Monday, June 30, 2008

A night to remember

El éxtasis de la victoria inundó a toda España en la noche del domingo después de que la Selección Española conquistara el campeonato de Europa por naciones. Todo el país salió a la calle para celebrar el triunfo de "La Roja" que ha demostrado ser el equipo más competitivo de esta Euro 2008. Ciudades como Orihuela, Torrevieja o Callosa habilitaron pantallas gigantes para que todas las personas interasadas pudiesen seguir el encuentro arropado con el resto de vecinos del municipio. Pero fueron todos los pueblos y ciudades los que vivieron una noche de fiesta para conmemorar un hecho histórico como es la consecución de este título.


The whole of Spain celebrated the triumph of "la Roja". The capital, Madrid was apparently one big street party.

Here on the Vega Baja large screens were set up in Orihuela, Torrevieja and Callosa so that fans could share their enjoyment.

After the game had finished the party continued with fireworks, drivers hooting their horns and shouts of "campeones" echoing from houses. Our neighbours were still celebrating when we went to bed at midnight.

It was a night that Spaniards will remember for a long time to come just as the English still remember winning the World Cup in 1966.

La gloria para el mejor

No es un sueño. La selección española se ha proclamado campeona de Europa a lo grande, derrotando a una marrullera Alemania y acabando con 44 años de frustraciones.

cup3 cup2 cup1

The dream became a reality as Spain dominated last night's game in the same way they have dominated their matches throughout the tournament. In fact the devious Germans were lucky not to loose by a much greater margin. The only threat to Spain came from Ballack .

Watch out for Spain in the World Cup in South Africa!

Sunday, June 29, 2008


The contribution that Bigastro Golf Society has made to the town was recognised last week at the 6th Sports's Gala held at the Auditorium Francisco Grau.

Along with presentations about the many other sports in the town, Les Rowlands and Diane Clarke made a presentation about Bigastro Golf. To the delight of the audience, Diane spoke in Spanish. During the presentation, Diane and Les were particularly keen to stress their wish to integrate players of different nationalities into the society.

The Ayuntamiento then presented Golf Society with a trophy for its contribution to local sport.

Congratulations go to both Les and Diane and all members of the Society.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Showing off

I've shown you pictures of other people's gardens - now it is time to show you up-to-date photos of my jungle!


P1000315 P1000326 IMG_1669


Just bear in mind that nothing was planted three and a half years ago and that most has been planted less than that.

Gym girls

How proud the parents of these girls must have been on Thursday when they saw them performing at the Polideportiva.

The students received their diplomas from the Concejal de Deportes, R. Valerio Medina to what I imagine was thunderous applause.

Progressive women

The Association of Progressive Women of Bigastro visited Murcia this Tuesday.


It sounds like they had a good day taking in the Museum of Science and Water, the Museum of Salzillo' sculptures, the Cathedral and finally the Egyptian exhibition.

No doubt they stopped off for refreshments in one of the many smart restaurants.

These very well informed women will be able to tell their husbands all about climate change, the position of the planets, the important developments in Salzillo's work and a whole lot more.

Musical talent

Another chance to witness the formidable musical talent of the youth in Bigastro.


Obviously they hadn't anticipated Spain's appearance in the Eurocopa final on Sunday. Either the concert will have to finish smart in time for the game or even the musicians may not attend!

Good service - bad service

Case 1

Not long before we came to Spain I decided to change my hi-fi system that had roots back in the 1970s. The new CD/radio/amplifier worked fine here for the first two and half years and then simply packed in. Whether it was the constant electricity cuts, the variations in voltage or just faulting component inside the unit, it just stopped working.

I contacted the company that assembled the unit in Scotland to seek their assistance. By reply they told me that they had an official distributor in Barcelona who would be able to help. I emailed the distributor who again replied promptly. They were only to happy to help but pointed out that unfortunately, since my unit was out of warranty, I would have to pay for the work.

I sent the unit off and within a couple of days got an estimate for the repair. A week later, the unit was delivered back to me; repaired and tested and working better than new. I'd paid for the labour but the distributor provided the replacement parts free of charge.

I was so pleased that I wrote to the company in Scotland and told them what excellent service both they and their distributor in Spain provided. I think they are using my email as a testimonial on their web site.

Case 2

A neighbour of mine recently bought a computer from the large PC superstore near Alicante. It's the one affiliated to a similarly named chain in England.

He didn't go for a cheap 'own brand' box but bought a computer from one of the top reputable manufacturers. The technicians at the shop converted Windows Vista from having Spanish to English menus for him and so all seemed well.

When he set it up at home, it wouldn't print from Internet Explorer. So, he took the computer all the way back to Alicante. Three weeks later, after several phone calls, he got his computer back. The store claimed to have re-installed the operating system and thus taken it back to square one. However, it still wouldn't print from IE. They'd also turned off the smart Aero features that he'd enjoyed and failed to change the menus from Spanish to English.

No matter, he managed to change the menus and installed Firefox which it would print from. At least he'd got a working computer again. That was until the other day when the darned thing failed to recognise the DVD drive.

So, he's had to take it back to Alicante again and is wondering how long and how many phone calls it will take before his computer is returned. More to the point; will it still refuse to print from IE and will it still be missing the Aero features.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Of course the ladies have had to suffer throughout the Eurocopa campaign.

Los hombres no nos dejan ver nuestros programas de televisión favoritos.

Los hombres nos ignoran.

Los hombres están mentalmente ausentes.

Los hombres piensan más en Manolo el del bombo que en nosotras.

Los hombres estan obsesionados con las pelotas.

Los hombres se creen de repente que lo saben todo sobre fútbol.

So the girls are fighting back.


Well girls you do seem to have good support in your team. I'm sure, with a few decent passes, the men will see things your way after Sunday.

The party atmosphere

Orihuela was well prepared for the second semi final of the Eurocopa 2008 with a large screen set up in the Glorieta Gabriel Miró. Over 2,000 people went to watch the game there and celebrated Spain's success well into the night.


El ambiente de la Glorieta Gabriel Miró fue espectacular y la fiesta y la alegría reinaron a lo largo de toda la noche. La victoria de la Selección se celebra con euforia, gritos de alegría, pitos de coches y esporádicos fuegos artificiales. La fiesta posterior se trasladó a los aledaños de la plaza donde centenares de ciudadanos oriolanos festejaron en las calles este hecho histórico.

La próxima cita será el próximo domingo en la final de la Eurocopa que la "LA ROJA" disputará contra Alemania. Sí, créanselo, estamos en la final. ¡VIVA ESPAÑA!

If Spain gets the result it deserves on Sunday we will can expect ¡muchas fuegos artificiales! The party will last all night and probably well into Monday.


Maravilloso partido de España, que machaca a Rusia y jugará la final contra Alemania.

A great night for celebration here in Spain as the national  team ran Russia ragged. There was only one occasion, a few minutes from the final whistle, when Spain's goalkeeper had to do any work. The rest of the game was played more or less in the Russian half.

Now it is to be Spain v Germany on Sunday. Germany looked very dull against Turkey in their semi-final and only scraped through into the final with a late goal

So our hopes are high for a victory for Spain. We'll have to get the cervezas in ready.

PS Those of you who didn't watch the game on Canal + missed a real treat. The commentators on the Spanish channel were singing, shouting and cracking jokes throughout the game.  They added to the excitement, as if that was necessary!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A hidden gem

Another recommendation:- Restaurante Porticomar, Urb. Campomar, C/Austria

Telephone 966725603.


This is one of our favourite restaurants which comes highly recommended by others who have had the pleasure of visiting it.

The Porticomar has  an extensive a-la -carte menu but the real gem is the set menu which is served both in the daytime and at night. The set menu offers a very good selection at a very reasonable price. As a bonus you get a card which is punched for every meal you eat. Once you have 9 holes punched on your card - you get a free meal.

The invasion is imminent

First soldiers in Shropshire spotted 13 orange orbs which they described as UFOs, now people in Liverpool have spotted them as well.

The theory is that these are aliens looking for somewhere to land. Having done their research and learnt that Liverpool is the Capital of Culture for 2008; they probably believe it would be the best place to learn about the English way of life. With an unemployment rate of 26%, at least Liverpool will have lots of people for them to talk to and show them around.

Some other comments about this story from the Sun:-

Maybe they were looking for somewhere to park after all they don't want to come back to find their craft on bricks.

Be honest why would residents of Liverpool be worried about an invasion. What alien in it's right mind would want to invade Liverpool. If a rocket landed, it's boosters would be nicked and sold for scrap in about 20 seconds.

I hope the aliens have plenty of 50p coins to pay the local hooligan kids NOT to key their flying saucers.

Just shows you how word's got round that we are open to all when it comes to free benefits.

They were looking for the Maghull chippie

Maybe they were looking for cheap fuel! Got that completely wrong haven't they, obviously not intelligent life!

Extra terrestrial life has already been found in Liverpool. He transferred to Man Utd four years ago though.

What a terrible reputation Scousers have even in their own town.

It can be hit or miss

Choosing the right place to eat can sometimes be a matter of luck. The most promising looking places often turn out to be a disappointment and the least promising - gems.

I've always reasoned that a full restaurant is probably one that provides either good value for money or good quality food or both.

Sometimes you find the most unlikely looking restaurant, like this one on the beach at Guadamar del Segura, which seems to have a discerning clientele who see beyond the dilapidated appearance of its location.


Pam and I haven't eaten there but I bet we wish we had.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


It's become fashionable for so-called music fans to dislike Coldplay. I personally find a lot of their music too melancholic for my taste. On the other hand Pam loves their haunting melodies.

There is no denying the group have a huge following: for example 500,000 fans in the UK have bought their latest album 'Viva La Vida' in the last fortnight. Added to which, they have claimed the ultra-rare honour of scoring a No1 in the single and album charts on both sides of the Atlantic putting them alongside musical greats including The Beatles in terms of transatlantic success. It’s only the second time Coldplay have made the Top 10 of the singles chart in the US and the first by a British group since The Spice Girls 11 years ago.

The last British act to achieve the “double double” was Rod Stewart in 1971 with the single 'Maggie May' and album 'Every Picture Tells A Story'.

Where Coldplay have succeeded is by using the power of the Internet to help boost their sales. 'Viva La Vida' had the largest pre-order on iTunes and has achieved a record number of downloads already. Add to this the sales of physical copies of the album, means that the band’s fastest-selling album to date has already been certified double platinum which is remarkable when you consider that, eight years ago Coldplay were the warm-up act for Ocean Colour Scene.

Coldplay are now No1 in 14 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, Korea, Germany and Israel.

So love them or hate them you can't deny their success.

Nit del foc

They burnt the 178 monuments, created especially for the hogueres, in Alicante last night.


Lighting the main one (the creation of Fran Esplá) was achieved with the help of 40 kilogrammes of explosives, 25 litres of petrol and 15 of paraffin. The structure, which was made of wood, enabled the fire to last 45 minutes; longer than any other cremà has in the past.

The final fires were extinguished at 4:30am this morning.

Library online

The municipal library in Santa Pola has completed the work on its web site ( Using this site you can consult their catalogues and reserve books twenty four hours a day - seven days a week.

In addition, the web site has sections covering the services in the Valencian community.

The site is intended to be easy to use and to find your way through especially for younger readers who will find links to activities included. To help the the foreigners here, pages are in both Spanish and English.

Well wortht going to have a look even if you don't live in Santa Pola.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

San Juan

Thousands of bonfires were light on the beaches of the Valencian Community last night.


The fires are an act of purification on the event of the Summer solstice.

When these people are not burning fallas, they light bonfires. When they are not doing that they are setting off fireworks. Is it any wonder then that 8% of the population of Alicante  (more than 25,000 people) have problem with their hearing according to the auditory centres of GAES.

Monday, June 23, 2008

An excellent night out

Last night we thoroughly enjoyed the Grupo de Teatro "El Lugarico"'s performance of "Un Drama de Calderón" at the Auditorium Francisco Grau.

It would be wrong to single out any one actor who took part because they were all very good - even the pair who played he bull that came on at the end of the play! The main actors spoke slowly and clearly making it a possible for us to understand most of their lines. Muchas gracias.

We also would like to compliment the people working backstage, especially the director Aurelio Murcia. From lighting, makeup, costumes to scenery the whole performance was highly professional.

So, we had one neighbour directing the play, another in charge of makeup and a third in charge of lighting and sound - in all a a bit of a coup for Calle Irlanda.

Happy birthday Baby

Those of you who complain about your computers; how slow, how big they they are and how they crash all too often should have struggled with this monster.


Nicknamed Baby, it whirred to life 60 years ago in a nondescript laboratory at Manchester University.

Among the components that made up this one tone monster were metal Post Office racks, garden fence posts, Meccano pieces and Spitfire radios left over from the war. It ran so hot that they had to keep the windows open even on cold days to stop it from crashing.

Instead of a screen, information, in the form of glowing dots and dashes, was read directly off the face of a cathode ray tube.

At first, it failed in its task to solve a problem involving prime numbers.

But shortly after 11am on June 21st 1948 the display tube lit up with the right answer - and the computer was born.

From thereon, as they say, "it was all history".

Another place to spend your money

Those of you who love going to markets will have another one to visit at Pinar de Campoamor from this Thursday.

The new market, open from 9am to 2pm, will complement the only other legal market on the Orihuela coast held at Playa Flamenco on Saturdays.

The 12,000 square metre plot will initially house 84 stalls in three streets.

You can get there by the Regia, by the Playa la Glea, by the N-332 at the Hotel las Villas and via the last roundabout for Campoamor on the N-332.

Happy shopping!

PS Don't expect to see me there - in my opinion, 84 stalls is 83 too many.

My that was close

Por primera vez en los últimos 24 años, España jugará una semifinal de la Eurocopa. Lo hará este jueves ante Rusia al superar ayer a Italia en la tanda de penaltis tras el 0-0 de las dos horas de juego.


It was a change of fortune for the Spanish, who have gone out of three major championships: the World Cups of 1986 and 2002 and Euro '96 - all in the quarter-finals on penalties. But this time goalkeeper Casillas made two crucial saves in the penalty shoot-out which means that Spain will meet Russia in the semi finals on Thursday.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Three strikes and you are out

The French Government have presented a law which will suspend subscribers who illegally download copyright material via P2P. These systems of file sharing not only use up bandwidth but deprive the rightful owners of the material from royalties.

Abusers will get two warnings followed by disconnection for a period of between 3 months and a a year.

Downloading legally acquired music and video will, of course,  not be affected. 

It is only a matter of time before other countries adopt similar measures and end this form of abuse.

Not to be put off 2

The Spanish people who bought the house next door to us have had a lot of work done on their property. First they had the pool finished, then they had the whole plot concreted. A fence with a gate was erected to prevent children from entering the pool unsupervised. They also built an outdoor kitchen with a chimenea style BBQ.

More recently they had a a roof built over the outdoor kitchen following which they started an L shaped extension of three rooms on their plot. That was way too close to the boundary lines of their plot so, following a complaint from a neighbour, they had to knock it all down.

They've now built a lean to extension on the side of their house which, we are reliably informed, is still illegal but is not as much 'in your face' as their first attempt. It is the cheapest form of building though. The walls have been built directly on the concrete without proper foundations and it is only tied into the existing wall at one point each side and then only by a couple of inches if that.

In my opinion, it really is only suitable for storage. If that is what it is for, then a decent shed would have been better and more to the point would have been legal.

So, if you are wondering what all the banging and clattering is about; it isn't Pam beating me about the head for doing something wrong, it's the builders next door.

PS I am told that it is impossible to obtain legal permission to extend your property here at Villas Andrea. That leaves people with two choices: they can either bribe the mayor or some other official who will then ignore what they have done or, they build in the hope that nobody will complain. 

That is all well and good but does mean that a lot of construction work is unregulated i.e; nobody officially monitors the work to ensure that it meets proper building standards. Folks are left having to  trust the builder to do a proper job.

The suppleness of youth

The doctor in England told me I had osteoporosis in my right knee which gives me pain from time to time as I climb stairs. He also told me I have a trapped nerve in my left leg which can be painful if I stand too long. Added to which I am a few stone overweight. I am fully resigned to the fact that age is definitely creeping up on me!

On Thursday 26th of June at 9pm, the Escuela Municipal de Gimnasia Rítmica of Bigastro is presenting its final exhibition. Twenty five students aged 4 to 15 will be taking part at the Poledeportivo.


You can go to the gallery of photographs from last year to see these students in action.

I imagine this event could be very popular with the young lads in the town.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Delivery closer to home

Residents here will have noticed that the post boxes at the bottom of the estate now all have numbers on them. Although, they already had street names and addresses put on by the builder, these were obviously not what the Correos required to make deliveries to them.

I imagine that, some time in the future,  post will be delivered to our boxes in the same way it is to the ones outside the Post Office i.e. by number rather than by address. If that is the case, we'll have to notify people of our box number to get a delivery to them.

If I am right, then any mail which doesn't have the box number on will have to be collected from the Post Office as it is at present.  I know that some people have concerns about the security of the post boxes and so may prefer to collect their post from Correos rather than have it delivered to their box. Leaving the box number off seems the logical way to achieve that.

If anybody knows anything different , then I will happily stand corrected.

Thumbs up for Restaurante La Alborada

A couple of people have commented favourably about this restaurant:

1. We have been there a couple of times, first to the main restaurant, which was an expensive sit down job, three courses, but lots of attention. We were taken there again by a Spanish couple but this time we sat in the bar area. Only a couple of other tables were being used, so it was fairly quiet. Same food as the restaurant but at a much reduced price. Though the menu given to us was only in Spanish, lots of 'Do you have?', 'Can you do?', 'I would really like' got things that were not on the menu, but available, - there for the asking, provided you make a stab at the lingo.

We ate Spanish style, lots of plates but no real main dish - you know the score, salad, ham, fish, prawns, lamb, sausages, fried potatoes, cheese, bread, disgustingly sweet puds, wine, water and coffee.  The whole lot came to 25 euros a head with tip, still not cheap but much less than a sit down job through the back.

We find more and more that if you want a three course, table cloth do, you will get it, but at a price. Better to do as the locals do, sit in the bar and enjoy the atmosphere, the food is just as good, it's more fun and the bill won't damage the bank balance.

2. The other comment reinforced this view. The second couple ate at the bar at lunchtime and said the food was excellent and plentiful. They paid only 10€ each for the menú del dia

We're booked to go down there for a lunchtime menu and then later on for the evening menu. Following these comments we are looking forward to some good food.

A place to study

As teachers, Pam and I understood the need for somewhere suitable for exam revision. Many homes struggle to provide young people with a quiet area which is free from distractions.

Even in the bedroom; where children now have TVs, computer games and music systems it is far too easy to be lured away from the all important notes and books.

The council in Bigastro have recognised this problem and has arranged for the library to be open from 9am until midnight so that students at university and those taking bachiller can have somewhere quiet to study.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Firefox 3

Have you downloaded your copy of Firefox 3 yet? The Mozilla Corporation wanted as many people to download the new software in the first day in an attempt to set a world record. Although the figures have to be ratified, it looks like more than 6million users have helped Mozilla to achieve their goal.

Firefox 3 builds on Firefox 2 by including improved security and performance features, which Mozilla hopes will build on the browser's initial success and grab more market share from Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

According to figures from Net Applications, Firefox is currently used by 18.4% of browsers worldwide, trailing Internet Explorer's 73.8% share of the market, but ahead of Apple's Safari with 6.3%.

Progress has been slow since Firefox arrived with a bang in 2004 as the first significant challenger to Microsoft for several years. The complete market domination of Internet Explorer over Firefox's predecessor, Netscape, had previously been a central plank in the US government's antitrust case against the Seattle software giant in the 1990s.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Where to eat

Let's start the ball rolling by mentioning a restaurant in Bigastro itself.

We haven't been there but understand that the food is very good if perhaps a little pricey at nighttime.

Restaurante La Alborada C/ Padre Damián

Bar , restaurante y cafeteria


Open Tuesdays to Saturdays serving a menú del dia Tuesday to Friday.

The owners say they specialise in a menu of innovation with traditional touches.


Summer is here

Get ready for Summer because the forecast for today is a rise in temperature of up to 5 degrees C. Experts agree that we can expect the high temperatures to continue marking an end to the strange Spring weather that we experienced.


Las previsiones para el miércoles nos indican que podríamos considerarlo como el inicio del verano en toda la Península. Por un lado las nubes tenderán a remitir en todos los puntos, acabando la tarde despejada en todo el país. Las temperaturas por su parte van a subir de manera notable en todos los puntos, quedando una jornada muy calurosa en casi todos los puntos. En el valle del Guadalquivir se rondarán 35 grados, se superarán los 30 en el interior y se rozará este valor en las comunidades del Cantábrico, excepto en Galicia, donde el ambiente será suave con máximas en torno a los 20 grados.

The advice, is as always; to eat light foods - salads and fruit; regularly take cool but not cold drinks; wear light clothing and avoid being in the sun during the hottest part of the day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

End of year reports

Yesterday afternoon we were presented with our certificates and reports from the Spanish class we attend at IES Miguel Hernandez.

Along with the certificates, we were each given a pen and pencil set and a T-shirt specially printed for the EPA in Bigastro.

Before all that though; we enjoyed an excellent presentation of photographs taken throughout the year of the various classes and the activities we had taken part in.


P1000304 P1000303

Afterwards we were treated to a buffet including this beautiful chocolate cake that one of the ladies had made.


Opening times for Summer




So for Summer; the Cemetery will be open 8am to 9pm and the Ecopark from 9am to 1pm Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. 

A Spanish "Whitehall Farce"

For those of you who enjoy a good performance and don't mind the challenge of  trying to understand Spanish dialogue, the Auditorium Francisco Grau is presenting "Un Drama de Calderón" on Sunday at 7pm.

The original work by Pedro Muñoz Seca has been adapted by Aurelio Murcia for the Grupo de Teatro "El Lugarico" in Bigastro.

One stormy night, after a blackout, Mr. Calderón finds himself in a house with a lady who is longing to escape her boring and monotonous life.  The servants boyfriends are also trapped in the house. Together they hatch a plan to escape without the lady's husband finding out but the lady of the house has other ideas.

Entrance to the performance will be 5€. All proceeds to go to the Comisión de Fiestas "San Joaquín" 2008.




Monday, June 16, 2008

Fiesta time

The Fiesta season is well under way now. Alicante is busy preparing for the Hogueras and closer to home; Molins is celebrating San Antonio, its patron saint.

They must be pleased that the weather has improved and become more June like. .


On Saturday they had the parade of Fiesta Queens. Photo from Informacion

Meantime, here in Bigastro the comparsas are meeting to make their plans for the Fiesta for San Joaquin. Our own Mel and Lilian, who will be third age king and queen, have already been to have their sashes fitted in preparation for their crowning.

Living here

In case anyone gets the impression that living here as all about problems, let me just redress the balance a little.

We are privileged to live in a small urbanisation, surrounded by natural beauty which is within walking distance of a Spanish town. The majority of folk are good hearted people who get on well with each other and enjoy their lives in the sun.

The thing that strikes me most about Villas Andrea though, is the creativity that individuals have shown in personalising their houses and gardens.

Here are just a few examples:-


P1000293  P1000297 P1000294 P1000300

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Una buena idea

Actually that last post about 'La Casa Pepa' gave me an idea.

Folks living here are regularly looking for somewhere good to eat; maybe for a special occasion or possibly just a place to entertain visitors (especially if they are paying!).

Ondara is a bit too far to go just to eat. I'm sure there are a host of excellent restaurants closer to home than that - possibly some right on our doorstep.

I just wondered if we could pool our ideas together and produce some sort of list to help people.

If you know of somewhere special that you could recommend, please let me know by emailing me at

I imagine we'd need some details about location, type of cuisine and prices to pass on.

Many thanks for your help.

Contributions from Spanish readers of this blog would be especially welcome.

Las contribuciones de lectores españoles de este blog serían especialmente agradables.

Por favor, envíeme los detalles de los restaurantes que usted recomendar a

Necesitamos los detalles de la localización, el tipo de cocina y precios etc.

Muchas gracias por su participación.

Fine food

Those of you looking for somewhere special to eat, a place where you can sample the best of Spanish cuisine could try La Casa Pepa in Ondara.

Llegada por la Autopista de Peaje AP7 desde Alicante o Valencia.
Salida 62: Ondara, Denia y Javea
Primer desvío dirección Ondara. Una vez dentro del pueblo, seguir en todo momento la calle de dirección única y, al final, encontramos el desvio de Benidoleig a la izquierda.
Seguimos la dirección del plano. En cuanto pasamos por debajo de la Autopista (punto 1) y dejamos el polígono de Beniarbeig a la derecha (punto 2), encontramos un desvío a la izquierda por un pequeño camino.

Every year the Asociación de Restauradores de Guardamar organizes the "SETMANA GASTRONÒMICA DE LA NYORA I EL LLAGOSTÍ" in June.

Pepa Romans and her two daughters, Tona and Sole from La Casa Pepa visited the town as part of this event and prepared a special meal for 100 guests; including the Alcaldesa of Guadamar, Presidente de la Asociación de Restauradores, Diputado Provincial de Turismo etc.

At the end of the meal the mayoress of Guadamar presented Pepa with clasps in the form of a gold Ñora and a silver Langostino* as a tribute to her contribution to culinary excellence.clasp

* Ñora is a pepper with a very picante flavour; Langostino is a king prawn.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The building laws are very different

You may have read about the residents in the Parque de las Naciones urbanisation in Torrevieja who have received letters from the Town Hall, ordering them to pull down extensions to their homes.

Several houses have had existing patios glazed in, which has not extended the houses as such, although the enclosed area is now greater. Others have added glass and aluminium conservatories built on the flat roof of the property, which is somewhat different as it does extend the house, even though it is upwards rather than outwards.

In most cases in England* they would not have needed permission to carry out this work. In Spain though, the laws are very different.

It appears that none of these extensions were approved by the Town Hall who are now refusing to release the certificates of habitation until they are removed. Misguided builders assured these people that they didn't need permission to have these extensions built because they were constructed of glass and aluminium and would be classed as temporary structures. Obviously they were wrong.

It is not uncommon for unlicensed extensions or properties to be allowed to remain if a licence is applied and paid for retrospectively, along with a fine sometimes but you can't count on it.

Our builder, Aurelio Murcia, has advised several residents here that the local town hall are very unlikely to grant permission for any extensions to the houses at Villas Andrea. However, several houses have had extensions built which I assume they had permission for. I know for sure that my English neighbours had permission for their conservatory and pool.

The best advice must surely be not to take anything for granted; consult the local town hall before building anything on your property.

* As my friend Pete points out things are very different in conservation areas where you have to get permission to even put up a satellite dish.

PS I understand that in some localities you even have to seek permission to erect a wooden shed.

Health Care

The British Embassy in Madrid have now issued the following press release related to this issue:-


People most affected by this measure are British Nationals who do not have access to the State Health System through an E121 or E106* or who do not pay Spanish Social Security contributions.

The Valencia Government has announced the replacement of the Circular 1/2002 scheme with a new law called “Ley de Aseguramiento Sanitario” which takes effect from 5th June 2008.

The Circular 1/2002 scheme or “extensión a demanda” allowed people with no entitlement to healthcare to access the system free of charge. The new law aims to regulate and control free access to the Health System in the autonomous region of Valencia. The Valencia Government has confirmed that the new law does have the scope for new conditions to be introduced that are still to be specified.

The people that will be most affected by this measure are British Nationals who do not have access to the State Health System through an E121 or E106* or who do not pay Spanish Social Security contributions. These are mainly early retirees who do not work in Spain and who accessed the system through the “legislation letter” issued by Newcastle.

Those in possession of a valid card will not have their entitlement taken away from them. However, when the card runs out they will not be able to renew their cover. No new applicants will be accepted onto the scheme.

Those residents who find themselves in this situation and do not have entitlement to healthcare through the E121, E106 or Spanish National Insurance contributions should consider taking out private health insurance.

The British Embassy is in close contact with the Valencia Government and will publish more information, as it becomes available.

For more information on entitlement to an E121 or E106, please contact the Department for Work and Pensions Medical Benefits unit on 0044 191 2181999 or

Panic buying cleared the shelves

The transport driver's strike is all but over after the government announced on Wednesday night that 88% of contractors had signed up to their proposals. Only two companies are holding out.

Police had already stepped in to escort convoys of fuel and produce and had broken up barricades that closed the routes into major cities including the ports of Alicante and Valencia.

However, that was too late to stop people from panic buying in the shops and at the petrol stations. Some supermarkets were left with no fresh food on their shelves by Monday lunchtime. Milk, bread, vegetables, fish and meat were cleared off the shelves by panic buyers who overfilled trolleys in fear that they would be left without.

When we visited Carrefour yesterday, we found it unusually quiet for a Friday - probably because so many had stockpiled for a siege on Monday. The superstore didn't seem to have a problem; even their petrol station was open. Mercadona though were low on fresh produce, probably because their supply chain had been targeted by the strikers.

Meantime there have been some serious consequences. Fresh produce which has been picked may well have to be dumped as it rots in the heat and millions of day old chicks have perished because they weren't delivered to the farms for rearing on.

A 43-year-old driver was asleep in the cab of his vehicle at the Mercadona depot in San Isidro, Alicante, when it was attacked in what was described as “an act of terrorism” Thursday morning. He escaped with 25% burns to his body and is now recovering satisfactorily in hospital.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A very sad state of affairs

Just what are things coming to coming to in England? First we have countless stories of youths carrying knives which they are prepared to use to defend themselves and now this:-

A woman accused a shopper of queue jumping in a Sainsbury's superstore in Merton, South West London yesterday. She called her boyfriend on her mobile phone and when he arrived minutes later she pointed out the man who she thought had pushed in. The  57 year old shopper was then punched to the ground by the boyfriend and left unconscious in a pool of blood. The man, who was briefly resuscitated, died last night after falling into a coma.

Illegal dumping at the old escombrera

Tons of inert rubbish has been been dumped without authorisation in Sector-D12 which lies adjacent to the zone of La Pedrera and the Villas Andrea Urbanisation in Bigastro. The lorries, which we could hear trundling up there, have left all sorts of rubbish including tarmac, tree prunings and even mattresses.

Previously the zone had been one of only a few legal garbage dumps in this area occupying 30,000 m2 of land. An artificial soil mountain was built a couple of years ago by piling up earth to produce an irrigation raft. When the work was completed, posters were erected warning people that anyone caught dumping there would be fined 300 euros.

Normally the access road to the area is closed with a heavy chain. Since the other roads that lead to the area are impassible for large trucks, clearly someone had a key yesterday to unlock the chain.

Rain, rain go away


The rain in Spain fell mainly on Orihuela yesterday. The centre of the town was flooded as 50l per m2 fell in just one hour. The worst affected places were the streets under the mountain range. There was even a partial landslide of the wall that surrounds the Seminary of San Miguel.

It rained heavily here in Bigastro but no where near as badly as it did in Orihuela. On the coast they had hardly any rain at all.

The weird thing was that an hour later the sun came out and dried it all up.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Calling all dog owners


You may have already seen this notice advertising the campaign to prevent the spread of rabies in dogs.

There are two sessions when you can take your dog for vaccination.

  • Thursday, 26th June between 6pm and 8:15pm
  • Saturday 28th June between 10am and 1pm

There is no mention of a fee on the notice so I imagine there will be no charge.

Feel like dancing?

The dance festival held on the 1st June at the Auditorium played to a packed house. 

For those who couldn't find a seat there is another opportunity to see some of Bigastro's highly talented dance students on Sunday 15th June at 8:00 pm.

This time it is the turn of GIMNASIO DORA SPORT and the Escuela de Baile CHASSÉ to perform for us.

This event could well prove to be as popular as the last occasion, so it's probably best to arrive early to secure a seat.

Entrance is as usual free.

We just want a peaceful life

We knew that moving to Spain would bring us many challenges. We understood that our way of life would be very different and that we would have to adapt to that. Apart from moving to a new country, we were also retiring from work. That meant we would have more time at home and more time to get to know our new neighbours.

Mostly we were able to anticipate what we would be facing from the accounts we'd read in books and articles. However, there have been a few aspects of living on an urbanisation that we hadn't counted on.

We were surprised first of all by the diverse social backgrounds that our neighbours came from. Where we lived in the UK, there was far less of a mix of people. Here it was a bit like being put together in one of those TV reality show houses.

At first everyone seemed to get on very well but you knew that couldn't last. Friendships started to form and cliques developed. Within a relatively short space of time we had the inevitable 'fallings out'. In most cases, the result has been an amicable 'parting of the ways' . In others, the fallings out have been more fraught.

As one very astute neighbour put it to me, "true friendship only happens after a long period of getting to know each other. What we have here are acquaintances who may or may not eventually become friends." Clearly my neighbour wasn't going to fall into the trap of pretending that people he'd only known for a short time could be classified as friends. Equally he wasn't going to start falling out with people because they didn't share his views on life. His plan was to take things slowly, get to know people and then, based on his judgements, either associate with them or avoid them. That seemed to me to be a very sensible approach which was similar to ours.

The other aspect which has surprised us is how some of our new neighbours deal with each other. Obviously, we are not all going to see eye to eye. There are going to be times when we'll feel the need to air our differences. In our view, that doesn't excuse rude and aggressive behaviour nor the use of obscene language. What we are witnessing is, not just people who are not getting on with each other but are actively at each other's throats. We weren't prepared for that.

Last night's Residents' Meeting highlighted the wide divisions that are appearing in our community. It also demonstrated the lack of tolerance that some of our neighbours show towards each other and to the Spanish way of life.

The original purpose of the Association was to bring people together with a common aim. Increasingly these meetings seem to be driving people apart. They have become a platform for aggressive argument rather than reasoned debate. That's neither the fault of the Committee nor the Association; it is a sad reflection on the current 'state of play' within the urbanisation.

We didn't come here to pick arguments with people. Nor do we want to be witnesses to other people's aggression towards each other. Like most, we came here for a peaceful retirement and that is what we are going to have. Please don't take this personally, but I'd rather watch people threaten each other on TV than see it in real life. If that means I'll missing out on any valuable information provided by the meetings, then so be it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

iPhone in Spain

On the 29th June 2007, the iPhone was launched. Now finally, on the 11th July, Telefónica will introduce the new iPhone 3G.

According to Apple, this new version will navigate the Internet 36% faster than either a Nokia N95 or a Blackberry. It also has a talk time of 5 hours or 5-6 hours surfing the net, 7 hours watching videos and 24 hours listening to music.

The new version is also a lot cheaper than the original: a 8Gb iPhone 3G  costs $199  which is$200 less than the original. Telefónica may price the phone differently according to the contract that you sign up for.

Shortage of fuel

Petrol stations in the Alicante province have a supply problem as a result of the carriers strike. Some have enough fuel for two days, others for  four hours or less.

The petrol stations in the province have tried to fill their tanks to the maximum. However, due to the panic buying, the tanks were emptied as quickly as they were filled. As a result, some petrol stations have put up closed signs.

There is the possibility of establishing a protocol to allow police escorts for trucks from depots to ensure supplies.

People are urged no to keep topping up because, even with normal deliveries, petrol supplies couldn't cope.

From both sides

Izquierda Unida (United Left) have denounced the City council for continuing with their project to turn rustic land into urbanizable land on the margin of La Pedrera.

Remember there was a questionnaire on the Bigastro web site about his issue. The Council were seeking people's opinions about what should be done with the land behind the planned aparthotel.

The IU say the conversion will have negative repercussions on the environment. The only beneficiaries will be the speculators; with the City council first and foremost.

United left thinks that "ya está bien de hablar del beneficio de los vecinos de este pueblo cuando lo que se busca es siempre el beneficio de los mismos de siempre. Esto nos hace pensar que en estas continuas reconversiones hay intereses bastardos, intereses que no nos interesan a los vecinos de este pueblo".

So now the ruling Socialists are being attacked from both sides. No doubt the Green party will pitch in next putting more pressure on the PSOE to change its plans.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Speaking of the past

In English we like to keep things simple. So if we are talking of the past we can mostly get by with just one verb form e.g.

  • Previously, I lived in England.
  • I lived in England until 2004.
  • This year, I lived in England.

Not so in Spanish.

  • Antes, vivia en Inglaterra. Préterito imperfecto (I used to live)
  • Vivi en Inglaterra hasta 2004. Préterito indefinido (I lived)
  • Este año, he vivido en Inglaterra. Préterito perfecto ( I have lived)

and that is without touching on the other verb forms to express the past such as the préterito pluscuamperfecto - había vivido (I had lived)

and of course not mentioning the fact that in English we can say:-

  • I lived
  • You lived
  • We lived
  • They lived
  • They all lived
In Spanish, the identifier is included with the verb so for each verb form you have variations for: yo; tú; él, ella, Ud.; nosotros; vosotros; ellos, ellas, Uds. That makes a staggering total of 18 different verbs just to talk about where or when someone lived.

I'm beginning to think that learning Spanish could take a little longer than the Hugo's 'Spanish in 3 Months' suggests.

Problem solved

I get the impression that airlines are much stricter now about the weight of your luggage these days. Whereas at one time if you were a bit over they would let it go; now they charge you for every kilogramme of excess luggage. Most already charge for any hold luggage so to pay extra for an overpacked case is just a step too far.

Like many, we try to balance the cases on the bathroom scales but it isn't easy. The alternative is to weigh yourself with and without the case and subtract one figure from the other. Either way, if you are staying in a hotel, it is hardly likely that you will find scales to check the weight for the return journey. Those presents and souvenirs can become expensive when you have to pay excess charges to bring them back.

What you need is something like the scales that anglers use to weigh their catches. Something small, light and portable that you can take with you to check your cases before you return.

The Guardian newspaper are offering just such a device. Weighing just 228g this mini wonder will weigh up to 44kg/100lbs. You simply attach your case or bag to the strap, lift it with the sturdy handle, wait for the beep and set it down again. The large LCD display gives you the weight in your choice of metric or imperial.


And the price - £22.99 . Those scales could pay for themselves in a few trips for my daughters who always bring enough shoes to set up a shop and then complain that it was the 80 teabags they packed that cost them excess baggage.

Of course you could save yourself a bob or two by shopping around. Trip Needs have the same scales for £18.99 including free delivery in the UK. Permark have something similar for £12.95 plus £1.55 P&P. If you are really budget conscious; then Amazon have analogue luggage scales for just £6.95.

If you are shopping in Spain; then Giftec in Alicante will deliver you the Balanzza scales for €22.49 (payment by PayPal).

Or you can pop round to Mel's on Calle Inglaterra and order these Betterware scales for €9.49.


El tiempo malo

Just what has happened to the weather here in Spain? By June it is supposed to be settled with hot sunny days and warm dry nights. Instead we seem to be getting intermittent cloud covering and rain. Just when you'd expect to be able to pack your trousers away until Autumn, the temperature drops and you have to get them out again.

Worse still, the social calendar here is based on being able to organise events outside without fear of getting a soaking. One of our neighbours had organised a party outside for Saturday and was blessed with clear blue skies and warm sunshine all day. If the party had been organised for Sunday instead, the guests would have needed umbrellas and coats.

The forecast is for more rain today (it is actually pouring down now as I write), cloud on Tuesday morning and then sunshine for the rest of the week. So if you're planning to hang out washing, it's probably best to wait until Wednesday when you should get a good drying day.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

You can still watch Corrie

It's no consolation to those who want to watch Sky sports but you can legally receive BBC and ITV programmes (not Channels 4 and 5) via the Astra 2 satellite at 28.2ºE of South.

You need a decent size prime focus dish (probably 1.8m in this area) , an appropriate LNB (the Invacom TWIN is recommended) and a decent Spanish European Free to Air Digital Receiver which you can get from Carrefour.

NB British Freeview receivers will not work here in Spain.

BBC Prime is available on a number of satellites. Not just Astra 2.
Intelsat 904 – Katelco Plus
Hellas Sat 2
Eurobird 2 Orbit Network
Astra 3A Kabel Deutschland
Astra 1KR UPC Direct, Canal Digitaal Satelliet
Eutelsat W2 Toal TV
Hotbird 6, 7A, 8 TPS, Cyfra +, SKY Italia
Eutelsat W3A Diti Turk
Thor 2 Canal Digital
Atlantic Bird 2 Orbit Network
Hispasat 1C TV Cabo

You can watch TV via the Internet - even Sky but you will need a broadband connection. Go to for information.

To watch Sky via the Internet you need a SlingBox, which is a box that you hookup to your friend/family’s TV connection in the UK and it “slings” the programming to your computer. Of course it requires you both to be connected to the Internet for it to work and it eats up bandwidth slowing everyone else's connections down.

Desperate people

Police Officers from Elche stopped two men who were trying to steal 100kgms of electrical cable from a depot near the A7 motorway.

Now I know that copper fetches a decent price but jut imagine having to strip the insulation of a whole drum of cable. It's a hard way to make a few bob.

However, it is a damn sight better than inflicting misery upon house owners by breaking in. As people become more security conscious and install extra locks and bars across doors, the robbers become more desperate. The cost of the damage the thieves cause then outweighs the value of the goods they steal. For us it's a no win situation.

Talking of desperate situations; there is still no resolution to the problem subscribers to the microwave systems are having receiving Sky programs. One resident told me that he visited the premises of one of the microwave companies in Quesada last week and asked how long could they guarantee providing coverage of Sky sports. The assistant said that they didn't have an answer to that question and told him to leave the shop.

Those who had their systems installed just before the shut down must feel mightily peeved. Promises of extra freeview channels won't appease people who paid good money to watch their favourite sports.

My feeling is that BskyB will not breach their agreement with Canal and allow reception of Sky programs here in Spain. Even if they did; they certainly won't condone the re-transmission of their services via microwave.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Metro Club - the official position

Comunicado del Ayuntamiento de Bigastro

Queremos poner en conocimiento de los clientes de Metro Dance Club que el Ayuntamiento de Bigastro no tiene competencias para regular las actividades que se realizan en la Sala antes mencionada, siendo competente a estos efectos el Ayuntamiento de Orihuela y, por lo tanto queremos dejar claro que no hemos intervenido en los acontecimientos que se han ido produciendo desde el pasado lunes.

In other words; the Town Hall in Bigastro wants to make it clear to the clients of the Metro club that they had nothing to do with the events which have taken place since Monday. The decision to postpone the Anniversary event was taken by the Town Hall in Orihuela.

Although the club is situated near to Bigastro, it is in fact in the territory controlled by Orihuela and comes under their jurisdiction.

Bigastro has in fact hosted many events for clubbers both in the park and at the sports centre. Although we, of a certain age, may feel we need to have our beauty sleep undisturbed, the Town Hall recognises that young people have a right to their entertainment. Clearly they don't want to be seen as killjoys. Bigastro is, after all, a town which looks after young and old, firm and infirm in equal measures - egalitarian in the true sense of the word.

Hopefully, sufficient notice has been given to prevent people from making a wasted journey to the Metro. The last thing that Bigastro needs is hoards of angry clubbers taking it out on the town because they think we have spoilt their party.

More ways to get here

Final approval for the new Murcia airport at Corvera has been given. Work is expected to begin in Summer and is expected to be completed by 2010.

The new airport will be open 24 hours a day unlike San Javier which shares its facilities with the military base there.

The  new terminal at Alicante and the second runway at San Javier along with the new airport at Corvera will provide visitors with a lot more choice and better facilities.

Changes to Health Care entitlement

Apparently the British Government have been slow in settling the health bills run up by citizens under the Europe wide reciprocal agreement. As a result of which, Valencia's health budget is severely over stretched by EU citizens claiming free health care.

The community's health minister, Manuel Cervera, therefore made an announcement yesterday which will affect British residents who have a SIP card by virtue of a "Newcastle Letter". These letters were obtained from the Overseas Benefits Office at the Department of Works and Pension, Newcastle. They allowed citizens without either a E121 or a E106 to get free health care here in Spain. The letter and the SIP card had to be renewed each year. Current SIP cards obtained by this method will be honoured but not renewed once they expire.

Those people who have an E106 ( valid for 2 years after leaving the UK) or who have an E121 (pensioners or their dependents) will not be affected.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

11+5 cancelled

Local Police Officers from Orihuela came yesterday to Bigastro to seal off the Metro dance club.

The management of the club have had denuncias dating back to 2002 related to the change of status of the place from a cafeteria to a discotheque and to security issues. Finally the Subdelegation of the Government in Alicante have acted.

They were due to hold their anniversary disco (11+5) this Saturday from midnight until 11am Sunday to which thousands of clubbers from Alicante, Murcia, Albacete and Almeria were expected to attend. Twenty national and international djs had been booked along with several groups. There were also other spectacles organised for the seven zones in in the 30,000 m2 area of the club. That event has now been postponed and may never happen.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


A mecca for shopaholics; the Trafford Centre is also an interesting collection of buildings.

The new Barton Square homeware section is Romanesque in style complete with statues and fake palm trees.


P1000274 P1000277

P1000280 P1000275

The other attraction in Manchester that caught my eye was the Wheel which incidentally was assembled here in Spain and transported by lorry to its site in the Medieval Quarter.


P1000107 P1000100

P1000103 P1000104