Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sensible planning

The association of builders Procosta appealed yesterday to  the political and social  forces of the region to defend the image of the Costa Blanca and save the future economy of the Vega Baja

They maintain that the economy of the region depends on residential  tourism and its derived services.  

Procosta blame the sluggish sales of houses on the poor image that the region has in the UK press. 

Procosta demand a Plan of Territorial Action for the Region  (PACT) that sets out the  city-planning development for the Vega Baja. 

Procosta claim that development of urbanizable land should be seen as part of an overall plan which takes account of the problems of each municipality. Too often, they say,  the development of towns becomes embroiled in social and ecological arguments that lead to piecemeal development. In other words it isn't just about building houses without considering the other services that go with them.

A lucky man

Those of you who follow this blog regularly may be wondering why there have been no posts for the last two weeks. That is because we visited England where we were invited to two birthday parties on consecutive weekends.

The first was Andrew's 18th birthday party. Andrew ,who is the son of our very good friends and ex neighbours Angela and Hugh, has been having adult parties for his birthday since he was born. Sadly this one may be the last because hopefully he will be going to University later this year to study law.

For the first time the party had to be held inside the house, not because it was raining but because the lawn was too wet to walk on. Still it didn't dampen the atmosphere.

The second party was for Dave who is the boyfriend of our youngest daughter Laura. Laura and Dave live in a flat in Sale so the party was held at his friend Liam's mother's house. A kind break in the gloomy weather provided us with warm sunshine all day.

Many thanks to Jane for inviting us and hosting the party in the first place.

In between partying we did a bit of retail therapy at the Trafford Centre, the Outlook Village and in Manchester.

I also furthered my knowledge of English beers courtesy of Dave who kindly introduced me to Dizzy Blond at the Railway and reacquainted me with Robinson's at the Volunteer.

I also sampled Bombadier at the J.P Joule (the man who gave his name to the unit of electricity). We also visited The Waterside in Sale for a pint (or two) of Tetley's. The highlight though was Sam Smiths Tadcaster brewed best bitter at Sinclair's Oyster Bar in the heart of Manchester. Dave's father apparently used to go there before every United home game for a pre match drink. I could see why. It had to be both my favourite pub in the area and my favourite beer of the trip.

We also popped over to the Wirral to check on Pam's father and whilst we were there met up with my good friends Dave and Pete Brooks who I used to work with. It was great to chew over old times and to catch up on their news.

Of course the main purpose of our visit was to see our daughters Jemma and Laura. We are lucky to have such wonderful daughters who look after us so well when we visit. We miss them a lot and look forward to seeing them both here in Spain and on our trips to England.

We'd like to thank all those people who made our stay so enjoyable especially Dave and Laura who put up with us in their flat. We were sorry that we couldn't see more people - maybe another time.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A thirst for Fiestas

For those who can't get enough partying; Almoradí, Benijófar and Guardamar are having their Moors and Christians fiestas this week. There are plenty of activities planned including sports, concerts and of course parades.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More pictures

I've added pictures to Our Spanish Album including more of Alicante on pages 8 and 9. To view them click on the link on the left under Our Web Sites. Click on the thumbnails in the album to see larger versions.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Virgen del Carmen

Sailors gathered at the port of Santa Pola to watch the traditional offering of flowers commemorating their missing companions. The thousands of flowers thrown in to the water apparently turned the dock into a "sea of petals".

In Torrevieja there was a service held in church followed by a procession of the Virgin del Carmen to the port. The fishing boat Verónica Ruso then carried the effigy in a marine procession

At the end of the procession, the Musical Union Torrevejense, accompanied by the choirs of the city, played Salve Marinera. The celebration culminated with a fireworks castle.

Fishing, along with the production of salt, were of course the main industries of Torrevieja. Now there are only a few boats fishing from the port but the sailors still honour their patron.

The Song of Summer

Today, between 4:pm and 8pm, RADIO SURESTE (88,3 F.M.) will be broadcasting live from the Pedrera swimming pool.

No doubt there will be the usual free gifts and dedications.

Get your dancing shoes on

There will be a CELEBRATION REMEMBER of + RADIO with BARTUAL on Saturday 21st July from midnight in the Polideportivo.

At the decks will be; Dj Martin (Metro), Dj Justo, Dj Jose Coll, Dj Migue, Dj Charo Campillo, Dj Martin (Vinyl), Dj Adriana Cases (+ Club) and Dj Xufa.

The entrance fee will be 5 €.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Just a reminder

The first meeting for the International Gastronomic Day is to be held at the Social Centre on Thursday the 19th July at 9:30pm.

The deal is that you prepare the food and the Town Hall pay for the ingredients so nobody is out of pocket.

I've haven't spoken to anyone on the Resident's Committee about this. However, I understand they were approached and asked to coordinate our participation.

Unfortunately we won't be able to attend the meeting but would still like to make a contribution.

Moors and Christians in Orihuela

Floral Offering to Saint Justa and Rufina in Orihuela officially opened the celebrations of the Reconquista that will last until the 21st of July.

The 18 comparsas (ten Moors and eight Christians) comprising over a thousand of people participated in the parade of Floral Offering which began last night at 7:30 pm and lasted until 10:00 pm.

After the traditional Offering, Saints Justa and Rufina were taken from the church of Santa Justa to the Cathedral.

The main parades will be on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st at 9:00 pm. This year the Moor groups will parade on Friday and the Christian groups on Saturday.

The route they follow will be C/ Aragón, Plaza San Sebastián, C/ José Antonio, Calderón de la Barca, C/ Loaces, C/ Alfonso XIII, finishing in the Plaza de Alfonso XIII.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Seriously mad

Could this be the reason that there was an edict banning carretillas in Bigastro last year?

Sociedad Unión Musical Bigastro

For those of you wondering how good the local band really are, I found these videos on YouTube posted by "umbigastro". I hope he/she doesn't mind me posting the link to them.


Lemons from Bigastro

If you find lemons with the label "La Perdiz" and a picture of a partridge on them you will know that they have come from Bigastro.

Perales & Ferrer have been packing and distributing lemons from the area since 1975. They annually pack about 45,000 metric tonnes of fruit per year which are then sold in shops and supermarkets around the world.

We can highly recommend them for you gin and tonics!

Found them at last

These are the bungalows that Idearco plans to build at the top of our road.

La Pedrera Hotel & Health Spa
Completion Date:12 /2008
Situated in Bigastro
Consisting of 32 bungalows of 3 and 2 bedrooms, located in the superb green area of the Paraje Natural La Pedrera and Paraje Natural de La Loma Ancha.

The Bungalows of La Pedrera also come fully furnished and with white-goods. Pre-Installed Air Conditioning and the Idearco´s best qualities, and everything from 196,500€.

So which ar they going to build first - the health spa or the bungalows?

The folly outside San Miguel

The Castillo de Conesa on the Rebate road from San Miguel de Salinas was once a Yeso factory.

Fifteen years ago Don Antonio Conesa bought the building and surrounding land which includes 300 metres of caves and underground tunnels with a vision to make his new purchase the (El) Alhambra of the area.

The castle itself is still being renovated and will be open to the public as a museum next year. By all accounts it will be well worth a visit because the interior is apparently stunning.

Friday, July 13, 2007

True stories are the best

Imagine the surprise that a couple had when they found a naked intruder in their bed.

The couple were staying in a hotel near Murcia. The man had climbed into the bedroom through an open window and was apparently having his wicked way with the wife who thought it was her husband. When the husband awoke he chased the man out of the bed. The man was last seen running away pulling up his trousers.

Sometimes it is pink

La Salina de Torrevieja can appear very pink on certain days. This is due to the high levels of crustaceans in the water.

As the water evapourates it leaves a salt crust on the banks

People put chairs in the lake so they can sit and
benefit from the healing properties of the salt

A busy Summer

The Summer  cultural programme for Torrevieja totals 150 activities that will be developed for the months of  July, August and September. Included in the programme are theatre, music, courses, exhibitions, galas and workshops. So you can learn how to navigate, listen to international bands or watch a traditional zarzuela. The choice is yours.

Watch out for "el Festival Internacional de Bandas de Música"  and  "el II Festival Latino Cultura del Mediterráneo".  Also recommended is the concert with Fito and Fitipaldis on Saturday 18th August at the Park Antonio Soria.

Informatinon about places, dates and times of all events should be available from the Tourist Information kiosk by the fountain on the front or at the Tourist Information office near the Town Hall.

Flying yorkie

We walked down to the market yesterday because quite frankly we need the exercise and in any case short journeys are never good for the car.

As we passed this house we heard a dog growl. When we turned to see what it was a Yorkshire Terrier flew off the top of the garden wall  in front of me and landed seven foot down on the pavement. 

Cats often make such jumps but rarely dogs. Anyway the scruffy mite looked a little dazed, picked itself up and tried to find a way back into the garden.

Of course all the gates were locked so there was no way back in for the little pooch. I did think of picking it up and throwing it back over the gate. I reasoned that It had survived one fall but it might not survive two. So we left the dog to wonder how it could regain entry to its home.

The dog wasn't there when we walked back so presumably the owners had returned and let it back in. I expect they wondered how the b***** had got out in the first place. Just as well we didn't see them because our Spanish isn't up to that sort of explanation.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bottle or tap?

Apparently the City of New York is trying to persuade its people to give up bottled drinks and consume tap water instead to help protect the environment.

It has launched an advertising campaign to promote the cause, with local restaurants encouraged to join in.

City officials say their campaign will save people money, and reduce waste.

According to environmental groups, four out of five plastic water bottles end up on landfill sites and the production process contributes to global warming.

The distribution process sometimes involves shipping water halfway around the world.

Here in Spain most people only drink bottled water. Millions of bottles must be sold each week in shops and supermarkets throughout the country, particularly in Summer. Apart from the plastic waste there are the transport costs to consider.

Would it hurt to drink the tap water? 

It can't be July

The weather report for today is sunny.

Either we are having very local weather or they got it wrong because it is actually raining!!

The weather has been mixed for the last few days. We've had clouds and then sunshine and cooler temperatures.

Still it could all change by lunchtime and we could be basking in 30 degrees by then.

The biting season

Some areas are plagued with mosquitoes, particularly those by the salt lakes, so I suppose we are lucky to only get a few. Even still the b****** can inflict nasty bites. I've had two on my back in the last week and got one on my ankle the other night. I wouldn't mind but I had sprayed my legs to stop them. Didn't put this little blighter off though.

Now we know why people who work on the campo wear long sleeve shirts and trousers.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Come on you oldies!!

Well we wanted either Lewis Hamilton or at least Fernando Alonso to win the British Grand Prix. We wanted Rafael Nadal to win at Wimbledon for Spain. At least Robbie McEwen survived to win the first stage of the Tour de France.

Tonight at 10:30pm, the seven-a-side football team from Villas Andrea play their first game at the Polydeportivo. Let's hope that they show that age and experience can outmatch youth and fitness.

League of Nations

Torrevieja now has over 100,000 registered inhabitants of which more than half are foreigners. To be precise there are 52,707 foreigners from a hundred different nationalities living there according to the City Council.

The largest group are from the United Kingdom with 12,352 citizens, the Scandinavian Countries with 5,797, and Germany with 3,638.

Of the other groups there are 2,993 Moroccans; 2,796 Russians; 2,516 Colombians; 2,224 Ukrainians; 1,891 Bulgarians; 1,849 Rumanians; 1,802 Ecuadorians; 1,420 Brazillians; 1,381 Belgiums; 1,045 Argentinians and 1,024 Italians. With less of a thousand of people registered there are from: Ireland (906), China (725), Chile (669), Uruguay (615) Lituania (578), the Netherlands (542), France (524) and Poland (508).

So when you visit the town don't expect the people you meet to be Spanish because the chances are they aren't.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


From building site

via rough soil

to jungle in 2 and a half years

Damm it

The Tour de France started in London and I missed it.

The prologue time trial was held around the centre of London. Today the first stage runs from London to Canterbury.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Downturn in prices

A report in the Costa Blanca News says that downturns in resale house prices have been recorded in Torrevieja and Orihuela, as well as in the Mar Menor area.

The largest fall – a drop of 3.65 per cent – was recorded in Orihuela, with a less pronounced decrease of 0.44 per cent in Torrevieja. In Murcia reductions of 2.36 per cent and 3.37 per cent have occurred in San Javier and Los Alcázares respectively since January 2007.

The research has been carried out by the specialist internet site Facilisimo.com which receives more than two million visits each month.

The slowdown in the market has also made construction companies cautious about increasing the prices of new homes. Alicante builders’ association Provía revealed this week that 80 per cent of construction companies have said they will not put up prices. And over half of Provía’s members revealed they will not launch any new projects for the time being.

They have cited large investments in current projects, a lack of land for building and an unstable property market as the most important reasons for this.

According to Provía’s report this week, just 15 per cent of builders think that their sales will increase. And Antonio Navarro, president of Vega Baja builders’ association Procosta, admitted that building in the area has been suffering a crisis since 2006.

According to Sr Navarro, the causes are the increase in mortgage interest rates and the bad image of the area in the UK.

“The Costa Blanca was a nice and quiet place to live ten years ago,” he said.

“Now it is an area with many problems because of the thousands of people looking for jobs.”

Procosta’s president also stated that property prices had trebled in the last ten years, though the building companies have seen their profits reduced in the last two years.

And he said town halls in the Vega Baja must come to an agreement to promote the tourism industry.

“The building and the tourism industries have been creating far more job opportunities than any others,” he said at his fortnightly meeting with the media.

This is a major problem for Bigastro where 50% of the workforce are employed in construction. The ruling PSOE party are keen to promote tourism in the town which is why they supported the aparthotel project at the Pedrera.

Vista Alegre

I see they've started work on the paseo Vista Alegre in Torrevieja.

The plan is to rip up the paving and the old street architecture and replace it with new. At a cost of 3.2m € I'm sure it will look wonderful when it is completed. The company concerned estimate that it will take eight months to finish the work.

My question is why did they start now? Why not wait until September when the main holiday season is finished? It would still have been completed before Easter.

A busy weekend for London

Amid heightened security there are three major events happening in London this weekend.
  • Wimbledon finals
  • Live Earth concert at Wembley
  • The start of the Tour de France at Hyde Park
Let's hope that they all go well and there are no threats to disrupt their smooth running.

Friday, July 06, 2007

George Melly RIP

The son of a wool broker and an actress, George Melly was born in Liverpool in 1926 and educated at Stowe.

He joined the Navy at the end of World War II before joining jazz trumpeter Mick Mulligan's band, travelling the length and breadth of Britain.

"They were terrific times we had. Hard drinking and squalid digs but absolutely no regrets," Melly recalled.

After quitting music in 1962 to concentrate on writing, he resumed his jazz career in the 1970s and went back on the road with John Chilton's Feetwarmers.

He was renowned for his zoot suits, jaunty fedoras and outrageous ties

Away from show business, his main recreation was fly fishing - a passion he indulged at the mile-long stretch of the River Usk he owned beside his holiday home in Wales.

The jazzman continued to perform despite collapsing on stage in January during a concert with his band, Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen.

"I don't fear death," he said recently. "I'm a fatalist, although I would rather death came as a shock to me.

"I've always said I wanted to die either coming off stage with the applause in my ears or of a terminal stroke on a river bank with two trout by my side."

Liverpool's Lord Mayor Paul Clark said: "Liverpool has lost one of its most cherished sons. George Melly was more than just a jazz legend, his contribution to literature, art and journalism ensured his place as one of Britain's cultural greats of the 20th century."

Hear hear. How could you forget "Nuts" and "Son of Nuts"?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Summer has arrived

The San Juan fiestas, which came to a close last Sunday, mark the start of Summer in this region. The week long partying in many towns in the Alicante province culminates with the night of the Crema when huge satirical sculptures made from polystyrene and wood are burnt. It is very similar to the Spring burning of fallas in Valencia but on a  smaller scale.

At midnight in Alicante a spectacular firework display behind the Santa Barbara castle signals the lighting of the first Hogueras in the city. As the crowds watch the fires burning they shout  "impotente" to the firemen who reply by soaking them with water.

The party then moves to the beach where families have built their own bonfires and continues until dawn.

I don't suppose a lot of work got done on the Monday!

Too much concrete will hit tourism

Saturation building on the Costa Blanca has come under criticism again this week with a  Greenpeace report which labels the construction model  as ‘unsustainable’.

The environmental pressure group’s annual investigation into the state of Spain’s coastline – entitled ‘destrucción a toda costa’ – was made public on Tuesday.

In the 48-page section dedicated to the Valencia region, the ecologists denounce that construction is the ‘principal threat for the preservation of the coast’.

Greenpeace’s investigation follows a damning report by MEPs who visited Spain in March, which spoke of  the ‘greed and avarice’, which has led to large-scale environmental destruction.

Environment minister, Cristina Narbona says that hotel owners are worried about the negative affect on tourism produced by excessive building. After all, nobody wants to spend their two weeks on a building site watching cranes operating all day.

Amongst other towns, Torrevieja is criticised for turning farm and rural land into a ‘cement and brick landscape’.

According to the report, the conversion rate in the last two decades is running at a massive 1,600 per cent.

A list has also been produced which charts illegal building in coastal municipalities.

In this Greenpeace states that 8,000 illegal homes are under judicial investigation in Orihuela.

The ecologists also pick out San Miguel de Salinas were they say there are 11 illegal development projects affecting 200 homes.

It also states that the Valencia regional government has formed a partnership with the regional mapping institute to trace illegal building.

By studying aerial photographs taken over a number of years, they will be able to identify properties built without permission.

According to Greenpeace, the regional government has started legal action, which will see bulldozers move in to demolish some of the homes within six months.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

What an honour

Each year Bigastro elects various Queens for the August Fiesta.

One of the important selections are the representatives of the "Third Age". I dare say that it is probably the only category we are eligible for! In this case it is a couple who are chosen.

This year we are pleased to say that the chosen couple are Beryl and John from Villas Andrea.

We can't imagine a better choice and hope that they have a fantastic Fiesta. We want them to know that we are proud of them and will give them our full support at all the events they attend.

Calling all cooks

One of the highlights of the Bigastro August Fiesta is the International Gastronomic day when the different nationalities living here produce food which is typical of their respective countries.

The first year we were here there was a strong British contingent offering all sorts of traditional foods from baked beans, sausage and mash to crumble and custard. There was even a delicious scouse which the Spaniards found hard to understand.

Last year there was nothing - not even a pork pie. Frankly it was embarrassing!

So this year we need to make the effort to show what we can do. We need as many people as possible to attend the first meeting at the Social Centre on the 19th July at 9:30pm.

The deal is that you prepare the food and the Town Hall pay for the ingredients so nobody is out of pocket.

I understand that the Residents' Committee have been approached to organise this. When they come round - give them your support.

Let's show Bigastro what good food we British can make.

Alinghi won the America's cup

Alinghi won the America's Cup to become the first European team to defend sailing's most prestigious prize the "Ould Mug".

Yesterday's race was full of drama with the New Zealand boat having to make a penalty turn after they attacked the Swiss boat head on forcing them to swerve to avoid collision.

Alinghi nearly missed the advantage that the penalty gave them though when their boat came to a halt after the spinnaker pole jumped off the mast. However, they still managed to finish two seconds ahead to win the cup by 5 races to 2.

Hopefully that means that the America's Cup will return to Valencia in four years time.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mackerel sky

In July we usually just have small white cumulus clouds appear but on Sunday we had this perfect mackerel sky.

Mackerel sky, mackerel sky. Never long wet and never long dry. In this case it was dry.

Entertainment for July

Throughout July Bigastro is offering a festival to its neighbors based on concerts and cinema.

On Saturdays, locals and visitors will be able to enjoy different types of music including reggae, roots, Latin-jazz and pop-rock in the Calle Acequia and on Thursdays films will be screened in the various parks of Bigastro.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Concert for Diana

What a mixed bag that was; lots of old timers mixed in with some younger talent and a spell of ballet for good measure.

Duran Duran still look and sound good. Bryan Ferry looks better than he has for a while but sounds awful. Status quo both look and sound shot at. As for Will Young - well best not say anything.

Of the newer acts Nelly Furtado, Lily Allen and Joss Stone showed how good female solo artists can be and the Feeling and Orson showcased their unique styles well. Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas should cover those knees up though!

Rod Stewart was a popular choice as were Take That.

Best of all though was P Diddy who sang "I'll be missing you" with the lines; "ten years ago Princess Diana went to a better place" and "today we celebrate her life and I dedicate this song to her". He is the man.

Of course Sir Elton opened and closed the show as only someone of his standing can.

So a good night's viewing. We can now look forward to the Live Earth concert next Saturday.