Sunday, April 30, 2006

Never tempt fate

I should never have mentioned that the Internet connection was erratic because yesterday morning it died completely. These things always happen at weekends but not just any weekend - Monday is a Bank Holiday. Anyway the connection came back later in the day so for now we are in business again.

I got an email from Wi-Surf, the Internet provider to tell me that they are coming to Bigastro on Tuesday and will implement some new security measure. At the moment the wireless connection is an unsecured network so I imagine that they suspect that unathorised users are logging in and using the available bandwidth. Anyway they want to visit each users premises but that poses a problem because we are going to Caravaca. We will have to wait and see.

I also tempted fate by saying that I didn't notice the hard saddle on my bike. Yesterday I ventured further afield and was well aware of the saddle's contour on my return. At least the path along the river which I followed is flat so my legs felt comfortable. Still no pain - no gain as they say.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Very frustrating

On Monday we had no Internet connection at all. Tuesday morning the connection came back but has been very erratic since then. It will be fine for half an hour or longer and then it will stall for five minutes or more. It isn't critical when I'm just surfing the net but when I am downloading or uploading it is a right pain in the a***.

The technology behind the satellite connection is very clever but unfortunately not 100% reliable. Still without a fixed phone line we have very few alternatives.

The dispute between the Town Hall and Telefonica which we were told had been resolved in February has not yet resulted in the cable being laid. So I guess we will just have to be patient. Hopefully we will have a landline a lot quicker than the urbanisation which waited eight years for their connection.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Busy two weeks

We have a busy time ahead of us. Apart from the normal routine stuff like shopping, lazing in the sun, a bit of gardening, a dip in the pool and keeping up this diary I've now got a bike ride to fit in each day.

Just to add to that; next Tuesday we go to Caravaca de la Cruz to the horse and wine fair. That is an early start because the coach picks us up at 9:00am at La Siesta. Then there is the May fair at Torrevieja to fit in. That is where they set up bars in the fairground and people go in costume to eat, drink and dance the flamenca until the early hours of the morning. Next weekend is the fiesta for the Holy Cross neighbourhood. an afternoon of wine at 50c for a large glass and free paella. Finally it is the fiesta for San Isidro up at the Pedrera. More free paella but this time the wine and beer are free as well.

We could always try and fit the Olympics in as well. Oh yes and I nearly forgot Pam's darts matches which she has to fit in. Her partner is in England at the moment so she has a backlog of matches to fit in.

Now I don't expect a flood of sympathy, just an appreciation that life can be tough even in retirement.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

First impressions

I've now been out twice on my new bike.

The first ride was just a tootle round the estate. My legs felt like jelly when I tried to climb the steep hills that we have around here. I know it will take a few goes at those hills for my legs to feel comfortable with them. A stone or two less weight would help as well.

When I got back, I made a few adjustments like tightening the front wheel properly and moving the saddle back. I also bought a puncture repair kit, a pump and a bag to put them in. Nothing worse than tempting fate by going out any distance without those items.

Then yesterday I ventured further by riding down to Bigastro. It's downhill all the way which was great fun. Coming back was fine until I got to the hill up to our house. Even the "granny gear" was hard work on that hill. "Why didn't we buy a house on the flat" I asked myself. The answer is of course that we wouldn't get the views.

So what is the bike like? It's very light in comparison to the steel framed hybrid I had in the UK. The gear shifts are smoother and the brakes a whole lot sharper. The front suspension takes the shock of the poor roads well making the ride very comfortable. I didn't even notice the hard saddle yesteday, possibly because the pain in my legs was greater than the numbness in my bum.

Today I think I'll try the longer but less steep route through the estate on my return!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Aire 06 at San Javier

It has now been confirmed that 10 units will be taking part in the flying displays. These are the host Patrulla Águilas, the Red Arrows, the Patrouille de France, the Patrouille Suisse, Asas de Portugal, the Royal Jordanian Falcons, the USAF F15 Demo Team, the Flying Bulls, PAPEA and Patrulla Aspa. There will also be solo displays by the F16 Solo Display Team, Mirage 2000, Eurofighter, F18, Mirage F1, and the AV-8B of the Spanish Navy. There will also be a display of in-flight refueling, of a rescue operation and a parachute display. Historic aircraft that will be seen in the air include a Bücker, a Saeta and a T6. There will also be plenty to see on the ground, with aircraft, equipment and other attractions being on show on the new runway at San Javier airport.

Visitors will be able to take photographs, inspect the aircraft, and chat with crew. Souvenirs will also be available. Parking areas are to be established from which buses will transfer visitors to the static displays. The zones from which the air displays can be watched on Sunday, June 4, have been identified and these are the beaches to the north of the air base and La Ribera up to Lo Pagán. Again, parking areas will be established with bus transfers to the beaches.

With up to a quarter of a million spectators expected logistics are, obviously, be very important. The flying displays will take place from 10am onwards on Sunday 4th June and they are expected to last for seven or eight hours.

Pity the girls are coming the week after because we could have taken them there. On second thoughts though, the shops in Elche would have a far greater appeal.

Monday, April 24, 2006

We could be around for awhile

The results of a study into the health of the population in Spain within a European context carried out by the health ministry have shown that people living in the Valencia region have an average lifespan of 78.9 years, up 2.3 years on a decade ago.

Analysts say the figures show that an improved quality of life on the Costas has increased life expectancy, saying that on average a person born in the region could expect to live 59 years in relative good health and a further 19 years suffering from a number of illnesses.

The climate also helps people moving to the Costas to live longer. A change in lifestyle coupled with temperate climes have proved to increase longevity in many cases.

Another facet of the study highlighted the health of people over the age of 64. It showed that 66 per cent of that age group in Valencia are in good health compared to the national average of 57, whereas the percentage of people in poor health stood at 2.2 per cent in both the Valencia Region and as a national average.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Two kinds of service

We had an early start yesterday because my car was booked in for its frst service. Top marks to Rubio Movil in Torrevieja for their efficiency. The car was ready on time, they had cleaned it free of charge and even gave me the remainder of the oil from the 5l bottle they used.

The weather in Torrevieja was beautiful but when we got back to Bigastro it was overcast. By three o clock it was raining. Not the weather that we wanted for Ana's wedding. Ana is of course the little poppet who teaches us Spanish. Luckily the rain had stopped by 5 and stayed dry but overcast until about 7.

We met the members of our class in the Vai Ven cafe opposite the church. At 5:30 we walked across to the church where the guests were assembling for the wedding which we were told was starting at 5:30. Being Spain though the groom arrived half an hour later and the bride ten minutes after him.

We've never been to a catholic wedding before and certainly not one in Spain. The service was a lot less formal than the ones we have experienced in England. The music was beautiful. So good that we thought at first it was a recording but it wasn't. Ana looked stunning in her dress and Angel, her husband to be, very handsome in his fancy suit and waistcoat.

When they came out of the church there was the customary "lluvia de arroz" (rain of rice) and rose petals supplied by Ana's sister followed by a brilliant firework display. After everyone had congratulated the bride and groom they set off for the reception where they were going to enjoy a 7 course meal with their 340 guests.

We understand that the happy couple will be setting off for their "luna de miel" (honeymoon) in a weeks time which we were told will be a two weeks cruise of the Mediterranean in a first class cabin.

Anyway with the couple on their way to the reception, we retired back to the Vai Ven for a coffee. By the time we got home it was raining again and by 9pm we had a thunderstorm accompanied by torrential rain. It is clear today so hopefully I'll get to have my first ride on that new bike.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Back on the road again

I blame Hugh who came to see us last week and John who lives at the bottom of our estate. Hugh because he brought his bike and reminded me how good it was to get about on two wheels and John because he told me about this fantastic sports shop in the Habanaras.

Anyway whilst Pam was perusing the clothes shops upstairs, I went to look at Forum downstairs. There near the front of the shop was this bike which immediately said buy me. Not only was it a great looking cross bike but as a bonus it was on offer with a 30% discount.

For the curious, a cross bike has mountain bike components but with road size wheels and tyres. I had a similar bike in the UK and sold it before coming to Spain. The new bike is vastly superior to the one I sold though.

Just for Hugh:- The bike is an Orbea Elgeta Cross ( For starters it has a 7005 double butted aluminium frame which makes it very light. To add to that it has Suntour Nex 4000 suspension forks at the front to smooth out the bumps in our Spanish roads. The gears, chainset, shifters and v brakes are Shimano Deore with a Mega 9 rear mech and cassette to take care of the steep hills we have around here. The hubs are Orbea own brand laced with stainless steel spokes to Vueleta Vision rims. Tyres are Continental Twisters. The skinny saddle is a Selle Italia Karisma on a Orbea stem. It is well designed to cut into my ample rear. Finally the headset is by Aheadset. All in all not bad for 599€ but a bargain on sale at 419.95€. Oh and yes I did buy a helmet but forgot to get a puncture repair kit.

NB We must take Hugh there next time he visits us. The shop is amazing. They sell everything a sports fanatic like Hugh would want.

PS Pam is looking forward to me shedding a few pounds for the summer.

Loyalty costs nothing

It is of course the Queen's 80th birthday today and whilst we are not among the 20,000 who have sent her a card nor the 17,000 who have sent her an email, we would like to wish her Happy Birthday.

So here goes:-

Cumpleaños Feliz,
te deseamos a ti

Cumpleaños, Cumpleaños

Cumpleaños Feliz

Busy bobbies

On Tuesday 18 of April, the Local Police of Bigastro stopped a 44 year old man from Elche trying to steal a fire extinguisher. The man, who has a criminal record, was passed on to the Guardia Civil for further investigation.

The Local Police of Bigastro warns all the citizens and in particular retailers not to fall foul of this type of scam The Police explain that only authorized and professional personnel should be allowed to make routine inspections of extinguishers.

You can see from this edict that they had to deal with other incidents during the Easter week. Notably two youths on a stolen motorbike and an Italian who was being generally violent.

If they carry on like this, the Local Police will want a pay rise.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The gory that was Rome

Yesterday we had a leisurely day in Guadamar. We went to the market, had lunch outside the Las Vegas restaurant, walked along the seafront and drove back through Rojales and Quesada.

We often watch films on our Spanish satellite TV. Last night we watched Titus, the 1999 take on Titus Andronicus starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange on Canal +1.

Apparently in a TV profile on British TV in 2002 Anthony Hopkins confirmed that he had found the experience of working on this film so stressful that he decided at the time to retire from film acting. In the same interview Hopkins points out that in the dinner scene towards the end of the film he mimics the great British 'Knight' actors of Shakespeare, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier.

We don’t normally watch movies that are violent – maybe we worry too much about being kept awake by nightmares. This film though was compelling because the acting was superb, the mix between modern references and ancient Rome clever and the sets brilliant. Not perhaps a film to enjoy but rather to admire.

The revenge of Titus
"Oh villains, Chiron and Demetrius. Here stands the spring whom you have stained with mud, this goodly summer with your winter mixed. You killed her husband, and for that vile fault two of her brothers were condemned to death, my hand cut off and made a merry jest, both her sweet hands, her tongue, and that more dear than hands or tongue, her spotless chastity, inhuman traitors, you constrained and forced. What would you say if I should let you speak? Villains, for shame, you could not beg for grace. Hark, wretches, how I mean to martyr you. This one hand yet is left to cut your throats whilst that Lavinia, 'tween her stumps doth hold the basin that receives your guilty blood. You know, your mother means to feast with me and calls herself Revenge and thinks me mad. Hark, villains. I shall grind your bones to dust, and with your blood and it I shall make a paste, and of the paste a coffin I will rear and make two pastries of your shameful heads. And bid that strumpet, your unhallowed dam, like to the earth, swallow her own increase! This is the feast I have bid her to, and this the banquet she shall surfeit on... And now prepare your throats."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Stick to cats and dogs

The Guardia Civil took action after a phone call from a concerned member of the public who had seen a man taking the tiger for a walk on a chain. As tigers are high on the list of protected species as well as a danger to the public, the Guardia Civil began searching the area and eventually found the tiger on a farm in Molina de Segura.

The owner faces charges for keeping a dangerous animal without the proper licence and paperwork, although he did have a certificate showing that the tiger had been born in captivity.It seems that the owner bought the tiger last October from a travelling circus. Because of a problem with his paws, the animal was unable to perform in the show and so the circus was anxious to sell him. The man bought the animal for 1800€.

This is just the latest in a recent spate of dangerous animals being kept as pets in the Murcia region. In January a man was fined 2500€ when police officers discovered that he was keeping a crocodile in his bath.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Funny weather

After a week of days that would start cloudy and end up sunny or vice versa, yesterday really took the biscuit. It started cloudy and then the skies cleared to provide brilliant sunshine. We could hear the people up at the Pedrera laughing and chatting away. They'd lit the BBQs ready for lunch and were obviously looking forward to a good day in the countryside. Then the clouds rolled back over and we could hear thunder in the distance. Although the thunderstorm managed to miss us, we had heavy rain for the rest of the day. By six pm it was so cold in the house that we had to put the central heating back on.

We shouldn't complain though. Watching Euronews there were pictures of Romania and Hungary under floodwater. A couple of weeks agao we'd seen similar video showing much of Germany and Austria flooded. It would be impossible for us to be flooded by the Segura river and thankfully there is a storm drain on the other side of the main road up to the Pedrera which diverts the water coming of the hillside away from our road.

Anyway at least I won't have to water the garden for at least a week.

PS I forgot to mention we are back to blue skies and brilliant sunshine this morning. I just hope it lasts a bit longer than a couple of hours.

Monday, April 17, 2006

We nearly forgot

Saturday night we went out to the Meson de Salada with Hugh and Angela. The food was delicious and Clara, the resident singer, was in good form. I was driving and so had very little to drink but Hugh, Angela and Pam were a bit worse for wear by the time we got home at 1:00am. It was then that we remembered that Easter Sunday at 7:30am Bigastro has a firework display to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It is there in the programme for Semana Santa.

You would think they would choose pretty fireworks that made little noise at that time of the morning and would keep the proceedings short. Not at all! The fireworks were white but still had very loud bangs that we could feel as well as hear and the whole thing lasted about ten minutes or more. Then just when we thought it had finished it started again with even louder maroons.

Later on in the morning we could hear the fireworks from other nearby towns. Obviously their residents were allowed a bit of a lie in.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Going, going, gone

Our first visitors for the year have now left. How fast did those five days go? We had such a good time with them and thoroughly enjoyed their company.

Hugh and Angela:- a big thank you for paying for the meal last night and for visiting us. We hope you had a safe journey and look forward to seeing you again in July when we are over in the UK.

The spring was not sprung

Lots of people had told us to go to Fortuna because it was interesting. Not the actual town itself, but rather the smaller town outside where the baths are. The journey there is interesting because at the other side of the Orihuela mountains there is an area of landscape which looks like a moonscape. Just barren land for miles with no sign of vegetation. Not a place where you would want to be stranded on a dark night but fascinating all the same.

Anyway we arrived at the Balneria de Leanna and parked the car. As we walked round we noticed the residents in white bath robes heading from the three very smart hotels to the baths. We followed them looking for the hot spring. We never did find it though which is not surprising because the spring is deep underground and feeds hot water into the swimming pools. The temperature of the water is apparently 53 degrees centigrade making the pools usable all year round.

Just outside the town though I fond this interesting property which as you can see is ripe for development. I wonder what the asking price is?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Never felt it!

An earthquake measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale occurred in Murcia on Wednesday and was felt in Alicante, Orihuela and Elche. The epicentre of the tectonic shift was just to the south of Albanilla and it happened at 7.21pm.

There were no injuries as a result of what is considered a fairly weak tremor, although there were some reports of falling debris from buildings and hanging objects were shaken. Those in multi storey buildings at the time were most likely to have noticed it, as it only measured 2 by the time it reached Alicante.

Fair enough

All credit to the BBC, the weather did improve yesterday. In fact we had an hour or two of sunbathing before setting off to the Medieval Fair. Hugh and I even went into the pool. I have to say though that Hugh cheated and wore his wet suit.

The Medieval Fair was very interesting. Sadly they had re-scheduled the belly dancer to Saturday so we missed her. We did see the acrobats, the musicians and the buffoon though. Amazingly we got away with just spending three euros on a couple of loufas.

After the fun of the Medieval fair we walked along to the Book fair. Although most of the stalls were selling books in Spanish, Bargain Books were there and seemed to be attracting a lot of interest from both English and Spanish customers.

As we left, the roads into Torrevieja were gridlocked by traffic. We imagine they were people going to watch the Good Friday Easter parade. Thankfully we were going out of Torrevieja to the Wakiki bar at La Siesta to feast on cod, chips and mushy peas. Not very Spanish we know but very tasty and remarkable value for money.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I could do better

Everyday I go to the BBC website to look at the local weather for Torrevieja. Invariably they get it wrong. Today they say it will be sunny. Mr BBC, I can definitely tell you it is NOT sunny at the moment although maybe you were thinking of the conditions half an hour ago before the clouds rolled over. I live in hope that you are reporting the what the weather will be like later because we're going down to the Medieval Fair this afternoon.

Can anybody tell me what they use to forecast the weather? If it's a pine cone then maybe it needs replacing. Actually I'm convinced that they get mixed up and show reports for some other Torrevieja. Please Mr BBC tell me where it is because it's obviously getting better weather than we are at the moment.

Failing that just phone me up each day and I'll tell you exactly what the weather is like in Torrevieja, Spain.

King of the road and paellas

Hugh, the fully equipped cyclist sets of for his afternoon ride no doubt impressing the local lads with his hi tech gear.

Later he impressed us with his expertise at producing a paella. Most paellas are either fish or meat based but Hugh's combines both. Although it was cooked on the charcoal BBQ on the roof we elected to eat inside where it was warmer.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

On the boardwalk

Yesterday we had another cloudy start to the day which was welcomed by Hugh who was up early for a cycle ride. Fortunately the clouds cleared before we set out for a walk along the seafront at Torrelemata.

Pam and I had walked along the boardwalk that stretches from Torrelemata to La Mata itself in February. We'd called at the tapas bar at the La Mata end for lunch and had the place to ourselves.

Yesterday though the combination of Easter holidays and some fine sunshine meant that the beach was well populated but not over crowded as it will be in August.

The tapas bar had plenty of customers both inside and out on the terrace. The buzz of lively chatter made it feel more Spanish than it did in February. We are pleased to say that the standard of the food was just as good as we had remembered. So we spent a leisurely couple of hours eating spicy sausage, pork, fish accompanied by potatoes, Russian salad and fresh bread.

We drove back towards Guadamar and took the road to Los Montesinos. Ten minutes down the road the heavens opened and we experienced the first downpour we've had here for months.

When we got back to Bigastro though everywhere was dry so the rain was obviously local. This morning it is very overcast, not what we had expected so we will need to take our umbrellas on the way to the market.

Culture from an early age

What is good for one infant school in Bigastro is good for the other.

Spaniards love to dress up for carnivals and fiestas and go to a lot of trouble with their costumes.

The children obviously want to get in on the act. What better way than to replicate the traditions of Easter. It is good that these youngsters, aged 3 to 5 are being brought up to respect the traditions of their culture rather than just dismiss them as being irrelevant to their 21st century lives.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Starting young

Even the young children at the local infant school are getting in on the act. They made their own paso, their own costalero costumes and penitents robes to enact a procession for Semana Santa. They didn't miss any detail by including nazarenos, manolas, músicos and romanos.

Arrived safely

Our first guests for this year, Hugh and Angela, arrived on time at Murcia last night. Hugh has brought his bike in a special bag which he told Pam was 45cms x 40cms x 17cms. He did of course mean inches! My Skoda Fabia though swallowed Hugh, Angela, their cases and the bike with no problems.

Pam had prepared a chilli con carne ready for us when we got back which we washed down with a couple of litres of Mercadona's finest vino de mesa. Afterwards we chatted long and hard. Our visitors body clocks are one hour behind ours. So 12:30 was only 11:30 to them. I expect the vino kept us going past our normal bed time.

This morning, in spite of every weather service on the net saying that it is sunny and warm, it is still cool and overcast here in Bigastro. It won't put Hugh off though. In fact he is outside now assembling his bike. Pam and Angela are of course fast asleep.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

¿Hola, que tal? (Hello - how are you?)

On an unusually overcast day what else should I do but check up on the statistics for my blog. I'm not in the big league of course but then this blog was never created to rival Rueters.

Checking on my visitors, most are from the UK but I have had people dropping by from Singapore, Spain, the United States, Mexico, Taiwan, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Malaysia, Japan and Germany.

To all those people I offer a very warm welcome. I hope you find the content at least well written even if it is not of immediate interest to you.

If you like what you have read, please drop by again and leave a comment.

Muchas gracias

Monday, April 10, 2006

What is a cofradia paso?

Since I had mentioned them in a previous post I thought it was only right to explain what they are.

The "pasos" are floats which bear sculptured depictions of the Easter story. These are paid for by groups of residents or "cofradias”. During Semana Santa (Holy Week) each town holds one or more parades of their local pasos.

The floats are normally housed in a museum where they are supported on wheeled carriages. To parade them though, the carriages are replaced by long wooden arms which stretch in front and behind the paso. These enable the “costaleros” to carry the paso on their shoulders. Although most are carried by men, some of the pasos are carried by young women. The number of people needed to carry a paso depends upon its size. In Torrevieja one of the pasos is so heavy it requires over a hundred men to carry it. Probably in cities like Seville the numbers are even larger.

The process of carrying the pasos requires a lot of practice to get it right particularly when it comes to turning corners. The costaleros sway in time to the rhythm of the music played by the band which accompanies them as they move slowly through the streets. Regularly they stop and change shoulders - a manoeuvre which requires good timing. The "show off" ones will even lift the paso above their heads and carry it that way for a short while. The cues for these manoeuvres are given by a series of smart taps on the side of the paso.

Each paso is accompanied by ladies dressed in traditional black who carry candles and "nazarenos" in cloaks wearing pointed hats. Each cofradia has a banner which is proudly carried at the head of the group. The nazarenos are joined together with ropes on either side of the paso and give out sweets to the children who line the streets to watch the parade. Penitents in black follow the paso and may even walk bare footed.

So there you go. A very moving and spectacular performance.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Not everything under the sun is cheap

OK the wine is cheap as chips and fresh vegetables are for nothing but some things are damned expensive.

Internet connections for one. I notice in England now you can get a decent high speed connection for under £20. The cheapest company here in Spain seems to be Wandoo who offer a 4mb connection for 39€ (£27) Telefonica have some package deals which include national phone calls for about the same price but the Internet connection is only 512Mb.

Getting English TV is also a tad expensive and to say the least confusing. A lot of people on our estate forked out 1000€ or more to get the 2m (or larger) dishes that you need to pull in Sky from the Astra satellite. They also had to pay for a Sky box and the ongoing cost of a Sky card registered to a UK address (all illegal of course). Originally a 80cm dish would pull in Sky but then Sky re-aligned the satellite. They may do that again and make even the 2.4m dishes useless. Apart from the cost, imagine having a 2.4m dish in your garden. You'd need a good size palm tree to disguise it. Of course some people have had the dishes put on their roof terraces which has made that area useless for anything else. One person had their dish put on the concrete beams that join their villa to the one next door (much neater) but managed to crack the beams with the weight of the thing.

Because we live in from the coast, the cheaper microwave system (Sky re-transmitted over microwaves) doesn't work too well here. In fact it doesn't work too well anywhere. Programs can drop off in the evening even for those people close to the transmitter.

My neighbour tried that and shelled out 600€ for the priveledge. In a desperate attempt to make it work the company fitted a pole to his roof which extended twenty odd feet into the air. In the wind it waved about so much it looked like it would pull his chimney stack down.

Now he is trying another system that uses a small dish which again costs 600€. He is delighted so far because he can get more sports channels than you can count on one hand. I hope it works or him. On the downside, we may not see him again until the end of the football season!

More wine

Note to myself.

Must get more wine in because Angela is coming next week.

Only kidding Angela!

How does your garden grow?

In just over twelves months the combination of lots of sun, plenty of water and a few good doses of fertilizer have made most plants grow like mad. We have had some failures though, mainly with the most expensive plants that didn't seem to like the first very cold winter.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A belly dancer - sounds interesting!

Our first visitors are here from next Tuesday until Sunday and we have been looking for things of interest to do with them. Then I found this:-

From Thursday, 13th April 'til Sunday, 16th April, Torrevieja is housing the Medieval Market in the Eras de la Sal at the end of the Vista Alegre boulevard. In addition to the stalls selling traditional products, there will be a number of stands with food, mostly made using original recipes or methods dating from the Middle Ages. Hot spiced wine, scrumpy from Galicia, sausages, preserved fruit, pickles and farm house cheese are on offer; For the thirsty there will be a tavern and an Arabian tea tent. Elsewhere there will be demonstrations by the blacksmith, the silversmith, the glazier and the (English) wood turner on a bow lathe. Through the crowd will pass beggars, a story teller, a buffoon (my type of guy) , soldiers and a variety of other medieval characters.

There will also be a group of medieval troubadours to enliven the event and a juggler to play with fire in the evenings; on the Thursday and Friday the programme will include a belly dancer and Saturday and Sunday three East European acrobats who will astonish the crowd with their impressive balancing and tumbling acts.

Sounds good to me and perhaps a bit more lively than the solemn procession of Cofradia Pasos we took them to see last year on Semana Viernes.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Muchas gracias Ana

Last night was the end of term presentation for our Spanish class.

We got our reports with the following grades:-

Grammatical capacity: Muy bien
Word capacity: Muy bien
Oral comprehension: Muy bien
Reading: Muy bien
Effort and interest: Muy bien

Pamela’s comment was “Tu ritmo es buenisimo. Continua trabajando” and mine was “Siempre trabajas la leccion en casa y me gusta.” Which roughly means “Pam’s pace is excellent she should continue working” and “the teacher likes the fact that I always prepare the lesson in my house”

So we are happy bunnies

PS Ana also gave us a load of homework for the holiday!

La Traviata

So what was the night at the opera like?

Well the theatre in Orihuela dates back to 1907 but was in fact first built in Alicante in 1892. The building is circular so that it can operate as a theatre or circus.

The opera was only on for one night so it was probably a touring company. Of course it didn’t start on time – very little ever does here in Spain and it lasted three hours. Afterwards they all went to the Vai Ven in Bigastro for a coffee so Pamela didn’t get home until 1:30 in the morning.

She said the main arias were good but the rest was a bit dirgy. Sooo glad I didn’t go!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Did you realise that at two minutes and three seconds past one am yesterday morning the time and date were: 01.02.03 04/05/06. Amazing!!

So that's why they left

You may remember the eccentric couple who featured on Channel 4s Grand Designs building their dream property overlooking the Embalsement de la Pedrera. Those of you who saw the progam will remember that they struggled with their builders to get the house they wanted. Even the presenter, Kevin McCloud said they were barking mad.

Well Apparently Jenny, the wife has embarked upon a one woman crusade against the prositutes on the CV95. Our visitors will recall seeing them on the junction where we turn to Los Montesinos. They apparently started appearing around a year ago. We thought at first they were just waiting for lifts. The ‘ladies of the night’ soon became ‘ladies of the day’ and as summer approached more girls arrived starting work first thing in the morning. Parading along the roadside in their bikinis Jenny would regularly sound her car horn to try and embarrass the punters but the final straw came one day when her 16 year-old daughter saw a man being “serviced” in his car. “I just saw red and thought that is it, I’ve had enough, everyone is fed up with it but no one is prepared to do anything but I am. I’m not putting up with it anymore.”

Jenny decided to rid her area of the prostitutes. She went along first thing in the morning and when punters turned up made it impossible for them to be picked up by shadowing the girls. Police turned up one day and Jenny explained to them what she was doing and one said the only thing she could do was to take the car number plates of people stopping.

Throughout her daily patrols she engaged with the men that were stopping, explaining that she was taking their license plate number and there is an air of disgust in her voice as she recalls one Englishman begging her not to hand his details over to the police. “Another man said he had just stopped to pick some lemons! Jenny spoke to the girls as well, she knows where they live but they really can’t see what her problem is. To them it is an age old profession and the most natural thing to do. Jenny says she has no problem with prostitution per se, its when it’s on her doorstep and her kids see men being serviced.”

Jenny has even resorted to throwing eggs at the girls, doing anything possible to make them move on and it appears that her gutsy determination may have paid off as the sidewalks and corners are blissfully quiet. “They realised I meant business, they gradually moved along and one regular woman, whenever I approached would put her head in her hand and say ‘no more, no more.’ It has taken a lot of time to do this and I have better things to do than chase them with eggs but it couldn’t be adhoc, I had to do it and I’ve only seen one in the last week.”

Whilst Jenny has been praised by other mother’s in the area, she admits most people think she is “barking mad” and as she realises her methods may be a little out of the ordinary, they have achieved the results she wanted. “I wouldn’t wait for the situation to just disappear, it wasn’t going to, but I would suggest to anyone else suffering in the same way to form a committee and work together safely to stop the punters.”

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The boss is back

I went to pick up Pamela last night from Murcia airport. Those of you who have been there will know what a tiny little airport it is. Last night it was crowded. The passengers coming out had to run the gauntlet of people which stretched from the arrivals lounge out into the road. Many of the people waiting were reps from real estate companies ready to pick up their clients. As I waited I did wonder how many of these visitors would end up buying like we did. I expect this morning they will start the process of going round, looking at the area, looking at show houses etc. and finally making their life changing decisions. I hope it works out as well for them as it has for us.

Anyway back to Pam. Her flight was on time although she had to wait for the previous flight to clear before they unloaded her luggage. She’d had a good time back in England seeing friends, catching up on news, being with our daughters and most important enjoying some retail therapy. She was glad to get back to some warmth though. It was very warm here this last week and although it felt cold to me it was probably about 15 degrees last night at the airport which felt hot to Pam.

Pamela was pleasantly surprised that not only was the place tidy but it was clean. I had even done the washing so no smelly drawers to face this morning.. When she comes back Pam spends the first five minutes going round checking everything. The bins, the ashtrays and the dishwasher were all empty. So, good brownie points for Keith.

Tonight Pam is going to the opera in Orihuela to see La Traviata. Since the opera is performed in Italian, the lady who has organised it has provided a summary in Spanish which is no more comprehensible than the Italian.

Tomorrow we go to the presentation at the school and get our certificates for this term. I hope we have done as well but I’m not sure. I still get stuck with the pronouns so maybe it will just be “bien” rather than “muy bien” for me. Pam is much better with the grammatical structure so she should get “muy bien”. We will wait and see.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Real news

You know you are living in a sleepy town where not much happens when you get reports like these on the local web site.

Friday, 31 March at 10:30 there was an accident between two vehicles (a Renault Megane and a Fiat Ulise).

One of the drivers has not suffered damages, whereas the occupant of the Renault has minor wounds.

In addition, today one lady (Portuguese Teresa Giménez) got caught for an hour in the elevator of the building Avenue Libertad.. Thanks to the intervention of the technician and the Local Policia, the lady has not suffered any damage.

See they even published photographs of the events.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A bit of a problem

You've read the horror stories and seen them on TV. The ones where the builder doesn't ensure that the foundations are strong enough and walls start to crack.

Here is an example from just around the corner from us on our estate.

The house and the pool are fine. They are built on piles driven down to bedrock. The problem is with the garden walls and the terracing on this side of the house.
I suspect the land was built up to provide a level area for the terrace. First the walls began to crack so they repaired them. Then they cracked again and the paving started moving. Finally it got to the stage where it looked like the whole garden was going to slide down onto the next house

The builder has now taken drastic action. For the last two weeks they have had a "pecker" removing all the soil around the pool down to the house below. The structure you can see is the pool itself.

The interesting thing is that the people who own the house and the one below are still living there. In fact they were out on the other side of their houses sunbathing when I took the photographs. Somehow I don't think they will be swimming in that pool this summer though.

This problem has affected a group of houses in one part of the estate. Presumably when they have finished with this plot they will move onto the next. So we can look forward to months of pecking. If only they would start work at a sensible hour!

Not going to happen

Head of the DGT traffic department Pere Navarro, speaking at the launch of a new ‘no smoking while driving’ campaign this week, warned that drivers or passengers who throw cigarette ends out of cars could face fines of up to 300 euros and lose four points off their licences.

‘Don't smoke and drive’ is the phrase being used to launch the campaign which begins this Saturday, April 1. Sr Navarro said that the ‘don't smoke and drive’ message is good advice in order to promote better driving practices. He added that he was not trying to prohibit smoking when driving.

A survey carried out in February found that 77 per cent of those questioned were in favour of banning smoking while driving, while a further 21 per cent agreed that it was dangerous.

Will anyone take any notice? You habitually see drivers on mobile phones in spite of that being illegal. Last week I saw a guy riding a scooter with a young child sat on his lap. The bloke was on his mobile phone whilst the child was driving the scooter. So what makes anyone think that the butt end dumpers will stop their crazy habit?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Pam's birthday

Note to myself:

Must not forget Pamela’s birthday tomorrow. I sent her a picture message of me out in the sun this afternoon. She sent a message back saying the weather was awful in England. Ah well only three more days and she will be back in sunny Spain.

PS Don't tell her I am missing her!

One to miss

Even though there are still 4 months to go before the concert, tickets to see Depeche Mode in Torrevieja are selling like hot cakes. The concert, which will take place on the 25th July in the Parque Antonio Soria, has already sold more than 10,000 tickets, and with a capacity of 30,000 it looks like it is going to be a sell-out.

The organisers are expecting to repeat the success of the R.E.M concert last summer.

I always thought they should have been called Depressed Mode. Not quite as mournful as the Smiths but still not the kind of uplifting music I like to listen to. Now if they were to get someone easy to listen or better still, easy on the eye I might be tempted to go. A reformed Atomic Kitten springs to mind.