the market garden so I can complete the second part.

You can view the first part using this link. It includes shots of La Pedrera and Villas Andrea.

Honoured for his work

In a delightful ceremony yesterday, Pascual Segura was named as the official historian to the town.

My first contact with Pascual was when he was producing a blog about the history of the town. Soon after he launched a page on Facebook with old photos that people supplied him with.

As a musician in the band, Pascual became involved in sorting out the archives of the Musical Society to ensure that they were properly preserved for generations to come.

As part of his website project, Pascual decided to interview people in the town that he considered interesting. Thus I became the second person to feature on his website.  I had already supplied Pascual with thousands of photos of the band which he described as the archive for the future.

His next project was to investigate the scientist, Thomas Villanova. After an enormous amount of research, Pascual was able to present an illustrated talk about the bigastrense. He was also able to write a book which was published with assistance from the Province.

His latest research about the Auroros led to a further pamphlet which details the history of this tradition in the town.

At the same time, Pascual has produced articles about aspects of the town's history e.g. the time when it was bombed during the Civil War.

In my photos, Pascual being presented with his certificate from the town and then being congratulated by the lady mayor on receiving a medal to mark his entry into the Royal Association of Historians.

One to watch

We'd recommend that, those of you who have UK TV, watch Peter Jackson's "They Shall Not Grow Old" if you haven't already done so.

As a film in its own right it is compelling but as a documentary about conditions during the 1st World War, it is a must.

Jackson used old black and white archive footage which was then colourised, retouched and stabilised before being dubbed with a soundtrack of banter, explosions and screams from the men who fought for Britain between 1914 and 1918.

BBC 2 11th November.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

New Year's Eve

As you know, New Year's Eve is the more important occasion during the Festive Season in Spain.

Camping La Pedrera are putting on a special meal which you can see from this menu.

A short video about us

A few weeks ago, one of our young Spanish friends, Eva Moya Melgarejo, asked if she could come to our house and interview us in English.

Eva is studying to be a video journalist and this was to be one of her projects 

Eva came armed with her camera and a sound recorder and proceeded to ask the questions she had prepared. At first she was a little nervous but soon became confident enough to appear professional.

Her interview complete, Eva then had to edit the footage to produce a final video and here it is.

We think Eva did a fantastic job and we were delighted to help her.

Friday, November 09, 2018

14 years and counitng

Yesterday was the anniversary of our arrival in Bigastro. We'd booked flights to Spain on many occasions before but that day, fourteen years ago,  was different because our flights were one way.

Everything was set, we visited the Bureau that was handling the purchase and signed the agreement for the final payment to be transferred to the builders. Then it was just a matter of waiting a few days for all our belongings to arrive in two large vans.

Those first weeks were busy as we settled into our new house and started the process of creating a home. There was also a great deal of paperwork to sort out including NIE numbers, Spanish wills etc etc.

At first, we felt like strangers in not just a new town but a new country. There was a lot to learn. Naturally, we bonded first with our British neighbours and took part in the events that they were organising.

However we were determined not just to be "Brits living in the sun", we wanted  to learn the language as best we could and get involved in the culture of the town. My interest in photography helped a great deal as the pictures I took became noticed by the Town Hall.

Over the years we have learnt more and more about the town and its cultural history. We have attended concerts and got to know some of the musicians. We have also attended many other events and learnt of their importance. Our growing interest attracted the attention of the local council, many of the local associations and our Spanish neighbours who now refer to us as bigastrense.

Our Spanish neighbours seemed to like our willingness to become involved and have been very supportive of us. It could have been different, they could have  regarded us as intrusive but no, they have welcomed us with open arms.

2017 was made a special year for us when the lady Mayor, via the Town Hall, asked us to be Third Age King and Queen at the annual fiesta. The warm reception we received during that special week is something that we will always remember.

So after fourteen years, do we have any regrets? None whatsoever. For Pam and I, it has proved to be the perfect place to retire to. Bigastro has become  the place where we want to be.

We look forward to many more years in our happy home.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Congratulations, well deserved

When the position was first announced, we knew that there was only one person for the post. Pascual is a professional archivist and author of two books relating to the history of the town.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Bigastro under siege

Pascual Segura gives us another fascinating glimpse into the history of our town

It was in the year 1936 when the military uprising took place that unleashed one of the greatest misfortunes in the recent history of our country: the Spanish Civil War.

Battle after battle, the nationalist rebellion was taking territories resulting in a Spain divided into two camps: the national and the republican. Our region was surrounded inside the republican side, so in our province, and therefore in Bigastro, the events that took place between 1936 and 1939 were subject to the Republican regime.

Although Bigastro was not directly involved in the conflict, it did effect the town and made for some dramatic changes.

One of the most striking changes was the mayor's decision to convert the parish church of Our Lady of Bethlehem into a supply warehouse, the parish house into a hospital and refugee house, and the old asylum became a house-barracks for the security and assault guards.

One of the most notable events took place in April 1938, when the town of Bigastro was bombed by the national side. On May 25 of the same year, Alicante was bombed by an Italian squadron based in Mallorca, causing 300 deaths. Three months later, 19 people died when Torrevieja was also bombed by an Italian squadron. 1938 became a year of war, tragedy and bombing in our province, but what about Bigastro? Alicante was a primordial city for the republican resistance, and Torrevieja could be considered an enemy port, but why bomb Bigastro? What was special about Bigastro that drew the attention of the national side?

It happened in April 1938, between two and three in the morning, when a squadron of the aviation of the national side dropped one of its bombs on the old yesera located in Bigastro on the right side of the entrance to the municipality from Orihuela . The yesera was a factory in which gypsum was produced in  a kiln of gigantic dimensions. The kiln was partially buried to take advantage of the unevenness of the terrain. It was built with walls more than half a metre thick and around 3 metres high. The furnace was loaded with aljez  which was cooked for periods of 24 hours.  The kiln therefore had to be constantly supplied with fuel.

During the early morning, the national squadron flew over our region when one of the pilots observed the whitish cloud that rose from the yesera. Confusing this one with a great factory of arms or supplies of the republican side, he dropped a bomb with the purpose of destroying it and disabling the enemy forces. The bomb descended in the direction of the yesera and landed in a well belonging to a bigastrense family known locally as "the sardines".  The explosion was of such magnitude that it woke up the neighbours of the town, spreading panic amongst them.

Mariano López, a nonagenarian bigastrense who still lives a few metres from the old yesera, remembers it well. Hearing the explosion, he jumped out of bed and ran towards the place where the disaster had occurred.

When he arrived, Mariano saw a considerable crater in the place that  the well occupied, which was totally destroyed. Rocks and debris were scattered several metres from the site.
The reaction from the City Council was rapid. The secretary, Juan Galvez, wrote in the municipal records that the mayor, Mr. José Aureliano Díaz, ordered that "not a single electric lamp should be lit in the town, to avoid serving as a guide to factional aviation. "
On Sunday, April 4, 1937, the Bigastrense mayor ordered the painting of the glass in the street lighting, so that the lights were dimmer and thus prevent the lamps from guiding the airplanes of the national side and that bombed Bigastro. First the lamps were painted, then they were turned off. 

These were not the only decisions taken in favour of the dominant side in our region. D. José Aureliano Díaz also  allocated a percentage of the municipal budget to help the Republican army, in addition to printing brochures in support of the republican aviation battalions. These were later distributed by the people to encourage young bigastrenses to enlist in these companies.

On Sunday May 22, 1938 he made a speech to the neighbors, gathered in the then-named Plaza de la República -current plaza of the Constitution- saying: "All united with our faith, enthusiasm and antifascist spirit fight for Spain to crush national and foreign fascism with the triumph of our glorious weapons, which are supported by an insurmountable wall of anti-fascist breasts. "

Horror strikes the town

The parade for Halloween last night clearly fuelled the imagination of the townsfolk who came out in some very imaginative costumes. 

The bottom picture is of our new neighbours.

You may recognise the father as a member of the local police force.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Celebrating Halloween

Friday, October 19, 2018

Not so fortunate

The risk of heavy rain has now finished for us. However, Castellon is still on red alert for more rain.

The graphs for the different weather stations in that province tell the story from yesterday of persistent heavy rain throughout the day. It was a similar story in Murcia but less extreme.

You can find videos of torrents flowing down streets from both areas and those who visited Orihuela yesterday would have seen the Segura in full flow.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The cause of this bad weather

Although cold drops are a regular feature of Mediterranean autumns, we need to go back to October 2008 to find a storm of similar intensity to the one forecast for the next few days.

The cause of this particular storm is the conjunction of two areas of low pressure. By themselves, both areas of low pressure  are capable of producing heavy rain, but by "interacting and joining", they will create a very pronounced instability in the upper layers.

A  cold drop is a normal feature of the Mediterranean climate in autumn However, in the past few years, cold drops have been conspicuous by their absence.

Just to remind you, cold drops are caused by Arctic air meeting the humid wind that runs along the length of the Mediterranean Sea

According to AEMET, there could be long periods of intense rain totalling over 100 litres per square metre in 12 hours, particularly in Castellon. 

Fingers crossed

Looking at this map, it looks like we should be spared the worst of this weather situation. But who knows, weather patterns can change rapidly Sometimes we are warned of heavy rain and all we get are a few drops. Other times, we are forecast mild weather and we get strong winds and rain.

Let us hope that our neighbors up the coast follow the advice and remain safe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A note for your diary

 The U.K. Consul for Spain, Sarah Jane Morris, will be in Rojales on Wednesday, 7th November 2018 to talk to residents regarding a Brexit update and procedures to be followed.

The meeting will be held at 11 a.m. in the Cultural Centre, Calle El Pino, Ciudad Quesada.

If my understanding is correct though, it is unlikely that a deal will be signed by the time that meeting takes place. The parties involved are now talking about December and some are wary that even then the issue of the Irish border will not be resolved.

Monday, October 15, 2018

It fell inland

We were expecting rain all day. When it came it was pretty much full on but fortunately short lived.

I've watched a video of a stream running through the streets of the town but it hardly came close to videos from Mallorca, Granada and elsewhere last week.

As you can see, coastal areas had barely more than a shower whilst inland there was over 10 times the amount of rain.

What was strange because we weren't warned about it, was how the wind suddenly picked up at about 8pm. Pam and I quickly took the sun umbrellas down and moved the chairs outside only to find that half an hour later all was calm again. Most strange!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Signing up

The growing list of prizes ready for the fifth edition of this show of solidarity for AECC.

That was some downpour

Look at these pictures taken from Sant Llorenç des Cardassar. Mallorca yesterday and you appreciate just how much rain they had in such a short time.

Spanish weather forecasters said 20cm (8in) of rain fell in four hours on the island of Mallorca on Tuesday evening. A British couple were feared to be among ten people to have died. They were said to have drowned in a taxi as flood water engulfed the town of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, about 40 miles east of the capital.

Torrential rain hit other areas of Spain too, with Catalonia in the north-east and Málaga in the south among the areas badly hit.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Just what they need

As you all know, today is a local holiday in the Valencian region. The shops are shut, everyone is off work looking forward to a day out in the sun.

Instead, what we have is deep cloud cover, the chance of some rain and possibly thunder. Don't worry though, tomorrow, when people return to work, it will likely be fine with sunny intervals.

One in a million

That is how this rare white sparrow is described. It isn't an albino, this is a leucistic bird.  Dark eyes keep it from being an albino.

Most know albinism, but have never heard of leucism. There is a range of colouration in leucistic birds with pure white, like this one, being the rarest.

One of our neighbours, Caroline James, tells me that this bird comes to her garden four or five times a day. She's taken photos of it and kindly sent me this one to publish on my blog. Thank you Caroline.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Like a different language

There are similarities but also important differences in this version of Spanish.

Learning English

 Ready for official exams in the language that will help young people find work abroad.

Such a good film

Not sure I would be able to follow it in Spanish though.

The Auroros of Bigastro

Last Friday,  Pascual Segura presented his new book,  "The Auroros de Bigastro. Songs of History and Tradition ". The book is the result of an investigation carried out by the author on the aurora bigastrense tradition which dates back to 1721.

The act of presentation of the book was the starting point for activities scheduled this month in the municipality.  On Sunday, 21st October, Bigastro will host the XXXV Regional Encounter of Auroros de la Vega Baja and Bajo Vinalopó, a meeting that will bring together the auroros groups from more than twenty villages.

Teresa María Belmonte Sánchez, mayor of Bigastro, said: "I invite bigastrenses, neighbors of all the towns of the region and tourists, to participate in this traditional day of coexistence, an essential part of our cultural identity, enjoying the visit to our town, knowing our history, tasting our gastronomy and feeling the hospitality of the bigastrenses. "

The mayor also stressed the need for the declaration of this ancestral tradition as an Asset of Cultural Interest in its Immaterial form , "an initiative for which Bigastro City Council shows all its support, since the one of the auroros is one of the most old and beautiful traditions of the region of Vega Baja and Bajo Vinalopó, and therefore requires all necessary measures to disseminate it, as well as to ensure its conservation so that future generations enjoy it and participate in it. "

Program of events for October 21, 2018.

At 5:30 am. Concentration of the participant groups of aurors, in the Plaza de la Constitución.

At 5:45 am. Tour of the Auroros by Bigastro singing the traditional songs of wake up.

At 7:30 am. Prayer of the Holy Rosary in procession presided by the image of Our Lady of the Rosary.

At 8:30 am. In the Huerto del Cura Park, celebration of the Holy Mass.

At 10:30 am. Lunch.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Coming home

We’ve had a great time in Sale with the family but now it is time to come home. The case is packed and in the boot. Soon it will be time to take the hire car back and check in at the airport.

Looking at the CCTV cameras, it looks like the sun is shining ready for our return. Let’s hope it stays that way because we have a fair bit of washing to do. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Manchester weather

We arrived at Manchester Airport last Thursday to be greeted by torrential rain. That made the journey to our hotel “interesting” in a strange car where we couldn’t work out how to change the heating.

Friday was no better but at least our journey was just local. By Sunday it was sunny and the weather has stayed mild and dry since.

Looking at the weather for Bigastro, we might not have faired any better there.

Sadly, by the time we return, we will have missed a couple of events that we would have preferred to attend. Still, time with the family is just as rewarding so we have no regrets.

Keeping you safe

I’ve had a message from Scout John telling me about a talk about security for the elderly. This will take place at the Auditorium on Tuesday, 2nd October at 11am. There will be a translator on hand to help those who have limited understanding of Spanish.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Window decoration competition and pumpkin decorating class for this year's Halloween.

I have no idea

From the title, this is the 35th edition and on this occasion it will take place in Bigastro.

We know that it is musical and involves two choirs and is the synthesis of the three cultures: Christian (Gregorian chants), Arabic (chants of alborada) and Jews (similarities with the Sephardic chants of the synagogue).

Monday, September 17, 2018

The end of the Anniversary

The Closing Ceremony of the Anniversary of Thomas Villanova, will take place next Saturday.

 First there will be the opportunity to hear views expressed by Agustín Pastor Fuentes (Bigastrense  and Head of the Arrhythmia Unit of the University Hospital of Getafe), Gregorio Canales Martínez (Professor of Human Geography at the University of Alicante) Pascual Segura, author of the biography of Thomas Villanova) and direct testimonies by the descendants of the Villanova family.

Then the theatre group,  Lugarico will  represent their biographical work on the life and work of the illustrious scientist.

Although I have a personal invitiation from the Town Hall, unfortunately, we will be away then.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Much ado about nothing

We all know that weather forecasting is an imprecise art at best. When it comes to predicting DANAs though, trying to make accurate predictions is in another league.

You only have to search the internet to find videos of parts of Spain where the effect of the cold drop was intense. In particular, there is a video of a river rampaging down a street in Granada taking cars and vans along with it. There is a similar video taken in Ronda where the river is part way up the walls of houses. Both locations are where the streets are narrow and there is a hill.

We were forecast the high possibility of heavy rain and thunder but all we got was a short sharp downpour. That was lucky, things could have been much worse for us.

There have been some complaints about AEMET's forecasting but to be fair, it is better to expect the worst and then find things are nowhere near as bad as predicted. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

It is raining folks

Last time a DANA (Depresión Aislada en Niveles Altos) was forecast, we escaped and no more than a few drops fell on us.

Yesterday, the forecast for today was up rated to orange with a threat of very heavy rain. Today it is down rated to yellow. The map below shows the accumulated rainfall expected over 10 days from yesterday.

The problem is that DANAs are very unpredictable and the rain associated with them can be very local. It can be dry where you are and a washout just 5kms down the road with a clear line between the two.

You could hear thunder in the night, well at least I did but that was coming from Murcia. It is definitely raining today and the forecast is for it to continue through to Tuesday. As I have said though, we will have to wait and see.

Our second set of visitors went home last night. We thought they were going to have bad weather during their stay but they had none of it - plenty of sunshine, warm temperatures and no more than a breeze.

The other thing to watch out for are mosquitoes. So far, this summer I have only had a few minor bites but with rain puddles everywhere, the female insects will likely go into a breeding frenzy and be out in force collecting blood.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Orange alert

Be aware that there is a possibility that we will get some heavy rain sometime in the next two days. The situation has changed and the current risk level for this area has been reduced from orange to yellow on AEMET's website. In case you were wondering, we are at the bottom of that map.

If you doubt the force of nature, watch this video from yesterday.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Make sure you are in order

A message from Scout John

HMRC has introduced new legislation that requires individuals to make sure their foreign income and assets are in order before a 30th September 2018 deadline and the arrival of tougher penalties.

These changes can affect people if they live abroad and pay tax outside the UK, for example people who rent out their UK home whilst living in another country or those who still have UK bank accounts or investments. It can affect more people than you may think.


The U.K. Consul will be in attendance along with HMRC representatives from the U.K to nswer your questions.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The procession 2018

You can watch the video made of the procession here. If you cut to 33mins.31seconds you can watch them rotate the throne above their heads. Cut to 22mins 20 seconds to watch the presentation projected on the church wall.

The coronation

This year Pam and I feature on the video taken. Watch us at 8mins 45 seconds in and see my wardrobe malfunction. Then again at 44mins 06 seconds in for a further minor wardrobe malfunction on my part.

Totally insane!

In case you were wondering what it is like to go down between 3am and 5am to watch La Cordá organised by the Association of Carretilleros, here it is on one of Fonta's photos.

First off, you have to have a licence before they will allow you in the cage. Then you have to wear layers of protective clothing which must leave you dripping with sweat. Finally, you need to buy your fireworks which can cost upwards of 1,000 Euros.

The reward is this spectacular display which Fonta has recorded for us.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The last of my photos

Today, La Murga will tour the streets in the final act for this year's Fiesta for San Joaquin.

Last night, the Cofradia de San Joaquin promised us something special for the Solemn Procession and they delivered.

Just before the statue was returned to the church, we were treated to an account of how San Joaquin came to the town complete with images projected onto the front of the church. I even recognised some of them as ones I took two years ago.

A quick turn around in the Plaza, first on the shoulders and then held aloft and the statue was returned to the church until next year.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

One of our neighbours

Efren Pamies, who lives on our estate, at the Comparsas Parade last night.

Not only is he one of our local policemen, Efren is an accomplished singer, plays guitar, takes great photos and has a keen interest in the environment.

An all round good guy.

See my photos from last night here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Simply beautiful

As I have said before on this blog, the Floral Offering is one of the most beautiful parades that takes place during the Fiesta in Bigastro.

See for yourselves the wonderful costumes and flowers from this year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The statues

Santa Ana
For those of you who missed them, here are the statues of Santa Ana and San Joaquin that the Cofradia de San Joaquin have displayed in the church.

I imagine that they will need to be moved to bring our statue of the patron saint out for tonight's Floral Offering.

San Joaquin

San Joaquin

San Joaquin with Mary

Remarkably similar to our statue. 

Santa Ana with Mary

Small but detailed statue of San Joaquin with Mary

The full display including pictures.