Thursday, April 27, 2017

You already knew this

Those who live here in Bigastro and have looked out of the window this morning will already know that it is going to be a miserable day today weather wise.

After 43 dry days we can hardly complain though!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Courier woes

We get a lot of packages delivered by couriers so we have a fair bit of experience of how good or bad they are.

Recently, Amazon have been using Correos to deliver parcels from their facility outside Madrid. The charge for one day as opposed to three days is nominal but even when you opt for the normal delivery it seems to only take one day after Amazon have sent your parcel out. The post lady brings the parcels up to the house, often before 12am. To my mind that is excellent service.I'd give them 10 out of 10.

DPD in Britain becomes SEUR in Spain. The man from SEUR has been to our house many times,  so many in fact that we exchange pleasantries and shake hands when he arrives. With SEUR you get an email telling you that the package will arrive the next day. Then, more often than not, you get a second email giving you an approximate time for delivery.

There have been times when the man from SEUR has been delayed but even if takes him until 8pm at night, he still delivers on the day scheduled. I'd give them 10 out of 10 and a gold star.

We have also had FEDEX, UPS, TRAKPAK, HALCOURIER and a few others deliver parcels. All have been fine and have kept to their schedule. MRW, who have an office in Almoradi are reliable, even if their tracking is not great. They all get a provisional 10 out of 10 especially HALCOURIER who delivered my BBQ which came in a huge box and weighed a ton. I don't know how he lifted into and out of the van but he did. Oh yes and the one who delivered my electric bike which also came in a rather large box. He came from somewhere near Orihuela and brought the heavy box to the door.

The only courier we take exception to is DHL which is surprising because they are a German company.

On at least four occasions recently, we have had parcels delayed by DHL. The tracking shows that the package has arrived at Alicante, it then shows that it is out for delivery but nobody shows up. When you go back to tracking later there is some excuse given, "nobody was available to take delivery" or"delivery was rescheduled" (presumably by us) - none of these are ever true.

What I believe happens is that the delivery courier runs out of time and takes the package back rather than be delayed. It is very frustrating especially if we have stayed in waiting.  I'd give them 2 out of 10 and the only reason they get 2 is because we have never had an item damaged by them.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Be aware

I am not sure if this applies to all of the estate but last night we had a few short power cuts. We are continuing to have short cuts again today.

This morning the power has mostly been back on but the voltage has been very low. My UPS is signalling that it has been transferring the voltage which it shows was around 200v (the nominal voltage for our supply is 240 - 250v). It should not affect most devices except for those that are sensitive.

A worthwhile cause

United Hands helps to overcome hunger in the poorest regions of the world.

You can do your bit by enjoying this Gala and donating 5 Euros.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Holidays

My friend, Scout John, reminds me that Monday is a holiday in Bigastro to celebrate San Vicente Ferrer. There will be a procession including the band and a special communion.Shops etc will be closed.

The next holiday will be on May 1st.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Testing times

In England, vehicles have to be tested when they are three years old and then every year. In Spain, you have four years of grace for cars followed by tests every two years up to 10 years and thereafter a test each year.

Our Skodas have now reached the four year mark and therefore needed ITVs (Inspeccion Tecnica de Vehiculos). This is done at an Iteuve  centre, NOT a garage and the nearest one to us is at San Bartolomé close to the Vega Baja Hospital.

The last time I had a test done there, I booked it online. You can no longer do that for this particular centre. You can phone up and make an appointment or call in and make an appointment however, we decided to take a chance on waiting in the queue.

Timing is everything because there are busy periods and quiet periods. We've been there and seen long lines of vehicles waiting and other times when there have just been a handful. I imagine early in the morning would be good but we opted for lunch period instead.

You need to know what your car's registration sounds like in Spanish. Sometimes they will just call out the registration and other times the marque or model of the car. Listening for the letters is a lot easier than trying to catch the number before and make sure you catch the pista (1, 2 or 3 at  San Bartolomé). What you hear can be a little confusing though and varies between each tester.

If you are English, they will help by giving directions in their version of English. However, it is relatively easy to learn a few words and phrases in Spanish that will help see you through in case they don't.

Bonnet - Capote
Headlights – Los Faros
Full beam- Luces altas
Dipped beam- Corto alcance
Las Luces Traseras- Back Lights
Las Luces de los Frenos – Break lights
Luz de emergencia -Emergency light
Luz de marcha atrás- Reversing light
Limpiaparabrisas- windscreen wipers
Izquerda – Left
Derecha – Right
El Freno de Mano – Hand Brake
El Volante – Steering Wheel

Ten minutes and it is all done. Hopefully, like us,  you get a certificate with Favourable printed on it and a sticker for the windscreen.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

April 19th - International Bicycle Day


Also, of interest to those who own a bicycle, is the national register of bicycles. For a small fee, you register your bicycle. You get an indestructible sticker which identifies your bike in case it gets lost or stolen.

For hay fever sufferers


Monday, April 17, 2017

The Encounter

The Encuentro yesterday followed the pattern set out over the last few years.

The statue of Mary, dressed in a black cloak as a sign of mourning, left the church accompanied by ladies in black with mantillas on their heads. She was carried by men dressed in long cream gowns with red cuffs and sashes. They are all members of the Hermadad de la Virgen de Belen.

It was then the turn of  the statue of Jesus, carried by men in black suits, white shirts and gold ties, to leave the church. Ahead of Jesus was a group of children in blue robes and behind, a group of ladies in oyster coloured dresses and white mantillas. They are all members of the  Cofrafia del Cristo Resucitado.

Jesus was processed along Calle Mayor to Calle Maestro Grau, Mary was processed along Calle Purisima to the same street accompanied by the sound of a lone drum. It was on Calle Maestro Grau that a carpet of flowers and greenery surrounding a picture made from dyed rice grains had been prepared

Jesus arrived first and was manoeuvred around the corner in a series of backward and forward movements. He was set down on boxes to await the arrival of Mary.

In front of Mary was a man carrying the banner of the Hermanadad. He approached the statue of Jesus with a series of bowing movements made with the banner. The banner was then taken backwards to where the statue of Mary was waiting on Calle Purisima. Mary was carried down to within a few metres of Jesus and set upon the ground. This was the point of encounter, Mary's black robe was removed and a silver crown placed on her head.

Once the crown was in place, a confetti bomb showered the statue, white doves were released and the firework salvo started

After salutations between the groups were exchanged, Mary retreated back to Calle Purisima followed by Jesus. The band then accompanied the pair in procession along Calle Purisima.

At two points the processions stopped and neighbours threw flower petals from their balconies to the statues.

Finally, the procession reached the church and the two statues were set to face each other. Whilst Jesus was lifted aloft, the front of Mary's paso was dropped to the floor. This was repeated several times before the two statues were taken back into the church for Mass.

I know that this is all traditional but I do wonder why it has to take place so early and why they chose Calle Maestro Grau - possibly one of the most ugly backdrops - for such a beautiful ceremony.