Thursday, August 06, 2020

Showing support

Modelling my San Joaquin commemorative mask. These are in different material to the original green Bigastro masks. I'd say they were more breathable and comfortable to wear plus they are shaped to cover your nose properly. 

He makes Johnson look good

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are often compared for all the wrong reasons. However, in his interview with Jonathon Swan, Trump surpassed his British counterpart.

Johnson has said that the Government's handling of coronavirus had been a “great success”. I don't think most people would agree with that.

Trump though bettered Johnson in his interview.

The coronavirus testing system in the United States has been a disastrous hodgepodge. There is no uniform standard, it is difficult for parts of the system to coordinate or communicate with each other, and even people who do get tests have to wait so long for the response that the signal is useless.

Trump presented this state of affairs as if it was good. “We’ve come up with so many different kind of tests,” he boasted. “The only thing we have now is some people have to wait longer than we’d like them to.”

Swan asked Trump why he would hold a huge maskless indoor rally during a pandemic. Trump’s reply, incredibly, was to boast about the size of the crowd and insist it was twice as large as news reports (and photos) indicated.

Trump has repeatedly said he doesn’t like coronavirus testing because it shows how many cases you have, which makes him look bad. This time he attributed this position to undefined manuals and books.

On several occasions, Trump replied to questions about the coronavirus response by insisting the U.S. is containing the virus as well as it possibly could. When Swan points out that 1,000 Americans are now dying per day, Trump replies, “They are dying. That’s true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it.”

“They are dying. That’s true. And it is what it is.”

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Was there a point to this?

Do you remember at school having to learn the collective nouns for groups of animals? Have you ever had to use any of them since?

We also had to learn weird units of measurement like; bushel, rod, furlong, gill, peck, fathom and chain. I remember tests where we were asked e.g. how many florins there were in so many guineas.  How many half crowns, three penny bits, farthings etc. Without a calculator, we had to rely on long division and then later, log tables. I wonder, do any of you recall how many yards there were in a mile. 

How the mighty fall

Spain's former King Juan Carlos has left the country for an unknown destination, weeks after he was linked to an inquiry into alleged corruption.

Juan Carlos, 82, announced the move on Monday in a letter to his son, Felipe, to whom he handed power six years ago.

He said he would be available if prosecutors needed to interview him.

In June, Spain's Supreme Court opened an investigation into the alleged involvement of Juan Carlos in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia.

The former king had most likely already left when the letter was released on Monday, Spain's El País newspaper reports. It is unclear where Juan Carlos is, though some Spanish media report he is in the Dominican Republic.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Viva San Joaquin!

To commemorate the centuries-old tradition of our festivities, a special edition of the commemorative book of our patron saint festivities has been published for solidarity purposes and whose pages take a tour of our history and the difficult times you lived during the last 12 months.

In these times of hydroalcoholic gels and masks,  masks with the image of San Joaquín have been designed and made with the collaboration of Eduardo Navarrete and the # Costureras_de_la_Esperanza so that we can comply with safety and hygiene regulations in a  Bigastrense style.

Commemorative books and masks are available for sale in the Bigastro City Hall Central Building and in the following collaborating establishments:



* Remember you are paying for production and donating to charity. 

Take good care of yourself to take care of everyone.
And that next year we can celebrate our patron saint festivities as San Joaquín and the town of Bigastro deserve.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Which beach is safer?

Photos courtesy of Geoff Durkin. We should note that newspapers are notorious for using stock photos. The one of Brighton is NOT from yesterday. 

Brighton beach
Brighton beach

Benidorm beach

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Geoff Durkin posted this on Facebook

You know, as much as I love living here in Spain, my heart is still in Yorkshire. For the benefit of those who have never ventured north of Watford, this is Knaresborough. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

Prepare to be baked!

The rules are simple

Apparently, the reason for the last minute changes in large parts of Northern Britain are because people were not following these simple, easy to follow, rules:-)

Legally, up to 30 people can gather.
But official advice remains that people should avoid socialising outdoors in a group of more than six – except if two large households are meeting.
Two households can also meet indoors – including in a pub or restaurant – but should not touch each other.
The only exception to the touching rule is if you have formed a ‘support bubble’. This is when two households merge. This is only allowed if one of the households is either an adult living alone or a single parent with children under 18. You cannot change the members of a bubble, and if someone gets ill both households must isolate.
You can stay overnight in another home – including at a holiday home or second home – but you should only be with one other household. You must maintain social distancing.

People should either stay two metres apart or ‘one metre plus’.
‘One metre plus’ means if the gap is below one metre ‘mitigations’ must be made to help prevent transmission.
‘Mitigation’ usually means wearing a mask – they are mandatory on public transport, in hospitals and in shops.
Employers have been told staff can be within two metres of each other if it is not practical to keep them further apart but they must ensure measures are in place to protect staff. These can include screens, facing desks away from each other and ensuring there are lots of hand washing stations.

Damn it, even the PM doesn't understand the rules. He has been  pictured bumping elbows with strangers at. less than 2m apart without wearing a mask. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Boris' best friend

Boris Johnson is convinced that having Dilyn, the rescue dog, helped him recover from his dice with death. Taking Dilyn for walks has also helped him shed the pounds.

No 10 has therefore announced that the government will provide £50 vouchers to help people to own their own dog. The voucher can be used in several ways; for vet's fees, to buy items like dog baskets etc or to pay for a rescue dog.

So, you can enjoy 50% off meals out during August, £50 off cycle repairs and now £50 to help you own a dog thanks to your caring Prime Minister. 

PS Even though I've made the story about dogs up, you could have easily believed it couldn't you?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Bugger, bugger, bugger!

On the 15th August, Pam and I will be celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

I think you will all agree that 50 years of marriage is quite some achievement. A lot of things can happen in half a century. Thankfully Pam and I haven't had too many crisis to deal with and we are blessed with two wonderful daughters who have helped us enormously along the way. We also have good friends and two grandchildren who have greatly enriched our lives.

So, as I say, time to celebrate.

Plan A: We investigated a “once in a lifetime trip” and eventually agreed that, sailing to New York on the Queen Mary, staying a few days in a 4 star hotel and then flying back would suit us well.

There are any number of companies that offer this trip and many options. With careful research, we discovered the right time of year, the better deck to choose, the luxury options to pick etc etc. Apparently, it is better to sail from Southampton to New York and then fly back to Gatwick.

We then looked at the logistics of getting from our home in Spain to Southampton and back to Spain from Gatwick which, as you might expect was not going to be straightforward. We also considered whether it was feasible to have our family join us. In the end we gave up on the idea.

Plan B: Our son-in law suggested that we might like to combine our celebration with our youngest daughter and his 40th birthdays. So we investigated options for a family holiday in Mallorca where we had enjoyed a couple of luxury villa holidays before. We also considered a Mediterranean cruise but found it was almost impossible to suit everyone.

Plan C: Eventually, we agreed that a city break in Paris in May would suit us all. Pam and I booked a large modern flat in the centre of Paris through AirBnB. We booked flights from Alicante to Orly and the rest of the family made reservations on Eurostar. Everything was paid for and organised and then along came coronavirus. Thankfully, we were able to get refunds for our accommodation and travel. 

Plan D: It became obvious that we would have to celebrate here in Bigastro. The decision to impose a 14 day quarantine on anyone returning to the UK though was making it impossible for any of our family to join us. Then there was a chink of light. Spain was considered a safe destination so our eldest daughter and her friend booked flights. Pam made plans for celebratory meals and booked a special one for the 15th.

That was until yesterday when the UK Government made a U turn and decided that Spain was no longer safe and that passengers from our country would have to self isolate for 14 days on their return. Well thank you Mr. Why could you not simply test everyone arriving from Spain and only make those who test positive go into quarantine. Test them twice if necessary. Thousands are already here and many more have bookings to come here – plans, including ours,  are in tatters.

Plan E: We don't have a plan E. As Pam said, we spent our honeymoon on our own, looks like we'll be doing the same for our 50th anniversary. As I pointed out, there is a difference!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Commemorative items

In spite of the cancellation of the Fiesta this year, there will still be a book that you can buy. Also, Eduardo Navarette has designed commemorative masks which people in Bigastro have sewn. 

Sometimes the truth is funny

A man died and went to heaven.
As he stood in front of St Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him. He asked,
"What are all those clocks?"
St Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on earth has a Lie Clock. Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move."
"Oh," said the man, "Whose clock is that?"
"That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie."
"Incredible," said the man. "Whose is that clock?" pointing to the next one on the wall.
"That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have only moved twice, telling us Abe told two lies in his entire life."
"Wow!.. So Where's Boris Johnson's  clock ?
"His clock is in Jesus' office. He's using it as a ceiling fan."

Friday, July 24, 2020

Fiesta update

Message from the Mayor - Teresa María Belmonte Sánchez:

It is a tradition in the town of Bigastro to celebrate the patron saint festivities in honor of San Joaquín during the days close to August 16. A tradition that has filled the residents of our town with joy and satisfaction for 227 years.

Every year, the town of Bigastro dresses up and celebrates the devotion to its patron saint with a program of cultural and religious activities that are part of the hallmarks of Bigastrenses.

For months, our nation and the entire world has been experiencing an unprecedented health crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and affected millions of human beings. A crisis that today is still latent and evolving negatively despite the prevention and health security measures that the authorities have implemented.

In the current situation, in which we are aware of hundreds of new cases of daily infections throughout the national territory and especially in relation to the area of ​​influence of the Department of Health of the Vega Baja, it is necessary to take exceptional measures to protect the health of Bigastro's neighbors.

The current conditions of mobility of the population, which allows free movement throughout the territory, make it even more necessary to take preventive measures to prevent the spread of infections in our municipality.

The current safety and hygiene standards published by the competent health authority and which are mandatory for the entire population, require the mandatory use of protective masks, prohibit the celebration of acts of worship in the open air and limit the number of people who they can focus on public and private events.

Given the regulatory scenario described and in application of the principle of prudence, it is necessary to avoid the mass concentration of people who suppose the celebration of the typical public acts of the Patron Saint Festival in honor of San Joaquín.

With great regret I am forced to suspend the celebration of the patron saint festivities during this year for all the above and with the awareness that the measures to be adopted are not desirable, but necessary for the protection of the health of the residents of our town. , and with the hope that next year we will be able to carry out the celebration of the patron saint festivities that are the emblem and pride of our people.

During the last weeks, the festivities council, together with the festive commission, the San Joaquin brotherhood, the parish and the SUMB, have been preparing a program of events adapted to the norms. A program that we must suspend due to prudence.
I thank all of them for their effort and work despite the difficulties involved in carrying it out with the necessary security measures.

With my best wishes for health and happiness to the residents of Bigastro, receive a cordial and affectionate greeting.

Viva Bigastro and Viva San Joaquín

From today

From today, people in England will be required to wear a face mask in shops. The confusion which I wrote about has now been cleared up.

Unless you are in a restaurant, bar or cafe that has seated accommodation, you must wear a mask in food outlets. And of course, you must wear a mask in ALL shops, banks, Post Offices etc.

Here in Valencia, it is simple. Only when you are seated in a bar, restaurant etc, actually eating or drinking can you remove your mask. In all other situations, in shops, banks and in the street, you are obliged to wear a mask. You don't need to wear a mask when you are sat or lying on the beach, taking exercise or swimming but you must wear one on the way to the beach and back including if you go to buy a drink or food.

I know from some of our friends in England that they are not happy about the idea of wearing a mask The plan was to make people feel more secure about going out but in some cases that may have backfired. Some have told us that they will no longer go out to shops if it means wearing a mask.

We know that a mask does not protect you from picking up the virus but it does limit the possibility of you transmitting the virus to others. In other words, masks are only effective if everyone wears them. Your mask protects me and mine protects you.

People with breathing difficulties or other medical conditions that would make wearing a mask difficult are exempt both here in Spain and in the UK.

I read a comment this morning from a reader in one of the UK papers saying that he was NOT going to wear a mask and if challenged would claim he had a medical reason to be exempt. You can imagine the response he got from other readers.

Let's face it, masks are not the most comfortable things to wear and are a nuisance to those of us who wear glasses. However, if they help to limit the spread of this awful virus and reduce the number of people dying, then we will put up with them. It was the same when the law required people to wear seat belts in cars; there were people who objected. It should not take the threat of a fine to make people do the right thing. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

The band returns

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Just to clarify

Councillor Barceló added that the use of the masks will be mandatory even on the terraces of the bar/restaurant premises when not eating or drinking and said that the fact that we sit at a table on a terrace does not mean that we should not wear masks. She stressed that its use is also recommended in private, open or closed spaces, where the social distancing cannot be guaranteed or in company of those who are not from the same household.

To avoid confusion the mask should cover the nose, mouth and include the chin but not all masks will be authorised, only hygienic and surgical masks can be used. The masks with the exhalation valve are prohibited.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Important - take note!

The Minister of Health, Ana Barceló has announced this noon the mandatory use of a mask in outdoor spaces, closed spaces for public use or open to the public  from today throughout the Valencian Community, regardless of whether you are maintaining a safe distance or not

Barceló says that infections are quadrupling in the age range between 20 and 40 years, as a result of private parties and not maintaining security measures during nightlife. This population group does not usually present symptoms, which leads them to a false sense of security and to the relaxation of preventive measures. Barceló has reported that there are 20 active outbreaks in the region, "which are being followed up so that they remain locked down."

The increase in cases has led the Ministry to take this measure and decide on the mandatory use of the mask, which will take effect from today when the order of the Ministry of Health is published, both on public roads and in outdoor spaces, except in swimming pools, beaches and natural spaces as well as in hotels and restaurants while consuming food and beverages. It will not be compulsory for people who carry out physical activity and people with respiratory problems or in other cases of dependency or disability.

In the Vega Baja, the Ministry of Health has confirmed in the last ten days four new cases of COVID-19 infection, one case in the Orihuela Health Department and three in the Torrevieja Department.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Can you help me?

The UK Government has belatedly decided that wearing face masks in public is a good idea. The aim is to restore confidence and get people spending money again in shops etc. The problem is that their announcements are confusing and yet again, they are giving out mixed messages.

Michael Gove said that wearing a mask should be a matter of courtesy and was then photographed without one on his trip to pick up a take away breakfast. Others, visiting the same take away, were wearing their masks.  Who was right?

Matt Hancock, who had previously made no distinction between shops and take away food outlets felt it necessary to back track on his statement. He now excludes take away outlets from the rule.

I hope I have got this right; if you are going to a  proper shop e.g. a supermarket, you must wear a mask. If you fail to do so, the shop keeper or assistant can call the police who could decide to fine you £100. However, if you are a Government Minister going to Pret a Manger to pick up your take away breakfast, you don't need to wear a mask.

OK, we need to be clear. For the benefit of lesser mortals, am I right in assuming that a humble fish and chip shop would be classed the same as an upmarket take away? What about going into the newsagent to pick up my copy of the Sun and a packet of Woodbines or to the chemist to buy “something for the weekend”?

Can you see where I am going here? We need to know if what you are buying or the time you spend in the premises are the deciding factors.

Michael Gove might not be phased by a £100 fine but the majority of the country would struggle to pay such an amount. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

In 2016, the British people were told that leaving the EU would be the simplest deal to conclude. Leaving would bring rich rewards beyond everyone's dreams. Not only would the country regain its sovereignty, it would be free to negotiate fantastic deals with countries outside of Europe (including China). Oh and by the way, there would be £350m per week for the NHS,

Now we know that none of that is true. So far Brexit has cost the country over £130 billion which is more than the total payments made to the EU over the past 47 years. Worse still, that sum is expected to rise to £200 billion by the time Britain leaves.

Apart from intangible notion of regaining control, has anyone actually told us what the enormous benefits of Brexit will be that make spending such an eye watering sum worth it?

The British public were repeatedly told that a NO DEAL BREXIT was not on the cards, that Britain would negotiate a  free trade deal  with zero tariffs, zero paperwork - no need for a border between the mainland and Northern Ireland because the EU would blink first during negotiations. Now talk is of an Australian style deal in January which is a clever way of saying NO DEAL.

We now know that any hope of  fantastic deals with China are off the table because of  the U turn made on allowing HuaWei to supply components for the 5G network. It took the threat of a rebellion of back benchers, sufficient to overturn the 80 majority, to bring that about.

Turning away from Brexit, let's consider the response to coronavirus.

The initial plan was to do nothing. Let the virus spread so that a “herd immunity” would build up. Of course there would be deaths but they would be among the vulnerable and the elderly so a saving on pensions and benefits as a bonus.

Because of government cuts to the NHS budget, there were insufficient supplies of test kits. The result was that elderly patients were sent back from hospitals to care homes without testing. Not surprisingly, many were carrying the infection which they then spread to others resulting in an unacceptably high death rate.

Test and trace had to be abandoned because of insufficient supplies, meaning there was no way of knowing how the virus was spreading.

In spite of a ready made tracking app being available, the UK government decided to spend over £100m developing its own app that turned out to be a failure. No matter, change the slogan from Track, Test and Trace to just Test and Trace.

Many countries applied lockdown during the early stages of the pandemic but not Britain. The rules  in Spain for example have been clear from the start. In Britain, you could go out to exercise once a day for as long as you wanted and as far from your home as you pleased. You could even go out and sunbathe. It was acceptable to leave your home and go for a drive to test your eyesight but only if you were a special adviser.

In March the wearing of face masks was not only a waste of time but counter productive. A few months on and it is obligatory to wear face masks on public transport and will soon be obligatory in shops.

Almost weekly, the messages change. Is it any wonder that Michael Gove says something different to Boris Johnson and both say something different to Matt Hancock.

Whatever you do in Britain, don't make plans for the future because things could all change before they come to fruition. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Check out your town

Dave Frazier, who lives on the other side of our estate,  has kindly sent me this link to a site that shows the statistics for coronavirus in the Valencia region.

As Dave says, "Although we still seem to be reasonably okay here in Bigastro I know from a friend who is a practising doctor in Albatera that virus numbers are again on the increase and from today she is advising we wear a mask at all times when out and to carry some type of sanitary gel purely as a precaution ......... some people are becoming complacent and are not following the rules."

That is so true. When we were in the early stages of lockdown, everyone you saw in street wore a mask. They would queue outside shops at a 2m distance. People were taking the threat seriously.

Now there are more people in the streets but fewer of them are wearing masks. The young seem to have adopted wearing their masks on their elbows as a kind of fashion statement. Good to see them with a mask but placed on your elbow, it will do nothing to protect anyone.

We need to remind ourselves, coronavirus numbers may be dropping but it has not gone away. The way it spreads is by transmission - give it the means to pass on from person to person and it will soon come back in a second wave. 

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Social distancing

Did Boris Johnson really believe that people would observe social distancing once the pubs were reopened?  In village pubs it may have worked but it was clear that in city centres rules were going to be ignored. To be fair, with the number of people out, it would have been impossible to stay 1m apart let alone 2.

If the lack of social distancing was the only issue that would be bad enough but as the night rolled on  scenes of carnage  in places like Leeds, London, Newcastle etc became the norm.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A cash crop

The Civil Guard from Jacarilla discovered this cannabis plantation in a courtyard in Bigastro. In total there were 24 plants along with 926gms of buds worth 4,722 Euros.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Caution still required

 Although the State of Alarm has now ended, we are reminded that coronavirus is not yet beaten and so we must remain vigilant.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Name that mountain

On a clear day, mountains in the far distance become visible.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Parks open

Playgrounds are now open in Bigastro. The opening hours will be normal, i.e. from 09.00am to midnight. Every day, at 07:30, before the opening of these spaces, municipal disinfection tasks will be carried out.

This is really good news. We are used to seeing the main park full of children playing, especially in the cooler hours of the evening. They must have missed this opportunity to meet friends and let off a bit of steam and I'll bet their parents are glad to get them outside for awhile. 

Monday, June 08, 2020

The madness continues

From today, passengers travelling to the UK are expected to quarantine for 14 days at an address they provide. However, the Home Office say the system will be unworkable.

There are no means for the Border Force to check if the details you give are correct. If the details are obviously false e.g. you give your name as Boris Johnson then they can ask you to correct the details otherwise you will just pass through. Those that haven't filled in a form will be asked to do so on a tablet. Problem is, there is only one tablet available at each border point.

Once you have cleared the check, you are then free to go. You can travel by public transport, go to a supermarket or even the beach on your way to your designated address.

Chances of anyone checking if you have actually quarantined are slim to say the least and if you gave a mobile phone number as your contact, you could be anywhere.

If all else fails and they do catch up with you, tell them you have gone out to check your eyesight. 


Thursday, June 04, 2020

Going to the beach

Guardamar beaches are open but you MUST obey the rules if you go there.

I think they should make some of those rules permanent. E.g, stop people going down at the crack of dawn to set up camp only to then saunter down about midday. 

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

IKEA Warrington

They opened the store yesterday, just look at the queue to get in. 

Monday, June 01, 2020

The new rules

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Were you convinced?

I listened to Dominic Cummings press briefing yesterday. Was I convinced by his story? No, not at all.

He tried to come over as a caring husband and father making difficult decisions to protect them. Unfortunately there were  far too many holes in his story to make it convincing

We all saw Cummings run out of 10 Downing Street. That was apparently in response to a phone call from his wife to say she was ill with suspected coronavirus symptoms. When he got home she felt better so he returned to work. Mistake number 1. If you or any of your family suspect symptoms of the virus, you must self isolate for 14 days. You should definitely not go back to work.

Cummings claimed  there was nobody in London he could turn to for help with childcare. Yet, his brother-in-law lives nearby and surely there must have been others who could have helped.

He says that he did not inform the PM of his intentions until a week later when they had a conversation over the phone. How many of us would simply walk out of our job, take ourselves to another part of the country without at least informing the boss? In fact, since Cummings claimed he was not ill, it would have been more appropriate to ask permission. If Johnson was too ill, he could have spoken to Dominic Raab.

Cummings obviously thought he was too important to the Westminster machine to stay way for too long so he decided to return. However, he claims to have had concerns about his eyesight so he drove to Barnard Castle on the day of his wife's birthday to see if he was safe to drive. Unfortunately he was spotted there otherwise we would probably have been none the wiser about this excursion. Actually, it beggars belief  that anyone who thought they might be unsafe to drive would go out for a drive to check - surely he could have come up with a better story than this.

He claimed that his wife was not insured to drive the Discovery and yet we do know that she does drive and in any case, it would have taken a five minute phone call to get cover for her so she could drive back to London rather than him.

On the way back from the trip to Barnard Castle, his son needed the toilet so they stopped and  got out of the car.  Coincidentally, they didn't need to make a similar toilet stop on the journey from London to Durham nor on the return. In fact they didn't even need to stop for petrol until the return when he had a vague recollection of calling in at a service station.

The get out clause in the regulations that he said allowed him to drive to Durham did not exist until after his return. The original clause about children referred specifically to children in danger of abuse.

Both Cummings and No 10 claimed that the police had no knowledge of what had happened until after Durham Police confirmed that a phone call had been made to Mr Cumming's father regarding his son's presence at the home.

Even his claim to have warned about the possible threat of a coravirus on his blog does not hold water because the sentence that he referred to was added much later.

Both he and the PM have sat on this story for 5 weeks knowing that it was controversial. Clearly they hoped that it would go away and did not count on witnesses seeing Mr Cummings out and about.

When pressed time after time during the briefing, Cummings insisted that he had nothing to apologise for and was certainly not going to resign.

Should we believe his story? Given the whopping big lie he created about 350m for the NHS during the referendum that he later admitted to, I don't think so.There are more holes in this story than in a Swiss cheese.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Did it spoil your peace?

Those of you who were at home today, especially those that were outside, will have probably heard the disco blaring away and may have wondered where it came from.

It was my neighbour in the house previously owned by the Woodens.

I can only conclude that he must be deaf. Not only was the music loud, they were shouting at the top of their voices. I hope it didn’t spoil your day.

From the local police


Following the new BOE update for the easing of several restrictions established in Phase 1, our municipality DOES NOT meet the basic requirements.

Despite having less than 10001 inhabitants, BIGASTRO has a much higher population density than the maximum required to move on to the next phase.

SCHEDULES FOR WALK AND SPORT STAY THE SAME. Just like the rest of Phase 1. restrictions

We also recommend not listening to releases that are not from official agencies as they can be contradictory and confusing.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Monday, May 18, 2020

High speed

As you know, we have three different fibre optic cable connections to choose from at Villas Andrea.

The original one was installed by Bitel and did not enjoy widespread take up.

Since then, Telfy and Vega Fibra have installed fibre cables.

They both offer something slightly different:

Telfy offer 100Mbs for 19.95 Euros per month,  300Mbs for 25.72 or  600Mb for 34.90. Vegafibra offer 600Mbs for 24.90 per month and 1000 Mbs for 29.90 (all prices plus tax).

They both  offer other packages which include combinations of  a landline, Internet , a mobile phone and local TV. at varying prices

As an incentive, Vega Fibra offer free installation and the first three months free if you sign up for an 18 month contract. I don't believe that Telfy offer anything similar.

I opted for the gigabit package from Vega Fibra and took advantage of their free installation/free months offer.

To be honest, 1000Mbs is over egging the pudding by quite a margin. In fact, 100Mbs is sufficient, even if you are streaming video. My friend in Liverpool says that his school has  550 computers sharing a 1Gbs connection without issues.

How would I rate Vega Fibra? I would give them 10/10. The engineer arrived on time and installed the connection without fuss.

However, I wanted something different to the norm, I wanted the supplied Huawei router to act  just as a modem to my wi-fi router in the room where my computer is located. The installer did not have the knowledge to make this work so I called Vega Fibra who sent out an engineer who did understand what I wanted and was able to achieve it.

One week later, the connection has remained rock solid and is as close to the maximum contracted for as possible.

As you will know, the actual speed is governed by factors other than your connection so my surfing experience has not dramatically changed. I am however confident that the bottleneck will never be at my end. Also, uploading pictures and videos will be dramatically improved.

Would I recommend Vega Fibra? On the basis of the service I received, yes - without reservation. Am I being sponsored by Vega Fibra? No, definitely not.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

From Monday - Phase 1

Activities in Phase 1

Mobility. Citizens can move around their province or island. All members of a family who live together can travel in a vehicle. People can travel to, and stay in, second residences if they are in the same province.

Business. Businesses with premises measuring under 400 square meters can open without customers having to make prior appointments. Establishments that are over 400 square meters can delimit an area within their premises to attend to customers. Shopping malls will remain closed. A timetable for the over-65s must be established.

Shows and cultural centres. Theatres, cinemas and museums will be able to open, limiting capacity to a third, with a maximum of 30 people at shows where the audience is seated. Libraries will open with the same conditions, but just for the lending and return of books.

Social meetings. Up to 10 people can meet, but observing social distancing and using masks, both in homes as well as in a public establishment, or during, for example, an excursion in the countryside. People in vulnerable groups, such as seniors or those with health conditions, are not excluded, provided they take adequate protection measures.

Bars and restaurants. Bars and restaurants are permitted to open their street cafes, limiting capacity to 50% and prioritising single-use objects.

Places of worship. Churches and other places of worship can reopen at a third of their capacity. Objects must not be shared, and if praying takes place on the floor, each person must bring their own mat.

Sporting activities. Individual training sessions are permitted for elite and federated sports persons. Sports centres can open with prior appointment, with limited capacity to ensure social distancing. The use of locker rooms and showers is not allowed.

Education centres. Schools and other places of learning can open for essential tasks, such as maintenance.

Social-health centres. Remote assistance is given priority, but these centres can reopen if they need to offer attention in person

Walks and other exercise. The timetables remain in force, but as before, these are not applicable in areas with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants.

Tourist accommodation. Hotels and other tourist accommodation can reopen all of their rooms, but common areas cannot be used.

Street markets. Open-air markets are allowed with 25% of usual stands and a third of normal capacity.

Fishing and hunting. Both hunting and sports fishing can restart.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Let's compare

I know that the medical experts in the UK tell us each day that it is impossible to compare data from different countries because they have different ways of reporting. Even still they show us a graph to compare these figures. 

England reported 210 new deaths yesterday and a total of 32,692. There were 3,403 new cases.

Spain reported 176 new deaths yesterday and a total of 26,920. There were 426 new cases reported by PCR tests.

Make of that data what your will.

Don't get fined

Whilst you are out and about shopping etc you may be stopped by the police.

They will want to know where you have come from i.e. where you live.

If you are outside of your health zone, they will tell you to return home.

They will also ask to see some form of ID.

If you claim to have been shopping, they will want to see a till receipt as proof.

You may be lucky and get away with breaking the rules but then again, you may not and be fined. 

Remember that Bigastro is in the Orihuela health zone and so you should remain within those towns on the left hand side of the list I posted on Monday. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Well that's clear then.

New rules for the UK explained:
* 4 year olds can go to school, but university students who have paid for the tuition they haven’t had and the accommodation they aren’t living in, can’t go to university.
* A teacher can go to school with many 4 year olds that they are not related to, but can’t see one 4 year old that they are related to.
* You can sit in a park, but only after Wednesday.
* You can meet one person from another household for a chat or to sunbathe, but not two people so if you know two people from another household you have to pick your favourite. Hopefully, you’re also their favourite person from your household or this could be awkward. As you can’t go closer than 2m to the one you choose anyway you wouldn’t think having the other one sat next to them would matter - unless two people would restrict your eyeline too much and prevent you from being alert.
* You can work all day with your colleagues, but you can’t sit in their garden for a chat after work.
* You can now do unlimited exercise and you can even drive to the place for your exercise but not if that means crossing the border into Wales,Scotland or N Ireland.
* You can drive to other destinations, although which destinations is unclear.
* The buses and trains are still running but you shouldn’t get on one if it means being closer than 2m from others.. You should either cycle or walk instead.
* You should wear a face mask in public places but you don't have to. Your mask must not be one used by the NHS or other keyworkers. Instead it should be made from something like a T-shirt or a vacuum cleaner bag.
* It will soon be time to quarantine people coming into the country by air... but not yet. It’s too soon. And not ever if they're coming from France.
* Our youngest children go back to school first because... they are notoriously good at not touching things they shouldn’t, maintaining personal space at all times and never randomly licking  their teacher.
* We are somewhere in between 3.5 and 4.5 on a five point scale where 5 is all of the virus and 1 is none of the virus but 2,3 and 4 can be anything you’d like it to be really. Some of the virus? A bit of the virus? Just enough virus to see off those over 70s who were told to self isolate but now we’ve realised that they’ve done that a bit too well despite us offloading coronavirus patients into care homes and now we are claiming that was never said in the first place, even though it’s in writing in the stay at home guidance.
* The slogan isn’t stay at home any more, so we don’t have to stay at home. Except we do. Unless we can’t. In which case we should go out. But there will be fines if we break the rules. So don’t do that.
Don’t forget...
Stay alert... which Robert Jenrick has explained actually means Stay home as much as possible. Obviously.

Travel to Spain

The current rules for the state of emergency are due to last until the 24th May. From the 15th until then, there will be a quarantine period of 14 days for people entering Spain.

Anyone coming into Spanish territory from another country will have to remain inside their home or rented lodgings. Trips outside will be limited to the purchase of essential products such as food and medicine, to seek medical assistance, and for other situations of urgent necessity. Face masks must be worn at all times.

Cross-border workers, long-haul truckers, air crews and health professionals on their way to work are left out of the quarantine order, as long as they have not been in contact with anyone diagnosed with Covid-19.

Health authorities may contact individuals in quarantine to check on their health status, and anyone who develops symptoms is instructed to call the regional health services.

Travel agencies and transportation companies will have to inform prospective customers about these requirements when travel arrangements are made. Airlines will provide customers with a Passenger Location Card that passengers must have with them when they enter Spain.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Where you can go

In Phase 1 you can move about within your health area.

Just to be clear, we live in the Orihuela health area so we can visit the towns in the left hand list.

We are prohibited from visiting towns in other health areas such as the one for Torrevieja.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

To put it another way

Phase 1

Headless chickens

The UK Government are running around like headless chickens trying to sort out what to do about coronavirus. The Tory party are split between those who advise extreme caution and those who want to get the economy moving again - the so called "doves" and "hawks".  The worry is that, if Johnson can't control his party, how is he going to control the country?

The PM is due to speak to the nation at 7pm UK time setting out his battle plan for Stage 2. Much of it has already been leaked with today's papers reporting what they assume to be the salient points.

1 The Mail says that the much touted message, "Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Live"s will be changed to "Stay Alert, Control the Virus and Save Lives".

2 The Mail also suggest that people will be allowed outside more than once per day and garden centres will be open from Wednesday.

3, We do know that  there will be a push to return to work where it is safe to do so. However, the transport system will have to operate with reduced capacity to maintain social distancing which means that people are being encouraged to either walk or cycle to work with a 2bn pound plan from Grant Shapps.

4. Everyone will now be encouraged to wear masks in public places including work places. 

As I see it, the problem is that the number of new cases each day is still very high along with the death rate that follows it. There are still major problems with the supply of protective clothing and issues around completing the target number of tests. Added to which, Germany has seen a rise in infections following their easing of restrictions and South Korea, which was infection free, has recorded 24 new cases.

As for cycling to work, I can tell you from personal experience that buying a bike for those who don't already have one will be virtually impossible. It took me a lot of effort to find bikes for both my grandson and my daughter a few weeks ago. Those that I found are no longer available. Unless you are prepared to pay hundreds of pounds, you are going to be out of luck.

Whilst there have been many mistakes along the way and a subsequent inquiry will likely unveil where the government went wrong, at this time we need them to lead and prevent further damage. Whatever Johnson proposes today, let's hope he gets it right.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Virtually yours

Since we cannot have real exhibitions, Bigastro has created a virtual one on the town's web pages.  

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

A change to the rules

Changes have been made to the rules about travelling.

On public transport you are obliged to wear a mask. The Town Hall has a supply of masks to hand out for those who need them.

In cars and other forms of private transport, you can now sit next to each other but there should be no more than four people altogether in the vehicle. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

San isidro

We will also be missing the Romeria where pilgrims bring the statue of San Isidro up from the church to the Hermitage at La Pedrera and then party until dusk.

San Isidro 2009-2019

Holy Cross

We missed the fiesta at Holy Cross last weekend so I thought I'd make a video of photos taken over the years.

My photos from the past.

Pure air

With fewer cars on the road, less demand for electricity and virtually no aircraft flying, the air is a lot cleaner

The new normal

Shops that are smaller than 400m2 can now reopen.

However, you have to have an appointment to visit them and they must be able to guarantee that you can maintain social distancing.

Where possible, there should be screens to protect customer from shopkeeper.

You can only visit local shops not those in neighbouring towns.

Senior citizens should be given preference to visit these shops during the hours that they are allowed outside.

Shops must disinfect twice a day and wash their uniforms/work clothes daily at between 60 and 90 degrees centigrade. 

Saturday, May 02, 2020


Just look at the bar chart at the top and you can see how this plan is designed to avoid contact between groups of people and thus transmission of the virus. We seniors have the shortest slots but to be fair they are more than adequate.

Towns smaller than 5,000 residents have no restrictions. Bigastro, with 6,733 residents does have restrictions.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

And so we go on

Can't believe my luck! In the last two days, I've had a voucher for 500 Euros to spend in Mercadona and notice from Amazon Spain that I've been gifted an iPhone 11.

But wait, the emails both came from the same address - how can that be? You don't suppose that, if I click on the link,  I'll be taken to some fake website where the scammer will want me to post bank details or my login details for Amazon.

A brighter person would at least use a spoof email address to make their messages look genuine. This person just used their normal address.

I marked them as junk in the hope that will stop any further fake emails from that address.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The market is back

Many locals have missed the weekly market on Calle Purisima where it would be impossible to maintain social distancing.

From tomorrow, the market returns but this time in the Parque Huerto del Cura with a few rules to keep you and the stall holders safe:

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A change to the rules

Starting today, children in Spain under the age of 14 will be able to go out for accompanied walks within a one-kilometre radius of their homes between 9am and 9pm.

Youngsters who are 14 and over are not included in these provisions, but may go out to perform the same essential errands allowed for adults, such as trips to the supermarket.

The order states that children can be accompanied by any adult “who currently lives in the same home as the boy or girl, or who is employed to take care of the minor.” In the case of the latter, the person must have written authorisation.

Under the new rules, an adult can go out onto the street with as many as three children. Trips to parks that are open are allowed, but children can not play on the swings or go to “recreational or sporting areas.

The order adds that children presenting coronavirus symptoms must not leave their homes.

Saturday, April 25, 2020


In these uncertain days where normality has been turned upside down, criminals are trying to cash in.

The TV license scam mentioned in this genuine notice from my bank works in one of two ways both of which are aimed at clearing money from your account.

I've had two emails that supposedly came from local supermarkets (Aldi and Mercadona). Both claimed that I qualified for a voucher. All I had to do was click on the link to obtain my reward. No doubt, if I had followed the links, I would have been asked to give my bank details. Fortunately, I smelt a rat and deleted both emails.

Even better though was the email I recently received that claimed my computer had been hacked. Not only had the person got hold of all of my contacts, they had video or me viewing porn and pleasuring myself via my webcam. If I didn't pay a ransom in bitcoins, the video would be sent to three of my contacts.  REALLY!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The news

Vega Baja has recorded 484 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began. Three more cases compared to yesterday.

Orihuela Health Department has 125  cases -two more than yesterday- and the Torrevieja Health Department, 359 -one more than yesterday.

However, the death toll remains unchanged, with 56 people in the Vega Baja,

Monday, April 20, 2020

I think we qualify on the first count

Three disposable masks per person - available from local chemists. All you need is your SIP card to obtain your masks. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

3 minutes of silence

 Bigastro, like those of the rest of the Vega Baja, has called all its neighbours to participate in a tribute to the victims of Coronavirus, which will take place this Sunday morning, at 12 noon.

Yesterday, the mayor, Teresa Belmonte, accompanied by councillors of the government team, toured the public buildings in the town.  Local Police lowered  flags at half-mast as a sign of Official Mourning.

Belmonte made an appeal "from our balconies we will pay tribute with 3 minutes of silence in memory of all those who have died and in support of their family and friends."

The mayor also thanked the Parish of Bigastro Nuestra Señora de Belén for their collaboration in this tribute. The church will ring the bells at 12 noon to begin the act of remembrance. 

Thinking of those who have paid the price

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

For those who were missed

I understand that there are a few on our estate that have not had their Bigastro face masks as yet.

The distribution of masks to our estate took place on Thursday, April 2nd, on the same day as the notice was posted. They were delivered by municipal workers in sealed plastic bags (two per bag). The man who delivered them had a list of addresses with names that were checked off as he handed the masks over. Bless him, he even spoke in English!

Since the masks were meant to be delivered by hand, I suspect that they would not leave them at your gate or in your post box. Obviously, if you were not at home at the time, you are not registered on the Padron or your doorbell didn't work, then they could not be delivered.

However, all is not lost, you can contact the Ayuntamiento via WhatsApp on 636107371 and request masks by giving them your name and address. I am sure they will deliver them to you ASAP.

Monday, April 13, 2020

I wonder

Just how ill was Boris Johnson.

He complained of "mild" symptoms of Covid -19 and was tested positive for the virus on March 27th. Following his own guidelines, Johson self isolated in the flat at No11 Downing Street. He subsequently appeared on videos that he made of himself and looked dreadful.

On the 3rd April, Johnson said that he was still suffering from a "mild" symptom - a raised temperature.

April 5th, he was admitted to hospital for what was described by Downing Street as "precautionary measures" and tests.

By April 6th it was admitted that the Prime Minister had been moved to an intensive care unit where he was given oxygen. No 10 were insistant that he was NOT on a ventilator. He was attended to by two ICU nurses. Reports said that he remained conscious, had been comfortable and engaging with the staff.

After three nights, he was moved back to a general ward and was said to be in good spirits. The following day it was reported that he was taking short walks between periods of rest.

Yesterday, six days after he was admitted to hospital. Boris Johnson was discharged from hospital to recover at his country retreat. He made a video in which he thanked the staff at the hospital for saving him. In that video he looked much better - more his usual self.

The Daily Mail are suggesting that Boris had escaped death and that his chances were 50-50. They painted a picture of a PM continuing to work hard throughout his illness without regard for his own health - a great hero that some have even likened to Churchill.

I have no doubt that Johnson's condition was bad and that he was in real danger but let's not get over dramatic. For him to recover so quickly must surely mean that he was not in the same category as those who are on ventilators, heavily sedated and barely struggling to stay alive. Serious cases of this virus spend considerably more than a few days in ICU and weeks in hospital afterwards to recover. Johnson was lucky.

Let's hope that, when the next pay review for NHS staff comes up, he remembers his words of praise and instead of voting against and even clapping when their claim is turned down, the PM decides that they deserve recognition. It would be good if, at some point in the future, the Government admitted that ten years of cuts to the NHS was a big mistake - one that they will never repeat. 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

I never thought I would say this

Just as last year, when it rained on Easter Sunday, I will not be getting up at 6am tomorrow to be down in Bigastro for 7am. Although I will probably enjoy the extra hours in bed, I'd still prefer the dawn call.

Last year, for the first time since we came to Spain, the Encuentro was staged inside the church. I figured it would not be good for photographs because of the number of people crowding inside from the rain. There were photographs posted on Facebook that kind of proved me right but still made me regret not going down to make an attempt. 

The first time I went down to watch the ceremony was in 2008. For some reason I missed 2009 but was there 2010, and 2011. Again I missed 2012 when I overslept. 2013 I was there and in 2014, 2015 and then 2017 and 2018. I recall that we were in England visiting our family in 2016.

As you might imagine, I have a fair sized archive of photographs of these events. I also have video because in 2014 I took video rather than stills.

From 2009

Opening times

a) Shops were open at normal times from the 9th until today (the 11th) but will be closed for Easter Sunday.

b) Shops will be open from Monday to Saturday next week as normal but closed next Sunday 19th.

c) Monday 20th, (St. Vincent Ferrer) shops will be allowed to open until 3pm.

d) From 19th April until sanctions are lifted, shops will be allowed to open on Sundays until 3pm.