Tuesday, March 31, 2015

You're having a heat wave

The tropical air rises to a high of 32 degrees in the hottest March day in 27 years

Maritime tropical air from the Azores that arrived on Saturday has brought a heat wave that took the maximum temperature in Alicante and Orihuela to 32 degrees.

The good news is that the weather will remain stable now for the next few days and hopefully will be good for our return.

I can tell you, there has been nothing tropical about the weather here in Manchester, just the usual mix of rain and grey sky punctuated by the odd period of sunshine. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Back to Manchester

I know it is hard to believe because it was only a few weeks since we were last here. This time it is to see our granddaughter Molly in a dance show.

The build up has been going on for months with many rehearsals taking place to ensure that every child knows exactly where they should be and what they should do.

Yesterday was the final rehearsal in costume and the pressure was showing with Molly. She complained that her mouth was hurting even though there was nothing wrong with it. First thing, the poor child was in meltdown but recovered in time to go the theatre.

The show was fantastic with every child that performed being a star including Molly. It all ran as smooth as the proverbial Swiss watch.

Howver, when we collected Molly to take her home, she was back into meltdown. Everything was wrong by this time, she even said that people were laughing at her during the performance which of course was not true.

One relevant issue was that Molly had forgotten to eat any of the food that Laura had prepared for her and when Molly is hungry, she is inconsolable. Six hours with just a Pepperoni and a bite out of a sandwich was not good.

One the one hand, you felt so sorry for her because this was supposed to be a wonderful experience. On the other hand, you know that her life will be peppered by similar incidents where she is under pressure and that she will have to learn to ride them.

It is hard being 5 years old isn't it?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Getting close


It is hard to believe that just 5,571 of my photos on my Flickr account have had almost one and a half million views. I passed the one million mark August 6th

I first opened the account January 2009 after my friend Pete posted me a link to his album. My initial idea was to post one picture a day in what is called a 365. There were some days though that I posted more and other days when I was struggling to find a picture.

I eventually gave up with the 365 idea. Nowadays, I only post pictures when I have taken something to share which ironically happens most days.

I also post pictures I have taken of events in Bigastro on Facebook so that locals can find them. 

Exercise your right

The election laws in Britain have changed making it easier for anyone who was previously registered to register and vote in the May election.

Ex-pats had the right to a postal vote for up to 20 years after leaving the country. Although that has reduced to 15 years, your vote can now be made online.

In order to register, you need to go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and complete the form. It takes about three minutes to complete using your passport and National Insurance number.

The deadline is April 20th – don’t miss it or you will lose your say in who runs Britain for the next term of office.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Voices in harmony

10264014_446731558814659_3848781953119268385_oOn Saturday March 28th at 8pm, there will be a concert given by DEMÚSICA ENSEMBLE in the parish church.

Demusica Ensemble is a female vocal choral group dedicated to the interpretation of music Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque. Amongst others, the group includes the beautiful voices of Susie Galvez and Susanna Vardanyan.

Sadly, we will be in England and so will miss this concert. We will also miss the parade for Palm Sunday in which our neighbour Pepe will be playing.

They live to fight another day

The former mayors of Bigastro, Raúl Valerio Medina and José Joaquín Moya along with the former secretary Antonio Saseta were accused of irregularities in the accounting of quotas for Sector D6. Aurelio Murcia, who originally made the complaint, also accused them of either misappropriation or diversion of funds.

The judge at the court of instruction No. 3 in Orihuela, having considered all of the evidence, has now signed an order which says that the irregularities were administrative and do not constitute a crime or breach of trust.  He says that the fact that there was no detailed accounting nor a current account opened for the fees from the owners of property in D6 did not constitute an offence.

Medina now criticises Bañuls and Murcia for not providing solutions for the owners during the four years that they have been in power. He further points out that, whilst he did not own land in Sector D6,  both the City Council and Charo Bañuls  had interests in the land there.

The return of the sun


The dreary weather over the last week looks as though it will come to an end  by tomorrow.

The sky has been grey with a dense covering of cloud for much of the time. We’ve had drizzle, short but heavy downpours, the odd clap of thunder followed by brief interludes of sunshine. Today though the sky should begin to clear and in the morning, we will wake up to beautiful sunshine. Let us hope that this lasts through the time up to and including Easter so that all the scheduled activities can take place.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Medina turns up with 140 invoices

The ex-mayor of Bigastro, Raúl Valerio Medina, turned up in court with 140 invoices to explain his expenditure using the town’s credit card. Initially he was asked to explain 24,146 euros out of 30,251.90 of expenditure on the card. That was reduced to 21,000 euros which he claims were covered by the invoices he presented.

One of the bills was dated 6th June 2011, two weeks after he lost the position of mayor. Medina says that, although the bill was paid on that date, it corresponded to a invoice from Silvino Restaurant in Almoradi made two days before the election took place.

Apart from the restaurant bills, you will recall that there were invoices from supermarkets which Medina claimed were for materials needed at the Town Hall.

According to the secretary, funding for use of the credit card for amounts up to 2,000 euros per month was budgeted for and required no further justification.

Still a candidate

Since the ex-mayor now believes that he has proved his innocence in this case, he thinks that he should be allowed to head the list of socialist candidates in Bigastro.

I was chatting the other day with my neighbour Aurelio Murcia about Medina’s position regarding the forthcoming elections. He said that, whilst in Britain a candidate who had cases of alleged fraud against him would not be able to stand, here in Spain things are different. The fact that there are so many cases brought forward would not deter the electorate from voting for Medina. Instead, they would see this as the opposition trying to blacken his name without justification.

I suppose the real difference is, in England the parties sling mud at each other but leave it to the Prosecution Services to take cases to court if they are serious enough. Here in Spain (well Bigastro at least), it is the parties that take the cases to court.  Whilst we would regard someone taken to court as being serious, in Spain it is a fact of everyday life.

The band at ADDA


The Bigastro band are proud to announce that they will be taking part in the “Bands of Alicante Province at ADDA”.  More information to follow.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

The complicated political map of Spain

The regional elections in Andalucia, called one year early, act as a barometer for the general election in Spain and for other regional elections. It was the instability of the pact between the Socialists and the United Left that lead to an early election – the result is interesting.


What the Socialists wanted was an absolute majority, what the got was a simple majority which means they will need a pact with one of the other parties to have overall control. They needed 55 seats and ended up with 47.

The PP (Conservatives) lost 17 of their seats, not to the Socialists but to other parties, notably the left wing Podemos and the right wing Cuidadanos both of which are fledgling parties.

The difficulty for the Socialists is finding a partner to work with. Their pact with the United Left broke down and in any case they only have five seats. They could look to the newly formed CItizens party  but that would be and unholy alliance and in any case, Cuidadanos want to test the waters in forthcoming elections for themselves as do Podemos.

At the General Election (whenever that is called) we may see the same situation that faces Britain where the Labour Party and the Conservatives are neck and neck. There, the Conservatives believe that labour will try and work with the Scottish Nationalist Party to form a pact.

What we get with coalitions or pacts is a situation which seems to work for awhile but eventually breaks down as the “tail tries to wag the dog” and the major party decides to have none of it. 


Sunday, March 22, 2015

What a show!

Last night we went to the Pasarela de Moda (Catwalk Show) at the Sports Centre. Fortunately, I had taken the precaution of asking for reserved seats so I could take photos. I say that because, when we arrived in good time, the hall was pretty much full with only seats at the back. By the time the show started, there was standing room only.

I could not get over how much trouble the town hall had gone to to produce the show There was even a large screen showing those who could not see what was going on along the catwalk. There was lighting of course and a sound system for music and announcements. All together, it was a very professional effort especially when you consider that Bigastro is only a small town.

There were a few glitches but they did not matter because the show itself was superbly organised by our neighbour, Eli Ortuno along with the Councillor for Culture who acted as presenter.

The clothes on show looked simply stunning as did the models who ranged from babies to young adults. The only thing missing this time was the lingerie section (shame that) which normally makes for some “interesting” photos.

Many congratulations to all those who took part and a big thank you to the shops that took part.

You can see my pictures from the show by following the link in the left hand sidebar. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Robbery in a Carrefour car park

The theft took seconds, the robber was a 'deaf' man that had been sent away some 30 minutes before. The couple knew he was signing people up to a fake petition for a home for the deaf - as a distraction.

He came back to them 30 minutes later, totally silently and with incredible dexterity took her handbag inside which was her passport, mobile and credit cards, telephone, etc.  While her husband phoned the police she searched for the man, found him and confronted him. He was NOT deaf!! A photo was taken of him. He then hit her with his clipboard, the phone went flying onto the floor. The husband chased him to the getaway car, noted his accomplice and the car registration number.

The photo of the robber went to their experts and immediately a match was found and all the papers were signed identifying him. The lady visited the emergency health centre and has an accompanying certificate for injury during the robbery. This will increase his likelihood of going to prison. All the transactions at the Guardia were in Spanish.

The husband said that he regrets not having phoned the police when he first saw the man. His advice is that, If you see such people in car parks, call the police. You never know, the man you identify might be already on their list and your evidence will add to their case in court.

As I said previously, we were approached by a man in the car park at Carrefour in Torrevieja who was operating the same scam. When I refused to give him money, he quickly disappeared in the direction of the petrol station. I didn’t see him get into a car or any other person who might have been an accomplice. In our case, we were leaving so, even if he had returned, we would not have been there. I suppose I could have got a photo of him but it would have been from the back, hardly useful for the police to identify who he was.

Covering the soil with asphalt

A recent study shows that 5% of the Alicante province is built upon leaving only 23% of the land with wooded mountains. That makes it third in the list of most built up areas in Spain behind Madrid and Barcelona

Construction in recent decades is to blame with roads, railways, airports, industrial estates and large shopping centres all adding to the number of homes that have been built. And some parts of the province are worse than others. For example, the Bay of Alicante is now 90% built up and Elche is 5 times the size it was 30 years ago..

Loss of land for farming is only one aspect of this phenomena. Covering so much land also promotes the greenhouse effect, increases pollution, reduces water storage, leads to a loss of biodiversity and can even aggravate the effects of flooding and earthquakes. The province is increasingly suffering from drought and desertification and the forested areas are getting fewer – wooded hills now only account for 22.8% of the province. We need those trees and plants that take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen for air quality; that is one of the reasons why many schools plant trees and gardens around playgrounds. 

Of course, economics is the driving force behind all of this. It is more profitable to use land for building than for farming but there has to be a balance. As the population increases with the number of houses being built, so the need for food grows with it. Eventually, without sufficient land for farming, we would be unable to sustain ourselves.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Parade in Bigastro

1511986_1050196021661567_7648091553739534597_oPam and I  go to either Torrevieja or Orihuela to watch the Good Friday parades during Holy Week.

This parade is on Friday 27th, Viernes de Dolores (Friday of sorrows) which precedes Palm Sunday, the week before the general parades take place.

On Easter Sunday I will be up at the crack of dawn again to record “the Encuentro”, Bigastro’s depiction of the moment when Mary discovers that her son, Jesus has risen from the dead. This time though I will make a point of recording the showering of petals from the apartment of our Spanish teacher Antonio and his wife. In my haste to get to the town square, I missed that last year in the video I made for the church.

Change of venue

Those of you who are intending to go to the Catwalk Show tomorrow need to take note of the change of venue.

Due to the weather, the show will NOT be held in the park, instead it will be in the pavilion at the Sports Centre on the road to Molins. 

Stormy weather

The wind blowing in Valencia last night  gusted up to 87 kmph in the town of Villena , 76kmph in Rojales, Alicante, and reached 68 kmph in the Valencian town of Manises.

According to the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET), this morning winds of 63 kilometers per hour were recorded in Jalance, 62 in Pinoso and Utiel and 55 in Javea.

The Emergency Center of the Generalitat Valenciana  also reported that Villajoyosa recorded gusts of 73 kmph, Elda and Ibi 68, Elche Mutxamel 67, while in the towns of Carlet and Valencia-Olivereta they also recorded 60kmph winds.

The 112 Emergency phone recorded 21 incidents due to the wind (branches falling and tiles coming down) in the municipalities of Torrevieja and Alicante Petrer.  There were no reports of personal injury. However, in Villena, the mayor of Public Safety has recommended "great caution for both drivers and pedestrians", after the fall of several trees in different areas of the city.

The Emergency Centre has declared for today a state of  pre-emergency orange  for the sea level on the coast south of Alicante due to the wind.

The sky remains cloudy at this time, with rain falling in large areas of the province of Valencia,  for example; 31 litres per square meter in Barx, 12 and 10 in Polinyà Carcaixent in Valencia.

The Meteorological Agency says that the cloudy sky  will remain and we can expect weak and scattered rainfall south of Alicante with more intense and persistent rain south of Valencia and north of Alicante.

Also we will experience a moderate wind blowing from the northeast with temperatures fluctuating. 

Played with confidence

The Junior Band treated us to a great concert last night in celebration of Fathers’ Day. If you closed your eyes, you could imagine that the members of the band were much older and although some members were adults, the majority were young people embarking on their first steps in music.

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It was a special occasion for my neighbour, Pepe. He hasn’t been playing saxophone for too long but already Pepe has appeared in his first concert.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Will he or won’t he?

It is still not clear whether Raúl Valerio Medina  will head the list of socialist candidates during the forthcoming municipal election. The decision will be taken after Medina appears as defendant in the case about alleged misuse of Bigastro’s credit card. Of course, there are two further cases involving the ex-mayor that are due to be heard at a later date so, even if he is cleared of the allegations, Medina will not be in the clear.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Doesn’t look good

14228_10205006923070848_5894310816951431957_nThis picture that FontaBigastro has posted from AEMET shows the unstable air that is lurking over us.

Not altogether sure what the figures mean but that blue area looks pretty nasty.

Stormy weather


Looks like the warm sunny weather that we enjoyed has come to an end as strong winds and rain are set to feature for the next few days. On the plus side though, it will be mild!

Wall art

murales (6)The Murals of San Isidro in Orihuela is now in its fourth year. There are already 135 murals that have been painted on walls. This year another 42 will join them painted by 103 artists and nine of the new murals will be painted by graffiti artists. 

Although the theme of the works will be Miguel Hernandez, there are likely to be murals that depict the loss of social rights and freedom along with anti political themes.

The event will be inaugurated on Friday at 4:30pm at the college Jesús María de San Isidro  next to the mural of Guernica that you can see in the photo. From 5pm, the artists will start their work.

Apart from the painting of the murals, there will be music in the street with concerts including rock, pop, and flamenco at three different sites< There will also be a craft fair on Sunday with 103 stalls and of course, food on hand for the painters. Let us hope the forecasters got the weather wrong otherwise it will be a washout.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Did you take part?

10350336_442913015863180_583718513474020319_nIf you took part in the 3rd Ruta de Tapa, got 12 stamps on your card and entered for the draw then you could be a winner!

On Thursday,26th March at 7pm, the lucky winner will be drawn from the participants at the Auditorio Francisco Grau. He or she will get 100 euros.

For the love of music

11073549_762033787244550_3764381284251586248_oYou can share the love of music on the Facebook page of the Sociedad Union de Musica de Bigastro at https://www.facebook.com/union.musical.bigastro.

To listen to the band playing you can download my audio file of the Concierto del Socio at https://www.dropbox.com/s/8qp7jwsv69vqehe/Concert.wma?dl=0

NB The first two pieces were played by the guest band from Guadalupe.

A stay of execution

There are still reckoned to be 300,000 illegal homes in the Andalucia area of Spain, many of them owned by Brits. The owners claim that they were ill informed by property agents and town hall officials during the buying process. Without the proper legal paperwork, many are unable to get proper electricity and water supplies but even worse, they live under the constant threat of demolition.

The owners in the Valley of Almanzora set up an association to represent 12,000 homeowners.

The AUAN Association has now successfully petitioned the Spanish parliament to amend the penal code which will now allow a stay of execution of demolition until compensation has been paid. This move represents progress but still does not guarantee that the homes will be legalised which is what AUAN were pressing for. They are currently fighting in the European Court of Human Rights to save the home of a British couple in Andalucia.

Why were the homes built illegally in the first place?

Developers, keen to cash in on the demand for property during the boom years, sought permission from local town halls to build. The town halls, eager to gain the money from building licences, granted permission without approval from the regional government. The developers went ahead and built the homes which were then sold by agents who again had a vested interest in their sale. The solicitors involved hastened the process without proper investigation and searches. Thus the homes were built, sold and occupied. Only at this stage did the Regional Government intervene and declare the houses illegal. By this time it was too late, the builders had gone out of business as had the agents. Even those who were entitled to claim compensation could not do so.  They had been duped by a system that was corrupt to the core.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mystery solved

Following the report about people on our estate receiving phone calls about an inspection of their gas installation.

We received a letter today from Vitogas telling us that an inspection is due and will take place during the second week of April (13th to 17th).

Since the letter is on headed notepaper and has our correct address including the original plot number, I assume that it is genuine.

The letter tells us that we will receive an invoice for the work once it is complete.

This is of course very different to the scam that has been operating on the coast where so called inspectors turned up and demanded payment there and then for bogus work. 

All the latest

11034391_442527452568403_4741415496258996253_oCatch up with the latest fashions at the Pasarela de Moda on Saturday 21st at 6pm in the Parque Huerto del Cura.

I am going early this time to grab a decent seat for my photos.

Father’s Day

10995321_760431800738082_1323611793342833427_oAlthough Mother’s Day (which was yesterday) might be more important in England, it is the fathers that get the acclaim in Spain with a special concert for them.

Make a note of the date and time. This will be the first concert where my friend and neighbour, Pepe, gets to play on saxophone.

I will of course be there to grab a photo or two of him and the rest of the band.

Last night, we had the Concert for Socios (friends of the band). On this occasion, they had invited Las Musas from Guadalupe to take part.

Most of the musicians in the Guadalupe band are students at the Conservatoire of Music and so the standard of playing was very high. Even still, the Bigastro band can hold their heads up for the sterling performances of their own programme. 

Go to the sidebar for photos of both bands in concert.

For those that either missed it or want to hear it again, you can download my audio file of the concert at https://www.dropbox.com/s/8qp7jwsv69vqehe/Concert.wma?dl=0

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Just a warning

You may have read about the scam that has been taking place on the coast where bogus gas inspectors have tried to dupe money out of people. Some have even been aggressive demanding payment for the work.

I’m told that one or two people on our estate have had phone calls from a person who says he is working for Vitogas and needs to make an appointment to come and inspect the gas fittings.

You will recall that the last inspection was carried out by BP and we had a letter explaining that an inspector would call, so it is possible this one is a scam.

One of our neighbours tried to advise Vitogas about the calls but they just wanted the contract number to arrange in inspection even though it was explained that she was not asking for one.

Maybe if someone else gets a call they can get a name (even though it may be false) and especially a phone number which we could pass on to the police or the guardia for them to check out.

Of course this could be all above board since an inspection of the gas supply is required by law every four to five years but still it pays to be cautious.



This is the map from Cadastro which shows the land that is being built on. You can compare this with the diagrams from the developer.

For more information go to http://fendum.com/promociones/.

These are the artist’s impressions and the floor plan of the house that is shown on the board.




Some photographers go to extraordinary lengths to capture an image that they want.

Otto Berkley describes how he managed to get this picture of the Thames in London.

“This is an image I’d had in my head for a while, but I had to wait until recently for the right weather conditions, position of the sun and a low tide on the Thames. The end result is a combination of exposures captured over two hours, creating a mixture of late-afternoon sunshine hitting the buildings and early-evening lights along the skyline.

The image is made from two long-exposure shots captured with a 10-stop neutral density filter: a five-minute exposure at sunset to create a warm glow on the buildings, and then an additional eight-minute exposure once the sun had gone down, which further smoothed out the Thames and removed the traffic on Tower Bridge. I then blended these with a capture at dusk, which incorporates the lights in the buildings and on the bridge, and finally blended these with a one-minute exposure at twilight, which added the reflections of the lights along the river and the starbursts in the lights along the barge in the foreground.”

If you go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/99194469@N08/16810201075/in/explore-2015-03-14 you can download the image in various sizes but be aware that the author has set “All Rights Reserved” for his work.

Friday, March 13, 2015

New houses on our estate

Those of you who have noticed the poster on the board by the park may be wondering where these new houses are to be built.
As I suspected, they are on the land that lies between Calle Irlanda and Calle Alemania.  
Two of the houses are already underway, one on Irlanda and the other on Alemania.  

Looking at the diagram it looks like there are plots for a further four houses, two of which will be on the land that currently belongs to the “cuckoo house”.  For those who might be interested, prices start at 170,000 euros for a three bedroom, two bathroom house.

More choices

The rise of alternatives to the bipartite politics of Spain continues.

We saw the popularity of left wing Podemos during the European elections. Now there is a right wing alternative.

Internet-savvy and fronted by a charismatic 35-year-old with a fondness for pushing boundaries, Cuidanos (Citizens) has rocketed up the polls in recent months and captivated political analysts.

Staunchly opposed to Catalan separatism and deeply committed to the EU, Ciudadanos recently announced that after nine years in Catalan politics it would field candidates across the country for upcoming municipal, regional and general elections. It swiftly climbed in the polls and now sits neck and neck with Podemos, the governing People’s party and the opposition Socialists.

As the party pushes forward with its national expansion, the number of Spaniards who intend to vote for Ciudadanos has more than doubled from 8% in January to 18% in the latest Metroscopia poll for El País.

Bargain basement housing

The housing market here on the Costa Blanca has rebounded. Figures show that 27,879 houses were sold last year and 88% of those sales were from the resale market. The explanation for this surge in interest comes in the form of the average price paid which was 117,639 euros (2,000 euros less than the year before). The average price for a new house was 177,838 euros.

Let me put these figures into context for my British readers, 117,639 euros equals £83,971.50 at current exchange rates and 177,838 euros equals £126,941.90.

According to data from Zoopla, the current average price of a home in England is £277,678, detached houses average at £392,593, semis at £236,185. terraced at £220,303 and flats at £273,939. With £83,971 in your pocket, you would be struggling to find a terraced house in England even in inner city areas like Liverpool. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The new play area

10428487_10206055415253558_8084858365439413713_n The new play area in the park has now been officially opened.

It looks absolutely splendid and provides children with plenty of activities to choose from.
11041024_10206055420533690_7589823474728192145_n Here is the official party that performed the ceremony.

Not all thieves are stupid

I was sent this information by one of my neighbours who suggested I should pass it on.


Some people left their car in the long-term parking at Windsor while away, and someone broke into the car.  Using the information on the car's registration in the glove compartment, they drove the car to the people's home in Essex and robbed it.  So I guess if we are going to leave the car in long-term parking, we should NOT leave our registration/insurance cards in it, nor the remote garage door opener.  This gives us something to think about with all our new electronic technology.

2. GPS:

Someone had their car broken into while they were at a hockey game.  Their car was parked adjacent to the arena in an area specially allotted to hockey fans.  Things stolen from the car included a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard.  When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen.  The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house.  They then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house.  The thieves knew the owners were at the hockey game, they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house.  It would appear that they had brought a lorry to empty the house of its contents.  Something to consider if you have a GPS - don't put your home address in it.  Put a nearby address so you can still find your way home if you need to, one that would not give your address away if your GPS was stolen.


This lady has now changed her habit of how she lists names on her mobile phone after her handbag was stolen.  Her handbag, which contained her mobile, credit card, wallet, etc., was stolen. Twenty minutes later when she called her husband, from a pay phone telling him what had happened, hubby says, "I received your text asking about our PIN number and I replied a little while ago."  When they rushed down to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn.  The thief had actually used the stolen phone to text "hubby" in the contact list and got hold of the PIN.  Within 20 minutes he had withdrawn all the money from their bank account.

Moral of this story
a. Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list.  Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad, Mom, etc.
b. And, very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked through texts, CONFIRM by calling back.
c. Also, when you're being texted by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came from them.  If you don't reach them, be very careful about going places to meet "family and friends" who text you.

A lady went grocery-shopping at a local mall and left her purse sitting in the child seat of the cart while she reached something off a shelf.  Wait till you read the WHOLE story!  Her wallet was stolen, and she reported it to the store personnel.  After returning home, she received a phone call from the Mall Security to say that they had her wallet and that although there was no money in it, it did still hold her personal papers.  She immediately went to pick up her wallet, only to be told by Mall Security that they had not called her.  By the time she returned home again, her house had been broken into and burgled.  The thieves knew that by calling and saying they were Mall Security, they could lure her out of her house long enough for them to burgle it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tapas in Bigastro

11016182_439674942853654_5355134957234814711_o A very popular event in Bigastro returns this weekend.

You can enjoy a snack and a drink at any of the participating bars, Friday, Saturday and Sunday between noon and 4pm and then again between 8pm and closing time. 

Think what you would be missing if just stayed in!
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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Another scam to look out for

It goes like this; you are approached in a car park by someone claiming to be collecting for the deaf or some other worthy cause. The person will usually have a clipboard and fake identification. On the clipboard will be a list of names of people who have donated with the amount alongside. Not surprisingly, the handwriting will be the same for every person and the amount will be at least 10 euros.

When you refuse to donate, they become persistent and in some cases even aggressive. The advice is to stand your ground, get your mobile out and pretend to call the police at which point they will almost certainly disappear rapidly from view.

We have experienced the scam once in the car park at Eroski and at least twice with people at our gate. The first time we were new to the country and did hand over 5 euros. Since then though I have turned them away. We always keep our gate locked and only open it if we know who the person is or are convinced that they are genuine. It might seem rude to keep people at the gate but it is a lot easier than trying to remove them from the premises.

PS The Spanish word for beggar is mendigo or mendiga. You find them outside churches and cathedrals and in the streets. Mendigas also come and pester you when you are sitting outside cafes and restaurants. We have even seen them outside supermarkets. Sometimes they carry a baby or a young child is with them who they claim is hungry.

Clearing the air in Madrid

There is an almost permanent smog over the capital of Spain, caused in part by traffic fumes from over 1.6 million cars. The locals call it “the beret”.

New traffic regulations are set to combat the problem by restricting the number of vehicles allowed on the roads when pollution levels are high.

If a level of 250 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre of air is reached, or if it is recorded at 200 two days running, warnings will be issued urging drivers to leave the car at home and speed limits will be lowered on major arterial  roads.

If readings remain high the next day, only neighbourhood residents will be allowed to use the parking meters in the centre. Finally, on a third straight day of extreme pollution, vehicles will be cut by 50 per cent as odd- or even-number licence plates are banned.

Since it will be difficult to enforce the rules, let’s hope that the citizens comply with the restrictions voluntarily.

Charo Bañuls to stand down in May

Charo Bañuls says that she is exhausted after her four years as mayor of Bigastro and so will be taking a break from politics at the end of this term of office. Although, her successor at the head of the PP list has not been officially named,  it is thought to be María Teresa Sánchez Belmonte. Whether she becomes mayor or not will be up to the electorate in May.

In reports to the press, Bañuls says that she has lived through horrible moments both economically and politically during this mandate. What she has tried to do is prevent a reoccurrence of what went wrong during the previous 28 years of socialist rule in the town.

Recapping on the four years, Bañuls said that the dismissal of fifty council workers at the start, the exposure of corruption e.g. the agricultural workers who actually did no work for the council have all taken their toll on her popularity in the community. When the pact between the PP and the UPLC broke, that left her party ruling with a minority number of seats. The split presented many problems for Bañuls trying to reach accord during council meetings.

Summing up, Bañuls said, "the hard work is done. We have laid the groundwork and have laid the foundations of a new City Hall. I have done big projects, have recovered the credibility of suppliers, controlled spending and public services without being prejudiced " and finally admitted,  “there is still a lot of hard work left to be done by my successor”.

My relationship to the mayor

When she was first elected as leader of the PP, we knew very little about Charo Bañul. I recall that, when I first pointed my camera towards her, she was quizzical as if she wondered who was this English person taking photographs. What was my purpose? For all that she knew, I could be a friend or an enemy and so she was understandably wary.

Gradually Charo became more familiar with the sight of me with a camera and she would smile as I pressed the shutter.

However, only in the last year did she speak to me and even then it was mostly a simple acknowledgement of my presence. Only once did we have anything like a conversation. At that time I told her that my friend in England says we are lucky to have a pretty lady as a mayor. In England, mayors are mostly serious looking men. I also told her that she had lost weight and looked nice in the red jacket she was wearing. I am not sure how she took the compliment but at least she smiled.

When I have the opportunity, I’ll go back through my photos of the last four years and post a gallery of pictures of Charo Bañuls, mayor of Bigastro (2011 – 2015).

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

We count ourselves lucky

Yesterday we had three visitors (actually four because Sheila called at the gate on her dog walking route). The other three were Spanish friends.

First off was Ana who used to teach us Spanish. We made good friends with Ana and her family and keep in close contact. Ana came round to bring presents for our granddaughter Molly who will be 5 on Thursday. She also brought a present for our grandson Rory.

Then Eloy, the father of the young lady who was the Fiesta Queen last year, arrived late afternoon. Remember that I took photos of Patricia and said I didn’t want to be paid. Well, they brought us gifts instead and yesterday Eloy returned with large boxes of oranges and lemons.

Last night Estefania, Pamela’s physiotherapist arrived with more presents for Molly and Rory.

Just as well we are only going over for a few days, with all these presents there will be hardly any room for clothes in our cases.

We do have many more Spanish friends who have made us feel welcome here. Top of our list must come our neighbours Eladia,  Pepe and family and of course Juan our hairdresser. There are many others though who have shown their appreciation for the photographs that I take and those that we have met in the town.  

As I said in the title, we count ourselves lucky to have arrived here as foreigners and be made so welcome by so many local people. A big thank you to all of you for making us feel at home. 

Is it really only March?

March 2nd and already we have had temperatures to beat those in summer for Britain.

Untitled-1Yesterday was beautifully warm and sunny, it was good to be alive. Our central heating is set to come on at 6pm and maintain a temperature of 22 degrees. Last night it didn’t come on at all and the thermostat was still showing 23 degrees when we went to bed.

It won’t last though, temperatures will fall from today back down to around the mid teens. Still, that is not bad for this time of year.

Monday, March 02, 2015

A fragile situation

Untitled-1Not sure why I am posting another story about football since I know so little about the game but here goes.

This is the situation after the weekend. Liverpool beat Manchester City bringing them within 2 points of United. Arsenal beat Everton allowing them to jump into 3rd spot - 2 points ahead of United. United are back into 4th place.

Looking at the week ahead:

Chelsea play West Ham. Fired up from their Capital One cup win, I doubt that Chelsea will have any trouble there.

Manchester City play bottom placed Leicester and even though they had a bad week, I don’t think we’d expect them to lose that one.

Liverpool face 18th placed Burnley. Looking at Liverpool’s form that game should not be difficult for them.

Arsenal are away to QPR who are in 17th place so a betting man would back the Gunners to win there.

Finally we have United who face Newcastle, currently lying in 11th place 15 points shy of the lads from Manchester. In the past, that would have been an easy game for the Reds but not anymore. United have been so inconsistent this season that anything could happen. A lot depends upon who Van Gaal decides to play and in what formation.

So there you have it, my in depth analysis of the situation at the top of the Premier League. I hope that Carol Thorpe found it more interesting than my posts about cameras!

March 1st

After what has been the coldest winter since we came to Spain, yesterday was like a balmy summer day in Britain. With a temperature of almost 26 degrees, Pam and I were out in the garden doing some tidying up. Many apparently spent the day on the beach and even took to the water for a swim.

The forecast is for the temperature to remain high today and tomorrow and then to drop towards next weekend. There could be some rain on Wednesday but other than that, it looks like e can expect blue skies for much of the time.

People ask, do you ever consider going back to England? Are they mad? Why would we want to give up this kind of life and return to the weather we endured for much of our lives.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Drunk in charge of a pair of feet

An article in the Guardian newspaper tells us that Spain is considering a proposal to crack down on what they call dangerous walking. The Director General of Traffic plans to introduce breathalyser tests for pedestrians who are caught staggering down the street. There is also the suggestion of an off-road speed limit for joggers.

The Guardian goes on to suggest other “tongue in cheek” changes to the law; short-sighted people could be charged for leaving the house without their glasses, they could be fined for texting at the same time as walking, wearing eye catching clothing that would distract drivers might earn them a ticket and they could even be required to take an MOT to ensure that they are fit for walking. 

Whilst these changes to the law might seem absurd, there is evidence to show that not all accidents that involve pedestrians are the fault of drivers.

A close call

Untitled-1As I have said before, my son-in-law is a die hard Manchester United fan and so he has nervously watched the changing fortunes of his club this season. They have hovered around the top four places for awhile now which is realistically where they would hope to be.

Following their 2-0 win over Sunderland, United are in 3rd place with 50 points from their 27 games. However, apart from Southampton, who are 4 points behind, the other contenders for the top four places all have a game in hand.

Today, Manchester City travel to Liverpool. Both teams had disappointing games in Europe this last week so may be either dispirited or fired up to win – who knows. Apart from their loss to Besiktas, Liverpool have been successful in their games of late. Before their Barcelona game, Manchester City put 5 goals into the net against Newcastle. It is kind of neck and neck.

With Liverpool on the up and posing a risk to United’s top four place, you could argue that David would favour City to win today. On the other hand a win for Liverpool would keep United within 5 points of City. Perhaps a draw with a point each would be the best outcome.