Saturday, July 31, 2010

I just don’t understand them

In the summer months, when the ground is tinder dry you have to be extra careful when you are out in the campo not to start fires. A cigarette end, an unattended barbecue is all that it takes to set alight the dry material on the ground.

Of course there are always going to be accidents but it is surprising how many of the fires are deliberately started by sick minded people.

On Monday evening, fire-fighters were called to the golf course at Villamartin close to Calle Cañón Hillys, where a large fire had broken out. Early investigations by the fire service suggest that this fire may have been started deliberately and two youths are currently helping police with their enquiries.

The fire was particularly ferocious and required not only the fire brigade from Torrevieja but also two hydroplanes and two helicopters to be despatched from Alicante. The Guardia Civil and Proteccion Civil were also in attendance, so it was a major incident for the emergency services.

The risk to lives, to property and the enormous cost, I hope the perpetrators thought it was worth it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

No escape!

image Whilst we were in Orihuela watching the parade of Moors comparsas, Scout John and his lovely wife Carol were spotted at the dinner dance for the Fiesta for Santa Ana.

These photos are taken from the official Bigastro web site.
image They may not have seen as much colour and spectacle as we did but I am sure the company ensured them a wonderful night.

PS Will I spot John and Carol at the coronation of the Fiesta Queens a week tomorrow, I wonder? My camera will be ready.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A message from Diane

Last night Anne and I attended a meeting with the organisers of the Festival.  The date is confirmed as Friday 13th August (not Thursday as in previous years).  They have also decided that the proceedings will start at 2.00 p.m. not 2.30 as shown in their programme.
As the start time is half an hour earlier please ensure that your table contributions are on the British Buffet table by 1.30 p.m.  I would be grateful if anyone willing to help serve at the table is in Plaza de la Concordia at 1.00 p.m. in order to set up the tables.
Thanks once again in advance to everyone.

Although many of the Brits in Bigastro do live at Villas Andrea, there are quite a few who live in other parts of the town as well. It is therefore important to stress that the British Buffet is not the exclusive preserve of residents from our estate.

I am sure that the organisers would be delighted if Brits form other parts of the town joined in either by bringing something along or helping out on the day.

Going VOIP

There are still people puzzled by the fact that we have a Manchester phone number which they can use to contact us. The world of Internet telephony remains a mystery to a few.

The principle is straight forward, voice calls can be translated into digital data and transmitted over the Internet just like any other form of information. The digital data is then linked back to the telephone system at the receiving end. We don’t need to know how it works just that it does.

The benefits of making calls over the Internet are the hugely reduced costs but what do you need to take advantage of this saving? First off a broadband Internet connection and a router. That means you need some form of ADSL account be that via a fixed line, WIMAX or WiFi. Be aware though, no matter what some might tell you, the fact is, the faster the connection, the clearer your calls will be.

Then you need a VOIP account which you can get for free from companies like VoipTalk. This type of account will allow you to make calls to other Voiptalk users free of charge and for example, to UK landline numbers for 1p per minute. Standard voip accounts are pay as you go so you only pay for the calls you make with no connection charge or monthly rental. However, for an extra £2.99 per month you can have a UK number from a choice of 650 towns which will reduce the cost of your friends calling you.

Finally you need a VOIP phone which connects to one of the ports on your Internet router. These are not to be confused with USB phones that connect to your computer and only work when the computer is switched on. Voiptalk offer a range of suitable phones on their site.


The cheapest on offer at the moment is the Grandstream BT-201 IP phone at £32.89.

This is a desktop phone about the size of a Domo 1.


For those who want the benefits of a cordless phone, Voiptalk offer the Siemens A580IP Dect SIP Phone at £53.99.

This is a dual phone so you can plug in into your normal phone line as well and route calls via the Internet or your fixed line.

There is a downside to all this and that is, if the electricity is cut then the phone will go dead. It is therefore as well to have a fixed line phone or a mobile for emergency calls.

A protest rather than a change of heart

The British press are making a lot out of the decision to ban bullfighting in Catalonia which is being hailed as a victory for animal rights. I know that many Brits are uncomfortable with the idea of bullfighting and so in fact are quite a few Spaniards especially the young.

The truth is that there was never a great tradition of bullfighting in Catalonia anyway. Of the two bullrings in Barcelona, only one is still operational and stages just 15 corridas each year.

The ban in Catalonia doesn’t necessarily mean that the people there are more sensitive to animal rights than in other parts of Spain. It has more to do with the fact that region is not recognised legally as a nation. The vote has been seen as a protest against that decision. Catalonia is not Spain therefore they will not entertain bullfighting which is seen part of Spanish culture.

Those who hope that the ban in Catalonia spreads to other regions of Spain will be disappointed. For example, the petition with 50,000 signatures to close Las Ventas in Madrid does not stand a chance of success. After all, Spanish royalty attend the bullfights there and they are hardly going to give up their seats in a hurry.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Modern times

We got a text message from our youngest daughter, Laura last night to say that she had taken her five month old baby to the pictures yesterday to see Toy Story 3 in 3D. It seems that the cinema didn’t mind mothers taking babies to watch the film.

Apparently Molly watched part of the movie, then she had her feed and fell asleep. I’m not surprised, they only gave Laura one pair of special 3D glasses so the poor baby had to look at a blurry image on the screen!

When Laura and Jemma were toddlers, they would often sit and watch television -seemingly entranced by the moving colours on the screen. We never thought to take them to the cinema though; how times have changed!

At it again

It seems that the two opponents were at war again during the council meeting on Monday.

Aurelio Murcia for the Partido Popular insists that Raúl Valerio Medina, Alcalde did not throw him out of the meeting, he left of his own accord adding that he was a little ashamed of the comments he had made to the Mayor.

I wonder if they managed to get through the business of the day.

I love it

imageFor those of you who haven't seen it yet, this is the programme for the fiesta this year; I expect you will be able to get copies from the usual suppliers.

The reason I am showing you this is because the picture on the front is taken from one of my photographs.

Inside there are other photographs that I took last year but I like this one best of all. Someone has worked their magic over it (I suspect in Photoshop) and made a great job of it.

A big thank you to whoever created this and a big thank you to the Fiesta Commission for choosing my photographs again this year.

Calling all British cooks

Just as I posted that item about the Gastronomy Day, I got this message from Diane Clarke who lives at Villas Andrea to all British residents in Bigastro

We have been invited to participate in the Gastronomy Day this year. I have been asked to attend a meeting tonight (last night) to go over details. I will e-mail again when I have definite details.

Because our food is different to Spanish food and the townsfolk seem to enjoy it I propose to yet again go for "The British Buffet". Again this year I would ask all you lovely people to make something - anything you like, savoury or sweet - to contribute to the table. Again if you don't feel like standing over a hot stove remember "Mums go to Iceland". Whatever you make can I please ask you to take it down yourselves if possible at approx. 1.30 p.m. Anyone who can't can always drop it off to Anne or Barbara at Villas Andrea.

All contributions will be gratefully received.

I will set everything up but regrettably will not be there because I am away on holiday August from 11th, but Anne Mottram and Barbara Mann will gladly co-ordinate on the day. Can I ask all you lovely ladies to help out at the tables as usual.
Thanks in advance to everyone

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Thinking about the fiesta, I have yet to pick up my copy of the programme from the Ayuntamiento but I am guessing that a Gastronomy Day will feature again this year.

If that is the case, then the townsfolk will be eagerly anticipating the fabulous British Buffet. I was wondering if any plans had been made for this. As in previous years, I expect we will all rally round and whip up something that we can be proud of but it will take a little organising. 

Whoever it is that offers to organise our contribution can put Pam and I down for something but we are not quite sure what it will be just yet. 

I’m getting excited now

Pam and I love the local fiesta in August and look forward to it each year. This year it will be even more special because we have the family coming out to stay and the 15th just happens to be be our 40th wedding anniversary. I don’t think they celebrate ruby weddings here in Spain but you can be sure that we will.

There isn’t room at Casa “el Willo” for all the family to stay so they will be holed up at Casa Bermuda just round the corner. Crammed into the three bedroom house will be our youngest daughter, Laura, her boyfriend Dave, our granddaughter Molly, Dave’s mum and dad (Joan and BC) along with our eldest daughter Jemma and her boyfriend Dan.

At the same time, our very good friends Glenys and Peter will be staying at Peter’s brother’s holiday home at Cabo Roig just 15 minutes or so away. I make that ten adults and a baby, I hope there is enough room in our pool for them all!

PS I apologise in advance to our neighbours for the noise we might make.

PPS I got the shopping list of items that Laura and Dave can’t get into their cases; mainly toiletries for them but a whole load of items to keep their five month old baby going. That is on top of all the things that Pam and I have already bought to keep our granddaughter happy on her first visit to Spain.

Monday, July 26, 2010

No change

imageThis week looks set fair weather-wise. Plenty of opportunity to top up the tan and take a leisurely dip in the pool. Not great if you have a bit of construction work to do outside!

The temperature of the water in my pool was 36 when we got back from England thanks to the thermal cover. Now it has dropped to a lowly 32, Mrs W says it feels cold when you get in.

I bet our family won’t find it cold when they arrive a week next Sunday.   

Over for another year

As the riders rode leisurely into Paris yesterday it was time to start reflecting on this year’s Tour de France.

Mark Cavendish managed to do what no other rider has done in he last ten years and that is win on the Champs-Élysées two years in succession. He may not have collected the green points jersey but the Manxman has certainly made his presence known in Le Tour.

Alberto Contador took the yellow jersey just 39 seconds ahead of his rival Andy Schleck. That just happens to be the same as the time he took out of Schleck on Port Balès when the young rider lost his chain.

Contador, who admits that he was not on his best from this year, joins an elite group of only six riders since the second world war who have won the tour without winning a stage.

Lance Armstrong’s RadioShack team tried to start the race in black jerseys with the Livestrong logo but were made to change back to their regular jerseys. In a moment of defiance, they then wore their black jerseys to receive the team prize on the podium.

So, Spain is enjoying a great summer of sporting success. Wimbledon, the World Cup, the Tour de France and I understand that Alonso provisionally won the German Grand Prix.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

There was even an elephant

The Moors parade last night had just about everything; dancers, horses, birds of prey, colourful costumes even an elephant. Another fantastic spectacular which you can see by visiting my album.

IMG_4671  IMG_4687
IMG_4784 IMG_4780

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Unwanted visitors

Living next to the campo we can expect wildlife on the estate. The Pedreera is teeming with all manner of insects, birds and animals including rats. The feral cat that visits our neighbours often brings rabbits and rats into their garden as presents.

Now it seems, people have found live rats, not only in their gardens but wandering into the houses. Elementary precautions are, keep doors closed, leave the covers on the drains and avoid leaving any food stuff outside which might attract them. Otherwise, you might want to go down to the ferreteria to pick up a rat trap.

Different again

Anyone who tells you that it isn’t worth going to see the parades of Moors and Christians in Orihulela each year is talking poppycock.

Pam and I have been going for several years now and each time the parades are different. The costumes change and new elements are brought in. Last night’s parade of Christians had colour, imagination, surprises and even a drop of rain thrown in for good measure.

IMG_4374 IMG_4451
IMG_4493 IMG_4505

For more pictures from this spectacular event go to my my album.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Down to the wire

It looked like the two main contenders for the Tour de France were going to be content to let others win the stage yesterday until the last 10km of the climb up the Tourmalet.

Then Andy Shleck put the hammer down and sailed past the race leaders, who at one point, had a nine minute gap. With just 8kms to go, it was Schleck versus Contador. Contador seemed to be willing to allow Schleck to take the pace until, with 3.9kms left to the summit, he put in an attack. Schleck very quickly responded and when he drew alongside, gave his rival a long stare that spoke volumes.

Contador responded to that and graciously let Schleck win the stage by less than a wheels length.

Now it is all down to Saturday’s 52km time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac. Contador is said to be the better time trialler but Schleck has improved his skills in this department over the last year. You can be sure that he will not be giving up without a fight and will ride the time trial of his life. Anything might happen; for example (not that I am wishing this upon him) Contador could loose his chain - that would be ironic. With only eight seconds in it, the race is not over yet.

A lot of voices together in one town

Over a thousand singers forming twenty two choirs from sixteen different countries (including Colombia, Greece, the Philippines, Poland, Serbia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Venezuela, China and the United States) will be taking part in the 56th edition of the international competition held in Torrevieja.

The Habaneras starts tonight at 11pm  with the soloists and will run until Friday 30th July. Apart from the competitors, there will be six local choirs participating in the event. It is a massive undertaking and will provide fabulous entertainment for the thousands of locals and visitors who have tickets.

A short sighted move

When cuts in budgets have to be made then EPA (adult Education) classes are a more or less certain target. That would be such a shame because Bigastro has made a lot of progress in providing classes for adults over the last ten years. Adult education not only enriches people’s lives, it enables them to contribute more to the society in which they live.

This year there were about a hundred students in the various classes: Graduado Escolar, access to Bachiller qualifications, university entrance for the over 25s, alphabetization and new readers classes for those who left school early and of course our Spanish for foreigners class.

However, providing this excellent service does not come cheap. The cost for this last year to the town was about 60,000 Euros.

To help meet this expense, Bigastro receives a subsidy from the Valencian Autonomous Government. Last year the subsidy amounted to 21,650.36 Euros. For next year the subsidy has been reduced to 15,275.77 Euros which represents just 25% of the potential bill that Bigastro faces.

We know that Bigastro, like many Spanish towns, is cash strapped so that may mean that some of the classes have to be cut either altogether or in the number of hours provided. Since courses that lead to qualifications provide more tangible added value, that may mean that e.g. our Spanish class will have to be cut.

I sincerely hope not because, for Pam and I and the others in the class, learning Spanish is of immeasurable importance. I would argue that being able to communicate effectively has allowed us to contribute to the town that looks after us so well. It is only by improving our linguistic skills that we have we been able to integrate properly with bigastrense.

I know that our mayor and the town council will fight hard to get this subsidy increased. I notice that It is one of the key items on the agenda for the next council meeting. I hope the council are successful for the sake of all the students involved.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

That looks familiar

imageI have over 16,000 digital images stored on my computer; over 1,000 of them are on Flickr and about 2,000 on Picasa from my blog. There are also a few hundred of my pictures hosted on the Bigastro web site.

So the chances of one of my photographs turning up on a web site or in a newspaper somewhere are pretty high. I don’t go looking for them but when I see one, I usually recognise it straight away.

Whilst I was scouring the Spanish papers for a story this morning, I came across this one in EuroWeekly. It is an article which explains that Spain has the lowest crime rate in Europe which is of course excellent news for those of us who live here.

What jumped out at me though was not the story but the photograph of Guardia Civil agents. It looked familiar and then I realised it was one I took at the May Fair in Torrevieja.

My photographs on Flickr have a license that allows people to use my images and so EuroWeekly have every right to publish the picture. I’m kind of flattered that they should want to do so and they have credited it to me.

Let me explain that I’m not into photography to make money, it is just an expensive hobby really. In any case, I can’t complain, I have used pictures from online sources, including newspapers to illustrate my blog so it is tit for tat.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The fight over the Rock continues

image Gibraltar was seized by the British in 1704 and the Spanish ceded sovereignty in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht. But Spain has retained a constitutional claim over the territory situated at the gateway to the Mediterranean.

The narrow peninsula was cut off from Spain in 1969 by Gen Francisco Franco when he closed the border from Spain. It was not fully reopened again until 1985, almost ten years after Spain's transition to democracy.

Since 2006, with the creation of the Tripartite Forum for Dialogue, the governments of Spain, Britain and Gibraltar have sought to build a framework of co-operation to improve the life of those who live and work in Gibraltar and the Spanish towns across the border.

However, the mayor of La Linea, the Spanish town bordering Gibraltar, has threatened to introduce a tax on those crossing in an attempt to cash in on the large number of visitors to the Rock. Mayor Alejandra Sanchez of the right-wing Popular Party claims that the socialist government in Madrid has sacrificed the town of La Linea's interests, favouring Gibraltar, to ensure good relations with Britain. He argues that "millions of visitors cross the town to get into the British colony each year", and that most of Gibraltar's income comes from visitors from Spain. "Meanwhile, we have 10,000 unemployed in La Linea. This truly intolerable situation cannot continue," he said.

The town hall of La Linea is said to be close to bankruptcy with recent demonstrations from council workers protesting that they had not been paid their wages.The mayor has therefore ordered a study on the legality of charging vehicles and pedestrians using the border crossing a nominal fee to help swell town council finances.  

Critics of the mayor point out that 7,000 Spanish workers are registered as officially employed in the tiny territory and countless others provide services or supplies. Added to which, many of the 28,000 Gibraltarians own homes over the border in Spain because of a shortage of affordable housing on the Rock itself.

Mayor Sanchez has already been summoned to Madrid by Spain's foreign minister to explain recent hostile action to those attempting to cross into Spain from Gibraltar. Last week he was reprimanded for ordering the local police force to halt vehicles crossing into Spain and carry out document checks, an act that caused long delays and was labelled as "harassment" by Gibraltar's government.

Denied his swan song

Lance Armstrong admitted that his hopes of winning this year’s Tour de France were over last week. Yesterday though,  he wanted to show that he can still cut it in the high mountains by winning a stage in the Pyrénées.

In a long and gruelling stage that started in Bagnères-de-Luchon and negotiated five major climbs – the Peyresourde, the Aspin, the mighty Tourmalet, the Soulor and the Aubisque and with just under 200km before the finish in Pau, he was the leading animator of the day's break, controlling it as he had during his epic years.

Just 30 metres from the finishing line with his head down and his legs  pumping, he watched as Pierrick Fédrigo accelerated away with Sandy Casar and Rubén Plaza Molina in hot pursuit. At that point Armstrong’s hopes of one last stage win were over.

At 38 he will finally retire, still holding the record of those seven consecutive wins between 1999 and 2005 and still the winner of 22 individual stages. Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and  Miguel Indurain trail him with five wins (Merckx of course won 10 jerseys in total).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Was it unsporting?

When Andy Schleck lost his chain yesterday, Alberto Contador took advantage of the situation to gain some time on his opponent.

In an interview after the race, Contador said that he didn’t know that Schleck had problems with his chain.  I’m not sure that I would believe that. Contador is in constant contact with his team via radio and his team would have seen the problem on TV so I am sure he would have been aware of the situation.

In any case, how far does this sort of unwritten rule apply? When Armstrong crashed three times in an earlier stage, nobody thought to stop and let him catch up and in F1, if a driver has mechanical problems, then the rest of the teams just carry on. Why should it be different in cycling.

Anyway, Contador has made a public apology and Shleck has accepted it so that is an end to the matter. Let’s get back on with the race. THere was a lot of climbing today, tomorrow is a rest day and then they return to the Col de Tourmalet where Shleck says he can make a stamp on the general classification. We shall see.

21 today

image When we lived in Greasby, Pam and I adopted our neighbour’s youngest son as our own token son. Andrew would regularly come across to our house for a drink and raid the biscuit tin. As he grew up, we went to all of his birthday parties.

Now Andrew is all grown up, has just graduated with an LLB at Liverpool John Moores University and today celebrates his 21st birthday. This will probably be his last birthday party and the only one we will have missed. Sorry Andrew but with so many trips to the UK this year for various reasons we just could not fit another one in.

Still we will be there in spirit to offer him many happy returns of the day, congratulate him on his great success at University and wish him all the best for the future.

For the young (or young at heart)

imageThere are a number of water parks in this area including the one at Torrevieja. Aqualandia at Benidorm, probably the best known and is a very popular attraction in the summer months.

Bigastro has organised a trip there for Tuesday 3rd August. The price is 18 € which includes the cost of the coach and entrance to the park. Those who wish, can also book for the 11.50 € menu of the day.

The coach will leave will be from the Puerta de Álvaro at 9am and return sometime in the evening.

Anyone interested should register at the lower floor in the Ayuntamiento Bigastro before the 30th July.

Santa Ana


The fiesta season is well under way. This weekend we have Moors and Christians parades in Orihuela and the celebrations to honour Santa Ana in Bigastro.

Friday 23rd at 11pm there will be a celebration of the 80s with Red Diamond and Dj Billy.

Saturday 24th at 10am the Great Sardinada; at 10pm a dinner dance in the park at the Barrio Santa Ana with the presentation of the queens for the August fiesta at midnight followed by a drag queen and then music.

Sunday 25th at 8am - Charamita, at 11:30am Holy Mass in the park. At 6:30pm there will be a fair for the little ones and at 9:30 the great evening of the Morera of the Potato and Wine (the morera or white mulberry is the symbolic tree of the barrio).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Delays for air passengers

Delays at Alicante airport yesterday were caused by the action of air traffic controllers. Although, El Altet had its full compliment of controllers for the morning shift and two out of three for the afternoon, other airports in the chain faced major problems notably at El Prat in Barcelona. In the morning, delays were about an hour and the half; by the evening that had been reduced to about 45 minutes.

These delays could carry on throughout the summer period as controllers threaten to continue action until their work rotas are properly organised.

A warm welcome to immigrants

Yesterday I wrote about the problems of immigration in Britain but what of immigration here in this part of Spain.

Alicante has the highest immigrant population of any province in Spain.

Data shows that 62.63% of the foreign population in this province came from other European countries. In total there are more than 290,439 foreigners out of which the largest group are British (130,000) making up 44% of the total followed by the Germans, Rumanians and the Dutch.

Bucking the trend for the rest of the Valencian Community and for Spain in general, the immigrant population of Alicante has increased over last year. Experts put this down to the fact that many of the people who come to live here are not “economic immigrants”. Many people still come to Alicante to retire just like we did. The main exceptions are of course the Rumanians and Bulgarians who are here to seek employment.

The Conselleria de Solidaridad y Ciudadanía says that the region is a land of welcome adding that the Comunitat is a crucible of cultures and a sample of effective policies of integration developed by the Valencian Autonomous Government.

Two guesses

imageI’ll give you two guesses as to what we can expect weather-wise this week. OK, you have already cheated and looked at the chart.

Whilst we were in England, the weather was very good – warm and pleasant with only the odd bit of cloud to mar our pleasure. Pam remarked that there was no better place to be when the weather was like that.

Unfortunately, as those of us who have lived in England know, that sort of weather rarely lasts. When our youngest daughter phoned last night she told us that pleasant sunshine had given way to rain and cold.  She thinks that is why our granddaughter Molly has now caught her first cold.

Dosed up with Calpol and Tixylix, we hope little Molly gets over her cold soon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

An invitation

Hi Keith,
Firstly may I thank you for your daily updates which although I don't live in Bigastro I always read and enjoy.  Entre Naranjos has recently become a village in it's own right and this week we are having a fiesta to celebrate. It is on Mon, Tues, Wed 19th, 20th, 21st July from 9.00am-6.00pm although people are welcome to stay as long as they wish and they can also visit the local bars or go to the golf club for a drink and to enjoy the wonderful views.  Exite radio are doing a live road show with many superb acts, including street dancing, keep fit, Abba Elite and many more. On Wednesday there is a classic car show starting at 1.00pm. Each day there will also be 100 market stalls. The opening speeches are at 1.00pm on Monday. We would like to invite all our neighbours from Bigastro to join us in this historic event. We are as passionate about Entre Naranjos as you obviously are about Bigastro and I think it is a nice idea for villages to communicate with each other.
Best Wishes,
Gill Reynolds

Thank you for that information GIll which, as you can see I have passed on via my blog. 

When we first moved to Bigastro people described Entre Naranjas as the lost city because it did not seem to have an identity. It is great to hear that you have now found ourselves and even have your own fiesta which I hope is well supported.

Is Britain a soft touch?

The news that France imposed a ban on wearing burkas in public has sparked off fresh debate on the subject in a number of countries. It has also stoked up the debate about immigration in countries like Britain.

The immigration minister for Britain,  Damian Green said that to place a ban on burkas would be “rather un-British” and run contrary to the conventions of a “tolerant and mutually respectful society”. He said it would be “undesirable” for Parliament to vote on a burka ban in Britain and that there was no prospect of the Coalition proposing it.

He added that this summer would see a major crackdown on the main streams of illegal immigration — including sham marriages, illegal workers and people trafficking — and confirmed that this autumn the Government would set an overall cap on migrants entering Britain from outside the European Union.

The minister admits that other countries hold the view that Britain’s borders are not very well defended and that, if you can get into the country, it’s relatively easy to operate there, to work illegally and so on.

It seems that Mr Green is right; the new head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) says that Britain was the most welcoming country in Europe for Muslims. He pointed to the spread of mosques and sharia, or Islamic law, as positive signs of the greater freedom Muslims are given in this country.

That is all well and good and perhaps we should applaud Britain for being  such a tolerant country. There is a difference though between being tolerant and being a “soft touch”  and I sense that many now feel that Britain is a soft touch. It is certainly a different country to the one I grew up in.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Come on baby light my fire

The BBQ season at Casa El Willo is now well underway. Whenever we have anything that can be grilled or roasted, it goes on one of my two Webers (gas downstairs near the kitchen and charcoal on the roof terrace).

A few tips for those who are new to the art of cooking over fire. Most important of all, if you are using charcoal or wood, you need to light the fire well in advance so the coals are glowing red and covered in a layer of white ash. This will take at least 30 minutes with charcoal, even longer with gathered wood. With gas you need to heat it up until the temperature is as hot as it will get.

Why, because you need to get the bars really hot to stop food from sticking to them. Then, It is better to lightly to oil the food and lay it on searing hot bars than attempt to oil the bars themselves and don’t be tempted to move things about too quickly or too often on your BBQ. You need the food to build up a burned edge at the point of contact with the bars, so it won't break up or tear when you flip it.

Most people are happy to cook the odd beef burger, sausage or a piece of steak but in fact the BBQ is much more versatile than that. Here are for a few foods you might want to try to ring the changes:-

Tomatoes Cut in half lengthways, brush with olive oil and grill, cut side down, for about three minutes.

Garlic Trickle whole garlic bulbs with olive or rapeseed oil, wrap in foil and grill until tender, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly, then squeeze cooked cloves on to steak or toasted bread, or use them to make aïoli.

Sardines Rub gutted sardines with a little olive oil and season with chopped garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Ideally, put them into a barbecue fish basket to make it easier to turn them, and cook for two to three minutes a side.

Fruit kebabs Thread cubes of apple, pear, banana, mango, pineapple, halved figs or plums on to skewers. Brush with honey thinned with a little apple or orange juice and grill over a low, fading barbecue, turning very frequently, until lightly caramelised, about five minutes.

Peaches or nectarines Halve, then brush the cut sides with a little melted butter, sprinkle lightly with brown sugar and grill, cut side down, for three to four minutes. Serve with ricotta, ice-cream or mascarpone and a sprinkling of toasted flaked almonds or chopped hazelnuts.

Pineapple Cut a fresh pineapple into quarters, brush with melted butter mixed with brandy or white rum. Cook both cut sides for about four minutes or so and then serve with more spirit and ice-cream.

In fact I will cook almost anything on my BBQs from whole chicken* and even turkey* to paella. And one last tip, on a charcoal BBQ try throwing a few handfuls of oak or hickory chippings or herbs such as rosemary on the coals to add a delicious smoky flavour to your food.

* Don't try that on a Spanish chimnea.

A bit of a dilemma for the Government

As we all know, prostitution is big business in Spain, said to be worth €18bn a year. Estimates claim there are about 200,000 sex workers in the country, nearly all of them immigrants, many of them illegal.

Although the young ladies ply their trade in the streets and brothels, prostitutes or putas often advertise in newspapers as well. In fact Spain is the only European country where the "quality" press carries adverts for sex. With the migration of most classified advertising to the internet, prostitution now accounts for 60% of the Spanish classified ad market.

Most of the newspaper ads are not placed by individual women but by the mafias – largely from Romania, Nigeria and various Latin American countries – who exploit them. Proof of this emerged this month when police broke up a prostitution network in Madrid after following up ads in various papers. The women were being forced to give half their earnings to pimps, and much of the rest went on paying for their lodgings, leaving them, the police said, "in a state of near slavery".

In an attempt to clean up the act, the Spanish government has put itself on collision course with the national press with the announcement that it wants to ban adverts offering sexual services from their classified sections. President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero made the announcement during this week's state of the nation speech, saying it was part of a strategy to fight the people trafficking and sexual exploitation that was rife in the country. "As long as these advertisements exist, they contribute to the idea of this activity as normal," he said.

Unfortunately, the explicit adverts, which fill at least a page in most of Spain's dailies, are worth €40m a year to the struggling newspaper industry. So the Association of Spanish Newspaper Editors has responded to the announcement by saying that the logical policy would be for the government to make prostitution illegal. They argue that If prostitution was illegal then placing adverts in newspapers would by definition become illegal.

However if the ads are banned, then newspapers will want to be compensated and, worryingly for Zapatero, El País, a staunch supporter of his socialist party, is the paper that earns the most from this form of advertising. In spite of its left-liberal sensibilities and readership profile, the paper earns €5m a year from advertising prostitution.

Surprisingly, the most openly religious daily, ABC, also runs the ads; El Publíco is the only national that does not run them as a matter of policy.

The fascination of Le Tour

If you think that cycle racing is just about getting on a bike and peddling as fast as you can, then you should watch the Tour de France. The sport is as much about tactics and outwitting your opponents as it is about speed.

The most obvious example is the way that on flat stages teams work to ensure that their fastest man is in a good position for the final sprint to the line. On those kind of days you also find teams working together in the peleton to reel back breakaway groups. Of course, if a team has a promising rider in a breakaway group, then they will be reluctant to help draw the riders back in. They are also less willing to chase a breakaway if the people in it are unlikely to affect the general classification.

Television commentators try to predict what tactics might be applied from day to day but often they get it completely wrong.

Yesterday we saw a different form of tactical riding by Alberto Contador. He knows that on long climbs, his rival for the crown Andy Schleck, will react to any movements he makes. Yesterday’s stage finished with a short but brutal climb. Contador took advantage of that and made a dash once he was close to the summit.

Although Shleck reacted to the move, he wasn’t able to keep up with the Spaniard and lost ten seconds of his lead. That might not sound much but psychologically it was significant because Contador has now revealed a weakness in his opponent. You can be sure that he will exploit that weakness in the Pyrenees where we can expect him to challenge Shleck over and over again. Or maybe he wont, maybe he will wait for the time trial – we shall have to wait and see.

If the unexpected makes Le Tour a fascinating race to watch, it was even more interesting in the past. For example, In 1950 when the summer was particularly hot, many of the riders got off their bikes and ran into the Mediterranean at Ste-Maxime. They were of course penalised by the judges.Then in 1978, the peloton decided to ride slowly all day and finally walked across the line at Valence d'Agen in protest at having to get up early to ride more than one stage in a day. I don’t suppose anybody saw either of those events coming.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blowing my own trumpet

imageIt wasn’t the photograph I was after but nether the less it caught the eye of the writer of the online journal Qi who chose it as Photo of the Day.

Imagine if I had managed to get out there a few minutes earlier and caught a shot of the full sun just before it dipped below the mountains!

Worry not, a moment of fame will not go to my head. There is no need for you to queue outside my door with prints of my images  waiting for me to sign them.  However, it is nice to get a bit of recognition now and again. 

Thank you Qi for making my day.

It rained on St Swithin’s day

I love the fact that we wake up each morning in the summer knowing that the weather will be good, knowing that there is no need to consult the paper to see whether it will be fine. We don’t have to wonder whether it will be safe to venture out without an umbrella because the chances of rain are almost nil. It is a little overcast this morning but it won’t last. As soon as the sun gets high enough, the clouds will burn away.

OK, I admit there are days when it is very hot and even the lightest of tasks feels like an exertion. On those days I would hate to have a job outside in the blazing heat of the sun but I don’t. When it is too hot, I can dip in the pool, sit under a sun umbrella or even stay inside with the air conditioning turned on if I so wish. Being soaked with sweat might not be pleasant but it beats being soaked by cold rain any day.

I’m telling you all this because our friends; Rachael, David, Gillian and Steve are all returning to England within the next few days. Both couples have been out to their holiday homes for about a month or so and look really well for it. Tanned, relaxed and with smiles on their faces, you can see how much they have benefited from time in Bigastro.

image What can they expect to face on their return to Blighty? It could be anything from gales and heavy rain to gentle summer sun or maybe, if they are really lucky, a heat wave that lasts more than a day. 

If St Swithin’s day tales are to be believed, it will be rain because it rained on Thursday. Beaches were battered by strong winds and some areas had an inch of rain. According to legend, if it rains on St Swithin’s day, you can expect 40 days of bad weather.

If that is the case, then our friends tans will start to fade, the smiles will give way to frowns and frustration will set in as they realise that their plans for summer events are constantly thwarted by the British weather. Give them a week of bad weather and they will wish to be back in Bigastro.

People ask me, “would I ever consider going back to England?” Not for a town hall clock! I don’t do rain and I don’t do wind.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

He came and went

The man who installed our air conditioning arrived yesterday afternoon to sort out the unit in the bedroom in particular and to a lesser extent the one in the lounge.

The split units were installed five years ago and so I reasoned that they might be low on gas. After Emilio and his son inspected the bedroom unit, they came to the same conclusion. Although the fan blows air through, it neither cools nor dries it making the room uncomfortable to sleep in at night.

Unfortunately they had no bottles of gas in the van, so they will be coming back on Friday morning to complete the job.

That made for a restless night again. This time though the dogs weren’t barking but I did hear cars going down Calle Le Vigan during the early hours of the morning and not just one or two. In the time I was awake, there must have been half a dozen or more. Maybe I should make a trip up to La Pedrera one night to find out what is going on or maybe not!. I’m probably better off not knowing!

Choirs on the beach

image Lovers of choral music will not want to miss "Habaneras en la Playa" starting at 10:30pm on the Playa del Cura this Saturday night. Five local choirs will be on hand to fill the summer air with their voices.

PS If you are going, don’t forget to take chairs to sit on.

Music in the street


Now that the work to reform Calle Purisima is complete, the Ayuntamiento have organised musical concerts to take place there.

Various groups from the Bigastro School of Music will be playing there for the next three Friday nights starting at 10:30pm each night.

That is such a lovely idea which I am sure will encourage people to go out and enjoy the bars and restaurants or simply take a stroll in the cool of the evening.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I sit in awe

imageThe thought of riding over 205kms on any terrain sends shivers down my spine. To do so with a few nasty mountains to climb makes me feel weak at the knees.

That is what the contestants in the Tour de France did yesterday. This first few climbs were just a prelude to the 2000 metre high Col de Madeleine – a massive 1626 metre climb in the heat of a summers day.

When you saw the race leaders sprinting to the finish, you just wondered where on earth they got their energy from – mine would have been well gone on that first climb. Even when I was younger and rode a bike a lot, by that stage, I would have been a quivering wreck ready to go home.

After an interesting day in the high mountains, the race lead has transferred to Andy Shelck who I expect will keep the yellow jersey until at least the Pyrenees and may even hold it until the individual time trial.

Sadly for the young Saxo Bank rider, the Spaniard, Alberto Contador is the better time trialler and so will likely gain back any time he has lost on that stage. If I was a betting man, which I am not, my money would be on Contador to be in yellow on the Champs-Élysées but who knows, there is plenty of racing left to go.

A rubbish case

Following the recent corruption scandal about the awarding of lucrative rubbish collection contracts, entitled ‘Caso Brugal' , several representatives have released statements explaining their role in investigations including the Mayor of Orihuela, Monica Lorente, whose offices were among those raided by the National Police.

Ms Lorente stressed that all of the documents seized are “public and transparent”, and that it was “a low key affair and everyone collaborated with the National Police at all times”. The investigating officers only wanted documents from the three offices of the Councillors Manolo Abadia, Antonio Rodriguez Murcia and Gines Sanchez and in no case from their private addresses. Ms Lorente went on to say that nine hours later the Councillors were required to accompany the Police to make a “brief statement”, before leaving amicably. Local Businessman, Angel Fenoll, and his son, Antonio Ángel Fenoll, were also held for questioning.

According to sources from the ‘Tribunal Superior de Justicia de la Comunitat Valenciana’ (TSJCV), the five defendants gave statements, in connection with crimes of fraud, embezzlement, influential activity for personal gain and bribery. The three Oriolano Councillors were released, whilst Angel Fenoll was charged with five offences relating to fraud, with a provisional prison sentence pending bail of 300,000 Euros, and his son the same with bail pegged at 100,000 Euros.  Meanwhile, the future of the President of the Provincial Council, Jose Joaquín Ripoll and four of his counterparts, hangs in the balance, with various charges still pending. However, the Judge has ruled not to deny his freedom at this stage.

Sleep walkers

The road where Pam and I live is so quiet. Hardly anyone walks past the house except in the summer when groups of young people stray down from the swimming pool at La Pedrera heading back into the town.

So why is it so popular in the middle of the night when all the good folk are asleep? Whenever anyone goes past at night, the two dogs across the road do their duty and bark their heads off. The message is then passed onto the dogs further down the road who join in. In the winter, when the windows are shut it would not matter but in summer when the windows are open at night it is damn annoying.

Last night I must have been woken at least three times. First you hear the dogs, then the people’s voices and finally the dogs settle and sleep returns but only for a short time.

I can only imagine what these people might be up to visiting the leisure zone in the early hours of the morning. Actually , the truth is I don’t really care but I do wish they would take a different route home that didn’t pass my house.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Moors and Christians in Orihuela

image I have now found the information I needed about the Moors and Christian parades in Orihuela from the official  web site.

The two parades that we are interested in are as follows and not as I previously stated:-


-21,00 h. SOLEMNE DESFILE DE ENTRADA CRISTIANA. Abriéndolo las Banderas y Boato de la Asociación, "Armengola 2010" y Escolta.


-21’00 h. SOLEMNE DESFILE DE ENTRADA MORA. Abriéndolo las Banderas y Boato de la Asociación, "Armengola 2010" y Escolta.

Unfair but legal

The 1992 law which governs the application of IVA says that those services which are continuous over time should be charged at the rate valid at the time of billing.

As you know, IVA was increased to 18% on the 1st July. That rate applies to telecommunications, electricity and gas; water is now charged at 8%.

That means that any bill you receive for utilities after the 1st of July or has a payment date after the 1st July even though it is for the period prior will show the new rate. It might seem unfair but it is legal.

Gee that’s cool

imageNo, not the weather which remains hot. I'm referring to the new feature on the AEMET web site which shows a graph of temperature evolution.

Actually I would prefer to see the relative humidity levels.

Looking at the chart, it will be another great week for sun worshippers but a bad week for selling raincoats.

I hope the man I called yesterday about a service for the air conditioning calls me back soon. The unit in the bedroom is just circulating warm air which probably means it needs more gas. The one in the lounge is doing better but still not chilling the air as it should do.

The temperature in the bedroom at ceiling level is about 26 degrees which does not make for a comfortable night's sleep.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bad luck strikes Armstrong

Lance Armstrong's dreams of an eighth victory in the Tour de France tumbled to a halt literally as he was involved in three crashes in yesterday's stage leaving him 13:26 off the race leader Cadel Evans.

The American's woes began six kilometres into the race, when a domino effect from a crash at the front of the peloton forced him to swerve on to a grass verge. At the 140km (87-mile) mark, Armstrong fell as the peloton were navigating past a roundabout and needed his team-mates to bring him back to the main field.

As if that wasn’t enough, the RadioShack rider was left fuming when he was unseated as a result of two Euskaltel Euskadi riders colliding in front of him.

The defending champion, Alberto Contador of Spain, stayed with the leaders up until the final kilometre. Then, after finishing 10 seconds behind, he trails Australian world champion by 1:01 in the general classification.

Britain’s Bradley Wiggins, who stayed with the pace until final three kilometres, is 14th overall, 2:45 behind Evans.

Today is a rest day - a time for reflection by Armstrong who can only dream of what might have been.

España campeona del mundo.

The barbecue was over, we had enjoyed our repast and were ready to watch the great match. What we expected was a balance between the technical skill of the Dutch and the artistry of the Spaniards. It was bound to be a tense affair because of what was at stake but we reasoned that nerves would quickly settle and we would be treated to a night of great football.

What we got was downright ugly. Newspapers variously described it as toxic or at best, very rough. By the time the final whistle had blown the referee had awarded so many yellow cards I did wonder if there was enough space on the card for all the names. Spain might have won the match but the Dutch had scored more fouls (28 resulting in 9 yellow cards and 1 red).

In the first few minutes I had Spain ahead, they even looked as though they were going to score. Then came the yellow cards - 5 within 28 minutes. That did nothing for the rhythm of the game but what choice did the referee have? For sure, Nigel de Jong should have had a red card for planting his foot in the chest of Xabi Alonso. That might have settled the game down.

The second half was no better than the first, the few touches of brilliance were spoiled by the continuing ugliness that the game had descended to. And so it came to extra time and desperation crept in. Finally the Spaniards scored and deservedly won the trophy – Queen Sofia was delighted as was Prince Filipe and Letizia The Dutch, on the other hand, looked poor losers. We saw their manager remove his runners up medal shortly after it had been placed around his neck. That simple act spoke volumes about the Dutch attitude to the game.

So what of the celebrations here in Bigastro? Well my neighbour lived up to form with some superbly loud fireworks but only a few. Then, as we stood on the roof terrace, we could see rockets taking to the sky across the whole of the Vega Baja. The collective sound of thousands of Spaniards shouting “campeones” filled the air. Finally the party settled down but only briefly because, this is a win which will be celebrated for days if not weeks. Dave, BC and I will celebrate this with a Cruzcampo in August and again in September.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tonight’s going to be a good, good night.

There isn’t a more more appropriate song for tonight than the Black Eyed Peas “I got a feeling” because tonight, one of the two greatest footballing nations will join that elite group of seven that have won the World Cup (Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina and France).

Will it be the Dutch, who are unbeaten in 25 games and desperately want to be third time lucky. If they are, then they will emulate the 1970 Brazil squad who had a 100 per cent record in both qualifying and the tournament itself.

Or will it be Spain, home to arguably the two greatest clubs in football history and who boast a dismal World Cup record having never finished higher than fourth. Their previous best performance was in Brazil 60 years ago. Has their time come, they are after all Euro 2008 Champions.

Strangely, for two of the great footballing nations, Spain and Holland have met only nine times over 90 years of international football, and only three times in championships. Forget the past though, as they meet for the tenth time it will be the big one for them. For one of the teams, their hopes and dreams will be realised and they will go home to a rapturous welcome. I just hope that it is Spain. With the state of the country at the moment we need the sort of boost that a victory would bring.

It is time to get out the lucky pants and hope that they still fit!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Le Tour

For me, theTour de France proper begins today when the riders nudge their way into the mountains, or at least the foothill of the Alps, during the 165.5km from Tournus to Station des Rousses.

With three category two climbs and a couple of short sharp category three ascents it is testing rather than epic in any way but it does conclude with summit finish on the 1145m Cote de Lamoura.

Inevitably most interest will centre on Lance Armstrong who needs to get busy and be proactive after losing time to all his big general classification rivals on the cobbles on Tuesday when he was unlucky to puncture at a key moment.

The days to come will see the riders tackle the high mountains of the Alps: Sunday-  Station des Rousses > Morzine-Avoriaz and then Tuesday -Morzine-Avoriaz > Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. Apart from the interest in the climbs, the TV coverage of the scenery will be just breathtaking.

Wall to wall fun and enjoyment

Is it any wonder that summer is our favourite season of the year. We have the sunshine, the warm nights and best of all, the activities of summer to look forward to.

The big news at the moment is of course the final of the World Cup between Spain and Holland on Sunday. Pam and I have invited our friends Rachael and David around for a BBQ that night so they can enjoy the game with us. We have our fingers, toes and everything else crossed for a good result.

Then there is the Tour de France followed later by the Vuelta de España which, as I have mentioned before comes to Orihuela this year.

Most of all, Pam and I are looking forward to our family coming to visit in August for the local fiesta. It will be a special occasion for us because the night of San Joaquín happens to coincide with our 40th wedding anniversary.

Before that though we have the parades for Moors and Christians in Orihuela. For the past couple of years we watched the parades with scout John. We sincerely hope we will be able to accompany him again this year and maybe, if the time is right, our friends Rachael and David will come along with us. The dates for this year are the 12th to the 18th so I imagine the parades will be on the 16th and 17th. If memory serves me right, it is the turn of the Christians to parade on the Friday.

Days languishing by the pool, evenings dining outside wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and a T-shirt – life does not get any better than this – esto es jauja truly sums it up.

Friday, July 09, 2010


Raquel Those of you who were at the flute concert where Raquel Diaz performed will know just how talented this 17 year old girl is.

When she finishes school this year Raquel plans to go to music school to continue her studies. The young lady therefore applied to the Conservatoires in Barcelona, Zaragoza and Murcia.

There was stiff competition for places and Raquel had to face gruelling theory and practical exams at all three. The good news is that she was accepted by both Barcelona and Murcia and has chosen to go to the Conservatori Municipal de Música de Barcelona where she enjoyed working with the Professor of Music.

Raquel now faces four years of intense study after which she hopes to go to Switzerland to continue her learning.

I asked her yesterday when she might be ready to start work and she replied, “never”. I hope for her father’s sake that is not true!

I also asked if she had a boyfriend to which she replied, "music is my boyfriend". I imagine a lot of young bigastrenses will be disappointed to hear that.

England at the World Cup Final

image The team might have been sent home in disgrace but England will still have a representative at the World Cup final after Fifa confirmed that Howard Webb is to referee Sunday's showpiece event between Holland and Spain.

Webb will become the first official to oversee both the Champions League final and the World Cup final in the same season. The 38-year-old Yorkshireman, who is currently on a five-year break from South Yorkshire police where he serves as a sergeant, will be assisted by Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey.

PS Is it purely by chance that his shirt is red with a yellow stripe?

Mark Cavendish at last


With football over for the British, it is time to concentrate on successes that might come from other sports for example cycling.

Manxman, Mark Cavendish bounced back from the setbacks of recent days to win a sprint finish into Montargis and claim his 11th Tour de France stage victory.

Cavendish was unable to contest the sprint on the first stage after a crash and finished a disappointing 12th in Wednesday's fourth-stage finish. But his HTC-Columbia lead-out man Mark Renshaw set him up perfectly for an emotional win on stage five.

Making money out of rubbish

Over 100 officers took part in the police operation launched early on Tuesday morning. The national police officers were acting on the orders of the anti-corruption prosecutor in Alicante and an Orihuela judge.

Their job was to detain Alicante provincial president José Joaquin Ripoll along with three councillors from Orihuela and several prominent local businessmen as part of an investigation linked to the awarding of lucrative rubbish collection contracts.

According to the ministry of the interior, those arrested have been charged with bribery, fraud, peddling of political favours and perverting the course of justice.

However, a press release sent out from the Regional Supreme Court in Valencia on Wednesday afternoon states that the judge investigating the case had not released an order for charges to be brought as yet.

Sr Ripoll maintains that he has not committed any crime.

Time to get out the neon rave lycra

The Fiesta Commission in collaboration with the Metrodanceclub have organised what used to be called a rave which they entitle METRO EVENT OUTDOORS for this Saturday starting at midnight.

The event will be a journey through dance music from 1987 to the present day presented by DJ JUSTO, DJ MIGUE, DJ CHARLYE, DAVID BORDALAS and JESÚS ORTEGA.

With more than 20,000 watts of sound, lights, DJs and the personal seal of the Metrodanceclub, this promises to be an exciting prelude to the August Fiesta for San Joaquín.

Before you rush out to buy your earplugs, I should point out that the event will take place at the Polideportivo Municipal which is hopefully far enough away for us to still enjoy our beauty sleep.

PS I do hope the people who attend the event still have enough energy left to get behind Spain on Sunday.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A considered opinion

In reply to my post about Spain’s game against Germany, Dave wrote:-

Hi Keith. Football's a game of skill, craft and guile therefore predictions are all part of it (as with any sport). You should ask Mr William Hill or Mr Paddy Power whether people shouldn't make predictions!! It's when you incorrectly predict a score and don't have the ability to recognise that you got it wrong, when the problems occur.
I genuinely thought the Germans would beat the Spanish, and I don't know how the game went because I was at a (brilliant) Crosby, Stills and Nash concert last night, but fair's fair, the Spanish are through. Well done!

Honestly, I think Spain will now beat Holland on Sunday. However, my heart wants the Dutch to win because of two things: Firstly, I spent time in NL as a child as one of my Dad's best friends is Dutch, and secondly, if the Dutch win then the tournament would not have gone along with everybody's expectations (ie. a Spain win) and that would be great - if there's one thing that destroys sport for the neutral (but not the player / team involved), it's predictability. Of course, when your own team is involved you just want to win, but when the final is between two people or teams that you have no allegiance to, then it's nice to see a different outcome form time to time. A Dutch win would add a bit of that in my opinion.
I'm not supporting Holland because I want to see your team lose, but nevertheless, come on 'The Oranje'!!

Either way, it is a final between two teams who have huge potential but haven't quite hit top gear yet. Let's hope they both reach top gear on Sunday and provide a finale fitting for such a tournament. However, I fear that because of the nature of the game (ie. the world's biggest football match), each team will be trying hard not to lose (rather than to actually win), therefore it will be a scrappy, low scoring affair. This then comes full circle as to why I thought (and wanted) the Germans to win. They were the only team to show any kind of attacking impetus during the World Cup knock-out stages but it wasn't to be.

One thing's for sure though, you should join in the prediction thing - it's fun, I promise!!

PS. your firework comment shows that you have actually predicted Spain will win - be careful ;)
Good luck on Sunday.

Dave knows more about the beautiful game than anyone else I have met so I totally respect his opinion.  Most people had Germany favourites for the game between them and Spain but things did not work out that way.

I hope the game on Sunday isn’t scrappy and that who ever gets to lift the trophy shows that they deserve the honour on the night.

As for going to see Crosby, Stills and Nash – I would have made the same choice in the blink of an eye. I can only imagine how brilliant the concert was.

Europe and now maybe the World

My daughter's boyfriend, Dave told me that Spain’s World Cup would come to an end last night. As far as he was concerned, Germany were unstoppable. As good as the Spaniards were, they wouldn’t beat a team who had shown Argentina the door with a four nil defeat.

Well,as we all know now, he was wrong. Xavi fooled the Germans by directing a long shot with his left foot which flew directly to Puyol’s head and from there past the keeper into the net.

That wasn’t the only time that Spain looked as though they would enter the final of the competition. On my television it looked as though Spain had the upper hand for most of the match. Their passing left to right and back again dazzled the opposition who seemed powerless to keep the ball. Queen Sofia was there and looked delighted that her team had triumphed.

I am not going to make any predictions for the final and nor should Dave. What I do know is that my neighbour Manuel will be stocking up with fireworks for Sunday in preparation. I can’t wait to hear them go off!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The triumphant band


By all accounts the concert in Valencia was a great success.

Even though they had to set off early, the three hundred bigastrenses that accompanied the band throughly enjoyed their day and came home proud of their band.

I’m glad to see that they managed to get some excellent photographs to record this very special event. As I have said before, I just wish they were mine!


Coming home

Although I am really looking forward to returning home to Bigastro, I shall miss the company of Jemma, Laura, Dave and of course Molly.

They have gone out of their way to make our stay in England really special and we do appreciate that.

On this trip we also got to meet Jemma’s boyfriend Dan who seems a really nice bloke – well suited to her. Jemma has had some difficult relationships in the past, we just hope that this one works out for her – she deserves it.

The good news is that the two girls, Dave, Dan, Molly and Dave’s parents, Joan and BC will be out to see us in Spain in just a few weeks time. I’m sure we will all have a great time – Pam and I will do our best to make it as special for them.

Now I just hope the cases aren’t too much overweight with all the things we are bringing back to Spain.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Archie’s Christening

IMG_4199a IMG_4267a

Let’s not forget the star of the show – Archie. On the left with the priest and on the right with his Granddad Colin.

Archie’s Christening

IMG_4288a IMG_4221a
IMG_4275a  IMG_4277a

If the main purpose of our visit to England was to sort out Pam’s father's house, then the highlight was the parties in Wolverhampton.

Friday we had a BBQ at our daughter Jemma’s house. Saturday was the turn of Erica and Colin (her granddad) to celebrate their birthdays in Solihull. She was three and he was sixty.

Yesterday we were back in Solihull for the christening of Archie Timbrell.

It was a golden opportunity to get some pictures of the children there. From left to right; Erica (the three year old daughter of Lee and Laura), our granddaughter Molly. On the bottom row are Grace and Zack who are the children of Jarod, the brother of Laura – cousins to Archie.

Good to come back to


We simply cannot complain about the weather we have had in England for our stay. Admittedly there has been teh odd cloudy day but mostly it has been sunny and quite warm.

Many of the people we’ve met have asked, “what is the weather like in your part of Spain?”

Well here you can see, it is sunny, hot and dry – shorts and T-shirt weather all week. It should be nice and warm on Tuesday for our return. 

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Permission to blow the town up

image It seems that you now have to seek permission to set off fireworks in Bigastro.
image You have to give five days notice and let the town hall know just what fireworks you intend to set off. 

As far as I know,  in England it is only on Guy Fawkes night and New Year that you have permission to have a firework display.

Friday, July 02, 2010

How dozy are we?

Everything had gone so well with our trip to England, we just knew that a mistake was waiting to happen. This morning we set off from the hotel we were staying at. The taxi arrived on time and whisked us to Liverpool Lime Street in minutes.

We checked the departure board at the station to find our train to Wolves would be leaving from platform 8. Lo and behold, the train was there waiting for us. However, what we did not realise that the train was actually the one before ours – still going to Wolves but more with expensive tickets.

No problem, we could simply get off the train at the next station and wait  half an hour for ours to arrive. What we did not realise that the next train would come in at a different platform so we missed that. At this point Pam’s sandal broke so she was hobbling around with a heavy suitcase and two bags. That was three things and as everyone knows,  bad luck comes in threes.

Fortunately the next train to Wolves came in on the platform we were on and the guard accepted our excuse and let us carry on with the journey. So we are on he last stage of our trip. This is the fun part where we get to go to BBQs and a christening.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Bitten because of the rain

The heavy rain in June has caused more problems. As a result of all the flooding, there are now more places for mosquitoes to breed.

The plague of mosquitoes at the moment is so bad that people were unable to sit out at night. For example, people wanting to watch the Spain Portugal match on their terraces complained about being eaten alive. They are also frightened to use the communal swimming pools and visit the local parks.

The problem is particularly bad in the urbanisations close to the salt lakes of Torrevieja. In those areas, shops have sold out of aerosols and the plug in repellents. 

So at least that means there is some good in being in England at the moment.

Almost there

It has been a long two weeks but we are now almost there. Pam and I had set out to clear her father’s house and get it ready for market and that is what we have done.

The task was not made easy by the fact that nothing had ever been thrown away. To make matters worse though, none of it was sorted. We found old photographs in at least three locations including the garage. Household bills were just everywhere, in the kitchen cupboards, in dressing table drawers and in wardrobes. The paperwork was all left in the original envelopes including the advertising rubbish that came with it. There were over fifty boxes of slides to look atand a mountain of letters and newspaper cuttings to sift through.

As for crockery and glassware; there were umpteen sets – some hardly used. A lot of the stuff had been inherited from relatives who had past away. Much of it was fairly cheap everyday ware but amongst it all there were some valuable pieces of china which we have kept.

Yesterday, the people who we got in to clear the house took three van loads to the tip and a further van load to charity shops. At least we know that means the decent stuff will have another life including the three ducks I posted on my Flickr 365 album.

A few high moments; Pam found £1260 in notes silver and the gold jewellery brought a further £680 so her father can have a few more weeks at the care home!

Job done, we can enjoy a few relaxing days with our eldest daughter in Wolves and then fly home for a rest.