Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Another hike in taxes

You will recall that the Council approved an 11% rise for IBI in August. They have now approved a further 10% rise. The total 21% rise will add 250,000 euros to the council budget.

It is also possible that the cadastral value of  homes will be adjusted which could further add to the amount that people pay. Actually, in the case of houses on our estate, the new values should be lower than those set during the boom years of construction.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Welcome back

We are going through a further period of unstable air which has already brought thunderstorms to parts of he area and will continue to affect our weather over the next few days.

The culprit

The council had to remove 13 palm trees from the park in Bigastro. All of them had been attacked by the picudo rojo.

The remaining trees have been treated by boring a hole into the trunk through which the technicians can inject pesticide.

Monday, September 28, 2015

How low can some people stoop?

On Saturday, they paraded the statue of the Virgin Mary around the streets of Bigastro. Before that though, they discovered that the new crown that had been made for her had been stolen. Not only that but there were signs of vandalism in the temple.

Fortunately, they were able to use the old crown to keep the hair tidy and so the procession was able to take place. Still, it must have been very upsetting to find that the new, 3,000 euro crown had gone. Let us hope that they catch whoever stole the piece are found before they have it melted down to sell.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Time to pack the cases

Isn't it always a paradox, one the one hand we feel as if we have been away forever but at the same time time has flown by so quickly. It seems like no time ago we were attending Jemma's graduation at Wolverhampton University and here we are contemplating packing our cases to travel home.

We were promised an Indian Summer and that is more or less what we have had. Most days have been sunny with very little rain, a perfect start to Autumn for Britain.

Jemma has been the genial host and has fed us well. Of course, balancing her new job teaching nursery children with hosting her ageing parents has not been easy. I'd like to think that we have minimised the disruption to her orderly life but having two more people in your house is bound to create issues especially when you are used to being on your own.

On the plus side, Pam and I have helped Jemma to regain control of her garden and the bathroom looks respectably clean again. We have also treated her to a couple of meals out and helped stock her larder.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Don't underestimate the impact

Work on the high speed train line between Alicante and Murcia has been a pain in the butt and many would question the need for it.

However, Murcia believes that the implementation of the AVE will double the number of train passengers by 2019 up to one million, will create 3,000 new jobs and generate an economic impact of 280 million euros during the first four years.

For the Autonomous Community, the plan will reactivate all sectors associated with tourism, hotel and commercial development.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Concert this Friday

This Friday 25 at 20:30
Bigastro Symphonic Band will have the pleasure of sharing the stage with the Musical Union Redován.

Sadly we will miss this one.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A natural disaster

The once green Sierra de Orhihuela is now devoid of its pine trees thanks to a combination of drought and the plague of "tomicus destruens'.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Many thanks to them

The complications of life meant that Hugh and Angela could not make their annual trip to Spain to stay with us this year. However, when they heard that we were visiting Jemma in Wolves, Hugh and Angela decided that they would come down to meet us and stay at the Holiday Inn for the night.

Last night we met up with them and went out for a meal at the place we had afternoon tea on Saturday. It turned out to be a good choice because we all thoroughly enjoyed our food.

More important though, we enjoyed their company if only for a few brief hours. True friends go out of their way for you - that is what Hugh and Angela did last night.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Yesterday's job

After our day off to celebrate Jemma's graduation, yesterday was time to get down to the jobs that were lined up for me.

First off, the garden which was showing signs of neglect. In fairness, Jemma lives on her own and barely has time to do anything other than routine tasks.

We got some heavy duty weed killer from B&Q which I sprayed on the weeds growing in the paths. Then I set about the grass with a strimmer first and then a lawn mower. In the meantime Pam and Jemma pulled out the weeds from the border on the left and the gravel at the far end.

With a little pruning back of some of the shrubs, the garden now looks 100% better than this photo.

It is raining today, what a surprise! Luckily, all the jobs are inside - I've replaced the shower head, now it is the toilet seat, the sealant around the bath and the seals on the shower screen.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

What a wonderful day

The sun has shone pretty much all day - what a bonus.

The graduation ceremony went perfectly thanks to immaculate organisation by Wolverhampton University School of Education.

Then the rest of the family arrived and we went out for afternoon tea which proved to be superb. A walk though West Park to allow Molly some time in the playground and a walk around the lake rounded of the day nicely. To say that we are proud parents and grandparents is to say the least.

I don't believe it

Having got up yesterday before the sun was up in the sky to catch our flight to Birmingham, today we were up at 6:30 - even earlier- to prepare for the ceremony. Jemma has to be down in town early to collect her gown and hat and of course I am on photo duty to capture the moment.

No harm in being up early, I am normally up before 8am anyway but 6:30am does not exist for Pamela.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A different venue

Usually, when we return to England to visit, we fly to Manchester and stay somewhere near Sale. Whilst we are over, Jemma usually drives up from Wolverhampton to see us and spend at least a weekend with us.

This time though is different. We flew into Birmingham this afternoon and will be staying at Jemma's house.

The main reason for this change is that tomorrow Jemma will be attending a graduation ceremony for the third time. To add to her BA Hons, and MA, Jemma has recently passed her PGCE course with flying colours.

For those who are wondering what these names mean; BA is the first degree (Batchelor of Arts) which Jemma took at Sunderland; MA is the second degree (Master of Arts) which she passed at Lancaster. PGCE is a Post Graduate Certificate in Education and is a prerequisite for anyone wanting to teach. Jemma worked for her PGCE at Wolverhamton.

So now Jemma is a newly qualified teacher in her probationary year teaching nursery at Oakham Primary School, Oldbury (West Midlands). She has two groups of 30 three and four year old children, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

Having been graded OUTSTANDING for practice of education on her PGCE course, we fully expect that she will prove to be similarly outstanding as a teacher. Judging by the photos of her classroom and the work she has put into creating a stimulating environment for the children, we know she is off to a good start.

After the ceremony, we will be enjoying a family lunch together and then the work starts on Sunday to help tidy up Jemma's garden. I am sure there are a few other jobs that have been lined up to keep me busy! That apparently is what dads are for.

Also, whilst we are here, a few of our friends are coming to stay nearby which will be nice. We throughly look forward to spending a little time with them.

So a busy time is in store for us. I think we will have earned a rest on our return to Bigastro.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Celebrity designers

It seems that if you are a celebrity these days, you can go on to enjoy a career in fashion. Cashing in on your fame by introducing a new perfume or a range of clothes is the name of the game.

Kayne West has now presented his third collection of clothes which I am sure will appeal to his legion of fans. At one time beige was the colour that older people wore, not any more it seems.

Will you be rushing out to the shops to buy any of this stuff? No, I didn't think so.

PS In case you were wondering, the model on the left of Mr West is a man.

The nasty side of migration

My friend, Scout John, sent me an email with an account by a Polish travel blogger of his experience on the border between Italy and Austria.

The blogger describes the immigrants that he saw on the roadside as "savages". His account goes on to explain that they surrounded the car of an elderly Italian woman, dragged her out by her hair and tried to drive off. His own bus was attacked as they tried to get the driver to open the door. They were throwing faeces at it and spitting on the windscreen.

The cars that arrived with humanitarian aid were turned over and a French coach was looted even as they were being told that they had permission to cross into Austria. Like we have seen in so many of the photos in newspapers, the migrants were mainly aggressive young men with very few women and children.

This photo shows the debris that the migrants left behind on the roadside.
 Tensions amongst those who are trying to escape from war torn countries are running high as country after country refuses to accept them across their borders. It is understandable that they are frustrated but  I am sorry, the type of behaviour that this blogger observed is hardly likely to endear them to those countries willing to help.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

You really had to be there

Camping la Pedrera  has organised a trip to Torrevieja for tonight.

In Torrevieja, the program of activities at the Municipal Leisure Centre, CMO, will include a hippie party to remember the 60s between 18.30 and 21 hours.

Those of us who lived through the 60s will recall that it wasn't all about dropping out, wearing riotous gear and taking drugs. The music was damn good though.

You do wonder

The Daily Mail puts a different slant on the migration crisis. Whilst other newspapers take a passionate view of the plight of the thousands of hopefuls who queue up at Europe's borders hoping to be let in, the Mail talks of fake asylum seekers and even ISIS members who are hoping to slip the net.

In several articles, the Mail describes the various ploys used including losing papers to travelling with fake passports. Apparently there is a roaring trade in Syrian passports some of which have been stolen from genuine Syrians. One young man claims in a Mail article that only 30% of those that arrived in Germany were actually Syrians and David Cameron has apparently been warned that 3 out of 10 refugees could be members of ISIS.

Suspicion is bound to be aroused when you see pictures of well dressed young men with mobile phones, fewer women and children  and hardly any older people. Obviously it is only those with money that can afford to pay traffickers, the less well off are still either in Syria or in camps in neighbouring countries like Lebanon. That in itself poses a dilemma because how is Syria going to ever revive itself if all the educated, young professionals have relocated to other countries. The notion that they may someday return to rebuild their country may be far fetched once they have tasted the good life in countries like Germany and Sweden.

When Germany said that it would welcome asylum seekers, that message must have been relayed around the countless thousands who were en route. When Hungary transported them by bus and train to Austria their hopes of reaching Germany or Sweden were raised. Far from the numbers that Merkel was talking of, within a day thousands were knocking at Germany's door which has now had to be closed. It is unrealistic to expect any country to suddenly have the mechanism to process and rehouse the numbers that are involved. If Germany could not do it, then there is little hope for any other European country.

In the case of Spain, it seems that very few actually want to come here so there may not be a problem for us. Just as well because if towns like Bigastro rely upon Red Cross to provide food for those who currently live here, how can they hope to help an influx of Syrian refugees?

I suppose the bottom line is that, whilst we have enormous sympathy for those who are genuinely trying to escape war, we would be foolish to simply open the doors and let all comers enter. Our sense of humanity could end up being the ruin of society in Europe. Whatever stance you take on this issue is going to be wrong.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

That should help a lot

The Department of Social Welfare in Bigastro has received more than 6.000kg of food from Red Cross. The food will be distributed by volunteers of Social Services from the former headquarters of Caritas on Acequia Street every Tuesday from 5pm until 8pm. .

Councillor for Social Welfare, Maria Elena Lopez and Antonio Alcocer, representative of Social Services volunteers, need to know which people in the town are in greatest need so that they can make sure the food is delivered to them.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Animal cruelty - is it still acceptable?

Bull fighting is said to be a cultural tradition in Spain. However, there is a growing trend amongst many to ban the sport based on animal rights. It might have been acceptable at a time when bear baiting, cock fighting etc were the norm but in a modern society it is less so. However, there is little danger of bull fighting being banned. Last year it was given cultural heritage status even though a poll showed that 75% of Spaniards had not attended a corrida in the last 5 years and only 29% approved of its continuation.

Even less acceptable though are some of the more garish forms of animal cruelty like placing flaming torches on a bull's horns and driving it into the sea. Or the event in Cazalilla where they throw a turkey from a church tower every February. The Regional Government imposes a fine of 2,001 euros for which the organisers have a whip round to pay.

Today I read that in Tordesillas they are preparing for their annual fiesta the highlight of which is El Toro de la Vega. During the event, scheduled for the 15th September, men on horseback chase a bull around and spear it until it eventually dies. In Madrid, animal rights protesters rally to have it banned but people of the town will have none of it. For them this is a centuries old tradition that they want to keep.

In other countries these type of activities were banned years ago, so why are they allowed to continue in modern Spain?    

Friday, September 11, 2015

A radical view of the migration crisis

This article from the online paper Alerta Digital puts a different perspective on the impact of Muslim immigration into Europe.

Egyptian researcher Ali Abd al-Aal of Mayadeen TV (Lebanon) says that 80% of Muslims in the West live on welfare and refuse to work.

His research addresses the problems of lack of contribution by Muslims in Western societies in which they live, in order to enjoy the social systems of these countries.

He notes that Muslims come to the West as refugees or illegal immigrants, not to bring wealth to the host society, but rather, become a threat to the security and economic stability of the West. Not to mention crime. Ali Abd al-Aal believes that social assistance granted in the European Union attracts immigrants like a magnet.

According to their statements, if we multiply the average amount charged by any Muslim immigrant welfare hosted by the tens of millions of those living in Europe, we will have an idea of ​​the astronomical cost to European countries of their unproductive and parasitic presence.

This amount doubles significantly if we take into account all other non-European immigrants living on welfare, and also if we add the cost of crime and social implosion, because of this massive immigration. These enormous amount of expenses, are not the only cause of the impoverishment of Europe, but contribute to its depletion.

Politicians seem to agree that this lax system, which is based on human rights, is not working. But no one has a plan to stop mass immigration.

Europe is doomed. Political, social, cultural and civilization suicide has been scheduled, and if they have to stop the infernal machine of destruction of the West, even in a few years it will be too late.

That is an extreme point of view based on an assumption which may of may not be true i.e. that 80% of Muslims live on welfare. Alerta Digital is an anti-Muslim publication which takes a stance that many would not agree with.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

From famine to feast

On Monday I wrote about the issues we were having regarding television. With only a handful of news channels to watch, the situation was not great.

As I said, we had someone coming to install an IPTV box but we were still waiting for a response from Movistar regarding our satellite box.

Luckily Movistar had opened another route to pass on information about faults and so at last I was able to communicate directly with their technical department. It seems that they have a scheme whereby owners of the original HD boxes like ours can have a new box installed free of charge for a nominal monthly fee. I jumped at the offer and awaited the call from an installer.

That call came yesterday morning and true to their word an installer arrived with a new box. The man said that the principal difference was that the new box had a much larger hard drive to record programmes on. I corrected him by saying that actually the main difference was that the new box worked. Let us hope that it continues to do so.

Later on in the day a young man came to install the IPTV box. There was a minor blip when the codes he had been given would not work but a quick phone call soon sorted that out. I had to make a few minor adjustments to the television to get the picture to fill the screen and then we started to explore what was available. It has been over ten years since we watched British television on a regular basis and a lot has changed in that time.

I am very impressed by the quality of the picture and sound even though it is not HD. There is no delay in the picture appearing and no jitter whatsoever. For all intents and purposes we could be watching television back in our old house in Greasby.

The question now is, should I watch Good Morning as I eat my breakfast?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Record breakers

At 5:30pm today, Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest reigning monarch in British history surpassing the record previously held by Queen Victoria. Just for those who like facts, her record now stands at 63 years and 216 days. That is quite some achievement unlikely to be beaten in the future.

Last night, Wayne Rooney became the highest England goal scorer with 50 goals under his belt. The previous holder, Bobby Charlton, will present him with a golden boot next month at the game with Estonia.

Some photos for you

None of them are mine, they are taken from MeteoOrihuela's Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Time to build an Ark?

This is one of the streets in Bigastro as captured by Elizabeth Navarrete Belmar.

And this photo by Julio Javier Saura shows a street in Torrevieja.

As per promise

This morning we were basking in sunshine under a blue sky. We even sat on the porch to enjoy our lunch. I'd packed the rubbish into the boot of Pamela's car ready to take to the bins on my way to the town to visit the bank.

Before setting off though, I decided to have a siesta. I'd barely closed my eyes when loud claps of thunder brought me back to my senses. Then I heard the rain coming down like stair rods and amongst it hail. Hail and rain was bouncing off the surface of the pool in the most dramatic fashion. This was rain like we had never experienced anywhere. It made the weather in the Lake District of England look like a damp drizzle.

That was half an hour ago. Now the sun has come out again and blue sky has returned with the odd puffy white cloud breaking it up. Looking further inland though I can see the storm still moving over presumably giving some other poor town a thorough soaking as it makes its way towards us. It is also looking grim towards the coast. Who knows, it may not be all over yet. One thing for sure, until I am certain this has gone away completely, the rubbish can stay where it is and the bank can wait.

Becoming more Spanish

It isn't just about learning the language, you come to accept that a party next door will prevent you from hearing the television or getting to sleep at a normal hour. Getting used to fireworks going off at any time of day for the slightest excuse is only part of the process. There is a lot more to it than that.

This poster highlights some of the ways in which you can become more Spanish.

Another example - if you meet someone you know in the street and they greet you with "adios", that means they don't have time to stop and talk. Generally though they will have time and will engage you in conversation. In summer it will usually start with "hace calor", in winter it will be "que frio". Once you have the weather out of the way, the chat can move onto anything and everything.

The amusing one here is the idea that service is never quick. Go to a bar and try and catch the waiter's eye - it is impossible to do so until he or she is ready. They have noticed you, it is just that they are busy doing something else. Once they are ready, they will come over to serve you.

The next issue is paying. Unlike bars in Britain, you will very rarely be expected to pay for anything until you are ready to leave. Even then you may have to press the waiter to get a bill.

The main thing is to never expect anything other than mass to start on time. If it says 10:30 in the programme, then it will likely be 11:00 or later. The same applies to medical appointments which are always much later than scheduled.

It made me chuckle

Today's cartoon on the VegaBaja Digital website.

Just to think that a week last Sunday we were sweltering in Torrevieja at the start of the stage of La Vuelta. The beach was packed with sunbathers.

Calling all football fans

England will face European champions Spain in a friendly match at the Rico Perez Stadium, Alicante on Friday 13 November.

The only slight doubt over the game would be if Spain fails to qualify outright for the Euros as any play off dates would then clash with the planned Alicante date.

As to how to get tickets for the match, I have no idea. That is something you will have to find out or yourselves.

Not out of the woods yet

Looking at the satellite images, you can see the advancing storm. Today we are on yellow alert for both rain and a thunderstorm. By tomorrow, the weather should return to normal for this time of year.

Although the heavy rain, storms etc have caused a lot of damage, the rain in particular has been beneficial to crops in the field.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Just look what the rain did to the local coastline

 One of the reasons why this has happened is that Orihuela costa has been overdeveloped. As the water has nowhere to go it floods streets and roads and eventually ends at the sea where, as you can see, it causes a lot of damage.

However, because the amount of rain was unusual, the normally adequate drainage systems could not cope with the sheer volume of water. Even though the storm drains alongside roads were cleared before the autumn, they would not have had the capacity to take the volume of water we faced on Saturday night.

I have no doubt the road down to Bigastro was flooded between where it spills out from the storm drain alongside Calle le Vigan  and the collector at the junction. The roads down to Torrevieja would also have been flooded especially where the paths to the campo join the roads.

Courses return

In the first years that we were here the Town Hall offered courses, free of charge, to new readers, adults who wanted basic education and foreigners who wanted to learn Spanish.

Originally, classes were at Miguel Hernandez Secondary School and our teacher was Ana. When Ana took maternity leave, Eduardo took over and the classes moved to the old primary school building. On her return the class moved again to the Auditorium.

The council ran out of money, funding from Valencia dried up and so the classes finished. Fortunately, Aurelio, who was Councillor for Education at the time, found us a volunteer who agreed to teach us free of charge. There were some difficulties with the first of the Antonio's and so he was replaced by the second.

Antonio has given up his time twice a week over several years to help us progress with our language skills. We all regard him as much as a friend as a teacher.

Quite what is going to happen this year is anybody's guess. It seems that the Town Hall are planning to re-introduce the courses that were dropped but who will we have as a teacher? For sure the course for foreigners will not take place if there are not enough people who show interest.

Television blues

When we first arrived here we had no television to watch, just the videos we had brought with us from England.

Many of our British neighbours opted to try and receive British TV either via a huge satellite dish or by the microwave rebroadcast system from the coast. Instead, Pam and I opted to go with Digital +, the Spanish equivalent of Sky. There were a number of channels that we could change the language for and so we had an adequate amount of TV we could watch.

When Digital + introduced high definition channels we bought one of their iPlus boxes which would decode the HD programmes and at the same time would allow us to record content to an internal hard drive. That worked well for awhile until Canal +, as the company was then called, changed satellites. We had the dish realigned and that restored our HD channels.

By this time though we were having problems with the digibox which would crash each time you changed it to a HD channel. I had to reset the box several times to get it to work properly. That also meant that we could not rely upon the box recording a HD channel whilst we were away - sometimes it would work but often not at all.

I emailed Canal + and asked them for a replacement box. In reply they said we had bought the decoder and so they could only repair it - free of charge. Several weeks later our original digibox was returned and was working fine.

That did not last though, within less than a year the problem of crashing returned. I put up with it for awhile until it came to the point where the damn thing would not work at all. Time to contact them again. However, by this time Canal+ had been taken over by Movistar and the email address I had used was no longer valid. I went to their site and found the only way, other than trying to phone them, was to contact the company via their Facebook page which I did.

About a week later I got a reply to say that the matter had been handed over to their technical department who would call me. Well that has not happened.

As a stop gap measure I bought a cheap box from Carrefour to see what free channels we could watch. It turns out that the satellites our dish is pointed to carry over 1,000 channels. As I went through the list though, only a handful of news channels were  in English, the rest were either locked or were only available in German.

I'd already investigated ways to get British TV including having a fake IP address to allow us to get catch up TV. The solution we opted for was to subscribe to BBC iPlayer Global which was excellent. There was plenty of content including old programmes and series that we thoroughly enjoyed. Via an Apple TV box, we were able to stream the programmes to our TV from an iPad - brilliant. Sadly though, the BBC has now discontinued the service and so our Apple TV box now sits unused.

During my research I also came across several companies offering IPTV (television over the internet) and one in particular that use a service where the programmes are streamed from servers in Malaga. One of their technicians is coming on Wednesday to install the necessary set top box which hopefully will get us a wide range of TV programmes.

In the meantime, I will continue to badger Movistar because we are paying a monthly fee for something that we are not getting.

Not over yet

The sky continued to be heavily overcast all day yesterday and we did have some brief periods of rain. Today it is still looking very grey out there and so it is possible that we will see more rain before the day is out. It could well be Wednesday before the sun makes an appearance again.

Dirty water

Only last week they were saying how low the water was in the river Segura as it flowed through Oriheula.

Not any more, after the heavy rain the river is in full flow but just look at the water.

Someone is dumping waste and chemicals up river - possibly in Murcia.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Boy did it rain

Rain was forecast all day yesterday but by evening time, not a drop had fallen. Did that mean it was going to pass us by? NO, not at all!

As it approached midnight, we could hear it over the television, the heavens had opened and outside there was a "tromba de agua". Without guttering, it was coming off the roof in sheets and shooting down the spouts of the roof joints onto the paving below.
 On a rough calculation, I would say that 26 millimetres of rain fell between 10:30pm and 6am. Looking out at the pool I would estimate that I have a about 5 cms more water in it than I had yesterday. Fortunately, I sealed the holes in the bottom of the box so I only have a centimetre of water in there - well below the level that would affect the pump.

The only damage I can see is to the frame of the canopy over the swing seat. In retrospect, I should have anticipated the problem and stored it away. Ah well, maybe I can repair the frame somehow.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Cool at last

Compared with July, the temperatures in August were more bearable. Even still, the average temperature recorded in Torrevieja was 27.9 degrees. The hottest day was the 13th when the temperature reached 38.2 degrees.

It wasn't just the heat that made life uncomfortable, the humidity was also very high and it stayed hot during the night making sleep difficult for some.

September has brought some relief with highs in the mid twenties. However, it has come with the strong possibility of rain and thunder. The rain the other day was "dirty", coming as it did from North Africa. Let us hope that further rain is a lot cleaner otherwise I will have to hose down the paving and wash our cars on a regular basis.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Fireworks in the sky

Spectacular !!. Brutal electrical activity picked up from # Benidoleig ( # Alicante ) !. Heavy rainfall in the north of the province of Alicante and south of the province of # Valencia . Locally trees uprooted by the hurricane gusts of wind, heavy rain and lots of lightning.

Praise indeed

We met up with John and Carol Thorpe the other day at the VaiVen.

Carol said the she thought my photographs from this year's fiesta were some of the best that I had taken of the event. That was very kind of her and I much appreciate the sentiment.

Together we decided that this was due to a combination of factors:-

  • Better equipment - trading my 24-105mm f4L IS lens for the superb 24-70 f2.8L II has improved the quality of my photos. I also used the 70-200mm f2.8L II which is regarded as one of Canon's finest lenses. Fitted to my 5D MkIII, these have given me an advantage over those with more consumer orientated equipment.  
  • Better technique - with more practice at taking photos of these events my technique  has improved.
  • Better processing - using Adobe Lightroom allows me to process photos much quicker and with greater consistency in terms of colour and exposure.
  • Greater familiarity - knowing the pattern of events at the fiestas means I can be in the right place with the right equipment to capture better photos. I no longer worry about being in front of people and in their way.
Above all though, I have to thank Carol for her advice and support which has helped enormously.

Not just for minions

Bigastro on Whatsapp

Bigastro City Council now has a WhatsApp service for information or to make enquiries, open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 15:00.

Refugees in Spain

We hear so much about the problems surrounding the refugees from Syria and other war torn countries. Some countries are doing more than others to solve the crisis, some are shamefully doing little or nothing. For example, neighbouring  Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have offered "zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees

Since we watch Sky News and Euronews, we hear a lot about the numbers who are being taken in by countries like Germany and Sweden and the very few who have reached the United Kingdom. Pam and I wondered what, if anything, is Spain doing.

I have tried to find information about the numbers that are reaching Spain but there seems to be very little information available. We know that the borders with Ceuta and Melilla have been reinforced to prevent migrants coming from Morocco.

In the local paper, Informacion, I read that Alicante City Council are considering creating a network to provide housing and benefits for temporary accommodation of asylum seekers. They want to appeal to people who might be willing to take refugees into their homes on a temporary basis.

Apparently, Elche and Orihuela are considering similar plans but is this part of a nationwide effort or just a local response?

Thursday, September 03, 2015

More delays

Having suffered from a two hour delay on our flight to Palma, we face the possibility of a delay on our next trip.

Talks between the baggage handlers' union and bosses have come to a stalemate so they are planning strikes of between two and four hours mornings and evenings at five of Spain's airports including Alicante-Elche.

The strikes at Alicante-Elche will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout September and will start at 10am for four hours and then a further four hours from 4pm.

Spanish law means that minimal services have to be maintained during the strikes but that will still cause delays in getting luggage from the carousel and may delay flights.

Be prepared

Each autumn we face the possibility of a gota fria or cold drop. That means torrential rain and flooding of low lying land.Warm, moisture laden air from the sea is pushed down by cold air from the north forcing heavy precipitation.

The period between mid-September and mid-November is when the risk is highest. The factors which contribute to the possibility are a hot and extremely dry summer like we have experienced,  El Niño which this year has been strong and high sea temperatures.

If we look back to 1972, 1982 and 1997, El Niño was strong during those years and Alicante experienced flooding.

Looking at the short term forecast, we can expect rain on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

They are out in force

The rain the other day has encouraged mosquitoes to start breeding. Since the females lay their eggs in water, it takes a spell of rain to provide the ideal conditions.

The females need to build up strength for the process and blood is what nourishes them. It seems that my blood is their choice because in the last couple of days they have been attacking me with a vengeance. I can only say it is as well that my grandchildren went home on Monday - they would not have liked being bitten at all. It is also a godsend for my daughter Jemma who suffers a severe reaction to insect bites.

Nasty weather

For those who think that we have sunshine all year round, just look at these two photos.

The top one shows the flooded streets following a downpour. The second one the damage that hailstones did to a car in Murcia.