Sunday, December 31, 2017


Thursday, December 28, 2017

The ban on fish and chips in Spain.

Concerned about the effect on stocks of cod, the Spanish government has banned from today the sale of British style fish and chips on the Costas. The government says that, although Spaniards also enjoy cod, their portions are generally much smaller. It is the size of the cod pieces that fish and chips shops sell that is the cause of concern.

Licences for restaurants and shops selling cod and chips will not be renewed and officials will be visiting them to restrict sales until their licenses expire. 

It is understood that other types of food sold will not suffer from the restrictions e.g. fish cakes, scallops and  batter scraps. It is also possible for these establishments to start frying other types of fish to replace the beloved cod. One such place in Quesada has already started experiments but the results are so far not encouraging.

Keep the spirit going

Monday, December 25, 2017

Friday, December 22, 2017

A blow for Rajoy

Sending in the troops to prevent the referendum in Catalonia taking place, invoking Article 155 to take over control and forcing a snap election has backfired. The hope was that the secessionist movement would be squashed but that hasn't happened.

The situation remains unclear because the separatist parties still have to come to agreement and several of their leaders are either in jail or in exile.  However, with 70 potential seats, they have the majority over the unionist and other parties.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

One for the diary

The band will be joined by the Infant Choir for some festive music.

PS Don't forget also the concert by the Junior Band on the 29th December at 6:30pm

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A warm welcome

Pam and I have just spent five days with our family in Manchester. Whilst the welcome from them might have been warm, the weather certainly wasn't.

It was raining the day we arrived, the next day was sunny and then it went downhill. We had freezing fog, heavy rain and bitter cold nights.

The day before our return, one or other of the runways at Manchester Airport was closed causing long delays and cancellations. Fortunately, normality returned by yesterday and our flight was on time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Programme for Christmas

Feliz Navidad de Bigastro

Christmas starts here

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Batten down the hatches

Windy Monday
Storm Ana is set to give Spain a battering tomorrow. Latest forecasts are for gusts of up to 140km per hour in parts of the country.

She won't win

There are times when I despair about public opinion in the UK. It makes me think that the public should not be allowed to vote for anything.

I don't believe that anyone thought that the "leave" camp would win the referendum on Brexit. Certainly the PM at the time didn't and I don't think even Gove, Leadsom and Johnson were counting on a victory. And yet, the unexpected happened and "leave" got a slim majority.

In rapid succession, those that had championed an exit bowed out leaving a remainer to carry out their  cause. I still contend that the public were duped into voting for something that nobody knew how to deal with. The Brexit that people get will certainly not be the one they thought they were voting for.

This week we had the semifinal of Strictly Come Dancing, a show that is supposed to end up with the best celebrity dancer winning the coveted Glitterball trophy.

However, the format allows the public to have an equal say in the result and therein  lies the rub.

The judges, who are all ex professional dancers of one sort or another, give their verdict and score each couple accordingly. Those scores are translated to a ranking with the top couple getting the highest.

Then the public vote and their scores are also converted to a ranking The two rankings are added together to give a final figure.

Next week there will be four couples dancing it out to be the winners. That means that the top combined score that any couple could obtain will be 8 and the bottom will be 2.

The thing is that, the public don't allways vote according to merit. There are clearly good dancers who the public don't like for one reason or another and so they are marked down and others, who have two left feet,  that get marked up.

This year, Alexandra Burke has scored consistently high with the judges and yet has appeared twice in the "dance off". In order for that to happen, she had to come at or near the bottom of the ranking with the public. It seems that, for whatever reason, the young lady is not popular.

On that basis, it is highly unlikely Alexandra will win, even if she out dances the competition and gets perfect scores from the judges.

My prediction is that Joe MacFadden will come third with the judges giving him a score of 2 but will come top with the public giving him a total of 6. Debbie McGee will get a score of 3 from the judges and 3 from the public which will result in a draw and Joe McFadden will win because the public vote takes precedence. Miss Burke will come third even though she has arguably been the best dancer overall.

Friday, December 08, 2017

A bit of history

Yet again, Pascual Segura provides us with some fascinating insight into our town via his Facebook page, Recuerdos de Bigastro.

In his most recent article, he explains the origins of Calle Purisima.

In olden times, people travelling from Orihuela to Torrevieja had to pass through Bigastro on a road known as Camino Real -  the widest road in the town. This was the obvious street for locals to set up businesses such as  taverns, bakers shops, butchers etc etc attracting the travellers to spend money on their way.

As traffic through the town increased an alternative route was established which was called Calle Mayor. Calle Purisima at that time was renamed Calle de Arriba because it was above Calle Mayor.

However, when Calle San Joaquin was constructed as a third route through the town, Calle de Arriba was now in the middle and so became known as Calle de un Medio. In fact you still hear locals referring to Calle Purisima as "Middle Street".

Later still the street was renamed again as Calle San Pascual but that was only temporary.

It was on December 4th 1904 that the street became known as Calle Purisima as a way of celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Bigastrenses at that time considered renaming the street as a better alternative to spending thousands of pesetas on a fiesta. The name, Calle Mayor was  proposed but there was already a Calle Mayor in the town and the residents of that street objected to a change. Thus Camino Real became, Calle de Arriba, Calle de un Medio, Calle San Pascual and eventually, Calle Purisima.

The plate from 1904, located in front of Caja Murcia. 

Monday, December 04, 2017

Tooled up

These three photographers were assigned to take photos at the at the Inaugural $12 Million dollar Pegasus Horse Racing World Cup at Gulfstream Park in Florida. From left to right : Lynn Sladky with the Associated Press, Al Diaz with Miami Herald and Mike Ehrmann with Getty Images.

I don't have lenses anywhere near the size of the ones carried on their shoulders and my camera is lighter than the pro bodies they are using.

I can tell you, that is some weight to carry around with you. I hope they didn't have to walk too far.

You missed it?

That's a shame because it was dammed good. Luckily for you, I recorded the concert which means if you go to this link, you can hear it for yourselves.

Shop locally

Before you head off in the car or catch a bus, why not give the local shops a visit. You might find all you want there and save yourself a journey.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

On the plus side

It looks like that the wind that rattled everything around has at last calmed down. However, just look at those temperatures! 13 during the daytime is barely warm and  0 at night is downright polar. Let's hope that the milder weather forecast for Friday lasts a little time.

Is it just denial?

When we have a problem with our eyesight, we head off straight to the opticians to get it checked out. Imagine living in a world where everything looked blurred - we would not put up with it.

When it comes to hearing though, we take a different stance.

In his book, Michael Burke says that most people will spend up to 7 years in denial before admitting they have a problem with hearing. Like many I used to say that I could hear well enough even though I knew deep down that it wasn't true.  It wasn't seven years but could well have been three.

However, there are two important differences between the solutions for sight problems and hearing difficulty.

1. When you get a pair of glasses to correct your sight, the improvement is immediate. You put your new glasses on and, as if by miracle, the world becomes clear and sharp again. 

That is not the case with hearing aids. When you first wear them, the world becomes a noisy place where you hear things that you have missed for awhile. In my case it was things like a running tap or pots clattering in the kitchen that just sounded harsh, brittle and plain awful.

The brain needs time to adjust to coping with those new sounds.

I'm told the acclimation period can last from a few weeks up to six months. With perseverance though, it will happen and the brain will deal appropriately with those sounds that need to be suppressed. However, some people apparently give up before that happens and prefer to put their hearing aids in the drawer.

2. You can buy a pair of glasses from e.g Specsavers  for 59 euros and they will even throw in a second pair for free. 

If you want designer frames and better quality lenses, you can still get away with paying just a few hundred euros. Spanish opticians tend to charge more but only sell premium priced lenses like those from Essilor or Zeiss.

Now Specsavers don't sell hearing aids in Spain but looking at their British prices, they range from £495 to £2,895 for a pair. Boots the Chemist sell hearing aids ranging from £2,195 to £3,195 for a pair. That is a huge difference to the price of their glasses.

Is it any wonder then that, 60% of hearing aid wearers in the UK, have free (on loan) National Health aids. We are not so lucky here in Spain, there are no free hearing aids for us.

GAES, who are the market leaders in Spain, do not advertise their prices online but I imagine that they start at well over 1,000 euros a pair. Digital Hearing, where I went. sell aids from 1,090 to 2,200 euros a pair.

For people with limited income, the cost it prohibitive. It is not so much, "I don't need hearing aids" more "I can't afford them".  These people are not in denial, they simply  prefer to have food on the table. That is a great shame because, with impaired hearing, the world is a poorer place to live.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Testing time

The car parking alongside Eurener will be reserved for ITV tests on Monday.

They will be testing, mopeds, quads, small cars and tractors.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Highly recommended

Like a few of my friends of a similar age, I was suffering from hearing loss. My hearing of low and mid range sounds was as good as it gets but high frequencies were a real challenge. At comfortable levels for Pamela, I could not hear the television and conversations in crowded places were  no no for me.

It was time to bite the bullet and so I resolved to visit a hearing centre to have my ears tested. There are plenty of them about and so I was spoilt for choice.

Research online brought up Digital Hearing in Quesada as one option.

On the website, there was a very good introduction from the audiologist, Michael Burke along with a description of the types of aid that you could be prescribed. Best of all though, there was a clear price list which ranged from 1 star aids to 5 star ones - 1090 to 2200 for a pair.

The price list also included the actual brands and specific aids on offer so it was easy to research whether they were good, bad or downright useless. Michael stocks Starkey and Unitron aids which feature amongst the top companies including Phonak, Oticon, Widex and Resound.

The ones I chose were Unitron T Moxi Fit Pro with the rechargeable option. I won't bore you with the details of those, you can research them online if you wish.

My hearing aids

I picked up my HAs on the 13th and wore them every day, all day and then had a follow up appointment this Monday.

I have to confess, at first, they sounded very loud and very brash. I was also aware of them in my ears. After two weeks though, I could no longer sense them in my ears and I was starting to get used to the different sounds.  It will take longer for me to get the full benefit from them but even now, I can hear the improvement in conversations and I can listen to the TV!

Obviously I have no experience of other audiologists but I can tell you that I was most impressed with Michael's patience, knowledge and understanding which is why I am happy to recommend him.

If like me, you are straining to hear well, don't put up with the problem any longer. Go and see Michael or an other audiologist. You will be amazed what a difference it will make to your life.

Reach for the stars

This Friday, at 6:00 p.m.,in the Plaza de la Constitución, you have an appointment with science and Bigastro's history.

Discover with Thomas Villanova the planets of our solar system, thanks to the telescopes of the Museum of Sciences of the Vega Baja, and to the collaboration of the El Lugarico Theater Group.

Enjoy a theatrical astronomical observation, whilst tasting a delicious hot chocolate with mona, in the company of our illustrious scientist.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Winter overnight

The forecast is for a dramatic drop in daytime temperatures tomorrow. Along with that, there is also a threat of rain.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Crazy weather

When it is so cold at night but toasty during the daytime, it makes the choice of clothes difficult.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A special year

Thanks to the work of Pascual Segura, we now know that the Society Union Musical of Bigastro dates back to 1918.

He found a piece of paper that that had been used to reinforce an old music score. Carefully removing the glued on paper revealed a shield with an annotation in pen.

Study of the handwriting showed that it belonged to Francisco Murcia who was director of the band between 1918 and 1935. Further investigation confirmed that, what Pascual had found,  was the first known shield of the SUMB.

The discovery means that the Society Union Musical Bigastro will be celebrating its centenary next year. We can expect a series of special events to commemorate this milestone. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

It's their day

It seems that every faction of society has its own day, today happens to be the one for infants. Nobody could argue with the set of rights on this poster. Sadly though, not all infants are treated the same and the treatment of some falls well short of these ideals.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The future of the band

Lies in the hands of the new musicians who join each year. Most have spent time in the Junior Band first.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Love the poster

One of the highlights of the year is the concert to honour the patron of musicians.

Apart from the great music, this is when the new musicians that are joining the band are presented to the audience. We will also see this year's Mr and Miss dance the waltz.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ah but . you say

Keith, I hear what you are saying about meddling by Russians and others in the political affairs of Britain and the US.

I understand that Madrid is now also investigating the meddling of Russia in Catalonia and the independence vote. I wonder if  there is any country safe from this type of interference?

The investigations centre around meddling on social media and in particular, Facebook and Twitter. But you say, "I have neither a Facebook nor a Twitter account so how can I be affected?" Well, my friends, those fake news stories make their way to newspapers and to TV reports and so their influence spreads. Who knows, you may have even read fake news on this blog!

People with good memories

Almost daily now, we read of yet another woman who has suffered "sexual abuse" from men in power positions. These range from offensive remarks to unwanted bodily contact. For the moment, these complaints are centred around the Parliament in Britain but it is possible that they will spread elsewhere.

Don't get me wrong, no woman (or man for that matter) should have to put up with any kind of abuse whether it is verbal or physical. The right time to deal with it though was when it occurred, not ten or more years later. If it was serious, then it should have been reported to the police for them to deal with. For less serious abuse, surely there were those in authority at the time who would have listened and dealt with it.

Let us be clear, I'm not referring to the kind of things that people like Stewart Hall, Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris etc got up to. Their abuses were way beyond serious. The abuses we are now reading about are in a different league altogether.

The fact is that many of these incidents were either brushed off as relatively harmless or dealt with by a sharp rebuke and should have been left in the past filed as "dealt with". Nothing good will come of raking up these past memories ten or more years on. In fact a lot of harm can be done even if nothing is eventually proved to have happened.

In most cases these accusations boil down to one persons word against another. Let's face it, one persons saucy remark many be taken as grossly offensive by another especially if the person making the remark is in a senior position.

I don't recall any actual incidents but I am sure some of the things I have said in the past  to women could have been taken the wrong way. Thankfully, nobody has yet come forward to complain about me to the papers.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The influence of social media

Canvassing at elections used to be done by party workers knocking on doors. Along with adverts in newspapers and television and rallies, that was the only means to get messages across to voters.

Campaigners though have got wise to the power of the Internet and increasingly use it to try and influence voters.

Unfortunately, this gives rise to powers, outside the country where the vote is taking place, to try and meddle. The chief culprit is undoubtedly Russia, a country that is desperate to destabilise Europe and more importantly to have a US President on its side.

Facebook has been told to hand over evidence of Russian meddling in British politics to MPs.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee has demanded that the US internet giant release adverts and pages linked to Russia in the build up to last year’s EU referendum and June’s general election.

It comes after Facebook admitted that fake accounts tied to the Kremlin had bought more than $100,000 (£76,000) worth of politically-charged adverts in an apparent attempt to influence last year’s US election.

Under investigation from Congress it has handed over 3,000 adverts purchased over two years by the Internet Research Agency, a group linked to the Russian Government.

The US adverts, which also appeared on Instagram and were seen by 10 million people, focused on divisive topics such as race, immigration and gun rights, and were allegedly used to help propel Donald Trump to the White House. Mr Trump has attempted to play down the impact of the adverts, saying the amounts spent were “tiny” and claiming that Facebook was on Hillary Clinton’s side.

Mr Zuckerberg has said it “just wouldn’t be realistic” to stop all interference in election campaigns on Facebook, although the company has since vowed to manually review every advert targeting people by political affiliation or race.

Twitter has also been under fire after thousands of automated “bot” accounts were created to attack Ms Clinton and her supporters during the election. Bots were also allegedly used during the Brexit referendum in an attempt to influence the vote, tweeting multiple times a day before deleting their own messages to cover their tracks. One in eight political tweets was written by a bot during the general election.

Google has also found that Russian-linked organisations bought adverts on its search engine and YouTube.

In May, the Information Commissioner’s Office launched an investigation into whether political parties broke data protection rules by bombarding users with highly-personalised adverts during both the EU referendum and ahead of the general election.

It came after pro-Remain MPs said that the Brexit-backing group Leave.EU had employed an analytics firm called Cambridge Analytica to target individual voters with extreme accuracy. Cambridge Analytica was funded with Russian money.

It must come as something as a shock to those that were influenced to vote for Brexit in this way, that they were being led by the Kremlin. On the other hand, the Remain campaign had no chance to compete with the might of Russia.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

New owners

The small British supermarket in Los Montesinos is under new management. If you want a taste of home, this is a good place to try and it might save you a trip to Iceland.

Choose your food

To accompany your gin and tonic.

Time to celebrate

Didn't feel a thing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Smelly old river

It is usually in summer that the river in Orihuela smells bad. With so little rain though, the Segura is a muddy smelly mess at the moment.

Friday, November 03, 2017

The chill factor

After and unusually warm October. not to mention a very dry one, November will bring a lot of rain to the north. Although we are not forecast rain, it will become cold. I know this because the central heating came on this morning for a brief period. Bear in mind that the heating has been off since about March.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Spooky stuff

Last night, hundreds turned out in Bigastro to take part in a parade for Halloween.

This is my neighbour, Eladia - you can find more spooky pictures in the album of photos located in the sidebar.

We need some rain

Bigastro's darkest past

A chilling account by Pascual Segura.

On the night of June 26, 1885, a frightful event disturbed the calm of a Bigastro inhabited by something more than fifteen hundred souls.

While the shadows painted the Bigastrense night and their neighbors slept, from an old alley emerged a heartrending cry that tore the sleep from its peaceful neighbors. It was the crying of a neighbor, who had just witnessed the death of her ill husband.

His death was added to that of a neighbor who died that same week, both of whom died from a strange illness that caused intestinal discomfort in the first place, continued with severe diarrhea that ended up causing total dehydration, and finally death.

The next day the neighbors buried the body of the deceased in the old cemetery of the Cross, where it was rumored that four other neighbors had begun to suffer the same symptoms as the recently deceased. The next week the four sick neighbors died and were also buried in the same place.

With six deaths in just two weeks, terror seized the bigastrenses, who saw in the disease and death to which they were subjected a fierce punishment from God.

Disoriented and frightened, some neighbors gathered around the Plaza de la Iglesia, where they discussed what to do. They decided to carry out a commission to provide spiritual and humanitarian support to families who had suffered losses. And in this way the newly founded commission, presided by D. Juan Pérez, parish priest of the Parish of Our Lady of Bethlehem, toured the bigastrense street vendor collecting alms and offering songs and masses to those families who had suffered the effects of severe divine punishment.

The daily tour of the commission through the streets of the town ended at the Plaza Ramón y Cajal (Álvaro's door), where they held a mass in the now-defunct Hermitage of the Holy Sepulcher. In that square all the people were gathered, pleading for mercy to heaven that mercilessly sent him such a cruel condemnation.

Days later the rumors of sick neighbors returned. On this occasion there were eight, who died shortly after. Bigastro added fourteen deaths in just one month, and would not be the last, because there were six more patients.

After the last funeral of the fourteen, the frightened bigastrenses crowded to the doors of the church, asking for divine clemency and something else ... they wanted the patrons of Bigastro walking the streets of the town, so that they could cleanse of death, illness and fear the bigastrense streets.

They entered the church and descended from their altars to the Virgin of Bethlehem and San Joaquin. They took them to the square and from there they went through entreaties, bitter chants and tears all the streets of Bigastro. They stopped in front of the houses of the fourteen mortal victims, and also in front of six more houses, because the divine condemnation continued its unstoppable work, that of killing without mercy.

The employers returned to the church, and shortly after six more bigastrenses died. Twenty-two deaths in just two months. It was cholera. A disease that was especially bad in Bigastro due to the poverty, hunger and lack of hygiene existing in the town.

On September 10 of the same year, the Civil Governor of Alicante sent 250 pesetas to the families who had died. Thanks to the help the hygiene of the municipality was improved gradually, especially the one of its waters, and the disease stopped tormenting Bigastro, town that underwent in that summer of 1885 one of the most devastating events of its history.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Well, well well!

Who would have thought it!

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has fled Spain and travelled to Brussels, Spanish government officials have said.

Mr Puigdemont is facing sedition charges from the Spanish government after Catalonia declared independence under his leadership.

The move comes after Belgium's asylum and migration affairs minister Theo Francken said the former president could seek asylum in the country.

Spain's prosecutor José Manuel Maza said on Monday morning that rebellion, sedition, and provocation charges would be levelled at the former leaders of the Catalan government, which has been suspended by the Spanish central government in Madrid.

In accordance with Spanish law a judge will not assess the charges.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hard to understand

The concert last night by the Orquesta de pulso y pua Francisco Abillar de Monora and Amios de la musica de Callosa de Ensarria was delightful.

Spanish mandolin

It was therefore a great surprise that so few bigastrense were there. The audience was mostly made up of members of the group that were not playing.

You can listen to my audio recording here.

Friday, October 27, 2017

For early drinkers

Dates for your diary

A night of good music.

Take part or just go to watch.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Have your say

Give the council your opinion so that they can improve our town.
Participate  anonymously in the following survey to voice your opinion on the economic and social state of Bigastro .

With your opinions the council will be able to elaborate a diagnosis of the current situation of the municipality, that will allow them to design policies and strategies in the short, medium and long term to improve our town.

To participate click here:

However, when I tried to complete the survey online it told me that my NIE did not exist on the padron. The solution for me is to go down to the Town Hall and collect a paper copy

You may have better luck.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

That was complicated

Our eldest daughter, Jemma, planned her 40th birthday party in late January. We booked flights to Birmingham and back with Monarch in February. We also booked to stay in a hotel near to Jemma's house.

As you probably all know, Monarch went out of business on the 2nd of this month throwing our travel plans into complete chaos.

That morning I desperately searched for alternatives and found no empty seats on flights to Birmingham. The only flights I could find were with and Ryanair to Manchester. Since we had no intention of flying Ryanair and risking a cancellation, I opted for The first flights I tried to book disappeared  during the process and I had to rapidly find an alternative or risk not flying.

In the meantime, our friends from Norfolk were desperately trying to phone us to suggest we fly to Norwich where they would pick us up and drop us off later (they too were going to the party and staying in the same hotel).  Too late, the booking had been made.

Our youngest daughter in Sale offered us a bed for the extra nights and I managed to grab the last remaining seats on a train from Manchester to Wolverhampton and back. This all added to the cost and of course we could not count on a refund from our Monarch booking.

Kudos to the Civil Aviation Authority in Britain who offered us seats on a plane to Birmingham in a email the night before our flight was due. That was too late though, we were already in the UK. I do wonder what the fate was for those stuck in the UK - there was no arrangement offered by the Spanish authorities to get us back to Alicante. 

Was it worth it? Of course, we would not have missed Jemma's party for the world.   

Thursday, October 05, 2017

The true situation

- In the last regional elections, pro-secession parties in Catalonia decided to unite around a single issue - independence. They not only failed to obtain a majority of votes, but also lost votes in relation to previous elections. Surveys, including those paid by the separatists, show that support for independence is a minority and declining.

- Catalonia is not "oppressed". It is one of the most prosperous regions of Spain and its citizens enjoy a high standard of living and one of the highest degrees of self-government in any region of Europe.

- The party traditionally headed by the regional government of Catalonia has used over the last 30 years public money to promote a separatist agenda through education and local media and has been illegally funded with a corrupt scheme in which contractors had to pay bribes of at least 3% for any public work they made bids for.

- The region of Catalonia has never existed as an independent political entity and was part or the Kingdom of Aragon, which merged dynamically with the Kingdom of Castile in 1492 to create the Spain we know today. There is no "union", as in the UK. Catalonia is to Spain what Rousillon is to France or Cornwall is to England.

- Spain is a parliamentary democracy, with a constitution that can be amended. A vote on territorial secession would require such amendment and the support of a qualified majority of Spaniards.

- No country or international organisation (with the exception of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela) has supported this movement.

So why the fuss? As the economy improves and support for independence diminishes, the separatists fear "losing the train" and, breaking with Spanish and regional laws, have embarked on a campaign to present the central government as "evil" for not allowing a regional referendum that does not comply with the constitution (widely approved throughout Spain, including Catalonia). This noise also hides regional corruption scandals and establishes separatists as victims of the upcoming general elections.

The secessionists claim to have won the vote but did they?

The referendum was approved by the Catalan parliament in a session on 6 September 2017 along with a law which states that independence would be binding with a simple majority, without requiring a minimum turnout.

The referendum question, which voters answered with "Yes" or "No", was "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?". The "Yes" side won, with 2,020,144 (91.96%) voting for independence and 176,565 (8.04%) voting against, on a turnout of 42.58%.

It is widely believed that many voters who did not support Catalan independence did not turn out to what was in fact and illegal referendum. It is also said that the organisation of the ballot was so poor, it was possible that many voted twice or more times.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

King Felipe's speech

The King of Spain took the unusual step last night of addressing the nation on television.

Good evening,

We find ourselves at a critical juncture for our existence as a democracy. In these circumstances, I wish to address all Spaniards. We have all witnessed the facts that have taken place in Catalonia, with the illegal declaration of independence as the final goal of the Catalan executive (Generalitat).

For a long time, certain Catalan authorities have repeatedly, consciously and deliberately flouted the Constitution and their own Statute of Autonomy, which is the law that acknowledges, protects and safeguards their historic institutions and their self-government.

With their decisions, they have systematically infringed legally and rightfully approved rules and have shown an unacceptable disloyalty towards the institutions of the State – a State of which, by the way, those authorities are the highest representatives in Catalonia.

They have violated the democratic principles of the rule of law and they have undermined Catalan society’s harmony and coexistence, unfortunately even to the point of driving a wedge within it. Today, the Catalan society is fractured and at loggerheads.

The Catalan authorities have underestimated the affections and feelings of solidarity that have united and will long unite the Spaniards, and with their reckless behavior, they may be even endangering the economic and social stability of Catalonia and of Spain as a whole.

In short, this has been the completion of an unacceptable attempt to take over the historic institutions of Catalonia. Those authorities have unequivocally and categorically placed themselves outside the law and outside democracy. They have tried to break Spain’s unity and national sovereignty, which is the right of all Spanish people to democratically decide on their life together.

Therefore, and in light of this extremely serious situation, that requires everyone’s commitment to pursue common interests, the legitimate powers of the State have the responsibility to guarantee constitutional order and the normal functioning of the institutions, the validity of the rule of law and Catalonia’s self-government, based on the Constitution and their own Statute of Autonomy.

Today I wish to send several messages to all Spaniards and in particular to Catalans. To the citizens of Catalonia —to all of them—, I wish to reiterate that we have been already been living for several decades in a democratic State, which provides constitutional means for anyone to defend their ideas within the law. Because, as we all know, without respect for the law, there is no possible democratic coexistence in peace and freedom, neither in Catalonia, nor in the rest of Spain, nor anywhere in the world. In a democratic and constitutional Spain, they know that they have space to coexist and get along with all their fellow citizens.

I am well aware that in Catalonia there is also great concern and anxiety about the Catalan authorities’ behavior. To those who feel that way, I assure that they are not, nor will they be alone; they have all the support and the solidarity of the rest of the Spanish people, as well as the absolute guarantee given by the rule of law in the defense of their freedom and their rights.

To all Spaniards, who are living through these events full of sadness and distress, I send a message of calm, confidence and hope.

These are troubled times, but we will overcome them. These are very complicated times, but we will get through them. Because we believe in our country and we are proud of what we are. Because our democratic principles are solid and strong. And they are like this because they are based on the wishes of millions and millions of Spaniards who want a peaceful and free coexistence. That is how we have gradually built the Spain in these last decades. And that is how we must go forward, with serenity and determination. On this road, in that improved Spain that we all desire, Catalonia will be there too.

Let me end these words, addressed to all Spaniards, by emphasizing once again the Crown’s firm commitment to the Constitution and to democracy, my own dedication to a climate of understanding and harmony among Spaniards, and my commitment, as King, to the unity and continuity of Spain.

English version by María Luisa Rodríguez Tapia.

An apology

This is the reply I got from the mayor of Bigastro regarding the cancellation of the lunch on Sunday.

You will notice in the second paragraph that the Third Age club has resumed their Sunday night dance sessions. The mayor hopes that some of our English neighbours will attend and teach the local people some typical British style dancing.

Buenas tardes Keith y Pam,

lamento mucho que os haya ocasionado alguna molestia la cancelación del almuerzo del Domingo.
Agradezco vuestra recomendación y tomamos buena nota de ello.

Aprovecho para informaros que a partir del domingo 1-Octubre se ha reiniciado la actividad de baile en el Centro Social organizado por la Asociación de la Tercera Edad. El horario es de 18:00 a 22:00.
Espero que sea de vuestro interés y que participéis de esta divertida y saludable actividad. 
Sería muy interesante que vuestros vecinos y amigos británicos participasen y enseñen bailes de salón típicos de vuestro maravilloso país a los bigastrenses.

Un fuerte abrazo.

Teresa María Belmonte Sánchez
Alcaldesa Presidenta Ayuntamiento Bigastro
C/ Pza. de la Constitución, 1
03380 Bigastro (Alicante)
T. 96 535 00 00 | F. 96 535 08 07


Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Very sad

At first we used to fly to the UK with either from Alicante or San Javier. Then we tried Monarch and found that the timing of their flights suited us better.

Since then, we have flown to the UK exclusively with Monarch and even gained Silver Advantage status which gave us priority check in, priority boarding and an extra 10kg luggage allowance. We also paid the little extra to enjoy more legroom.

As many of you will know, Monarch collapsed on Sunday morning leaving thousands of stranded passengers and many more with booked flights that will no longer happen.

We feel really sorry for the employees who were loyal to the company and only got to know that they had lost their jobs on Monday morning.

The options for us are now limited. As far as I know, Flybe, Easyjet, Ryanair and fly to the UK and if you are prepared to have a stop of in Barcelona, Vueling also operate some routes.

Out of those options, we would be extremely reluctant to choose Ryanair who seem cancel flights at the drop of a hat. That doesn't leave us with a lot more choices.

Of course, someone will want to step in and fill the gap left by Monarch. That may be one of the existing carriers or it maybe someone new to Alicante, only time will tell. In the meantime, a sad farewell to Monarch - you served us well.

It didn't happen

So what was the lunch like on Sunday?

On Monday I told you about the special lunch that was scheduled for Sunday at 2pm. That was to be followed by chocolate at 7pm and then dancing to the group, "El Duo Montana". It was planned to coincide with the International Day for the Elderly.

Pam and I did not have the chance to go down and collect our tickets so we just turned up at the Third Age Centre at about 1:45 on Sunday expecting to find a buzz of people waiting to go in.

What we found was the bar was open but the centre was closed. There were a handful of people enjoying a Sunday drink and chat but no signs of any preparation for a meal.

It turns out that the lunch was postponed and the dancing was just the regular Sunday evening event organised by the Pensionistas Club.

We don't know why lunch was cancelled - possibly from lack of interest or maybe it was just too short notice. We were only glad that nobody from Villas Andrea turned up other than us. It would have been embarrassing to say the least if people had heeded my advice on Monday.

Note to the Ayuntamiento: if you need to cancel an event for whatever reason, please put a notice on Facebook to let us know. The word of mouth system that informed those that live in the town did not reach as far as Villas Andrea:-(

Sunday, October 01, 2017

A standing ovation

I have to say that I was surprised how many empty seats there were at last night's concert. I can honestly  say that, those that weren't there,  missed something very special.

In the first part we were entertained by the Armonica de Cox and they were damn good.

Following a short interval, the band from Bigastro took to the stage and performed as we have never heard them before. As I remarked to Christopher, who plays the flute, Diego has upped the game yet again.

My photos are available for you see via the sidebar. I have also uploaded my recording of the music  at.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The music

It is not often that we get to see the programme of music before a concert - here is the one for Saturday.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The details

Trust me, you will enjoy the day. 

 From our experience, the meal will be be well worth the 12 Euros price for the tickets - you will definitely not go hungry!! Nor will you want anymore to drink.

 Whether you stay for the chocolate and the dancing is up to you. If you do though, I can assure you of a warm welcome from our Spanish neighbours and an enjoyable evening.

PS You can always watch Strictly on catch up!

A difficult situation

Spanish state prosecutors on Friday lodged a formal accusation of sedition against individuals thought to be responsible for the disturbances of Wednesday night in Barcelona, when Civil Guard patrol cars were vandalized and officers had to be escorted out of the Economic Affairs Department building by the regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra.

The protests came after the Civil Guard on Wednesday staged a large operation against organisers of a planned independence referendum in Catalonia that resulted in dozens of searches and 14 arrests, including top Catalan government officials. Around nine million ballot papers were confiscated, seriously compromising the logistics of the vote.

Supporters of the referendum say that the state is being heavy handed in its approach. They say that the measures taken which include shipping in thousands of officers to take control, are reminders of the period when Franco was the dictator.

The government's position is simple, the referendum is illegal and should not go ahead. They will do all that is required to prevent it from taking place. It has put the mayors of many towns in a difficult position - if they allow public premises to be used as polling stations they are breaking the law. On the other hand, ff they ban polling in their towns, then they risk losing the votes of those who are in favour of secession.

Thomas Villanova

For those of you who want to know more about this illustrious son of Bigastro, there will be a conference followed by the opening of an exhibition about his life and works.

We have to thank Pascual Segura for his tireless work researching, not only ThomasVillanova but many other facets of the history of our town.


We believe that last night was our last appearance as Third Age King and Queen for the year. Our final call of duty should be the coronation next year for the couple that follow us.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A special day for us

In 1990, the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons as recorded in Resolution 45/106. The holiday was observed for the first time on October 1, 1991.

As you might expect, the Councillor with responsibility for 3rd Age in Bigastro is organising something special for the occasion and would like us all to be involved.

Watch this space for more details to follow.

Such a beautiful occasion

Last night, Pamela and I were invited to attend mass at the church in our capacity as 3rd age King and Queen.

Before the mass there was a floral offering to the Virgin of Bethlehem who you understand the church is dedicated to. Then there was mass.

What followed though was the interesting part. From the nursery school, Bigastrin, a group of musicians serenaded a procession which included church dignitaries, members of the council etc.
Those of you who have been to Patio Andaluz restaurant on the N332 at Punta Prima, will have seen a similar group of musicians, dressed in black, from the University of Murcia.

When the procession arrived at the church, the doorway was covered with a curtain. The musicians continued with their serenade outside the door.

At the appointed time, the curtain was dropped to reveal the statue of the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus in her arms. She was clothed in a white cloak and the throne on which she stood was decorated with flowers including beautiful red roses.

The serenade then continued until about 10:45. After a couple of speeches,  we finally had  a brief firework display.

Apparently, this is an annual event - one which Pamela and I knew nothing about. We've watched the procession on Sunday but were unaware of this beautiful tradition. You can be sure that we will not miss it next year, I will be down there with my camera to get you some photos.

In the meantime, tonight is the final mass to honour the patron of the church. Following the mass, there will be a procession of the statue following the route taken during the Encuentro.

Pamela and I will be there, along with the Juvenile and Infant courts, dressed as we were for the final procession for San Joaquin - i.e. booted and suited complete with our sashes and Pam wearing a mantilla instead of her crown.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Do you like good music?

A chance to compare these two great bands.

Pam and I will be there. I'll be taking photos and also recording a sound track.

Brush up our Spanish

Apparently, this is organised for Thursdays at 4:30pm in the ViaVen. I am told that Kurtis is a very good teacher with a lot of years of experience.

Monday, September 18, 2017

More for your diary

It seems we are to be called on again to take part in this fiesta as 3rd Age King and Queen.

We will be taking part on Saturday in the floral offering and then again on Sunday in the mass and solemn procession.

For your diary

The association dedicated to helping those suffering with alzheimer in Bigastro has announced its programme for the week around the world day for this condition. Of particular note is the theatrical production on Sunday, 24th September in the Auditorium at 5:30pm.

The Cajón de los Lagartos ...

Made in the 60's, this box was used to transport the stands of the Bigastro Musical Union, to the numerous performances in Bigastro and other towns.

Due to the large size and weight, there used to be two musicians in charge of moving the box Once the box was emptied, it was often used as a stage for the director.

Known popularly among musicians as "the box of the Iagartos", the drawer fulfilled its function for decades.  It was abandoned and later forgotten in one of the old sites of the Musical Union of Bigastro from where it has now been  recovered fifty years on.

PS In case you were wondering, lagarto in Spanish can mean lizard or alligator, scoundrel or even sharp as opposed to lagarta which is a slang word meaning bitch!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

An enjoyable evening

When you consider that Bigastro is just a small town in the Vega Baja, it is quite remarkable that there should be anyone of note that was born here. The fact is - there are several.

Francisco Grau is one of its famous sons. He rose to the rank of General in the Spanish army, the first musician to ever do so.

Now we learn that an important scientist was also born in Bigastro 280 years ago and last night we paid homage to him.

Pam and I received our invite from the lady mayor in our official capacity as 3rd age king and queen.

After the introductions and a speech by the lady mayor, she unveiled a plaque to commemorate Villanova and to declare him a favourite son of the town. FOur of the townsfolk were then presented with mementos of the occasion - we thought they were possibly distant relatives but could not be sure.

Then the theatre group, Lugarico, accompanied by members of the town band, presented a short history of the  life of Thomas Villanova.

El Lugarico, led by Aurelio Murcia, had very little time to prepare and so it was a challenge for them. There were also several technical problems with the microphones which did not seem to phase the participants. In fact, they turned the situations into comic moments which the audience appreciated.

It was all very well done and was a great credit to those who took part.

You can see my photos in this album. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Local weather

Storms in this area can be very local. For example, it can be pouring down in Bigastro and dry in Jacarilla.

Last night, we had a downpour that lasted half an hour, no more. The total rain from that was 5mm. Further up the coast though in Alcoy, it rained pretty much all night peaking this morning at 8 am. In Pinosa, there was over 28mm of rain in half an hour and Alicante had  similar amount of rain but over a four hour period.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Relief at hand

Those of you who are getting fed up with the heat of summer will be pleased to learn that the temperature is forecast the plummet on Saturday when rain will cool us all down. It will then remain cooler, at least for the following few days.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Saturday night

On Saturday, Bigastro will be honouring one of its sons, Thomas Villanova.

Tomás Manuel Vilanova studied philosophy and medicine at the University of Valencia. However, his broad interests also led him to study physics, chemistry, botany, mathematics, pharmacy and astronomy, as well as numerous languages ​​(Latin, Greek, Arabic). He also learned  modern languages from his travels in France, Italy, Germany and Hungary.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Good to be back

After a wonderful week in Mallorca (staying in the old part of Palma), Pam and I are back home in Bigastro.

You can find my photos from the trip in the album Palma, Mallorca. I've set it out in folders to make it easier for you to locate photos of interest.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Let off lightly

We might have complained at the time about the amount of rain that fell but looking at the figures, we got of lightly.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Unpredictable weather

After a dismal start, yesterday turned out to be mostly dry and there were even periods of sunshine.

That all changed at about 9:30pm when you could hear thunder in the distance. As the storm approached, the lighting bolts were quite spectacular and filled the sky with light. The rain was intense but thankfully only  lasted for a short period of time.

Forecasts for today vary considerably because the atmosphere is quite unstable. For sure it is heavily overcast so who knows, we could have another thunderstorm or we might get lucky and be let off.