Saturday, October 29, 2022
A timely reminder
Talking of signs
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!
Am I being cynical?
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
Friday, October 21, 2022
Third time lucky
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?
I don't believe it
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.
Wednesday, October 19, 2022
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!
Thursday, October 13, 2022
Here we go again
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.
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
Watch out for flying ants
Autumn is the time when ants take to the air. It is the start of their reproductive cycle and a moist white ground is always better to build new anthills.
They don't bite, they are not interested in us (don't worry) and they will be gone in a few days.
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
The rain in Spain
Friday, October 07, 2022
Back to learning Spanish
Look at the chart and you will see that Bigastro escaped the downpour that other towns in the region suffered. In fact, as far as I can tell, we had just ten minutes of rain yesterday.
Thursday, October 06, 2022
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!
Monday, October 03, 2022
Another fine mess
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!
Sunday, October 02, 2022
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.