Thursday, October 30, 2014

Improvements made the town worse

The reform of Calle Purisima in Bigastro cost 400,000 euros; 300,000 from the government's FEIL fund and 100,000 from Alicante.

Once completed, it was clear that the work was far from satisfactory. The granite setts used were uneven and tricky to walk on, they weren't even laid properly and the sand between them was soon washed away. It is fair to say that the original setts, suitably cleaned up, would have been much better.

Once the street was complete, granite blocks were placed in strategic places for people to sit on but those have been moved so they no longer serve their purpose. Planters were also included which are now largely empty save for the soil in them and speakers were strung up along the street to provide music for the shoppers.

In all, the reform of the town's main street was a disaster, almost as bad as the new fountain which is now an eyesore.

There was no other choice but to dig the granite setts up along part of Purisima and lay tarmac instead - what a complete waste of money. I have no idea what plans there are to make good the fountain.

Far from improving the town, the reformations have made things worse. You could never say that Bigastro was an attractive town when we first arrived.  Now it is downright ugly in parts. Although there are a lot of things that bigastrense can be proud of, the look of the town is not one of them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


The energy saving plan, proposed by the PSOE in Bigastro, has been declared unsustainable by technicians because it would take 69 years to see a return on the investment.

 One way and another, the Socialists in the town are having a rough time at the moment.

 The PP, led by Charo Bañuls want the PSPV to take action against Raúl Valerio Medina for what they describe as embezzlement of council funds. They are referring to the cost of meals charged to the Mayor's credit card during his term in office.

 For his part, the ex mayor says that they were working meetings held at restaurants. Without them, the deals with clients would not have been closed. Still, at a time when the town was on its backside, meals at over 500 euros a time could be considered excessive.

 I dare say Moya had a similar card when he was in office. I wonder what appeared on his statements and for that matter what appears on the statements for the present mayor. If you are making accusations about the opposition, you have to be squeeky clean yourself.

 With a local election next year, the parties in Bigastro are clearly seeking ways to discredit each other. Unfortunately, in politics these days, it is not the party with the best plans that wins the day, it is the one with the least mud in its face.

Dave chills with Rory

How relaxed does my son-in-law look with his one day old son? The two of them look entirely comfortable in each others company.

Minutes after this photo was taken, Dave was showing Rory how to text and then discussed the possibilities for Manchester United this season.  He sure is one lucky boy to have such a good dad who will teach him all there is to know.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A welcome to Rory James Field

Born 26th October 2014 at 7:40am weighing 9lbs 12 ozs.

European Health Card

Courtesy of Scout John.


A number of U.K. Expats residing in Spain will be having their European Health Insurance Cards expiring in the Spring on 2015. Previously they were issued locally in Spain and then in accordance with European direction they had to be issued in the country of origin.

Application for new cards can be made six months prior to expiry of the current ones. To do this one should contact the relevant department of the U.K. NHS. This should be done by telephone to
00 44 191 218 1999 and choosing the first option and not the previous one given on the issue of the current cards which has been discontinued. You should have your National Insurance Number to hand when making the call.

You can also do this online by going to this web site

Remember the EHIC is free so do not be fooled and go to other web sites or agency who will charge you for getting a card

You can also go the Official Government site on Facebook where you can ask a question or send an email for further advice

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thanks again

Whilst Laura is in hospital playing the waiting game for a delivery suite to become available, we are looking after Molly. Although she is wonderful company, she is a bit of a challenge to a pair of pensioners.

Today we took her to Antz in your Pantz ( a great place for fun and games). Then we were invited to Pops and Granny Joan's house for our evening meal. This time it was sausage and mash with vegetables which was very tasty and more than welcome.

Again we have to thank them for their kind hospitality. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Oh dear

According to the local newspaper today, the ex mayor of Bigastro, Raul Valerio Medina used the credit card he had to pay for a 525 euro meal two weeks after he lost the last election.

Sorry Raul but that is taking the wee wee!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Some explaining to do

The ex mayor of Bigastro, Raul Valerio Medina, spent 30,251.90 euros on the town's credit card during his three years of office.

Unfortunately for him, 80 percent or 24,146.94 euros of that expenditure cannot be justified by the finance department. Apparently, the ex mayor ate out at the best restaurants three or four times a week including weekends and bought groceries on Saturdays using the card. He also spent in pharmacies at the town's expense.

 Medina has been given ten days to provide evidence of his spending otherwise the case will be taken to court.

 In his defence, Medina says that he has nothing to be ashamed of. Regarding the shopping in supermarkets and pharmacies, he says that the administration had no liquidity and it was the only way to buy cleaning materials and medical supplies.

To further add to the problem, the Medina also had access to a Bankia "black" card which needs to be investigated in the same way.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thanks to BC and Joan

The M60 at 5pm is a nightmare but the journey along it was worth it to enjoy a splendid meal in good company.

Joan and BC are the parents of our son-in-law David. By coincidence, they happen to be ex teachers like Pam and I. BC was a Head of Geography and Joan, the Headteacher of a RC Primary School.

Apart from the shared background, we also have a lot of other things in common and so get on like a house on fire. 

It was very kind of them to invite us over to share a meal with them and what a meal it was. Chicken and chorizo casserole served with peas and green beans hit the spot. Then the most delicious chocolate cake with ice cream and fresh cream.  

We are very grateful to them both for taking so much trouble.

Now we all await the birth of our first grandson which should be any day. It will be an occasion to remember with the traditional wetting of the head to follow. 

The promise of a great night out

 The best 5 euro meal you will ever have in great company. If I wasn't in Sale, Manchester, I would be up for that. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Still waiting

Grandchild number 2 is playing the same game as Molly by keeping us waiting. In the meantime we are enjoying quality time with Molly, Once things start it will be all hands to the pump and Molly will take a kind of back seat.

Looking at the weather for Bigastro, things are looking a lot better than here where we are expecting strong winds tomorrow and where we we have had a mixture of sun and showers with the odd period of heavy rain so far.

Seeing a picture of the Bigastro band parading down the street, some wearing shorts, made us realise where we belong. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Time to show your face

 Molly kept us waiting and this baby seems to be doing the same. If he hasn't made an appearance by Friday, the birth will be induced. 

We already know he is going to be a large baby, the longer it goes on, the bigger he gets. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


We have Vodafone pay as you go SIM cards for use when we are in England. Pam's is out of credit and she needs to top it up. Now that should be simple and it is if you live in England and have a UK address. There are several ways you can do it without moving from your house, by credit or debit card online, by setting up an account on line or by text from your phone.

Unfortunately every one of those stumbles when I try to enter the post code from our Spanish address. That leaves us with the old fashioned, go to the shop and buy a voucher method.

The problem is that there may come a time when Vodafone decide that the other methods are sufficient and there is no longer a need for shops to sell vouchers. At that point we will move to plan B. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oh dear

It seems that nothing about political life in Bigastro is straightforward.

When the PP formed a coalition with the UNPLC, they made decisions about the salaries that should be awarded to the mayor and the deputy mayor. On that basis, Charo Bañuls quit her job to work full time as mayor.

The socialists, lead by Raúl Valerio Medina, have now called that decision into question and the ruling in court makes the situation far from clear.

If the court ruling is upheld, then three years salary would have to be returned. To throw a further spanner into the works, Aurelio Murcia claims that Bañuls has not earned the money she was paid which amounts to 84,000 euros to which he says should be added social security and tax - a further 40%.

As you might imagine, the mayor is anxious to have this matter cleared up  pronto!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Such a beautiful day

After the incident on the plane that I spoke of yesterday, the wedding of Sarah and Wayne was such a contrast.

As we arrived at the venue, the weather was being kind to us. The ceremony itself was very relaxed and quite informal. Then we retired to a room upstairs for drinks and the rain started. The photographer was hoping for a break in the weather so that he could get the group shots and pictures of the bride and groom. It came just in the nick of time before the light started to fade.

Having got the photos over with, we could then sit down for the wedding breakfast. I am not quite sure we refer to it as a breakfast because, by that time it was around 5pm.

The food was excellent, a great choice by Sarah and Wayne.

The speeches that followed were largely off-the-cuff and no worse for it. Instead of the normal formal, over prepared words, people spoke from their hearts.

After the speeches etc. it was time for the first dance and the band who were bloody good. It was like going to a wedding and being treated to a free live concert at the same time.

As the guests started to thin out and people had a few drinks, the mayhem started. One guy called Ian, kept us all amused by running around the dance floor, at one point carrying a chair. How he managed to miss hitting anyone en route was a mystery to all.

The second set by the band ended with my favourite Killers song, Mr Brightside. WOW, total respect! What a great end to the night. Well not quite the end because there was a disco to follow but by midnight, I just needed my bed.

I managed to take about 50 minutes of video during the day which will take me a few hours of work when we get back to Spain. Hopefully it will remind Sarah and Wayne of their very special day. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Not what we planned

Our journey to Manchester started out OK, we got to Alicante airport in good time and checked our car in. We then checked in for our flight and passed through security without a hitch. Time for a spot of breakfast before boarding the flight.

Once settled into our seats on the plane, I tried to get a bit of sleep to catch up with the time I had lost coughing the night before. It was hard to get comfortable though and so I resigned myself to staying awake. At that point I became very light headed and felt faint.

The next thing I was aware of was Pam and a stewardess attending to me. I had seemingly blacked out and they had managed to bring be around. How long I was out is hard to say because, at first, Pam thought I was just asleep. It could have been anything up to five minutes or more.

The stewardess managed to find a doctor on the plane (there always seems to be a doctor on every flight) and he tried to check my pulse which he said was very weak. He only managed to find a pulse at my neck. That was a pretty clear indication that my blood pressure was low.

A row of three seats were vacated and I  was made to lay down with an oxygen mask. The colour apparently came back to my face and I started to feel more with it. When I sat up though, I started to feel faint again and so had to lie back down and keep breathing the oxygen.

The stewardess asked the doctor if the pilot needed to divert and land at a nearby airport, she explained that we were only 35 minutes from Manchester. I joked that meant I had only 35 minutes to live. The people on the seats behind overheard me and took my joke literally. I apologise for frightening them in that way.

When the aircraft had touched down at the gate, the chief steward explained to the passengers that there was a medical emergency on board and instructed them to stay in their seats whilst paramedics came onboard to assist me. I could feel all the eyes of the passengers watching as I left the plane. They had no idea what had taken place just that I was getting off the plane before them.

The paramedic assessed my situation and advised me to be taken by ambulance to hospital for a through check up.

At Wythenshaw hospital I was examined by a doctor who scheduled a series of tests for me including a chest ex-ray and blood tests. I had already had an ECG and my vitals taken in the ambulance.

Finally, four hours later I was given the all clear. There were apparently no indications of anything untoward that could have caused my blood pressure to drop and for me to faint in the way that I did. So I live to fight another day but the mystery remains.

What I would like to say is a huge thanks to all those who assisted me from the stewardess on the plane to the paramedic, the ambulance staff and the medical team in the hospital. They were all very thorough and more important reassuring. I would also like to thank my son-in-law Dave who came out to pick me up and took Pam back to the airport to collect our cases which of course we had left there.

Friday, October 10, 2014

In case you are wondering

We fly to England today for two special occasions which will hopefully will come in this order:

1. The wedding of Sarah and Wayne who were the neighbors of our daughter Laura and her husband Dave before they moved to their new house.

2. The birth of our second grandchild, a grandson and son to Laura and Dave.

Since Dave is Best Man to Wayne, he really needs to be at the wedding so we need Laura to hold on until after Saturday if she can. We don't really have a Plan B on this one!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Along with the rain

This past summer has been relatively mosquito bite free thanks to the lack of rain.

That has all changed now though, the rain we have had over the last couple of weeks has provided the perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes. The puddles formed by the rain are just what the little biters were waiting for – a place to lay the eggs ready to hatch.

In order to breed they need energy and the females get that from the protein in our blood. They use a variety of methods to seek out their victims, smell, movement, heat etc. Mostly they detect the carbon dioxide in our breath but they also sense the heat given out by living creatures, the odour of sweat and movement. Even the colour of your clothing can attract them.

If you are one of those who are attractive to mosquitoes like my eldest daughter, better stock up on repellent and cream to relieve the itching. 

PS It is claimed that drinking beer can attract mosquitoes, now that is bad news. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Just a reminder

My friend, scout John, reminds me that this Thursday is a holiday in Valencia and so many of the shops etc. will be closed.

To help in the future, I have added a calendar of holidays for the current month to the left hand sidebar. Click on the days in bold red type to find out what they are.

And for those of you who like to forward plan, here is a list of all of the public holidays in Valencia for the rest of this year:
Thursday 09/10/2014 Regional Holiday Valencia
Sunday 12/10/2014 Columbus Day
Saturday 01/11/2014 All Saints
Saturday 06/12/2014 Constitution Day Spain
Monday 08/12/2014 Immaculate Conception
Thursday 25/12/2014 Christmas

and for next year:
Thursday 01/01/2015 New Year
Tuesday 06/01/2015 Epiphany
Thursday 19/03/2015 Saint Joseph
Thursday 19/03/2015 Father´s Day
Friday 03/04/2015 Good Friday
Sunday 05/04/2015 Easter
Monday 06/04/2015 Easter Monday
Friday 01/05/2015 Labour Day
Saturday 15/08/2015 Assumption of Mary
Friday 09/10/2015 Regional Holiday Valencia
Monday 12/10/2015 Columbus Day
Sunday 01/11/2015 All Saints
Sunday 06/12/2015 Constitution Day Spain
Tuesday 08/12/2015 Immaculate Conception
Friday 25/12/2015 Christmas

At it again

Britain has expressed “grave concern” after a Spanish research vessel carried out “irresponsible and dangerous” manoeuvres in British territorial waters off Gibraltar in the latest diplomatic spat over the Rock.

The Spanish state survey ship, Angeles Alvariño, potentially risked the lives of Royal Navy personnel, the Foreign Office said, when it illegally entered waters off Gibraltar on Sunday afternoon.
The incident saw a standoff lasting several hours between Gibraltar police patrol boats and Royal Navy vessels as they circled the Spanish research ship.

This is not the first time that the Angeles Alvariño has been seen in British territorial water of Gibraltar and not the first attempt at provocation by Spaniards. There have been five incidents since the PP came into power. On one occasion, two Spanish military jets illegally entered the airspace over Gibraltar flying close to a commercial airliner that was going in to land. 

Maybe we need Jeremy Clarkson and his co-presenters to do a "special" about the Rock to remind Spain that Gibraltar is British and will remain so. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

It was Benidorm

We could hear the thunder in the distance yesterday and just knew that someone was in for a soaking.

It turned out to be Benidorm where 27.4 litres pre square meter fell in just 80 minutes. The downpour flooded 100 shops and restaurants, trapped vehicles and closed several roads. The water running down to Levante beach carved canyons in the sand filling them with mud and dirt. 

Several other parts of the region also had rain but nowhere near as intense as Bendorm. Here we had a few spots and that was it.

Now that the unsettled weather has past by, we can expect some decent sunshine for the rest of the week.

Friday, October 03, 2014


KW5D2026We first met this man at the hairdresser's where he takes his wife each week to have her hair washed and blown dry. We then saw him as a regular at the band concerts in the auditorium.He keeps me informed about events that are going to take place in the town.

It transpires that his brother, who is an aeronautical engineer living in Madrid, regularly reads my blog.

A few years ago when I was sitting outside the VaiVen cafe on the last day of the August Fiesta, the brother came over to speak to me and thank me for my blog. He has done the same each year since.

So this is a picture for the brothers by way of thanking them for their friendship and kind words.

Keep it clean

I have a brand new computer to replace my four year old Dell. The new computer is housed in a case which has removable dust filters on the intakes so keeping it clean inside should be easy. All I should need to do is take out the filters, wash them, let them dry and replace them – job done.

That was not the case with the Dell and nor was it the case with any of the other computers I have owned. There was no intake fan on the Dell but there were vents to allow air inside which didn’t have dust filters on them.

This summer I noticed that whenever I used a web browser the fans on the Dell would speed up meaning that the computer was getting hot.

I therefore took the side cover off  to investigate. On preliminary inspection there did not seem to be a lot of crud inside, the fans themselves were pretty clean so I needed to look further. What I found was the vanes on the CPU cooler were filled with dust and there was a lot of fluff and dust blocking the intake on the fan that cools the graphics card. Using a blower and a brush I removed all the dust and fluff that I could and that seems to have done the trick.

The point I am making is that one of the primary causes of computer failure is dust inside. It chokes up the fans which leads to excessive heat build up and that causes untold problems.

If you have a computer that is more than a year old and you live in a dusty environment, you really need to remove the side panel and check it inside. Be careful not to touch any sensitive electrical components or you may kill them with static. Get in there with a vacuum or a blower and brush and remove as much of that dust as you can. It doesn't matter if you touch the fans but keep away from the motherboard and the memory cards.

If you are not confident about doing the job yourself, take the computer to a shop where they will clean it for you. Taking this simple step could save you an expensive computer repair and will keep your machine working quietly for longer. 

The rich Russians

When Pam and I holidayed in San Agnello, we stayed at the Hotel Corallo. Next door to the hotel stands a huge three storey villa that overlooks the sea. Naturally, we asked who owned it and were told it was a Russian banker, a friend of Vladimir Putin.

The villa, which was patrolled each night by security and was cleaned down inside and out by a team of ladies, is used for one month during the year as a holiday retreat. We did wonder, just how much wealth you would need to own and maintain such a house in this way.

Here we read that it is the Russians that are propping up the revival in building on the Costa Blanca by purchasing holiday homes at the top end of the market. With their new found wealth, they are off on a spending spree moping up bargains along the way. 

Last night Pam and I watched two programmes about Russians in London. The people in the programs were enjoying the same extravagant lifestyle, the same almost obscene spending on luxury as the owner of the Italian villa.

For example, at one point in the film we were shown the owner of a boutique drinking coffee at £70 a cup. In another scene, a couple from Kiev flew from London to Birmingham in a private jet just to enjoy a curry.  The same couple were shown shopping for a car for the lady to use in London and ended up buying a Bentley Continental and an American Ford muscle car. During the test drive it was clear that the lady was almost totally incompetent behind the wheel. The salesman was sweating nervously throughout the whole experience. Later on the same couple jetted off to Monaco for a weekend in the sun.

It became clear from the program that money does not buy you class nor does it buy you common sense. It also became clear why there was a bloody revolution in Russia.

The Volvo Ocean Race

Yesterday, the Volvo Ocean Race Village in Alicante was opened in a ceremony that took place in rain. The planned firework display and the disco had to be cancelled.

The race proper will start on Saturday with 66 competitors sailing the first leg to Cape Town (South Africa). The race then moves on to Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sanya (China), Aukland (New Zealand), Itaji (Brazil), Newport (USA), Lisbon (Portugal), Lorient (France) and ends up in Gothenburg (Sweden) some 38,739 nautical miles later on.

The unique feature for this edition, is that all the boats are identical, built by the same four companies. The emphasis has changed from teams creating the fastest, safest boat they could build to the skill of the sailors.

Spanish hopes are set on Team Mapfre with its skipper Iker Martinez. The boat is seen here competing in the Round Canaries race.

Speaking of corruption

Yesterday, our Spanish teacher told us that, in his opinion, the three biggest problems that Spain faces are 1) unemployment, 2) corruption and 3) the desire of three of the autonomous communities to separate from Spain.

Referring to corruption, we now read that managers of the beleaguered Caja Madrid bank spent 15 million euros on clothing, restaurants, travel and cash withdrawals over the period 2002 to 2012.The 65 members of the board of directors along with the 21 executive directors took advantage of the credit cards they were given and now the case is being investigated by the Anti Corruption Investigator. There is clearly a difference between what these people and the rest of us would describe as legitimate business expenses.

Most Spaniards have a deep distrust of banks, is it any wonder?

You will recall that the bank was bailed out for 22,424,000 euros and was taken over by Bankia.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The town is loosing out

More squabbling at the Town Hall between the warring political parties means that the town could lose out on 150,000 of investment from the province for the energy efficiency improvements proposed by the PP party.

UPDATE I read this morning that Aurelio Murcia was thrown out of the council meeting by the mayor, Charo Banuls. It doesn't matter which party is in power, Aurelio doesn’t seem to be able to get on with them.

Bigasto’s got talent


We all know that there are a lot of talented people in the town who can sing, dance, tell jokes etc.

The town band is now giving them the chance to show us what they can do by preparing something special. I and my camera will look forward to that.