Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Try again

You may recall that this event had to postponed last time because of dense cloud cover. Let us hope that on the 2nd March the sky is clear for them.

Thoroughly well deserved

Following on from their magnificent concert in Bigastro on Saturday night, Neuma played in a competition on Sunday and came away with a richly deserved first prize.

These highly talented young ladies, who play together in a quartet of flutes, will undoubtedly go on from strength to strength. At some point they will be snapped up individually by prestigious orchestras but until then, they will give great pleasure to audiences nationally and internationally as a group. 

A reminder

Geoff Durkin has kindly sent me a copy of this poster to remind us that there will be a free concert this coming Sunday in Jacarilla.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Highly recommended

If you want to know the good restaurants in an area, ask a local but chose one who is discerning enough to only recommend the best.

Yesterday, we were invited out for lunch with our neighbours, Pepe and Eladia to a restaurant on the coast.   El Gallego, on   Calle Transformador, 1, 03190 Pilar de la Horadada, is well worth a visit.

Just look at my photos and you can sense the quality of this restaurant but don't imagine it is so pricey that it will break the bank to go there. There were plenty of courses you could chose from under 20 Euros and many were under 10 Euros.

As we entered the restaurant, we passed the display of fish and seafood but unfortunately I did not have my camera to hand. I can only tell you that it was most impressive with large quantities of prawns, crayfish, squid, octopus, sea bream, sole, sea bass, salmon, crabs etc all looking delicious.

On the way out though, I had my camera ready and managed to get a photo of the prime cuts of beef available.

The cabinets of wines and champagnes impressed me most. In the bubbly cabinet there bottles of Moët & Chandon, Mumm, Veuve Clicquot, Piper-Heidsieck, Laurent-Perrier, Taittinger, Dom Pérignon etc etc. There was also a small selection of Cava but only the finest varieties of course.

Opposite the bubbly was a cabinet of equally impressive wines. Pepe told me that some of those could well set you back 100 Euros per bottle.

This was our main course, a huge platter of the most succulent steak for the eight of us to share.

We look forward to dining out with Pepe and Eladia again and will be trusting him to find somewhere suitable. I will report back to you when that happens.

Ready for our visit

Pam and I are booked to visit Manchester next week to celebrate our granddaughter's 8th birthday. Then we read this!

"Some parts of the UK are set to feel colder than the Arctic Circle as the “beast from the east” sees freezing temperatures sweep the country.

Widespread snow is now forecast, with up to 20cm expected in the worst-affected areas over the course of the week, while wind chill factors mean it could feel as cold as -15C in some places.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, amid fears of disruption to travel on the roads, rail and in the air."

Saturday, February 24, 2018

More water needed

This is the current state of the Pedrera reservoir - just about 25% full. That will not see us through a hot summer so we need more rain.

PS These are not my photos.

Friday, February 23, 2018

So true

Imagine though if I was taking pictures of one of the band's concerts or of a fiesta and was restricted to rolls of film with just twelve exposures or even 35mm with 36 exposure.

My photo archive would be an awful lot less than it is.

Digital photography may have made us trigger happy but at least we are not out of pocket capturing an event.

I'm gobsmacked

As an ex-teacher, I am appalled by the suggestions made by Donald Trump in relation to the latest school shooting.

He believes that educators should bring weapons to school to try and deter attacks like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last week that left 17 people dead.

The US President goes on to say that he thinks teachers who bring guns to school should get cash bonuses for their efforts to protect students -up to 40% has been quoted.

I understand his point that, it takes time for the police to respond to a call and in that time many students could be killed or maimed.Does that justify having teachers carrying guns to school? Offer them a bonus to carry a gun and they will all want to sign up.

Schools are meant to be safe havens not battlegrounds stocked up with weapons. Follow Trump's suggestion and we'll be reading about teachers, not outsiders, shooting the pupils.

An increasing number of Americans believe that the answer to the problems is more not less gun control but we know that Donald Trump and other American politicians are funded by the National Rifle Association. Their take on this is that, to stop a bad man with a gun, you need a good man with a gun. They would advocate that every US citizen should carry a weapon in order to protect themselves because the increase in gun sales would bring them huge profits.

If the UK government had suggested that teachers in England should carry guns to protect themselves and their students, I and many of my colleagues would have resigned on the spot.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


At 11:14 this morning a 1.8 magnitude earthquake SW of Los Montesinos.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A labour of love

It occurred to me that, if anything happened to me, all the photos I have taken in Bigastro would be lost. They are all on hard drives either in or attached to my computer but to go through them would be a nightmare for anyone. In all probability they would simply be erased.

In order to preserve this archive for the town, I have bought an external hard drive just to store those photos. In the event of my demise, or when I am too old to take photos anymore, the drive can be passed on to the Town Hall for them to keep.

The total to date is 23,284 photos covering all sorts of events including concerts, processions, fiestas etc etc.  Even I was astonished that I had so many pictures. I can't even imagine how many pictures I will have by the time I have finished.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A quick reminder

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The best of British

This is the man that lead the leave campaign, Britain's Foreign Secretary and would be Prime Minister.

I know you shouldn't judge a person by their dress but really I wonder what other countries will make of this picture of Boris Johnson?

Setting his appearance to one side, Johnson is due to make a speech today telling us that we should all pull together over Brexit, that we have nothing to fear.

Remember, Boris was the man who told us the NHS would be better off by £350m  a week post Brexit, He was the one who told us that we had to leave because otherwise Britain would be invaded by Turks. Neither of those things were true. What is true, according to Government research, is that Britain will be worse off. 

I believe we are well passed the day when we can simply regard Mr Johnson as a harmless and loveable quintessentially British buffoon. He is rapidly becoming a liability and a dangerous one at that.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Out for a walk

There are several processions with statues that take place here in Bigastro. The most popular of course is the one on the 16th August with the statue of San Joaquin.

We also have two processions at Easter, one with the statue of Mary at night and then the Encuentro at dawn with the statues of Mary and Jesus.

Since the Church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, her statue has a special procession.

Let's not forget the Romeria with the statue of San Isidro. Possibly the longest of the processions, this one takes the pilgrims all the way from the Church up to the Hermitage at La Pedrera.

Finally, we have a procession with the statue of Fray Leopoldo. That took place yesterday in bright sunlight.

PS I hope I haven't missed any out, hopefully someone will tell me if I have.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Christopher Riley

Chris playing flute at the Fiesta for San Joaquin 2017

Alfonso greets Chris on the stage at the Teatro Corte, Almoradi.

Last night the SUMB chose to honour Christopher Riley, the only British person currently playing in the band.

 Christopher has a fascinating musical CV. He played in a group in his home town, Blackpool in the 60s and 70s. Johnny Breeze and the Atlantics played alongside many of the great artists of the time including the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Eric Clapton. Chris also played with the band that became Jethro Tull and is in fact still in close contact with the front man, Ian Anderson.

 His repertoire of instruments includes bass guitar, saxophone, organ, guitar, flute and piccolo. 

When we first saw him with the Symphonic Band, he was playing saxophone. He then learnt to play the flute and joined the Junior Band. Currently, Chris plays flute with the Symphonic Band.
Chris addresses the audience (in perfect Spanish).

Alfonso, Chris and his wife, Kim at the Casino in Almoradi. 

Chris and Alfonso. 

The President of the Sociedad Union Musical de Bigastro, Alfonso Banuls Fuente, presented Chris with a special pin at the reception later. Chris is the first to be honoured with this pin which you can see him wearing at the bottom of the three on his lapel.
A very proud Chris wearing his new pin at the bottom of his lapel.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Ready for Easter

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Spanish parking

I fully understand, if you own an expensive car, you do not want to risk dings and scrapes when you park it. Does that excuse this way of parking though?

All too often you find cars parked like these in this part of Spain. We've seen it regularly in supermarket car parks. This though is at the local hospital where parking is at a real premium.

There are places in England where the owner of these cars would come back to find abusive messages on the windscreen or worse.

PS These two were not one offs, there were at least a dozen cars in this car park taking up more than one space.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

More music for your ears

This is one of the local phases of the competition and will involve three bands playing three pieces each. The first will be a pasadoble, the second the set piece and finally a free choice.

For those who enjoy this kind of music, it is a chance to listen to bands that you haven't seen before.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Fray Leopoldo

Fray Leopoldo de Alpandeire  - was a Spanish Roman Catholic  from the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.

He was not distinguished for spectacular works but rather for the humble and simple way in which he led his life as well as for his kindness - in particular towards the most deprived.

He spent most of his life in Granada where people still remember and celebrate him as a model example of Christian life and virtue.

In 1982 he was made a Servant of God and was later named as Venerable on 15 March 2008. Archbishop Angelo Amato presided over his beatification on 12 September 2010 on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI.

You think it is cold!

Saturday, February 03, 2018

A cold snap

Anyone who thought that the unseasonable hot temperatures that we experienced in early January were going to last has been brought down to earth by the weather since.

I think this is the second cold snap we have experienced since those balmy days when we saw pictures of people on the local beaches. I think we can safely say that this will not go down as one of those mild winters that Southern Spain is famous for. 

Friday, February 02, 2018

An update

The opening of the Medieval Market in Orihuela has been postponed until 6pm because of the bad weather.

Well worth going to

I ask you, "how can four beautiful young ladies be so talented?".

Those of you who regularly attend concerts by the Symphonic Band  will have heard Raquel Diaz (on the right) play and will know how proficient she is on the flute. Times that by four and you have Neuma, a group that have played to critical acclaim at venues in Spain and throughout Europe.

You can count on Pam and I being there. I will be armed with my camera and my digital sound recorder for what promises to be an excellent evening of music.

Give it a try

I have to confess, it has been a long time since we ventured up to the bar at Camping La Pedrera.

In the early days, we were regulars up there, enjoying the excellent "menus del dia" and the events put on for and by the Brits who were new to the country.

We will never forget first seeing Pete Rafferty as Elvis Presley and P J Proby. Nor will we forget hearing the silky voice of Tony Kelly who is sadly no longer with us.

I understand that, the bar is now under new management and has been subject to a refit. Maybe we should wander up there on Thursday to see how things have changed.

PS I believe that the new proprietor is from the Pena Madrista which was renown for its excellent food.

Snow, I don't believe it!

The ice cold weather that has drifted down from the north has brought with it a rare event for this part of Spain - SNOW!!!

We Brits know all about snow, we've seen plenty of it during our lifetimes. For children and those who are childlike, it is great fun. For those who need to get about though, it is a pain in the bum.

I still remember struggling for hours to get to school as a teacher only to be sent home moments after I arrived. I also recall going out to deliver post on a push bike in S. Yorkshire during winters. One time, the snow had drifted and filled the lanes to the top of the walls on my rural round. I had to try and push my bike along the walls. Fortunately, some of the farmers had seen fit to take out their tractors to clear a way on some of the lanes.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Damn Brexit

First off it made me poorer each month as the pound lost strength. The pound has recovered slightly but nowhere near the levels before the referendum took place.

Then negotiation stumbled along with those responsible seemingly making concession after concession to the EU. The Irish border is still a tricky issue that may be impossible to resolve. Then we heard about the notion of a transition period that could last 2 years or more.

It rapidly became clear this meant that Britain would have to accept new laws passed in Europe and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice during that period. Britain would also have to accept free passage of other Europeans during that time. Effectively that means that Britain will remain in Europe in all but name and would have no say in what happens.

Now we are told that civil servants have produced an analysis of the impact of Brexit on the economy and their conclusions are gloomy to say the least. Ministers have tried to play this down by claiming that civil servants never get anything right and in any case their analysis is not complete. The information was not meant to be leaked which is understandable because governments always  try and hide bad news from the populace.

I can't imagine that those who voted to leave anticipated there would be a transition period and would be worse off after leaving.They were sold on the idea that Britain would a) regain its sovereignty and b) would be better off by £350,000 per week and this would happen by March 2019.  That must have seemed an enticing prospect to them.

Sadly, as each day passes, it becomes clear they were mislead. According to current thinking, it will be years and years, possibly never, before Britain regains its powers of self government.  Worse still though, everyone could well be poorer even in the long term.

I suppose it all depends on who you trust the most, politicians who are traditionally circumspect about the truth or civil servants who were predominantly pro remain. Both groups have their own agendas so really I'd trust neither of them. All in all, I'd say that Brexit has turned out to be a real mess. I bet there are many who wish we could go back and vote again.

Going to the fair?

It looks like Saturday will be the best day, you'll still need a coat though! After that warm spell, the temperatures have plummeted and will continue to be low all next week.

Personally, I much prefer to go on Friday when it is less crowded. It is hard to get around the market on Saturday let alone take photographs.