Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Does not make much sense to me

At an event held this morning in Rojales, the President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, announced "the need to improve communication between the interior of the region and the coast". 

Planned work on the CV-95 will be aimed at increasing the capacity of the road, reducing travel times and, above all, improving road safety not only at intersections, but along the entire route. 

The total budget allocation is 30 million euros, of which 4 million have already been invested in urgent works already carried out. 

 Also, the president has announced that Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana has already been commissioned to study the viability of a railway between Orihuela and the coast. 

 If you were intending to turn the CV-95 into a dual carriageway from Bigastro to San Miguel de la Salinas, why would you build new roundabouts based on a single carriageway road?


 

Friday, July 23, 2021

More dust

Look at the sky today and you will see it is no longer blue. That is because, yet again, it is laden with Sahara dust. 


 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Not happy bunnies

 England is experiencing an unprecedented heatwave with temperatures up to 30 degrees during the daytime. With very few houses having air conditioning, people are sweltering indoors especially at night when it will be difficult to sleep. Fans help but as we learnt early on here in Spain, they simply circulate the hot air giving the sensation of cooling rather than actually cooling.

Of course, nobody would install air conditioning on the basis of a few days of high temperatures but if this is the start of a pattern of weather to come. they may have to consider it long term.

Just to add to the misery, the rise in cases of Covid has resulted in large numbers of people being pinged by the NHS app. Once pinged as having being in contact with someone with Covid symptoms, they are expected to self isolate. The large numbers of people self isolating has lead to shortages of workers in key industries like the supply industry. Newspapers like the Mail are already reporting empty shelves in supermarkets which of course leads to people panic buying which will then deplete the shelves further. 

There is already talk of rolling back on some of the freedoms that were given only days ago and the need for vaccine passports by September to allow people to attend large functions, particularly those held indoors. I can't see many being happy about that. 

The combination of being hot and bothered and facing difficulties stocking the larder is not good. Thankfully, the heatwave is not due to last. However, the forecast is for heavy rain and thunderstorms to follow. England is probably not a good place to be at the moment. 

Something for everyone


 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Brazen it out

 When Dominic Cummings was let of the hook for his rule breaking trip to County Durham, Johnson was accused by many of being out of touch with public opinion on the matter. When he dismissed the claims that Priti Patel was a bully, he lost even more credibility. Then there were issues with Robert Jenrick and his granting planning permission to a party donor. The funding of redecoration at No 11 showed that the PM was happy to use party funds if he could get away with it. When Hancock was caught breaking his own rules, Johnson's first reaction was to dismiss it saying the matter was closed. Without all the adverse publicity and public pressure, Johnson would likely have brazened it out. 

The latest act was to try and use some little known get out scheme to allow him and Sunak to avoid isolation following a ping from Track and Trace. Only when scores of MPs told him it was a bad idea did he back track and change his mind. It isn't as if Jonson would be holed up in a terrace house in Bradford for his isolation, he will luxuriate in his country mansion for the 10 days with every need and wish taken care of. 

I can't decide whether the PM is too thick skinned to care about these things or whether he thinks he is is so popular that he can continue getting away with all this nonsense. 

As I have said before, if his Freedom Day backfires as it well could, his party and the public will turn upon him. 


Saturday, July 17, 2021

A change in fortune

 I was looking at the General Classification list for the Tour de France. The first British rider on the list is Geraint Thomas at 2 hours, 7 minutes and 40 seconds behind the race leader. Meanwhile, Chris Froome is in 134th place - 4 hours, 7 minutes and 30 seconds behind the lead. 

Damn it, G (as they call him) won the race in 2018. That was following wins by Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Chris Froome in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017. It was a period when the British team Team Sky looked unbeatable. So far, Ineos Grenadiers who followed Team Sky have won nothing this year. 

Thankfully, we have the success of Mark Cavendish to celebrate. The come back kid has won four stages this year to equal Eddie Merckx record of 34 stage wins. A win in Paris would be the icing on the cake of a great tour for the Manxman. He is also 35 points clear of his nearest rival in the green jersey competition Our fingers are crossed for him.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Strict rules still apply

Whilst countries like the UK are dropping many restrictions,  here in the Valencia region the rules remain strict. In other words, no fudging, no putting the onus onto individuals to use common sense or institutions to try and impose their own rules. 

MASKS

Everyone six years and older is required to wear a mask in the following circumstances: 

 In any enclosed space for public use or open to the public. So that means shops, theatres, cinemas etc.  

 In any outdoor space where due to the mass of people, it is not possible to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres between them, except for people who live together.  

On forms of transport: air, sea, bus, rail, including platforms and passenger stations, or cableways, as well as other public and private passenger transport in vehicles with space for up to nine people, including the driver, if the occupants of the passenger vehicle do not share the same residence. For passengers on ships or vessels, it will not be necessary to wear a mask when in individual cabins, or in outdoor spaces on the boat where it is possible to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres.  

At large outdoor events, when attendees are standing or if they are seated and it is not possible to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between people, except for people who live together. 

NIGHT-TIME TRAVEL

Free circulation of persons during night-time hours between 1.00 am and 6.00 am is limited in the following municipalities: Alaquàs, Alboraia, Aldaia, Almàssera, Benaguasil, Benetússer, Benifaió, Bunyol, Burjassot, Catarroja, El Puig, Gandía, L’Eliana, Meliana, Mislata, Moncada, Paterna, Picanya, Picassent, Puçol, Quart de Poblet, Requena, Riba-roja de Túria, Sedaví, Silla, Tavernes Blanques, Utiel, Valencia, Vilamarxant and Xirivella. 

Exceptions:  

a) Purchasing medications, healthcare products and other basic necessities. 

b) Visiting healthcare facilities, services and establishments.  

c) Visiting veterinary clinics due to an emergency. 

d) Fulfilling work, professional, business, institutional or legal obligations.  

e) Returning to the customary place of residence following one of the activities envisaged in this paragraph.  

f) Supporting and caring for the elderly, minors, persons with special needs, persons with disabilities or particularly vulnerable persons.  

g) Engaging in hunting activities associated with controlling an overabundance of hunted species which may be harmful to ecosystems, agricultural and livestock farming production cycles, and road safety.  

h) Cause of force majeure or situation of necessity. 

i) Any other activity of a similar nature, duly substantiated.  

j) Refuelling at petrol stations or service stations, when this is necessary to carry out the activities envisaged in the previous subparagraphs. 

LIMITS ON SOCIAL GATHERINGS 

In residences, spaces for private use, and spaces for public use, both closed and in the open air, groups are limited to no more than 10 people, unless said persons live in the same household or unless they come from two households, without prejudice to the exceptions envisaged in the following paragraphs of this decision, as well as any other applicable administrative actions.  

Exceptions:

a) Non-professional activities related to child rearing and care, such as support and care for minors, the elderly, persons with special needs, persons with functional diversity and particular vulnerable persons.  

b) Shared living arrangements for children with their parents who do not live together.  

c) Family members taking in minors under any arrangement.  

d) Meeting of persons with marriage bonds or couples who live in different residences.  

e) People who live alone, who for the entire duration of this measure, may join another single household unit, provided that said household unit only includes one person who lives alone. 

f) Work, institutional and transport activities, and the activities of educational facilities that provide the instruction referred to in Article 3 of the Education Act, including university education, nor those activities for which specific measures are established. 

BARS, CAFES AND RESTAURANTS

The terraces of bars, cafes and restaurants may be open until 0:30 AM, at 100% capacity and a maximum of 10 people per table, which must be 1.5 m apart outdoors and 2 m apart indoors, where the capacity is limited to 50%, indoor tables may be occupied by a maximum of 6 people. Remember that masks must be worn while not actively eating/drinking, and that only table service is available. Also, there is no smoking on terraces.

ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

The sale of alcohol is prohibited from 08 PM to 8 AM in any type of retail sale establishment, regardless of its operating license, except in hotels and restaurants/bars, to which the rules specified in the point above apply. The consumption of alcohol on public roads is prohibited 24 hours a day, except in hotel and restaurant establishments, in compliance with the provisions of Article 69 of Health Law 10/2014 of December 29, of the regional government of Valencia.

NIGHT-TIME LEISURE

Businesses may remain open until 00.30 am.

Food and beverages must be consumed at tables with the proper safe distance of a minimum of 1.5 metres between the chairs at different tables. Masks must be worn when not eating or drinking.

Occupancy inside the establishment is limited to 50% of maximum capacity. Outdoor seating at these establishments may occupy all permitted tables, ensuring a safe distance of a minimum of 1.5 metres between tables is maintained at all times. Maximum capacity must be posted in a visible location at the entrance.

Indoor tables may be occupied by a maximum of 6 people, 10 people for outdoor tables.

No dancing is allowed inside or outside. No karaoke and periodic or amateur singing performances are allowed. Professional performances by musical groups and DJs are allowed, ensuring sufficient ventilation and a safe distance of at least 2 metres between the musicians and audience in the case of singers and wind instruments.

Smoking is not permitted, nor is the use of any other tobacco inhalation device, water pipe, pipe or similar device, including electronic cigarettes or vaping in outdoor or enclosed spaces.

MUSEUMS

There is no capacity restriction in museums, but distancing, hygiene and prevention measures must be enforced

THEATRES AND CINEMAS

For cultural activities and outdoor performances, the maximum capacity is 75% of the approved capacity. The measures necessary to maintain a safe distance between persons or, if this is not possible, the application of alternative physical protection measures must be laid down. The use of masks is compulsory, even if the safety distance of 1.5 metres between persons is maintained (except in the case of groups of persons living together who may sit in adjacent seats). The public must remain seated and pre-allocated seats must be provided.

New bus timetable



 

Can we travel to the UK?

 Some European countries have said that they do not recognise Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccines produced in India because they have not been approved by the EMA. 

It seems that, unbeknown to them, 5 million Brits have been given the Indian version - some as both doses, others as one of the two doses. The codes on their vaccine certificates show the country of origin of the vaccine used. 

In what may seem to be a "tit for tat" move, my wife tell me that the UK will only recognise vaccines that have been administered in the UK. She read this on a Brits in Spain site. 

A BBC report today confirms this: For the moment, fully vaccinated British expats and EU nationals arriving from amber-listed EU countries have to self-isolate for 10 days. only those with a NHS Covid Pass can avoid isolation. Spain is an amber listed country. 

So, whilst the Covid Certificates we downloaded will allow us to travel to other countries in Europe without the need to self isolate, they are not being recognised as valid in the UK,

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the government is "actively working" on ways of letting fully-vaccinated British expats and foreign nationals arrive in England from amber countries without the need for self-isolation.

He says he hopes to say more in the next couple of weeks.

Let's hope that he is as good as his word because we are hoping to travel to Sale for our grandson's birthday in October. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Tasty times

It must be very hard to come up with new ideas to celebrate the fiesta in August. This one is totally unique, a cooking competition with grandfathers and their grandchildren working together pitting themselves against  others to produce a winning local dish. Sounds fascinating and tasty!!

Taking part will be contestants from; Catral, San Miguel de Salinas, Cox, Orihuela, Rafal, Granja de Rocamora, Bigastro, Algorfa, Redován, Dolores, Albatera, Benjúzar, Benejúzar.

THE RULES

The contestants must cook a typical recipe of their town with a minimum quantity for 4 people, from which they will present two servings for the jury's evaluation. A portion for plating evaluation and another portion divided into 5 mini portions for tasting / evaluation by the jury.

They will have 30 minutes to to buy the products that they are going to use in the shops or food market of the municipality. (This time or rule may be modified based on the location proposed by the municipality) The cooking time will be a total of 2 hours.

Utensils
Contestants must bring all the necessary utensils for the preparation of their own recipe, except those provided by the organization, which are the following: 2-burner stove, sink, butane gas necessary for all cooking, cutting board and knife, aprons, kitchen paper, masks, gloves, gel, aromatic herbs. The cost of the ingredients is borne by the participants. If the organizing municipality wishes to make a financial contribution to each participant, it may also do so.
(Example: € 20 / participant).

The jury will be appointed by the municipality and will be made up of 5 people.


 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Washing his hands

Boris Johnson has consistently told people to wash their hands as a means to prevent infection from Coronavirus. He even suggested that we should sing "happy birthday to you" whilst washing our hands in order to ensure the job was done thoroughly.  Each time the message was changed, "hands" was first on the list. 

 On the 19th, the roadmap out of restrictions will enter phase 4. Basically, all restrictions will be lifted; no requirement to wear facemasks; no need to observe social distancing; pubs, cinemas, nightclubs, theatres and sporting events can be fully open. The only caveats seem to be that, if you have symptoms - you should get a test, if you test positive - you must isolate.

Since, the roadmap was drawn up though, infections in the UK have risen exponentially. Although hospitalisations and deaths have not gone up at the same pace, they have still increased. Many experts, including leading members of SAGE, have cautioned the Government to reconsider just how far to go with removing restrictions or indeed whether to remove restrictions at all.  

Last night,  the PM lead a briefing where the public were told that Phase 4 would go ahead as planned on the 19th July. He did however throw a note of caution about people rushing out to celebrate. 

That note of caution was repeated several times by Professor Chris Whittie who seemed to be less than enthusiastic about the whole business. It was always clear that restrictions would have to be lifted sometime and now was possibly better than waiting until Autumn when flu and other respiratory diseases would be around. However, Whittie stressed over and again that people should be very, very cautious.  Because you can socialise as much as you want to doesn't mean you should. Because you don't have to wear a face mask doesn't mean you shouldn't. 

The example of public transport was given as one area where it would be advisable to wear a mask. I would say that there are plenty of other situations where a mask would also be a sensible idea e.g. seeing 60,000 people at Wembley, many without masks, makes me think that the risk of infection at large gatherings is likely higher than on a bus or train. 

What the PM has actually done is shift responsibility. If infections rise and another wave occurs, it will be the fault of the public for not acting cautiously. Boris Johnson has now effectively washed his hands and those of his government of the whole business. Everything now relies on the common sense of the people - good move Johnson, I'm sure it will all be fine. 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Shamed

 What should have been a huge celebration of football was turned sour. Not by the way the England team played nor by the fact that England lost but by the behaviour of fans.

There are reports in the papers of fans attacking the police before and after the game. Nineteen officers were injured. Apparently Trafalgar Square was trashed. 

Then fans stormed the gates and fought in an attempt to get into the stadium without tickets.

Booing the National Anthem of the opposing side and whistling when they have the play is nothing to be proud of. 

The worse thing though was the racial abuse of Bukayo Saka, 19, Marcus Rashford, 23, and Jadon Sancho, 21 who were targeted on social media over missing penalties. Would they have been subjected to the same abuse if they had been white players? On the basis of training, Southgate said they were the best hopes for scoring penalties. 


Sunday, July 11, 2021

That's even worse

The prediction for Monday has now got worse. From orange alert we are now on red alert. People are being advised against any form of work outdoors. Look at the second diagram to see the hours when the temperature will rise and fall again. 



 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Hot again

Spain braces itself for another spell of hot weather.

The “extremely high temperatures” will peak in most of mainland Spain on Sunday, then plummet on Monday as an Atlantic trough sweeps a mass of hot air from Africa to the east. 

The trough is set to affect inland areas of Murcia and other parts of the southeastern peninsula, with highs of more than 44ºC forecast for Monday. . 

On Tuesday, the forecast is for a drop to 29 degrees

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Hot again

Monday, July 05, 2021

Boy that was hot

It should feel cooler today but then it is forecast to be hot again on Tuesday.


 

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Certified

 On the 1st of July, regions in Spain started issuing the so called "green certificates". These are your means to prove you have been vaccinated against Covid, have taken a test for Covid or have recovered from Covid. In other words your passport to travel within the EU and hopefully at some point to Britain.  

To get one, you need to apply on this website. You will need to enter your SIP card details. Then you will be sent an SMS message to the mobile number they have on record with a code you need to validate your application. You can then download your certificate which has a QR code along with details of your vaccination status. 

Climate change

The data shows the truth about the effects of climate change. The sea is warming up, we are having four times as many tropical nights and summers are lasting longer.


 

Friday, July 02, 2021

In a roundabout way

You may have wondered, like we did, what is the work that is going on on the junction of the road to the village and the one to the reservoir. 

It seems that we are to have a roundabout there to control traffic. At the same time, they are building a wall to prevent landslides in the event of heavy rain like we had in 2019.


Hopefully, it will make turning up towards the estate at that corner safer especially when you meet a lorry on its way down. However,  looking at the diagram, there is still a pinch point at the start of the road up to Villas Andrea from the roundabout. The tall bushes make it impossible to see any traffic coming down the road. 

36 is better than 40


 

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Mk 2

A few years ago, our next door neighbour suffered from two leaks in the main water pipe. 

Then last October we had a leak which cracked the garden wall between our house and the street and our house and our neighbour's. 

 A few weeks ago we noticed a patch of mould at the bottom of the wall between us and the street which was further down from the previous leak. Gradually, the mould spread and there was a patch of wet on the terracing. 

 As it happens, the same man who repaired the leak last October came out and he remembered us. This time the leak was easier to find and has now been repaired. Fingers crossed we don't have another. 

Out of interest, the man told us that the street where they had experienced the most leaks was Calle Holanda.


 

Hotting up


 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Moving on


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Time to rehearse

The claim is that this is the first talent show in Bigastro. I'm not sure if that is strictly true. I recall one in the park some years back where, amongst others, our neighbour Manuel Robles took part and told jokes and funny stories. Even still, it should prove popular and well supported especially since there is 1,000 Euros at stake. It is scheduled to start at 11:30pm but you can take that with a pinch of salt - could be a late night!!!


 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Road works

From Monday, there will be roadworks on Calle Mayor and Calle Moreal as indicated on this map. The blue arrows show the diversions that traffic should take.


 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

All together now....

The  DfE is encouraging schools across the UK to celebrate One Britain One Nation Day this Friday as part a long-running campaign founded by former police chief Kash Singh. It is trying to get schools on June 25 to 'encourage every child to clap for a minute to recognise, embrace and pay tribute to all those people who helped during the Covid 19 pandemic crisis' and sing the 'One Britain One Nation' anthem.

The Anthem

The website

The allotments

 With a flurry of intense activity, the Council created 20 allotments on the corner of Calles Alemania and Inglaterra. When we inquired about this, Pam and I were told that 11 people had shown interest in renting an allotment to grow produce on. 

Since then, there has been no activity on the land and the weeds have taken over.

Speaking to one of my neighbours the other day, he said that he'd previously rented an allotment in England and had put his name down for one of the allotments here. His understanding was that there was an issue formalising a contract with the water company. 

Clearly, nothing useful will grow on the allotments without a supply of water. By the time this is sorted out, they will need to clear the land again before planting any crops. 

The local museum

The latest project is to  expand the Town Hall creating space for a Museum of Local History.

The  work, which also includes a balcony at the front of the building and extra offices, will be paid for with an investment from the Alicante Provincial Council of 100,000 euros. 

I recall that the town used to have a museum in a building near to the sports centre dedicated to the horticultural connection of the town. There is also a classroom up at La Pedrera which I believe houses information about the fauna and flora of the area. 

Let us hope that the new museum attracts more interest than the library which seems to be mainly used by a handful of pupils doing their homework in the evenings.  


 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Live music

It was great to be out in the fresh air, meet friends and listen to the band playing some good music. 

You will find my photos from yesterday's concert in the park in the sidebar and here is my recording of the music.

Concert sound track

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Clouds

Just look at these pictures taken yesterday in Torrevieja and Guardamar del Segura. Have you ever seen clouds like these?

It didn't rain for long here in Bigastro but boy did it pile some brown dust on everything. 



 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Parking spaces on Calle Purisima

The next phase of construction in Bigastro is on Calle Purisima (the main street of the town). Although it will still be pedestrianised, there will be 19 new parking spaces for people wanting to go to the shops, banks etc. 

 


Changing the law regarding masks

The Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he is confident  that Spain will soon drop the use of face masks while outside.

He went on to claim that, in just a few weeks time, 50% of the population will have at least one dose of the vaccine.  A record 3.5 million vaccine doses were administered in Spain last week. From a slow start, Spain has caught up and made remarkable progress. 

Spain currently has very strict mask rules in place, including their required use outdoors by everyone aged six and over even when social distancing can be observed. 

I would say that the vast majority are compliant with that rule. However, we see a growing number of people in the street without a mask or with their mask below the nose. Whatever the law says, people are voting with their feet.

I believe it is time to make the change. 

I noticed two elderly ladies taking their constitutional walk up to La Pedrera yesterday and both wore masks. For sure both of them had two doses of vaccine sometime ago and they were outside where there were no other people about. All the masks were doing was making their breathing and conversations more difficult. Things are of course different in towns and cities where people are crowded closer together and social distancing is impossible.  


Sunday, June 13, 2021

More strange weather

The wind was quite strong yesterday morning but nothing notable. Suddenly though, it picked up and for half an hour or so it blew a hoolie. You can see the devastation this caused in the following photos. 

The first three show a palm tree that collapsed on the Vista Alegre in Torrevieja. That last one is of a palm tree that came down in nearby Jacarilla.





 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

How do avoid the itchy season


 

The changes

Remember though, it is still compulsory to wear a mask in public places and in shops. I inadvertently walked into a supermarket yesterday without my mask and was reminded by an assistant to put it on. 


 

Bigastro, the drug capital of Spain




The Guardia Civil  have broken up a major hashish factory in Bigastro. Six people were arrested for drug production, trafficking and belonging to a criminal organisation.  A massive 8,300 kgms of  narcotic substances were seized. 

Unbeknown to all, this was taking place in a factory unit in the town. 

I think we can safely say this will not be on the list of selling points for the town as a tourist destination!!!

Monday, June 07, 2021

A busy weekend

On Friday, the lady Mayor, the Councillor for the Environment and the Councillor for Culture opened an exhibition in the entrance to the Auditorium entitled "The Limits of Growth"

Then on Sunday, Efren Pamies and Pascual Segura took a group of 20 up to the old Stone Quarry.  



 

On Thursday and Friday of this week, there will be guided tours of the town's archives and then on Friday there will be an exhibition of some of the archival documents.  



Sunday, June 06, 2021

Do as I say not as I do

 Boris Johnson says, 'Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history.

'I'm calling on my fellow G7 leaders to join us to end to this terrible pandemic and pledge will we never allow the devastation wreaked by coronavirus to happen again.'

The Prime Minister is expected to call for a stepping up of the manufacture of vaccines, lowering barriers to the international distribution of jabs and sharing surplus doses with developing countries, both bilaterally and through Covax, a World Health Organisation scheme. 

Joe Biden has already announced that the US will send 25 million doses overseas, three-quarters through the Covax aid programme and the rest directly to most-in-need countries.

Emmanuel Macron also said France would send 500,000 shots, with some already on their way to West Africa.

The UK has secured access to around 400 million jabs – far more than it is likely to need. So it surely must have more surplus vaccine to donate than a country like France. 

It its defence, the UK argues it has provided global leadership, by funding the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and making it available at cost – rather than at a much higher price, with huge profits made. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week said the UK would look to donate spare doses, in line with a Government pledge made in February, but added: 'At the moment we don't have any excess doses. We're just getting them into arms as quickly as possible.'

The vaccination success of  the UK has been attributed to the continued support for the Conservative Party. It has also lead the government to making promises of complete freedom from lockdown measures, possibly on the 21st June. However, the premise that nobody is safe until we are all safe still applies. That has been amply illustrated by the rapid spread of  the Delta variant in the UK. The UK will not be safe whilst new variants pop up in other parts of the world. 

It is understandable that Hancock would want to vaccinate everyone in the UK before donating excess doses to the world but it is hardly a good example of statecraft and world leadership. It also doesn't tie in with the statements that his boss is making. 

Is this going to be a classic case of 'do as I say not do as I do.'


Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Useful to know

These are the chemists open 24 hours in June.


  

Fancy a walk?


 A two hour walk starting from the Auditorium this Sunday at 9am and it looks like it will be sunny and warm. 

Efren Pamies will tell you about the fauna and flora en route and Pascual Segura will tell you some of the history of the town on the way. 

Since places will be limited, you need to register at the Town Hall. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Don't get caught

With summer coming up and more people on the roads, here is a reminder of things not to do. 
  1. Drive in your flip flops - 80 euros
  2. Drive barefoot or without a shirt - 80 euros
  3. Drink water whilst driving - 100 euros
  4. Drive with your hand, elbow or arm out of the window - 80 euros
  5. Drive with a hat that covers your ears - 80 euros
  6. Eat an ice cream whilst driving - 100 euros
  7. Drive with unsecured articles on the rear parcel shelf - 200 euros
  8. Wash your vehicle in the road - 30 - 3,000 euros
  9. Be a front seat passenger with your feet on the dashboard -100 euros
  10. Throw a cigarette out of the window - 200 euros and 4 points
  11. Drive without your licence - 10 euros
  12. Drive with 6 or 7 people in the car - 80 euros
As some have pointed out, no mention of using your mobile phone but then we all understand that is a no-no don't we. 
 


 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Our wonderful neighbours

 As I have said here many times before, we have the most wonderful neighbours here in Bigastro. Time and again they have proved to be caring, generous, thoughtful and helpful. 

Two weeks ago, I fell in the garden badly grazing my head, elbows and knee. Pamela thought I should have the graze on my head seen to and so she called Eladia and Pepe from across the road for help. Straight away Pepe came over, got his car out and took me down to the Emergency Service in Bigastro, He then took us to the nearest chemist that was open to get some pain killers. 

Yesterday, Pamela had a severe nose bleed and was struggling to breathe with her mouth full of blood. I had to stop her for fainting from the shock. Again I called Eladia and Pepe for help and this time, Eladia (the daughter) took us to the Emergency Service. 

I cannot begin to tell you how grateful we are to have such caring neighbours who are willing to come to our aid without a moments hesitation.  

A huge thanks to Pepe, Eladia and family for you great kindness. It is very much appreciated.

PS It isn't just Pepe and Eladia who have proven to be good friends. So many from the town have shown us a great deal of kindness and assistance throughout the time we have been here. 

A miserable old day

 I don't need to tell those who live here that it rained pretty much all day yesterday. It wasn't too intense, certainly nothing like the rain we had September 2019. In fact the hardest rain was at midnight. From then it started to dry up. 

The decorators were due to start painting our garden walls and balustrades this morning but obviously haven't turned up. We would not want them trying to put paint on wet walls!


Have you been called?

 If you have had a telephone call or a message on your mobile phone giving you an appointment for a Covid vaccination today, this is where you are to go. 

The Centro Social Integrado on Calle Jubilados in Bigastro is where people from Bigastro, Jacarilla and Benejuzar will receive their vaccines.  

For those coming by car, parking is available the other side of the bypass on Calle Gabriel Miro. NB parking on Calle Acequia is only for those who have difficulty walking.. 



 


Sunday, May 23, 2021

We're expecting rain



 

Friday, May 21, 2021

Bigastro at Fitur

Every year, the Fitur international tourist fair is held in Madrid and each year the towns of the Vega Baja are invited to attend. This is the marketplace to sell what your town has to offer. 

According to the provincial deputy Eduardo Dolón and the mayor of the Bigastro, Teresa Belmonte, Bigastro offers the tourist; gastronomy, culture, leisure and natural heritage.



 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The horse had bolted

On the 9th April,  Bangladesh had the South Africa but not the Brazil variant and Pakistan had neither and both were added to the UK's red list.

India had both, as well as a new variant, but was not added for another two weeks. Hancock justifies this by saying there was more testing taking place in India ignoring the fact that there were four times as many cases there. 

When Britain did finally add India to the red list they gave travellers four days' notice to rush back. There were reports and pictures in the newspapers of thousands rushing to return to Britain. N.B. I recall that people were only given a few hours notice to return from Portugal when cases in that country were on the rise. 

According to latest Public Health England data, around 20,000 people travelled between India and the UK before the red list ban and around 122 of them arriving from Delhi and Mumbai between late March and April 26 were detected with the variant of concern.

There are reportedly many multigenerational families living in poor conditions in the new Covid hotspots. 

Even if those who returned from India did isolate for the ten days, it is likely that they passed on the virus to other members of  their families who in turn passed the virus to others in the community. 

Matt Hancock  says that the rapid spread of the variant in largely Indian communities is because so many have refused the vaccines they were offered. Stories in social media about the vaccine containing meat products have clearly not helped. Maybe the government should have made a more concerted effort to dispel these myths. 

Mass testing and a rapid rollout of vaccines are now being used to try and contain the spread. Apparently, they are also shortening the delay between first and second doses of vaccines. 

However, my understanding is that the vaccines take three weeks to become effective from the first dose. It was also claimed that waiting 12 weeks rather than 3 improved the efficiency of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. There are also some reports that the much touted Astra Zeneca vaccine has proved to be less effective against variants from e.g. South Africa and possibly India. 

Our concern is that Spain is likely to allow visitors from Britain to enter the country with just a vaccine certificate. 

This is not necessarily a problem at the moment because Spain is on Britain's amber list. Even still, there is confusion amongst ministers about whether that means Brits can travel to Spain or not - some say they can and others say they cannot. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Some like it hot

As is usually the case, it was hotter inland than it was on the coast and hotter in the town and city centres. 

The good news is that, tomorrow the wind will change direction and with it  we will experience much cooler temperatures. A drop of nine degrees will make it feel more Spring like. 


 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Another warning


So far this year we've had lots of warnings for rain and wind. Now for something different, we have a warning for high temperatures. According to AEMET though, it won't last. The forecast for Monday onwards is for temperatures in the mid 20s. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Egyptian grammar


You have to put your eye after the beetle. Only if it is a past participle should it come after the snake,

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Good advice


 The Town Hall in Bigastro puts the message clearly, "the state of alarm may have ended but the virus is still out there".

Lowering our guard at this point could easily cause another rise in infections. 

Just to make the point, there have been two more deaths in this area due to coronavirus in recent days.

One of the deaths was recorded in the Orihuela Health Department and the other in Torrevieja. 

That makes a total of 449 deaths since the pandemic began - 198 in Orihuela and 251 in Torrevieja. 

Stay safe! 

Hands, face and space. 


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A move towards normality

 This lunchtime, Pamela and I returned to the Sports Centre in Orihuela for our second doses of Pfizer vaccine. I don't have data about how many doses they are administering at the centre but, judging by the speed at which they are getting through injecting folks, I would guess it is in the thousands each day they are open. 

For those who haven't been yet, the system is very efficient. You get a text message to your phone giving you your appointment, you turn up at the right time and are directed to an administrator who records your details and gives you a red card that shows which version of the vaccine you had along with the dates when you had your first and second shots. 

The other good news is that you can now book an appointment with your doctor which can either be by telephone or face to face. 

Telephone appointments are convenient when you just want to do something simple like renewing a prescription but are pretty useless when you have symptoms that you need to discuss. For example, if you need your blood pressure checking or a sounding of your chest, a telephone appointment will not help.  

Monday, May 10, 2021

Foolish, foolish people

When the official state of alarm in Spain ended on Saturday, revellers were quick to get out on the streets to celebrate. After six months of confinement, they were determined to party like Christmas, New Year and their birthdays had all come together.

The problem is that, whilst the number of cases of coronavirus here have dropped over the last week, the average is still very high particularly in Madrid, Catalonia, Navarre, Aragón and the Basque Country

Pictures in El Pais from the Puerta del Sol, Madrid show that it was packed in spite of the case rate of 198 per 100,000 for the city. Several squares in Barcelona were apparently also crowded with revellers as they were in Palma de Mallorca.

Perhaps these people should take note of what has happened in India. The case rate there had dropped to what the government thought were safe levels; restrictions were lifted, people flocked to election rallies, religious festivals and large weddings. The consequences have been awful; a rapid rise in cases, lack of hospital beds, limited oxygen supplies and even scenes of cremations out in the street. 

If Spain had managed to vaccinate the large numbers that countries like the UK has, then it might just have been safe to gradually ease restrictions. To abandon them altogether, as happened on Saturday, must surely risk a further rise in cases especially when you consider that the majority of the revellers out on streets were probably from  age groups that have not yet been vaccinated.

Boris Johnson has been criticised by some for being too slow to lift restrictions in England. Whilst I am no fan of his, I think on this occasion, he is right to be cautious. As Jim Ryder, who recently moved back to Liverpool will testify, I was taught to be cautious.  

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Why do they do it?

 Why do some Royals think they are qualified to write children's books?

I understand their reasoning.  You don't have to write too many words, the story can be simple and as long as you commission someone good to illustrate it, the book could look appealing. Add on your royal connection and you should have a best seller. 

Prince Charles wrote "The Old Man of Lochnagar" based on stories that he told his younger brothers. By all accounts it is an amusing tale. Sarah Furguson has also written a few books which are apparently passable. 

Now, the Duchess of Sussex has thrown her hat into the ring with "The Bench". 

In my opinion, it takes just as much or even more skill to write for children as it does for adults. Many have tried and failed.

There are some really good books written for children some of which have stood the test of time and are now being read to  grandchildren and possibly even great grandchildren. 

Among my favourites from my youth are "Wind in the Willows" and "Treasure Island".  I also enjoyed The Famous Five and Biggles books. Among those that I enjoyed with my own children are "The Tiger That Came To Tea",  "The Hungry Caterpillar" and almost anything written by Roald Dahl. 

I haven't read "The Bench" but from comments already made, it is not destined to be a classic. No doubt it will make the Duchess a lot of money at the expense of those who will buy it out of curiosity. 

Garden makeover

When we first came here, we had ambitious plans for the garden area on one side of the house. We planted climbers on the fence, palm trees at the front and lemon trees in the large area at the back along with a cycad. We then proceeded to fill the spaces around with annual and perennial flowers. It all looked good for the first year or so. 

With an abundance of sun and a watering system in place, everything grew rapidly and soon became out of control. I have pictures that show how overgrown it was.  

Age took its toll and I could no longer maintain the garden by myself so we have Los Rubes, who ran the Garden Centre in Bigastro, come every two weeks to look after it for us.

Even they found it difficult. The soil is mostly heavy clay which is hard to cultivate and in which many plants struggle to survive. 

Plan C. Cover the garden with gravel just as they did with the show houses and just have feature plants. 

We are near to completion now with the addition of a couple of planters that are filled with flowering plants to give us some colour.  







 

Holiday in the South Sandwich Islands anyone?

 Britain has announced the countries on the "green list", those that Brits can visit and return from without the need to quarantine. They would still need to take tests before and after though. 

Although the Valencian region would qualify because of the low rate of infection here*, Spain as a whole doesn't. So, as things stand, we will not be expecting friends and family over just yet and we will not be planning to visit them either. 

The countries on the list are Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Israel, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, and Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira. 

You can imagine a take up for holidays to some of those destinations however, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are only accessible by sea and there is no visitor accommodation on them. 

* 41 per 100,000 - Spain average 202 with a high of 463 in the Basque Country. 

That was hot


It should be a little cooler today.