Monday, December 31, 2018

Cold start

It will be a cold start to the New Year with temperatures in single figures for much of the region. Inland, it could get as low as -4.

Looking at the data from the weather station, the minimum was 4.5 degrees overnight last night and the current temperature is 18.9 degrees.

We were with the family in Manchester over Christmas and it was relatively mild there. Mind you, I still came back with a stinking cold.

Stay warm and have a wonderful New Year's Eve.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Nice sunny morning here in Bigastro

The view from the webcam.

The weather station

 The new weather station is where I thought it might be, in the building they constructed a few years ago that never seemed to have any purpose.

Often, the weather is very local e.g. it may be raining cats and dogs in Los Montesinos but be dry as a bone here in Bigastro.

We can now get up to date information from instruments that are literally on our doorstep. It's almost like having a weather station in your back garden.

Of course, you may well say, "but I live here, all I have to do is look out the window to know what the weather is at the moment". 

However, if you log into the Weathercloud service from the link I provided to the information from Bigastro, you can view a map of Spain and locate other weather stations located throughout the country. It is also useful if you are on holiday and want to know what is happening back home.

Friday, December 21, 2018

A look at the weather

The Town Hall of Bigastro together with MeteOrihuela have set up a meteorological station at the highest point of the region, in the Paraje de La Pedrera.

In the picture from the local paper is Pedro José Gómez, director of MeteOrihuela, along with the mayor Teresa Belmonte, and the councilor for the Environment, Antonio Meseguer.

The new station will record data on temperature, humidity, direction and wind speed, solar radiation, atmospheric pressure and the ultraviolet radiation index. In addition there is a webcam that shows, in real time, the state of the sky.

The information from the weather station is available here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas in Bigastro

Second time around

Although we've already seen the group perform this, we will be going again.

It is hilarious. Even if you can't follow all of the dialogue, you will understand the humorous content.

This is a must

Well, for us it is!!! Although I think you would enjoy it as well.

Friday, December 14, 2018

We bore the brunt of it

Often, when we have bad weather, Bigastro gets off lightly.

Yesterday was different though.

We had some heavy rain in the early afternoon and then it cleared up and the sun came out. The improvement didn't last though because the wind
quickly picked up and by evening it was blowing a hoolie.

About 8pm it seemed to calm down a little but again, that did not last.

Look at the chart which takes us up to 8pm and you can see that the wind was strongest in Bigastro by a fair margin.

It is still windy out there but nowhere near as bad as last night.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bound to be controversial

 The new structures that have replaced the palm trees in the town square are set to divide opinion.

The fact is that the trees had grown too tall and served no purpose i.e. they provided no shade. In high winds, they were also dangerous.

The new structures are based on tree shapes and once they have their sails attached, there will be plenty of shade from them.

The Christmas tree

 Not sure how it will fair if we get some heavy rain and those woollen panels get soaked.

Monday, December 10, 2018


Those of you who follow Rubio Movil garage on Facebook will have seen the video they have posted showing all the happy customers who have bought new cars from them this year. If you watch carefully, you will spot residents from Villas Andrea taking delivery of their new Skodas.

Many congratulations to them, I hope that they are as satisfied with their new vehicles as we have been with the cars we bought there.

It is pathetic

Tomorrow, British Parliament will vote on the deal that the PM has negotiated for Britain's exit from Europe next March.

It seems that nobody, possibly including the PM herself, thinks that it is a good deal mainly because of the backstop agreement needed to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Great Britain. Many believe that the backstop could keep the UK trapped in the Customs Union indefinitely. They are also not too keen on paying the divorce bill that has been agreed.

It is a bit like those people on our estate who reluctantly sold their houses for less than they paid when they decided to return to Britain.

As things stand, it looks like parliament will vote against the plan and nobody knows quite what would happen then. Will there be a leadership challenge, a general election, a renegotiation, a second referendum or some other scenario?

Mrs May is desperately trying to gather enough support to see her plan gain approval. I understand that she is telling her MPs, that they should vote for the plan, not because it is best for the country but because if it fails there could be a call for an election and they may lose out to Labour. In other words, vote to save your jobs. If that is true, it is a pathetic tactic to say the least.

In the meantime, the wolves are gathering looking to pick out the flesh. I dare say Mrs May will need more than a tot of whisky and a tin of baked beans after tomorrow is over.

The sad truth is that we cannot trust anyone in politics anymore. The British public were lied to by both sides during the referendum campaign and have been lied to since. But who was telling the worst lies? We simply do not know what to believe and more important, who is actually working for the best interest of the country.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

A labour of love

The Christmas tree in the  Plaza de la Constitución must surely be unique because the six metres high by two and a half meters wide creation is  made completely from crochet patches.

Eleven ladies:  Merche Meseguer Perales, Mari Carmen Navarro Rodríguez, Marina Rodríguez Terrés, Marien Vegara García, Isabel García Amorós, Margarita Patiño Ferrer, Séfora Escobedo García, Fina Moya Juan, Nuria Escobedo Moya, Conchi Seva Hernández and Silvia Terrés Pascual laboured for 1,000 hours to produce the pieces.

A fantastic effort and a fantastic result.

NB These are NOT my photos.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Christmas Market Bigastro style

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Finished at last

I've been intrigued by Lego Technic models for awhile now and wanted to face the challenge of building one for myself.

The kit I bought makes two models, a rally car and a beach buggy. I chose to make the rally car.

In the box was a thick book of step by step instructions, bags with all the parts needed for the build and a sheet of stickers.

In the Lego kits that make one model, the bags are numbered so you are only working with a limited number of parts at a time. Because this was a kit to make 2 models, the bags were random so I had to work with all the bags at once. With over 1,000 parts, that proved to be tricky in the early stages of the build.

The model has some pretty impressive features; rack and pinion steering, suspension on all four wheels. doors that open, an opening bonnet, a tailgate that opens and turns out the rear quarter panels and an engine with pistons that move up and down as the rear wheels turn.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Join in the celebrations

Forty years has passed since the Spanish Constitution was first published and Bigastro wants to commemorate this moment.

Events are planned to take place on the 5th and 6th of December.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Another weekend of entertainment

As you will recall, the Union Musical de Bigastro is celebrating it centennial this year and so the concert on Saturday promises to be something special.

Pascual Segura has put together a 100 page book which documents the history of the Society which I hope to obtain a copy of.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The sad state of affairs

Looking at pictures of the flood waters of the Segura, there are numerous plastic bottles and other items of debris floating in the river.

Where will all this plastic end up? In the sea as it floats down to the estuary at Guardamar.

Window dressing

Location is everything

This table illustrates the differences between different locations in the Vega Baja.

There are only a few kilometres between Torrevieja and Guardamar but one is at the top of the table and the other the bottom.

NB 104,8 l/m2 is equivalent to 4.13 inches of rain and 12,4 equals 0.49 inches.

In Britain, they talk about the amount of rain in inches. It is calculated by measuring the depth of water accumulated independent of  the area. 

In Spain, we talk about the number of litres accumulated in a square metre which is of course different.

Monday, November 19, 2018

So much water, where does it come from?

 I hardly need to tell you, we are in a spell of heavy rainfall AGAIN!

When I woke at about 6am, I could hear the rain outside.

When I later got up and looked out the window, the pool was full to the brim.

In the picture below you can see the culprit, that heavy band of cloud that is passing over the southern coast

We know from past episodes that intense rain is often very localised and whilst we may be deluged, down the road it could be almost dry.

There are videos on Facebook today showing flooded roads in Torrevieja so we can assume that the coast got the brunt of the heaviest downfalls. In fact, Torrevieja is described as "in chaos" with roads and schools closed.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

That is a lot of water

The Segura after the rain

Santa Cecilia

The Last Supper

Following the opening of the classroom, we were treated to an enthralling dance spectacular.

Inaugurating a lecture room for the University

Last night, representatives from the University at Alicante and the lady mayor signed an agreement to create a lecture room for the university.

In my photo there are the representatives from the University along with the lady mayor and the councillor for fiestas.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

I was unlucky

The rain we were promised came in the early hours of the morning.

I woke to go to the toilet and could hear distant thunder. Then I heard the rain outside the bedroom. The thunder got closer and the rain increased in intensity. Eventually, it calmed down and I was able to get back to sleep.

In the meantime, Pam just slept through it!!

Looking at the statistics for Orihuela it seems that 25mm or rain fell between about 5:30 and 6:30am. That must have been the time I woke up. 

The map shows that the whole of the coast is on alert for rain with Valencia on red alert. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

My gotcha

Here is Fonta at the event on Sunday, snapping away at the audience.

Note to Fonta, you need to bounce that flash upwards to avoid nasty shadows - especially in portrait mode. I had a fair bit of work to remove the shadow on the wall on my left in your photo.

He got me

Often, when Fonta and I are taking pictures at an event, we capture a quick shot of each other. We try to do it without being noticed.

Fonta certainly succeeded here, I had no idea he'd taken this until I saw it in his Facebook album.

Gender violence

Complete the weekend

So, Friday we are invited to the opening of the new classroom followed by a dance spectacular, Saturday there is the showing of the DVD that has been made collecting accounts from the senior citizens of the town and now we have a choral concert on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Speaking about the old days

The Town Hall has produced a compilation of anecdotes from some of the oldest members of the community. In the DVD, the neighbours talk about the food they prepared, the musical tradition, the games they played etc etc.

The end result of this project will be screened this Saturday at 6pm.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Part one

The first part of my video about Bigastro, made using my drone, is live on YouTube.

I now need to move on to grabbing shots of the town and video of the market garden so I can complete the second part.

You can view the first part using this link. It includes shots of La Pedrera and Villas Andrea.

Honoured for his work

In a delightful ceremony yesterday, Pascual Segura was named as the official historian to the town.

My first contact with Pascual was when he was producing a blog about the history of the town. Soon after he launched a page on Facebook with old photos that people supplied him with.

As a musician in the band, Pascual became involved in sorting out the archives of the Musical Society to ensure that they were properly preserved for generations to come.

As part of his website project, Pascual decided to interview people in the town that he considered interesting. Thus I became the second person to feature on his website.  I had already supplied Pascual with thousands of photos of the band which he described as the archive for the future.

His next project was to investigate the scientist, Thomas Villanova. After an enormous amount of research, Pascual was able to present an illustrated talk about the bigastrense. He was also able to write a book which was published with assistance from the Province.

His latest research about the Auroros led to a further pamphlet which details the history of this tradition in the town.

At the same time, Pascual has produced articles about aspects of the town's history e.g. the time when it was bombed during the Civil War.

In my photos, Pascual being presented with his certificate from the town and then being congratulated by the lady mayor on receiving a medal to mark his entry into the Royal Association of Historians.

One to watch

We'd recommend that, those of you who have UK TV, watch Peter Jackson's "They Shall Not Grow Old" if you haven't already done so.

As a film in its own right it is compelling but as a documentary about conditions during the 1st World War, it is a must.

Jackson used old black and white archive footage which was then colourised, retouched and stabilised before being dubbed with a soundtrack of banter, explosions and screams from the men who fought for Britain between 1914 and 1918.

BBC 2 11th November.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

New Year's Eve

As you know, New Year's Eve is the more important occasion during the Festive Season in Spain.

Camping La Pedrera are putting on a special meal which you can see from this menu.

A short video about us

A few weeks ago, one of our young Spanish friends, Eva Moya Melgarejo, asked if she could come to our house and interview us in English.

Eva is studying to be a video journalist and this was to be one of her projects 

Eva came armed with her camera and a sound recorder and proceeded to ask the questions she had prepared. At first she was a little nervous but soon became confident enough to appear professional.

Her interview complete, Eva then had to edit the footage to produce a final video and here it is.

We think Eva did a fantastic job and we were delighted to help her.

Friday, November 09, 2018

14 years and counitng

Yesterday was the anniversary of our arrival in Bigastro. We'd booked flights to Spain on many occasions before but that day, fourteen years ago,  was different because our flights were one way.

Everything was set, we visited the Bureau that was handling the purchase and signed the agreement for the final payment to be transferred to the builders. Then it was just a matter of waiting a few days for all our belongings to arrive in two large vans.

Those first weeks were busy as we settled into our new house and started the process of creating a home. There was also a great deal of paperwork to sort out including NIE numbers, Spanish wills etc etc.

At first, we felt like strangers in not just a new town but a new country. There was a lot to learn. Naturally, we bonded first with our British neighbours and took part in the events that they were organising.

However we were determined not just to be "Brits living in the sun", we wanted  to learn the language as best we could and get involved in the culture of the town. My interest in photography helped a great deal as the pictures I took became noticed by the Town Hall.

Over the years we have learnt more and more about the town and its cultural history. We have attended concerts and got to know some of the musicians. We have also attended many other events and learnt of their importance. Our growing interest attracted the attention of the local council, many of the local associations and our Spanish neighbours who now refer to us as bigastrense.

Our Spanish neighbours seemed to like our willingness to become involved and have been very supportive of us. It could have been different, they could have  regarded us as intrusive but no, they have welcomed us with open arms.

2017 was made a special year for us when the lady Mayor, via the Town Hall, asked us to be Third Age King and Queen at the annual fiesta. The warm reception we received during that special week is something that we will always remember.

So after fourteen years, do we have any regrets? None whatsoever. For Pam and I, it has proved to be the perfect place to retire to. Bigastro has become  the place where we want to be.

We look forward to many more years in our happy home.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Congratulations, well deserved

When the position was first announced, we knew that there was only one person for the post. Pascual is a professional archivist and author of two books relating to the history of the town.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Bigastro under siege

Pascual Segura gives us another fascinating glimpse into the history of our town

It was in the year 1936 when the military uprising took place that unleashed one of the greatest misfortunes in the recent history of our country: the Spanish Civil War.

Battle after battle, the nationalist rebellion was taking territories resulting in a Spain divided into two camps: the national and the republican. Our region was surrounded inside the republican side, so in our province, and therefore in Bigastro, the events that took place between 1936 and 1939 were subject to the Republican regime.

Although Bigastro was not directly involved in the conflict, it did effect the town and made for some dramatic changes.

One of the most striking changes was the mayor's decision to convert the parish church of Our Lady of Bethlehem into a supply warehouse, the parish house into a hospital and refugee house, and the old asylum became a house-barracks for the security and assault guards.

One of the most notable events took place in April 1938, when the town of Bigastro was bombed by the national side. On May 25 of the same year, Alicante was bombed by an Italian squadron based in Mallorca, causing 300 deaths. Three months later, 19 people died when Torrevieja was also bombed by an Italian squadron. 1938 became a year of war, tragedy and bombing in our province, but what about Bigastro? Alicante was a primordial city for the republican resistance, and Torrevieja could be considered an enemy port, but why bomb Bigastro? What was special about Bigastro that drew the attention of the national side?

It happened in April 1938, between two and three in the morning, when a squadron of the aviation of the national side dropped one of its bombs on the old yesera located in Bigastro on the right side of the entrance to the municipality from Orihuela . The yesera was a factory in which gypsum was produced in  a kiln of gigantic dimensions. The kiln was partially buried to take advantage of the unevenness of the terrain. It was built with walls more than half a metre thick and around 3 metres high. The furnace was loaded with aljez  which was cooked for periods of 24 hours.  The kiln therefore had to be constantly supplied with fuel.

During the early morning, the national squadron flew over our region when one of the pilots observed the whitish cloud that rose from the yesera. Confusing this one with a great factory of arms or supplies of the republican side, he dropped a bomb with the purpose of destroying it and disabling the enemy forces. The bomb descended in the direction of the yesera and landed in a well belonging to a bigastrense family known locally as "the sardines".  The explosion was of such magnitude that it woke up the neighbours of the town, spreading panic amongst them.

Mariano López, a nonagenarian bigastrense who still lives a few metres from the old yesera, remembers it well. Hearing the explosion, he jumped out of bed and ran towards the place where the disaster had occurred.

When he arrived, Mariano saw a considerable crater in the place that  the well occupied, which was totally destroyed. Rocks and debris were scattered several metres from the site.
The reaction from the City Council was rapid. The secretary, Juan Galvez, wrote in the municipal records that the mayor, Mr. José Aureliano Díaz, ordered that "not a single electric lamp should be lit in the town, to avoid serving as a guide to factional aviation. "
On Sunday, April 4, 1937, the Bigastrense mayor ordered the painting of the glass in the street lighting, so that the lights were dimmer and thus prevent the lamps from guiding the airplanes of the national side and that bombed Bigastro. First the lamps were painted, then they were turned off. 

These were not the only decisions taken in favour of the dominant side in our region. D. José Aureliano Díaz also  allocated a percentage of the municipal budget to help the Republican army, in addition to printing brochures in support of the republican aviation battalions. These were later distributed by the people to encourage young bigastrenses to enlist in these companies.

On Sunday May 22, 1938 he made a speech to the neighbors, gathered in the then-named Plaza de la República -current plaza of the Constitution- saying: "All united with our faith, enthusiasm and antifascist spirit fight for Spain to crush national and foreign fascism with the triumph of our glorious weapons, which are supported by an insurmountable wall of anti-fascist breasts. "

Horror strikes the town

The parade for Halloween last night clearly fuelled the imagination of the townsfolk who came out in some very imaginative costumes. 

The bottom picture is of our new neighbours.

You may recognise the father as a member of the local police force.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Celebrating Halloween

Friday, October 19, 2018

Not so fortunate

The risk of heavy rain has now finished for us. However, Castellon is still on red alert for more rain.

The graphs for the different weather stations in that province tell the story from yesterday of persistent heavy rain throughout the day. It was a similar story in Murcia but less extreme.

You can find videos of torrents flowing down streets from both areas and those who visited Orihuela yesterday would have seen the Segura in full flow.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The cause of this bad weather

Although cold drops are a regular feature of Mediterranean autumns, we need to go back to October 2008 to find a storm of similar intensity to the one forecast for the next few days.

The cause of this particular storm is the conjunction of two areas of low pressure. By themselves, both areas of low pressure  are capable of producing heavy rain, but by "interacting and joining", they will create a very pronounced instability in the upper layers.

A  cold drop is a normal feature of the Mediterranean climate in autumn However, in the past few years, cold drops have been conspicuous by their absence.

Just to remind you, cold drops are caused by Arctic air meeting the humid wind that runs along the length of the Mediterranean Sea

According to AEMET, there could be long periods of intense rain totalling over 100 litres per square metre in 12 hours, particularly in Castellon. 

Fingers crossed

Looking at this map, it looks like we should be spared the worst of this weather situation. But who knows, weather patterns can change rapidly Sometimes we are warned of heavy rain and all we get are a few drops. Other times, we are forecast mild weather and we get strong winds and rain.

Let us hope that our neighbors up the coast follow the advice and remain safe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A note for your diary

 The U.K. Consul for Spain, Sarah Jane Morris, will be in Rojales on Wednesday, 7th November 2018 to talk to residents regarding a Brexit update and procedures to be followed.

The meeting will be held at 11 a.m. in the Cultural Centre, Calle El Pino, Ciudad Quesada.

If my understanding is correct though, it is unlikely that a deal will be signed by the time that meeting takes place. The parties involved are now talking about December and some are wary that even then the issue of the Irish border will not be resolved.

Monday, October 15, 2018

It fell inland

We were expecting rain all day. When it came it was pretty much full on but fortunately short lived.

I've watched a video of a stream running through the streets of the town but it hardly came close to videos from Mallorca, Granada and elsewhere last week.

As you can see, coastal areas had barely more than a shower whilst inland there was over 10 times the amount of rain.

What was strange because we weren't warned about it, was how the wind suddenly picked up at about 8pm. Pam and I quickly took the sun umbrellas down and moved the chairs outside only to find that half an hour later all was calm again. Most strange!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Signing up

The growing list of prizes ready for the fifth edition of this show of solidarity for AECC.