Friday, December 03, 2021

Make sure you have your Covid passport or certificate

Just to remind you that the new regulation about Covid passports in the Valencia community comes into force at midnight tonight.

Establishments and users that do not comply with the new rules will face serious and light penalties which range from 60 to 30,000 Euros. 

The serious ones will apply to establishments where it is mandatory to request a certificate, that is, venues such as restaurants with a capacity of more than 50 people and events for more than 500 people. 

Even the failure to put up signs reminding people of the passport requirement could incur a fine of between 60 and 600 euros. The same fine will be faced by individuals who access premises, events or establishments without the certificate.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

It is your choice

Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said that people could help keep the new variant at bay by cutting down social contacts over the festive period and “not socialising when we don’t particularly need to”. Other senior medics have echoed her advice. 

But Mr Johnson said the government was “not changing the guidance on how you should be living your life” and urged people not to cancel events like Christmas parties and nativity plays. 

He believes that a push to increase the "booster jab" rollout will be sufficient to ward of the dangers of the new variant. Johnson talks of injection sites popping up like Christmas trees. However, even the best estimates show that it will take until the end of January to get booster jabs into people's arms. Added to which, it isn't yet clear whether the current vaccines will protect us against the new variant. 

As he has done throughout the pandemic, Johnson is gambling that, with minimum measures in place, everything will be still be OK.

As I have said here before, there is a lack of trust in the PMs actions. Many venues are already facing cancellations as people are choosing caution over optimism.  Schools are weighing up whether a virtual nativity would be safer than one where their halls would be crammed with parents and relatives.  

In the end, who's opinion would you trust more, well respected and qualified medical experts or  Boris?   I suspect many would no more take his advice on Covid than his recommendation for a good hairdresser. 

As for plans to visit England for Christmas 

The World Health Organisation advice is - 

“Persons who are unwell or at risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease and dying, including people 60 years of age or older or those with comorbidities (e.g. heart disease, cancer and diabetes), should be advised to postpone travel.”

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

We were right

 Whilst we were in England for our grandson's birthday, the family asked if we would be coming over for Christmas. I think they expected the answer to be yes so when we told them we probably wouldn't, they were taken aback. 

Our first concern was how challenging the journey in October had been for us. The fact that we'd had to change our plans just the week before also weighed on our minds. When we were planning the trip it never occurred to us that one of the family may get infected and the impact that would have. 

The constant changes in rules that have taken place over the last 20 months was also a major factor. We did not want to arrive in England only to find that we would have to isolate and worst still not be able to return to Spain. 

We were also mindful that the infection rate in the UK was rising which indicated that the spread of the disease was far from under control. OK, fewer people were seriously ill and dying but still the number of cases was high. How could we know what the situation come Christmas would be?

As it stands, it seems like we made the right decision. The emergence of a new variety has caused alarm and a flurry of new measures have been hurriedly put in place. 

The one that would most effect us is the requirement to self isolate until you have a negative PCR test result. We didn't get the results of our tests until we were at the airport on the way back in October. What would be the point in going over just to spend days in self isolation unable to be with the family. Also, if cases rise in Spain it is possible that we would be put on the "red list" which would mean our isolation would be in a hotel at considerable expense. We'd have to cancel the trip and lose the money we'd paid out.

Interestingly, the one measure that would make no difference to us is the requirement to wear a mask in shops and other public indoor settings. We have worn masks in shops here in Spain right from the start. People here don't complain or question the rule, they simply mask up and get on with it. If the rule had been dropped, as it was in the UK, then there would likely be the same resistance to mask up again. 

We remain hopeful that we will be able to visit the family next Spring but who knows. We are certainly not booking flights yet. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

COVID pass

It is now a requirement to have a COVID pass in restaurants and other venues with a capacity of more than 50 people. 

You can download your certificate and then either upload the PDF file or scan the code on the certificate to produce a digital pass in your phone.

This is the site where you create your certificate (for the Valencia Community) 

You will need your SIP card number, the date when it was issued and your date of birth. 

And this is where you can create your digital pass from your certificate:

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A tale of two speeches

As I reported, my friend Cristopher spoke very well at the concert for Santa Cecilia on Saturday. He followed the advice given to him NOT to try and ad lib and it worked. 

By comparison, Boris Johnson's speech to the Confederation of British Industry has caused something of a social media storm. In a confused, shambling performance, the Tory premier lost his place repeatedly throughout the speech and spent three minutes talking about his family trip to a theme park based on  Peppa Pig. He asked the assembled businessmen 'Hands up how many of you here have been to Peppa Pig World?':

Johnson managed to refer to himself in the third person by praising the 'vision' of the former Mayor of London, quoted Vladimir Lenin's 'Report On The Work Of The Council Of People’s Commissars' when discussing the 'electrification' of the British economy.

He also compared himself to a biblical prophet, suggesting he had descended from 'Mount Sinai' to hand civil servants his Net Zero framework. 

The highlights were dominated by awkward moments: Johnson asking the room early on who had received their booster shots, only to quickly follow up that everyone looked ‘young and thrusting’ – presumably to cover for an insufficient number of hands in the air. A chunk of the speech was dedicated to the PM reminiscing about what he said was his favourite job to date: his time as motoring correspondent for GQ magazine. This anecdote culminated in Johnson imitating the ‘vroom, vroom’ of a petrol engine.

There was a long and awkward pause as he lost his place in his notes and had to apologise several times as Johnson fumbled with the papers. 

Johnson is known for going off track in speeches, often to the dismay of his advisers. He likes to throw in jokes and anecdotes which the tory faithful seem to enjoy. However, as Prime Minister leading the country through a series of crisis, we might just expect him to be more serious and more focussed at the moment. 

At the end, one concerned reporter asked him if he was OK to which he replied that he thought his speech had gone down well. 

Johnson with his son Wilfred at Peppa Pig World

Monday, November 22, 2021

A musical heritage

 You may wonder why music is regarded with such importance in Bigastro along with other towns in the area. 

According to Vega Baja Digital, there are 1,100 music bands, 550 musical societies, more than 40,000 musicians, 60,000 students and some 200,000 associates in the Vega Baja region. 

This means the Vega Baja hosts 50% of the musical societies in  Spain. 

Like I dare say most of you, we did not appreciate how important music was to the area  before living here.

Worth the wait

 It has been a long time since the band played a concert in the Auditorium. The last concert for Santa Cecilia was 2019 so there was a lot of making up to be done. 

First off, the new musicians from 2020 and 2021 had to be introduced to the band, then there were honours for those musicians who had made outstanding contributions. 

With the presentations over, the band struck up with a pasadoble followed by a comprehensive programme that  totalled just over 49 minutes of music.

You can listen to the concert via this link

As I have already mentioned in a previous post, the speech this year was given by Christopher Riley, the only English person left playing with the band. He kept us all spellbound for over 21 minutes with an account of his time with SUMB - punctuated by humour and appreciation for the help the members of the band had given him. 

Two things to take away from his speech, "never wear new shoes when taking part in a procession around Orihuela" and "the real location for the band is NOT in the Auditorium but in the Pizza take away across the street". 

To round off the celebrations, we had the traditional meal that follows Santa Cecilia. This year it was at Camping La Pedrera (very handy for Pam and I!). 

I can honestly say it was one of the best meals we have enjoyed with the band. The food was excellent and of course, the company was outstanding. 

A huge thanks to Alfonso and the rest of SUMB for both a wonderful concert and a wonderful afternoon.  

Saturday, November 20, 2021

A reminder

 You can watch Strictly on catch up TV! 

Another Christmas competition

So we had the competition for Christmas trees made from recycled materials. Now we have one for decorating the outside of your house or shop.