Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Programme for Christmas

Feliz Navidad de Bigastro

Christmas starts here

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Batten down the hatches

Windy Monday
Storm Ana is set to give Spain a battering tomorrow. Latest forecasts are for gusts of up to 140km per hour in parts of the country.

She won't win

There are times when I despair about public opinion in the UK. It makes me think that the public should not be allowed to vote for anything.

I don't believe that anyone thought that the "leave" camp would win the referendum on Brexit. Certainly the PM at the time didn't and I don't think even Gove, Leadsom and Johnson were counting on a victory. And yet, the unexpected happened and "leave" got a slim majority.

In rapid succession, those that had championed an exit bowed out leaving a remainer to carry out their  cause. I still contend that the public were duped into voting for something that nobody knew how to deal with. The Brexit that people get will certainly not be the one they thought they were voting for.

This week we had the semifinal of Strictly Come Dancing, a show that is supposed to end up with the best celebrity dancer winning the coveted Glitterball trophy.

However, the format allows the public to have an equal say in the result and therein  lies the rub.

The judges, who are all ex professional dancers of one sort or another, give their verdict and score each couple accordingly. Those scores are translated to a ranking with the top couple getting the highest.

Then the public vote and their scores are also converted to a ranking The two rankings are added together to give a final figure.

Next week there will be four couples dancing it out to be the winners. That means that the top combined score that any couple could obtain will be 8 and the bottom will be 2.

The thing is that, the public don't allways vote according to merit. There are clearly good dancers who the public don't like for one reason or another and so they are marked down and others, who have two left feet,  that get marked up.

This year, Alexandra Burke has scored consistently high with the judges and yet has appeared twice in the "dance off". In order for that to happen, she had to come at or near the bottom of the ranking with the public. It seems that, for whatever reason, the young lady is not popular.

On that basis, it is highly unlikely Alexandra will win, even if she out dances the competition and gets perfect scores from the judges.

My prediction is that Joe MacFadden will come third with the judges giving him a score of 2 but will come top with the public giving him a total of 6. Debbie McGee will get a score of 3 from the judges and 3 from the public which will result in a draw and Joe McFadden will win because the public vote takes precedence. Miss Burke will come third even though she has arguably been the best dancer overall.

Friday, December 08, 2017

A bit of history

Yet again, Pascual Segura provides us with some fascinating insight into our town via his Facebook page, Recuerdos de Bigastro.

In his most recent article, he explains the origins of Calle Purisima.

In olden times, people travelling from Orihuela to Torrevieja had to pass through Bigastro on a road known as Camino Real -  the widest road in the town. This was the obvious street for locals to set up businesses such as  taverns, bakers shops, butchers etc etc attracting the travellers to spend money on their way.

As traffic through the town increased an alternative route was established which was called Calle Mayor. Calle Purisima at that time was renamed Calle de Arriba because it was above Calle Mayor.

However, when Calle San Joaquin was constructed as a third route through the town, Calle de Arriba was now in the middle and so became known as Calle de un Medio. In fact you still hear locals referring to Calle Purisima as "Middle Street".

Later still the street was renamed again as Calle San Pascual but that was only temporary.

It was on December 4th 1904 that the street became known as Calle Purisima as a way of celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Bigastrenses at that time considered renaming the street as a better alternative to spending thousands of pesetas on a fiesta. The name, Calle Mayor was  proposed but there was already a Calle Mayor in the town and the residents of that street objected to a change. Thus Camino Real became, Calle de Arriba, Calle de un Medio, Calle San Pascual and eventually, Calle Purisima.

The plate from 1904, located in front of Caja Murcia. 

Monday, December 04, 2017

Tooled up

These three photographers were assigned to take photos at the at the Inaugural $12 Million dollar Pegasus Horse Racing World Cup at Gulfstream Park in Florida. From left to right : Lynn Sladky with the Associated Press, Al Diaz with Miami Herald and Mike Ehrmann with Getty Images.

I don't have lenses anywhere near the size of the ones carried on their shoulders and my camera is lighter than the pro bodies they are using.

I can tell you, that is some weight to carry around with you. I hope they didn't have to walk too far.

You missed it?

That's a shame because it was dammed good. Luckily for you, I recorded the concert which means if you go to this link, you can hear it for yourselves.

Shop locally

Before you head off in the car or catch a bus, why not give the local shops a visit. You might find all you want there and save yourself a journey.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

On the plus side

It looks like that the wind that rattled everything around has at last calmed down. However, just look at those temperatures! 13 during the daytime is barely warm and  0 at night is downright polar. Let's hope that the milder weather forecast for Friday lasts a little time.

Is it just denial?

When we have a problem with our eyesight, we head off straight to the opticians to get it checked out. Imagine living in a world where everything looked blurred - we would not put up with it.

When it comes to hearing though, we take a different stance.

In his book, Michael Burke says that most people will spend up to 7 years in denial before admitting they have a problem with hearing. Like many I used to say that I could hear well enough even though I knew deep down that it wasn't true.  It wasn't seven years but could well have been three.

However, there are two important differences between the solutions for sight problems and hearing difficulty.

1. When you get a pair of glasses to correct your sight, the improvement is immediate. You put your new glasses on and, as if by miracle, the world becomes clear and sharp again. 

That is not the case with hearing aids. When you first wear them, the world becomes a noisy place where you hear things that you have missed for awhile. In my case it was things like a running tap or pots clattering in the kitchen that just sounded harsh, brittle and plain awful.

The brain needs time to adjust to coping with those new sounds.

I'm told the acclimation period can last from a few weeks up to six months. With perseverance though, it will happen and the brain will deal appropriately with those sounds that need to be suppressed. However, some people apparently give up before that happens and prefer to put their hearing aids in the drawer.

2. You can buy a pair of glasses from e.g Specsavers  for 59 euros and they will even throw in a second pair for free. 

If you want designer frames and better quality lenses, you can still get away with paying just a few hundred euros. Spanish opticians tend to charge more but only sell premium priced lenses like those from Essilor or Zeiss.

Now Specsavers don't sell hearing aids in Spain but looking at their British prices, they range from £495 to £2,895 for a pair. Boots the Chemist sell hearing aids ranging from £2,195 to £3,195 for a pair. That is a huge difference to the price of their glasses.

Is it any wonder then that, 60% of hearing aid wearers in the UK, have free (on loan) National Health aids. We are not so lucky here in Spain, there are no free hearing aids for us.

GAES, who are the market leaders in Spain, do not advertise their prices online but I imagine that they start at well over 1,000 euros a pair. Digital Hearing, where I went. sell aids from 1,090 to 2,200 euros a pair.

For people with limited income, the cost it prohibitive. It is not so much, "I don't need hearing aids" more "I can't afford them".  These people are not in denial, they simply  prefer to have food on the table. That is a great shame because, with impaired hearing, the world is a poorer place to live.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Testing time

The car parking alongside Eurener will be reserved for ITV tests on Monday.

They will be testing, mopeds, quads, small cars and tractors.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Highly recommended

Like a few of my friends of a similar age, I was suffering from hearing loss. My hearing of low and mid range sounds was as good as it gets but high frequencies were a real challenge. At comfortable levels for Pamela, I could not hear the television and conversations in crowded places were  no no for me.

It was time to bite the bullet and so I resolved to visit a hearing centre to have my ears tested. There are plenty of them about and so I was spoilt for choice.

Research online brought up Digital Hearing in Quesada as one option.

On the website, there was a very good introduction from the audiologist, Michael Burke along with a description of the types of aid that you could be prescribed. Best of all though, there was a clear price list which ranged from 1 star aids to 5 star ones - 1090 to 2200 for a pair.

The price list also included the actual brands and specific aids on offer so it was easy to research whether they were good, bad or downright useless. Michael stocks Starkey and Unitron aids which feature amongst the top companies including Phonak, Oticon, Widex and Resound.

The ones I chose were Unitron T Moxi Fit Pro with the rechargeable option. I won't bore you with the details of those, you can research them online if you wish.

My hearing aids

I picked up my HAs on the 13th and wore them every day, all day and then had a follow up appointment this Monday.

I have to confess, at first, they sounded very loud and very brash. I was also aware of them in my ears. After two weeks though, I could no longer sense them in my ears and I was starting to get used to the different sounds.  It will take longer for me to get the full benefit from them but even now, I can hear the improvement in conversations and I can listen to the TV!

Obviously I have no experience of other audiologists but I can tell you that I was most impressed with Michael's patience, knowledge and understanding which is why I am happy to recommend him.

If like me, you are straining to hear well, don't put up with the problem any longer. Go and see Michael or an other audiologist. You will be amazed what a difference it will make to your life.

Reach for the stars

This Friday, at 6:00 p.m.,in the Plaza de la Constitución, you have an appointment with science and Bigastro's history.

Discover with Thomas Villanova the planets of our solar system, thanks to the telescopes of the Museum of Sciences of the Vega Baja, and to the collaboration of the El Lugarico Theater Group.

Enjoy a theatrical astronomical observation, whilst tasting a delicious hot chocolate with mona, in the company of our illustrious scientist.