Sunday, October 24, 2021

That was some rainstorm

We left Bigastro on Friday to fly to Manchester. Normally we would be leaving sunshine to arrive in rain. This time though it was the other way round. 

There was some rain on the journey to the airport but not enough to cause concern. 

Clearly that did not last though as some parts of the Vega Baja got a drenching and there are videos of the coast and San Miguel where streets are like rivers carrying all manner of things down with them. 

Look at the figures in the table below and you can see how localised the rain was. 

Jacarilla, just down the road from Bigastro, had one third of the amount of rain and San Miguel had almost three times as much. 


 

Ready to burn

It's been a long time since the last fallas in Bigastro so they have pulled out all the stops to make this a special occasion. It is also the bicentenary of the first procession of San Joaquin so it was a double celebration. This photo is courtesy of my friend Fonta.


 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Booster jabs

On October 5, 2021, the Public Health Commission approved the recommendation to administer an additional dose of  vaccine to people over 70 years of age , since age is the main risk factor for COVID-19. This additional dose will be administered six months after the administration of the second dose.

Previously, on September 16, 2021, the Public Health Commission approved the recommendation to administer an additional dose to people with high-risk conditions.

After the 25th October, Valencia will be sending notification to people to get their annual flu injection. It is thought possible that they may administer the booster Covid injections to those over 70 at the same time. 

Like many of the people of our age in Bigastro, we had our second dose of Pfizer towards the end of May so we are looking at November as the possible time for us. 

Well, well, well

We've lived in Bigastro since November 2004 and there were some here before that. 

So, after over 17 years of people living here, the council has now decided that we need pedestrian crossings on the roads of the estate and there are people painting them this morning as we speak. 

Any measure that provides road safety for pedestrians is of course welcome.

Bigastro has lots of pedestrian crossings marked out. There are even some that lead from one side of a street to the other where there is no pavement and presumably nobody wanting to cross..  

Like all road markings here, these are painted on the road rather than laid with white tarmac. In time the paint fades and wears off with traffic. No matter, sometime later a gang arrives to repaint them.

The blessing is that they haven't yet decided to put traffic calming humps on that road as they did on Calle Holanda. 

On another note, there are people laying what I assume is a water pipe to the allotments. That may mean that we will see some growing activity there soon. 

 

 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

No need for Plan B

 The UK now has one of the highest weekly rates of new reported cases in the world, and vaccination rates have fallen behind other European countries.

While the weekly rate of new reported cases stands at 24 per 100,000 people in Spain and 48 per 100,000 people in France, this figure currently stands at 463 per 100,000 people in the UK.

Data shows that approximately 67% of the population has received two doses of a COVID-19 jab, compared with 75% in Denmark, 79% in Spain and 86% in Portugal.

The UK government insists that there is no need to return to restrictions nor to implement its Plan B. 

Their hope is that ramping up the vaccination programme to children aged 12 to 15 and booster jabs to those whose immunity has diminished will be sufficient. Because the UK was early on in getting vaccines into people's arms means that the need for booster jabs there is more urgent. The UK was slow off the mark to approve vaccines for children and is struggling to get those that are eligible to come forward.  


Celebrating 200 years


 

Monday, October 18, 2021

March against breast cancer

Bigastro celebrated the 7th edition of the march for breast cancer.

Photos courtesy of the Town Hall. 
 






 

The Fallas returns to Bigastro

 The Fallas was a custom created by carpenters celebrating the arrival of spring.  On the night of the 19th of San José's day, they burned the pieces they used to raise the lamps that illuminated them during winter. Today they have become a very important tourist attraction, classified as a festival of International Tourist Interest.

In Bigastro, this pyrotechnic festival began to be celebrated in the 50s where the fallas were installed in Calle Barrio Nuevo (formerly C / Queipo de Llanos) where, in addition to the pyrotechnic show, festivals and days of coexistence among the residents of the municipality were held .

The Department of Festivities of the City of Bigastro  wants to commemorate this festivity next Saturday, October 23rd at 9:00 p.m. after the campaign mass, where we can enjoy this pyrotechnic show.

This event is intended to recover this tradition - counting on the cooperation of artisans who will make the monuments that will later be burned.

Assembly of the fallas: Thursday 21 at 5:00 p.m.

Burning the fallas: Saturday October 23

Time: 9:00 p.m.

Place: Next to Parque de la Cruz

Sex off the streets

 When we first came to live here, Pam and I were surprised to find "ladies" at the side of the road. When our granddaughter visited, we explained that they were waiting for a bus.  We can't be the only people who find it awkward to explain why scantily dressed young ladies stand at the side of roads here. Spanish parents must be equally embarrassed by their presence. 

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez pledged on Sunday he was going to re-criminalise prostitution in the country.

Prostitution was decriminalised in Spain in 1995 and in 2016 the UN estimated the country's sex industry was worth €3.7bn .A 2009 survey found that up to 1 in 3 Spanish men had paid for sex.

One of the arguments for prostitution claims that, allowing men to pay for sex cuts down on cases of rape. 

In 2019, Mr Sanchez's party published a pledge in its election manifesto to outlaw prostitution, in what was seen as a move to attract more female voters. The manifesto called prostitution "one of the cruellest aspects of the feminisation of poverty and one of the worst forms of violence against women".

However two years on from the election, no legislation has yet been tabled.

We shall see!



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Pigs are killing the fish

Taken from an article in the Guardian:

 In August, scores of dead fish began washing up on the shores of the Mar Menor lagoon. Within days, the toll had climbed to more than five tonnes of rotting carcasses littering beaches. The stench was apparently unbearable. 

Scientists blamed decades of nitrate-laden runoffs for triggering vast blooms of algae that had depleted the water of oxygen – essentially leaving the fish suffocating underwater

This summer, as dead fish continued to wash up on the shores of Mar Menor, the regional government banned the use of fertilisers within 1.5km of the lagoon, hinting that blame for the crisis lay solely with the wide expanse of agricultural fields that border the lagoon. The central government was more direct, accusing local officials of lax oversight when it came to irrigation in the fields.

But nobody mentioned the pig farms that have proliferated in the past decade in the Mar Menor catchment basin.

In 2019, a report by Spain’s environment ministry estimated that these pig farms – which at the time counted nearly 800,000 animals – could be responsible for 17% of nitrogen in the Mar Menor aquifer.

Drone photography and satellite imagery of the area, collected in September by reporters working on the new investigation, appeared to show pig waste spilling out of slurry ponds, dumped on nearby land or stored in large holes in the ground.

The investigation’s findings echo the environment ministry’s 2019 report. In visits to 10% of the slurry pits in the Mar Menor basin, more than 90% were found to have not met regulations that waste from pigs must be stored in enclosed waterproof ponds, the report noted.

“Major deficiencies have been detected in the facilities to store livestock waste … the waterproofing is almost non-existent, allowing waste to leak directly into the ground and resulting in the contamination of the aquifer,” it added.

The number of pigs in the region of Murcia has soared to record levels, mirroring a rise in farms and slaughterhouses across Spain. More than 56 million pigs were slaughtered across Spain last year, 3 million more than in 2019, and rocketing demand for exports has Spain poised to overtake Germany as the EU’s top pork producer this year.




Saturday, October 09, 2021

The grand plan

 There is a video on TV Vega Baja where Antonio José Meseguer Cabañés shows us his latest project for Bigastro. 

It seems that the intent is to pedestrianise 2 km of the town centre to improve the prospects of commerce in the town. There will also be work done on the town's main park. 

In the video, Antonio holds a map which shows the streets involved and we are given a quick tour of them. We need to see the map properly online to find out the full intentions. 

In June,  there was talk of creating 19 parking spaces on Calle Purisima whilst still keeping it pedestrianised. Perhaps that plan has now been abandoned. I can't say but for sure no parking spaces have been marked out. 

Parking in the town centre has always been a nightmare. Finding a space on the streets is almost impossible. Perhaps the multi-storey car park that has been mostly closed since it was constructed will now be open and free for people to use. 

Of course, pedestrianised shopping centres normally have service roads at the back of the shops where deliveries can be made. There is no such road at the back of the shops in Bigastro and no possibility of constructing one. I can only assume that provision will still have to be made for deliveries on the streets closed to traffic. I guess that the car workshop between Calles Mayor and Aureliano Diaz will have to close though! 

Friday, October 01, 2021

Pet pics

The latest photo competition from the town hall involves you snapping your pet. Apparently the idea came about because October 4th is World Animal Day. 


 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Porky pies

 Boris Johnson has laid low for the five days since the petrol crisis began in the UK. The official line was that there was no crisis with the supply of petrol and that stocks at refineries were normal. Instead there was a minor  issue getting the petrol to the pumps. The blame has been put on the shoulders of those who rushed out to panic buy, filling their tanks when they would not normally do so. 

Boris finally tells the public, "fill up in the normal way and the crisis will end". He says there are signs that the situation is improving. 

It is widely accepted that there is a shortage of about 100,000 HGV drivers in the UK. 

The army are now being called in to help. However, I doubt their 150 drivers will make a huge impact but every little bit helps. Simple logic tells you that it will take weeks not days for the situation to improve. Even if there was a plentiful supply of drivers, they could not restock all the garages in a matter of days.                                                                                 

Other measures like extending visas for 5,000 foreign drivers, offering more HGV tests and slimming down the testing process have been muted but these are perhaps more long term than immediate solutions. 

The shortage of petrol at filling stations is only one area that is effected by the lack of qualified drivers. Empty shelves in supermarkets show that all deliveries have been cut and will continue to be cut in the run up to Christmas. 

Of course, this is not a crisis that has happened overnight. It was recognised back in 2017 that there was a shortage of HGV drivers but at that time Brexit took precedence and so the issue was left unresolved. 

The real crisis, in my opinion, is that very few people trust Johnson and his ministers any more. He has told so many lies over the past that people just ignore him when they can clearly see that his version of the truth is different to the reality before them. 



 

Monday, September 27, 2021

A move towards normality

 Yesterday, I should have been taking photos of the procession of the statue of the Virgin of Bethlehem around the streets. On this occasion, she would have been accompanied by the statue of San Joaquin to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of  its arrival in Bigastro. 

With Covid precautions still in place, that could not take place. Instead, we had the fireworks.

However, by way of compensation, we were treated to a concert by the Manuel Moya Choir in the Auditorium. 

Precautions meant that all those attending had to wear masks, our temperatures were taken and names and phone numbers recorded. 

It was strange to see the choir singing with masks on their faces. 

I did take my sound recorder along but unfortunately, in the dark, I pressed the wrong buttons and made a silent recording from inputs that had nothing attached to them. 



 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Congratulations Diego

Those of you who have been to concerts over the years will agree that Diego has made a huge impact on the Bigastro Band since his first concert for San Joaquin.

He plays French horn in the Redovan band and now has been appointed their Director. 

Of course we hope that he will still be able to direct our band. 


 

Don't panic!

 When Corporal Jones said "don't panic", that is exactly what he did. It was one of Clive Dunn's famous phrases from Dad's Army. 

For weeks now, we have been reading about empty shelves in British supermarkets. Now it seems that some petrol stations are having to close because of lack of fuel. 

The official line is that there is no shortage of food and no shortage of fuel. In fact large quantities of food are having to be thrown away. 

Like Corporal Jones, Downing Street says, "don't panic". Well we know exactly what the effect of a statement like that is. If you see empty shelves at the supermarket and the garage has no petrol, what conclusion are you meant to draw? It doesn't matter what the reason is, you don't want to be the one caught out. Even if your supermarket or garage hasn't already  been affected, it could be next.

The issue is a shortage of drivers to deliver the goods. A figure or 100,000 is being quoted by industry bosses.  

The reasons are complex. The blame seems to lie between poor working conditions. BREXIT and the pandemic. 

Covid is certainly part of the problem. As travel became increasingly restricted last year, and large parts of the economy shut down, many European drivers went home. And haulage companies say very few have returned.

The pandemic has also created a large backlog in HGV driver tests, so it's been impossible to get enough new drivers up and running.

There is evidence of HGV driver shortages across Europe, but the UK has been among the hardest hit by the problem.

When the UK was part of the single market, drivers used to be able to come and go as they pleased.

But the additional border bureaucracy after Brexit meant it was too much hassle for many of them to drive into and out of the UK.

Many drivers are paid by the mile or kilometre rather than by the hour, so delays cost them money.

Also, the decline in the value of the pound against the euro since the Brexit vote has meant that being paid in pounds has been less attractive for EU nationals.

UPDATE

Too late, pictures in some UK newspapers show long queues of cars at petrol stations up and down the country. Many rely on their car either for work or to get to work and understandably they are not prepared to risk being without fuel. Of course, those newspapers that are making a headlines out of this shortage are only making matters worse. 


The future?

We are told that electric cars are the future and I am sure that is true. There are some issues though:-

The original cars had very short ranges and poor performance due to the old battery technology. They were also eye wateringly expensive. As the technology has improved, so the range and the performance has increased.  However, they are still a lot more expensive than the equivalent petrol driven car. 

My main concern though is where do you charge them? When your petrol car is low on fuel, you drive to the garage, five minutes or so later you are good to go with a full tank ready to drive hundreds of kilometres. 

Not so with an electric car which requires time to recharge the battery. 

Of course, you can recharge your car at home but only if you have a drive to park the car on. 

My other big concern is, where is all this electricity going to come from? Hopefully, they won't need to burn fossil fuel to produce it! 

There are all sorts of other issues related to the minerals used to produce the batteries and how long the batteries will last before they need replacement. 

It seems that even the fact that they are virtually silent in operation is an issue because pedestrians can't hear them. 


 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Volcano in the Canaries

 You may have seen reports of the eruption of a volcano on La Palma. 

No human loss has been reported, but around 6,000 people have been evacuated and 320 homes destroyed by towering lava flows rising up to 12 meters high. Scientists are also warning about the potential danger of toxic gas clouds if and when the molten rock reaches the sea.

The Canary Islands, a volcanic archipelago located off the north-western coast of Africa, have a history of eruptions. The longest one on record in La Palma took place in 1585 and lasted 84 days; the shortest one dates to 1971 and extended for 25 days. There was also an underwater eruption off the island of El Hierro in 2011.

It is likely that sulphur dioxide gas will be carried by the wind onto mainland Spain but the levels will be low and are not expected to be dangerous to health. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Voices in harmony


 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Bloody pests

 A few weeks ago I spotted a cockroach in the en-suite which disappeared before I could deal with it. Then last week, there was one on a wall in the bedroom which I sprayed and hopefully killed. Since then, we have found two more in the bedroom which I dealt with. 

It seems that we could have an infestation. How they came to get into the house is a mystery, we have fly screens on any windows that are opened. My thought is that they may have come in via the bidet which has an overflow opening at the top. 

Pamela is freaking out at the thought of waking up to find one in the bed which is of course possible. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Living with Covid

 Here in Spain, as in the UK, the thinking is that we will have to learn to live with Covid for the foreseeable future. Few experts now believe that the once touted idea of "herd immunity" which was supposed to end the pandemic will not happen. 

At the time, it was thought that those who had recovered from Covid would develop  natural immunity and the vaccine would provide immunity to the rest. Talk now is of Covid as being endemic. In other words nobody will have full immunity, even those who have had Covid or have had two doses of vaccine could still contract the virus. 

However, the success of vaccination programme means that fewer people will be seriously ill and even fewer will die. The latest wave has resulted in a significant  decrease in hospitalisations and deaths. 

Unlike in the UK, there will be no Freedom Day in Spain when the majority of restrictions will be lifted. Instead, there will be a gradual easing of curbs to freedom. Likewise, there is no talk of avoiding further lockdowns here in Spain.

Here in Valencia

Most important: the wearing of face masks indoors will continue to be obligatory. In outdoor settings though, you can remove your mask although many will not choose to do so in situations where there is a possibility of crowding.  

A series of new  measures came into force on September 7 and will remain in place until September 27. The night-time curfew was scrapped on September 7, and new limits on capacity were introduced. Capacity in bars and restaurants is now set at 50% with a limit of eight people to a table. In outdoor areas, there are no restrictions on capacity, and up to 10 people can be seated at a table. Bars and restaurants must close at 12.30, and consumption at bar counters remains prohibited. Night-time venues can open until 3am at 50% capacity in indoor areas. Eight people are allowed at a table inside and 10 outdoors. Dancing is also banned.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

May he rest in peace

You may have wondered why the flag on the roundabout at the entrance to Bigastro is at half mast. It is in honour of  José Calvo Sáez,  mayor of the town between 1979 and 1983

 



Born on February 26, 1940, Don José Calvo Sáez was mayor of the town between 1979 and 1983. Under his administration,  Bigastro grew in every way with infrastructures that we still enjoy today.

His actions as mayor include the inauguration of the municipal soccer field, the installation of the first traffic lights in the municipality, the reform of the town hall, the approval of the first General Urban Planning Plan in the history of Bigastro, the construction of the park municipal Huerto del Cura, the repair of schools, the construction of the first house of culture in the old laundry and the creation of the first social centre, in the old asylum of the nuns.

He was a good man who knew how to leave an indelible mark among his neighbours, with deep affection for his Bigastro, a municipality where he was born and grew up, and which now welcomes him into eternity as  part of its history.

Rest in peace, mayor.

Friday, September 03, 2021

A photo contest

A competition which combines photography with healthy transportation. To participate in the contest, follow these steps:-  

1. Take a picture using your bicycle or scooter to get to the location. 
2. Take the picture in a street or landscape in Bigastro. 
3.  Post your photo on Instagram tagging @Aytobigastro 
4. Send an email to alejandra.moya@aytobigastro.es indicating your name, surname and contact telephone number. 
5.On September 20, the Likes count will be made. 
6. The most voted will be awarded 50, 100 and 150 euros. 

PS It might be a good idea to include your bike or scooter in the shot just to show how you got to the scene. 


 

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Is it the end of summer?

 In better times, pre covid, we would have visitors from England from the last weeks of August into September. 

Well, they would not have enjoyed the weather one bit if they had arrived this year. Dull, gloomy days with high humidity. OK, it is still warm, some would say too warm but that is no consolation for visitors when the sun isn't shining. 

I don't need to tell you that it has rained this morning nor that it will rain on and off for the next few days. We had thought to get away for a few days to a hotel in Los Alcazares, Thankfully, we changed our minds.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Make a note to self

We've got a few things like old mobile phones that should not be put in the bins at the bottom of the estate. This is the place they should go. 


 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

La Vuelta hits town

The Vuelta regularly comes to this area. A few years ago, Pam and I went to Guardamar to watch the stage there. We deliberately went early to catch the caravan that precedes the race but it must have bypassed the centre of town so we got none of the freebies that are usually handed out to the waiting spectators. 

Instead, there was a lot of activity with police in cars and on motorbikes sweeping the street every few minutes. 

When the riders finally arrived they passed by in seconds. To be honest, the support vehicles that followed were more interesting to watch.


 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Fireworks for San Joaquin

Due to Covid restrictions, the traditional parade of San Joaquin around the streets could not take place. However, we did have fireworks both on the night of the Alborada and on the night of San Joaquin. On the 16th, they started with fireworks at various locations that were simply loud. These were followed by more colourful fireworks at midnight.


 

A job well done

The people who came to clean the allotments have done an amazing job as you can see. 

The issue now is water. 


There is a water supply to the area that was installed when the plan was to build houses there. The supply though is for drinking water which is far more expensive than the water normally used for agriculture. 

Hopefully, it will be resolved so that people can at least use the land productively rather than let it overgrow with weeds again. 



 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Phew

Spain recorded its highest temperature yesterday. In comparison, it was a cool 43 here in Bigastro.


 

Our fantastic neighbours

Yesterday was our 51st Wedding Anniversary so we invited Pepe and Eladia to join us for an English style buffet. They arrived at our gate carrying this large basket of flowers. We did not expect that!!


 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

The bells were appealing

 Watching the Olympics, it was obvious from their faces the great satisfaction and pride that the athletes felt - not just those that won medals but those whose performances met their personal best as well.  

It struck me last night, at the Concert for San Joaquin, that the musicians in our band must experience the same satisfaction when they have played well. The beaming delight on their faces and the face of the director said it all last night because it was a triumphant performance.  

The challenge of playing  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's  1812 Overture was met with aplomb. There were no cannons but there were church bells and it was magnificent. In fact the whole programme was an absolute  delight to listen to.

If you have never listened to my recordings of the band before, I suggest you listen to this one


 

PS The band have played the 1812 Overture before. I recall it was at a similar concert held in the Town Square but I can't remember the year and who was the director then. I'm sure Pascual Segura (the archivist for the band) will know the answers to my questions.  


Friday, August 13, 2021

Update

There are workers on the site of the allotments, strimming the weeds and collecting them up into large bags. 

That is good news on two counts:

1. It should look a lot tidier.

2. Clearing the area will reduce the fire hazard created by the dried vegetation. 

Let's hope that people will now be able to take advantage of the area and grow some produce for the table. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Sunday, bloody Sunday

 We're not expecting blood on the streets but we are told that the temperature will reach somewhere between 41 and 45 degrees that day. By next Tuesday, this heatwave should be over and temperatures will be back to normal. 

In other years, at 31 degrees folks would be complaining  but this year it will feel positively cool. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Huertas abandonadas

After all the work put into creating 20 allotments on our estate, they have been left to become overgrown with weeds.

Not again!

Is this the third or fourth heat wave this summer? I'm losing count!


 

Postponed


 Due to Covid restrictions, the cooking competition has been postponed. 

Even without Covid restrictions, I think it was likely  to be a toned down affair.

A few years ago, town hall organised a photographic competition which I entered but unfortunately misunderstood the theme. 

There were only 6 entrants for the contest from a town where there are likely to be many photographers. 

I believe that was because the rules were overly complicated. The photographs had to be a specific size - mounted on foam board which again had to be a specific size and thickness.

In my opinion, the rules for Abuelo Chef were restrictive. Originally it was only  open to grandparents and grandchildren. They would have half an hour to buy the ingredients from a local shop and then two hours to cook the food. They would have gas rings and utensils provided but no oven ruling out anything that would need roasting or baking. 


Sunday, August 08, 2021

Music in the park

 Surprisingly few people came out last night to watch and listen to a section of the band play a "Big Band" concert. 

You can listen to it here.

Friday, August 06, 2021

Travel from Spain to the UK

1. Spain remains on the UK’s amber list. If you have been fully vaccinated in Spain, you will not need to quarantine when you arrive in England or take a day 8 test. You still need to take a COVID-19 test in the 3 days before you travel though, book and take a day 2 test and complete a passenger locator form. 

2. What does fully vaccinated mean? You must be fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised by the European Medicines Agency. You must have had your final dose of the vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England. Please be aware that the UK does not recognise natural immunity for international travel at this time, but this will be kept under review. We know that the EU DCC does enable people to prove natural immunity. This is not currently accepted in the UK and quarantine and day 8 testing requirements will only be eased, for those who have been fully vaccinated in a relevant European country, with an EMA-approved vaccine.

3. How do I prove my vaccination status? You need to show your travel operator proof that you’ve been fully vaccinated with one of the authorised vaccines before you travel. This proof should be an EU Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC) for Europe (digital or paper certificate), showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA-approved vaccination..

4. What test do I need to take before travelling? As a precaution against the prevalence of the virus and variants in Spain, the UK is encouraging people travelling from Spain to use a PCR test for their pre-departure test.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, travel is different this year and if you choose to travel abroad you should be prepared for changes in restrictions and requirements both in the country you are travelling from and the country you are travelling to. Keep up to date with the latest information on https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain, where you will also find links to the rules for travelling back to the UK.

Support required

This emergency post from the Town Hall suggests to me that there has been insufficient interest in the Abuelo Chef contest. 

So now they are saying mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts etc can enter along with a child relative. 


 

Thursday, August 05, 2021

San Joaquin

 


Tuesday, August 03, 2021

August mapped out

We may miss out on many of the events that would normally take place during August but there are still somethings to look forward to and take photos of!!


 

Another year perhaps

Last year, when the fiesta was cancelled, the hope was that we would be able to make up for it this year. Sadly, that is not going to be the case. As the article says, most of the activities we associate with the fiesta involve crowds of people taking part, watching or both. Even if such gatherings were permitted, they would not be sensible under the present conditions. 

Fingers and toes crossed that the situation in September will allow for a parade of San Joaquin and the Senora de Belen to celebrate 200 years since the first parade of these two statues took place.  


 

Monday, August 02, 2021

Something to celebrate

Remember that Europe was accused of lagging behind the UK in terms of Covid vaccinations. That was due to the fact that Europe took longer to give regulatory approval to vaccines and the short supply of Astra Zeneca. 

The table has now turned. Spain is the nation that has fully vaccinated the largest share of the population out of the 50 largest countries in the world, outstripping the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Germany. 

According to the latest figures, 55.7% of the population in Spain is completely vaccinated, equalling 26.4 million people. A total of 31.3 million have at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, or 66% of the population.


Age groupWith one dose (% of total)Fully vaccinated (% of total)
80 and over
100.0
100.0
Between 70 and 79
99.0
98.1
Between 60 and 69
96.6
90.9
Between 50 and 59
91.8
87.9
Between 40 and 49
83.0
76.7
Between 30 and 39
66.5
38.5
Between 20 and 29
49.8
17.7
Between 12 and 19
14.1
3.2
Total
67.8
57.5

Sunday, August 01, 2021

A couple of questions

We had a booking to have a pool rail installed last Tuesday. Then the company phoned on Monday to say they could fit us in that day. We were surprised that they were even working with an orange alert for rain and thunderstorms pretty much all day Monday. 

Then the electricity went off and stayed off. We discovered later that all the way down to Avenida Europa was affected but not the other side of the town. We are used to short power cuts but this was much longer - over seven hours. 

When he arrived, we had to apologise to the technician because even the buzzer from the gate was not working so we had no idea that he was there.  

Our Spanish neighbours didn't know what the issue was with the electricity but assumed it was not simply at the sub station for the estate. 

I wonder, did anyone know what the problem was? 

The other question I'll ask is, "what are your thoughts about the new roundabout at the junction between Avenida Europa and the road to the reservoir?"

I must admit, when I first saw it I thought that lorries, including the nightly refuse collection, would have difficulty negotiating it but the striped bollards are still standing. 

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.