Thursday, August 25, 2016

Shocking stuff

Like many of you here, our family were shocked by the earthquake that we felt on Monday morning. It was a 2.4 degree quake with its epicentre south of Torrevieja 16 kms underground.

Our youngest daughter was here with her husband and our two grandchildren and the last thing they expected was to feel the house shudder. In fact the movement was far less than other quakes we have felt and there wasn't the loud noise that normally accompanies a nearby quake.

Southern Alicante province, which includes the Vega Baja, is the region of Valencia that is most exposed to seismic activity. We experience frequent minor quakes which are caused by the constant movement of the small flaws that make up the region. They serve to release available energy, preventing earthquakes of greater magnitude.

It is just the opposite of what happens in many areas of Italy, where the faults are of greater length and more likely to generate catastrophes as was recorded yesterday.

However, that is not to say that the Vega Baja is free from the possibility of suffering an earthquake of similar dimensions, although the odds are very few. The last major one was in 1929.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Concert in the park

A concert in the beautiful gardens of the Palace in Jacarilla featuring both the band from Bigastro and the much younger band from Jacarilla.

Please excuse me ...

...for the lack of posts on this blog.

Number one reason: Our family have just been over to stay with us - Laura, Dave, Molly and Rory. As you might imagine, things have been very busy keeping them entertained with trips out and sessions in the pool. The grandchildren have been wonderful though and a pleasure to have with us.

Number two reason: I kind of expected that the effects of my radiotherapy would have eased off but that was not to be. In fact it has been a rough time for me over the last few weeks. I won't go into the details but suffice it to say that I never strayed far from a toilet and lost a lot of sleep.

Still, things are gradually improving and it did not spoil the enjoyment of having my family here. I just wish I had felt better to enjoy their stay more.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A night I shall never forget

Having gone down to the town to take photos of the traditional floral offering to the patron saint, Pam and I returned later for the concert. My task was to capture the event with photos.

Half way through, the President of Sociedad Union de Bigastro made presentations to those musicians who had been highly placed in competitions. I was to the left with my camera trying to capture some of those moments.

After all of the musicians had been suitably rewarded, the presenter announced that they had a special award for someone who had contributed much to the band even though he wasn't a musician. A photographer who was held in high esteem by all. At that point it occurred to me that might be me and then my name was called out.

I had to struggle to find my way from where I was positioned to the front of the stage which took me a good few minutes. The applause continued much to my embarrassment.

The President, Alfonso Banuls Fuente then placed the pin on the collar of my shirt and gave me a second pin to wear. As I thanked him. my good friend and fellow photographer, Jose Jouaquin (better known as FontaBigastro) appeared with his camera to take pictures of me. I gathered that he had come especially for that moment.

As you can imagine, I was delighted and at the same time very proud. I shall wear my pins as often as I can to demonstrate how much I appreciate the gesture of kindness.

You can see my photos from both the magnificent concert and the floral offering that took place earlier in the evening my visiting the sidebar of this blog.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Today in Bigastro

Cold beers in the street - you know where they are because you can hear the "charanga" playing.

One of the most beautiful parades of the Fiesta. Traditional Alicante dress and bunches of fresh flowers.

The band have practised hard for this, it will be excellent!

Starts too late for us. However, this sounds like something we would really enjoy.

Ask anyone who lives near the park and they will tell you, this goes on until 6am.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dangers on the beach

Most people survive a trip to the beach and a paddle in the sea without harm. However, lurking in the sea are some fish that are determined to spoil your day.

This poster informs you about what to do if you get stung by a weaver fish (spider fish) or a jellyfish.

The weaver fish lives in the sand and it is the spikes on its back that are the problem. It is said that they are strong enough to penetrate even a leather boot. They are a defence mechanism that the fish uses if threatened.

The pain of the sting is instant.  Described as burning and crushing, it can spread to involve the entire leg (or arm) from where the puncture occurred. Pain typically peaks at 30 minutes then resolves by 24 hours, but can persists for many days. The puncture site itself can show redness, bruising and warmth over a 6 to 12 hour time period. Swelling can increase in the affected limb for up to a week. Infections are common due to the depth of the puncture and the "dirty" nature of the puncture from murky, sandy or muddy water.

Jellyfish, on the other hand float in the water and it is their long tentacles that contain the venom. In this case the fish uses the sting to stun prey.

Most jellyfish stings are mild and don't require treatment, or you can treat them yourself. Don't use vinegar or alcohol to wash the affected area, as it can make the pain worse and ignore any advice you may have heard about urinating on the sting. It's unlikely to help.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

We escaped

The threat of rain here came to nothing - a few drops and it was gone.
Other parts of the province had heavy downpours. For example, there is a video on Facebook that shows the rain in Denia.

Parking sorted

Those of you who are looking for somewhere to park during the Fiesta can now use the multistory car-park at La Paz.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Chance of rain

Not unheard of in August but still a little unexpected given that the sun is shining out there.

It probably won't amount to much and no doubt will dry up as quickly as it arrives. Even still, it will put a dampener on the events planned for the Fiesta over the next couple of days.

I recall, two years ago it rained the night that the band were due to play their concert. The musicians found shelter where they could and waited for it to clear. Then the concert went ahead, just a bit later than scheduled.

Last year, Pam and I went down to the dinner dance. When we got to about the second course, it started spitting. The spitting turned to heavy rain and so we all took cover. Sure enough, within an hour it cleared up. We dried the chairs off, the rest of the food came out, the band uncovered their equipment and the night went ahead as planned.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Always good to know

During August, not all of the chemist's are open.  The following diagram shows you day by day which ones to go to. So, for today it will be No. 4,  Farmacia Martinez Grau on Calle Purisima.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Maxda RX7

Amongst the old cars in the street today was this rather impressive looking Mazda with the famed rotary Wankel engine.

PS Did you spot my mistake there? Yes, there were two red Mazda's in the street. The interior and the wheel belong to a different car to the main shot.

My secret life

I make no secret of the fact I am a Freemason. Although I resigned from both my Lodge and Royal Arch Chapter a few years before leaving England to live in Spain, I am still eligible to attend meetings if I so wish. Once you have undergone the various rituals, that is it.  Unless you do something awful, you remain a Mason for life. I still have my Masonic Bible that was presented to me, the certificates I received, the programmes from the important ceremonies and the citations that promoted me to the Provincial ranks. However, I gave my regalia to a senior officer who then sold it for the benefit of Masonic Charity.

For those who might be interested, I held the rank of Past Provincial Junior Deacon in the lodge and Past Provincial Principal Sojourner in the Chapter because I was Treasurer in my Lodge and Scribe E (secretary) in my Chapter - both of those being considered senior positions.

Sadly, a few years after I left, the Chapter (Standard Goodacre 2495) had to close and hand in its warrant due to dwindling numbers. As far as I know the Lodge (Ceres 3501) has survived.

Numbers in Masonry were at their highest just after the second world war when men came home and wanted to continue their comradeship Since then, there has been a steady decline. In 2006 there were 8,389 lodges on the register of the United Grand Lodge of England, today there are only 7,401. In 2007 there were 270,000 members. That number has fallen to 204,775 which is less than half of the post war peak of 500,000.

The good news for Freemasonry is that the number of members in the 21-30 year old category has risen by 7.65 % in the past two years. They still only represent 2% of Freemasons though and that is the problem. Lodges are largely filled with older men and they can be cantankerous old sods who tut at you when your ritual is not 100% perfect.

I was lucky in that the older members of my Lodge and Chapter were supportive if you showed that you had made an effort. Learning the ritual was an arduous task but very rewarding when you got it right. In my Lodge, you were not allowed to read the words, instead they had to be committed to memory. Hopefully though, there was someone nearby to you who could give a prompt if need be. I was lucky I guess in that I seldom required a prompt.

Without disclosing any secrets, I can tell you that the rituals contain some of the finest pieces of prose that set a pattern for building character in young men. The traditional penalties for disclosure have been modified and are now perfectly acceptable. The threats of a terrible death for those who betray their trust have long gone. If I was a young man again, I would certainly join Masonry and enjoy the companionship of my bretheren.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

End of an era

This was the first bar in Bigastro that we visited.

Characterised by the sawdust on the floor and the litter strewn on it by the end of the night, this was a traditional Spanish drinking and eating place. The food was simple but tasty and affordable. Our visitors always enjoyed a night there.

I'm not sure how they kept track of orders but I do know, at the end of the night, you got a piece of paper with just a list of numbers that were added up to a total. No idea what the numbers represented, they could be drinks or items of food. You just accepted the amount and paid up.

 However, the owners have decided to hang up the towel and close it since none of the family want to take the bar on.

It first opened its doors on Calle Purisima 70 years ago when the original owners decided to quit farm work and open the place. Since then it has become a focal point of the town, a place where workers would go at the end of their labours to enjoy a drink, a chat and some tapas. Others, like us, went their for an evening meal.

 We always knew it as Casa Eloina but its real name was Bar Saez.

 It is easy to understand why the young ones don't want to continue. Casa Eloina opened at about 8pm and stayed open until the early hours of the morning. During fiestas, the bar spread out into the street as the owner found yet another table and chairs from his storeroom. It must have been really hard work in the small kitchen preparing food for a growing crowd of diners each night but no more.

Another triumph

The Coronation last night went like clockwork thanks to all the effort put in by the Town Hall and the Fiesta Commission.

The speaker was Antonio Gomez Andreu, President of the Brotherhood of San Joaquin. Although he was born in Molins, Antonio is an adopted son of Bigastro and has contributed a lot to the development of the town including a stint on the Fiesta Commision and work for the charity Caritas. He also worked with the Town Hall to introduce drinking water to Bigastro in 1975. Antonio may be small in stature but is clearly big in heart. 

You will find my album of photos at the top of the list in the sidebar. 

Friday, August 05, 2016

A evening of diversion

Gone in just ten seconds

Here is a story that will sound all too familiar to my eldest daughter.

News Corp photographer Brett Costello has become the latest victim of Rio’s De Janiero’s notorious crime gangs, robbed in the middle of the day by a woman inside a busy coffee shop. He was there to shoot the Games. 

It took only 10-seconds for Costello to be blindsided by what he believed was a local woman seeking help.

But her role in the scam was merely to distract the esteemed photographer, whose heavy bag of camera gear sat directly beside him inside the cafe’.

As the woman conversed briefly with Costello in Portuguese, it was then that an accomplice snatched the bag, making a getaway in a nearby vehicle.

In my daughter's case, we were in Alicante for the day. We stopped for a drink at El Corte Ingles and Jemma put her bag down on the floor by her feet as we sat on tall stools around a table. My bag was also on the floor by my feet with my foot inside the strap.

Jemma felt someone push into her from behind. By the time she turned around, there was nobody there and her bag had gone. Costello had thousands of dollars of camera equipment in his heavy bag, Jemma had nowhere near that in her bag but still the loss was equally upsetting.

Since that date, I have always been careful to wind the strap of my  bag around my leg if I put it down and trap it with my foot. Either that or I put it on my knee between me and the table.

PS If Costello is a Canon man, he will be able to visit the CPS (Canon Professional Services) depot at the games and pick up some replacement gear from their stock of hundreds of pro bodies, literally thousands of lenses and other items. There is enough there to fuel an army of photographers.

I dare say, Nikon have a similar facility for their photographers.

Tonight is the night

Tonight it when it all kicks off with the coronation of the Fiesta Queens - infant, junior and third age.

Although you will have a wait, it is worth going down early if you want a seat.

PS The recogida is a tour around he town to collect the queens. The procession is accompanied by the town band.

A change of venue

Those of you who found it too crowded and lacking in shade on the street where the tapas used to be held will be delighted to hear that this year, it will be in the park. Starting today for three days from noon until 4pm.

Not to be thwarted

The ban on the macrobotellón at Campoamor simply shifted the party along the coast to Mil Palmeras. The police had to react and sent patrols down to ensure the safety of the  young people along with the residents, vacationers and tourists.

Once the party was over, the organisers worked hard until 7am to clean up the area ready for those who want to use the beach this morning.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Looking forward to it

One of the highlights of the Fiesta is the concert that the band perform in the town square. This year, as you can see, it will be on the 14th at 11pm.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Stamping it out

For some time now, there has been a party in August on the beach at Campoamor. The invites go out by social media and so hundreds arrive ready to party each year. Like the bottelon in Orihuela at the end of the Moors and Christian's festival, the one at Campoamor causes a lot of problems for residents.

This year though, steps are being taken to stamp it out. A fence is being erected to prevent entrance to the beach and there will be a strong police presence to stop vehicles entering the area. Since it is illegal to drink on the street, those that do so will be arrested and tests will be conducted for alcohol and drugs on drivers.

I don't think anyone wants to deny young people their right to enjoyment but it cannot be at the expense of everyone else.