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.  

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Holy Cross

 This will be the second year that the neighbours of the Barrio de la Cruz have not been able to celebrate the traditional fiesta.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Latest data

The Covid-19 vaccination drive in Spain has at last got off the blocks. According to El Pais, more than 8.33 million doses were administered in the month of April, outstripping the 8.04 million administered in the first quarter of 2021. 

On the 30th April 504,823 shots were injected in a single day.

A total of 100% of the over-80s have received the first dose and 78% have received the two shots needed for full protection. Some 67% of people in the 70-79 age group have also received at least one dose. 

Nearly half of the 60-69 age group – 47% – have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine – a total of 2.5 million people.

In Valencia, 26.1% of the population have received one dose of vaccine and 9.3% two doses.  

The 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 232. While the national incidence rate in Spain has been stable for a few days, it is on the rise in several regions. The data point rose in Madrid, from 393 to 395 cases; La Rioja, from 271 to 276 cases; Aragón, from 266 to 273, and in the Basque Country it jumped six points and is now at 529.

Valencia is the only region where the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants is below 50. NB the corresponding figure for the UK is 22.6. In total there have been 671 cases in Bigastro and 9 deaths.