Tuesday, February 28, 2023


 Pam has had a message tonight from our neighbours to say that squatters have been spotted in one of the derelict houses on our estate. I presume it it one of the Altas de la Pedrera houses. 

A WhatsApp group has already been formed to discuss the problem. 

One of the three policemen on the estate has pointed out that, although squatting is illegal, it is the responsibility of the owners of the property to sort the issue out. In this case it is the bank that own the houses. 

From the comments so far, it seems that the squatters are still there but have not gained access to either water or electricity. 

Although, it is clearly undesirable to have squatters in those houses, we should perhaps concede that they must be pretty desperate to be there without electricity and water in this cold weather. Let's  hope that there is some local organisation that can find them more suitable accommodation. 

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Oh the bright light!

 After the pause caused by Covid, the Medio Ano Festival returned to Bigastro yesterday 

Instead of starting at the far end of town, the procession this year started at the Plaza Constitución. The turnout was brilliant and the inventiveness of the participants was unbelievable.

You could argue that the weather was perfect for the occasion. It was after all warm and sunny not dull and drizzly as predicted days ago. 

However, strong, bright sunlight poses a real problem for photographers. If the subjects are looking into it, they squint, if they turn away they are in deep shadow. Light cloud cover is what we hope for. 

One solution to the problem on a bright day is to use fill in flash to bring light into the shadow areas. You can tell from his pictures that the local professional uses fill in flash most of the time for his outdoor work. Obviously, this only works when you are relatively close to the subject,

In the days of film, dynamic range was a real issue. You could not record strong highlights and deep shadows on film. The usual advice was to expose for the highlights and let the shadows take care of themselves. 

Digital sensors are different. The best are capable of recording detail in both shadows and highlights. You just have to work a little magic in a program like Lightroom to bring them out. Even still, it is a challenge if you have a lot of photos to process. 

My friend Fonta has published his excellent photos from the event and you can see the struggle he and I had in some of our photos to bring the highlights under control and at the same time show detail in the shadows. Que sera, sera!

Friday, February 24, 2023

Let them eat turnips!

 Newspapers in the UK are showing empty supermarket shelves again. This time, it isn't panic buying that is causing the problem, it is the shortage of salad products. The government are blaming the bad weather in Southern Europe for shortages 

However,  people have posted pictures of markets, supermarkets and  shops in Spain, Italy and Southern France with an abundance of items such as lettuce and tomatoes. So, why does the problem seem to be confined to the UK?

Therese Coffrey says that the situation will remedy itself in two to four weeks time. In the meantime, people in Britain should turn to locally grown seasonal products like turnips to feed themselves. She specifically mentioned turnips.

In a sense she is right. Britain relies far too much on importing food and people do not eat seasonally. They expect everything they want to be available all year round. However, even during the summer months, Britain still has to import the majority of what the people eat so seasonality is not necessarily the root of the problem (please excuse the pun!).

Unfortunately Britain is not giving the support that is needed to its farmers. I watch Countryfile on Sundays. On the program we regularly get items highlighting the difficulties farmers face. For example, the greenhouses in the South of England used to produce more than enough tomatoes during the winter.. That was until gas prices hit the roof making it too expensive to heat them. 

The plain truth is that it would be impossible for Britain to be self sufficient for food. Let's face it, Britain isn't self sufficient for many things. Damn it, the country even imports coal!

If people did try to follow Coffrey's advice, they would soon have problems buying the root vegetables she suggests they eat.  Ms Coffrey, when the turnips run out, what should they turn to next?

Friday, February 17, 2023

But where is it?


I've driven around looking for a sign, checked the map of the town but still can't find it.

Monday, February 06, 2023

The English corner


It will apparently have something for both children and adults.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Join in the party


Thursday, February 02, 2023

Proud of her

 Yesterday, my daughter Jemma went on strike. She was the only teacher from her school to do so even though there were other staff in the NEU at her school. 

Why did it come to this?

The Institute for Fiscal Studies have calculated that long-serving and senior teachers – accounting for nearly a third of those working in England – would have earned the equivalent of £50,300 in 2010. But below-inflation wage increases over the past 12 years has meant their pay in 2022 was just £43,700.

Experienced teachers have experienced similar real-terms cuts across the national pay scale, meaning that half of the teaching workforce has had the value of their annual earnings fall by thousands of pounds compared with what they would have earned in 2010, when the Conservative party came into government.

By contrast, average earnings across the whole economy are thought to have increased by about 2% in real terms during the same period. MPs, for example, earn £18,306 more per year than they did in 2010. 

Dwindling pay is one of the main reasons for the government is missing recruitment targets, and why it faces shortages in specialist subjects such as physics, which are forcing schools to rely on non-specialists to plug gaps in classrooms.

It is a fact that nearly a third of teachers  leave the profession within five years of qualifying.

So the issues the government faces are recruitment and retention. 

Did they want to go on strike? Definitely not! My daughter has already lost a day's pay and stands to lose three more days pay if the impasse is not resolved. 

PS She is right behind the bloke in the brown jacket and the one with a bald head - centre right of the photo.