Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Were you convinced?

I listened to Dominic Cummings press briefing yesterday. Was I convinced by his story? No, not at all.

He tried to come over as a caring husband and father making difficult decisions to protect them. Unfortunately there were  far too many holes in his story to make it convincing

We all saw Cummings run out of 10 Downing Street. That was apparently in response to a phone call from his wife to say she was ill with suspected coronavirus symptoms. When he got home she felt better so he returned to work. Mistake number 1. If you or any of your family suspect symptoms of the virus, you must self isolate for 14 days. You should definitely not go back to work.

Cummings claimed  there was nobody in London he could turn to for help with childcare. Yet, his brother-in-law lives nearby and surely there must have been others who could have helped.

He says that he did not inform the PM of his intentions until a week later when they had a conversation over the phone. How many of us would simply walk out of our job, take ourselves to another part of the country without at least informing the boss? In fact, since Cummings claimed he was not ill, it would have been more appropriate to ask permission. If Johnson was too ill, he could have spoken to Dominic Raab.

Cummings obviously thought he was too important to the Westminster machine to stay way for too long so he decided to return. However, he claims to have had concerns about his eyesight so he drove to Barnard Castle on the day of his wife's birthday to see if he was safe to drive. Unfortunately he was spotted there otherwise we would probably have been none the wiser about this excursion. Actually, it beggars belief  that anyone who thought they might be unsafe to drive would go out for a drive to check - surely he could have come up with a better story than this.

He claimed that his wife was not insured to drive the Discovery and yet we do know that she does drive and in any case, it would have taken a five minute phone call to get cover for her so she could drive back to London rather than him.

On the way back from the trip to Barnard Castle, his son needed the toilet so they stopped and  got out of the car.  Coincidentally, they didn't need to make a similar toilet stop on the journey from London to Durham nor on the return. In fact they didn't even need to stop for petrol until the return when he had a vague recollection of calling in at a service station.

The get out clause in the regulations that he said allowed him to drive to Durham did not exist until after his return. The original clause about children referred specifically to children in danger of abuse.

Both Cummings and No 10 claimed that the police had no knowledge of what had happened until after Durham Police confirmed that a phone call had been made to Mr Cumming's father regarding his son's presence at the home.

Even his claim to have warned about the possible threat of a coravirus on his blog does not hold water because the sentence that he referred to was added much later.

Both he and the PM have sat on this story for 5 weeks knowing that it was controversial. Clearly they hoped that it would go away and did not count on witnesses seeing Mr Cummings out and about.

When pressed time after time during the briefing, Cummings insisted that he had nothing to apologise for and was certainly not going to resign.

Should we believe his story? Given the whopping big lie he created about 350m for the NHS during the referendum that he later admitted to, I don't think so.There are more holes in this story than in a Swiss cheese.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Did it spoil your peace?

Those of you who were at home today, especially those that were outside, will have probably heard the disco blaring away and may have wondered where it came from.

It was my neighbour in the house previously owned by the Woodens.

I can only conclude that he must be deaf. Not only was the music loud, they were shouting at the top of their voices. I hope it didn’t spoil your day.

From the local police


Following the new BOE update for the easing of several restrictions established in Phase 1, our municipality DOES NOT meet the basic requirements.

Despite having less than 10001 inhabitants, BIGASTRO has a much higher population density than the maximum required to move on to the next phase.

SCHEDULES FOR WALK AND SPORT STAY THE SAME. Just like the rest of Phase 1. restrictions

We also recommend not listening to releases that are not from official agencies as they can be contradictory and confusing.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Monday, May 18, 2020

High speed

As you know, we have three different fibre optic cable connections to choose from at Villas Andrea.

The original one was installed by Bitel and did not enjoy widespread take up.

Since then, Telfy and Vega Fibra have installed fibre cables.

They both offer something slightly different:

Telfy offer 100Mbs for 19.95 Euros per month,  300Mbs for 25.72 or  600Mb for 34.90. Vegafibra offer 600Mbs for 24.90 per month and 1000 Mbs for 29.90 (all prices plus tax).

They both  offer other packages which include combinations of  a landline, Internet , a mobile phone and local TV. at varying prices

As an incentive, Vega Fibra offer free installation and the first three months free if you sign up for an 18 month contract. I don't believe that Telfy offer anything similar.

I opted for the gigabit package from Vega Fibra and took advantage of their free installation/free months offer.

To be honest, 1000Mbs is over egging the pudding by quite a margin. In fact, 100Mbs is sufficient, even if you are streaming video. My friend in Liverpool says that his school has  550 computers sharing a 1Gbs connection without issues.

How would I rate Vega Fibra? I would give them 10/10. The engineer arrived on time and installed the connection without fuss.

However, I wanted something different to the norm, I wanted the supplied Huawei router to act  just as a modem to my wi-fi router in the room where my computer is located. The installer did not have the knowledge to make this work so I called Vega Fibra who sent out an engineer who did understand what I wanted and was able to achieve it.

One week later, the connection has remained rock solid and is as close to the maximum contracted for as possible.

As you will know, the actual speed is governed by factors other than your connection so my surfing experience has not dramatically changed. I am however confident that the bottleneck will never be at my end. Also, uploading pictures and videos will be dramatically improved.

Would I recommend Vega Fibra? On the basis of the service I received, yes - without reservation. Am I being sponsored by Vega Fibra? No, definitely not.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

From Monday - Phase 1

Activities in Phase 1

Mobility. Citizens can move around their province or island. All members of a family who live together can travel in a vehicle. People can travel to, and stay in, second residences if they are in the same province.

Business. Businesses with premises measuring under 400 square meters can open without customers having to make prior appointments. Establishments that are over 400 square meters can delimit an area within their premises to attend to customers. Shopping malls will remain closed. A timetable for the over-65s must be established.

Shows and cultural centres. Theatres, cinemas and museums will be able to open, limiting capacity to a third, with a maximum of 30 people at shows where the audience is seated. Libraries will open with the same conditions, but just for the lending and return of books.

Social meetings. Up to 10 people can meet, but observing social distancing and using masks, both in homes as well as in a public establishment, or during, for example, an excursion in the countryside. People in vulnerable groups, such as seniors or those with health conditions, are not excluded, provided they take adequate protection measures.

Bars and restaurants. Bars and restaurants are permitted to open their street cafes, limiting capacity to 50% and prioritising single-use objects.

Places of worship. Churches and other places of worship can reopen at a third of their capacity. Objects must not be shared, and if praying takes place on the floor, each person must bring their own mat.

Sporting activities. Individual training sessions are permitted for elite and federated sports persons. Sports centres can open with prior appointment, with limited capacity to ensure social distancing. The use of locker rooms and showers is not allowed.

Education centres. Schools and other places of learning can open for essential tasks, such as maintenance.

Social-health centres. Remote assistance is given priority, but these centres can reopen if they need to offer attention in person

Walks and other exercise. The timetables remain in force, but as before, these are not applicable in areas with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants.

Tourist accommodation. Hotels and other tourist accommodation can reopen all of their rooms, but common areas cannot be used.

Street markets. Open-air markets are allowed with 25% of usual stands and a third of normal capacity.

Fishing and hunting. Both hunting and sports fishing can restart.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Let's compare

I know that the medical experts in the UK tell us each day that it is impossible to compare data from different countries because they have different ways of reporting. Even still they show us a graph to compare these figures. 

England reported 210 new deaths yesterday and a total of 32,692. There were 3,403 new cases.

Spain reported 176 new deaths yesterday and a total of 26,920. There were 426 new cases reported by PCR tests.

Make of that data what your will.

Don't get fined

Whilst you are out and about shopping etc you may be stopped by the police.

They will want to know where you have come from i.e. where you live.

If you are outside of your health zone, they will tell you to return home.

They will also ask to see some form of ID.

If you claim to have been shopping, they will want to see a till receipt as proof.

You may be lucky and get away with breaking the rules but then again, you may not and be fined. 

Remember that Bigastro is in the Orihuela health zone and so you should remain within those towns on the left hand side of the list I posted on Monday. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Well that's clear then.

New rules for the UK explained:
* 4 year olds can go to school, but university students who have paid for the tuition they haven’t had and the accommodation they aren’t living in, can’t go to university.
* A teacher can go to school with many 4 year olds that they are not related to, but can’t see one 4 year old that they are related to.
* You can sit in a park, but only after Wednesday.
* You can meet one person from another household for a chat or to sunbathe, but not two people so if you know two people from another household you have to pick your favourite. Hopefully, you’re also their favourite person from your household or this could be awkward. As you can’t go closer than 2m to the one you choose anyway you wouldn’t think having the other one sat next to them would matter - unless two people would restrict your eyeline too much and prevent you from being alert.
* You can work all day with your colleagues, but you can’t sit in their garden for a chat after work.
* You can now do unlimited exercise and you can even drive to the place for your exercise but not if that means crossing the border into Wales,Scotland or N Ireland.
* You can drive to other destinations, although which destinations is unclear.
* The buses and trains are still running but you shouldn’t get on one if it means being closer than 2m from others.. You should either cycle or walk instead.
* You should wear a face mask in public places but you don't have to. Your mask must not be one used by the NHS or other keyworkers. Instead it should be made from something like a T-shirt or a vacuum cleaner bag.
* It will soon be time to quarantine people coming into the country by air... but not yet. It’s too soon. And not ever if they're coming from France.
* Our youngest children go back to school first because... they are notoriously good at not touching things they shouldn’t, maintaining personal space at all times and never randomly licking  their teacher.
* We are somewhere in between 3.5 and 4.5 on a five point scale where 5 is all of the virus and 1 is none of the virus but 2,3 and 4 can be anything you’d like it to be really. Some of the virus? A bit of the virus? Just enough virus to see off those over 70s who were told to self isolate but now we’ve realised that they’ve done that a bit too well despite us offloading coronavirus patients into care homes and now we are claiming that was never said in the first place, even though it’s in writing in the stay at home guidance.
* The slogan isn’t stay at home any more, so we don’t have to stay at home. Except we do. Unless we can’t. In which case we should go out. But there will be fines if we break the rules. So don’t do that.
Don’t forget...
Stay alert... which Robert Jenrick has explained actually means Stay home as much as possible. Obviously.

Travel to Spain

The current rules for the state of emergency are due to last until the 24th May. From the 15th until then, there will be a quarantine period of 14 days for people entering Spain.

Anyone coming into Spanish territory from another country will have to remain inside their home or rented lodgings. Trips outside will be limited to the purchase of essential products such as food and medicine, to seek medical assistance, and for other situations of urgent necessity. Face masks must be worn at all times.

Cross-border workers, long-haul truckers, air crews and health professionals on their way to work are left out of the quarantine order, as long as they have not been in contact with anyone diagnosed with Covid-19.

Health authorities may contact individuals in quarantine to check on their health status, and anyone who develops symptoms is instructed to call the regional health services.

Travel agencies and transportation companies will have to inform prospective customers about these requirements when travel arrangements are made. Airlines will provide customers with a Passenger Location Card that passengers must have with them when they enter Spain.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Where you can go

In Phase 1 you can move about within your health area.

Just to be clear, we live in the Orihuela health area so we can visit the towns in the left hand list.

We are prohibited from visiting towns in other health areas such as the one for Torrevieja.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

To put it another way

Phase 1

Headless chickens

The UK Government are running around like headless chickens trying to sort out what to do about coronavirus. The Tory party are split between those who advise extreme caution and those who want to get the economy moving again - the so called "doves" and "hawks".  The worry is that, if Johnson can't control his party, how is he going to control the country?

The PM is due to speak to the nation at 7pm UK time setting out his battle plan for Stage 2. Much of it has already been leaked with today's papers reporting what they assume to be the salient points.

1 The Mail says that the much touted message, "Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Live"s will be changed to "Stay Alert, Control the Virus and Save Lives".

2 The Mail also suggest that people will be allowed outside more than once per day and garden centres will be open from Wednesday.

3, We do know that  there will be a push to return to work where it is safe to do so. However, the transport system will have to operate with reduced capacity to maintain social distancing which means that people are being encouraged to either walk or cycle to work with a 2bn pound plan from Grant Shapps.

4. Everyone will now be encouraged to wear masks in public places including work places. 

As I see it, the problem is that the number of new cases each day is still very high along with the death rate that follows it. There are still major problems with the supply of protective clothing and issues around completing the target number of tests. Added to which, Germany has seen a rise in infections following their easing of restrictions and South Korea, which was infection free, has recorded 24 new cases.

As for cycling to work, I can tell you from personal experience that buying a bike for those who don't already have one will be virtually impossible. It took me a lot of effort to find bikes for both my grandson and my daughter a few weeks ago. Those that I found are no longer available. Unless you are prepared to pay hundreds of pounds, you are going to be out of luck.

Whilst there have been many mistakes along the way and a subsequent inquiry will likely unveil where the government went wrong, at this time we need them to lead and prevent further damage. Whatever Johnson proposes today, let's hope he gets it right.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Virtually yours

Since we cannot have real exhibitions, Bigastro has created a virtual one on the town's web pages.  

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

A change to the rules

Changes have been made to the rules about travelling.

On public transport you are obliged to wear a mask. The Town Hall has a supply of masks to hand out for those who need them.

In cars and other forms of private transport, you can now sit next to each other but there should be no more than four people altogether in the vehicle. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

San isidro

We will also be missing the Romeria where pilgrims bring the statue of San Isidro up from the church to the Hermitage at La Pedrera and then party until dusk.

San Isidro 2009-2019

Holy Cross

We missed the fiesta at Holy Cross last weekend so I thought I'd make a video of photos taken over the years.

My photos from the past.

Pure air

With fewer cars on the road, less demand for electricity and virtually no aircraft flying, the air is a lot cleaner

The new normal

Shops that are smaller than 400m2 can now reopen.

However, you have to have an appointment to visit them and they must be able to guarantee that you can maintain social distancing.

Where possible, there should be screens to protect customer from shopkeeper.

You can only visit local shops not those in neighbouring towns.

Senior citizens should be given preference to visit these shops during the hours that they are allowed outside.

Shops must disinfect twice a day and wash their uniforms/work clothes daily at between 60 and 90 degrees centigrade. 

Saturday, May 02, 2020


Just look at the bar chart at the top and you can see how this plan is designed to avoid contact between groups of people and thus transmission of the virus. We seniors have the shortest slots but to be fair they are more than adequate.

Towns smaller than 5,000 residents have no restrictions. Bigastro, with 6,733 residents does have restrictions.