Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A quieter New Year


Sunday, December 26, 2021

Well, well

A poll for the Observer found that more than six out of 10 voters believe Brexit has either gone badly or worse than they expected.

The Opinium survey  also found that 42% of people who voted Leave in 2016 had a negative view of how Brexit had turned out so far.

26% of Leave supporters said it had gone worse than they expected, while 16% of those who voted for Brexit said they had expected it to go badly and had been proved right.

Among people who voted Remain, 86% said it had gone badly or worse than they expected. Overall, just 14% of all voters said Brexit had gone better than expected.

If we were asked, Pam and I would have been amongst the six out of ten. These are just three ways we have personally been affected. 

1. Straight after the result of the referendum we saw a dramatic fall in the exchange rate meaning we were were getting less Euros from our UK pensions. Although it has recovered a little, it is still no where near the previous rate of 1.34 Euros to the pound. 

2. Receiving goods from the UK, either from family or suppliers has become fraught and expensive. Last week, I had to pay almost 30 Euros in customs charges for Christmas presents valued at £80. Two parcels of presents, that were posted weeks ago, still have not arrived. 

Some suppliers I have contacted refused to send me goods because of the elaborate paperwork and the customs duty I would have to pay at this end. 

3. UK banks have either closed or are threatening to close accounts held with them by those who do not have a UK address. We rely upon having  a UK account to pay for our trips to the UK and to make payments to our family e.g. monthly payments to our grandchildren's savings accounts. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Message from the Mayor

Christmas is fast approaching which is why, from the Bigastro City Council, we want to offer our sincere wishes that we can share our feelings of love, peace and happiness, without forgetting the necessary precaution that the times demand.

With the illusion of a child that we carry inside, we receive Christmas with hope and the desire to reconnect with our loved ones in an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood.

We say goodbye to a year lived with concern about the evolution of the pandemic and its effects on our daily lives, and we receive the new one with the hope of recovering normality that will bring us security, prosperity and happiness.

On behalf of my colleagues, municipal staff and myself, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2022 full of happiness and joy.

Mrs. Teresa María Belmonte Sánchez

Mayor of Bigastro

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Masks back in the streets

The Spanish Government will be holding a special Cabinet meeting today to bring back mandatory face mask wearing in outdoor settings.   It is likely to be a measure that takes effect from Christmas Eve. 

The exception to this rule is when citizens are in natural spaces or when in the company of members of their family unit. They will also not be necessary if social distancing is observed.

Experts suggest that wearing face masks in outdoor settings is merely cosmetic and further restrictions will be needed soon.

Spain has been breaking its own records of new coronavirus cases, and reported 60,041 new infections on Wednesday The 14-day incidence currently stands at 784 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – 78% up on a week ago.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

COVID passports here

The fourteen-day cumulative incidence of COVID  in the Valencian Community is now at the extreme risk level of contagion, exceeding 500 cases per one hundred thousand inhabitants

The president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig,  announced on Monday that, in the Valencian Community, the COVID passport or a PCR test will be required to access all bars and restaurants (regardless of capacity), cinemas, circuses, festive venues and any place where you can drink and eat, as well as gyms, indoor pools and sports centers. This extension is pending the approval of the TSJCV and as soon as it is published in the DOGV it will be in force until January 31.

The gift of Christmas

 Last year, when the parcel of presents from the family arrived, I had to pay over 30 Euros of custom charges to the UPS delivery man. 

This year, my daughters chose to use the Post Office rather than a courier because we'd received parcels by post without any custom charge. 

However, it turned out to be Parcel Force who were handling the package. My eldest daughter spent well over an hour sorting the customs declaration out and was assured by Parcel Force that there would be no custom charges because the goods had been described as "personal belongings" rather than "gifts" - WRONG! 

Two parcels were dispatched and one of them arrived at our gate yesterday. 

The driver from Correos told me there was a 29 Euro and some cents charge to pay to customs. In order to produce a receipt he needed my email address which he typed into his phone. Unfortunately, it did not work (possibly because of a bad mobile signal) and so the parcel had to be taken back to the office from where I can collect it today. According to tracking, the second parcel is still on its way. 

My feeling is that the issue is with VAT or IVA as it is called in Spain but i could be wrong. 

On the customs declaration form there was no proof that VAT was paid on the goods in England. Indeed, both the sender and I are  recorded on the form as being NOT registered for VAT. 

If we had bought the goods ourselves to be imported to Spain, then VAT would not have been charged by the sellers. Instead, VAT would be charged in Spain at the appropriate rate. On top of VAT, there are also custom charges for handling the goods. I should know more when I see the invoice with the parcel. 

The nonsense is that, VAT was paid in England on the goods even though there is no proof of that. Effectively,  once I hand over the 29 plus Euros, VAT will have been paid twice. 

The system for sending gifts either way is now flawed as a result of BREXIT. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Can someone explain?

 In April it was reported that just over 2% of Spaniards offered a coronavirus vaccine had rejected it. Those rejecting the vaccine have been registered. I don't have more recent figures but I imagine they are similar. 

By contrast, the Health Secretary in the UK says that 10% of the population - more than five million people - have still not taken up the offer of the vaccine, and that around nine out of 10 of those needing the most hospital care were unvaccinated.

Only this week there was a demonstration by the "antivaxxers" in London. At the same time there was a protest by those who wanted the Government to reject further measures to prevent the spread of Covid. 

I don't understand why, apart from medical reasons, anyone would refuse a vaccine that has been proven to reduce the chances of either contracting coronavirus or at least being seriously ill from it.

They may argue that it is their choice and by refusing the vaccine they are not endangering others. I don't believe that is entirely true. Those who are unvaccinated are likely to be the ones spreading the virus including to those who have been vaccinated. They are the ones taking up the majority of hospital beds putting unnecessary strain on the Health Service. 

I would love to hear a sound, well thought out reason why so many are refusing to be vaccinated. A friend of my eldest daughter says on Facebook that she has not been vaccinated but does not explain why. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

My predictions

Strictly Come Dancing fans, here are my predictions.

First of all the way the scoring works is this: 

The judges rank the couples in order (forget the total scores they get). This week there were four couples so the top one would normally get four points , then three, two and one. 

However, this week there were two couples at the top so they both got 4 points. The next couple got 3 and the bottom couple 2. 

The people's vote was also counted and again the top couple got 4 and the second 3 but, since it is virtually impossible for couples to get the same number of votes from the public, the third couple got 2 and the last couple 1. 

The two scores were then added together to find the two couples with the lowest totals.

From the scores last night and the results of previous weeks, I predict that those two would have been Rhys and Nancy and John and Johannes. 

Now, since Rhys got the lowest score from the judges, I predict he was the one who the judges eliminated. 

The BBC like to pretend that the results shows take place on Sunday but we all know that is not true. It follows straight on from the count of the public votes on Saturday.  

Next week will be the final where the three remaining contestants will dance for the Glitterball. 

Although all three have received perfect scores for their dances from the judges and could therefore be considered to have more or less equal chances, it will only be the public vote that will count in the final. 

I therefore predict that Rose will win unless she has a dreadful three dances next week. I base this on the results of online votes for the couple who the public think should win where Rose has consistently come out top.     

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

More cases of Covid in the family

 Our grandson, Rory, was the first member of  the family to be infected. Then our youngest daughter, Laura, and our son-on-law, David, caught the virus from Rory. At that time our granddaughter, Molly, escaped infection and tested negative.  

That didn't last because Molly has now tested positive for Covid as has our eldest daughter, Jemma. They will now both have to self isolate for 10 days which means they will be able to enjoy Christmas.

Molly, at 11 years of age, is displaying minor symptoms, Jemma though has what she describes as a bad cold. 

I'd like to able to say that, whilst Covid cases in the UK are on the rise, those in Spain remain steady but that is not true. The r rate here is above 1 which means that it is on the rise. 

That's Sunday night covered.


In the words of the Music School:

An exciting musical festival, with the collaboration of the script by our countryman Jesús López Moya, and carried out by our children from the School, our Youth Band, and even some secret guest artists that, we assure you, will not leave you indifferent.

Monday, December 06, 2021

Could it get worse?

 Today I read in several newspapers an account from the Sunday Times about widespread use of cocaine in the Palace of Westminster. There is also mention of a whiff of cannabis in the areas where staff are allowed to smoke. 

It seems that swabs were taken in 12 toilets and in 11 of them there were traces of cocaine. These toilets are only open to those who have parliamentary passes, in other words MPs and staff. One of the toilets was close to the offices of the PM and another the Home Secretary. 

The Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, says that he will be calling in the Metropolitan Police to investigate and maybe use sniffer dogs to search out the class A drug. 

I might be being cynical here but surely, giving the offenders notice like this will mean that nothing will come of the search. I can't help but feel it would have been better to have kept this out of the news and just arranged a swoop on Westminster to catch the buggers red handed. 

Please excuse the pun but these people need to be "sniffed out" and made to  "toe the line". 

Sunday, December 05, 2021

The final nail

 As I have said before, we decided back in October that we would not travel to the UK for Christmas this year. One of our concerns was that there may well be changes in the situation and thus changes in the rules.

Of course we could not foresee the emergence of a new variant of Covid but we could see that Covid infections were not going down in the UK. 

The Omicron variant has now thrown a spanner into the works for anyone wishing to travel to the UK and indeed for those wanting to come to Spain*. 

Last week it was decided that travelers to the UK would have to take a PCR test before day 2 and would have to self isolate until they had a negative result from the test. Now, to add to that, they also have to take either a lateral flow or a PCR test no more than 48 hours before departure and have proof of  a negative result . 

These measures apply to those who are double or even triple jabbed like Pam and I.  Apart form the extra cost of these tests, there is the inconvenience. 

* As we are residents, my understanding is that our Covid passports would still entitle us to return here. 

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Christmas in Bigastro


Friday, December 03, 2021

Make sure you have your Covid passport or certificate

Just to remind you that the new regulation about Covid passports in the Valencia community comes into force at midnight tonight.

Establishments and users that do not comply with the new rules will face serious and light penalties which range from 60 to 30,000 Euros. 

The serious ones will apply to establishments where it is mandatory to request a certificate, that is, venues such as restaurants with a capacity of more than 50 people and events for more than 500 people. 

Even the failure to put up signs reminding people of the passport requirement could incur a fine of between 60 and 600 euros. The same fine will be faced by individuals who access premises, events or establishments without the certificate.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

It is your choice

Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said that people could help keep the new variant at bay by cutting down social contacts over the festive period and “not socialising when we don’t particularly need to”. Other senior medics have echoed her advice. 

But Mr Johnson said the government was “not changing the guidance on how you should be living your life” and urged people not to cancel events like Christmas parties and nativity plays. 

He believes that a push to increase the "booster jab" rollout will be sufficient to ward of the dangers of the new variant. Johnson talks of injection sites popping up like Christmas trees. However, even the best estimates show that it will take until the end of January to get booster jabs into people's arms. Added to which, it isn't yet clear whether the current vaccines will protect us against the new variant. 

As he has done throughout the pandemic, Johnson is gambling that, with minimum measures in place, everything will be still be OK.

As I have said here before, there is a lack of trust in the PMs actions. Many venues are already facing cancellations as people are choosing caution over optimism.  Schools are weighing up whether a virtual nativity would be safer than one where their halls would be crammed with parents and relatives.  

In the end, who's opinion would you trust more, well respected and qualified medical experts or  Boris?   I suspect many would no more take his advice on Covid than his recommendation for a good hairdresser. 

As for plans to visit England for Christmas 

The World Health Organisation advice is - 

“Persons who are unwell or at risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease and dying, including people 60 years of age or older or those with comorbidities (e.g. heart disease, cancer and diabetes), should be advised to postpone travel.”