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.


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 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.