Monday, February 28, 2011

The best laid plans

We had intended to go down to Torrevieja yesterday afternoon to watch the Carnaval parade but the weather forecast was decidedly glum so we changed our plans and went to the concert in Bigastro instead.

Even though the weather improved by midday, we did not regret our decision for one minute because it was by anybody's standards a fantastic performance. You can see my photos from the concert by clicking on this link.

NB Normally I take my tripod to these events and set up somewhere near the back. The problem is that I then only get one perspective of the stage so last night I moved further down the auditorium and moved around to get different angles.

That meant hand holding my camera in poor light conditions. Even though my lenses have stabilisation, I didn't want to risk exposures of 1/30th of a second so I upped the ASA for some shots to 5,000 and for others to 3,200. Even though my camera is very good at handling low light, there is bound to be some signs of digital noise at those speeds. I apologise for that before you look at the pictures.

Did I mention…

image …that is was going to be very windy today?

Well neither did either of the sites I use to find out about the weather but it is! 

Both sites say that it will be calmer this afternoon so we will see.  

image Not a lot of chance of rain until the end of the week when the wind looks set to blow up again.

We have to remember that it is still only February. Although we might have odd days or even weeks of good weather, it doesn’t really settle until after Easter.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How cool is this?

imageThose of you who are using Google Chrome browser can now get this amazing application which shows you a window on the weather for your location.

Each week, I post you information from a site called Weather Bug. Now the site has produced this app. which gives detailed information (including maps) of the weather.

That makes more sense

In spite of rumours to the contrary, It seems that Britain will not be changing to Berlin time after all. The notion that the change would boost tourism has been rejected.

On the other hand, Spain is seriously considering changing to GMT and British Summer Time. The country naturally falls into the same zone as the UK as most of its territory is west of the Greenwich Meridian, but it has been on Berlin Time since dictator General Franco forced it into line with the Axis powers of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy in 1940.

Berlin Time – officially known as Continental Time – is blamed by many Spanish businessmen for the country’s economic woes and long working hours. Joseph Collin, a Barcelona-based businessman who is an expert on the time-zone controversy, said: ‘Our days are governed by the hours of the sun. Spain gets up at an unnaturally early hour because our clocks are set to Eastern European time.

‘People don’t eat breakfast before they go to work because it’s too early for them to be hungry. We don’t eat lunch until 2pm and we keep working late partly because our bodies are working to the natural time of the sun. The first step towards improvement has to be switching to our natural time zone.’

A recent poll by newspaper 20 Minutos found 43 per cent of Spaniards believed their lives would improve under GMT and BST, while only 12 per cent thought it would have a negative impact.

Portugal, moved to Berlin Time in 1992 but the unpopular change was reversed in 1996 after it led to poorer exam results as children could not get to sleep because of the lighter evenings and were tired at school.There was also an increase in stress levels, insomnia and consumption of sleeping pills. More road accidents occurred during the darker winter mornings and energy bills rose.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Keeping yourself mentally agile


They say, “if you don’t use it then you will loose it”. The best way to stave off dementia and the onset of Alzheimer's disease is to keep your brain active.

Learning Spanish therefore does more than just equip you for every day life in the country, it helps to put back the first signs of dementia by at least five years.

Of course, once you have learnt the language, you then need to use it. Living on a largely British urbanisation means you have to go out of your way to engage in Spanish conversations. Pam and I have Spanish neighbours and friends which helps but we also talk to each other in Spanish on a daily basis.

Whilst crosswords, sudokus and other 'thinking' puzzles have long been lauded as a tool for fighting off memory loss and confusion in old age, experts believe that those who speak two or more languages have even more chance of retaining their mental faculties.

Ask me in twenty years time and I will tell you if it works.

Guns and stuff

IMG_8637a For those of you into military paraphernalia, there are lots of things to see at the static display near to the fishing port in Torrevieja.
Just follow the road that parallels the jetty and you will see it on the right.
IMG_8639a You can even have a go yourself with a bit of target practice.

If you go down to see the display this afternoon, you will see them cutting a car apart to rescue the people inside. You should also see a display of dog handling over what looks like a very demanding course. The ladies will be able to admire the tanned and toned squaddies and the men, all the military equipment.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A great cause

imageDavid Villa has donated a signed Spanish football team shirt to the Association of Relatives of patients with Alzheimer in Bigastro.

The winning number will be the same as the one for the O.N.C.E lottery on the 13th of May. Proceeds will go towards a respiratory unit that the Association want to buy.

Even if you don’t win, you will be supporting a great cause. If you do… well I know a man who would love this shirt (no not me!).

PS My eagle eyed son-in law tells me it is a shirt from the historic final when Spain got to lift the Word Cup.

Busy times for a cameraman

There is plenty to keep my camera busy in the area this week . Over the weekend here will be a half-marathon, classic cars, carnival processions, exhibitions, concerts, sport and festivals, not to mention a wedding exhibition and whatever is happening locally at the pubs and clubs.

The major event celebrates Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travel and transport. The San Cristobal Festival will continue from today through to Saturday in Torrevieja’s Harbour zone.

Because of the May elections, the San Cristobal celebrations have been brought forward: activities started yesterday at 11am, when Torrevieja’s mayor, Pedro Hernandez Mateo plus military chiefs of staff and other dignitaries attended the official inauguration ceremony.

Entrance to the festival is free and everyone is invited to browse the selection of static exhibition of vehicles from the Spanish armed forces and the emergency services from Valencia and Murcia followed by the raising of the Spanish flag and remembrance of the fallen.

Today, the static display and exhibition will be open to the public from10am to 6pm. Saturday is International Veteran’s Day so along with the static displays, which are open to visitors from 10.30am, there will be an active display by members of the ‘Military Emergencies Unit’ along the seafront promenade, Paseo Juan Aparicio at noon.

Some of the activities will feature Firemen cutting open a crashed car, helicopters, assailing and many other activates featuring the military and emergency services.

The main activity happens at 4pm when participating bands will march through Torrevieja’s central streets towards the harbour meeting point where there will be a laying of a commemorative wreath by international veterans, lowering of the Spanish flag followed by march-past and salute by the Military vehicles, participating bands, International Veterans Associations and National Brotherhood of Veterans followed by a march through streets to the Centro Cultural Virgen del Carmen.

At 5.30pm in the Centro Cultural Virgen del Carmen, everyone is invited to the 3rd Annual Festival of Military and Civil Bands which will include the presentation of the ‘Knight of San Cristobal’ award and other recognitions plus the Premier performance of the recently composed military march ‘General Grau, in honour of General Francisco Grau of the Royal Household Band.

On Sunday, the action moves away from Torrevieja to Orihuela for the annual San Cristobal (St. Christopher) parade of vehicles.

At 9am there is a concentration of vehicles (Lorries, cars, motorcycles, taxis, classic cars etc.) in the car park of the Eroski hypermarket, Orihuela, followed by a break for Breakfast before the cavalcade heads off at 9.45am on route through Bigastro, Hurchillo, Arneva, Desamparados, Beniel, Cruce del Raal and finishing in Santomera (Murcia).

At 10.30am, hundreds of runners will be participating in the annual half marathon race in Torrevieja, with the numbers of participants further boosted by a 10.75 km race, for those not quite up to two or more hours of competitive running. The roads along the seafront will be closed from early morning, so watch out for delays if you are headed to the event.

It’s a busy weekend for Classic Car enthusiasts also as the regular Noche del Coche, car display, will be meeting at the Marina Salinas at around 8pm on Friday. All owners of classic, future classics, muscle, kit, specialists and just ‘nice’ cars, are invited to bring down their cars for the gathering.

For couples interested in planning a wedding or having a celebration, the first Celebrations and Events weekend is happening in San Pedro, at the Clock House on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th February. The ‘Clock House’ or the ‘Casa del Reloj’ is on the main N332 just past the roundabout with the boat in the middle, and is open on both days from 1100-hrs until 1800-hrs. The exhibition will include entertainment and a special three course menu of the day for only €9.95. More information from Louise on 654897720.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Carnival in Torrevieja. In the Vista Alegre Exhibition Centre there is a special exhibition of photos and displays to celebrate reaching this landmark. This year’s event also feature the renowned Rascals, but you’ll have to go along to find out what their theme is for the event!

On Sunday, the contestants in this years carnival will be parading for the competition from 5pm, at Plaza Maria Asuncion, Calle Ramon Gallud and Patricia Perez. Note that the time is an hour later than originally advertised! At 8pm there will be the prize giving taking place in the Virgen del Carmen Cultural Centre .The main Carnival Parade is scheduled for Saturday March 5, from 10pm.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A nice day

imageOn a beautiful spring morning with  blue skies and warm sunshine, it is good to see the bees working away at the lavender in my garden. Makes you glad to be alive.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A raving lunatic


It should come as no surprise to us that Col Gaddafi publicly threatened to unleash mob rule on the protestors in Libya. Hundreds have already been murdered in his attempt to keep control of the country. He has said that he will not defect but rather stay in his country and if necessary die there.

As the Telegraph explains:

In his 40 years as Libyan leader, Gaddafi has done more than enough to guarantee a permanent place in the pantheon of history's villains. One of his goons shot and killed WPC Yvonne Fletcher as she helped police a demonstration outside the Libyan Embassy in London. He lavished aid and arms on Robert Mugabe's vicious regime in Zimbabwe. He supplied weapons and explosives to the Provisional IRA which, lest we forget, was responsible for murdering 1,824 people during the Troubles, a third of them civilians. And above all, he is suspected of sanctioning the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in December, 1988, killing all 259 people on board, and a further 11 on the ground. It was the worst terrorist atrocity in British history.

Like Mubarak, Gaddafi and his family have accumulated untold wealth during his 40 odd years as dictator. The oil revenue of the country has been carefully salted away in various banks, on houses and on his “projects”.    Now he believes that the world is set against him – he is right.

Ths week at Francisco Grau



Cineforum: “In search of the happiness”.

At the end of the film there will be a “Cineforum” where you can comment about the film.



The Unión Musical de Bigastro offers to all of their supporters an extraordinary concert in gratitude for the unconditional and constant support they show towards the band.

Damn, damn, damn! I would love to go to this concert however, the carnival procession in Torrevieja takes place on Sunday at 4pm and we really don’t want to miss that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Help find these individuals

British investigators are calling on expatriates in Spain to scour the costas again for suspected criminals believed to be hiding out among the country's million Britons.

The campaign by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and Crimestoppers tis targeting the 10 most wanted suspects thought to have fled to Spain.

The physical peculiarities of some of them could make it more likely that they will soon join the 38 others captured after five similar campaigns run in Spain since 2006.

Perhaps the most easily identifiable is 47-year-old Derek McGraw Ferguson, a 5ft 2in Glaswegian with part of one ear missing. He is being sought for the alleged murder in June 2007 of Thomas Cameron at the Auchinairn Tavern in Bishopbriggs, near Glasgow.

Ferguson, who also goes by the name of William Murdoch Henderson and the nickname Dekko, was also described as having distinguishing marks which included tattoos on his left arm of a heart, an arrow and a dagger.

Jonathon Lejman from Stoke-on-Trent, wanted in connection with an alleged knife attack during a burglary, is also adorned with tattoos.

The full profile describes "a tribal design on the back of his neck, celtic band tattoo on left upper arm, tattoos on his left and right hands with words in Arabic, tattoo on his right arm of a dragon, tattoo on his back with rose and the names Louise, John and Jordan. Tattoo on his chest with writing in Thai and a tattoo with a picture of a pitbull's head and the words 'only the strong survive'."

A gallery of those being sought is available at the Crimestoppers website. A poster with the faces of the 10 men is also being distributed. Previous Operation Captura campaigns by Crimestoppers have seen some of those being sought captured within days.

Organisers of the latest Operation Captura were optimistic that most of the suspects would soon be caught. "We've continually had an overwhelming response to this campaign, resulting in over 500 pieces of useful information on the fugitives sought," said Dave Cording, director of operations at Crimestoppers, of the five previous appeals.

"Operation Captura is helping make the expat community in Spain an uncomfortable place for fugitives," said Ken Gallagher, Soca's head of European operations. "Having the public's attention focused on these individuals goes a long way to making it harder for them to hide and should act as a warning that Spain is no safe haven for British criminals."

A progress report

Murcia fuerza en su última etapa de portavoz de los populares un repaso a la legislaturaSpokesperson for the Partido Popular in Bigastro, Aurelio Murcia is requesting an extraordinary council meeting as soon as possible. At the meeting he wants to review the last four years since the last elections to ascertain whether the Socialists have fulfilled any of their promises. In particular he is interested to know what impact the new mayor, Raúl Valerio Medina has made on the town.

Murcia says that the eight or ten points raised will be familiar; local urbanism, deficiency of services, collection and payments on the part of the local administration and of course he wants to know the state of local finances.

Normally council meetings are held every two months, the next one would be scheduled for the end of March.

Police action in Bigastro

It is such a sleepy town where very little happens and then you read this:

Since last Saturday, agents from the Anti-Crime Unit and Counterfeiting Network (UCRIF) have arrested 12 people in Bigastro who stand accused of providing false work documents to immigrants. Among those arrested was an official who supplied the seal or signature that validated the documents.

The group have been in operation for two years and in that time legalised the status of over one hundred immigrants. That may not be the final figure because police are still investigating the extent of their operation.

Monday, February 21, 2011

In defence of car rentals

In response to my item about car rental companies, I received this reply:

Dear Keith

I have just read your blog regarding Car Rental Companies.  When we moved to Spain back in the eighties we created our own Car Hire Company and none of the incidents that you outlined ever occurred with us.  Yes, we did charge for a full tank of fuel and yes, we did charge about five pound sterling more than the cost of the actual fuel.  This small amount covered the oil that was necessary and the valeting of the vehicle.  Customers were always given a sketch of the vehicle and any damage to the car was marked on this.  Inspection and instructions on indicators etc. were given at point of delivery and also inspection at point of return was made.  All necessary items that were required by law were in the vehicle.    It is reasonable to understand why many car companies do not place these items in the car because very often everything that is not locked down is removed, even down to windscreen wipers, cigarette lighters and car documentation.

I feel it is unfair to blame the Companies 100 per cent as the customer has played a large part in prompting the rental company to carry out their actions.

We retired from the business eight years ago and if everything is as bad as it is painted now, I think we must be pleased that we decided to take the action of a living a leisurely life in Spain.

Name removed

To be fair, my experience of car rental here is limited to just a few companies. I have no doubt there are others which operate in different ways. The point about not equipping cars with vests, spare bulbs etc. because they would just be taken is a valid one however I doubt that the Guardia Civil would take that as an excuse.

What an age

imageDolores López, known as aunt Lola is currently the oldest person in the Valencian region. Living in Callosa de Segura, Lola has just celebrated her 105th birthday. To mark the occasion, the mayor of the town took her a bunch of flowers. 

She has clearly outlived her husband which is why she is in black. In fact I dare she has outlived many of her friends and relatives.

Imagine what words of wisdom Lola could impart if she took up writing a blog like this!

Warm and pleasant

image Our friends from Norfolk, who keep an eye on the weather here, told us it was going to be sunny and hot on Wednesday.

From the information here, I dare say it will be pleasant in the sun but not exactly tropical in the shade. 
image It looks like it will be windy today and tomorrow in the mornings but then calming later in the day – nowhere near as fierce as it was last Thursday though.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Be wary when you rent a car

Whenever we hire a car in England, the process is straightforward. At the time of pickup, a rep inspects the car and we agree any damage on the car. When the car is returned, it is inspected again and any damage is noted. We then agree any charge that will be made to cover the cost of repair.  As we walk away, we know  the total cost of hire for that trip.

Things operate quite differently here in Spain. When you pick up a car nobody bothers to inspect it and no record seems to be made of any damage that the car has already sustained. When you return the car, you simply hand over the keys and again no inspection seems to be made.

You may suppose that means that the car rental companies do not care about  any damage to their rental vehicles but that is not necessarily true. There are cases where visitors to Spain have returned home to find hefty charges made to their credit cards to cover damages which they are supposedly responsible for. There are even cases where the renter has handed over the keys to a rep in the car park only to find that they are later charged as if the car has been stolen i.e. not handed back.

The excess charges that these companies make can amount to thousands of pounds and therefore cause a lot of anxiety especially since, by the time the problem is realised, the renter is usually back in England faced with having to pursue the matter through their credit card provider.

Most of the problems arise because when they arrive at the airport, after their flight to Spain, most people want to get their luggage and children into the hire car and be at their holiday destination as quickly as possible. Often there is a queue at the car rental desk so they have to wait. By the time it is their turn, they are hot, tired and sweaty – all they want is to be given the keys. Checking the fine print of the agreement and examining the vehicle for damage are the last things they are interested in. On their return to the airport, they just want to drop the car off, get the luggage and children out and get to the check in desk to beat the inevitable queue there.

The companies are well aware of the situation and play on it. By trying to expedite the process of collection and return they can leave the renter open to agreeing to all sorts of extra charges like the fuel scam that Goldcar, one of the largest in Spain, operates.  Every customer pays for a full tank of fuel but very few people use it. The companies know that customers are unlikely to return a car empty and so they make a profit on the unused fuel because the next customer gets charged for a full tank again. Actually, they make more than that because their fuel costs twice the price of any garages. The company we use in England checks the fuel level when we pick the car up and the deal is that we return it at the same level – that is a lot fairer. 

The other thing to watch out for is the fact that none of the obligatory safety equipment seems to ever be supplied with rental cars e.g. spare bulbs, warning triangles, first aid kit, florescent vests etc. I don’t know what would happen if you were stopped by the Guardia Civil, I dread to think!

Read the reviews of car rental companies and you will see what I mean.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It isn’t just children

It isn’t just children who are in danger of getting into trouble on the Internet as this story from the English newspapers explains.

María Jesús Galán, dubbed "Sister Internet" by her fellow nuns, announced on her Facebook page that she had been asked to leave the convent after disagreements over her online activities.

The 54-year old, who lists her hobbies as "reading, music, art, and making friends" had almost 600 Facebook "friends"at the time of her eviction and now has fan pages with thousands of supporters from around the globe calling for her to be allowed back into the order.

A computer was first brought onto the premises of the 14th century Santo Domingo el Real convent in Toledo, central Spain 10 years ago after the Mother Superior was persuaded it would lessen the need for nuns to enter the outside world.

"It enabled us do things such as banking online and saved us having to make trips into the city," explained Sister Maria, who entered as a novice at the age of 21.

However, the nun quickly saw the possibilities and soon began digitising the archives contained within the convent's ancient walls and making them accessible to the world.

In 2008, she won a local government prize for her painstaking work scanning the pages of precious texts held in the convent's library.

The award made headlines and she soon had scores of friends worldwide connecting through her Facebook page.

But despite admitting that her dedication to her vocation was as strong as ever she said she was driven from the convent by her fellow nuns who disapproved of her cyber activity and "made life impossible".

The Dominican order has refused to comment on the reasons behind her departure and the Archbishop of Toledo when approached said it was "an internal matter".

Sister Maria, who is now living at her mother's house, said she was ready to embark on a new chapter in her life. "I would like to visit London and New York," she posted on her page. "Such things were impossible to even dream when at the convent."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Miles off

imageThe winning number in the Valentine Draw was 98526.

The lucky owner of that ticket should take it to the Pet Boutique on Calle Goya before the 25th of this month to collect their prize – a weekend in a 4 star hotel in Almeria.

Pam and I had tickets but the numbers were miles off the winner!

A change of tactics?

Charo BañulsMaybe his party thought Aurelio Murcia was just too controversial, too fierce in his attacks on the current mayor and that he concentrated too much on negativity rather than promoting the positive aspects of what his party was about – who knows. What we do know is that The Popular Party in Bigastro have just elected Charo Bañuls as their number one candidate and spokesperson for the elections this year.

Dña. Mª Del Rosario Bañuls Rodriguez, who is currently third on the list of PP councillors got 12 votes to D. Aurelio Murcia González 8, there were 3 votes left blank and one vote was declared invalid.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It is wild out there

imageEvery winter, at some time or other, we get bouts of strong wind. Having suffered from damaged fences several times on the trot, we are now better prepared.

First off, we move the table and chairs from the side where the wind funnels down at the end of autumn. That way we avoid having the table take off and land beside the car as it did one year.

We have now given up with cane fencing which was just too heavy and used to catch the wind badly. Now we have light weight netting which lets most of  the wind through and seems (fingers and toes crossed) to have survived so far.

Yesterday, I cut back the  bougainvillea and lantana on the fence at the back so again the wind can blow through it.

The good news is that forecasts say, it will blow at 34 –36km per hour today and will then start to calm down tomorrow. By the afternoon it should be just a strong breeze.



Remember our trip to Ikea a few weeks ago?

That was the first time that we encountered the new layout of the road out of Orihuela that takes you onto the A-7.

As the newspaper Información points out, this sign is misleading. It looks as though you need to come back on yourself to head towards Murcia. However, having followed it, Pam and I had no problem getting onto the A-7 in the direction of Murcia and at least now you don’t have to try and cross a busy road to try and join the motorway. 

It was when we got almost to the shop that things became confusing for us.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Now we hate the beetles


It seems that the black beetles that destroyed the two plants in our garden are spreading across the whole of the Vega Baja leaving a trail of devastation in their path.

Like the red beetle, this insect is causing havoc but this time the plants are agaves and aloe vera rather than palm trees. 

In the picture from local newspapers you can see the effect the beetle has had on plants alongside a road in Almoradí.

An insight into Spanish education

In Spain, compulsory secondary education lasts for four years (ages12 to 16) and is known as ESO (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria). At the end of the fourth year, students gain a certificate which is equivalent to GCSE.

At the age of 16 students then have the opportunity to go on to take the Spanish Baccalaureate (equivalent to A Level), or to opt for Vocational Training or even leave school and find a job. The difference between England and Spain is that here, students transfer to a different school post 16 and there are specialist schools for vocational education with appropriate facilities.

The EFA El Campico school in Jacarilla has been open for 40 years and offers both intermediate and advanced vocational training. Middle Grade Training Cycles (Ciclos Formativos de Grado Medio), have the ESO diploma as a basic requirement, and Superior-level Training Cycles (Ciclos Formativos de grado Superior) have the Spanish Baccalaureate as the principal requirement.

After completion of the Superior-level Training Cycle, students are entitled to direct entrance to several related University degrees.

The nature of vocational training at EFA Campico has changed dramatically over the 40 years and so the courses on offer at the school have evolved. At one time the training would have been solely directed to agriculture. However, there is now more of an emphasis on the service sector rather than production and computer courses are a key feature of the school.

For those who are interested, there is an exhibition in the Auditorium in Bigastro from today until Friday which shows the work of the school over the 40 years.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Damn–we forgot

There was a notice posted on the information board both in Spanish and English which told us that the gas supply would be cut today so the system could be tested. This has happened before and the idea is that you close the gas tap outside your house to enable pressure testing to take place.

Unfortunately neither of us remembered. It was only when Pam tried to run the hot water and found that it was still cold after several minutes that we realised what the problem was!

No pasa nada. I’ve turned the supply off now and we are using the air conditioning units to heat the house.

On the notice, it says they will inform us when the testing is complete and the supply has been resumed. Well that did not happen last time! I guess sometime later today I will just have to turn the tap back on and see what happens. As I recall, last time I had to turn the tap on and off a couple of times to get the gas flowing back through the pipe to the boiler.

Not all bad news

Spain has seen its global export share hold steady over the last decade and has almost kept up with Germany. At the same time; France, Italy, the UK, the US, and Japan have slipped down the league.

How has the country managed to do this?

By investment; the investment rate in Spain reached 30pc of GDP during the boom. While a chunk was squandered on construction, most was spent on machinery and infrastructure.

For example, did you know that the Basque Country is the world’s seventh biggest producers of machine tools? It also happens to have as many Michelin starred restaurants as London.

As an example of this industrial might, take the company Industria de Turbo Propulsores which makes the low-pressure turbine engines for half the world’s big passenger jets. The group, part-owned by Rolls-Royce, makes the rear third of the engine for both the Airbus A380 superjumbo, and Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. The nickel cobalt blades they produce withstand 1000 degrees heat for 15 hours-a-day for 20 years.

Another example: in Madrid, the computer logistics group Indra has just pulled off the impossible. The 30,000-strong company – which supplied the electronic voting system for the London Mayor’s election – has not only astounded Chancellor Angela Merkel by taking charge of Germany’s upper airspace, it has also won the contract to manage 80pc of China’s air traffic from the control centres at Chengdu and Xian.

Nearby at the ZED Group – which struck rich with the video game "Commandos" and is now the world leader in digital content for mobile phones – chairman Javier Pérez Dolset says that it was a myth that Spain had let wages soar into the stratosphere. "It still costs less than half to produce here than in the UK or Northern Europe, and the level of skill and artistic talent is greater," he said.

Spain is not out of the woods yet though. It must raise €300bn of sovereign, regional, or bank debt this year in a hostile market. Unemployment is stuck at 20pc. There is an overhang of almost 1m unsold homes on the market but the country has verve and enterprise and will not go down without a fight.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ode to an onion

Sunday, 29th February at 6:30pm

A Poetry Recital "Echoes of Miguel" by  the poetry group of the University Association Oriol, Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche, Campus de Orihuela.
Poetry and music come together in a recital dedicated to Miguel Hernández

Monday, 21st February at 8pm

A concert by the Fukio Ensemble (sounds rude doesn’t it!)

Enjoy works by Bach, Reinhardt, Ligeti, Debussy and Piazzola.

A bumpy ride

The first time we took the road from Orihuela to Hurchillo, I thought we had stepped back into an earlier era. In the centre of a town there is something historic about a paved road, it adds character but on a commuter route that links a city with a town it is a nightmare.

The stretch of road, which dates from the fifties,  might be only four miles long but it feels like fifty as you bump along it trying to avoid the potholes. It cannot be good for the suspension on the cars that travel along it each day.

There have been numerous promises to sort it but they have never been fulfilled. Now, the Green Party have promised to fix it if they are elected.

Hey ho the wind doth blow

image Looks like we could suffer from strong winds on and off this week and depending on which version of the weather you prefer it could either be wet on Thursday or dry.

I think I will go for the dry version.
image Not exactly cracking the flags but still when the sun is out it will feel warm.

When I was out yesterday taking photographs, I spotted one of my Spanish neighbours working in his back garden dressed in shorts and a t-shirt.

I guess he was making the most of the warm sunshine.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not a sight you want to see on a pine tree


This is the nest of the processionary caterpillar. Walk up to La Pedrera and you will see literally hundreds of them on the pine trees. Eradicating them on the thousands of pine trees up there would be an impossible task. The little yellow plane may spray the area to control them but still they will persist.

It is at this time of the year that you will find the processionary caterpillars coming out of their nests and forming conspicuous snakelike lines as they traverse the ground searching for soft soil to burrow into.

They might look fascinating to watch but the best advice is to avoid these innocent looking creatures at all costs. The caterpillars are covered in tiny barbed hairs which are their defence mechanism. These hairs are often being shed and so can be airborne around infested pine trees, on the branches where they have travelled and also left in the line of the migrating procession.

When humans and our pets come into contact with these hairs, they can cause reactions ranging from mild inflammation and irritation to severe anaphylactic shock. The worst problems occur if you make contact with the caterpillar directly and ingest the hairs, either by picking it up, stepping on it or moving them in some manner. Once on your skin a rash soon forms which can be incredibly itchy. Medical advice should be sought if you are unfortunate enough to experience this. The rash can be painful, very itchy and lasts for as much as three weeks.

Moving the caterpillars, their nests, or even the branches that they have walked along, may release these hairs into the air where they can be inhaled or come to rest unnoticed on clothing. The nest material that remains on the tree after the caterpillars have left will still contain the “urticating” hairs. Even burning infected pine branches should be avoided as the hairs can be lifted into the air and fall anywhere or be inhaled.

Inquisitive dogs can get too close to the intriguing procession of caterpillars and may pick up the hairs onto their paws, these irritate and so they lick them. Once the hairs are on the lips/tongue it will induce itching, swelling and possibly vomiting. The symptoms are small white spots in the mouth and on the tongue, excessive drooling and chomping. In some cases partial amputation of the tongue is the only course of action.

Under no circumstances should you try to handle the caterpillars, cut down the nests or try to burn them.

My apologies to Les

I know there is at least one Manchester City supporter who reads this blog who will not have been best pleased by Wayne Rooney’s late goal in the Manchester derby match yesterday.

imageEven Les would have to concede that it was a great goal though. Meeting Nani's cross in mid-air, with his back to goal, Rooney gave Joe Hart no chance with the sort of finish most people can only attempt in their dreams, then celebrated as if, this time, even he believed he was back.

"I think it might have been the best goal I've ever scored," he said.

It was certainly one which the United faithful will remember for a long time to come and one which will haunt the City fans as they saw their hopes for at least one point from the game dashed.

Crucially, it puts City eight points adrift of their Manchester rivals who still have a game in hand but as Les would point out, there are still a lot of games left in the season so it is still all to play for. I would counter that by arguing that, loosing three points at Old Trafford, might just mark the end of City’s campaign for this season. We shall see – in the end it is only a game!

Me thinks they doth protest too much

We’ve seen protests in Greece and in France, then in London; more recently in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Italy. We seem to be in a period when people from different nations feel the need to take to the streets to challenge their elected representatives for a variety of reasons.

Of course there is nothing new about demonstrations but these recent ones seem somehow different - more organised, as if they are orchestrated to cause maximum impact, chaos and damage. Burning cars and destroying buildings does not come under the banner of peaceful protest and yet increasingly that is what we are seeing.

In Egypt, 18 days of protest lead to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. I imagine, that the Algerians, the Tunisians and the Italians are all hoping for a similar outcome in their countries.

The Egyptians celebrated when they thought that victory was theirs but the ex-president may still have the last laugh. It is thought that Mubarak used the weeks leading up to the period of unrest to shift his vast wealth which is estimated to be £3bn and possibly as much as £40bn into untraceable accounts overseas.

The Swiss have already said that they will freeze any assets he has in their country and are calling upon the British to do the same. My guess is that they will be too late. Whilst they may gain control of a small portion of his wealth, I’d bet that most of it is now safely stashed away well out of reach.

In the meantime, the people of Egypt have the unenviable task of rebuilding the country out of the void that is left. They might have won the battle but the war is far from over. It will be the same in all those other countries where the populace is determined to unseat their governments. Take the example of Iraq which may be rid of Saddam Hussein but is far from being a stable country to live in.

PS My apologies for the terrible misquote from Hamlet in the title.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Better late than never

Pamela is one of those organised people that keeps a careful record of all the Christmas cards she has sent and the ones that she has received. She can tell you each year which ones that we are missing but obviously not why.

Pamela complained that there were a few missing this year. Now, two of them have turned up with these blue stickers on the back. One of them had a UK first class stamp on it, this one had a second class stamp, both of them had the address completely wrong!

There was an issue when we first moved here which caused us a problem. The builders had given us the wrong street name for our address. When we collected our post from the post office that wasn’t an issue but now we have post boxes it is. There is no house at the address we were given but there is a post box. So each Christmas we have to keep a watchful eye on that box and fish out any cards that get put into it.

Of course, we sent notice to everyone on our Christmas card list of the mistake and asked them to correct their address books accordingly. Pamela has even put address cards each year inside the cards she sent out to those who failed to do that but still there are some who get it wrong.

Not only was there insufficient postage on this card, the address was unbelievably wrong. It started out with "Royal Mail Manchester Mail Centre" – why? The street became Irtana, the postcode was wrong and the province was written as Alacante. It was a wonder it ever got here! We know that Spanish addresses might seem odd to some of our English friends which is why we have printed cards and a stamp that goes on the back of envelopes. I’m not sure how much more we can do than that.

PS If you are reading this and are one of those people who has our incorrect address, send me an email and I'll give you the correct version. Oh dear, that isn't going to work is it because you probably don't realise your mistake. Right, here is a clue - the correct address is on one of the numerous cards we sent you.

I understand why but….

When it became clear that Pamela’s father was no longer capable of managing his own affairs, we acted upon the Power of Attorney that his solicitor had advised him to draw up. That meant sending the document along with all sorts of other documents to the Court of Protection.

Once that was done, we thought that the rest should be plain sailing but we were wrong. Getting access to his various accounts has proved very difficult for us because of the rules that banks now apply due to the concerns about money laundering. These days you need to have all sorts of documents to prove who you are and where you live before banks will allow access to your money. Whilst we fully understand that, we don’t understand why some banks make it infinitely more difficult than others.

Issue one: to prove where you live most organisations ask for copies of utility bills. However, since many utility companies now allow you to access your bills online to save paperwork and postage that is not as straight forward as it used to be. In addition, all of our utility bills are in my name and not my wife’s so they do not provide evidence of her address only mine. Luckily, for whatever reason, our bank account is in Pamela’s name but then we don’t receive statements from the bank in Spain  anymore and a statement printed off on my computer is apparently not acceptable. Doh!

Issue two: to prove who you are you need some form of ID. One bank suggested we should send our original passports – as if we would do that! No, we are only prepared to send photocopies of our passports but of course they have to be endorsed to show that the originals have been seen. Without passports, I am not sure what we could do to prove who we are. Our residencia cards are now out of date and Spanish driving licences do not have a photo on them.

Issue three: all of Pamela’s father’s accounts were joint with his wife who sadly passed away a few years ago. Before any organisation will remove her name from their books, they want to see her Death Certificate but we only have one original copy. Naturally we are loathe to post that in the same way we  are loathe to send off our passports or the original Power of Attorney document, so we have to get the copy endorsed by our fiscal advisers and send that off in the hope that is acceptable.

Luckily we are nearly there now but it has taken a lot of hard work and  lot of patience on our part to deal with all this. The one good thing, Pamela’s father is blissfully unaware of all the problems this has caused us; he resides comfortably in his care home totally unconcerned about how it is paid for.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Does anybody know…

just what they are doing on this piece of wasteland between the town and the by-pass?

This is where the horses performed a few years ago and where they set off the fireworks on the last nights of fiestas. Now they are covering the area with tons of soil like they are preparing to build a park or garden. Honestly though, I have no idea what this is about.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A country of Don Juans

Well, well, well – a recent report on the habits of European women showed that Spain ranked second in terms of sexual satisfaction and frequency. Although 68% per cent of Spanish women interviewed said they had sex once a week, 80% said they would like it more often. What does that say about Spanish men who always give the impression of being “so macho”.

Now you want to know which country came top – no not Britain (don’t be stupid), it was Portugal – must be a result of those warm winds coming off the Atlantic.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Half a million visitors

The twelfth edition of the Medieval Market in Orihuela has been hailed a success. According to sources, over half a million people visited the market, up from 300,000 last year.

As you know, Pam and I went on Friday because that was going to be the least crowded day. It meant that we could get around comfortably and I could take lots of photographs. Although there was plenty for us to see, the main events were due to take place on Saturday and Sunday so we missed them.

The consensus of opinion amongst our friends was that, although there were more stalls this year, many of them were selling the same things. Added to which, very few stalls had prices on the goods. Whilst there were bargains to be had, some of the items on sale were felt to be way too expensive. By far the best bargains to be had were on the catering stalls.

The other issue, which has been reported in the local press, were the problems with the free coaches laid on to bring people from Orihuela Costa to the market. Confusion about the pick up point, coaches not turning up at the specified times and the lack of awareness of the number of passengers lead to many having to wait for hours to get to the market and then return home.

PS Did anybody see the flock of geese that were wandering around?

First up

The court in Orihuela is considering the first of five cases against the former mayor of Bigastro, José Joaquín Moya .

In October 2006, the ex mayor granted permission to Eurener to build a solar farm at La Pedrera. The company started work and began clearing the land ready for construction. Unfortunately, permission for this project had not been granted by the Department of Land and Housing.  Neither had the council undertaken a survey of community interest nor a study of environmental impact. It was only when complaints were raised that the work was halted but by then the damage had been done. 

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A cautious welcome

Batasuna, the political wing of ETA was outlawed in 2003 and so has been unable to field candidates in elections since then. Still,  ETA wants its pro-independence voice to be heard and so has formed a new party which, as yet, has not been given a name.

The organisers of the new party say that they reject and oppose the use violence, even the threat of using violence. However, the main parties in Spain remain sceptical. After 25 years of supporting violent means to achieve independence, when 825 people lost their lives at the hands of ETA, everyone is naturally wary that the new party  will be the same  Batasuna under a different name.

ETA declared a ceasefire last September which they announced would be made permanent at the start of this year. That is probably more to do with the fact that many of its leaders have now been arrested and that grass root support has dwindled than its desire to give up the cause.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Light work if you can get it

imageThe Bigastro based company, Eurener opened their first unit for assembling photovotaic solar panels in 1997. Since then they have opened several more. They currently export 95% or their production to countries like Italy and Portugal and are now opening 70 franchises overseas.

Actually, as we have driven past, there seems to be very little activity at their second unit and the showroom next to the town hall hasn’t opened yet. Perhaps they are experiencing a temporary lull in orders.

What’s the weather like?

image Well looks like we have a good week in store. Perhaps a little more cloud around than we had last week but still plenty of sunshine to warm the bones.
image It looks like Thursday will be the only day when we could loose the sun but que pasa – it will return for the weekend.


That a town the size of Bigastro has such a wonderful band is quite remarkable, the fact that it also has a talented juvenile band as well is just incredible.

Last night, the junior band treated us to their Winter Concert and what a treat it was. From the Pasadoble Segrelles to a medley of film music by John Williams with a second pasadoble as an encore, this was a musical journey not to be missed.

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You could not help but notice the two young girls on percussion. For children so young they were damn good and just oozed confidence. And as for the director – we have admired Adrían Albadejo Díaz as a euphonium player in the main band but now he is showing his prodigious talents as a director. Both he and the band well deserved the rapturous applause they received at the end of the night.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Will changes in the law bring buyers back?

In recent years, Britons bought one third of all Spanish properties sold to foreigners.These days though, many have been put off by horror stories of planning permission being retrospectively revoked and other complications. According to government figures, 100,000 homes built around the coast during the last decade still face unresolved planning problems, and residents say the true number is even higher.

Now, Beatriz Corredor, the Spanish housing secretary has promised new planning laws to end the confusion which has led to some British home owners being ordered to knock down their properties deemed to have been illegally built.

“Come here calmly, and trust in the system that we have and the transparency we provide,” she said.

“There is a very attractive offer on the table here, with prices significantly lower than two years ago, and you will certainly find what you are looking for.”

As part of a package of legal reforms to be steered through the Spanish parliament this month, for any property being sold the local council will be obliged to provide a document stating clearly its boundaries, the category of land on which it stands, its access to services including water and electricity, and details of its planning approval.

However, it is important to note that these changes will not be applied retrospectively and that national laws may well be ignored at regional level. At least knowing what paperwork you should get will make new buyers more aware.

To try and kick-start the housing market back into action, the Spanish government are embarking on a “roadshow” around Britain and other northern European countries over the next few weeks to promote the country’s property market. I have no doubt there will be some attractive houses on offer at very low prices -tempting!

That might not help the clients of Gabi Baischer, managing director of In Sun Properties in nearby Villamartin who has not sold a single property to Britons in the last month. On Thursday she sold a two-bedroom whitewashed townhouse for €107,500 — less than half the initial price. A British family is selling their villa with a swimming pool, originally bought for €320,000, for €260,000. A third property, a pretty three bedroom semi-detached villa with views down to the coast, is on the market for €205,000 — €120,000 less than its original asking price. It too is being sold by Britons.

“Over 90 per cent of our business three years ago was British people buying,” she said, “and now, it’s maybe two per cent. It has totally dried up.”

I dare say Gabi Baisher would argue that It will take more than a road show and a few promises from the government to bring the British back to the Spanish housing market.

A red letter day

The idea behind a project 365 is that you take and post a photograph each day for a year and that is a tall order. When I tentatively started my first project two years ago, I had no idea whether I would be able to find enough ideas and subjects to finish the year. Now I am on the third day of my third project.

So far, I have posted over 1,500 photos to Flickr, an online hosting service serviced by Yahoo and over the time they have been there, they have clocked up over 51,000 visits; my most popular picture has clocked up 874 views on its own. That’s not bad for an amateur, there are some pros on Flickr posting some stunning photographs but I don’t feature in their ranks!

Yesterday, thanks to my pictures from the Medieval Market, I clocked up 435 views and 38 comments in just one day – a record for me! As I say, a red letter day.

All my photos are protected by a Creative Commons license; most are posted full size and all are downloadable. The only proviso I make is that, if the photos are used then they should be attributed to me. Whether that happens or not I can’t say; I’m not in this to make money so it doesn’t really matter much to me.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Have you been yet?

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The Medieval Market at Orihuela is living up to the standards set in previous year’s. There is plenty to see, plenty of things to buy and enough food and drink to satisfy everyone. You can see my photos from yesterday by clicking on this link.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Women carrying pasos in Seville–whatever next?

In this area we are used to seeing women take part in the Easter parades but in Seville things are very different. There, “brotherhood” has meant just that – men only.

However, Archbishop Juan José Asenjo published a decree on Wednesday stating that there be "equal rights" among the brotherhoods, "with no discrimination on the basis of sex, including participation in the processions".

This will come into effect on March 2nd meaning that the Andalusian capital may now have women nazarenos, the penitents that accompany the pasos  wearing pointed hats. Women will also be able to carry the heavy pasos on their shoulders.

Three of the city’s cofradias; El Silencio, La Quinta Angustia and El Santo Entierro have refused to consider such a move.They have said they may appeal the decree and are considering taking a complaint all the way to Rome.

I hope the women know just what they have let themselves in for, they can expect to  carry the pasos for many hours under cramped sweaty conditions during  the parades.

Some explanations required

As I have said, with local elections this year, the opposition party are keen to keep up the pressure on the current administration in Bigastro. So, in the papers today, we find an article which explains the following.

In 2005, Bigastro town council exchanged a plot of land in the industrial zone which they valued at 48,000 Euros for a shop in the centre of the town valued at 203,000 Euros and paid the difference of 132,000 Euros.

Nothing too remarkable about that until:

a) you find that the council cannot clarify the issue because there was no accounting trail for the payment which was authorised by the previous mayor

b) the land in the industrial zone was “green” and therefore had no commercial value

and c) according to the plan for the town, the plot of land was 1,626 square metres and not 1,026 as stated.

This is just one of five issues that the anti-corruption prosecutor and a judge under the "Moya case are investigating. The others include the gift of an SUV to Moya by a businessman, the construction of gas tanks in a green zone and the granting of a license to build a solar farm without permission from the Conselleria de Territorio. The current mayor is also implicated in two out of the five cases.

The anti-corruption investigator is seeking a 15 month prison sentence and a 9 year ban from public office for Moya. It isn’t clear what he is seeking for the current mayor for his alleged involvement.

I doubt whether any of these cases will be resolved before May and so they will not materially effect the outcome of the elections; however I imagine that the PP hope that the implications will. Only time will tell.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Help needed

Social Services in Bigastro are trying to contact a Norwegian family who they think live on Calle Italia. I’ve contacted them to say that there are only three houses on Calle Italia which, as far as I am aware, are owned by English people and added that I don’t think we have any Norwegians living here.

If anyone knows differently can they please contact me at or Social Services direct at NB Please bear in mind that you will need to email the Ayuntamiento in Spanish.

It helps to speak the language

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron says that migrant families have an obligation to teach their children English before they start school. He has also pledged to bring forward tougher rules to ensure that those arriving in the UK had a reasonable standard of the language.

Birmingham, Bradford and Leicester all have more than 40 per cent of pupils in primary schools who do not have English as a first language.

Now I wonder, what would happen if Spain insisted that migrants to this country had a reasonable command of Spanish. There are many thousands of Brits for example who have been here for quite a few years and still have little or no command of the language.

Young environmentalists


Every year, pupils from the local primary school, the Colegio San José de Calasanz, celebrated Tree Day by planting Mediterranean species in some part of the town.

The daughter of our Spanish neighbours remembers planting pine trees up at La Pedrera close to our house when she was at school.

This year, 40 pupils from the 6th grade planted young mastic, rosemary, wild olive and carob. As the bushes grow and flourish no doubt the children will visit them and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Mastic Carob with seed pods

Ouch, that could be costly

Remember the action by air traffic controllers on the 3rd and 4th December? They effectively closed Spanish airspace for 20 hours and caused delays and flight cancellations that lasted for a week. That cost the airlines about 100 million Euros - not including the costs of care for passengers, transfer to hotels, services provided at airports and the search for alternative transportation. It was unprecedented for Spain and was resolved by a Royal Decree which made the strike illegal meaning that controllers could be jailed for continuing their action.

Now though, it could cost the National Airports and Air Navigation (Aena) a whole lot more because almost a thousand of the passengers affected have decided to file a class action lawsuit against the company. They are seeking to claim 10,000 Euros each for moral damages caused by the strike and their cases are being handled by Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo.

In the first place the claim will be made against Aena but if that is either denied or ignored, then they will take the action to court. There is also the possibility that criminal proceedings will be taken out against those who supported the strike.

Anyone who was affected by the strike in this way can contact the group at or by telephone at 900811000. Filling in an online form will formally execute the application without the need for individuals to go to court. Estimates show that the total number of people affected could be as many as 20,400 people at Alicante and 600,000 throughout Spain.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A haven of tranquillity

Imagine living in a village where the youngest person is 65 years old, where there are only 15 permanent residents, where the last baby was born 40 years ago – that would be Olmeda de la Cuesta, 100 miles east of Madrid in the Castilla-La Mancha region.

In 1940 the population was 500 but since then many have left to find work elsewhere. There hasn’t been a wedding, or baptism or communion in the 16th century church in decades and the local school closed in 1974.

Now, the village is hoping to attract young people back by offering plots of land at a starting price of 2,000 Euros. They say it is the perfect place for those who can work at home e.g. web designers, artists or writers or those looking for a weekend retreat in the country and add, that for families with children, there would be no shortage of baby sitters!

Medieval Market

Many of you will already know that Orihuela is hosting another Medieval Market this weekend which they claim will be the largest in Spain.

The market will open on Friday and close on Sunday. For more details go to

To get some idea of what is store for you can also visit my album of photos taken last year at

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

I could have told you so

In spite of al that was said by Liverpool about keeping Fernando Torres, you knew that he was going to move to Chelsea and now it has happened.

The Spanish  international signed a five-and-a-half-year contract at Stamford Bridge last night worth £175,000 a week. The deal cost Roman Abramovich £50 million. Bear in mind that Chelsea lost £47.4 million in 2009 and that loss rose to £70.9 million in 2009-2010.

It isn’t as if Chelsea are the only European club to suffer such losses, Manchester City spent £27m last month on transfers raising their losses to £141m- a record for a Premier League club.  

In the course of his press conference, Torres said he was happy. In fact he reportedly said it at least four times. Torres has 175,000 good reasons to be joyful, let us hope that Chelsea will be equally pleased with their expensive acquisition.

There is always the possibility that Torres will not fit in well with his new team at least straight away.  Let’s face it, he would not be the first high value player to “loose form” after such a move.

As I have said on many occasions, I know nothing about football but I do know that £50m is a lot of money.

The saffron scandal

Almost all Spanish saffron, prized by gourmands the world over for its pungent aroma and rich amber hue, is actually derived from low-quality imports passed off as the home grown spice, farmers have claimed. According to an article in the Daily Telegraph, Spain exported 190,000 kilograms of saffron in 2010 netting the country nearly 47 million Euros. However, according to figures from the growers, only 1,500 kilograms actually came from Spain, the rest came from Iran, Morocco and Greece.

Pure saffron is harvested from the stigma of the crocus sativus linnaeus, 250,000 of which are needed to produce a single kilo. That is why it fetches such a high price.

The genuine article is prized for it pungent aroma and it rich amber hue. It is what makes the difference between a great paella and the majority of what passes off for this classic dish.

Most of the saffron sold as Spanish in shops throughout the world is vastly inferior stuff containing a high percentage of floral waste.

I must confess, I don’t always use the genuine article because it is just too expensive. However, I would like to think that any Spanish saffron I do buy actually comes from Spain as in grown and not just packaged here!

Sparks fly yet again

Last night’s council meeting in Bigastro was adjourned by the mayor, Raúl Valerio Medina following requests by the opposition councillor, Aurelio Murcia, to halt the process of appointing new police personnel.

Murcia claimed that the process was flawed by irregularities for example, he said that one member of the tribunal did meet the academic requirements and that the timeframe did not meet the specifications.

The mayor seemed to misunderstand fully what was being insinuated and insisted that Murcia should provide proof of the allegations he was making. At this point, Murcia brandished a CD in the air which he said contained evidence to support his argument. The mayor took exception to this and the atmosphere became tense. At this point, Murcia offered to fetch a laptop so that everyone could check the contents of the CD.

The mayor, clearly feeling threated yet again by the opposition leader, suspended the meeting. Thankfully they were at the last item on the agenda.

Bearing in mind that local elections will take place in May, I don’t think we can expect to see any let up in the war between the two opposing parties. The previous mayor was perhaps more of a match to Murcia because he had the benefit of years of experience in dealing with his opponents. The present mayor seems to find the persistent challenges from Murcia difficult to deal with and has lost control of the situation on a number of occasions.

Supporters of the mayor say that Murcia is a bully who argues for the sake of it. The opposition would counter this by pointing out that this is their proper role in government. Local and regional governments of both persuasions throughout Spain have been proved to be guilty of all forms of corruption in the past. Surely, the job of the opposition is to provide some sort of control to prevent further instances of this occurring.

Learn how to put your best foot forward


The Progressive Women's Association of Bigastro have organized dance classes to teach you how to do this.

The classes will take place at the headquarters of the Association (Ground Floor of the  Municipal Auditorium) on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6pm to 7 and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9pm to 10.

Hitting the right notes

Saturday, 5th of February at 7:30pm
Concert  featuring Pep Burguera and Euphonic Bass Quartet

Josep Burguera plays in the Banda de Música Municipal de Palma, with whom he has performed as soloist.

The Euphonic Bass Quartet was first formed in the Conservatorio Profesional de Aloradí in 2006.

It consists of Juan Javier Serrano, Adrián Albaladejo, Pedro Rodríguez (euphonium) and Álvaro González Campillo (tuba).
Sunday, 6th February at 6:30pm
Winter Concert by the Youth Band of  Bigastro.
La Banda Juvenil de la Sociedad Unión Musical de Bigastro presents for us a concert which they have prepared with great enthusiasm made up works from a variety of  musical styles.