Thursday, April 30, 2009

Peace returns to Casa El Willo


The shame is that Jemma and Sommer could only stay with us for a few days. Yesterday we took them back to Alicante airport for their flight to Birmingham.

Although it is nice to have the house back to ourselves, the girls  were great company so we shall miss them. Still we have the fiesta this weekend to look forward to, the May fair in Torrevieja and San Isidro next weekend.

On their way to Rome

Having been born in Manchester and having a staunch United fan in the family, we had to watch the Champions League semi-final first leg last night. We are glad we did because it was a thoroughly engaging match; especially if you were a United fan.

Those of you who watched the match will agree that the score line could have been much worse for Arsenal. Whilst Van de Saar had a relatively easy game at his end, the Arsenal keeper had his work cut out to prevent a 3 or 4-0 score line which would have all but eliminated Arsenal from the competition.

I’m sure I don’t need to repeat the result but I will; MANCHESTER UNITED 1 ARSENAL  0.

Watch out for these

Good weather brings jellyfish to the local coasts and whilst most are relatively harmless, theimage Portuguese man o’ war isn’t one of them. A cluster of around 50 of these creatures have been spotted off the coast of San Pedro del Pinatar.

Although they were identified five miles off shore, Cartagena city hall revealed that one had been seen on a local beach.

The Portuguese man o' war (Physalia physalis)is infamous for swarming in groups of thousands and for the very painful sting produced from its tentacles.



Stings usually cause severe pain to humans, leaving whip-like, red welts on the skin which normally last up to three days.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

La Fiesta de la Cruz


Let’s hope they perform a little longer than Los Micrófenos did last year!

The investigation continues

The ex- socialist mayor of Bigastro, José Joaquín Moya, and an industrialist have been called to make their declarations in court concerning the granting of a license to build a solar farm at La Pedrera. The industrialist concerned is related to Inmaculada Martínez, second in command to the mayor.

In relation to the accusation that council workers all knew about and turned a blind eye  to the supposed irregularities, the mayor, Raúl Valerio Medina says that there is no evidence to prove this. In an official statement, he adds that the council workers honour and professionalism must be respected. 

First blood

The first year we were here, I was so desperate to try the pool that I was in there during early March. The thermometer might have said 21 but the water still felt bloody cold.

Since then I have become more circumspect. However if visitors want to try the water, who am I to stop them.

Jemma and Sommer braved it yesterday for a good twenty minutes. Although it felt icy when they first entered, they soon got used to the cold water and even managed a smile for the camera.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Better late than never


We were out early yesterday for an appointment in Orihuela so I didn’t have a chance ot look at the weather for this week.

Looks like we are in for some fine dry weather at last. The only blot on the landscape is the wind. We don’t mind a breeze to cool us down but anything stronger is a pain. After al, you can’t have a decent kip on a sunbed when the wind is gusting across you.

Swine flu in Spain

The Ministry of Public Health has confirmed that one of the suspected cases of swine flu in Valencia has been confirmed, thus becoming the second confirmed victim in Spain.

The 24-year-old man is in La Fe hospital and travelled to the Riviera Maya in the same group at the other confirmed patient in Almansa.

Doctors say that although the patient is infected with the A/H1N1 virus, it is very weak and, as in the case of the Almansa patient, could be discharged from hospital within a few hours 

The other 11 members of the same group, a party of students from Valencia University, were dismissed yesterday.


Three other suspect cases in the Valencia region - another in Valencia, one in Torrevieja and one in San Juan de Alicante - have been discounted. 

A plan of campaign

The Council of Environment and Health in Bigastro have initiated a campaign to  improve the civic behaviour and the well-being of bigastrenses with regard to health, waste and noise.

The main objectives are to:-

  • keep the roads and the public areas clean
  • to encourage proper recycling and the safe disposal of rubbish
  • to encourage people to be quiet in public thoroughfares

Of the three, I would say the last one will be the most difficult to achieve. Spaniards seem to be noisy by nature; a visit to the Centro de Salud will convince you of this.

Like daughter - like mother

It looks like the Jade Goody saga won't go away in the Sun newspaper. Now her mother has taken over where Goody left off but has gone one better.

Yesterday, Jackiey Budden was apparently jetting off to Tenerife for a holiday. When she was asked at the airport check-in, what was in her luggage she quipped, "only a gun".

The 51-year-old was then strip-searched and quizzed for 45 minutes.

Police finally let her go, but she almost missed the flight to Tenerife after the captain refused to take her.

I thought everyone knew not to attempt joking with the people at airport check-in.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A new facility in Bigastro




The Observatorio Internacional de la Huertas Mediterráneas will be opened this Wednesday, 29th of April at 7pm.

You can find information about this project by going to




Lo siento

Yesterday we were up early again. This time we were collecting Jemma and her friend Sommer from the airport.

Sadly they can only stay a few days.

Of course their presence in the spare room limits access to the Internet to my netbook. So if my blog is a little short on postings for the next couple of days or so you'll understand the reason why.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Just some photos to show you.


A view of Villena from the castle


Archery practice in the Castle


Was the rock there first? The tree is growing over it in this square in Ibi.


View from the Font Roja in Ibi.

Notice how green the landscape is in comparison with the Vega Baja.

Busy busy busy

Yesterday was out big day out –a  coach trip to Ibi as part of the cultural week.

One thing it taught us was not to trust our teacher Eduardo.

First off he had us down at the bus stop in Bigatro at 8:30am for a coach that wasn’t due to leave until 9am. Half an hour less time in bed is not good. It may take us some time to forgive him for that.

Eduardo had told us we were to visit a toy factory and museum in Ibi. What we actually did was visit the castle in Villena,. Then the Medieval Market and museum in the city.

After lunch in Ibi, we finally walked down to the Toy Museum which was closed for refurbishment! So we ended up visiting the Museum of Biodiversity in the town. And then if that wasn’t enough, we visited the Torretes-FontRoja Biological Station nearby. A lot of walking ,much of which was up and down steep hills and we never saw a single toy.

Having promised to give one of the young students a lift back to Almoradi, we didn’t get back home until just after 9:30pm at which time we badly needed a cup of tea.

Now today we have go to Alcante airport for 10am to pick up our daughter Jemma and her friend who are staying with us for a few days. And tomorrow, Pam has an appointment in Orihuela for an x-ray.

Goodness knows when I will find the time to write anymore on this blog.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fiesta dates

Thanks to the intrepid scout, John Thorpe, I now have the information about the Fiesta at the Holy Cross;

Saturday 2nd May

  • 19.30 onwards floral dressing of the Cross
  • 22.00 onwards Fiesta Flamenca

Sunday 3rd May

  • 11.30 Union Band of Bigastro parade around the calles
  • 12.00 Mass
  • 14.00 Paella Gigantica
  • 17.00 Games for the children

The Romeria for San Isidro will take place on Saturday 9th May.

La Pedrera

From time to time I keep mentioning La Pedrera in this blog. Those of you who don’t know Bigastro may wonder what it is I am talking about.

La Pedrera literally means the stone quarry; so at some point that is what the land was used for i.e. to provide  limestone for the area.

The leisure zone of La Pedrera, with a surface area of 502,420 square metres belongs to the town. The reservoir nearby, which shares the same name, has a capacity of 245 cubic hectometres making it the largest store of water in the Alicante province.

Since 1922,  30,000 Mediterranean pines have been planted in an area of 200,000 square metres at La Pedrera.  Although the trees  are not indigenous to this part of Spain, they have flourished.

The proximity of the marsh to the area allows for a great diversity of fauna and flora in the zone.

In addition many birds use the hill as as hunting territory. Among them are several pairs of kites, magpies, owls, sparrow hawks, woodlarks and green finch.

The bastard snake and the ocelado lizard are the most significant reptiles. Foxes and hares are the most habitual mammals.

Another question

San Isidro has been celebrated in Bigastro for many years. The Romería in honour of the Saint has taken place in several locations: in 1959 he was taken to La Pedrera, then later to El Cabezo. That was when the tradition to eat lettuces began.

Until then there wasn’t a commission of San Isidro. Instead, group of people led by Joaquin Mª (the Lieutenant Mayor) took charge of the Saint.

The celebrations for the Saint ceased, until in 1999 when the Comparsa “Los que no perdonan*” revived them and took charge of carrying the Saint. The new location for the Romeria was in the area denominated, La Pedrera (the stone quarry).

From that rebirth was formed the 1st Commission of San Isidro with Srta: María Dolores Sanchez Más as President.

Every year since then, the Commission have organised a Romeria up to the Hermitage at La Pedrera for San Isidro.

Since the procession passes through Villas Andrea, it has become a popular event with the British residents, some of who walk with the Saint on his route from the town.

Now the question is, what day will the Romeria be held on because it changes from year to year.

*"Los que no perdonan" is the Spanish title of the 1960 film "The Unforgiven" directed by John Huston, starring Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn, Audie Murphy, John Saxon, Charles Bickford, Lillian Gish, Albert Salmi, Joseph Wiseman and June Walker.

St George

Did you remember that it was St George’s day yesterday?

St George or San Jorge as he is known here is Spain was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr.

Saint George is the patron saint of Aragon, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia, as well as the cities of Amersfoort, Beirut, Bteghrine, Cáceres, Spain, Ferrara, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana, Gozo, Pomorie, Qormi, Lod, and Moscow, as well as a wide range of professions, organizations, and disease sufferers.imageimage

Although the day is now largely ignored in England, in Alcoy,where he is the patron saint, they have a special procession for him.

The only time he seems to get mentioned in England is when people put up his flag to spur the national football team on.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What a mess

Although the effects of the economic crisis might seem bad here in Spain, they are obviously a lot worse in Britain.

Yesterday, in his speech, Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer, defended the "extraordinary actions" laid out in his Budget and stood behind the plan to raise high earners' tax to 50 per cent as well as his forecast that the UK would recover from recession by the end of the year.

The Chancellor acknowledged that the move to increase the tax rate for people earning more than £150,000 a year from 40 per cent to 50 per cent was "extraordinary" but said: "These are, I'm afraid, extraordinary times."

The Chancellor also announced that the highest earners will lose valuable tax breaks on pension savings, as part of a package of measures that will see the tax grab from high earners raising up to £5.5 billion a year - an average of £18,333 annually per person.

The surprise new measures - which mean Britain will have the highest top rate of any major economy in the developed world - came as Mr Darling was forced to lay bare the true extent of Britain's levels of borrowing in his Budget.

In the worst economic forecast since the Second World War, he said he planned to borrow another £700 billion over the next five years, taking the national debt to £1.4 trillion.

Darling forecast that GDP would shrink by 3.5 per cent this year — the worst contraction since 1946 — but would grow by 1.25 per cent during 2010.

However, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that the UK will remain in recession during 2010, when it expects GDP to shrink by 0.4 per cent and that the downturn over this year will be worse than the Chancellor's prediction, with the economy set to contract by 4.1 per cent.

I guess that means we won't be getting the 1.3 euros to the pound that some were predicting any time soon

The library, a space for permanent education.

Today is the Día del libro so at 4pm in the computer room at the Auditorium, the Alfabetización I group of adults from the EPA will be getting hands on experience with the new technology and the Internet.

I hope it all goes well for them. I have bitter experiences of such events where computers crashed, the Internet connection went down or the students managed to delete important system files.

I well remember one particular course where we were introduced to computer graphics on a BBC model B. For the final session we were taken to a special room where the College housed its state-of-the-art Unix system. The guy in charge made the mistake of leaving a group of art teachers alone to play with it. When he came back there was a message on the screen telling him the system had encountered a fatal error. At that point we made a hurried exit and drove home. I'm sure that won't happen today.

On Thursday 30th at 4pm, a rep from Codex bookshop will be talking about books, authors and the celebrations for the Centenary of the birth of Miguel Hernandez which will take place next year.

An evening of culture.

Whilst we were in Callosa, Eduardo asked us if we would like to visit one of the secondary schools in Orihuela rather than have a Spanish lesson on Thursday. Keen to avoid the possibility of work, the majority voted to go to Orihuela.

If you were asked to prepare three events to fit in with the theme of a cultural week, what would you come up with? You might consider a trip to a museum or an historic building. On the other hand a demonstration of ancient crafts by artisans might spring to mind. Whatever you thought of would not come close to our experience yesterday.

For the first session, we were shepherded into the school gym where we were confronted with a guy who was either going to turn out to be Chemical Ali or Johnny Ball. He was either going to blow us all up or amuse us. P1000854

Fortunately his intention was to amuse us with the type of experiments that science teachers would perform when they wanted to show off. The guy was well prepared but did show scant regard for health and safety in handling potentially dangerous chemicals. For example, he accidentally blinded a poor girl with his first demonstration by spraying ethanol into her eye. Hopefully, her sight was fully recovered before she went home.

For the next session we were taken into the more comfortable surroundings of a lecture theatre. At the front was a rather scruffy looking man on a chair. We really weren’t sure what to expect having just survived a session with the mad scientist.

What we got was a half hour lesson in relaxation therapy. Try to imagine a room full of silent Spaniards, all with their eyes closed listening to the soft ones of a man’s voice. I know it sounds unbelievable but that is what happened. As a Spanish lady behind said, “he’s got the whole world asleep”. It didn’t work for me though. Straining to understand what he was saying, meant that I was far from relaxed.

To be honest, my first thought was that he might be trying to hypnotise us so I deliberately kept my eyes wide open to avoid going under. I recall seeing a stage hypnotist in France once; there was no way I was going to end up at the front standing on one leg braying like a donkey.

Then we moved on to the cafeteria for refreshments. In the middle of the room were three tables groaning under the weight of food. Seeing that amount, I imagined there was more than enough for a crowd twice the size. No , no, no – apart from being loud, the one thing Spaniards are good at is demolishing a table of food and they don’t have to be invited to get stuck in. Within five minutes there wasn’t a crumb left on a plate.

Suitably replenished, we were invited to attend the third session where apparently we would be told about hypertension and have our blood pressure taken. Like the News of the World reporter in a brothel, we politely made our excuses and left. We’d had enough of ‘culture’ by then.

What can I say to sum the evening up? As cultural experiences go it was certainly different.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A very good idea

The Alicante provincial tourism board has asked the government to follow the example set by the Greek government by scrapping the airport taxes airline companies have to pay.

The move is being backed by leading Valencia-based hotel chain Servigroup, the hotel owners association Hosbec and low fare airline company Ryaniar.

The move by the Greek government will force down the cost of flying there and make it more economical for airlines. In recent years countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, which are direct rivals to Alicante and the Costa Blanca, reduced their airport taxes to the point where they are now subsidising airlines that cannot sell all of their seats.

However, it will be difficult for Spain to follow suit because its taxes are the highest in Europe and the decision to scrap them, at least until October, has to be made at central government level.

Good practice


If you don’t fancy the concert, then you can take the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to recognise numbers in Spanish.

Time to show off their talents



A concert featuring the classes for Saxophone, Oboe and Flute from the Bigastro School of Music.

The students will demonstrate their evolution in the world of music by playing as individuals and in diverse groups.

Our trip yesterday

It is cultural week in Orihuela so we abandoned our Spanish class to visit Callosa del Segura and immerse ourselves in the history and culture of the neighbouring town.

We took in the town’s museum which is largely dedicated to the hemp industry for which Callosa is famous. We visited the Semana Santa museum to view the magnificent pasos. Then we had a tour of the church and finally the Belen museum which houses the figures and tableaus that are displayed at Christmas.IMG_0785f

IMG_0789f IMG_0791f  IMG_0798fIMG_0797f  IMG_0795f IMG_0801f IMG_0803f

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Now that is impressive

What do you do with the stone in the middle of a date? Yesterday in Elche they held a competition to see how far you could spit it out.

There were lots of participants for the inaugural date stone launching competition. One man had come from Valencia to take part and a German pair travelled from Torrevieja in the hope of setting a record. There was also a good crowd to encourage the contestants on to better efforts.

The concejal de Fiestas opened the running with a distance of 1m, the Gestora de Festejos Populares, managed 3m. Francisco Tomás Gómez, a local public notary launched his stone a very impressive 9.44m on his first attempt and improved that by four centimetres on his second.

However, the first official record set at the Worldwide Championship for Launching a Date Stone by Mouth was eventually set at an incredible 11 metres 90 centimetres – that is just over 39 feet for the sake of my British readers. The winner received a basket of typical products from Elche which probably included a box of dates to practice for next year.

I don't think I could throw a date stone 39 feet let alone launch one that far from my mouth!

Fierce opposition to Città Slow

Yesterday, the Popular Party heavily criticised the Mayor of Bigastro for travelling to Barcelona to attend the International Fair of Tourism as one of the “Città Slow” towns in Spain. The opposition party regard the whole concept of slow cities as a waste of time and resources especially when, they say, the town needs to concentrate more on harnessing industry and innovation.

Murcia, spokesperson for the PP, reminds us that it was the ex mayor who approved the construction of a solar farm on protected land, the reclassification of land to build houses for a further six thousand inhabitants and the controversial decision to allow extra stories to be built on blocks of flats. He also reminded us of the 25 illegal houses that have been built on the huerta.

For three years, the PSOE In Bigastro have opposed water transfer from the Tajo to the Segura and refused to attend the rallies in Murcia and Elche.

Murcia (the spokesperson not the city) says, that the PSOE now want to plant quince and the unprofitable Desiree potatoes. He went on to lament the cancellation of the proposed 24,000 square metre extension to the industrial estate in favour of the cemetery, "Todos tendremos un chalet en el cementerio, pero dónde instalamos nuestros negocios cuando estamos vivos" which more or less means, we will all have a place in the cemetery but nowhere to work when we are alive.

It is always good to hear both sides of an argument and to know that decisions made by the ruling party on the council are not allowed to slip through unchallenged. As to who is right, that is up to the townsfolk to decide.

Putting me straight

Thank you to Mel and to John for putting me straight yesterday. As John said, I should have known it was a holiday because our teacher, Eduardo had told us.

In fact yesterday was ‘lunes de San Vincente’. The fireworks we heard accompanied the procession that took place in the town. The tradition is to visit the homes of those who have not been able to attend church during Pascua and offer them confession in their homes.

I’ll try to remember to put that on my calendar for next year.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is it or isn’t it?

Some people say it is a holiday again today but we can’t seem to find out for sure. It isn’t a national holiday but might be one just of the Valencian region. Sometimes these regional holidays apply to one town but not to others – no sé.

So the question I’m asking is, “is it a holiday today in Bigastro?” There are all the indications of a holiday i.e fireworks going off but then that could be just someone’s birthday.

What we actually need is a local calendar with the holidays that are relevant to this town. Perhaps I should contact Germán to ask him if he would consider posting one on the Bigastro website.

In the meantime, maybe I should just email Mel – he is bound to know!

Mohamed comes to the mountain

In times of crisis, any idea is a good idea.

Deeply concerned about the effects that the economic situation is having on the car salesrooms, the Concejalía de Fomento de Almoradí has decided to organise  a car fair once a month to coincide with the weekly market in the town. The Saturday market in Almoradí  is very popular with both locals and tourists, thousands of people visit it each week so it an obvious place to showcase new cars.

Understandably, people are reluctant to go out and visit car showrooms when they are uncertain of their economic future. Bringing the car showroom into the nerve centre of the town at the Plaza de la Constitución therefore seems to be a good idea.

I wonder though, is it fair to taunt people by showing them something they can’t afford or perhaps should put of buying until they are more certain of their future?

No real improvement

The weather this winter has been pretty grim and spring isn’t proving to be much better. The only good news is that all the rain we’ve had has ended the years of drought and the River Segura is once again flowing into the sea.

It looks as though this next week is going to be more of the same.


As you can see it will pick up towards next weekend and then Sunday cool off again. We keep saying it can’t last but it is doing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Pedrera market

You are either a market person or you are not and I fall into the latter category.

It is hard to avoid markets in this area since every town seems to have one. Added to which, there are several more to choose from down on the coast. There are so many that I dare so you could visit a market every day of the week if you were so minded. What I’m sure you would find though, is the same stuff over and over again and the same people selling it.

There is apparently a so called “cement market” which quite a few people have told us about. It opens on Sunday mornings just down the road near to Los Montesinos and is by all accounts very good. The cement market does however possess three virtues that put me off; a) it is large b) it is often crowded and c) you have to get up early on a Sunday morning to drive to it.

As if there weren't enough markets in the area, José and Darren, ever keen to extend the business up at Camping de la Pedrera, have decided to open another one in what used to be the open entertainments area at the Albergue on Saturdays. The stalls are set up using the, now presumably defunct, tables and benches covered by the large sun umbrellas that José bought. At the same time, they are offering hot and cold food along with drinks both inside and outside the Albergue.

Putting my aversion to markets aside, I decided to saunter up there to find out what it was like. To be fair there weren’t that many stalls this week but I was assured that there would be more in weeks to come. The stalls that were there offered a wide range of goods from fruit and veg to bric-a-brac and included a flower and plant stall that I was tempted by. There was even one of our neighbours Maria set up to offer haircuts. If I have to go to a market then, apart from the one in Biastro, this is definitely one I would choose.

Apart from anything else, it was good to find a mix of people including Spaniards and Brits at the Albergue, many of whom had arrived in cars. Quite a few were taking advantage of the food and drink facilities filling the tables on the terrace outside so I imagine the venture was judged a success by the organisers and will be repeated throughout the summer.

Between the refurbished interior, a program of entertainment, theme nights, bar snacks, Sunday lunches and now an auction day and market, these people have put a lot of effort into making the Albergue a success. I really do hope they succeed.

On the 22nd they’ve organised a ‘Fools and Horses quiz’ in aid of cancer charity. Tickets, which are available from Mel, are 5€ if you want to enter the quiz or 10€ if you want a bar snack as well. With so many residents here either suffering from cancer or recovering from it, this is a cause which is dear to our hearts.

Where did our marble come from

One of the beautiful features of Spanish buildings is the extensive use of marble for facades, columns and flooring. When you pass Alicante you can see the vast tracks of the local stone being quarried for this purpose.

Members of the Comisión Sectorial de la Piedra Natural say that the natural stone used  in several public works currently being developed in the Valencian Community is coming from other countries, among them Egypt and China. They cite the examples of the extensions to the airport at Altet and the new hospital, La Fe de Valencia where foreign marble is being used.

The stone workers union says that this is not helping their sector which is in crisis at the moment. They have therefore requested the Catalan Autonomous Government to specify the use of local marble in public buildings.

In reply the consellera say that the construction industry sources its materials for building within a free market.

It is hard to imagine, with a material as heavy as stone, how importing it from China could be more economical than buying it locally unless the local marble is vastly overpriced.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The day of the sardine

Every year, oriolanos travel the 22 kilometers from their city to Murcia imageto enjoy the great parade “del Entierro de la Sardina” (the Burial of the Sardine) which is one of the last celebrations of Spring. Such is the interest, that RENFE lay on special trains to take people from Orihuela to Murcia and back for the event.

The highlight of the day is the parade of Doña Sardina at 1pm. However, there are plenty of other activities planned for people to enjoy including the Macroferia Nacional de Vehículos de Ocasión just in case you want to pick up a car whilst you are there.

You can expect plenty of singing and dancing to take place with groups from the Carribean and Malaysia taking part along with majorettes from Hungary. No doubt there will be fireworks!

The fun will begin at 10am and last until dawn when they will ritually burn the Sardine.

Sadly the Día Nacional de la Salsa en España has been postponed because of the threat of rain. The forecast is for a cloudy day with showers and occasional heavy rain. Let’s not forget that is is still April.

My comment

I love sardines; I like fresh ones cooked on the barbecue and I like the tinned ones in oil or tomato sauce. Like mackerel and most fish, sardines are good for you.

Pamela, on the other hand is not that keen. She will eat sardines which are tinned in tomato sauce but even then it is not her favourite dish. She says she doesn’t like the feel of the fine bones in her throat.

Truth be told, Pam is not a great fish lover. She says the smell of them puts her off. I, on the other hand, like most fish, including shellfish. I also enjoy pulpa, calamares and sepia (varieties of squid and octopus). One of my favourites are the little fish (boquerones) either fried in flour or in vinegar. The equivalent in England I suppose would be whitebait. And, if I am having a salad, my preference would be for atun (tuna) which is sadly becoming an endangered species in the Mediterranean.

The only dish I don’t enjoy a lot is merluza (hake) especially when it is overcooked and drowned in a heavy garlic/oil salsa. On the other hand, dorada (sea bream) tastes wonderful when it is opened up and cooked butterfly style on a grill.

The fish dish that I enjoyed most here was a pan fried tuna steak at La Finca de Eduardos. It was literally dropped into the pan to sear it both sides and then removed, leaving it pink inside. It was delicious!

Since cod fried in batter is definitely not on the diet sheet that the doctor gave me, the one I enjoyed at the Pedrera (well one and a half because I had part of Pam’s as well) must sadly be my last!

Murcia comments

For two years now, Aurelio Murcia, as head of the opposition party in Bigastro, has been working to expose what his party perceive as the wrong doings of the previous socialist mayor, Joaquín Moya.

Murcia was recently  interviewed by the newspaper Informacion about what comes next.

Murcia says that his party now has two aims: to solve the problems of the town and to continue with the six denunciations that the courts are investigating.

He hopes that the town will be able to recover the 800,000€ along with the properties that his party claims is owed to the town. This property includes  the 90,000 square metres of land at the Pedrera which was sold to Idearco and a further 26,000 square metres of land included in the town plan.

Although he does not hold them responsible, Murcia is convinced that the people who work for the council were aware of what was going on and turned a blind eye in exchange for money.  He adds that, in his views,  the current mayor is a puppet of the previous one and reminds us that Medina is already imputed in two of the denunciations and may be imputed in more.

Murcia does not have any quick fix solutions to the problems of the town. He does however make the point that the council should be about providing services rather than employment. The PP have already suggested that the council workforce should be reduced at several council meetings.

When asked about his friendship with the previous mayor, Murcia wanted to make it clear that the information used by his party as a basis for the denunciations came from documents of the City council, the Government reporter and the Catalan Autonomous Government and not from personal information that he might hold. Moya and Murcia were friends for a great many years before they became political rivals.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Can you see the resemblance?

When I was younger, people always likened me to Sir Clement Freud, who has died nine image days short of his 85th birthday. Some of my pupils even tried to nickname me, “minced morsels”. A change of hairstyle and a successful diet soon changed that.

The similarity between us was however merely facial. Whilst I was a teacher, Freud was a chef, nightclub proprietor, television personality, radio panellist, Liberal MP, amateur jockey and journalist. For many years he was better known as the doleful character in the dog food commercials for Minced Morsels. He was of course the grandson of Sigmund Freud.

Freud had sense of mischief which followed him into the House of Commons. In his last term of office, the painful courtship between the Liberals and the Social Democrats resulted in an alliance. A dinner was mooted in celebration and Freud was designated to find a restaurant.

“There was David Owen, and Roy Jenkins, who was no stranger to the sybaritic side of life,” recalled Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon. “Clay [as Freud was known to his friends] chose a vegetarian restaurant in a basement off the Tottenham Court Road. As we went down, the first thing which greeted was a sign which said that the lesbian callisthenics class was cancelled. The look of complete and utter distress on Roy Jenkins’s face, and the look of complete dislike on David Owen’s, was perfect. I know that Clay did it as a joke, and it is something I shall never forget.”

I might have shared his looks but I could never match that standard of humour.

Our homework

For our Easter homework, Eduardo asked us to read a book and write a short précis. The obvious choice were the books we'd been given at the end of the Autumn term 2005; mine was “Los tigres del valle” by Jordi Sierra and Pam’s, “El Muñeco que anunció la Navidad” by Jesús Ballaz. Both were described as being suitable for nine year olds and were way beyond our comprehension at that time.

Even now, after three years of Spanish lessons, we are struggling to read those two books. To be fair, the authors use a lot of verbs in the various forms of the past tense and a great deal of vocabulary that we just haven’t come across. To make any sense of them, we would need to sit down with the books and a dictionary and go through them page by page. With 101 pages in my book and 72 in Pam’s that is more of a task than we have time for.

Our only recourse was to go down to the library and find something simpler. We started with the books for pre-school infants. They were easy to read, even with our limited Spanish but contained so few words that producing a précis would have literally meant re-writing the whole story. We moved on to the books for five year olds. These had a bit more meat to them and were still readable with the exception of the odd word. Feeling brave, we looked at the six year old section and were pleasantly surprised to find we could still largely understand the text.

If Eduardo is expecting us to come back with a resume of War and Peace, then he is in for a shock. I’m sure our final choice will amuse him. Isn’t it sad though, at 60+ we find ourselves with a reading age of 6.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Muchas gracias

Many thanks to those of you who have taken a bag of lemons – even the man who delivers Eismann frozen foods took one yesterday . We can’t possibly use them all and we’d hate to see them rot away.

We still have about six carrier bags left so if there is anyone else who would like some do please call round.

The latest tremor in the region

A earth tremor of 3.7 degrees on the Richter scale struck the Alto and Medio Vinalopó regions yesterday afternoon.image

The epicentre was just north of Fortuna however, the effects could be felt to the south of Alicante.

Fortunately there was neither material damage nor injury caused except for a few broken windows. It did raise concern though, especially in the wake of the devastation that the recent earthquake in Italy caused.

Alicante province suffers an average of 80 earthquakes per year - most are imperceptible. The province, like the rest of the Valencian Community is in an area of relative seismic activity. Although there were 137 seismic movements recorded last year, out of which only 29 of them could be felt.

The last quake that caused widespread damage was in 1829 when Almoradí was destroyed completely.

I really don’t like football

It is smiles all round this morning. My neighbour is a keen Arsenal fan and my daughter’s boyfriend an even keener Manchester United fan. Now both are to clash in one of the semi finals for the Champions League.

Who will win that one is anybody's guess; I believe that Arsenal have improved tremendously since their defeat against Manchester City whilst I understand that Manchester United have gone through a rocky patch winning important games by the skin of their teeth.

Last night United managed to beat Porto at home, something which I’m told, no other English club has managed to do.

As for the other semi final, I suppose I’d fancy Barcelona over Chelsea but then I confess I know nothing about football. In fact I’m not even sure why I am writing this piece. Like the Jade Goody affair, I shall be glad when it is all over.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

There's no show without Punch

You remember that our daughter Jemma is taking part in the Race for Life in Wolverhampton to raise money for cancer charities in the UK. Well now, our youngest daughter Laura has decided to run with her.

The links to their charity pages are as follows:



Back to the drawing board

The opposition by locals and ecological groups have paralysed  the plans for the extension of three motorways in the province of Alicante including the controversial replacement for the existing CV-91.

The proposed work on the CV-91 Orihuela to Guardamar road is back to square one. Now the planners are considering using the existing road between Almoradí and Guardamar and are looking at alternative routes between Orihuela and Almoradí.

Bigastro at the International Tourism Fair

Bigastro is represented at the International Tourism Fair in Barcelona which runs until this Friday. Bigastro is there as one of the six in the Cittá Slow (slow cities) network in Spain.

The project, which Bigastro has subscribed to since 2006, is about maintaining traditional values and culture. The mayor, Raúl Valerio Medina, consider that the emphasis on traditional gastronomy and agriculture makes Bigastro uniquely different to its neighbouring municipalities. He says that the model of sustainable development adopted by Bigastro means that the town hasn't suffered from crazy city planning growth but instead has valued the customs and culture of daily life.

On Thursday, the mayor along with members of the council and politicians from the other Cittá Slow towns will attend a press conference with the national and international mass media.

When you look at towns like San Miguel de Salinas, Algorfa or Quesada which have huge tracts of land prepared for building, you can see what Medina means. In fairness though, the boundaries of Bigastro are such that large scale project like those in neighbouring towns would not have been possible. Just as well because, in the present economic climate, the ambitious plans of neighbouring towns have come to a halt.

Keeping it in the family

The Popular Party (PP) of Redován denounced yesterday that the ruling party of the City council habitually hired relatives to undertake work for them.

The sister of the councillor for social welfare invoiced the council three times for a total of 17,000€. The first one was in July 2007 for 3,300€ to hire an orchestra. By the time the third invoice had been presented, the cost of hiring the orchestra had risen to 9,090€. This time it was for the New Year's Eve celebrations in 2008.

The mayoress on the other hand,  used her brother's company to supply IT goods. Two of the four invoices from Bitenda SL were for items such as  software and toner. The total was about 6,000€.

It isn't necessarily illegal to use relatives to undertake work for the council but it could be considered unethical. If it can be proved that the companies chosen provided the best service at the best price then that would be fine, otherwise the process of hiring relatives was bound to arouse suspicion.

I know that my friend Pete will come back at me quoting 'Stark and McCormick'.

When I was in charge of finance at Anfield, we used this company a lot for electrical work in the school. Pete and his brother complained bitterly that their work was expensive and that we should look to other companies. However I can honesty say that nobody with responsibility for hiring Stark and McCormick had any relationship with the company. More to the point, as far as I was aware, the only whiff of an incentive  we ever got from them was a calendar at Christmas.

A break from music

This weekend at the Auditorium the entertainment takes a different turn.

SATURDAY, 18th APRIL at 8:30pm

ALEX TIRELLI & IMAGE ADDICTION presents “D.E.M.I.” Dialogue between music and images.

A vision of the latest in contemporary audio-visual expression. If you want a moment of true meditation and relaxation - don't miss this.image

SUNDAY, 19th APRIL at 7pm



From the poster this is obviously something risque. I can hear the roars of laughter from the audience now!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ill fated beer fest

There has been a lot of controversy over the first ever Playa Flamenca Beer Fest.

The two main polital parties for the coast, CLARO and PSOE both believed that holding the festival during Easter would be catastrophic for local businesses. It is said that the three-day St Patrick’s Day event lost local bars and restaurants around 50 per cent of their normal takings. The two week beer fest would have an even bigger impact.

The parties were also concerned about the Town Hall’s choice of ‘Honoured Guest’. This accolade was bestowed upon former German boxing champion Rene Weller who, according to Internet encyclopaedia wikipedia was sentenced to seven years and served four in prison for cocaine trafficking, selling stolen goods…and unlawful possession of firearms.

Set aside the concerns over lost business and the honoured guest, I would question the whole concept of a beer festival that coincides with the countries most important religious festival. As my friend Pete said in response to my picture for Palm Sunday, "despite the best efforts of schools and churches it's still all about chocolate and DIY here (he means the UK). My respects to the Spaniards."

Down in Playa Flamenca it was going to be all about chocolate, DIY and guzzling beer.

Not settled yet


It looks like the variable weather is set to continue. Yesterday was glorious following a cloudy/rainy/sunny Easter weekend. It's too soon  to pack away the umbrella, abandon the long trousers and take to shorts and T-shirt.

In Yorkshire they say, "don't cast a clout 'till May is out." Here in Spain it is pretty much the same this year. My clouts are staying well and truly uncast for the moment.

No escape

Bank holidays = traffic jams and that is a fact. It is the reason why my father in law would never go out on one.

In spite of all the promises for the N332, there were traffic jams on the coast road at Torrevieja which took until 3:30 in the afternoon to clear.

We had our own traffic jam outside the house.

Our Spanish neighbours who bought the house next door only use it occasionally. They will come in the summer to use the pool a few times and will have the odd barbecue when the weather is good. Yesterday though they arrived in force and filled the parking space on the other side of the calle.

When someone parks a Mercedes Vito van opposite my driveway, it makes it very difficult for me to get my car out and even more difficult to get it back in. It wasn't as if I could ask them to move the van - there was no where for the it to go. The vehicles were parked so close together; they'd have had to move the lot to clear a space opposite my drive.

No pasa nada - we went for a walk around the estate instead and then did a bit of clearing up outside.

Just as well we we stayed in because the children next door kept loosing their ball into our garden. Somehow, 'can we have our ball back' sounds so much better in Spanish than it does in English. That is until you have heard it for the fifth or sixth time.

By the early evening they had all gone and peace was returned. I expect the children slept well last night and are probably a little hoarse today. It may take a day or two for our hearing to return to normal.

Now I understand

Pam and I went for a walk up the path up at the back of the Pedrera - the one we call 'lovers lane' because of the number of used protectives you find littering it. On the way up I spotted this sign....


.... which says 'Private hunting reserve'. So now I understand; ordinary folk use the lane to bag a game bird and the privileged have a reserved area.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My first century

No I am not 100 years old although I may act or look that way at times.

My very good friend and mentor, Pete, posted the 100th picture for his Project 365 last week. I'm on my 66th so it isn't that I am celebrating.

Since I started keeping records of the numbers of visitors to this blog, the number of people reading it each day has steadily risen. Last week, the average number of visitors topped the hundred mark = my first century. To be strictly correct, the figure was 109 and peaked on Tuesday with 140 unique visitors to the blog.

Since July there have been over 21,342 page loads and in total there are 2,190 posts for you to read. Phew, I think I need a brandy!

Don't ask me how many words I've written because I have no idea but it must be at least 100,00 - more than a PhD thesis. My daughter's boyfriend, Dave told me that I have never used the word 'awesome' . Well I have now!

Stricter rules

The beaches in this area are so important to the regions economy that it seems sensible to protect them by law and make them safe for the all important tourists to use.

To this end, the oriolana coast has a new directed decree for this summer. The new laws aim are to guard the security of swimmers and maintain the sands of the coast in a perfect condition.

  • Camping on the beach is prohibited.
  • Lighting fires on the beach is also prohibited except on the night of San Juan. Even then, the people who light the fires will need written authorisation from the City council and will be required to ensure that they do not burn material that contains metal or chemicals.
  • Walking up and down the beach offering massages, tattoos, DVDs and CDs is to be prohibited unless the venders have a licence.
  • Securing a place at the front of the beach by leaving a parasol is also prohibited. The local police are to empowered to remove any parasols that are used in this way. The parasols will only be returned when the owners provide proof of ownership in the form of a receipt along with proof that they have paid the fine imposed upon them.
  • Since bathers have preference over other users, beach fishing is banned between the hours of 9 in the morning and nine at night except during an authorised fishing competition.
  • Underwater fishing is prohibited in bathing areas. In areas where it is permitted, divers must be licensed and mark their position with a buoy.
  • Diving for treasure is also regulated, Under the Ley Valenciana del Patrimonio Cultural and finds must be reported within 48 hours.

To enforce the law, fines between 150 and 3,000€ can be imposed. Serious infractions like erecting unauthorised facilities, spillage of contaminating materials, navigating a boat into a bathing zone, acts of vandalism or obstructing rescue services and first aid posts will carry maximum penalties. Lesser offences like fishing during the daytime, consuming alcohol in public places or swimming when the red flag is flying will attract fines up to 1,500€.

The positioning of chiringuitos, kiosks, hammocks, parasols, pedalos and other items for imagerent are also regulated in the decree and will require permission from the City council.

Chiringuitos without either supply of running water or connection to the sewage system will only be able to sell drinks and ice creams. Those that are able to sell food will be carefully regulated about the type of products they sell.

Finally the people who create sand sculptures will need municipal permission.

The local police on the coast are going to be kept busy this summer, I hope there are enough of them!

PS I've just realised that picture is of a chiringuito in Goa. I must find a picture of one closer to home to replace it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hay limones

Our lemon trees have cropped well again this year. The new blossom is already setting so it is probably as well to remove the existing fruit. Last year we counted 15 carrier bags full - there may be about as many this year.

We will endeavour to pick the fruit within the next few days. If there are any residents who are partial to lemons, please call at our house. Of course, if you'd like to pick your own you are more than welcome! I'm sure can spare a bag or two.

Non Spaniards voting in June

Out of the whole of Spain, the Province of Alicante has the largest number of EU citizens with the option to vote in the European elections on the 7th of June.

The total of 52,426 means that one in four registered voters in the province were born in the EU outside of Spain. In some areas the percentage is even higher e.g. Las Marinas (Alta y Baixa) and the Vega Baja where the proportion of EU non Spaniards is about 45%.

In 2004 there were 123,642 residents of countries of the EU registered to vote in Spain. By 1999 that figure had risen to 55,098. As of February of this year, 275,732 EU citizens had registered to vote. The remainder have until the 27th of this month to register.

Top of the list is the United Kingdom with 75,623 registered voters, followed by Rumania and Germany (33,632). Following them are the Italians (29,502), the French (25,056), the Portuguese (15.965) and the Dutch (11.056). At the bottom of the list are Estonia (108), Malta (30) and Cyprus (18).

You can't help but feel that this must be disconcerting for some Spaniards who see their country being taken over by people from other countries. They must have the same sense of anguish that the British express about immigration there.

Cultural diversity is all well and good but not when a country starts to loose its own unique identity. I just hope this doesn't happen here in Spain. As a relatively young democracy, it needs to be wary of absorbing some of the worst aspects of its older democratic neighbours.


Our decision not to go down to Torrevieja for the Good Friday parade turned out to be the right one.

Apparently, the rain poured down in Torrevieja between 6 and 8 pm. By 8:20 it had ceased and remained dry for the rest of the night. By then, the president of the Junta Mayor, José Pedro Aldeguer along with the parish priest Manuel Martínez and other presidents of the cofradias had already decided to cancel the procession. So the thousands who had turned up to watch the pasos had to leave disappointed.

The procession for "el Ecuentro", scheduled to take place this morning at 8am in Torrrevieja will have gone ahead though.

A rude awakening

Many of you who live here in Bigastro will have suffered a rude awakening this morning. Only the best of sleepers will have managed to keep their eyes shut through the noise coming from the town. If you dragged yourself out of bed to see what the commotion was about, you'd have seen the town light up by brilliant white fireworks.

Why this morning and why so early?

Today is the day of resurrection when Jesus rose from the grave. In Bigastro there is a unique ceremony to celebrate this event called "El Encuentro".

Two pasos are brought from the church at about 7:15am. One has the figure of Jesus and the other Mary, his mother. Both process down different streets until they reach the calle where the bank is situated. At that point they meet - the encounter. The black mourning cape is removed from Mary and white doves are released. This is the part where it gets noisy because the act is then celebrated by the a firework display.

Once the fireworks are over, the two statues retire back to the church along the same calle and mass is held in the church.

El Encuento a very moving ceremony, well worth going to see. Last year, I went with my daughter Jemma to take photographs. I'm afraid, after a late night last night watching a DVD of the Stones in concert, I wasn't awake early enough to go down to the town this morning so I missed it. Now I need a cup of tea.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jade Goody RIP (please)

You have to give credit to the Sun and the Daily Mail newspapers for keeping the Jade Goody saga going. Even after her death, they still headline trivial stories related to her husband Jack. The other day he was playing golf but couldn't concentrate on his game; today he is at the graveside placing an Easter egg in memory of his wife.

It is always sad when a young mother dies leaving her children behind. One of Pam's close friends died of cancer quite awhile ago leaving a husband and three young children to pick up their lives. It was very hard for them to come to terms with what had happened in such a short space of time.

Goody worked hard to turn herself into a celebrity and was well advised in the process. I do find it difficult to understand though, what real substance there was for her status. Being a contestant on reality TV shows, writing trashy columns for gossip magazines and giving your name to a perfume doesn't exactly confer celebrity status in my book. Nor does bullying and making racist remarks to a fellow contestant.

I understand that Sky News broadcast the whole of Goody's funeral procession live. The newspapers later likened the event to the funeral of the Lady Diana even suggesting that as Diana was the Princess of Wales, Goody was the Princess of Bermondsey - a very dubious comparison in my view.

I understand that Goody wanted to amass as much money as possible to secure her children's future and in that she has been successful. She has also raised the profile of screening for cervical cancer and raised money for a variety of charities including the NSPCC and Macmillan nurses.

In spite of all the good she may have done, I still cannot see Goody as a celebrity worthy of the coverage that these newspapers seem to be giving her. Perhaps when her husband is sent to prison, as is expected later this week, the whole business will calm down and the papers will find someone else to idolise - hopefully someone more befitting.

Most disappointed

Last night the main procession during Holy Week was due to take place in Torrevieja .

There were seventeen pasos accompanied by around three thousand people including; capirotes, costaleros, acólitos, músicos and devotos scheduled to take part.

Although many of the pasos will have been seen during the week, the unique paso that only takes part in the procession on Good Friday is the one of Santo Sepúlcro. This shows the beautiful image of Christ in the sepulchre created by the torrevejenses sculptors, Rafael and Fulgencio Blanco López in 1954.

Pam and I ate early and got ready to leave the house by about 6:00pm. Our plan was to drive down to Torrevieja, find a seat with a good vantage point where we could watch the parade and hopefully get some good photographs to show you.

The sky had been gray all day but the rain had stayed off. Then just as we were about to leave the house, it started to pour down. The rain was accompanied by thunder and the skies turned black. We could see that it was coming over from Orihuela and so was due to pass us and head towards the coast reaching Torrevieja just as the parade was set to start

Now we know from past experience in Orihuela, that if there is a chance of rain, the imagecofradias will not bring the pasos out. Who can blame them? Some of the sculptures on these things are centuries old.

I know that in some parts of Spain they covered the crosses with polythene sheeting to keep them dry but you simply can't cover a paso like "Jesus praying in the Garden of Olives" with plastic. In any case there would be no point.

So we gambled that the parade would be cancelled and watched the one in Alzira on television instead.

We do know that the procession in Orihuela was postponed until 10am this morning following weather reports of rain and that the processions in Callosa de Segura and Elche were similarly postponed.

All we need now is for someone to tell us that it didn't rain at all in Torrevieja and the parade took place as scheduled. Then we will be kicking ourselves. So please, if you were there, don't tell us!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Terrorists planned to hit Manchester

A desperate search took place in a rundown block of flats in Highgate Street, Liverpool last night for the terrorist bomb factory from which a suspected al-Qaeda cell planned to launch a devastating attack in Manchester over Easter.

Ten of the 12 men arrested following raids on Wednesday were Pakistani nationals who entered Britain on student visas. All were from the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, the heartland of al-Qaeda and mujahidin activity. They appear to have exploited a visa regime described by a minister last week as “the major loophole in Britain’s border controls”.

Sources said police had arrested the man they suspected was the ring-leader, Abid Naseer, 22, at an address in Galsworthy Avenue in Cheetham Hill, Manchester. He is said to be from the tribal areas of Pakistan where the Taliban and al-Qaeda have established their base.

One of Naseer's housemates, Hamza Shenwari, was arrested on the nearby M602. Abdul Khan was arrested in Liverpool, as was John Moores University student Muhammad Adil, who was later released.

Among the locations raided on Wednesday afternoon was the Cyber Net Café in Cheetham Hill, where it is thought the men communicated using emails.

The alleged Manchester plot represents a significant shift in tactics by terror groups based in Pakistan who view Britain as a prime target. Between 2002 and 2006 their emphasis was on training young Britons. But if these plot allegations are proven, they suggest that planners are now exporting operatives to Britain.

Some of the suspects were watched by MI5 agents as they filmed themselves outside the Trafford Centre on the edge of Manchester, the Arndale Centre in the city centre, and the nearby St Ann's Square and intelligence services had intercepted “chatter” suggesting that an attack could occur as early as this weekend.

You remember Enoch Powell's controversial "Rivers of Blood" speech (made 20th April 1968 in Birmingham) in opposition to mass Commonwealth immigration to Britain which resulted in him being sacked from the Shadow Cabinet.

In the speech, Powell referred to a letter he had received detailing the experiences of one of his constituents in Wolverhampton. The writer described the fate of an elderly woman who was supposedly the last white person living in her street. She had repeatedly refused applications from non-whites requiring rooms-to-let, which resulted in her being called a racist outside her home and receiving excrement through her letterbox.

As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see 'the River Tiber foaming with much blood'. That tragic and intractable phenomenon which we watch with horror on the other side of the Atlantic but which there is interwoven with the history and existence of the States itself, is coming upon us here by our own volition and our own neglect. Indeed, it has all but come. In numerical terms, it will be of American proportions long before the end of the century. Only resolute and urgent action will avert it even now.

I don't suppose Enoch Powell was anticipating the threat of terrorism back in 1958 but he did forsee the problems that allowing mass immigration into the country could cause.

You can't help but feel that Powell was right and that the chickens are now coming home to roost in Britain.

Santa Cruz, Alicante

The reception from our indoor aerial was perfect so we tuned into Punt 2 TV last night hoping to watch the procession down the narrow streets from the Hermitage in Alicante.

However the program was showing the procession in the city instead starting with the paso from the Hermandad de la Santa Redención - a very beautiful scene but not the one we were hoping for.

What we wanted to see were the pasos; Cautivo, el Gitano, el Descendimiento de la Cruz and Nuestra Señora de los Dolores being carried down the steep steps. So, we have to be content with these photographs from the local papers which show the struggle that the costeleras experienced controlling the pasos downhill.

Santa Cruz 1 Santa Cruz 2

Santa Cruz 3 Santa Cruz 4

Santa Cruz 5 Santa Cruz 6

Santa Cruz 7

A lady reaches out to touch the hand of Jesus, the gypsy descending from the cross.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

IES Miguel Hernandez to expand

The Councillor for Education and the Mayor of Bigastro held a press conference to announce approval by the Conselleria of Education for an extension to the Institute of Secondary Education “Miguel Hernandez” in Bigastro.

With an approximate budget of 2.700.000 €, they are going to build an extra 10 classrooms to expand the facilities of the school.

Mª Councilman Dolores Andreu explained that Bigastro provides education services for all its citizens from 4 months to 18 years, and in addition provides permanent education for adults. The Mayor, D. Raul Valerio Medina said that the news of the extension and the project for the future will position Bigastro as one of the municipalities of the Region and the Province with the best educative facilities.

Well worth watching

Tonight at 7pm in Alicante one of the most peculiar and spectacular of the Easter processions in this area will take place.

The Hermandad de la Santa Cruz will carry pasos from the Hermitage down the steep steps which lead into the city. Hundreds of of people will line the narrow streets to watch the exhausted costaleros struggle to control the weight of the pasos whilst people reach out from their balconies to touch the effigies of Christ on the cross.

Last year we watched as they televised this very emotional procession on one of the local TV channels.If the indoor aerial gives us a decent signal, we'll be watching it again this year.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The bullring in Orihuela

The new Orihuela bullring could become a reality by mid-2010.

Last week the Mayoress of Orihuela, Monica Lorente and the Town Planning Councillor Antonio Rodriguez Barbera, along with bullfighters and people associated with the bullfighting world, unveiled the project.

Lorente called it ‘the most important of our term because we are going to recover a unique space and turn it into a multifunctional arena with capacity for 8,000 people and nearly 500 parking spaces’.

The Orihuela bullring, which was first inaugurated in 1907, had to be closed down in 1986 due to the extremely poor state of repair it had been allowed to fall into. Since then, the town has had no bullring except on some occasions when a temporary metal structure has been set up during local festivities.

The project has been allocated a budget of 3,429,640 euros. The car park, which will have capacity for almost 500 cars, will cost an additional sum of 7,655,865 euros.

The weather for Easter


I certainly hope it doesn't rain on Friday for the big parades as it did a couple of years ago. That year went to Orihuela to watch the parade and had to come home disappointed. The parade was re-scheduled for Saturday but was again cancelled due to the possibility of rain.

From this forecast, there is a possibility that will happen again which will be a great shame because a lot of hard work and effort goes into preparing these parades. They can't risk getting the  invaluable pasos wet. In any case to carry the heavy structures along a slippery road would be dangerous.

The cost of being in touch

Spain has some of the most expensive charges for mobile phone calls and ADSL Internet connections in Europe according to the European Commission's annual telecommunications report released recently.

The average cheapest mobile phone offer in Spain (including calls and text messages) was 35.89 euros per month, the highest in the entire EU.

As for Internet users, the average monthly cost of an ADSL line in Spain is 45.38 euros which is far above the EU average of 36.89.

The commission's report highlights the slow rate at which ADSL is contracted by users in Spain where 20.2 % of the potential users have ADSL against the EU average of 22.9%.

The high cost is seen as the key factor delaying a greater implantation of ADSL throughout the country.

Meanwhile, the use of high-speed mobile phone connections in Spain (25.9% of the total) is practically double the EU average  of 13%.


"There is a competition problem" in Spain, said the commissioner for information society and media, Viviane Reding. "Where there is little competition, prices don't come down as much," said the commissioner, who indicated she has plans to "have conversations" with government representatives and service providers in Spain.

Meanwhile, last week representatives from all the EU-27 countries agreed to support legislation that will reduce charges for calls, messages and Internet connections made outside the mobile phone user's home country.  The regulation is expected to be formally approved by the EU parliament in late April and come into effect on July 1, setting maximum prices and a progressive price reduction over the next two years.

Meantime in Australia, the Government have announced that they will commence work on the promised fibre optic infrastructure that will provide 90% of homes and companies with connection speeds up to 100Mbs. For the other 10% of the country, the Government has promised wireless access at up to 12Mbs. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Easter parades

Torrevieja Processions from the Church of the Immaculada Concepción Tuesday 7th at 10pm

Wednesday 8th at 10pm

Thursday 9th at 11pm plus procession from the Plaza del Cavario at midnight

Friday 10th at 7:30pm. This is the full parade with all the pasos taking part

In Orihuela the Good Friday parade starts at 7pm.

Welcome to the world

Ángel Moya Gomez, the first son for Ana and Ángel. Ana was the teacher of our Spanish class. She left to have a child and here he is.


'Dar la luz' on Thursday 2nd April weighing 3.65Kg (a big baby).

Money to clear the place up

The Government is providing almost1.5 million Euros this year to employ agricultural workers in the Vega Baja - an increase of 6.36% over last year. This money will allow the region to employ 361 people according to the assistant representative, Incarnates Llinares.

Since Bigastro is included in the list of municipalities, we can expect to see the clear up that the Mayor promised when he met with Mel Leach.

Keeping traditions alive

The students from the Infant School “La Paz” in  Bigastro have celebrated their own Easter.

There were nazarenos, women adorned with traditional mantillas, Roman soldiers, musicians interpreting processional marches and costaleros carrying pasos.


In a country where Easter is still important, instilling these traditions into children at an early age is a great idea.

You can see more photos of the children by following this link.

Monday, April 06, 2009


The Dirección General de Protección Civil y Emergencias has notified the Subdelegación de Gobierno to inform us that someone, of unknown identity, is telephoning in the name of the Protección Civil seeking sponsorship  or advertising revenue  for a magazine they are publishing.

It is  illegal use of the name of the Dirección General de Protección Civil y Emergencias for this sort of economic interest.  The action could  therefore constituent a crime; allowing the people concerned to profit from public money.

When I was at Anfield School, we used to regularly get calls from a variety of organisations asking us to contribute to charity or pay for an insertion in some magazine or other. If they got through to the right person, these people got short shrift but on one occasion they spoke to a Deputy who agreed that the the school would make an annual contribution to some bogus charity. It took a solicitor's letter to get us out of that situation.

I'm not paying that price

When I bought my present computer from Dell, it came with McAfee Security Center pre-installed. The program was due to expire 90 days later. The obvious thing to do was to renew the subscription and continue to benefit from the protection that the program afforded. To do this I had to register online with my credit card details.

Each year since, McAfee informed me that my subscription had been renewed. For this year the renewal is a penny short of £50 which is actually more than you would pay for a new installation of the program especially if you bought it from the American site with a 40% discount.

I understand that keeping the program up-to-date is an expensive process but surely it doesn't cost so much.

So enough is enough. I went onto the Customer Service site of McAfee to cancel the payment. Lo and behold you can't do this by simply un-ticking a box; you have to speak to someone on the phone, chat with a rep online or send an email. Since I didn't want someone trying to talk me out of my decision, I sent an email. I'll now have to wait for a response which could take two days.

Once McAfee have confirmed my cancellation and when the current subscription has run out, I'll uninstall the program which will require two stages including running an uninstall program which I can only download once I've completed the first step.

It should come as no surprise that buying, installing and subscribing to the program is a much simpler operation than cancelling and uninstalling it.

Of course I have no intention of leaving my computer open to the Internet without protection so I am considering Avira AntiVir Premium which is much more affordable at 19.95 euros. The company do three versions; a basic free version, the Premium edition and the Premium Security Suite version at 39.95€. The other alternative I'm considering is Avast Home Edition which is again free. Whichever I choose, I will enjoy protection at a price much lower than McAfee want to charge me.

Result: I've had an email from McAfee telling me that my subscription has now been cancelled and that my credit card will be reimbursed. Checking on Ebay, I could buy a copy of the software from McAfee in the UK for half the price of the renewal. Now that is what I call a nonsense.

A very special occasion


Last night's concert for Easter was probably one the best that we have been privileged to attend here in Bigastro.

With a packed Auditorium and a full program, the Unión Musical de Bigastro surpassed themselves under the direction of their guest conductor.

The processional marches were delightful especially the last two. For the Encuentro, the lights were dimmed and a video of the moving parade that is unique to the town was projected on the back wall.

For Gratitud y Recuerdo, images of what we imagined were past members of the band were shown. You could hear the buzz as people identified their past friends and relatives on the screen.

In the second half, the Andrew Lloyd Weber composition showcased the talents of several soloists including the flautist, Raquel Diaz, daughter of our hairdresser.

For the finale, the back of the stage filled with a choir who then accompanied the soloist in a wonderful piece of Zarzuela (folk opera). Susi Gálvez Mesples has an amazing and powerful voice - a very talented lady

The audience were suitably appreciative in their applause.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

What a shame


Of all the days to have a shower, we had to have one today when the Palm Sunday parade took place. Once the parade was over, it dried up and then the sun came out.

Still it didn't dampen the spirits of the faithful who came well prepared with umbrellas.