Wednesday, February 28, 2007

They call him called "Golden Balls" what name should we give to her?

Ex-Spice Girl Victoria Beckham is to star in a fly-on-the-wall documentary about her forthcoming move to the US after signing a £10m deal with NBC.

The programme will "look inside her world", her spokeswoman confirmed, but will not feature her footballer husband David, or their three sons.

The former England captain transfers to Los Angeles Galaxy this summer. Last month Victoria described the move to the US - which will reportedly earn her husband $250m (£127m) over five years - as "really exciting".

She said it was a decision which had been "thought about carefully". "I'm really looking forward to making new friends and enjoying the sunshine in California," she wrote on her website.

She had difficulty learning Spanish, hopefully she'll fare better with American.

Jealousy does not become you

I don't want to upset those of you who live in cooler climates but yesterday it was so hot here we got the sunbeds out and had a few hours catching the rays.

In fairness it is the first time we have sunbathed this year. Mind you it is only February!

I don't ever remember sunbathing in the UK during February.

Not good

The first rehearsal yesterday was not good to say the least. In fact it was b***** awful.

The biggest problem we face is that we have a different set of dwarves each time we rehearse. Added to which, they have difficulty reading their lines so they just make them up. Worst of all though, when they left the stage half went off to the right and the the other half to the left.

The look of despair on our teacher's face said it all. She told us we would be performing in May - luckily she didn't say which May.

Caperucita Roja was never this difficult.

So who will be cooking dinner?

Just imagine the headache you'd come back with if you went down to that!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


On display in the Auditorium Francisco Grau is the City Council's project, "Bigastro Innova", which is the economic part of the municipal project " Bigastro Avanza ".

The seven projects proposed include a clothing company by Julio Diaz; a convention centre at the Pedrera by Francisco Paredes Quesada; a hotel with a spa, pitch & putt and golf practice ranges at the Pedrera by the company Promociones and Inversiones Rambla; the restaurant "Arroba" by Enrique Rocamora based on the philosophy "slow food"; a solar energy assembly plant by Eurener SL; the restaurant "La Alborada" by Mario Lopez and the "Hiperber" supermarket by Jose Bernabeu which he says will open this year.

Five years, ten at the most and this town will be so smart people will be queuing up to live here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

We like Helen Mirren

US mob drama The Departed has won four Oscars, including best film and best director for Martin Scorsese, who had missed out on five previous occasions.

Dame Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker collected best actress and actor, and there were three Academy Awards for Mexican fairytale Pan's Labyrinth.

Dame Helen had described her Oscar nomination as "amazing"

"All kids love to get gold stars, and this is the biggest and the best gold star that I have ever had," she said.

In the meantime Basic Instinct 2 has swept the Golden Raspberry Awards - the annual ceremony which mocks the worst of Hollywood ahead of the Oscars presentation.

The film picked up four awards - or Razzies - for worst movie, worst actress for Sharon Stone, worst screenplay and also worst sequel.

Perhaps Shazz should try keeping her knees together for her next film

Set to get hotter

From the Leader newspaper

Climate change will make drought a permanent phenomenon in Alicante.

That’s the warning from The Ministry of the Environment who say there will be 40% less rain in the south of the province this century, with temperatures rising sharply.

The report by Spanish scientists to the National Climate Council looks ahead to 2071. If emissions of greenhouse gases are not reduced, Alicante province will be one of the worst affected areas in Spain; reservoirs may never be able to recover from the effects and river diversions may also be affected.

The 40% decrease in rainfall is equivalent to 150 litres per square metre and will mean not only more intense droughts but also more intense torrential rain and higher sea temperatures.

The 156.4 litres that fell in 2005 made the area the 6th driest year since records began in 1856, and the 5th since 1994. The average temperature will also rise by 4.5ºC, mostly between April and October.

Head of the Climatology Department at Alicante University, Jorge Olcina, indicated that the principal problem is that, “all the signals point to climate change marked by aridity and the advance of desertification in Alicante, where rain will be less often and more irregular.”

Torrevieja and Pedreguer registered average temperatures above 20ºC for 2006, a rise of 3ºC, according to the Institute of Meteorology. This is the highest since 1950 and the six highest years have all been since 1994 right across the province, with an average of 16.2ºC, 1.2 degrees more than normal.

The worst case scenario for the month of July, which currently registers the highest summer temperatures, could see an 8ºC rise during this century. This can be broken down into a 1-3ºC rise from 2011-2040, a 3.5-4ºC rise between 2041 and 2070 and a 4-7ºC increase from 2071 to 2100.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Did you get my emails?

I still seem to be having a problem with emails and wondered if other people using the Bigastro server were experiencing the same difficulties.

It's not receiving but sending mail which seems to be the hiccup. I've checked my settings and tested them by sending myself mail; that all works. Then I send a mail to my Hotmail address and it doesn't work. Several people who I have sent mail to say they haven't received them either. The messages just don't get through.

So I am completely at a loss to identify where the problem lies. If you are using the Bigasto server and experiencing the same problem I'd be pleased to hear from you.

Just send me a comment back to this message. Muchas gracias


Last night at the Auditorium Francisco Grau we were privileged to attend a spectacular flamenco show performed by "Grupo Flamenco Manzanilla".

The eight dancers under the direction of Maria del Mar Gea and six musicians/singers under the direction of Felix Amador performed a mixture of songs, music and dance to a very appreciative audience. At the end of the evening the "Grupo Flamenco Manzanilla" received a well deserved standing ovation.

Thank you Bigastro for an excellent evening's entertainment.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

In trouble again

This time it was the spokesperson from the Green Party of Bigastro, Carmen Castaño, who publicly denounced that they had asked four months ago for the municipal authorizations for the construction of a solar panel farm at the Pedera.

Castaño had asked for the work license which had been granted to build the solar panel farm along with a copy of the special plan of the Pedera, a copy of the act of the awarding table and the concession to hire Eurener S.L. to undertake the work.

Castaño said that municipal civil employees hadn't refused their requests but told them that they could not provide the information without the authorization of the Mayor, Joaquin Moya. The works on the solar farm were denounced before el Seprona de la Guardia Civil.

The mayor of Bigastro is already being investigated by the courts for 44 counts of denying municipal information to the municipal group of the Popular Party and was recently denounced for allowing Euroner S.L. to build an assembly plant on council land the other side of the bypass from the town.

Bad luck really

Keith and Lynn Ashton came over to see us yesterday on their way back to Alicante airport.

Lynn and Pam used to work together at Pensby Park so it was good to see them. They'd just spent a week in Benidorm on holiday hoping for some nice sunny weather. As those of you who live here know, the weather this last week has been poor. Still they enjoyed themselves and got to see a lot of places they would have missed if they'd spent their time on the beach.

Keith is a keen gardener and so cast an expert eye over our garden area. He couldn't believe how the plants could grow so well in what looks like the poorest soil imaginable.

They left about 5pm with a few lemons from our trees to put in their drinks back home. Hopefully they will be back and will stay longer next time.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Save yourself some dosh!

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The aaaah factor

Some of these Spanish children are so cute with their expressive brown eyes. This little gem is the daughter of the teacher who takes the Spanish reading and writing class.

She was down at the Auditorium on Tuesday when I took her photo. All the ladies at the school loved the picture so I thought I would share it with you.

Not a good idea

Second Lieutenant Wales, otherwise known as Prince Harry, is being sent to Iraq. The third-in-line to the throne in the United Kingdom will be deployed as part of the latest troop rotation over the next few months.

Critics say he could prove a highly-prized target for insurgents, raising the risk he and his colleagues in the Blues and Royals might face.

A representative from his unit said on Euronews that the insurgents were not that intelligent. Any British soldier was a target for them. They wouldn't select Harry as anybody special.

So now that you have told them on television that Harry is going to Iraq. You've even shown them his picture and you expect the insurgents to not know! You might as well stick a target on the back of his flak jacket.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

They love to dress up

The children we saw on Tuesday had taken part in the annual carnival. Students from the infant's schools " Bigastrín " and" La Paz " and the primary school " San Jose de Calasanz " participated in a parade through Calle Aureliano Diaz and Calle Purisima.

It wasn't just the children in their different costumes who enjoyed the parade though. Their mothers, grandmothers and relatives all came out to cheer and support them.

After the parade they all went to the park for food, drink and to play on the bouncy castles and other attractions that the City Council had provided.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Reina Madrastra

Espejo mágico

La Reina

Blanca Nieves y los siete enanitos

Mendiga con la manzana

El príncipe esta enamoró

La reina malvada esta muerta!

La directora tímido

La narradora

Proud to be here

Yesterday we went to our rehearsal at the auditorium. Outside the auditorium, in the park, were all sorts of bouncy castles, roundabouts and other amusements. The local council had obviously planned a fun day. As we left the auditorium we could see that the park was full of children thoroughly enjoying themselves.

After our rehearsal we went to see the exhibition "Bigastro Avanza" which celebrates the achievements that the town has made over the last seven years along with the future plans for its development. As we left we were given carrier bags with literature and posters. All very impressive stuff. For those who haven't yet visited the exhibition, we would highly recommend that you take the time to call in and see what a small Spanish town can do.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bigastro innovates: competitive economic development

This Thursday, at 8:00pm in the Auditorium Francisco Grau, there will be a meeting to celebrate BIGASTRO INNOVATES: competitive economic development.

The investment that Bigastro makes in new productive sectors diversifies and enriches its enterprise structure. Construction accompanied by commerce, tourism and services forms a suitable combination to confront the challenges of the future.

Projects like the Urban Commercial Centre and the improvement of the industrial sector in the Apatel Enterprise Park support and promote the economic development of the town.

On Friday 23 of February at 8:00pm bigastrenses retailers will debate whether Bigastro needs an Urban Commercial Centre.

With the local elections coming up in May we will probably see a lot more of this sort of promotion.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A slow journey

Anyone trying to get down to the coast via the CV95 yesterday would have had a problem when 300 protesters blocked the route for an hour and a half.

The protesters included members of each political party along with members of "la Vega Baja No Se Vende".

It makes you wonder who in fact does favour the proposed new autovia.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Technology - humbug

It seems my emails are eventually filtering through. My daughter Laura received one of the four emails I sent her three days after it was sent. Even the Post Office can delivers faster than that. One email I sent to two people arrived in one inbox but not the other. So it is hit an miss at the moment.

Somewhere in Cyberspace there must be a virtual depot where unsent emails are kept. This high tech warehouse probably has thousands of emails all waiting to be re-transmitted to the rightful owners. I imagine it is a bit like the airport baggage reclaim lounges which have stacks of cases waiting to be re-directed to the right airport.

Sometime in the future Laura will receive all the other versions of the same message with notes explaining why they weren't delivered on time.

Perhaps not.


Now that I have completed the wedding album and it is all boxed up ready to post, let me introduce my family. This picture was taken at the wedding reception.

From the left: Dave (Laura's boyfriend), Pam, Laura, me and Jemma.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

We can have our say

A total of 57,628 EU citizens resident in Spain have registered their intention to vote in the May 27th municipal elections.

Figures released this week by the census office show that of these over half are British with 31,409 people registered followed by Germans with 8,807, Netherlands 4,103, France 3,271, Belgium 2,185, Italy 2,010, Romania 1,608 and Sweden 1,148. Other EU groups number less than 1,000.

Surprise, surprise though not everything about the Electoral Register is above board.

Reports this week show that the electoral role in 63 Costa municipalities grew twice as much as the number of people registering on the Padrón.

This revelation comes at the back of the scandal in Pego where former mayor Carlos Pascual is alleged to have revived 400 dead people in order to ensure a comfortable win in local elections.

Over the last six months the national statistics institute (INE) has detected possible electoral role irregularities in 187 municipalities throughout Spain.

A very happy couple

Yesterday we went to visit Chris and Linda Walsh at their new house in Lomas de Cabo Roig.

After three years of waiting for it to be built they have finally moved in. The kitchen appliances are all fitted, the lights are on the ceilings, the beds are made and Chris was putting up the last of the curtains on the windows.

To say they were delighted is an understatement. They really didn't want to fly back to England, they wanted to stay for at least another week. Who could blame them, it is a beautiful house and the weather yesterday was glorious. Still it won't be long to Easter when they will be out again.

Chris and Linda "wetting the concrete"

Number 58 Playa Golf

Watch out though Chris, Linda is getting the bug. Each time you come out she will find it more difficult to return to England!

Friday, February 16, 2007

So confusing cont.

When we lived in the UK most of the people we knew were local to the area so we understood them well. Now we live on an urbanisation with people from all over the UK things are a bit different.

When we get together, like we did on Saint Valentine's night, it's like being on the sets of Eastenders, Brookside, Emmerdale and Coronation Street all at the same time.

  • "Coor blimey it ain't af ot in eer."
  • "Or ey queen, watch you moanin about now."
  • "See thee, some barm pots shut door. No wonder its wam in here."
  • "So how r u in yourself."
You get the idea.

Just for good measure we have Norfolk Dave, a couple of Scots and a sprinkling of Irish.

I have a solution though. We only speak to each other in Spanish.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

So confusing

Whilst we are trying to get to grips with Spanish, our teacher is struggling on with English.

Most of the people in our class are from the south of England and so pronounce some of their vowels in ways which sound inconsistent to us northerners. They even try to change a few of their consonant sounds. Of course we are correct and they are wrong!

For example the "o" sound as in lovely which is pronounced more like a long "a" by people south of Watford.

The "a" in bath should be the same as the "a" in cat but listen to any southerner and suddenly it becomes a totally different sound.

Let them ask for a cup of tea and wonder why the "u" sounds more like a "a". We prefer our tea in a cup than a cap.

Is it any wonder the poor girl gets confused. Still it makes you "laff" doesn't it?

Possible problem

Some of the emails I have sent in the last week don't seem to have arrived at the recipients. I tested my SMTP server by sending myself a test message and that worked. So I don't know where the problem lies.

I've had to resort to the ludicrous situation where I send a text message to check whether my emails have arrived. Next stage is to phone to say I am sending a text message advising of an impending email. I might even have to fill my pen with ink and write a letter first!

I've recently sent messages to Andrew and Richard Parry-Jones, Dave Brooks, my brother Brian and my daughter Laura. If you are reading this and haven't received an email in the last couple of days please let me know so I can try and sort this out.

Trial begins

11th March marks the third anniversary of the Madrid train bombings.

The trial of the 29 suspects begins in Madrid at 10:00am this morning. Seven of them, mostly Morrocans, are accused of murder and belonging to a terrorist group. The rest are accused of collaborating with a terrorist group and handling explosives.

The series of bombs devastated four trains killing 191 people and injuring 1755 more. Coming just days before the Spanish general elections, it was thought to be the reason why the socialist government were replaced by a conservative one.

Muchas gracias

Last night's dance at the Pedrera was much better attended than the one at Christmas. The group, PDQ, entertained us with a good selection of tunes from the 60s, 70s and 80s. For me, a live band is preferable to a disco but only if the band are good and PDQ were good.

These socials provide us with an opportunity to get together with people we miss on a day to day basis. It was especially pleasing to see David, who had suffered a stroke when we first arrived at Villas Andrea, strutting his stuff in his cowboy hat and to meet the Spanish couple, Juan and Lourdes, who live on Canada de Andrea.

So many thanks to the Residents' Committee; Alan, Ron, Lynda, Ramon, Carol, Jim and Lynne for your hard work and efforts. You provided us with another night to remember.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sunday morning

There will be a protest meeting about the proposed new layout of the CV95 road from Orihuela to Torrevieja. This protest, "La Vega Baja No Se Vende" (the fertile valley is not for sale), has been organised by groups from San Miguel de Salinas and Bigastro and will be held at 10am, Sunday 18th at Vistabella.

Back in December 2005, the group proposed an alternative route which they say would minimise the damage to the area. This route follows the CV95 onto the CV945 to Los Montesinos and then the AP7 to Torrevieja. To make this work, they suggest that the present toll at Los Montesinos should be dropped.

If the ladies who frequent the CV95 find out, I'm sure they will be there to offer their "support" on Sunday.

Sunday evening

The Municipal Autitorium is honoured to present a concert of music by "la Orquesta Sinfónica de la Vega Baja" which was formed to play experimental music of the region.

"El lago de los cisnes" y "Vals de la Suite de jazz nº 2" de Tchaikowsky, la "viuda alegre" de Franz o la "Danza Hungara nº 5" de Johannes Brahms, are some of the works that the Sinfónica offer under the direction of Ángel Lasheras Canales.

I think we might go to that - there's nothing like a bit of culture before dinner!

Hi ho

The rehearsals for "Blanca Nieves y los siete enanitos" (Snow White and the seven dwarfs) are coming on. Next week we are going to rehearse in the Auditorium Francisco Grau where we will eventually perform to children from the local primary schools.

The biggest problems we face are with the seven dwarfs played by Spaniards from the class that are learning to read and write. The one who says "Look! There is somebody sleeping in my bed!" doesn't seem to realise that she has to be standing by the bed to deliver that line. The next dwarf who says "A girl so beautiful! Who can it be?" stands about four dwarves away. If they came on in the right order these problems would be resolved but they come on differently each time we rehearse.

The most difficult part though is when all seven of them have to say lines together; for example, "Who are you? What are you doing here? Speaking together seems to be just impossible for them.

Ah well, I'm sure it will be sorted out. Hopefully the children will get a laugh out of it, I know we do.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A few facts

Totally boring to Pamela but not to me! As you can see from my statistics, my humble blog has attracted 2,415 visitors loading 5,749 pages.
  • 87% of my visitors were running Windows XP against 4% Mac OS - no Vista users yet!
  • 38% viewed the pages at 1280 x 1024; 38% at 1024 x 768 resolution. Amazingly 4% had monitors displaying 800x600 pixels.
  • 36% were using MS Internet Explorer 7 against 35% using Firefox. It seems that Microsoft have edged back in the browser wars. Before the introduction of IE 7, tabbed browsing in Firefox ruled the roost.
  • 42% were from the UK against 24% from Spain. Incredibly 14% were from the US.
Other countries include China, Portugal, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Germany, Dominica, Singapore, Bulgaria, Malaysia and Italy.

Fascinating stuff - not!

Almost finished

The cartridges arrived yesterday (third time lucky) so I managed to get the final 18 pages of the wedding album printed. I asked the delivery man why they hadn't been delivered on Thursday or Friday. He didn't know anything about Thursday but said there was too much to deliver on Friday.

I've sent Best Prints an email complaining. Apart from anything else they currently offer a free HP bag for orders placed by registered customers and they now use express delivery for all orders. Anything quicker than the nine days I had to wait would be an improvement.

When I had finished printing I went to see Les on the other side of the estate. Les is having problems connecting his analogue phone to VoIPtalk. He has a Linksys adapter which connects to his Internet router and converts his analogue phone to a VoIP signal. There is obviously a problem with the adapter because when he connects his phone the phone light on the adapter stays blank. I brought the Linksys back to my house and tried connecting to my DHCP enabled router and found that it doesn't show a connection to that either. It's not a case of the "lights are on but there is nothing there" the lights aren't even on!

I'm no expert but I'd guess that a VoIP phone connected directly to the ethernet router is Les' best solution.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Empty houses

Half of the houses of the province are either empty or are second homes.

Alicante is the third zone of Spain with the most vacated houses.

Alicante is one of the provinces that in the last five years has been in the forefront of the " real estate boom ". The result is that 43% of the 980,048 houses in the province are empty or are a second residence i.e used for about 45 days per year, according to the last data publicised by National Institute of Estadística (INE).

Now that causes a problem to the economic infrastructure because shops and businesses cannot thrive in areas where homes are either totally unoccupied or are empty for such a large part of the year.

Glorious weather

What a great weekend weather wise. Saturday we had blue skies and very warm sunshine (24 degrees C). Sunday there was thin cloud but it was still nice and sunny and warm.

It must have been warm yesterday because there was a large party of people up at the Pedrera celebrating. They had the bbq's going and the music playing; you could hear them chattering and laughing half a mile away down the hill. We even saw Aurileo, one of our Spanish neighbours, out in his shorts!

This week is going to be busy. Hopefully the ink for my printer will arrive so I can finish off the wedding album. I need to post it to the bride and groom early this week because Lee is over from Hong Kong for the week and Laura is off work for half term.

I've been tracking the parcel of ink on the Internet. According to the courier's system it was out for delivery on Thursday but was taken back, it was out again on Friday and taken back and is now out again this morning. So fingers crossed for third time lucky!

We also need to sort out Pamela's retirement pension application and open an account for her in Bigastro to put it in.

Our friends Chris and Linda are over this week from England to complete on their house at Playa Golf.

It must have been about two years ago when they first put their deposit down so it has been a long process for them.

They have all the legal stuff to finalise and furniture to buy but hopefully there will be some time for us to go over to the house and "wet the concrete" with them.

Of course we also have our Spanish classes to attend, the weekly shopping to do and a whole host of other jobs that need doing. Just as well we don't have to go to work.

I nearly forgot that Wednesday we have the Valentine's Day dance at the Pedrera. That's it, next week we will definitely need a rest!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Stealing water

The Confederación Hidrográfica del Segura (CHS) who are responsible for the management of the Segura have apparently been lax in preventing the illegal use of water from the river. They are accused of not following up properly the sinking of illegal wells and extensions of irrigation systems. The Superior Court of Murcia (TSJM) concluded that the problem was due to negligence of the different directors, the ignorance and the apathy of certain civil employees and the lack of personnel to deal with these cases.

Apparently in Bigastro we consume an average of 225l of water per person. The recommendation is 100-150l per person. So although we are not stealing our water we are not helping to avoid the problem of a drought.

Oh dear

Icente V Celedonio, spokesman of the Liberal Centre in Bigastro, will denounce on Friday before the public prosecutor, Anticorrupción, the ground auction, the license of works and activity, as well as all a series of city-planning irregularities that " have been committed " in sector D-10 of Bigastro.

According to Celedonio, the mayor Jose Joaquin Moya, " granted all class of concessions " to his cousin, Manuel Moya, " for his company " Eurener SL. who intend to assemble solar panels in the premises they have just completed on the other side of the CV95 bypass.

Celedonio says that, in his opinion, serious city-planning irregularities have been committed. He also is challenging the process of auctioning land that was municipal property. Apparently the land adjacent to the main road is not meant to be built upon.

Mind you, at the last Municipal Elections, the mayor admitted that his own house was not legal.

The Yorkshire saying, "they all p*** in the same pot" adequately covers this kind of problem.

England 0 - Spain 1

In freezing conditions England woefully underperformed to slip to their first home defeat under coach Steve McClaren in an international friendly against Spain at Old Trafford.

Spain were on the back foot at the start of each half, but the visitors survived to take control of the match.

So poor were England that it was hard to remember Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas having to make a save.

Well what can I say?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Not just on the beaches in Devon

Spanish police have arrested 52 people and seized 300,000 archaeological artefacts they describe as "of great historic and economic value".

Officers say the items were seized in 68 raids across Spain at 31 sites of Iberian, Roman, Visigoth and Arab cultures.

The raids uncovered objects like bronze statues, ancient coins and columns from digs across the south.

Although that is good news, they missed a couple of relics here in Bigastro.

So glad not to be there

It appears that Winter has come to the UK with a vengeance. As per usual the snow has brought the country to a standstill. Schools are closed, roads are impassible etc.

Poor Jemma though had to drive to work in Wolverhampton at the Outdoor Adventure Playground that she runs. This is the picture she sent from her camera phone. You can bet all the children who didn't go to school today will turn up. Jemma could well have one big snowball fight on her hands!

Meantime it has been gloomy here most of the day with a bit of fine drizzle off and on. The temperature is 20 degrees C, so I can't see us getting any snow. The forecast for the rest of the week is sunshine and getting warmer.

For Mel!

Sorry about this - Mel is still having problems getting his VoIP phone working.

I found Allnet on the Internet but could only get instructions from their German site (the relevant pages are 40 and45). However it seems that you need to disconnect the Allnet router from your Wi-Surf router but leave your computer plugged in. Then type in your web browser. That address should take you to the configuration screen of the Allnet router. Login is Admin with the password admin. Fortunately the menus are in English so you should be able to follow from there which settings you need to apply to change to your VoIPtalk account.

To find the IP address of a Handytone it must be plugged into the LAN and connected to an analogue phone. Press the button on the Handytone, you should hear a menu prompt announcement on your analogue phone. Dial 02 and you should hear the IP Address.

Call me on 83462157 once you have your account working.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Muchas gracias

I know that there are a few people at Villas Andrea who have now signed up with VoIPtalk. Some have been successful and others are having problems because they were supplied with an analogue phone converter which is not listed on the VoIPtalk site.

The first thing that you need to do, as part of the process, is to get into the configuration of the phone converter to change the settings from Wi-Call's to VoIPtalk's. That is not easy if you 1. don't know the IP address of your converter and 2. the username and password to change the configuration.

My first suggestion would be to contact VoIPtalk and ask them if they have specific instructions. If that fails try entering the name of the converter into Google. Hopefully you will then find the site of the company that makes your device along with a downloadable instruction manual.

Anyway many thanks to whoever it was who used me as a referral . I now have a further £2 credit. Hopefully you will get your £2 by getting someone else to sign up.

Limpieza de mi piscina

Those of you who follow this blog may remember that before we went to England I was having problems getting my pool clean.

Yesterday was nice and sunny so I had a go at cleaning it properly. I vacuumed the bottom of the pool to waste instead of through the filter. It took about six inches of water out of the pool but did leave me with sparkling clean water. So it was worth it.

It's just a pity that the water is still way too cold because once the pool was cleaned it looked so tempting I wanted to get in and have a swim. Our Spanish neighbours wouldn't dream of going into their pool until July but I will be in come by April at the latest.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A dire warning


This pest attacks pine and cedar forests in all Mediterranean countries but Southern Europe is most affected. They are highly toxic and extremely dangerous to animals and humans alike. The hairs of the caterpillar can cause anything from mild irritation to the skin to severe allergic reactions that can even be fatal. They MUST NEVER be touched without appropriate protection. The adult moths emerge during the warm months of the summer between July and August. They will travel for many kilometres, searching for a suitable 'host' tree in which to lay their eggs.

The five stage process of larval development takes between four and eight months. At the end of this process, the caterpillars will set off on their mammoth expedition, leaving the tree in a nose to tail procession (hence the name) in order to find soft ground into which they can penetrate. The chrysalis can wait for up to a year for the perfect climate into which new moths emerge at which point, the whole process begins again. The caterpillars feed on pine needles and have been known to desecrate vast areas of forest.

In this area of the Costa Blanca, the pine trees are sprayed to try and prevent this damage but only in areas that are protected or considered to be of natural importance. There are still huge areas of pines that will currently be home for the processionary caterpillar. They are active at night and will be climbing all over the tree both searching for food and constructing nests which are easy to identify. The nests are usually towards the top of the tree or at the end of the branches where they can gain maximum warmth from sunshine.

They are strangely beautiful nests, cocoons of spun silk that glisten in the sunlight. This beauty belies the danger however and they must be treated with extreme caution. It has been suggested by the Spanish that if a nest is disturbed, the caterpillars are able to 'fire' their poisonous hairs in self-protection. ALWAYS wear thick clothes and gloves and protect the eyes with goggles. It is best to remove the nest by cutting the branch on which it is sited to avoid too much disruption and burning it in its entirety in a metal container or suitable fire.

Some people suggest plunging the nest into strong chlorine. When the caterpillars leave the trees, they will 'process' in a long line of up to 300 at a time. Moving nose to tail, the long, wiggly lines are extremely attractive to dogs, cats and small children. They can be swept up using a brush and pan saved especially for this purpose, whilst wearing protection. As horrific as it sounds, they must be incinerated quickly. At the risk of being alarmist, it must be understood that if ingested, it takes only one or two caterpillars to kill a cat, dog, child or vulnerable person.

At the very least, touching the caterpillars will result in skin irritation, at worst, anaphylactic shock and possibly death. If you are even slightly concerned that your pet or child may have come into contact with processionary caterpillars, do not delay a minute, seek immediate medical assistance. Avoid walking children or dogs in pine forests and keep a very close eye on trees in your garden or that of your neighbour. The caterpillar is about an inch long with long brown hairs and yellow 'blotches'.

Taken from the Round Town News

They have some nice books in there

The Municipal Library in Bigastro has again been award a prize for its reading projects by "El Ministerio de Cultura".

The prize has been granted by "la Comisión de Evaluación" for the selection of projects within "del Plan de Fomento a la Lectura", formed by "la Dirección General del Libro, Archivos y Bibliotecas, del Ministerio de Cultura; del Departamento de Educación, Cultura, Juventud y Deporte de la Federación Española de Municipios y Provincias y de la Fundación Coca Cola España".

Phew - imagine how long it takes them to answer their phone calls.

It is not the first time that the Municipal Library of Bigastro has receive a prize. Bigastro was awarded the same prize in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006.

PS I wonder what happened in 2005 - our first full year living here!

PPS The department to contact about this is:- the Main directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, of the Ministry of Culture; of the Department of Education, Culture, Youth and Deport of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces and of the Coca Cola Foundation of Spain.

Having a laugh?

For those who survive the climb up to the cross, the Town Hall have decided to take things a step further.

Pam keeps saying we should exercise more. I don't think she means going this far though. I think a gentle stroll to the village and back is more what she has in mind.

Anyone know?

Why are my lemons orange? In some light conditions they look even more orange than they do in this photograph. There are a few oranges on the tree, courtesy of a graft and they are no more orange coloured than the lemons.

It's not just this one tree either, both trees are the same. Ah well as long as they taste of lemon I don't suppose it matters.

PS It looks like we are going to have a lot of gin and tonics this year!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Eating up the ink

Well, so far I have printed out half of the wedding album and used up almost all of the light magenta ink in my printer and over half of the light cyan. Although there is about three quarters of the yellow ink left, the black, cyan and magenta cartridges are still showing full.

Luckily the process of ordering more ink is simple and painless. When the ink is getting low, the printer software alerts you and points you to an online ordering service called Best Prints. If you order more than 30€ worth the postage is free. At 9,48€ per cartridge for each of the five colours and even more for the high capacity black that is not difficult.

The more I use this HP printer, the more impressed I am with it. I used to be a keen devotee of Epson printers, however the software, the print quality and the sheer versatility of this Photosmart D7360 have converted me.

PS I tried both Jessop's Photo Inkjet paper and HP Premium Plus paper to start with. Although the Jessops paper is whiter and more nuetral, for this job the warmer tone of the HP paper seems best.


We are often amused by Spanish translations into English. For example we found a shop that was selling "Chester Drawers".

The English are quite capable of producing their own. Two of my favourites are:-
  • the patient who thought the doctor told her she had a cute vagina.
  • the student who wrote that having only one wife is called monotony
The masters though of these kind of mistakes are George Bush and David Coleman.
  • It will take time to restore chaos and order - George Bush
  • Don't tell those coming in the result of that fantastic match, but let's have another look at Italy's winning goal.. - David Coleman
The funniest are the double entendres
  • The bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey - Brian Johnston
  • Neil Harvey, standing at leg slip with his legs wide apart, waiting for a tickle - Brian Johnston
  • Rutherford's asking the umpire how many balls he's got left... he's got two - Bryan Waddle
Pam always says we should write down the Spanish - English mistakes when we see them. We must start doing that.

Picky teachers

The Residents' Committee have worked hard to book entertainment for our February 14th dance. They have even gone to the trouble of printing the tickets on nice glossy card. It is just a pity that there is that glaring error of punctuation to spoil them.

I am no expert on either punctuation or grammar but I do know that there should be an apostrophe between the 'e' and the 's' in Valentine's. If they had entitled it "Valentines Dance" that would have been OK but I'm sorry the day belongs to Saint Valentine.

Still I am sure it will be an excellent night, well worth the 6€ ticket price.

Have you got yours?

In a bid to stop any further attempts at burglary; Aurileo Murcia, the builder who lives on our development, has kindly had these passes produced. The idea is that if we put these in the front windscreen of our cars then anyone can easily identify cars that are parked legitimately on the streets. Any vehicle parked without a pass could be considered suspicious.

Of course the real answer to the problem would be for everyone to park their cars on the drives that each house has. Some people though have used their drives as outdoor living space and so have no choice but to park on the road.

We'll give it a whirl and see how it goes.

For mountain goats

If this is the cross I think they are referring to then I would need more than water to get up there!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Silver Service

I took the bold step of subscribing to the VoIP Silver Service yesterday at the princely cost of £2.99 (plus VAT)per month. That immediately gave me £2 more credit and a Manchester phone number for people in the UK to use. I then emailed the friends who we keep in contact with to let them know. Within half an hour I had a phone call from David Brooks who was the ICT System Manager at Anfield when I was there.

David is a great bloke from a great family. What he doesn't know about ICT really isn't worth knowing. Now the school has become the North Liverpool Academy David has a grander title and hopefully a salary to match. It was such a pleasure to hear from him, it made my day. So the £2.99 was well spent.

Something different

The Concejalía de Cultura del Ayuntamiento de Bigastro are putting on a varied program at the Auditorio Francisco Grau to try and please all ages. Thursday they showed Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" and Sunday morning they are screening "Stuart Little" for the children.

They came around the estate yesterday announcing these events via a loudspeaker.

As you can see there are also a couple of concerts to go to. I imagine Coco Illán is intended for the young people in the town. Please excuse the pun but he looks a little negative to me.

Oh yes and following complaints about the state of the roads, the road sweeper came round last night. I think it was about ten o clock when it came down Calle Irlanda.

All this for less than 200€ a year council tax!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

First phone call

We received our first phone call on the new system last night. Our youngest daughter, Laura, had tried to phone the night before when the network was down. We were really pleased that she was able to get through this time.

The call quality was excellent. There wasn't the delay we used to get nor was there the echo of our own voices. It was better than the Skype calls we had made which tended to break up at times. I imagine that is because voice calls get priority over data traffic on our system and even though Skype uses a different port to data it still shares the same bandwidth.

Full marks go to Clear Communications. They said that the microwave/ADSL hybrid system would make the VoIP phone workable and they were right.

Almost there

I've been working a lot on the wedding pictures for Laura and Lee using Serif PagePlus to put the album together. I had considered using Quark XPress but I need to spend more time with that program before using it for something like this.

PagePlus is clever because it allows you to insert pictures without having to embed them in the file. Instead it creates links to the picture files on the hard drive which keeps the PagePlus file small. As you create more pages though the program slows down and with 36 pages completed linking over 500Mbs of pictures it was crashing. Athough my computer has 1Gb of physical memory it was running out of steam. Even the page file that Windows uses was full.

So I've split the PagePlus file into two with pages 1-18 in one new file and 19-36 in another. Even so the second file is slow to load because those pages have the most photographs on them. It looks like I might have to split the files again to print them otherwise I will end up with huge print spooler files which will crash either the computer or the printer.

The irony is that my first proper computer (an Apple Classic II) had 4Mb of physical memory which I thought was more than enough for any task. I understand that to run the new Windows Vista OS 1Gb is recommended. That means that for any serious graphic work you'd need at least 2Gbs or possibly even 4Gbs if you were producing video or a wedding album like I am. That is 1,048,576 times as much memory as that little Apple computer.