Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Very local

We could hear the thunder in the distance and the sky was very overcast. About 6pm it did start to rain but only lightly. Then the sun came back out briefly and that was followed by weak drizzle.

Just a few kilometres away though in Almoradi and in Cox, it was a very different story. I've watched a video from Almoradi where it bucketed down and there was even hail in the rain. Another video tells a similar story in Cox. 

Major renovation

The shopping center or old town of  Bigastro, will be completely renovated with an investment of 450,000 euros.75% of the money is coming from the Provincial Council and the remaining 25%, about 120,000 euros, from the City Council as approved at the municipal meeting held last week.

The objective is to improve accessibility, road safety and also increase the attractiveness and, therefore, the value of the tourist project of the town called the Ruta al Sur.

The streets included in the project are: Calle San Joaquin , Calle Sepulcro, Ramón y Cajal Square, Maestro Grau Street, Calle Mayor and Calle Goya.

The work should be completed by Spring 2019..

Monday, May 07, 2018

Make the most of it

Once BREXIT is complete, Britain will be out of Europe so should we then celebrate or not?

Thursday, May 03, 2018

The Holy Cross


Wednesday, May 02, 2018

San Isidro



Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Light up the sky

Let's hope the sky is clear so I can get a photo this year.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Chance of a storm

Of course, it is impossible to predict exactly where and when the storms may appear.

Monday, April 23, 2018

All you need to know

About Bigastro's famous son and a whole lot more will be in this book by Pascual Segura. It is the result of ten years investigation by Pascual and includes the history of the town etc etc.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sevillana festival in Seville

Amazing dresses but how does the lady in the middle manage to do anything like eat with cuffs like that. 
Beautiful horse, a beautiful lady and a copa de cava. No wonder he is smiling.




Not my photos you understand. These were taken by Greg Johnston, an American, who is currently on on holiday in Spain.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The bells, the bells.....

Just to let you know that, on Saturday the bells at the church will be rung.

This will not be a call to Mass, nor notice of a wedding or a funeral . It is a European initiative involving 2000 churches including 300 in Spain. 

Monday, April 09, 2018

Keep up with fashion

You can view all my photos from this event in the album located on the left.

A long day

Saturday was the day of the Certamen in Villena.

Pam and I were down at the car park in good time for the coach as were most of the people from the town. We set off at 2pm prompt and arrived outside the theatre about an hour later giving us plenty of time for a coffee before making our way to the seats.

Bigastro were the first to play and then we had a break whilst the band from San Miguel set up.

Following San Miguel, the band from Villena took to the stage to perform. Then off course we had the speeches and finally the results.

In third place with a second prize and 318.5 points was the band from San Miguel de las Salinas. In second place was our band with a first prize and 323.5 points. The mention of honour went to the band from Agost who also got a first prize and 324 points.

By the time we got back to Bigastro it was nearly 10pm. It was worth it though to hear our band play so well and indeed the other bands that we heard.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Most important

Those of you who are going to the Certamen today should take note that the buses will leave the car park at Eurener at 2pm PROMPT. You are therefore advised to be there by 1:45pm.

Friday, April 06, 2018

The weekend sorted


Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The end of an era

When I first became interested in photography, there were no digital cameras. For casual snapshotters a simple film camera was the only choice.

Serious amateur photographers, like myself, bought single lens reflex 35mm cameras which took interchangeable lenses. Professionals bought cameras that took 120 film in rolls or even cameras that took sheet film. The larger the negative, the better the quality.

The earliest digital cameras were generally a novelty. They could only record a handful of pictures which were of poor quality.

It didn't take long though for things to improve. Better sensors allowed photographers to print in ever increasing sizes and then came the digital single lens reflex which were a hit with serous amateurs and some professionals.

The main aims were to increase the number of megapixels which improved resolution and to make the cameras work in ever decreasing light. At the same time, things became more and more automatic- auto exposure, auto focus etc etc. These features allow photographers to concentrate on composition and framing and take photos in situations that would previously have been impossible..

The death knell came though when mobile phones started to include cameras that took remarkably good photos. You no longer see people pointing cameras at their subjects, they whip out their phone to do the job.

As in any field of electronics, development and research costs money and that cost has to be recouped. Sales of cameras are in decline and the fewer people that buy cameras, the more expensive they become. The newer version of my main camera cost 3,500 Euros when it was introduced - way more than I can justify spending.

I can't see me taking photos at concerts with a mobile phone but who knows, in the future that may be the only viable choice.




2 Euros folks


Monday, April 02, 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

Oh no!

The weather forecast indicated that there might be a few drops of rain this afternoon but that the procession tonight should not be affected.

Well, it is not quarter to six and there has been more than a few drops here in Bigastro. The forecast says that there may be strong gusts of wind with a yellow alert tomorrow. This does not bode well.

PS Spoke too soon, it is now 6:15 and the sun has come out.

Meanwhile, in Murcia.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Summertime

Those would be fabulous temperatures for a summer's day in England.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

An early start

You'll need to be up early if you want to catch this.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Via Crucis

The weather Gods were kind last night for the people of Bigastro. It started to spit rain at about 9:30pm but nothing came of it. There was just a light breeze that did nothing more than blow the oil lamps out that people were carrying.

As I said though, there is very little light once the street lights have been turned off. In the calles it was just light from the odd window that illuminated the passage of the procession.

First out of the church was the statue of Jesus on a small throne that was pushed along.

The statue of Mary, holding Jesus from the cross, was carried on the shoulders of ladies from the brotherhood. You sense her pain as Mary sits with the lifeless body of her son on her lap.

This year, the procession was accompanied by the Manuel Moya Choir and the procession stopped at various points for readings from the Bible.

From nowhere

All was calm until 6am. The wind had actually died down overnight but that was not going to last.

Looking at the data, the wind suddenly picked up and gusts of up to 90kmph were being recorded. According to AEMET we are on orange alert for wind until 6pm tonight. It then drops to yellow alert until midnight. Although much of Spain is affected, it is the South East that is bearing the brunt of the wind.

On a positive note, all looks well for Palm Sunday. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A very atmospheric parade

We've been to this parade a couple of times now.

With the street lights out and just oil lamps for illumination, this is one of the most moving parades we have witnessed.

Very difficult to photograph though with so little light and of course flash would be out of the question.

More about the Certamen

The band competition that Bigastro is participating in is divided into sections according to the number of musicians.

Bigastro competes in the popular 2nd sections which is for bands between 51 and 70 in number. Bands are allowed to recruit up to 5 musicians who do not normally play in the band but these must not be playing with the other bands from that section.

Each band will play three pieces including a work of free choice which must have a maximum duration of 22 and a minimum of 12 minutes. The set piece for the 2nd Section is Pumpkins by Juan Gonzalo Gómez Deval.

The members of the jury will each score points out of ten for each piece played  and then prizes will be awarded as follows:

1st PRIZE: To the bands that obtain from 320 to 400 points. 2nd PRIZE: To the bands that obtain from 260 to 319 points. 3rd PRIZE: To the bands that obtain from 200 to 259 points.

An honourable mention will be awarded to the band that achieves the highest score among those who have obtained the first prize. So what we are hoping for is a 1st prize and honourable mention which is what we obtained last time in Alicante.

All the bands participating in the second section are awarded 4,200 euros to cover expenses including transport.

In addition,  the band that earns the honourable mention will be awarded the prize of 2,500 euros.

The all important weather

We always live in hope that Holy Week will be dry for the processions. It seems that we may be lucky this year. Not fussed about the probability of strong wind on Saturday though.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

We were there

Well you already knew that because I've posted an album of pictures taken at the Gala on Sunday night.

Here you have further proof with a picture taken by our friend Fonta.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Joaquina

Scout John and others who were in our Spanish class will remember this grand lady. Joaquina was in the classroom opposite ours learning to read, write and do basic arithmetic.

Whenever we had a celebration, Joaquina was there and she made sure that we Brits were made to feel welcome.

The Adult Education Classes put on two productions for the children from the Infant School. In the second one, I played the Ice Devil and Joaquina played the Moon. We had a scene together where she reprimanded me for being bad. It was supposed to be just a couple of lines but Joaquina managed to stretch it out to several minutes and thus extended the comic element.

Last night, at the Gala for Women in Bigastro, Joaquina was honoured.

In the photo gallery that was projected onto the stage was a photo of Joaquina and I on stage. As she left the auditorium, Joaquina stopped by us and gave Pam and I a kiss.

Such a wonderful lady and a great ambassador for relations between the Spaniards and the Brits.

For all you dads out there


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Nothing beats a live performance.

I know that the band have put in many hours rehearsing for the competition in Villena on the 7th April. However, performing in concert to an audience is the ultimate test and the best preparation.

Our band have already played their programme in a concert on the 3rd March. This is a reciprocal concert in Bigastro.

Unfortunately, Pam and I were in Manchester for the last concert. You can be sure we will not miss this one.

Friday, March 16, 2018

At last

At last, work has begun to demolish a large part of the structure of the old bullring in Orihuela.

The old building will become a multipurpose space with a capacity of up to 2,800 people. The new complex will be host shows, have garden areas, a cafeteria, public baths and an exhibition hall. What it will not do is stage bullfights.

The works will last seven months at an estimated cost of 400,000 Euros.  Of the 7,500 m2, 5,095 m2 will be paved and landscaped.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Give them your support

Pam and I will certainly be there to support our band.



The Second Section will take place at the Chapí de Villena Theatre , on Saturday, April 7, starting at 12:00 and the order of action will be as follows:

1. AGOST CULTURAL ARTISTIC CENTER "VERGE DE LA PAU" OF AGOST

In the afternoon, the auditions will begin at 4:30 p.m., in the following order:

2. MUSICAL UNION OF BIGASTRO
3. MUSICAL UNION OF SAN MIGUEL DE SALINAS

I don't know about the first band playing but we do know that the band from San Miguel will provide stiff opposition.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Condition is everything



Leica 0-series no. 122
Only 25 of these 'test' cameras were produced by Ernst Leitz in 1923—two years before the first Leica camera was officially brought to market. Of those 25, only three are known to still be in 'original condition.'

If you have one in your loft, let me know and I'll take it off your hands! I don't mind if it not quite as good condition as this.

PS Just to let you know, this rare camera has just sold for 2,400,000 Euro (USD 2,976,000).

Friday, March 02, 2018

Mean and moody

Johnny Breeze and The Atlantics (Chris on the left)
Christopher Riley has managed to find this photo of him when he played with Johnny Breeze and the Atlantics in Blackpool.

He's also came across a poster of the time when the Atlantics played at Morecambe Pier with Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac as top of the bill. Chris was not with them then.

PS Chris is on the left in the first photo.

 And below with two of the other bands Chris played with, The Hobos and The John Evan Band which later became Jethro Tull.


The Hobos (Chris back right)

The John Evan Band (Chris second left)

Cancelled again!

With a heavy covering of clouds, this would be a non-event!

Thursday, March 01, 2018

About women


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Try again

You may recall that this event had to postponed last time because of dense cloud cover. Let us hope that on the 2nd March the sky is clear for them.

Thoroughly well deserved

Following on from their magnificent concert in Bigastro on Saturday night, Neuma played in a competition on Sunday and came away with a richly deserved first prize.

These highly talented young ladies, who play together in a quartet of flutes, will undoubtedly go on from strength to strength. At some point they will be snapped up individually by prestigious orchestras but until then, they will give great pleasure to audiences nationally and internationally as a group. 

A reminder

Geoff Durkin has kindly sent me a copy of this poster to remind us that there will be a free concert this coming Sunday in Jacarilla.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Highly recommended

If you want to know the good restaurants in an area, ask a local but chose one who is discerning enough to only recommend the best.

Yesterday, we were invited out for lunch with our neighbours, Pepe and Eladia to a restaurant on the coast.   El Gallego, on   Calle Transformador, 1, 03190 Pilar de la Horadada, is well worth a visit.

Just look at my photos and you can sense the quality of this restaurant but don't imagine it is so pricey that it will break the bank to go there. There were plenty of courses you could chose from under 20 Euros and many were under 10 Euros.

As we entered the restaurant, we passed the display of fish and seafood but unfortunately I did not have my camera to hand. I can only tell you that it was most impressive with large quantities of prawns, crayfish, squid, octopus, sea bream, sole, sea bass, salmon, crabs etc all looking delicious.

On the way out though, I had my camera ready and managed to get a photo of the prime cuts of beef available.


The cabinets of wines and champagnes impressed me most. In the bubbly cabinet there bottles of Moët & Chandon, Mumm, Veuve Clicquot, Piper-Heidsieck, Laurent-Perrier, Taittinger, Dom Pérignon etc etc. There was also a small selection of Cava but only the finest varieties of course.


Opposite the bubbly was a cabinet of equally impressive wines. Pepe told me that some of those could well set you back 100 Euros per bottle.


This was our main course, a huge platter of the most succulent steak for the eight of us to share.



We look forward to dining out with Pepe and Eladia again and will be trusting him to find somewhere suitable. I will report back to you when that happens.

Ready for our visit

Pam and I are booked to visit Manchester next week to celebrate our granddaughter's 8th birthday. Then we read this!

"Some parts of the UK are set to feel colder than the Arctic Circle as the “beast from the east” sees freezing temperatures sweep the country.

Widespread snow is now forecast, with up to 20cm expected in the worst-affected areas over the course of the week, while wind chill factors mean it could feel as cold as -15C in some places.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, amid fears of disruption to travel on the roads, rail and in the air."

Saturday, February 24, 2018

More water needed





This is the current state of the Pedrera reservoir - just about 25% full. That will not see us through a hot summer so we need more rain.

PS These are not my photos.

Friday, February 23, 2018

So true

Imagine though if I was taking pictures of one of the band's concerts or of a fiesta and was restricted to rolls of film with just twelve exposures or even 35mm with 36 exposure.

My photo archive would be an awful lot less than it is.

Digital photography may have made us trigger happy but at least we are not out of pocket capturing an event.

I'm gobsmacked

As an ex-teacher, I am appalled by the suggestions made by Donald Trump in relation to the latest school shooting.

He believes that educators should bring weapons to school to try and deter attacks like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last week that left 17 people dead.

The US President goes on to say that he thinks teachers who bring guns to school should get cash bonuses for their efforts to protect students -up to 40% has been quoted.

I understand his point that, it takes time for the police to respond to a call and in that time many students could be killed or maimed.Does that justify having teachers carrying guns to school? Offer them a bonus to carry a gun and they will all want to sign up.

Schools are meant to be safe havens not battlegrounds stocked up with weapons. Follow Trump's suggestion and we'll be reading about teachers, not outsiders, shooting the pupils.

An increasing number of Americans believe that the answer to the problems is more not less gun control but we know that Donald Trump and other American politicians are funded by the National Rifle Association. Their take on this is that, to stop a bad man with a gun, you need a good man with a gun. They would advocate that every US citizen should carry a weapon in order to protect themselves because the increase in gun sales would bring them huge profits.

If the UK government had suggested that teachers in England should carry guns to protect themselves and their students, I and many of my colleagues would have resigned on the spot.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Today

At 11:14 this morning a 1.8 magnitude earthquake SW of Los Montesinos.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A labour of love

It occurred to me that, if anything happened to me, all the photos I have taken in Bigastro would be lost. They are all on hard drives either in or attached to my computer but to go through them would be a nightmare for anyone. In all probability they would simply be erased.

In order to preserve this archive for the town, I have bought an external hard drive just to store those photos. In the event of my demise, or when I am too old to take photos anymore, the drive can be passed on to the Town Hall for them to keep.

The total to date is 23,284 photos covering all sorts of events including concerts, processions, fiestas etc etc.  Even I was astonished that I had so many pictures. I can't even imagine how many pictures I will have by the time I have finished.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A quick reminder


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The best of British

This is the man that lead the leave campaign, Britain's Foreign Secretary and would be Prime Minister.

I know you shouldn't judge a person by their dress but really I wonder what other countries will make of this picture of Boris Johnson?

Setting his appearance to one side, Johnson is due to make a speech today telling us that we should all pull together over Brexit, that we have nothing to fear.

Remember, Boris was the man who told us the NHS would be better off by £350m  a week post Brexit, He was the one who told us that we had to leave because otherwise Britain would be invaded by Turks. Neither of those things were true. What is true, according to Government research, is that Britain will be worse off. 

I believe we are well passed the day when we can simply regard Mr Johnson as a harmless and loveable quintessentially British buffoon. He is rapidly becoming a liability and a dangerous one at that.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Out for a walk

There are several processions with statues that take place here in Bigastro. The most popular of course is the one on the 16th August with the statue of San Joaquin.

We also have two processions at Easter, one with the statue of Mary at night and then the Encuentro at dawn with the statues of Mary and Jesus.

Since the Church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, her statue has a special procession.

Let's not forget the Romeria with the statue of San Isidro. Possibly the longest of the processions, this one takes the pilgrims all the way from the Church up to the Hermitage at La Pedrera.

Finally, we have a procession with the statue of Fray Leopoldo. That took place yesterday in bright sunlight.

PS I hope I haven't missed any out, hopefully someone will tell me if I have.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Christopher Riley

Chris playing flute at the Fiesta for San Joaquin 2017

Alfonso greets Chris on the stage at the Teatro Corte, Almoradi.

Last night the SUMB chose to honour Christopher Riley, the only British person currently playing in the band.

 Christopher has a fascinating musical CV. He played in a group in his home town, Blackpool in the 60s and 70s. Johnny Breeze and the Atlantics played alongside many of the great artists of the time including the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Eric Clapton. Chris also played with the band that became Jethro Tull and is in fact still in close contact with the front man, Ian Anderson.

 His repertoire of instruments includes bass guitar, saxophone, organ, guitar, flute and piccolo. 

When we first saw him with the Symphonic Band, he was playing saxophone. He then learnt to play the flute and joined the Junior Band. Currently, Chris plays flute with the Symphonic Band.
Chris addresses the audience (in perfect Spanish).

Alfonso, Chris and his wife, Kim at the Casino in Almoradi. 

Chris and Alfonso. 


The President of the Sociedad Union Musical de Bigastro, Alfonso Banuls Fuente, presented Chris with a special pin at the reception later. Chris is the first to be honoured with this pin which you can see him wearing at the bottom of the three on his lapel.
A very proud Chris wearing his new pin at the bottom of his lapel.