Monday, March 18, 2019

Following on

The guided tour of the route around La Pedrera was deemed a great success. The fifty people who signed up for it were entertained by Efren Pamies and Pascual Segura who explained the fauna, flora and history at various points on the route.

For the next guided tour, the participants will be visiting the traditional garden of Bigastro - La Huerta.

A lot of sickos out there

There are numerous first person shootout video games on the market where you aim to kill as many of the enemy as possible. Your screen shows video as if you have a camera strapped to you. However, these are games. No matter how convincing the graphics are, we know that it is not real and nobody actually dies. I have to say, they are not my cup of tea but everyone to their own.

The killer who went on the rampage at two mosques in New Zealand had a GoPro video camera strapped to his head. Whilst he was killing innocent worshippers, his actions were being streamed live over the internet. This was not a game, these were real people being slaughtered. Apparently, the video lasted for 17 minutes on Facebook.

Once Facebook was aware, they removed the footage and it was banned by all popular social media sites. Unfortunately though, the video had already been copied and was immediately being redistributed by users.

Facebook removed 1.5m copies of the video in the first 24 hours after the attack and tech companies are struggling to keep it off their servers.  Whilst it is straightforward for the servers to detect full copies of the video and remove them, it is more difficult for them to detect when people have extracted clips from the original and put them together in a different order.

It seems that we now live in a sick world where some people either cannot separate the fantasy world of a video game from reality or they find reality more compelling, more exciting.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

And so we begin

We are all aware that there will be a municipal election on the 26th May.The political parties should be honing their manifestos to put to the public.

However,  that is not the only way political parties in Spain hope to win votes.

The parties in power engage themselves in as many projects as they can to show how worthwhile they have been and what they have achieved. In the meantime, the parties in opposition try to find any mistakes or evidence of maladministration that the parties in power have made that can be reported in the press or even denounced in court.

So we see that, in Bigastro, there has been a flurry of events demonstrating what the ruling party has achieved. At the same time, the opposition group have denounced the ruling party and the mayor in particular for prevarication. The mayor has chosen to give her account of the accusation on her Facebook page to which the Liberal councillor has replied.

As you might imagine, we now have  three different versions of what took place. Which version you take to be the truth will depend upon your political allegiance.

We are only midway through March with almost two months left for the campaigning. It looks like this could be a bloody contest with, I am sure,  plenty more to come. I, for one would prefer it to be different. To my mind the contest should not be to find the least worst party but the best - the one that has most to offer. Instead of telling us what the others have done wrong, tell us what you aim to do that is right.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Two for the diary

Saturday 30th, a chance to see a Festival of Dance and donate to a good cause.

Sunday, the awards for the theatre competition followed by a performance by Lugarico of their San Joaquin and Bigastro production.

Going backwards

Just as we were getting used to this lovely warm weather, things are about to change on Monday when the temperature will drop by 13 degrees.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The weather for this week

No trace of the longed for episode of precipitations in the southeast of the peninsular. Thermal ups and downs, generated by the change in wind direction, but little else.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Good exercise

All of the places for the guided tour of the La Pedrera section of the tourist route were filled days ago.

Tomorrow, fifty walkers will set off from the Town Square and make their way up to La Pedrera.

They will then explore the path that takes you around the back of La Pedrera and eventually arrive at the top of Calle Holanda. From there they will make their way back to the town.

Guiding them will be Pascual Segura and Efren Pamies who will provide explanations about the history, the fauna and flora along the way.

The forecast is for a dry day with no wind and temperatures of 20 degrees so very pleasant for a walk in the countryside. I am sure they will thoroughly enjoy themselves and learn a lot along the way.

Check your pockets

The second prize of the National Lottery on Thursday, February 28, 2019 was won in Bigastro. The ticket,  number 52,863,  that will net the owner a prize of 60,000 euros per series, was sold at the lottery shop on Calle Purisima 14. Please note that each ticket is divided into 10 decimos which will net the owners 6,000 Euros.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Go to the movies

This year's concert features music from films and promises to be an audiovisual extravaganza.

Let's celebrate women in Bigastro

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

You think you are smart?

Bank fraud is big business and the fraudsters takes steps to keep ahead of the game. We all know not to click on links in dodgy looking emails or to give out account details such as pin numbers but are you fully confident to recognise a genuine message from a fake?

Take this test to find out. 

Nobody mentioned this

British holidaymakers in Europe could face five-hour delays at passport control thanks to additional security checks in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Alicante in southern Spain would be  badly affected because 43 per cent of arrivals there are British.

If the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, Alicante would need the extra staff and resources to deal with an extra 201 hours of immigration checks every day.

Currently, the only check that EU airport officials make on a British passport is that it belongs to the passport holder. Previously, you just showed your passport to the National Policeman in the booth and then passed through. Now there are electronic gates but still it is a simple check.

But from 11pm GMT on 29 March 2019, in the event of a no deal Brexit, UK travellers will become “third-country nationals” and therefore subject to the standard rules of admission for citizens of nations such as the US, Japan and Australia.

This means there is no automatic right of entry, and border officials may ask for evidence of “sufficient means of subsistence” for the intended stay and return – such as return ticket, accommodation reservations or an invitation letter to a conference.

Although the article I read refers to holidaymakers, those of us who are residents with British passports could be equally effected. After all, we would be in the same queue from the plane.

PS Whether Britain crashes out or not, you are advised to change your driving license from a UK version to a Spanish one before the 29th.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Times they are a changin'

I suppose it was inevitable. We are used to women in manly trouser suits, why not men in gowns?

Billy Porter, star of Ryan Murphy’s vogueing series, Pose, at the Oscars  in a floor-length, full-skirt black gown-plus-tuxedo .

Friday, February 22, 2019

A guided tour

Follow the route from the Town Hall to La Pedrera with Efren Pamies and Pascual Segura to guide you.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Don't buy lemons from the shops!

The price of lemons has fallen by 26% compared with last year and stands at 0.28 Euros per kilogramme. Producers of lemons, oranges and tangerines in the Valencian region have lost 200 million Euros this year. Since the cost of picking outweighs the price at market, 26,000 tons of lemons have been left on the trees.

Some argue that the cause is over production but that is not the main problem. It is Turkey, where 800,000 tons of lemons have been exported this year at prices which are noncompetitive due to the devaluation of the lira. Add to that, competition from South Africa, Argentina and now Egypt that used to mainly grow oranges and the Spanish growers cannot compete.

In the meantime, we have a good crop of lemons on our trees this year. Added to which, our friend Eloy has just brought us a further crate of lemons.

Please, if you want lemons, call at our gate - you can have as many as you wish for free.

Well well

A name from the past has just appeared in the papers.

From 1983, Derek Hatton was deputy leader of Liverpool Council whilst John Hamilton was the leader. It was Hatton  that grabbed the limelight though. As a member of Militant, a Troskist organisation, he refused to raise council rates and set an illegal deficit budget of £30m for Liverpool in protest against Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government. .

One of his most controversial moves was to send out taxis with redundancy notices to council workers including teachers. I was at Anfield at the time. We received advice from our unions which basically told us to arrange overdraft loans from our banks. They reasoned that, even Liverpool Council could not continue with a situation where schools were closed because they had no staff. 

Neil Kinnock expelled Hatton from the party and the redundancy notices were never carried out.

That was 34 years ago and we might have expected Hatton to give up thoughts of a political career in that time. But no, he applied to rejoin the party several times but was only successful with his application in September 2018. He was readmitted 18th February this year only to be suspended two days later for tweeting "Jews with "humanity" should criticise Israel" in 2012. 

Ah well, at least Degsy will not want for money. He is motivational speaker and chairman of the new media company Rippleffect. Hatton is also a property developer in Cyprus. Just as back in the 1980s, Hatton dresses in designer suits and Italian hand made shoes. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The red hills of Bigastro

The Gallos with their crop.

Another fascinating account of life in the past by Pascual Segura.

 In the middle of the last century, the south-facing parts of the bigastrenses hills were used as dryers for peppers of the variety known as ñora or bola: round, small, ripe and red in colour.

From the ñora, paprika is extracted, an essential element in the kitchen and the preparation of  sausages, due to its character as a preservative and curative product. For many years paprika contributed to the food industry of towns in our region, such as Guardamar, and neighbouring Murcia.

It was a dry pepper that could be used throughout the year at times when the big red, green or red peppers were not available. The name of ñora arose from the great production of ball peppers in the cultivated areas of the town of La Ñora, very close to the city of Murcia.

The ñoras were cultivated and harvested in the bigastrense orchard. They were then transported in carts to the hills where they were left to dry on sunny days, offering the neighbours a beautiful coloured picture.

This was a job that was carried out from September, mainly by families such as the Gallos who were called to the hills with the the sound of a conch shell.

There were many conch calls throughout the day to announce that the neighbours had to go up to place the ñoras, had to add more, that they had to turn them or open them, in order to dry them well.

The last call announced the time to collect the dried peppers, normally at dusk but earlier if there was a chance of rain. Once collected, the ñoras were arranged in large warehouses, even in the homes themselves, always in a scattered manner and never in sacks, since they needed to be aerated.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Back to the polls

Following the failure to get his budget plan passed, the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Friday a snap general election for April 28. It will be the third general election In Spain in four years. Spaniards were not due to be called to the polls again until 2020.

The decision rules out the possibility of a so-called “Super Sunday” on May 26, the day that local, regional and European elections will take place.


Yesterday's parade for the Medio Ano Festero was more colourful than last year's.

Amongst the groups of participants were Mickey and Minnie mouse.

We even had baby mice!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Historical documents.

You can access historical documents preserved in archives by the Town Hall, Bigastro by following this link.Unfortunately, some of the documents were written in pen and ink and the ink has faded.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Help at hand

I doubt that we would qualify.

The plan offers three million Euros to improve access, bathrooms and kitchens in older houses.

Monday, February 11, 2019

For all lovers (of good food!).

Let me run you through the menu:

Four starters including squid, cod croquettes, artichokes with ham and eggs on top, goat's cheese salad.

Choice of grilled tuna or steak.

Chocolate coulant with a fudge biscuit.


Choice of red or white wine, beer, soft drinks and water.

Enjoy great food and win a prize

The 7th Tapa Route! On the 23rd and 24th of February, visit the establishments participating in this route, download the APP and value the tapas, among all the people who value the tapas, there will be a raffle of 3 prizes of € 50.

 SELFIE CONTEST 1.To participate in this contest, you must like the Facebook Page of the Town Hall of Bigastro.

Recent works

Parc Guell, Barcelona - oil on canvas 90x45cms. 
Sa Calobra, Mallorca - oil on canvas 41x35.5cms

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Alicante good food guide

You can pick up a copy from the Town Hall.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Time to celebrate

The new people running the restaurant/bar are celebrating their first year on Saturday.

Apart from the music, there will be free tapas on the night.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Un ano mas

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

For World Cancer Day

The Town Hall have lit up the Plaza de la Constitucion green for World Cancer Day. All those who have suffered from cancer like Pam and I, very much appreciate this.

Even those who have not had some form of cancer will know of people who are being treated, have survived and those who lost their lives to cancer.

Monday, February 04, 2019

The first stage

An individual time trial of 10.2kms.

Made it

After an intense weekend of preparations and promotions, the Ruta Alquibla is now officially opened. Those who set off yesterday and followed the route around the Huerta, the town and La Pedrera  declared it a great success.

The Provincial President, along with the Alcaldesa and the Councillor for the Environment lead the walkers along the way as they set off from the Town Square

Just to remind you, Bigastro made a bid for this project along with 16 other municipalities. Bigastro won and were rewarded with a 300,000 investment from Alicante Province. There followed a huge amount of work putting up signposts and maps, creating points of interest, producing promotional material etc etc. It has all been well thought out and carefully planned for.

If you asked me whether Bigastro could be a tourist destination six months ago, I would have scratched my head to find any reason why people would come here. We have to remember though that there are many different forms of tourism.

Some towns have historic buildings, castles, museums, art galleries and beaches that attract visitors. Bigastro lacks any of those and so it had to look at what it did have and that is its environs in particular, the historic market garden and the scenic beauty of La Pedrera. It is a place where lovers of the countryside and fresh air can come and enjoy a ramble taking in some of the history at the same time.

 Now the job is to capitalise on this investment and attract visitors to the town. 

In order to do this though we need two further projects to come to fruition, we need somewhere for the people to stay and somewhere for them to eat.

In our discussions, the mayor suggested a hotel. There is of course, the campsite at La Pedrera which offers spaces for caravans and mobile homes along with wooden chalets and brick build buildings to accommodate groups.  However, there is nothing in the town itself. I think it is more likely a bed and breakfast is needed - a place where people can stay for the weekend whilst they explore the route and maybe visit neighbouring towns.

Just as important though is somewhere they can eat. There are many bars serving food and the restaurants at La Pedrera. but nowhere in the town itself where people can sit down for a full meal.

To quote the Spanish phrase though, "poco a poco" - one step at a time. Thanks to the hard work of many, a great start has already been made.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Brave souls

Well at least it was dry!!

Hundreds gathered in the Plaza de la Constitucion this morning ready to take part in the first official walk of the Ruta Alquibla.

The wind had calmed a little during the night and so the hope was for a pleasant walk. Most sections of the route though are on open ground and the wind was blowing quite strong by the time they set off.

The plan was to walk the Huerta section first, then the Casco Urbano part and finally the route around La Pedrera. I can well imagine that there will be some who will feel that they have had enough by the time the get back to the town from la Huerta and will be heading to the bars taking a warm drink!

You can see my photos by using the link in the left hand sidebar.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Damned wind again!

It is just me or have we suffered from more periods of strong winds this winter? 

Officially open

Last night, the new tourist route project around Bigastro was officially opened.

On the panel were representatives of the two routes that meet the Ruta Alquibla; the Costa Blanca Interior route and the southern section of the Camino de Santiago. Also there were; Teresa María Belmonte Sánchez  (Mayor President), Antonio José Meseguer Cabañés (Councillor for the Environment), Pascual Segura (Official Chronicler) and Efren Pamies (local policemen who has a great interest in the fauna and flora of the area).

Earlier in the week, the new Tourist Office was also officially opened.

On Sunday, at 10am, townsfolk and visitors are invited to take part in the first walk around the route.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Help save the planet

To encourage folks to buy locally, the Town Hall  came up with this scheme.

When you buy from a local shop after the 30th of January, you will be given a little tree to plant.

Please don't plant it in a pot though, put it in the ground where it can grow big and strong.

If you don't have space for a tree, then take it to the Town Hall and they will make sure that it is planted in the allocated space at La Pedrera.

Be informed

For those who attend the inauguration ceremony, an historical guide to the town centre by Pascual Segura. Please note that the guide is in both Spanish and English.

NB You can also read this fascinating guide online by following this link.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Another parade

And paella if you dress up.

The next procession

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The official site

The Ruta Alquibla has its own website which you can explore and find out what this new initiative is all about.

On the site you will learn something of the history for example, how the Vikings sailed up the River Segura and you will find photos of the local fauna and flora. I recommend that you watch the  introductory video with its aerial tour of the route.

The new website also links you to general information about the town and its council.

PS The website is not properly optimised for tablets like my iPad. It is better viewed on a desktop machine.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Not good news for the Medieval Market

Next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Orihuela will be staging its annual Medieval Market.

Those who have been in the past will remember times when the wind has been an issue. One year, it was so strong that the opening was postponed and a number of the stalls were blown down.

The forecast for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd is not good. Sunday looks to be the better of the three days but even then it could be too windy for some.

From past occasions, we know that Saturday and Sunday are normally very busy with plenty of visitors crowding the narrow streets. However, if you stand and watch, you will observe many are just out to socialise. They may stop for some food or a drink but will pass by the many stalls without even giving them a second glance.

The official opening

Following the presentation at the tourist fair, FITUR,  by the mayor-president, Teresa María Belmonte Sánchez, and the Town Planning and Environment councillor, Antonio José Meseguer Cabañés, this week there will be a presentation, inauguration  and the first official walk along the tourist route - Ruta Alquibla (pronounced alkeybla).

Let us hope that the weather is OK. The forecast is for partial cloud. moderate wind, temperatures reaching 19 degrees and no chance of rain so it should be fine.

There was a time when I would have joined them on the walk. Now though, I may have to settle for taking photos of the walkers en route.

Bluff or fact

As the 29th March looms ever closer, the political infighting in Britain has increased to fever pitch. So too has the scare mongering aimed at stopping BREXIT, delaying it or forcing MPs to back Teresa May's deal.

Many of today's papers are running stories telling us that Whitehall officials say they could introduce martial law to stop “civil disobedience”, amid the fears over a no-deal Brexit.

Government staff are looking at introducing legislation under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 which would allow ministers to impose curfews, travel bans, confiscate property and deploy the armed forces to stop rioting.

This leaked threat might seem to strengthens the case for at the least postponing BREXIT but that may not be its intention. More sceptical souls see it as May's way of trying to force the hands of those who voted against her deal to think again on Tuesday.

Let's face it, May has steadfastly ruled out a second referendum, stopping a "no deal" BREXIT or a delay to allow time for a renegotiation. As far as she is concerned, Britain leaves the EU on the 29th March either with or without a deal full stop. The choice is either accepting what many regard as a bad deal or potential chaos. Besides the threat of martial law, there is concern about the supply of medicines, queues of lorries waiting for custom checks and even a shortage of food. It really is Hobson's choice. 

If I had been allowed to vote, I would have put my cross by remain and I would have been on the losing side. Even though I still believe that Britain would be better staying in Europe, I accept that the "will of the people" was to leave, hopefully in an orderly way.

Sadly, it doesn't look as though there will be anything orderly about Britain's exit from Europe. Whichever route is taken, there will be acrimony that will divide the country for a long, long time to come. David Cameron, what were you thinking of. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Mayor in Madrid


The Mayor, along with the Councillor for Environment and a representative from Alicante province at the tourist fair, FITUR, in Madrid.

They are there to promote the latest project named Alquibla. This nine kilometre route is designed to take tourists from the town centre to the traditional garden and the leisure zone of La Pedrera.

Along the way there are signposts and information boards that describe different aspects and points of interest of the town.

I know, from my discussions with the Mayor, that tourism is seen as an important development for the town. Those of you who have visited the town square recently will have noticed the new Tourist Information Office to the right of the door into the Town Hall.

During our meeting, the priorities that the Mayor outlined to me were:
a) the need to make the town more attractive to locals and visitors
b) to encourage people to spend their  money in the town's local shops
c) to encourage more businesses to invest in the town
d) to provide accommodation for visitors in the form of a hotel
e) to ensure that the value of properties and investments in the town grow

With a very limited budget caused by the huge debt from previous administrations, it has been and will continue to be an uphill struggle. A great deal of investment though has been made from the province to help Bigastro achieve its aims. The town now has to capitalise on those investments and make sure that they were not misplaced.

As the mayor said though, "there is only so much that the council can do, we need everyone on board to make further progress". "People should feel proud to live here and call Bigastro their home". I would only add that, the success of these projects is in all of our interests.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Yesterday in Bigastro

Bigastro celebrates the day of San Anton. patron saint of animals, each year with a special mass and a benediction of animals that the townsfolk take along.

The mass used to be held inside the church with the blessing taking place in the doorway.

Traditionally, there is a raffle as well with a pair of live pigs being the prize one year.

Now, the mass is held outside and the raffle is for items that people might want more than a live pig.

In another twist this year, the statue of the saint was paraded around a short route of the town before mass.

The saying goes that the sun shines on the righteous and so it did yesterday. Only at the end of the benediction did heavy clouds appear and rain started to fall.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Expressing her opinion

Keep up-to-date

Friday, January 18, 2019

The proof is here

This photo from 1954 was taken on the road that leads to La Pedrera.


 It shows José Fuentes Pérez  driving his cart loaded with stones from the quarry to the town. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

I've seen the diagrams

Newspapers seem to be as divided as MPs on what exactly will happen or could happen now with BREXIT. Many of them have set out diagrams that show different scenarios of what might transpire in the coming days and weeks as Britain struggles to resolve the issues.

I think it is fair to say that, if Teresa May cannot come up with something radically different to her initial plan, it will be voted down again. But what happens then?

The fall back position is that Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal. Some say that will be a disaster and cause chaos, others seem to think it is a reasonable option.

Some want an extension to allow more time, others say that will lead to nothing more than the present position.

There is a camp that suggests we should have a second referendum, I assume in the hope that the people will change their minds and vote remain. Many though believe that a second vote would split the country even wider.

What is abundantly clear is that many politicians are voicing opinions based on their own self interests rather than what might be best for the country.

Whatever happens next, I believe that BREXIT will go down as a sorry saga that has cost the country dearly in many different ways.

I wonder, should BREXIT be like PPI where you can make a claim on the basis that it was miss sold to you. We were told leaving would be easy, painless and highly beneficial.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The importance of being up to date

By law, banks in Spain require identification of their customers. Without up to date information they can refuse to allow you to withdraw money even if you have a balance in your account.

For foreign customers, the usual form of identification will be a passport but therein lies a problem because passports expire after ten years. Once your passport has expired, it is no longer an acceptable form of identification.

The majority of people renew their passport before it is about to expire but of course it will have a new number. The bank needs to know this in order to keep their information up to date. The process should be simple, you call into any branch of your bank and present your new passport so they can update your record.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Renaming the street

Photo from Facebook
On the 13th a plaque was unveiled renaming the street by the VaiVen after Manuel Moya Pomares.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Just as strange as before

Last night, the theatre group, El Lugarico, performed Habitos Extranos (Strange Habits) in the Auditorium to a full audience.

This is the second time that we have seen this play and there were some changes made which only added to the humour.

Since the first performance, El Lugarico have taken their production to Madrid where the man who played the priest got a richly deserved first prize.

As I said previously, even if you did not understand all of the dialogue and to be fair it is not easy to understand Spanish innuendo, the visual humour was worth going for.

A gay priest, a man who has a few too many lady friends, clothes that seem to come off at will, a stripper and a plumber with a bossy wife - all the makings of a Whitehall farce.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Frozen fruit

This is what the local farmers have been trying to avoid. This picture was taken in Murcia.

Luckily for us, the temperature has not dropped below 2.4 degrees and last night it was 3.1. at its lowest - so no signs of ice in the garden.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Bless the budgies, rabbits, dogs etc etc

Protecting the crop

Whilst some crops can stand a bit of frost, others are totally ruined. Farmers therefore take the precaution of lighting fires to keep the air temperature above 0.