The concert last night by the Senior Band was magnificent. The main solo performance was by a young man on classical guitar. I just wish he had played some more.
Listen to them here.
Last night the Junior Band played their concert for Christmas. The concert began with a choir of children singing villancicos.
You can see my photos from the link in the sidebar and listen by clicking on this link.
The latest project to stimulate local commerce presented by the municipality of Bigastro has received a subsidy of 1.2 million euros from the Next Generation Funds.
The investment will allow the town to produce a web page where all the Bigastro businesses, free of charge through an application, will be able to have their own digital showcase. As well, the project seeks to reduce the impact of delivery vehicles, establishing strategic points*. Also included are "reverse vending" machines to encourage recycling and, in exchange, obtain purchase tickets to invest in local commerce.
Intrigued by the concept of a "reverse vending machine", I looked it up and this what Wikipedia says:
A reverse vending machine allows a person to insert a used or empty glass bottle, plastic bottle or aluminum can in exchange for a reward. After inserting the recyclable item, it is then compacted, sorted, and analyzed according to the number of ounces, materials, and brand using the universal product code on the bottle.
Once the item has been scanned and approved, it is then crushed and sorted into the proper storage space for the classified material.
Upon processing the item, the machine rewards people with incentives, such as coupons. In the case of Bigastro, these coupons are to be used in local shops.
It sounds like a modern version of what happened when we were children. We collected pop bottles and took them back to the shops to get some spending money.
* Companies like Amazon already use strategic delivery points notably the lottery shop on Calle Purisima and the Post Office where you can elect to collect parcels rather than have them delivered to your house. You can also drop off returned parcels at those venues.
This strategy cuts down on the time taken by delivery vehicles to deliver parcels especially if they have to return a second or third tine. It is also convenient for those who are not at home during the day to receive goods at the door.
In England they also have unmanned collection points where you can collect Amazon parcels. These are even more convenient because you can retrieve your purchases from the lockers any time of day or night.
On the negative side, it partially moves the onus from the delivery company to the purchaser to collect goods.
PS I am currently waiting for Correos Express to deliver a Christmas present for my wife and we need to go out shopping:-( Hopefully, they will put it through the gate if we have gone out by the time they arrive.
I have mentioned Caminsat before on this blog. The technician, Jose Maria has serviced our central heating boilers for a number of years now. We have a contract with him that costs us 108 Euros per year.
When the original boiler was 11 years old, we decided to have it replaced and Jose Maria suggested the Fondital Delphis as an option.
We have had the new boiler since 2014. It came with a six year guarantee which expired in 2020. That means that we now have to pay for parts but the labour costs are covered by our annual contract.
Recently, the boiler was intermittently coming up with error code E78 which indicated that the pump was blocked. When Jose Maria came out, the boiler was working perfectly so he suggested that I waited and called him again when the fault returned.
When the fault returned, I called Jose Maria. He came out and suggested that we may need a new pump.
Yesterday, he returned for a third time and fitted a new pump but unfortunately, that did not cure the problem.
So this morning (Saturday), he returned and diagnosed the problem to be actually with a sensor. Having replaced the sensor, he changed the pump back to the original.
I would guess that most technicians would had left the new pump in place and charged for it along with the other parts required. We would have ended up paying for a part we did not need.
In all, not including his travelling time, Jose Maria has worked on our boiler for over five hours - all at a cost of 108 Euros.
Hopefully, next year he will only need to service the boiler!
Spoke too soon.
After Jose Maria left, I noticed that the cold water inlet to the boiler was leaking a little water. The next morning (Sunday), the pressure had dropped and the boiler would not come on. Rather than re-pressurise the system and risk more water leaking, I sent a message.
This morning (Monday) Jose Maria came out again and sorted the problem out.
I did apologise to him for all the trouble we had caused. He insisted that it wasn't our fault and that is what we have a contract for.
We gave him a box of chocolates and wished him a Merry Christmas.
Those of you who are eligible to vote in next May’s municipal elections should now have received a letter from the Electoral Office (OCE). As a reminder, anyone who has been resident in Spain for more than three years is entitled to vote even if you have not received a letter, provided that you are registered on the padron and confirm your registration on the electoral roll between 1 December 2022 and 15 January 2023.
The OCE letter tells you what you need to do to confirm your registration on the electoral roll with instructions in English and Spanish. In general, you can register online (using your cl@ve pin if you have one or the code provided in the letter) or you can fill in the form and send it back by post.
If have not yet received the letter or have any other questions, please contact your town hall or call 900 343 232.
The explanation from the Town Hall:-
Since the 2nd December, in our municipality like in neighboring municipalities, we have been suffering power cuts. These cuts and probably more that we will suffer, originate from the "Jacarilleta" electric substation located between Jacarilla and Benejuzar. It is the one that supplies a large percentage of the electricity to Bigastro.
Repair actions for network failure are being carried out by the responsible company.
The grids and facilities in our municipality are in perfect condition and are not the cause of the blackouts.
Hopefully everything will return to normal soon.
In the case of our house, there was also an issue with the supply cable which caused the voltage to fluctuate. I am pleased to say that seems to have been resolved.
Every time the power goes off, the clock on the oven needs to be reset and the connection to our Voip phone provider needs to be re-registered - minor inconveniences compared to those experienced by people in Ukraine.
Pam and I were considering flying to Manchester to spend Christmas with the family. That was until Pam was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis in her left leg and advised not to fly
It seems that made for a good decision in light of this news:-
Border Force officers in England, Scotland and Wales are to take strike action for eight days over Christmas, the PCS union has announced.
PCS members on passport control will take action at Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow airports on December 23, 24, 25, 26 28, 29 and 30 and 31.
The measure is likely to affect Britons living in Spain travelling to the UK for Christmas on those dates, with the UK Home Office saying passengers should be prepared for potential disruption.
For potential disruption read, long delays.
As a general rule, to send a parcel from the UK to Spain, the sender must complete a customs declaration as fully as possible. If it has a value of less than €45 and is sent from an individual (rather than a business), there should be no IVA, import or service charges. Receiving gifts with a value of over €45 may incur import charges and some specific items, including food and drink, and cosmetics may also incur a charge. There should be no charge to receive greetings cards.
And this is what Correos say:
Import into Spain of postal items originating in the United Kingdom, except for the territory of Northern Ireland.
As of January 1, 2021, in order for Correos to proceed with the delivery to recipients in Spain of shipments containing merchandise from the United Kingdom, except for the territory of Northern Ireland, it will be necessary to present them for clearance before Spanish Customs.
The recipient must bear the expenses corresponding to customs processing as well as the payment of taxes that are accrued in accordance with current customs regulations (VAT or IGIC in the Canary Islands) and Special Taxes. However, it may be exempted from paying tariffs when it is documented that the merchandise contained in the shipment originates from the United Kingdom, except for the territory of Northern Ireland.
Most of you will be aware that Tuesday the 6th of December is Constitution Day, a national holiday in Spain. You will also be aware that Thursday, the 8th December is Feast of the Immaculate Conception, another national holiday in Spain. What you need to be remember is that many businesses will also be closed on the Wednesday in between these two dates in what is called a "puente" or bridge.
Please note that, although supermarkets like Mercadona do not close during puentes, some local shops might.
This morning the electricity was going mad. It would go off and then come back on but with the fluctuations we’d experienced before. Then it went off altogether.
When we checked the box in the street, our connection was off but my neighbour’s was on. Pepe called the electricity company who said a technician would come out to check the problem.
Later, Pepe called me to say that actually there was a problem for the whole of Bigastro. At that point nobody had electricity. Both mine and my neighbours connections were dead. In fact the whole estate was without supply.
When the electricity came back on, everyone but us had a stable supply - damn!!
The technician arrived and it seems that the supply to our house was the issue for us. He managed to resolve it and (touch wood) we have a stable supply at last.
Brexit added almost £6bn to UK food bills in the two years to the end of 2021, affecting poorest households the most.
London School of Economics (LSE) researchers say the cost of food imported from the EU shot up because of extra red tape, adding £210 to the average household food bills over 2020 and 2021,
Since low-income families spend a greater share of their income on food, the impact of Brexit on their purchases was disproportionately greater, they said.
Lord Frost’s Brexit trade deal signed at the end of the transition period in December 2020 ensures trade is tariff-free with the EU but created trade barriers in the form of customs, rules of original paperwork and regulatory standards checks for agri-food products.
In 2015, the year before the referendum, 77% of food imports were from the EU.
I've mentioned our very good neighbour and friend Eladia many times before on this blog.
Eladia and her husband Pepe came to live opposite us not long after we moved in. We took them a bottle of champagne to welcome them to the street. We struck up a great friendship straight away which has strengthened over the eighteen years we have lived here.
Pam and I have had many happy times with Eladia and her family. Whenever we needed help, they were there to help us. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.
We will sorely miss Eladia's company, her keen and often wicked sense of humour not to mention the wonderful desserts she made for us.
This is heart-breaking news.
Not that long ago, an event only became news once it was endorsed by a traditional source such as CNN, ABC, the BBC or Reuters. But times have changed. News is now available instantly online and a fair amount of it is unsubstantiated in other words possibly fake.
On Thursday afternoon the Manchester Evening News ran the following headline on its website: “Zara founder Amancio Ortega registers interest in buying Manchester United.” The story went on to claim that “it is understood he has informed senior executives of his interest in United.” The article did not cite any sources to back up such an exclusive.
The “exclusive” was quickly picked up by the British tabloids – which have millions of readers – and from there, it appeared in Spain’s four most important sports publications: Marca, As, Mundo Deportivo and Sport, as well as general news outlets.
Judging by the number of website clicks and likes on Twitter and Instagram, on Thursday it certainly looked like Manchester United was about to be acquired by Spain’s Amancio Ortega, founder of the Inditex group (which includes the fashion brand Zara) and one of the wealthiest men in the world.
It was fake news. There is no such interest and never was, as Inditex sources later confirmed. It is even questionable whether the founder of Inditex is even a fan of soccer in the first place. Despite his billionaire status, Ortega, 86, is more readily associated with games of domino played in humble taverns with local residents in Sanxenxo, in his native northwestern Spanish region of Galicia.
In truth, it is not even certain that the Glazers, who own Manchester United, want to sell the club. Again there is speculation that the club is for sale, fueled by online social media outlets.
Many of us would like a bit more in our pockets to buy the things we might want but there must surely be a limit to the amount anyone would need to live even the most luxurious of lifestyles.
Whilst there are millions of people starving in the world, there are a few that I believe earn more than they should. I include footballers in that group.
I read this morning that Manchester United will save about £15.5m in wages after coming to a mutual agreement with Ronaldo to end his contract before it runs out in the summer. I understand Ronaldo is payed £500,000 a week for sitting on the bench for most matches.
According to the Daily Mail, Ronaldo's goals during his second spell at Manchester United have cost the club £1.2m each.
Although Ronaldo has donated vast sums of money to charity, his net worth is still estimated to be around $115 million according to Forbes.
AFC Crewe of the 14th tier Crewe and District League Premier Division have made an audacious bid to sign Cristiano Ronaldo for £35-a-week after he agreed to terminate his Manchester United contract Apparently, on that salary, he would be the highest paid player at the club.
Is Ronaldo 14,286 times a better player than those at Crewe? Not when he spends most of the time sitting on the subs bench!
"Pages full of good intentions, alternated with bits of our history and marvelous photographs taken by Keith Williamson, whom we thank in an outstanding way for his commitment to our musical society, a magnificent photographic work that year after year bears witness to musical activity, making it visible and close. "
The concerts for Santa Cecilia are a highlight of the year. Last night's was no exception.
First off the new musicians joining the band were presented with their pins.
Then the President presented a gold pin to a musician who has dedicated fifty years to the band.
Miguel Saez watched with pride as his son played his first cello solo in front of the band.
The music was uplifting and warming to the soul on a chilly November night.
I was delighted to read the very kind words that the Chronister of the band had written about my photographs in his editorial at the front of the book he produces each year.
As usual, you will find my album of photos in the sidebar.
Since the thunderstorm, the electricity in my house has been stable. Today though, it has started fluctuating again. The symptoms are the same each time it happens.
Pam and I have been with our neighbours, Pepe and Eladia and can vouch for the quality.
Our friends in Norfolk tell us that they will be getting a subsidy for their fuel this year under the Government scheme outlined by Liz Truss whilst she was Prime Minister. They've been told this amounts to £60 per month.
On top of that, they will get a Winter Fuel Payment of £500 (£250 each).
Now we would not expect to get the Government subsidy but we did used to get the Winter Fuel Payment for a few years. That was until they decided that we lived in a warm country and did not need financial assistance.
The Gov.Uk website says: " You can get a Winter Fuel Payment if you live in an EEA country", however it explains further, "You cannot get a Winter Fuel Payment if you live in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain."
We don't know what this winter is going to be like but if it is like last year, it will be almost as cold here as in some parts of the UK. Our gas bills for last winter were 342.91 and 341.118 that's 684.09 Euros to heat our house during the winter months. We then had similar electricity bills to cool our house during the summer.
Forgive me for going back to Strictly Come Dancing.
I don't want to spoil it for those of you who prefer to wait until Sunday night for the results. However, I will tell you that Tony Adams has escaped yet again the dreaded dance off.
Let's look at his record so far with the judges:
Week 1 & 2 combined placed bottom with 37 points (22 +15)
Week 3 placed bottom again with 18 points
Week 4 an improvement, he was 11th out of 13 with 26 points
Week 5 saw a return to previous form, bottom with 19 points
Week 6 was a golden week, he came 9th out of 11 with 31 points
This week bottom with 21 points
So just who is keeping Tony Adams in the competition?
Definitely not those who regard this as a dancing competition. And surely not those looking for entertainment - Ed Balls was entertaining, Ann Widdecombe being dragged around the floor was hilarious. Apart from ripping his trousers off, Adams has not been so amusing with his routines.
I can only surmise that there are droves of football fans who are voting for him on the basis of his careers with Arsenal and England.
I can't help but notice that some of the road signs in the area have deteriorated to the point where they are now unreadable. The problem seems to be with the white backgrounds that are now black. Black writing on a black background doesn't work!
There is no doubt that much of the money that comes from Alicante is used to make real improvements to the town that benefit many.
The allotments in the middle of our estate were meant to provide local people with outdoor space to grow produce for the table.
Out of the twenty plots created, no more than ten look to be taken up.
We said at the time that it was unlikely that people in the town would want to come up to the estate to grow a few lettuce and some tomatoes. It probably costs more to grow the produce than to buy it at the market especially when you factor in the fuel needed to drive up here and back to tend the crops.
Of course, there is more to growing your own vegetables than saving money, There is the satisfaction of achieving something, the healthy exercise that gardening provides and the improved flavour of fresh food picked that day.
The town has now had a further tranche of money for this project and has put up signs*, LED solar lighting and a table with benches** where the growers could have a picnic.
In my opinion, spending thousands of euros to benefit many makes sense, spending the same to benefit just a handful doesn't.
* the signs are there to encourage people to grow a diversity of crops and to justify the project.
**why is that picnic bench there? In my experience, Spaniards never eat out in the open, they look for shade
We'd already had two leaks in the water main outside our house. Both of these we had detected ourselves and reported.
A few weeks ago, they changed the water meter, Then we had people coming to check the new meter for leaks.
Two days ago, they came back and were listening for a leak under the pavement outside our house further down from the meter. Clearly there was a problem.
They returned at 8:30 the following morning to dig the pavement up - a rude awakening for us both! The vibration through the house felt like it was about to collapse.
Barely a day goes by without someone having to dig up the pavements on our estate to repair water leaks. What is wrong with the pipework that causes so many problems?
Well that was short lived! Liz Truss has put herself into the record books as the shortest reigning PM in British history.
To be fair, the lady was out of her depth as many predicted she would be.
So now the Conservative party are looking for a replacement. This time though they've set the bar higher to ensure that the contest isn't drawn out as it was in the Summer.
Each candidate has to have the backing of 100 MPs to enter the competition. If there is more than one candidate with sufficient numbers, then the MPs will vote to whittle it down to two and the party will vote online to decide the winner.
Most of those who started off in the last contest will struggle to get 100 backers leaving Rishi Sunak as the most likely person to be first on the list. There can't be more than 3 candidates because there are no more that 350 Conservative MPs.
Last time there was a caucus of MPs and party members who wanted Johnson's name on the list even though he'd just resigned after being forced out by his own MPs. He wasn't eligible then but he is now.
Rumours are flying that Johnson is on his way back from his holiday in the Caribbean in order to garner support for his candidacy. Talk is of him being the only candidate other than Sunak to achieve the magic number of backers.
Suppose then that it boils down to Sunak v Johnson and it is left up to the members to decide. Who would they back? I'd put my money on Johnson. Daily Express readers have already chosen Johnson to be the next PM with a whopping 60% voting for him.
Of course, if he is found guilty of misleading Parliament in November, Johnson could face possible suspension from Parliament. That would be an interesting situation - a Prime Minister suspended from sitting.
Every year, Bigastro celebrates the Day of Breast Cancer.
Don't get me wrong, it is good that the town recognizes the importance of this form of cancer that effects or has effected so many women including my wife Pamela.
What is wrong though is that there is no corresponding day for the cancer that effects so many men (me included). I'm talking about prostate cancer.
Why can't we have a day for prostate cancer - probably not with pink balloons though!
After my last post about the electricity supply, things improved. The lights remained bright in the kitchen and my UPS seemed happy with the voltage it was receiving.
This morning though, the electricity tripped out (again). After I reset it, I found out the voltage was the probable cause. My UPS is again signaling a drop in voltage and the lights in the kitchen are dimming.
Although it has settled down again, I'd be interested to know if others were experiencing the same problems and why it is happening.
They don't bite, they are not interested in us (don't worry) and they will be gone in a few days.
Since the transition period ended, we've had to pay customs duty on parcels from the UK. Because of that, we'd resolved for the family not to send Christmas and birthday presents anymore.
However, as I said in a past post, we were due to go on a holiday to Funchal with the family. The diagnosis of thrombosis in Pamela's left leg put paid to that.
Since we'd missed out, the family decided to buy us some small gifts which they sent us by post. The Customs Declaration form on the package states; postcard £1, magnet £3 and cakes £10 giving a total of £14.
The post lady has just delivered the small package after us paying the 14 Euros customs duty - that's £12.26 for a £14 gift. Just to make matters worse, our eldest daughter paid £7.80 to send the package.
That means two cakes, a fridge magnet and a postcard cost a total of £24.06 between us!
Yesterday morning we had a brief power cut - nothing too unusual about that. Following the restoration of power though, the voltage was dipping up and down. The UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply0 that keeps my desktop computer running through a power cut kept switching to battery as the voltage dropped below the preset level.
It seemed to settle down during the day but then at night the problem returned. LED lights don't seem to be effected by changes in voltage but the halogen bulbs in the kitchen are. They were dimming and brightening constantly for well over an hour.
Things settled down again and I hoped the problem had been resolved but no. This morning, the power cut out again for a short while followed by more variations in the voltage. Is it the weather that is causing these problems, I don't know. I do know it is a pain in the butt!
During the summer, the Tory Party conducted a bitter leadership contest between Liz Truss and Richie Sunak. Particularly on economic policy, they were at loggerheads.
Although the parliamentary party favoured Sunak, the party membership were against him, fired on no doubt by the press who painted Sunak as the snake who'd master minded Johnson's downfall.
I'm not sure the membership actually wanted Truss – a significant number tried to get Johnson's name onto the voting paper but that was deemed against the rules. So they ended up electing Truss instead.
Truss said all along that she wanted to cut taxes but I don't recall explain how that would be paid for except for some vague notion about stimulating growth. Neither do I recall her saying the cuts would mostly benefit the well off.
Obviously she could not wait to put her ideas into practice so she and her Chancellor came up with a “mini budget”.
Since it was urgent, there was no time to consult with her Cabinet nor was there time to get the Office for Budget Responsibility to provide a forecast of the effect the tax cuts would have on the economy.
The result was shocking. What did she expect? Apart from anything else, Truss wanted to borrow money to give the well off a hefty tax relief. Oh and let's not forget there was also a promise to remove the cap on banker's bonuses. Oh how nice it is to be well off in a Truss ruled country.
To make matters worse, she then hinted that all this would be in future be paid for by cuts in services. The country though would have to wait until the 23rd November to find out exactly what she was planning in that direction.
Understandably, there was talk of rebellion amongst her MPs who remember did not not want her in the first place. Some were already talking about letters of no confidence and others said they would not go to conference where they would have to pretend to support Truss.
Then Truss came out and said that cutting the highest rate of tax was her chancellor's idea and without any notice to her ministers has u-turned on the promise.
We wait with baited breath for her speech on Wednesday and even more for the return to parliament. The first prime ministers question time should be interesting!
I wanted to make sense of why some of the dancers on Strictly Come Dancing ended up in the dance off when they were in the middle of the leaderboard after the judges scores.
The final scoring combines the judges decision with the public vote. It seems, the important numbers are the rankings (in this case 1 to15). The rankings of the judges are added to the rankings by the public to give the final ranking and the last two on the list face elimination.
The public are fickle and will vote on popularity rather than the quality of performance which explains why middle of the list dancers get into the dance off whilst ones at the bottom with the judges survive.
The other thing I've noticed is the judges scoring. Three of the four judges gave out mostly 6s and 7s this week making the scores close (only 2 points between 10th and 15th places and the bottom 3 on the same score). Only the top 3 received consistent 8s across the board.
More importantly, apart from one 5 from Shirley Ballas, it was only Craig Revel Horwood that dared to hand out realistic 4s and 5s to those who were off the mark this week. Without Horwood's 4s and 5s there would nothing to separate the bottom five on the leaderboard from the rest in the middle.
Tony Adams lies in 15th place but will he go? We shall see.
For Tony Adams to avoid the dance off, he must have been placed at most 13th by the public to give him a position above the bottom two.
Those of us who live in Spain with pensions from the UK are vulnerable to the exchange rate of the pound against the euro.
When the referendum vote was announced, the pound slumped and was near enough on par. That meant we had one third of our monthly income slashed at a stroke.
Gradually the pound recovered although not to pre-Brexit valuses.
With the mini budget that the new PM and Chancellor announced on Friday, the pound has nose dived meaning that we will have to be mindful of spending. Meals out, replacement items and fancy gadgets will be out of the question.
Looking at the weather over the last couple of days, we were placed in the middle between two storms; one to the north that caused severe flooding and one in the south that did the same.
For example, whilst we had a few millimetres of rain in the night, Javea had 70mm in two hours followed by a further 35 milimetres a few hours later.
As per normal, the intense rain was localised - some areas were deluged whilst their neighbours were spared.
There are some horrific videos on Facebook that are reminiscent of the flooding in September 2019.
We weren't really fans of Strictly Come Dancing much in the early years. It's only in the last few years that we've become addicts.
Although we didn't watch the series where Anne Widdecombe clumped around the floor with Anton du Beke, we've seen the videos on YouTube. We did see Ed Balls and particularly laughed at his Gangnam style routine with Katya Jones.
However, Strictly is supposed to be a dance competition, not a comedy show Ultimately, the best dancers are the ones that should survive to lift the glitterball trophy.
In these days of inclusion and political correctness, we should expect radical changes to be made and so they have. We've had dancers with prosthetic legs and then last year Rose Ayling-Ellis, who overcame the fact she could barely hear the music, went go on and won.
We've also had single sex couples starting with Nicola Adams and Katya Jones who sadly had to withdraw, then last year, John Whaite and Johannes Radebe who were sensational.
This year there are two single sex couples; Richie Anderson with Giovanni Pernice and Jayde Adams matched with Karen Hauer. From their first performances last night, Anderson looks like he is set to camp it up and Adams will stomp across the floor in a very wooden style. I can't imagine either of them getting very far.
The real surprise for us was the inclusion of paralympian Ellie Simmonds who will dance with Nikita Kuzmin.
With five gold medals to her name, Simmonds is clearly a determined competitor. However, it is hard to imagine how a couple so mismatched in height will cope with the ballroom dances where being in hold is supposed to be so important. We shall see.
PS Let's hope Hamza Yassin ties his long mane up otherwise he could whip his partner off the floor with a fast turn!
We were only five years old when Princess Elizabeth became our Queen. Since then she has been a guiding light, an example of selfless service to the nation and a constant inspiration to all.
We followed her through Royal Tours, Jubilees and many other memorable occasions.
Through good times and bad, the Queen was always there, offering hope, unswerving love and devotion to her people.
Her infectious smile lightened our days and her mantra of “never explain, never complain” served as a fine example for us to follow.
We count ourselves most fortunate to have lived through the second Elizabethan reign. She will always be in our hearts as we were in hers.
You may be wondering why I haven't posted anything for awhile.
We were supposed to be going on a family holiday to Funchal last week. That had to be cancelled though, at least for us.
Pamela had been experiencing pain and swelling in her left leg for a few weeks. She'd been to the doctor who sent her for an x-ray. The conclusion was that her knees were shot and she needed replacement joints. Thee was no mention of the possibility of thrombosis.
However, the evening of the concert for San Joaquin we walked down from the Holy Cross to the Town Square and by the time we reached there, Pamela was in agony. It turned out that the concert had been moved to the Park and so she had to walk further provoking even more pain for her.
The next day we went to Urgencias at Vega Baja Hospital where they performed various tests. The conclusion was that she had deep vein thrombosis in the left leg. Pamela was initially prescribed injections of Clexane (a form of heparin).
Pamela does not like injections and there was no way she was going to inject herself so I had to do it for her. Of course I am not a doctor and so I did not have the technique to perform the task without hurting her. Over the two weeks though, I have got better at it and mostly the process was pain free.
Thankfully, the clotting level has now increased to the point where she can just take Sintrom ( a modern form of warfarin). NO MORE INJECTIONS!!
Although the leg is still swollen when she stands on it for too long, it has improved a lot and should continue to improve over the next few months.
Flying and even driving in the car for any distance are out of the question for Pamela. We also doubt very much that they will go ahead with the knee surgery until it is clear that the clot has gone but we shall see.
We've just had the en suite bathroom reformed.
The main issue was that the original bath had near rusted through.
It was an ideal opportunity to have a walk in shower installed instead and at the same time have the largely unused bidet taken out.
The work was done by Fonta Bigastro who did a magnificent job. There was very little mess made and only a minimum of disruption. He even replaced the ceiling light and had the ceiling painted. When the work was done, Fonta's wife came to clean the whole of the bathroom. Between them, they did a beautiful job.
The company is: Mediterranean Econet - email email@example.com tel. 966 272 358
Pam and I had or passports stamped when we visited England in October.
This from Brits in Spain:
Many of you who are resident in Spain and protected by the Withdrawal Agreement have contacted us to say that your passport has been stamped on entering or leaving Spain (or both). The most important thing is that this does not affect your residency or rights within Spain and any stamp should be considered null and void when accompanied by a valid residence document.
In March, the European Commission published an amended note on rules for stamping the passports of Withdrawal Agreement beneficiaries, which says: “The Commission considers that there is little practical use in stamping passports of Withdrawal Agreement beneficiaries. Stamping a passport serves to establish whether a non–EU national respected the authorised length of a short stay within the Schengen area, but beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement in a Schengen Member State are not required to leave the Schengen area as they legally reside in one of the Schengen Member State.
So, whilst the Commission considers that there is little use in border guards stamping the passports of Withdrawal Agreement beneficiaries, EU law does not prevent them doing so.
In the past, friends of ours in England have asked, "what is it like in Spain when the temperature rises to near forty degrees?" and "how do we cope?"
Well now they know because it is hotter today in parts of England than it is here in Bigastro.
To be fair, we do have air conditioning in our house here and we have a pool we can dip into to cool down.
On the basis of a few days of extreme heat, nobody would invest in air conditioning for their homes in Britain. A couple of fans would help though. Although fans will not cool the house down, the circulating air would make it feel fresher.
Tenemos dos sofás que nos gustaría donar gratis.
La única condición es que alguien venga a nuestra casa a recogerlas.
We have new sofas ready to be delivered and so we need to find a home for these ones we have at the moment. We are not looking for payment, we just need whoever wants them to collect them from our house.
Keith y Pamela Williamson
Well that didn't take long. I put the same information on Facebook and within minutes we had a taker. Minutes later there were two more.
So the sofas have now gone to a new owner who we hope will enjoy them.
Security around Madrid will be ironclad between June 28 and 30, when the Spanish capital is due to host a NATO summit at a time of heightened global tension due to the invasion of Ukraine.
The Spanish government is planning to deploy 6,550 National Police officers and 2,400 members of the Civil Guard, in addition to 1,200 municipal police officers who will collectively watch over the safety of more than 40 heads of state and government scheduled to attend the gathering.
The NATO summit will significantly affect mobility in Madrid, admitted sources at the Interior Ministry, who recommended using public transit whenever possible. In addition to the traffic snarls that will be caused by the motorcades moving across the city, and the closure of lanes on some main roads, authorities are considering whether to suspend Metro service on the 8 line, which has a stop near Ifema. The ministry has recommended that businesses headquartered in the area allow employees to work from home for the duration of the summit. The Prado Museum, where a dinner event is scheduled for June 29, will remain closed that day and the day before to finalize preparations.
Source El Pais
Over the years we have watched some excellent sets performed by artists at Glastonbury. It has been a mixture of old favorites from our youth along with some excellent new bands and singers that have impressed us most.
Last night we tuned in and first of all watched Haim (a group we had never heard of), then Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. That put us well into the mood to stay up for Sir Paul McCartney.
Having been brought up in the 60s in the North of England of course we were Beatles fans. However, we were perhaps not so keen on some of McCartney's later work - I'm thinking of songs like Mull of Kintyre here.
Thankfully, the new material in Sir Paul's set was lively and listenable to. It was though, the Beatles material that got our toes tapping.
There were also a few touching moments to remember like when he staged a “duet” with John Lennon’s voice along with video and sang “I’ve Got a Feeling” as if they were back together singing on stage.
Then Sir Paul brought out two surprise guests, David Grohl from the Foo Fighters followed by Bruce Springsteen both of whom I am a fan of. That was the icing on the cake for me. No wonder the New Musical Express has given him five stars.
The front of the church is the perfect setting for the Corpus Christi concert. However, it is not the best setting to get good photographs. The main lighting is a large floodlight behind the band. The floodlights at the front are too far away to reach the band.
On the plus side though, the open air setting is OK for getting a sound recording as long as you set the recorder close enough to avoid the crowd noise but not so close that you miss the instruments at the sides.
My photographs are in an album in the sidebar and here is my recording of the music.
We knew that celebrations for Corpus Christi had to be cancelled during the pandemic. However, this year we expected them to resume.
The odd thing is that there are has been no publicity on Facebook or on the town's website about this.
Luckily, my friend Christopher messaged me on Whats App last night to find out if we would be able to go to the concert for Corpus tonight at 10:00pm. We are really glad he did because otherwise we would have missed it. For those of you who are interested, it will take place in the Plaza de la Constitucion.
Now we are wondering if the procession following mass on Sunday night will take place.
Before I went to college, I worked at the Post Office in Penistone for a year. Then I worked there again each holiday to keep me in money.
The regular postmen and women told me tales of one postman who used to dump letters on his round to save him the trouble of delivering them. He was caught out when a cache of letters were found in a hedge.
It seems that a postman here in Alicante was doing the same thing but on an industrial scale.
From Monday to Friday, he clocked in at the central post office in Alicante, picking up bags and bags of mail to be delivered.
But what the former postman did next is now under investigation after more than 20,000 undelivered letters dating back to 2012 and 2013 were found crammed into bin bags at his home.
The discovery came after the 62-year-old sold his house in Biar, a town of about 3,600 people at the foot of the mountains near Alicante. When a construction crew showed up to renovate the newly purchased house, they found rubbish bags scattered throughout.
After the man ignored repeated pleas to empty the house, the builders began opening the bags. What they found were stacks of sealed letters, bills and frayed official correspondence dating back a decade.
Police suspicions swiftly fell on the former owner of the house. In 2013, the post office had opted not to renew his temporary contract, citing what police described as “irregularities” that had plagued his delivery route in his year as a postman.
The man was arrested by the Guardia Civil last week and accused of “infidelity in the safekeeping of documents”.
The vote of no confidence result means that Boris Johnson has survived as Prime Minister.
Johnson says that the government should now “move on” following a “convincing” and “decisive” result. Really!!
“We’re going to bash on,” said the prime minister. “As a result of this decision by the parliamentary party, which I welcome, we have a conclusion to something which has been dragging on for far too long and we have the ability now to unite, deliver and get on with the people’s priorities, and that is what we are going to do.”
The problem is that 148 of his MPs voted against him. In order to move on, Johnson will need to convince them that they made a mistake - that they should now place their trust in his leadership and back him. Of course, he also has to convince the electorate that he is the right person to continue leading the country.
Recent polling suggests that Johnson has gone from hero to zero since the 2019 election when voters were sold on his "get Brexit done" mantra.
Not only is Brexit not actually done, there have been a catalogue of other mistakes, lies and U turns that people will not easily forgive and forget.
In the early days of Covid, Johnson refused to accept the seriousness of it. Many of us will recall his notion that all we had to do was wash our hands to the tune of "Happy Birthday" and all would be well. He then allowed his Health Secretary to send elderly patients back to care homes resulting in needless deaths. He condoned the awarding of dodgy contracts to friends and family and he backed his advisor's lying excuse for his trip to Durham and his excursion to Barnard Castle to "test his eyesight".
His backing of Owen Patterson, his refusal to sack Pritti Patel when she was found guilty of bullying her staff, his refusal to sack Matt Hancock after video evidence showed he broke his own rules. Even his support for Gavin Williamson after the exam result debacle showed that Johnson favours loyalty over everything else.
Then of course we had funding for the redecoration of his flat he neglected to come clean about. There are also issues about his relationship with Jennifer Arcuri that need to be resolved.
Finally we come to "partygate" which Johnson thinks had nothing to do with him in spite of being fined
Of course his admirers will point to the things he got right like the vaccine rollout but do those outweigh all the rest of the lies and misdeeds he has perpetrated over the years?
Johnson may well hope to win those dissenters in his party and the public around - we shall see. I am not sure I would want to continue in post knowing that so many thought I was unfit to lead. I can only conclude that Johnson must have enormous self belief and the skin of a rhinoceros.
After months of speculation when some MPs said they had sent in letters to Sir Graham Brady, Chair of the 1922 Committee, only to say they had withdrawn them because the timing was not right, the magic number of 54 letters has been reached and a vote will take place tonight between 6 and 8pm.
In order for the vote to be carried, 180 of the Tory MPs will have to vote against the PM.. As we might expect, most of his ministers have already voiced support because if Johnson goes, they will likely go with him In fact there are said to be 150 MPs who are indebted to the Prime Minister so they too will probably vote for him.
The likelihood is therefore that the Prime Minister will survive but of course he will be deeply wounded. Although, as things stand, there cannot be another vote of no confidence for a year, that can be changed. If the two by elections taking place later this month prove to be disasters for the Tory Party, then MPs will be fearful for their jobs at the next General Election.
Even those who show support and point to Johnson's achievements cannot deny that he has been economical with the truth on so many occasions. There is an interesting web site that catalogues the Johnson's illustrious past.
By far the best option would be for Johnson to resign but nobody believes that is going to happen.
To be honest, Britain never did fully change over to a metric system of measurement. Distances on roads are still measured in miles and beer is still sold in pints. People refer to miles per hour. and miles per gallon even though they buy petrol in litres.
Those of us who were at school before metrication was even thought of still have nightmares about some of the units of measure we were taught.
We had to learn about furlongs, chains, rods, perches, roods and acres. Damn, it took all of our mental capacity to calculate in inches, feet, yards and miles let alone cope with these quaint extras.
Then we had to master volume - gills, pints, gallons, quarts, pecks and bushels.
Weight brought us in contact with ounces, pounds, stones, hundredweights and tons.
Currency was no better with pounds, shillings and pence added to which we had half crowns, florins, guineas etc. I remember one teacher who delighted in setting mental maths tests where you had to calculate how many three penny bits there were in a given number of guineas.
Those who followed had an easier time of it and maths teachers gave a huge sigh of relief. They still had to contend with 60 seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour etc but at least every other measurement was sensibly metric.
Now, it seems that the Prime Minister wants to bring back imperial units to the UK. Not to replace the metric units but to be used alongside them if people so wish.
Imagine if you go to the market and one stall sells apples by the kilogram and an other sells by the pound - no problem you can do the conversion in your head to see which is the better value.
Of course, if you are a company selling to the EU, you will still have to use metric units. So you could end up with two systems for your goods - one for Britain and one for the EU. You'll also need some imperial scales alongside your metric ones.
Sorry Mr Johnson, I cannot see any way how this will improve people's lives in Britain any more than issuing blue passports did or putting crowns on beer glasses will.
After months of waiting, the much anticipated report by Sue Gray has been published.
The contents will have been read by the world who will now form their own opinions of what went on in the seat of UK Government during the Covid crisis.
None of it makes for good reading. It is a most shameful account of behaviour in the so called Mother or Parliaments.
Even in normal times, when there were no rules about mixing and parties, the account of what went on would be an absolute disgrace. That these parties took place during lockdowns when the rules forbade such mixing just adds to the shame.
The Prime Minister was at many of these parties even if it was only for a brief time. He had the opportunity to shut them down but didn't. Rather than that, it seems that he encouraged them. By his own admission, he thought it was his duty to congratulate staff and join with them to celebrate staff who were leaving. What did it matter that the rest of the country had to stick strictly to the rules, they could not have leaving parties or wine on Fridays.
After he had done his "bit" the PM claims to have gone back to his office totally unaware of what ensued at the gatherings he had just attended. Clearly, he could not hear what was going on next to his own flat. Nor did he notice the piles of empty bottles littered around the place in the mornings, the wine cooler brought in and the state of the garden including his son's broken swing.
There were no parties, no rules were broken, there was nothing to see as far as he was concerned. It's just a pity that most of the country and the rest of the world don't see it that way.
And now he asks us all to move on. He's made an apology so let us forget the whole sorry business and get on with wrecking the country further.
When we first arrived in Spain, we retained the right to vote in UK General Elections for up to 15 years. We were also entitled to vote in certain referendums although crucially not the Brexit one.
I did apply to vote at the first election and received documentation that said I could vote in the Wirral West constituency*. However, I was not sent a postal vote form so was unable to exercise my right.
That right expired and so I did not pursue the matter.
However, the recently passed Elections Act gives overseas voters like myself the right to vote for life. It only took eight years for the Government to act on their promise to make this change.
* David Hunt was the Conservative MP from 1983-1997. In 1997, the seat changed to Labour with Steven Hesford as its representative. It changed back to Conservative in 2010 with Esther McVey. In 2015, Labour's Margaret Greenwood took the seat back and has retained it since.
I hope you found it interesting.
Do feel free to comment by clicking on COMMENTS at the bottom of each post to send me an email.