Sunday, January 31, 2016


Just look at the calendar of rehearsals for the band.

Eleven more general rehearsals, various rehearsals for different sections of the band and a concert on the 28th which no doubt will be a run through in public of the programme for the competition on the 5th March.

Then look at the timings. During the week, they have to be after work and leave time for a meal so we are looking at a 9:30 to 10pm start.

By the time we get to Alicante, the band should be well fired up and ready to face anything.

Almost missed that

Another milestone for this humble blog. It has just passed 4,000,000 views - hard to believe when it is a simple account of an ex pats life in a small Spanish town. Many thanks to all of you for making writing this worthwhile.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Looking at the weather

The forecast shows that the grey cloudy weather that we have been having will clear to allow the sun to return. That will mean higher temperatures during the daytime but lower temperatures at night. It seems you can't have it both ways.

One for the diary

This was so good last year, well worth a watch. I will be there with my camera, you can be sure of that!

PS In case you were wondering, the "Pasacarre de coets" will be the firework mob lighting up the street with flares.

PPS Spaniards love dressing up in costume, they do make a good job of it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

On the telly

Those of you who have British telly may well have watched last night's "A Place In The Winter Sun" at 10pm (9pm in England) on More4.

A lady from Stockport and her wheelchair bound daughter were looking for a holiday home in the Torrevieja area.

The fifth house they were shown was on Calle Inglaterra, here in Bigastro.

The pair were first taken to the town square outside the VaiVen. Then, in one of the opening shots of the estate, they showed the house below ours and in the corner of the shot was Casa El Willo!

It turned out that the mother loved the house, best of all the ones she had been shown, but the daughter thought the area was too isolated and she would have nothing to do. The young lady made it abundantly clear she not impressed with what she saw of Bigastro.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Great Bigastro Cake Off

Yesterday, we were invited down to the competition for desserts in the Auditorium. I was to take photos of course.

The competition was fierce with many delightful treats for the judges to examine. I am sure it was a close run thing but there had to be a winner and that was the cheesecake.

You can see my photos from the event by following the link in the sidebar as usual.

Here though, to whet your appetite, is the winner:

The bonus was that, after the judging had taken place, we were all invited to sample the produce!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

No further forward

Time drags on and still we do not have a new government in Spain.

It was the PP that gained the most votes in the December election and therefore the most seats but if they cannot garner enough support elsewhere, then they have no chance of returning to power.

On Friday, Mariano Rajoy told the king that he was unable to form a government because he lacked support from other parties. That leaves the PSOE and Pedro Sánchez with the opportunity to form a socialist coalition. The obvious grouping would be with Podemos but, even with their support along with allied groups, the socialists would only have 159 seats - well short of the 176 required. That leaves them looking to convince the Catalan and Basque nationalist parties to either support them or abstain.

To further complicate matters, it seems that even the PSOE and Podemos are not necessarily on the same page. Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, had a Whatspp message from Pedro Sánchez to say that they would "talk" over the weekend but as yet that has not been followed up.

Political parties have to remain true to their supporters. We saw what happened to the Liberal Democrats in Britain when they formed a coalition with the Conservatives. Their policies were either watered down or abandoned which lead to huge losses at the next election. None of the parties in Spain seem prepared to take that risk.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A little diversion

Those of you who are sat at your computer wondering how to pass the time away can explore some of Google's "Easter Eggs". Be warned though, they might be amusing but they are pretty much pointless.

Here are some to get you started. They work in Google Chrome browser but may not work in others.

In the Google search box type:

  1. do a barrel roll
  2. askew
  3. a long time ago in a galaxy  far, far away
  4. blink
  5. Google in 1998
  6. zerg rush
  7. atari breakout
  8. Conway's game of life
  9. Super Mario Bros
  10. flip a coin
  11. roll a die
  12. Bacon Number -followed by the name of a celebrity
  13. apples v oranges - or any other combination you like

There are plenty of others for you to explore - if you have the time to waste that is!

A prickly problem

I have no idea how it came to be there in the first place but I do know that the Arizona Cactus has been a problem on the Sierra de Orihuela for some time.

Numerous attempts to eradicate or at least control the spread of this invasive species have been made. The last attempt cost 500,000 euros and yet still the cactus threatens to take over. In 2008, they managed to remove 3.000 kilos of the plant but the effort was not maintained and so the cactus came back.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Just imagine

Pity the people in this tiny Welsh village. It hasn't stopped raining there since the 26th October - that is 82 days, only 7 days short of the record set in 1923 by the isle of Islay in Scotland.

Monday, January 18, 2016

No pigs this year

Yesterday, Pam and I went down to the town to watch the benediction of animals by the local priest, Aurelio,

It is always a good occasion for some fun photos which is what I was after. Among the many dogs, there were a few budgerigars, the odd tortoise, a rabbit, a lamb and two young goats.

Normally though, there is a raffle for a couple of young pigs but that didn't happen this year. I have always been wary of buying tickets for this because the last thing I need is a pig to look after.

I've told you this tale before - on year a young, trendy couple won one of the pigs. It is likely that they lived in a flat. They were last seen frantically working out what they could do with their new acquisition.

You can see my photos in the album accessed from the sidebar.


Technology moves forward at a pace and so Spain will be getting 4G coverage for mobile phones. The benefits of 4G will be most noticeable for those who upload or download video content. It will also improve reception indoors and in rural areas that struggle to get a mobile signal.

The downside is that the existing digital television service (TDT) shares the same 800MHz band. The diagram in the poster explains how this will work. Unfortunately, those living near a mobile phone mast that operates 4G may find that there TV reception is affected by the change.

Of course, those that don't have a 4G enabled phone, will not be able to take advantage of the new service.

Friday, January 15, 2016

It's raining!

In England it rains so much that when it is sunny that makes headline news. Here it is just the opposite. We see so little rain that when the heavens do open everyone talks about it.

Well, today it is raining just as expected but don't get too excited because it won't last and by tomorrow we should have sunshine again. It will be colder though with night time temperatures plummeting to just a few degrees. How glad am I that we had a new central heating boiler installed before Christmas.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Changes afoot

The Town Hall inform us that changes are being made to the method of charges for rubbish collection.

From February, the money will be collected by SUMA and not as part of our water bill.

The charge for three months for houses outside the town will be 72.80 euros and for those in the town, 56 euros.

How we are now classified is a mute point. Originally, according to SUMA, we were "Diseminado" and paid more than those in the town. That all changed with the last council and we paid the same as those in the town - "Casco Urbano"..

There will be a discount of 50% for houses that are not occupied and 60% for those over 65 years of age who receive less than the minimum wages in pensions.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Another reason to live in Spain

The UK recently introduced new, stricter, guidelines for alcohol consumption. Compare them with those of Spain which, to my mind at least, are more realistic.

The problem with the UK guidelines is that I fear many will simply ignore them. Only those who are more obsessed with their health than the majority will take note.

The main issue in Britain, in my opinion, is the prevalence of "binge drinking" amongst young people which I would think is potentially more damaging than consistent moderate drinking.

Monday, January 11, 2016

In his bag

I thought I had a lot of Canon gear but this pro photographer beats me hands down.

PS Carol Thorpe, if you you have trouble identifying any of that equipment, email me and I will send you a list.

A word of warning

The warm weather might have been a blessing to us but it has also hastened the appearance of the processional caterpillar.

Those of you with dogs need to take special care when out walking near the pine trees.  If your pet does go near them, the best advice is to go to the vet ASAP.

Since we are aware of the dangers, we steer clear but dogs are inquisitive animals that know no better.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

A challenge!

Medium difficulty means bloody hard to me. We went on an easy walk one time and came back knackered.

Still, I know there are some of you out there who are fit as fiddles and could easily finish this.

Friday, January 08, 2016


Those of you who enjoy the Medieval Market in Orihuela will want to make a note that this year it will be postponed until April 8th, 9th and 10th. This is due to road resurfacing work that will be carried out at Santa Lucia before Easter.

Mince pies anyone?

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Short but not so sweet

Last night's Cabalgata de los Tres Reyes in Bigastro was the shortest we can recall. Having waited over an hour in the street, it was all over in minutes.

Leading the parade was a troupe of young girls performing a dance routine to Roy Wood's Wizzard hit,  "I wish it could be Christmas every day". They were closely followed by pages who were meant to be giving out sweets, the Three Kings on one float and finally the band bringing up the rear.

By the time the parade had reached the point where we were on Calle Purisima, the supply of sweets seemed to have dried up. The children were only giving out the remains from their bags to friends that they spotted en route.

To be fair it was cold out there so nobody really wanted to be hanging around much.

Monday, January 04, 2016

I was overwhelmed

Having a birthday so close to New Year has always meant that I kind of lost out. After the excesses of Christmas and then New Year, very few people bother to acknowledge my special day. I only ever get a handful of cards.

In fact, when I was young, I often received joint presents i.e. for Christmas and Birthday combined.  I am not moaning about this, just stating a fact. The truth is though that those who had birthdays later in the year all seemed to fair better than me.

This year I have been overwhelmed by the response to "my day". Apart from the handful of cards (there are some still to come in the post) and the ecards, I had 61 comments on Facebook - wow 61 people took the trouble to send me a message - I am genuinely touched by that. Since they had made the effort, I "liked" and replied to each and every one.

Then last night at the concert, several people took the trouble to seek me out to pass on their best wishes for my birthday. Again I thank them for their kindness.

Actually, one of the best comments I received was from Fonta Bigastro ( the man who came up the other day with a crate of oranges and lemons). In his message he said, "Feliz cumpleaños amigo mío. Gran persona y gran Bigastrense. Un abrazo" which in English means, "Happy birthday my friend, a great person and a great citizen of Bigastro. A hug." I am delighted to be regarded as his friend and even more delighted that he regards me as a great citizen of the town. Thank you Fonta, you have taught me a lot about the town and helped me tremendously to take photos of the events here. Your comment means a lot to me.

Now, did I mention that there was a concert last night by the Junior Band? It was excellent and a great tribute to all the young musicians and singers that took part. You can see my photos by going to the album in the sidebar.


I hoped that my barbecue would be snapped up quickly. As it happened two people wanted it but one could not collect before March and I really need it out of the way.

So Andrea Medina, who works in the chemist's close to the Medical Centre, is going to take it. I believe she lives on our estate and so it will be a short trip from my house to hers.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Yours for the taking!

Having treated myself to a new Weber gas BBQ, my old one is up for grabs. It has given me great service and therefore owes me nothing. All that I ask is that the new owner takes it away by whatever means at their disposal and enjoys using it for many years to come.

Although this Weber Genesis Silver B is at least 14 years old, the condition as you can see is very good and of course it still grills perfectly.

The original grills were enamelled steel which I replaced with stainless steel ones. The piezo electric igniter still works first time however the shrouding has rusted and so I have a replacement ready for the new owner to install.

Weber gas barbecues are meant to run on propane and so the regulator is for a large propane bottle.

The main features of this BBQ  are as follows:

  • Three 12,000 BTU stainless steel burners
  • Five stainless steel "Flavorizer" bars  to optimize heat distribution, create smoke and protect burners from drippings.
  • 424 square inches of primary cooking area.
  • Solid welded frame that makes it very stable.
  • Thermaset fold out table on the left. 
  • Three tool hooks on the right. 
  • It even comes with a cover (not Weber though). 
The advantage of the three burner system is that you can cook directly or indirectly with this grill. As a rule of thumb you would cook anything that takes less than 20 minutes directly i.e. with the food placed over a lighted burner. Anything that needs more time should be cooked indirectly i.e. over the centre with the front and back burners on or even at the front with just the back burner lighted. I often start by cooking directly to create sear marks on the food and seal in juices and then continue indirectly to ensure that the food is thoroughly cooked.  

Whichever way you cook, it is recommended to keep the lid down throughout the process. That way you both prevent flare ups and distribute the heat evenly like in an oven.  

So there you are, a free high quality barbecue to start your new year's outdoor grilling. Email me at if you are interested or call round if you live nearby. 

Made it.

Well today I reached 69 and am still more or less in one piece. Many thanks to those who have sent me birthday wishes. And to those who will do so having read this, "better late than never".  

When you are in your 20s, you are invincible and 69 seems so far away that you can't even contemplate what it will be like. You look at your parents at about that age and tell yourself that you will be different but the reality is that you are more or less the same. The mind might be young and capable of anything but the body is showing its age and telling you not to be stupid.

The fact is that I have been mostly lucky and suffered none of the traumas that others seem to be blighted with. I left school, went to college and university, got myself a job and never spent a day out of work until retirement. I married Pamela and we brought up two daughters who turned out to be delightful and talented people. We now have two wonderful grandchildren who give us as much joy as our children did.

When we retired Pam and I moved to Spain to live in Bigastro, a town where we have met the most wonderfully generous people. Most of the time the sun shines and when it doesn't it gives us time to do a few jobs. I don't think I have ever been more content and grateful for what I have got.

Here is to many more years of this blog. Stick with me and I will let you know what it is like to be 70 next year.

Friday, January 01, 2016

A Happy New Year to you all!

Pam and I managed to stay awake long enough to celebrate New Year in both Spain and in Britain.

BBC had a concert with Bryan Adams which spanned the New Year. Having seen the Canadian rocker three times live, we were glad to find that he had not lost any of his charisma.

In between the two halves of the concert, we were treated to the spectacular firework show in London which surpassed any that we have seen before.

Anyway, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of you who read this blog a very happy and prosperous New Year. Let us hope that 2016 is kind to us all.