Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Only myself to blame

I know that some were overjoyed when we had heavy rain a couple of weeks ago. For them it brought relief from the heat of the summer. However, the rain did provide ideal breeding conditions for one of the worst of the summer pests – mosquitoes.

Whenever it rain like that, pools form. then the sun comes out and the mosquitoes lay their larvae in the water. In order to feed themselves during this breeding frenzy they go on the attack providing misery for those they choose to bite. The poison they inject is an anticoagulant which stops the blood from clotting as the insects feed. Unfortunately it leaves behind a fluid that itches like mad and in some cases causes a severe reaction.

If it is bad here in Bigastro, between the two lagoons near the coast it is even worse. The urbanisations on the way into Torrevieja suffer horribly and have to be sprayed to eradicate the problem on a regular basis.

On some of the beaches in Torrevieja last week, great clouds of the insects could be seen and the toilets became unusable - not what the council were hoping for in the middle of the tourist season.

Now there are hopes that the council in Torrevieja will build an observatory where they can monitor the situation and anticipate plagues of mosquitoes, cockroaches and rodents before they arise.

The fact that I got bitten last week and again on Saturday is my own stupid fault. We have citronella patches that are very effective and cologne that still works well to keep the insects away. Stupid me, I forgot to use them!

This was the worst of the bites just above the ankle on my left leg. Strangely though, it didn’t really itch that much.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bigastro in the future

At the turn of the century, the city council in Bigastro started a bold project which they called, ‘Bigastro 21’. That lead to 'Bigastro Mejor' and 'Bigastro Avanza'.

In September the council, with the help of the Conselleria de Solidaridad y Ciudadanía, will launch the next phase of this development with the project, 'Bigastro Futuro’ which will continue with the work of the previous ones.

Inmaculada Martínez says that the council will set up public forums to enable all the citizens in the town to participate in forming the future for Bigastro.

Cooling off period

imageBy anybodies standards, last week was hot. When I could see the thermometer outside getting close to 40 I knew it was time to stay indoors with the air conditioning on. Pam did brave it out on a sunbed with a parasol to shade her and said that it was beautiful. I think she was in a small minority of people who enjoyed the burning heat.

This week,as you can see, is set to be cooler – a more bearable 30 – 32 degrees with even the chance of a spot of rain on Thursday.  YOu notice also that it will be cooler at night which should make sleeping more comfortable for those without air conditioning.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The changing face of the Pedrera

The Albergue at La Pedrera has seen a lot of changes since we first moved here only a few years ago. Originally conceived as a club for the campers who stayed up there, it seemed a perfect venue for the Brits who were living on the new Villas Andrea estate.

It wasn’t long before some of the residents wanted to form a committee to organise things at La Pedrera. Conceived with good intentions and with a majority of the people living here in favour, in hindsight that was a mistake. What it eventually served to do was to split the community and cause rifts between groups that had previously got on well together.

One chairman followed another and things got steadily worse. The committee became the focus of the rifts that were forming and the voice of dissent. Eventually the committee was disbanded which was a shame because there was a lot of good done and a lot more that could be done. I suppose the bottom line was that we did not want to be organised, we just wanted to get on with our lives and find our feet in our own way.

One of the issues that Pam and I identified early on was that many of the new residents were living as if they were still “on holiday” here. They were making friends too easily and involving themselves in each others lives without the usual cautionary time period that this would have taken back in Britain. British people are by nature reserved. In the circumstances they found themselves in, the new residents had dropped that reserve and paid the price.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge. Friendship groups have split up and new ones have formed, people have found themselves in their new environment and have settled back to a more normal way of life. Sadly along the way there have been a lot of recriminations and some major fallings out but then that is human nature and I imagine it is similar in many “new towns” in Britain.

Pam and I had always wanted to become involved in the town culture rather than remain part of an English culture existing outside. Setting up ourselves up as a sub culture seemed to be contrary to our aims in moving here. I suspect the same could be said of many other residents. We have been careful not to make enemies nor to take sides in the arguments that have taken place. We’d like to feel that we take people as we find them because that is how we have always been. Making Spanish friends has been just as important, if not more important to us as making friends with our British neighbours.

The nature of the Albergue is set to change again as Darren and Hazel end their stint of running the place. It may continue as a venue for Brits or may revert back to being a place for Spanish people to enjoy. Now that we have all settled in to our new town we may no longer need the lifeline of an English bar to fulfil our lives.

It’s a mystery

When Pam and I set off for Darren and Hazel’s leaving do at La Pedrera last night, we noticed a plastic bag hanging on the gate. Inside the bag was a tube of Wether’s Originals carefully wrapped in kitchen paper.

Since there was nothing written on the bag and no note inside, we have no idea who might have left them there.

Whoever it was though, thank you – it was a kind and thoughtful present.

Actually, for the benefit of lovers of these delicious sweets, you can get a very similar version at Mercadona. The Hacendado Caramelos de Nata con edulcorante sin azúcares are equally delicious and cost less than a Euro for a packet.

PS The mystery is now solved. However, I am sworn to secrecy so I can't tell you who the benefactor was. I know they read this blog so I am offering them a public thank you.

The end of a mini era

It is about two years ago that we went up to a meeting at La Pedrera to be told that one of our neighbours, Darren and his wife Hazel would be taking over the running of the bar at the Albergue.

At that meeting, Dareen outlined his ambitious plans which sounded very interesting. Along the way there would be a loyalty card for regular visitors to the bar, fish and chips on Fridays, regular live entertainment, a market on Saturdays, an auction on Fridays, line dancing lessons during the week along with the already running darts and pool competitions. We would have quizzes, theme nights, fancy dress, race nights and a revival of the Bruce Forsyth game, “Play your cards right”.

Menus for the restaurant were to be revised including a new Sunday lunch menu and full English breakfasts in the mornings. We were even invited to attend a food tasting session where we sampled some of the new items that the chef would be preparing.

To keep us happy, Darren went out of his way to book excellent entertainment for the venue that covered everyone’s tastes and organised special events for charity where several of these acts would appear “free of charge”.

The couple worked really hard to make the venture a success; late nights, and early mornings – always with a smile on their faces, they were the perfect hosts. Fully committed to the project, Hazel even took over to keep the food coming when one of the chefs resigned.

In the meantime, the proprietor José and his wife Maria took a back seat. They had done their bit in refurbishing the place in a style they thought would attract clientele.

However, In our opinion and it is only our opinion, José made some huge mistakes along the way.

Pam and I kind of liked the rural style of the Albergue before José turned it into a dark and gloomy night club with a myriad of flashing lights that gave some people headaches. We liked the openness which José transformed into different areas for dancing, sitting and lounging. We liked the fact that you could go up there for a simple menu del dia and know that the food would be good. Most of all, we liked the fact that it was a place where Spaniards and Brits could enjoy each others company.

It wasn’t all bad though, Pam and I did like José’s outside entertainment area apart from the fact that the BBQ smoked out the entire bar. Actually, if I am being picky apart from the BBQ, the tiles on the dance floor were lethal when it rained and the stage was an acoustic nightmare but the concept was right and we did have some great nights up there.

Sadly one of the residents living nearby complained about the noise one night and José decided to close it down. That neighbour has now moved away but it is too late. To be honest, it was probably loosing money so I imagine José wasn’t too put out.

So what will become of the Albergue now? José says that the darts and the pool will continue but does not seem to have committed himself to anything else as yet. My belief is that there are not enough Brits living on the estate to continue with the project as an English bar. In truth there never was.

My gut feeling is that José may well want to run it as a venue for younger Spaniards. It has after all, the right ambience for a night club with its lighting system, dark interior and José likes to play the music loud (too loud for most of the British residents liking). I would not be surprised to find that the “swinging sixties” gives way to the incessant drum and bass beat of a Spanish disco.

And what of Darren and Hazel? For sure, this will have been a period in their lives and their children’s lives that they will never forget. Thankfully for them, living In Bigastro will return once more to the semblance of normality they enjoyed before.

The couple both worked damned hard to make the venture a success and to please as many folk as they could. Perhaps we didn’t always support them as much as we ought to but then “clubbing” was not what we signed up for when most of us retired to Bigastro. Even if it might not always have seemed the case, we very much appreciated their efforts and wish them both a great deal of success in their future ventures.

From all of us, a huge thank you to Darren and Hazel for all you did for us.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lights go out over Europe

Last year 100W incandescent light bulbs were outlawed, triggering the first wave of stockpiling by worried consumers who do not like the energy saving alternatives.

By next week, it will be an offence to import or manufacture 75W bulbs, although shops can continue to sell them until stocks run out. As you might expect this has resulted in a wave of panic buying of 75w bulbs across Europe.

The greatest concern is being shown by those people who have old fashioned light fittings that take candle shaped bulbs for which there is no simple low energy replacement. This could pose a problem for the landed gentry with chandeliers and wall lights in their stately homes.

Panic buying of light bulbs is expected to get even worse when 60W bulbs are banned next year and all incandescent bulbs are phased out by 2012.

Advocates claim that replacing the old fashioned lamps with more efficient models will reduce domestic energy consumption for lighting by 60 per cent in the EU, equivalent to saving 30 million tons of CO2 pollution every year.

Unfortunately that argument does not sit well with those who simply do not like the colour of the light from the new bulbs of the shapes that they come in.

The Vuelta in Orihuela

Remember that the 186km seventh stage of the Vuelta Ciclista a España will be coming to Orihuela on the 3rd of September.

The route will take the cyclist three times through the city;  the first time at about 1:32pm when the cyclists will arrive at  Ociopía by the roundabout on the N-340:-


Approximately two hours later cyclists will arrive for the second passage through the city by the same roundabout:-


The last pass through Orihuela will be at about 5:27pm arriving by the Calle Marqués de Molíns where it crosses Calle Castellón:-


In order for this all to take, place streets will be closed well in advance and that parking will not be permitted in certain areas.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weird or what?

IMG_1441When you post pictures to Flickr, it is impossible to predict which ones will attract little interest and which will prove to be a hit.

On day 12 of this years Project 365 (the deal is you take and post a picture each day for a year) I was stuck for inspiration.

Then I came up with the idea of photographing the fountain pens that were lingering unused in my drawer. These pens date back to a time when I wrote everything by hand, preferring the feel of a nib on paper to the more usual ballpoint pen.

I readily admit that it was an easy task to get this shot. Draw three lines on a blank piece of paper, line up the pens and shoot from a low angle to get the nibs in focus whilst the rest of the pens were blurred.

A little work in Photoshop the next day matched up the lines to the tips of the nibs. It was hardly a piece of creative genius. It wasn’t like I was trying to rival great photographers like Helmut Newton or Ansel Adams. This was just a quick shot for my album.

It therefore seems strange to me that this picture get hits almost every day - just look at the statistics in the graph:-


440 hits already beats my previous record of the equally "interesting" pictures of Tor our dentist and the inside of my computer.It has even been marked as a favourite by two people.

Surely there must be more fascinating pictures in my gallery for people to look at. There are a few that I was quite pleased with at the time they were taken which gather a lot less interest than these three pens.

Ah well, if my claim to fame is to be a photo of a bunch of pens – so be it. I suppose there could be worse things to be famous for!

Brace yourselves for a hot day

The whole region is on orange alert for high temperatures today. In some parts of the province, temperatures could well soar to 39 Celsius. The cause is the same mass of air that came over from Africa earlier in the week. Temperatures at night will linger around 23 Celsius.

In Elche, temperatures reached 40 degrees earlier in the week – the highest the city has seen since 1953. With very little breeze, people described it as suffocating.

The good news is that, by Sunday, it should start to cool down to a more normal temperature of 30 degrees. However, with a drop in temperature we will also experience an increase in humidity - you just can't win!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A bit pre-occupied

I apologise to those of you who regularly drop in on my blog to see what is going on here in Biagstro. Posts over the last few weeks have been a bit sporadic for several reasons.

As you will have read, we had visitors over the last couple of weeks and as much as I like spending time on my computer, I’d rather be with my granddaughter Molly by the pool than stuck here in the spare room.

Now that our visitors have gone, you might think that I would have plenty of time on my hands. However, apart from sorting the house and the garden back out, I also decided to compile two DVDs for our visitors. The first one is of personal photos and videos from their visit.The second one is of my photos from the Fiesta as a memento for them.

Anyone who has embarked on producing a DVD will tell you that it is a very time consuming job. You assemble the material, insert some titles and add the transitions. Then you burn the final product to DVD only to find that one of the photos is misplaced or there is a mistake in one of the titles. That means going back to the drawing board to sort things out and re-burning the DVDs. Luckily blank DVDs are relatively cheap these days so you are not at too much of a loss to produce a few “coasters”.

The other issue is the heatwave we are in the grips of at the moment. Encoding a DVD from video footage is very demanding of a computer processor so it gets hot. Even at 9:30 am, I have the portable air conditioning unit blowing cold air towards my desktop to keep it cool and I am writing this on my netbook.

Hopefully , my intended audience won’t be too critical but they will expect something that looks reasonably professional. I’m burning the final copies of the Fiesta DVD on my desktop at the moment with my fingers crossed that all is well on the second attempt.

We’re having a heat wave!


Jemma, Laura and Dan in particular had hoped for some typical August weather for their two week stay with us. What they got was a mixture of sun, cloud and even a drop of rain.

Almost as soon as they boarded the plane back to the UK, the weather changed. The clouds parted and the sky was blue again.

Since then it has got hotter and hotter and is forecast to get hotter still. Just look at the expected daytime temperature for Friday – a scorching 38 degrees.

At those temperatures you can’t walk outside barefoot because the terrace tiles burn your feet, the car is like an oven and you need gloves on to open the gates.

As Peter Kay says, “I like it hot but not that hot!”.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Foiled again

I managed to foil the south American who tried to steal my camera in the Wok Buffet. Now I have foiled a lady on Amazon who thought she had fooled me into sending her my surplus lens.

Having failed to sell the lens on EBay, I put it on Amazon Marketplace. I had two enquiries for photographs which I replied to. Fortunately, I replied to them from a different email account to the one registered with Amazon which of course they did not know. 

This morning, surprise surprise I got emails telling me the lens had been sold. However; 1. the emails supposedly from Amazon had come to the wrong address, the English was suspect and there were spelling mistakes, 3. the fees quoted were far below those that Amazon had given me, 4. the buyer wanted the lens dispatched immediately to her cousin in Nigeria, 5. the postage costs were far in excess of Amazon’s and finally the email header showed that the mails had come from a Russian ISP.

Unsurprisingly , when I checked my Amazon account no payment to me was pending and the lens was still available on sale. 

So sorry lady, you will not be getting a free lens and furthermore I have opened a case with Amazon so you can expect to hear from them shortly.

The lesson, if you try to sell anything on Amazon and you receive an email asking for further details to be sent to an email address outside of Amazon – ignore it. Again I was fortunate, others may not be so lucky.

It is quiet round here

After the fiesta things do go a little flat in Bigastro. This year though, for Pam and I, things are even quieter because the rest of our family and friends have now returned to England.

First off, our youngest daughter Laura, her boyfriend Dave, Dave’s mum and Dad and of course our granddaughter Molly arrived. They were followed by our eldest daughter Jemma with her boyfriend Dan and then our very good friends, Glenys and Peter.

Jemma and Dan went back on Thursday followed by Peter and Glenys on Friday. Now the rest of the family have returned to sunny Britain leaving Pam and I on our own again.

I know that visitors can be a little wearing, however ours have all been such great company, it has been a real pleasure to have them here.

Star of the show had to be our six month old granddaughter. Molly has been so good for the whole time, smiling laughing and even uttering her first words “dadada Dave”.

The good news is that they will have to return next year because they are invited round to our Spanish teacher’s house for paella!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

After the party is over

It is less than a week since the fiesta in Bigastro finished and peace has returned to the town. In fact, the week after the fiesta many of the town people go on holiday so it is even quieter than usual.

I’ve yet to send my photos to Germán at the Ayuntamiento for inclusion on the Bigastro web site but there is plenty of time for that because he too is on holiday. I hope he is enjoying his well earned rest.

I have started the process of putting my pictures on a DVD for our visitors as a reminder of their time in Bigastro. As I do so, I am reminded of the great number of people who contributed to the success of the fiesta this year.

I would like to add my thanks to all those concerned: from the Fiesta Commission, to the people who took part in the parades. You made for some wonderful photographic opportunities again this year.

I hope you have enjoyed my web albums and will continue to enjoy my photos on the town web site in the months to come. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

What a wash out

Ask anybody and they will tell you that it hardly ever rains here in August and if it does then it will be just a short shower.

Yesterday was more than that, it was a “tromba de agua” which caused chaos in parts of the Vega Baja. Roads were cut off, the beaches were closed and there was chaos for visitors here on holiday.

The worst hit places were on the coastal strip between Guardamar and Torrevieja.In Torrevieja, sand on the beaches was washed away and has had to be replaced. In the area between Beniel and Orihuela, 21 litres of water per square metre were registered as opposed to the 8.5 metres in Rojales.

Half an hour later the rain stopped, the sun struggled to come out and by the afternoon it was a hot summers day again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A taste of Spain

Now that Molly is nearly six months old, Laura is starting to introduce her to solid foods – just a little taste to get her used to the texture and the flavours.

Pam had got some carrots which she boiled up and mashed to a pulp for Molly. For variety, we also bought some ready prepared foods like the manzana y platana (apple and banana) that Laura is giving her.

I reckon it won’t be too long before we can introduce her to paella, tortilla, calamares and pulpo!

If at first….

The first time we tried Molly in het pool she cried, she even cried when we put her into her own little paddling pool.

Yesterday however we had greater success. Molly was more than happy to splash about in her own pool under the careful supervision of her mother. We didn’t try her in the big pool though because the water there has dropped to a chilly 27 degrees.

Just not fair

imageOur eldest daughter and her boyfriend fly back to Birmingham today. This has been the holiday they have looked forward to for some time now.

Although we have had quite a lot of sunshine, there has also been a lot of cloud and even some rain.  Bear in mind that it is almost unheard of to have rain in this area during August.

This morning, first thing the skies looked dark; now it is pouring down just as it did during winter.

Hopefully it will clear up before we go out for lunch and before we have to take the two of them back to the airport. We would not want their last memory of the holiday to be of trundling across the airport terminal carrying an umbrella!

I was very lucky last night

Last night we took the family down to the Habaneras and then on to the Wok Buffet to eat. I had my man bag with me which I placed on the back of the chair in the restaurant. We made a point of never all  leaving the table at the same time, there was always someone to watch the bags and of course Molly.

After about half an hour of sitting down, two smartly dressed South American men came and sat on the table behind us. I thought it was strange that two people should choose a table for six and one should sit directly behind me. They neither ordered drinks nor went to collect any food. However we were out to eat and we were being careful so I didn’t give it too much of a thought.

However, my suspicions were confirmed when Pam spotted the man behind me interfering with my bag as she returned to the table. Once alerted, I quickly checked and found that all the zips were open and my compact camera was missing. Realising what had happened, I turned round to confront the man and saw the camera on the floor where he was pushing it with his foot towards me.

As I was returning the camera to my bag and explaining what had happened, the two men quietly left the restaurant so the chance to apprehend them was gone. 

Later on Pam spotted a group of three young men with towels round their necks wandering round the restaurant obviously looking for a similar opportunity. Within minutes there was a distraught lady explaining to the waiters that she had just had her handbag stolen.

This is clearly a ploy that thieves use at the Wok Buffet in the high season. They are taking advantage of the increased number of clientele and the fact that you can just wander into the place and walk round to find your own table.

For all I know, they may do the same thing in other similar restaurants and the bars on the seafront - something to be aware of.  I was lucky, others were clearly not.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Me and Mols

When Molly came round this morning, she wanted to know what I was doing on the computer so they put her on my shoulders.

Holding on to her hands did make it difficult to operate the keyboard and use the mouse. It did however stop her from pulling my hair and dragging my glasses off.

The family album

Dressed up to go for dinner, we posed for photos for the family album.

Then on to Patio Andaluz for a night of food, drink and flamenco.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No noise

Our eldest daughter Jemma very kindly brought us some Chinese lanterns to release as part of the celebrations for our 40th Wedding Anniversary.

They formed a beautiful end to a perfect day. It was a very kind thought Jemma that both your mum and I very much appreciated.

IMG_5948 IMG_5966
IMG_5963 IMG_5964

PS For those of you who were still outside last night at about midnight, that is what the red dots in the sky were – not UFOs – Chinese lanterns!

Pure devotion

The last night of the Fiesta in Bigastro is about devotion and thanks to San Joaquín, the patron saint of the town.

The solemn procession around the town is an emotional affair conducted in silence except for the music of the band. The  people carry candles to light the passage and th paso of the saint is taken to the shoulders by the Cofradia de San Joaquín.

You can visit my gallery of photos from this occasion at:-http://lastnight.keithwilliamson.es/

And now, my shutter finger needs a rest!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Muchisimo gracias

Pam and I celebrated our 40th Wedding Anniversary with members of our family and friends.

Glenys, me, Pam, Raquel, Finita, Gorita and Juan

Glenys, Pam and Raquel
Raquel, Finita, Gorita and Juan
Eladia, Pepe and Juan
Chris, Joan, Dave and Laura (baby Molly is in the pushchair).
Eladia and Joaquin

Working hard in the background were Peter, Jemma and Dan who will appear in later pictures.

Some of our Spanish friends speak English but most don’t so we had a mixture of Spanish, English and Spanglish in the conversation and it worked very well.

Pam and I would like to thank all those who made the day so special for us. We had some lovely presents and delightful company.

Here’s to the next 40 years, cheers!

A night of colour and devotion

Last night was the turn of the comparsas to parade in costume through the streets of the town.

See my photos of this parade at http://comparsas.keithwilliamson.es/

Having enjoyed the parade and got my photos, we returned to the bar for food and drinks. Then at 1am we went back to the calle to watch the townsfolk marching and clapping in the day of San Joaquín.

More photos at http://alborada.keithwilliamson.es/.

So another late night and another one to come. By the time the fiesta is over, we will be in need of some sleep!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Busy night

First of we had the floral offerings to San Joaquin followed later by a special concert in his honour.

You can see my photos from both events at:-



Saturday, August 14, 2010

Got that right

When AEMET said there was a high chance of rain yesterday, they were right. It waited until the afternoon before it started. By night time we were in the grip of a thunderstorm which lasted until about 11pm.

There is still a heavy cloud base over this morning but the forecast is for some sunshine during the day. The prediction is for rain in the north of the province.

The rain is forecast to return on Monday – hopefully not when the solemn parade is scheduled. They simply would not be able to carry the figure of the saint around the town if the pavements were wet and would not bring him out of the church if it was raining.

Food and drink

The theme of the Fiesta for yesterday was eating and drinking. First we had the Jornadas del Tapeo. Bars from the town set up their stalls on the shaded side of a calle near the centre of the town. There they served a cold beer and a snack for 1.50€. You could have everything from the humble tortilla to a pair of frogs legs along with the range of excellent Spanish beers.

Meanwhile, in the Plaza de la Concordia, tables were being laden with food prepared by the various nationalities in the town for the Jornadas Gastronómicas.

I am pleased to say that the British Buffet was again a tribute to the people living here. We do have to thank the ladies and gents who gave up their time to prepare the food and then man the stall.

To wash down the food, there was free beer and as one of our guests remarked, it was strange to see that there was never a queue for that – people were more interested in sampling the food.

As per usual, I was there with my camera. You can see the results at http://gastronomia.keithwilliamson.es/

Friday, August 13, 2010

The infant parade

I’ve never been down to take pictures of this parade before but I will in future. The costumes and the imagination put into them were just fantastic.

You can see my photos at:- http://infantile.keithwilliamson.es/

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Natural fireworks

Sometimes it is hard to tell whether the rumblings that you hear are fireworks or thunder. Last night was definitely thunder accompanied by some spectacular lightening and of course a drop of rain.

Hopefully that has cleared the air a bit because yesterday it wasn’t just hot, it felt muggy. Now we have a revised forecast which shows that we could well expect some rain on Friday.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Like a duck!

I would like to say that our granddaughter Molly took to our pool like the proverbial duck but she didn’t.

Molly didn’t exactly bawl but she did let us know that she wasn’t all that keen.

We then tried her in the paddling pool that Pam and I had bought and she did not like that either.

It is going to take a lot of patience to get her to swim from one end of the pool to the other!


imageOne important thing to remember when you build a go cart is to fit some sort of brake otherwise you are going to face a problem when it comes to the bottom of a hill.

Fortunately, the organisers had thought of this and built a crash barrier out of bales of straw which this rider decided to test out.

As far as I know he wasn’t injured, just his pride maybe took a tumble.

This is from the set of photos of the event taken by the young lady from the Ayuntamiento.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Be aware

The rats were a problem, the graffiti was annoying and now it seems that someone has been looting our post boxes. Scout John found some letters addressed to people on the estate in one of the benches on the way into town.

I know that people at the Ayuntamiento read my blog and I dare say someone has already been to the police station to report these issues. Hopefully something will be done to deal with the “rats” that are causing us problems at the moment.

Not quite what we wanted

imageWe have the family over for the next two weeks. They were of course looking forward to some Spanish sunshine. What they arrived to was cloud and what they will wake up to this morning is more cloud. 

Looking at the forecast, It seems that this cloud will hang around on and off  for most of the week. Friday looks as though it could be the worst day with very little sun showing through. On the bright side though, there is little or no chance of rain.

I will have to tell my family that this is better because they will tan without burning. I don’t supposed that they will be impressed by that idea though.

It is true

They say that luck, be it good or bad, comes in threes. Yesterday just proved that to be true.

Our family arrived from England. The plan was that Pam and I would go to the airport to meet the first party then we would return home for a meal, I would go down and take photographs of the parade last night. Meanwhile, Pam would go with Dave to the airport to collect our eldest daughter and her boyfriend.

On the way to the airport I could hear this strange noise from my car. It was as if we were travelling on a poor road surface. Never mind we arrived at the airport to meet our guests.

BAD LUCK 1 They came in at Terminal 2 not Terminal 1where we were waiting so we had to try and locate them.

BAD LUCK 2 Having found them, we went to collect a hire car. The machine refused payment on one of the cards so the lady had to reprocess the whole thing with a different card. Never mind, we were delayed but I still had time to get back and take photos of the parade.

BAD LUCK 3 I loaded some of the luggage into the boot of my car and we set off back to Bigastro. By now the noise from my car was getting worse and it was vibrating badly. I knew I had to stop and investigate but before I could do that, one of the rear tyres exploded so I quickly pulled into a space at the side of the road.

The tyre walls had gone completely there was just an inch or so of them left on the wheel rim. The tyre tread was just hanging loose. Luckily there was no damage to the wheel itself and we had stopped safely without incident. There was the most horrendous smell of burning rubber which I can still smell today.

Anyway, by the time I had replaced the wheel with the spare out of the boot, it was too late to make the parade so I am sorry but I have no photos of the Bando Cristiano “Caballeros del Cid” and the boato “El Silvido de Elche”.

I guess I will have to go to Hankooks today!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Muy rapido

Was it just me or did the cars without engines descend the hill a lot faster this year? 

There was a lot of imagination went into the design of the cars and some brave pilots in the cars that flew past me.

See my photos at http://cocheslocos.keithwilliamson.es/

All done for Gordon and Ann

Last night Gordon and Ann handed over their reign to the new third age king and queen.

It was more difficult  to get good photos this year because there was no screen behind the stage in the park, the catwalk was about half the length it normally would be and you could not get into the area just in front of the stage. I had to think on my feet a bit!

I’m afraid I upset some of the young men in the front row and some of the audience by standing in front of their view. I apologise for that but those flowers on the stage made it tricky to get a good angle on the ceremony.

Still those who missed the special moments can relive them in my photos by going to http://coronation.keithwilliamson.es/.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Almost a staff photographer

imageEuro Weekly News obviously like my photographs because this is the second one they have used to illustrate an article in the paper. 

All my photos on Flickr have what is called a Creative Commons license which entitle anyone to use them and even alter them as long as they credit them to me.

NB If they ever want to  write an article about plants or insects, there are plenty of photos for them to choose from!

Looky looky men fight back

There are two distinct groups of looky looky men in Torrevieja; 300 who are registered and trade legally and the rest who sell the fake goods obviously without a license.

A constant battle rages between the local police and the illegal traders with each trying hard to outwit the other. Every now and then the police manage to catch some of them and confiscate their goods. In fairness, the traders are at the end of a long Mafia chain which is highly organised and they bear the brunt of it.

Last Thursday, the police apprehended a group of Senegalese on the Paseo Marítimo de Juan Aparicio. According to which version you listen to, either the police attacked one of the men with clubs and racist comments or the men started pushing one of the police officers about and at the same time issued verbal threats. Whichever is true, the three men were taken to the local Police Station.  

However, in a bid to fight back, ten Senegalese have now taken out a denuncia against the police for making racist remarks and the use of aggression. Notably the police officers are said to have shouted, “os vamos a echar de uno a uno" and  "negros de mierda"

In theory , it should not be difficult to ascertain the truth because there would have been hundreds of eyewitnesses to the events but I bet they all tell a different tale!

Friday, August 06, 2010

A bad reception

Pam was in the town yesterday and wanted to contact me using her mobile phone. She tried calling the landline, then my mobile and then landline again. Short of finding a pigeon and tying a message to its feet, she tried everything but nothing worked. The phones rang but all I could hear was a crackle on the line.

Why? Because our mobiles are connected to Vodafone and reception for Vodafone in Bigastro is dreadful.

In a country where babies are born with a mobile phone in their hand, you would expect reception on all networks to be 100% but it isn’t.

So now we are faced with the prospect of having to buy new mobiles that will connect – possibly with Movistar – bugger!

That’s a new one

I've had all sorts of scam emails trying to get me to hand over my bank details in the past.

This one though is a new twist on the theme. The fact that the link takes you to www.nanodaddy.com rather than an official Government website is a bit of a giveaway as is the fact that the refund is for more tax than I actually paid!

Tax Refund Notification

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity, we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of 4500.00 GBP. Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 2-3 days in order to process it.

Click Here to submit your tax refund request
Note : A refund can be delayed for variety of reasons, for example submitting invalid records or applying after deadline.
Best Regards

Clean again

It didn’t take Aquagest long to sort out the water leak. It was apparently down to a burst pipe near the entrance to the estate.

In the process of repairing it though, they had to dig up the road. In England, they would have sent a road roller along after they had finished to flatten it back down and then laid some tarmac over to finish the job. Here in Spain they just filled the hole back in with soil and left it raised for cars to flatten it down!

That’s impossible

Valencia to Madrid on land in 1 hour 35 minutes – that is not possible! It will be in December when the AVE service starts. The new S-112 trains are capable of speeds up to 350km per hour.

You’d have to be a brave person with a Bugatti Veryron to match that.

Not worth watching


The National Police have broken up a gang who were storing and distributing fake good in Torrevieja.

Officers confiscated some 10,000 pirate CDs and DVDs of recent music and films, as well as over 50 items of clothing and around 100 pairs of sunglasses imitating prestigious designer brands.

The value of the goods is estimated at some 200,000 Euros.

Judging by the photograph from the Costa Blanca News, I’d say those DVDs were no longer worth watching!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

It isn’t British!

When Pam wakes up, the first thing she needs is a cup of tea – it is the British way to start the day!

If you use the water that has been stood in the kettle, the tea has a funny taste so I normally empty that out and run the cold water for a minute of so to clear the pipes and then fill the kettle afresh.

Imagine my surprise this morning though. I empty the kettle and then turn on the tap to find nothing but a bare trickle. This is a disaster!

Luckily we have a good supply of bottled water to hand which I can use to make the tea but what about the shower? You can’t feed that with bottled water.

Please, please, please Mr Aquagest can you sort this out – it is summer and we need water!

PS Before you ask, yes I have paid the bill – it comes out of our account automatically.

Brits join in on summer fiestas

It isn’t just Spanish towns that hold fiestas in summer, the mainly British urbanisations like to get in on the act as well.

image At La Marina they will be having classic cars, bouncy castles, live music, foam parties and a giant paella.

The fun all starts tomorrow at 5pm in the Supermercado Consum Car park, (Calle Justo Antonio Quesada, La Marina urbanisation).

The Urbanizacion Ciudad Quesada de Rojales residents and visitors have already enjoyed their week long festival in honour of the patron saint.

The week was launched with a traditional giant paella  attended by over 900 people. 

Other events during the weekend ranged from street parades to mobile discos and hip hop exhibitions.

The only thing that is missing though, is the tradition. In Bigastro, the fiesta is as much about that as it is about having fun which is why we love it.

It seems relatively harmless to me


Not to be beaten, Sol Productions are organising another attempt at the world record for the number of women in bikinis. When they tried this last year, only 233 turned up.

For this year, the organisers have chosen the peak of the holiday period when hopefully there will be a lot more interest and a lot more ladies about.

As you might expect, not everyone approves of this idea. Opposition groups on the Orihuela council have labelled it as chauvinistic and degrading. They say that this type of event is not the best way to promote the Orihuela costa adding that there are more important records to beat like a reduction in the number of unemployed.

I do take their point but feel they need to lighten up a little because this isn’t like the occasion when strippers performed with children present. I would argue that the Bikini Bash will be far less degrading to womanhood than allowing young girls to stand on roundabouts in their underwear!

In any case, you can go down to the beach in August and, if you walk far enough, you will see well over 2,000 women in bikinis. All the organisers plan to do is bring them together and take a few photos. I wouldn’t go now but when I was a young man, I would have been there in a flash with my camera in hand!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Resolve this in court

When I taught at Anfieldd in the north of Liverpool, children in the lower ability classes would often hurl insults at each other. When you investigated these incidents, the root cause was often quite trivial.

Neither Raúl Valerio Medina nor Aurelio Murcia fit into the ranks of low ability and their sparring is not in a classroom of young children. These are two intelligent adults at war in the council chambers.

The pattern is similar at every meeting; both parties are supposed to take turns to have their say. However, Aurelio Murcia and Jose Antonio Ricart continually interrupt the proceedings by shouting across the chamber. The mayor finally decides he has had enough and expels them and then the insults begin.

At the meting last week, it was when the councillor for education, Loli Andreu was speaking in defence of a proposal by the socialists that the insults started. She was variously described as useless, inept and incompetent. When the mayor tried to regain order, then the real insults started to fly; “vais a acabar todos en la cárcel” followed by “haberse quedado con dinero de dos obras públicas”. As Murcia was heading towards the door he added “iros a tomar por culo” to which the mayor responded with “eres un sinvergüenza”. I will leave you to look up those words.

The result is that Raúl Valerio Medina has taken the matter to the Guardia CIvil where he has presented a denuncia. What happens next, I don’t know. Presumably if there is a case to be answered, it will be resolved in court.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Planning for improvements

The Town Council for Bigasto have great plans to transform the town for the benefit of all using grants from the Government and other bodies.

You can read about them here:-http://www.bigastro.es/documentos/obras_ago.pdf

Sadly, in spite of all the best efforts of the Council, there are some in the town who are working against our best interests.

I can’t help but notice the graffiti which has appeared by the bins at the entrance to Villas Andrea. First they broke the fence and removed the litter bins on the route down to town. Now they have scrawled all over the benches, the waste bins and the map at the entrance again.

What possesses people to do this? I can only assume it is someone who wants to make his* mark in a way that is only decipherable to himself and his friends. To the rest of us it just looks ugly and distasteful. The sooner it is removed the better!

*I’m assuming it was a male who did it but I might be wrong.

The programme for the Fiesta

For those who haven’t been able to pick up a programme, here are the events:-

Saturday, 7th of August

9pm - Coronation of Queens and Ladies 2010. The opening address will be given by Ana Pomares Garci'a.

Followed by a Disco.

Sunday, 8th of August

11am (C/ Obispo Victorio, C/ José Nieto, C/ Luis Gálvez)) – The 2nd Competition for Crazy Cars.

9pm - Parade of the Christian Group “Caballeros del Cid” from Bigastro followed by the pageant “El Silvido de Elche”.

Wednesday, 11th of August

11am to 5:30pm (Barrio de la Cruz)- - Great Children's Fair.

Thursday, 12th of August

8pm (From the Unamuno Schools) – Children's Parade.

11:30pm (Parque Huerto del Cura) - Official Inauguration of the “Barracas”.

All night disco.

Friday, 13th of August

Midday - The Uncle of the Tractor drives through the streets of Bigastro distributing very cold beer to palliate the intense heat.

12:30pm (c Antonio Perez Gálvez) – The third edition of the Days of the Tapeo (a small beer and a tapas for no more than the shrapnel in your pocket).

2:30pm (Plaza de la Concordia) – The sixth edition of the Gastronomic Day.

8:30pm - Parade of the Comparsas (this is where they get wet!)

Midnight – Gala of the Memory (not sure what that is)


Saturday, 14th of August

Midday - The Uncle of the Tractor (more cold beer)

12:30pm - Tapeo

5:30pm ((C/ Acequia) – Foam Party (that will cool them down!)

7:30pm – Parade and Floral Offering to honour our landlord starting from the “Unamuno Schools”

8:30pm - Mass in the Plaza de la Constitución.

11pm– Special Concert for San Joaquin by the Society Musical Union of Bigastro, directed by D. Tomás Rodríguez Gómez.

1am – Performance by the group the UNION in the Parque Huerto del Cura (free)


Sunday, 15th of August

9:30am and Midday - Mass to honour the Virgin of Asuncio'n

11am - End of and presentation of trophies for the 2nd Caliche Championship “San Joaquín 2010”.

Midday - The Uncle of the Tractor (even more cold beer)

12:30pm - Last day to enjoy the tapeo.

9pm - Multicoloured parade of comparsas and floats.

1am - Traditional parade to welcome in the dawn of San Joaquín’s Day .

Performance by the group Matrix Band followed by a disco.

Monday, 16th of August

9:30am – Holy Mass

Midday - Solemn Mass to Honour San Joaquín celebrated by the Priest of Bigastro and the Choir “Manuel Moya”. Presided over by the Bishop of the Diocese, D. Rafael Palmero Ramos.

1pm – A Traditional Mascletá ( very loud fireworks set off in a rhythmical fashion)

8:30pm - Solemn Procession to honour San Joaquín.

Fantastic firework display organised by Ferrándiz Pyrotechnics.

Disco until dawn.

Monday, August 02, 2010

How much do we owe?

Just how much in debt is Bigastro? Well it depends who you speak to.

According to the Ministry of Economy and Property, the debt as of 1st January 2010 was 6.4 million Euros (952 Euros per head of population). However, the Popular Party say the debt is a lot higher than that quoting a figure of around 20 million (3,018 Euros per head).

How does the PP come by that figure?

They say that along with the official debt you have to add in other debts like the hotel which cannot be built which is about 3 million. In addition you have to take account of the money owed for the car park at La Paz which amounts to 1.3 million, the urbanisation of Sector D-6 at 2.6 million and sector D-12 at 2.3 million. Add to that the money owed to Iberdrola along with various other sums for projects.

In response, the mayor says that the figures bandied about by the PP are a nonsense and do not take account of income. I’d prefer to believe the socialist party but I fear that the PP may have a valid point.

A gaping loophole

From what I read, the hot topics of debate in Britain today are, “whether troops should still be in Afghanistan” and “immigration.”

I sense a growing dissent amongst the population about a range of issues concerned with immigration. Many feel that Britain has become a “soft touch” stating that immigrants should learn the language, abide by the law and accept the culture. Clearly there is a feeling that Britain is being taken over in particular by Muslim culture.

Along with illegal entry, there are many legitimate ways that people from non EU countries enter Britain – one of them is to arrive as a student.

Official figures showed that the number of students entering Britain from non-EU countries increased by more than 75,000 to 313,011 in the last 12 months, despite unprecedented demand for college and university places at home. The influx was exacerbated by a further 31,385 dependants accompanying foreign students.

The Government says that the student visa system had been open to “significant abuse”.

Many of these foreign students enter Britain to take legitimate degrees, with universities increasingly seeing them as a lucrative source of income at a time of cuts to higher education budgets.

As well as attending traditional universities, tens of thousands of foreign students have been admitted to 600 “lower tier” colleges, at which it is easier to gain a place but which are still accredited to hand out bachelor degrees. Some of these colleges offer qualifications in subjects such as circus skills, acupuncture and ancient medicine. Many of the students from these courses are given the right to work in Britain after graduating.

To make matters worse, about 4,000 illegal immigrants are also thought to have taken advantage of bogus colleges to slip into the country.

Staying hot


August is here so the roads will be crowded, parking spaces by the beach will be filled and the empty apartments will be occupied.

Weather-wise it is business as usual; lovely sunny days, warm evenings and little chance of rain.

I’ve got the furniture on the roof to paint so I am up early. Yesterday, I went to start the job at midday and it was just too hot to stay up there.  This morning I am going to get as much done as possible before the sun gets too fierce.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A day on the beach is not cheap

When we go to the beach, I’m content to just lie in the sun or the shade and either fall asleep or watch the world go by. Every now and then I might go for a dip in the sea just to cool off but nothing more exhaustive than a quick swim. Actually if I am honest, like most men, I spend a lot of my time studying “form”. Any man who tells you that he doesn’t do the same is telling porkies (as in pork pies = lies).

For adrenalin junkies my kind of day on the beach would simply not be enough. They need some thrills and spills to make their day on the beach complete and if they head in the right direction, it is all there waiting for them.

At many beaches you can hire a pedalo but that is hardly the heart stopping experience these people are looking for. No, for something more thrilling they need to go to Campoamor beach where they can hire a jet ski. They’ll need to be over 16 and sign a contract. They’ll also need their national identity card or passport and proof of address. These things cost a lot of money, they don’t just hire them out to anybody!

Then, for 45€ the adrenalin junkies can enjoy 15 minutes of chasing around on the sea at high speed.

Once they have gotten over that thrill, they’ll probably want to go on the banana boat (or as the Spanish call it the 'salchicha' ) and get towed around until the driver decides to do a quick turn and dump them in the water. All good fun - guaranteed to cool you off thoroughly.

By the time the day is finished it won’t just be their bodies that are exhausted, these thrill seekers wallets will be empty as well but that is the price of summer fun. I just hope they don’t wake me up as they pass me by on their way to the water.