Monday, October 31, 2011

Saying farewell

Pam and I are blessed with great neighbours here in Spain – both English and Spanish. Now, however, it is time for our English neighbours to say farewell and we are sorry to see them go.

You do read of serious problems that people have with their neighbours in some cases ending up in court. Pam and I have been very lucky in that respect, we have always got on well with our neighbours in each of the houses we have lived in.

The best you can hope for living next door are people who are unobtrusive and yet there for you to call on when you need help. For most of the time you would have hardly known that Ken and Kay were there which is as good as it gets.

Unfortunately though, it was just too hot here in the summers for Kay so they are moving to France where the summers should be milder. I hope they find somewhere nice and enjoy their new home. I also hope that they keep in touch. 

Farewell Ken and Kay, it has been a real pleasure knowing you.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rolling back the clock

It was ten years ago that Spain introduced the Euro as its currency  and yet there are still 285,000,000 of the old pesetas in circulation according to the Bank of Spain.

Normally, you would not be able to use these notes anymore. However, an initiative called “Return the peseta to Orihuela” means that, up to the December 10th, you will be able to pay in the old currency in designated shops which carry the MoAb badge at the door.

I don’t know what the rate of exchange will be but I am sure that prices will be a little higher than they were ten years ago!

PS I know there are a lot of Spaniards who still have a longing to return to the peseta but the truth was you needed a wallet full of notes just to buy a decent meal. On the positive side, you didn’t need a small fortune in the bank to be a millionaire.

Times are tough

The number of unemployed persons in Alicante province rose to 212,400 in the third quarter of 2011, an increase of 2,800 over the last quarter. The unemployment rate for the province now stands at a staggering 23.8%.

In the Valencia region, there were 26,100 more people unemployed in the third quarter bringing the jobless total to 617,300 representing a rate of 24.73% of the workforce.

For Spain as a whole, 144,700 more were made jobless during the quarter bringing the overall rate for the country to 21.52% and the total to 4,978,300 (403,600 more than last year at this time) - 1,425,200 homes in Spain have no income at all.

Twelve month ago people were saying that things just could not get worse but they have. All hopes are now pinned on the results of the general election bringing some improvement for the country. Let us hope that we are now at the bottom of the trough otherwise Spain could end up like Greece.

Help to the disabled

The Auditorium in Bigastro will host the presentation of Adis solidarity calendar 2012 (Disabled Association of Vega Baja) tonight at 9pm.

The event will  include performances by children and young people who are members of Adis.

2011-11-04_IMG_2011-10-28_02.19.07__VVB007VB002.jpg The leaders of the association yesterday wanted to give recognition to the councils that work with their projects: Orihuela, Benejúzar, Rojales, Callosa del Segura, Catral, San Fulgencio, Pilar de la Horadada, Benferri, Ganja de Rocamora, Rafal, Bigastro, Los Montesinos and Algorfa, as well as public entities such as the Diputación, Ivadis, Fundar, Universidad de Alicante, Fundación Inocente Inocente and to  companies like Procumasa, edén del Mar, Línea Gráfica, Icaro, Grupo Quara, Artesanía AC and the Colegio de Graduados Sociales.

The calendar, to which many photographers have contributed, sells for the almost symbolic price of five Euros.

Autumn is here


Summer is definitely over now, for one thing the weather has turned cold and damp (we have the central heating on for the first time since last winter) and the program of cultural activities at the auditorium has started.

Kicking the programme off we have a trio of friends playing Latin American music on saxophone, euphonium and piano

Tuesday November 1st at 18:30 pm in the Municipal Auditorium.

PS In case you hadn’t remembered, Tuesday is All Saints Day – a national holiday here in Spain and on Saturday the clocks go back one hour.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Plans for a future

At a meeting held at the headquarters of the constructor’s organisation Procosta, the mayor of Bigastro, Rosario Bañuls and the deputy mayor, Aurelio Murcia explained that, out of the 2,000  residents of the town who of working age - 1% are currently unemployed. Most of these were employed in the service sector or in construction before the economic crisis took hold.

They went on to say that, when the good times return and construction resumes, Bigastro has two partially completed developments in sectors D-4 and D-5 and another which is urbanised but not yet legal in D-6 along with two which are in the process of being urbanised – D-7 and D-12. In total there is land in the town to build one thousand new homes.

The lady mayor continued by saying that the priority for the town is to legalise sector D-6 so that the houses there can have electricity and water. Then the town wants to move on to facilitate the building of more homes for the people of Bigastro to which Murcia added that there are a thousand foreigners living in the town of which 300 are Europeans who chose to buy homes in Bigastro. The town therefore understands the appeal that it has to those investors as well.

As I have explained several times on this blog, Bigastro may not be the prettiest of Spanish towns that you could find but it does have many other overriding virtues which make it a good place to live. 

Bigastro is a proud town, the people are amongst the friendliest that you will find anywhere and it has a strong sense of culture and tradition. It is an easy place to gain acceptance and  feel that you belong. It is also convenient being far enough inland to be quiet in summer and yet close enough to the coast to make day trips easy. It is also well situated for access to motorways, airports and shopping. Added to which, five minutes away we have the cultural capital of the area, Orihuela with its famous Medieval Market, its Moors and Christian tradition and of course nationally recognised Semana Santa parades.  

Looking up to the heavens

20111026_astro The Department of Education together with the Parent’s Associations at CP San José de Calasanz and IES Miguel Hernandez along with the Science Teachers Association of Hypatia of Alexandria, who have made a study of the climatic conditions of the municipality, are pleased to invite you to OBSERVACIÓN ASTRONÓMICA on Thursday November 3rd at 9:30pm in the courtyard of the old San José de Calasanz building (current facilities of the local police).

The Hypatia of Alexandria Association will explain all the stars and planets that you will see though the telescopes that they will bring. As many will testify, I have long been an admirer of heavenly bodies but not necessarily those that are in the skies above!

I just hope that it is a clear night for them.

More than we hoped for

We were fully expecting Aurelio Murcia, the Councillor for Education, to tell us that there would be no Spanish class for us this year. Our numbers are low and it isn’t as if our understanding of Spanish is going to help the town progress.

But no – at last night’s meeting Aurelio told us that they had found two volunteers, retired people, who were prepared to teach us Spanish on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for one hour at a time. Classes start next Wednesday at 6pm in the Auditorium and will continue at the same time on the three days each week.

That is much more than we had hoped for and we are very grateful to Aurelio for all the work he must have done to put this together. I am sure the two volunteers will find us amiable and will get as much pleasure out of teaching us as we will out of learning from them.

The  town hall have also found volunteers to teach the Spanish ladies from the other classes and so they will enjoy three hours of lessons each week like us. 

As I have said, we are very grateful that a solution has been found that will enable our class to continue. We will, of course find ways to express our gratitude to the two volunteers. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

English in 209 hours

20111019_cursoinglesSERVEF is organising a course in English for 15 people. Although those wishing to take part need to sign up at the office of the Mancomunidad here in Bigastro, there are no details on the poster of where the course will be held.

Four hours of language tuition will be hard going for the participants but all kudos to those who take part. A command of English can open doors for employment in a wide range of countries as well as in Spain. 

Important meeting

Tonight, at 8:30pm, there will be a meeting at the Auditorium Francisco Grau with Aurelio Murcia, Councillor for Education regarding the Spanish for Foreigners class. I would urge all of you who are interested in learning Spanish to attend.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Difficult times for politicians

As Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy dither, the chances of the Eurozone taking the world back into economic crisis increase. In the meantime, David Cameron, fearful of a rebellion by his backbenchers, tried to use a three line whip to force a vote against Britain pulling out of Europe.  As he said, “when your neighbour’s house is on fire, you do all you can to help put it out and at the same time protect your own property”.

As it happened, the vote went against a referendum in 2013 but 79 of the government’s back benchers chose to ignore the whip. That is perhaps bad news for the Prime Minister who may be seen by some as having lost control of his party. It may spell further problems for him in the future.

I have no doubt that, if Britain held a referendum, it could well lead to the withdrawal of Britain from Europe because the eurosceptics would campaign vigorously to that end. David Cameron was right to stand against that possibility because he knows that Britain needs a voice in Europe if it is to avoid the economic catastrophe that is looming on the horizon. 

More new words for my vocabulary


This notice on the Bigastro web site instructs us to restrict burning waste materials from the fields between sun up and 12am. It applies to areas within 500 metres of forested areas and areas of cultivation.

I’d already come across the word amanecer which is Spanish for  dawn but not orto which means sun up.  Colindantes is another new word for me as well – it means adjoining or adjacent to and is therefore different to “a lado de” which means to the side of. 

These could be lifesavers

I read this morning that the Mancomunidad of Economic Promotion of the Vega Baja has five hundred tracker devices stored at their headquarters in Bigastro. They were bought through the Advanced Program launched by the Ministry of Industry at a cost of over 200,000 Euros and were meant to be used by the elderly  because the GPS system incorporated in them allows the wearer to be tracked in real time.

They are the sort of thing that would have been extremely useful when Pamela’s father started wandering as his dementia set in. With a tracker fitted we could have located him day and night which would have relieved a lot of stress at that time. 

You can imagine that with so many municipalities involved, deciding how many go to each and who should be the recipients was a task and a half which is why they are still in store.

However, such valuable equipment needs to be used not stored.  Thankfully, the new president of the association, Charo Bañuls says that the logistics of setting up the program to allow these trackers to be allocated will now be addressed.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weather watch

Since we have been back home, the weather has become unsettled; only to be expected after all it is autumn.

We could see a drop of rain today but then things should clear up for a couple of days. The bad news is that the rain could well return with a vengeance on Thursday and continue over next weekend.

So, if you have plans for trips out best make them this week otherwise you could be rained off.

British couple died when the market was flooded

Kenneth Hall, 72, and his wife, Mary, 70, from Bootle, Merseyside, were at the market in Finestrat, near Benidorm, when torrential rain caused a river to burst its banks at about midday on Friday.

The Halls are understood to have been dragged away in the current as water flowed through the marketplace, overwhelming cars and stalls. According to local reports, the couple's bodies were found trapped under a trailer. Two other people were taken to hospital, while a 90-year-old was missing but was later found unharmed in a nearby street, according to Spanish media.

The couple had three sons, Kenneth, Keith and Chris, and a daughter, Carol, who had recently given birth. The Halls had also recently become great-grandparents.

Friends described the retired holidaymakers as "the most devoted couple you would ever want to meet". The couple, who were on holiday in the area, were shopping at the market when a wave up to a metre high surged through a ravine and hit traders and customers.

Questions are now being asked about whether the incident could have been avoided after it emerged that the local council had been fined for building the marketplace on a ravine bed without obtaining the necessary permission.

The ravine bed was covered with an asphalt base that can prevent water from draining away during thunderstorms. The Spanish environment ministry had told the council not to hold public events there until further work had been carried out, according to local reports.

Black Sunday

There is no denying that football is a fickle game, one week you are on top of the world because you have won – the next you are terminally depressed because things did not go your team’s way. Manchester United started the season with some unbelievable score lines but sadly that period came to an end in an abrupt fashion with a 6-1 trouncing at home by, of all teams, Manchester City.

There was no denying the club’s enviable record of 38 home games without defeat. However, you knew that would come to an end sometime but you’d never have expected it to happen in such a spectacular way and to their Manchester rivals. The only way it could have been worse would have been if they had suffered a similar loss to their bitter rivals - Liverpool.

This result must have really hurt their manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. The last time Manchester United were humbled so comprehensively by Manchester City was a a 5-1 defeat at Maine Road in September 1989. A 6-1 defeat will certainly have hurt him even more. "I can't believe it," he said. "It's our worst-ever day."

United have not lost this heavily at home to City since 1926. One more goal for Roberto Mancini's team would have equalled United's worst home defeat, inflicted by Newcastle United the following year. As for Ferguson, his record books have been scarred forever. "It's the worst result in my history, ever," he said. "Even as a player I don't think I ever lost 6-1. It's an incredible disappointment."

The City manager tried to play down the achievement when he was asked whether defeating United so comprehensively represented one of the more satisfying results of his career. "No," he replied, "I'm satisfied because we beat United away and I don't think there are a lot of teams that could win here. But in the end there are only three points – we don't take six points."

Mancini went on to say,  "This is important for our confidence but we should appreciate the mentality United have. United are too strong for this to affect them. They know, like me, there are only three points and this is only one game." United, he said, are "still one yard above us. We can change this only after we win the title. After that, maybe it will be different but, for now, United are still better than us." With 5 points clear of United and a goal difference margin of 12, that was very magnanimous.

However, as my son in law always remarks, “winning the league is a marathon not a sprint”. One lost game does not spell the end of United’s campaign for this year but it will jolt their confidence and worse still,  fans of opposing teams will remind them of this result for a long time to come.

I don’t think I need say any more on this subject. Dave, I am gutted for you.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The dilemma for the post war generation

An article in today’s Telegraph says that those of us who are in our sixties should feel privileged. As the writer says, we enjoyed free love, free school meals, free university education and are now reaping the benefits of well defined pension plans.

However, as the article points out, the greatest benefit for us has been the growth in house prices over the last forty years. We might have struggled for the first years with our mortgage payments but as our earnings grew the ratio of payment to income diminished. When Pam and I retired, the amount we paid for our mortgage each month was less than 4% of our income.

The article goes on to say that, with the wealth that we post war “baby boomers” have accumulated, there are tough decisions to be made. Should we use that money to help out our children who face a far more precarious financial future than us or should we be mindful that we may need that money to finance our own old age. We have to face the reality that our physical and mental health may well decline to the point where we need residential care which will not be provided for us by the state; nor will it be provided for by our children – why should it be? The days when you looked after your parents in your home are long gone.

I remember when my parents sold the shop that they ran in Cawthorne, South Yorkshire, my father wanted to divide the money between my brother and I there and then. My mother, being more prudent, argued that they might need that money themselves. She knew that, once it was given away, they would be left high and dry without any savings to fall back on; their sole resources would be their pensions. My mother was right, having brought up her children and supported them into adulthood, it was up to us to create our own financial resources. Although it is natural to take care of your children and help them as much as you can, you must remember to also take care of your own needs as well. 

One thing is certain in all this, it takes a lot longer to earn and save money than it does to spend it!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Another chance to benefit

20111021_alz Another chance to help the Association for Families of Alzheimer suffers. This popular flea market also offers you  an opportunity to pick up a bargain.

The end of Eta

Half a century of bloodshed in the Basque country came to a historic close when the separatist group Eta finally renounced the use of arms and sought talks with the Spanish and French governments.

Three leaders in masks announced that the group was calling a final halt to the use of bombs and bullets in a video circulated to news media both in SPain and other countries.

"Eta has decided the definitive cessation of its armed activity," they said. Eta was following a peace script put together with the help of mediators led by the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, after a year in which it had observed a unilateral ceasefire.

Annan's group made its petition late on Monday, urging Eta to make "a public declaration of the definitive cessation of all armed action". Leaders of the separatist left publicly backed the call the next day.

That is of course good news. The cause lost impetus as more and more leaders of the group were arrested and Basque people no longer saw the bloodshed as a legitimate means to an end. Still in its time, Eta was responsible for over 800 deaths and many more wounded.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nanny state

Britain really is becoming a nanny state where people are not given the responsibility for their own actions. I already knew that you can’t buy paracetemol in packs of more than 16 just in case you rather stupidly fail to read the directions and overdose. Nothing to stop you going back for another pack though!

It seems the same applies to other medicines as well.

Pamela wanted some Imodium and so she called in at a chemist’s whilst we were in Sale. The lady behind the counter was reluctant to let her have more than one pack though and even suggested that Pam should go to see the doctor if she had a persistent problem. It was only when Pam told the lady we lived in Spain and that she was stocking up that the assistant was convinced. 

So, it is OK to drink yourself into oblivion on a Saturday night in Blackpool and have to be taken to A&E (emergency department in hospital)  to have your stomach pumped out but not to buy too many pain killers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The changing face of Blackpool

Even when I was a young lad growing up in Yorkshire, Blackpool was always regarded as a resort for the working classes. It was a place where factory workers from Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire used to go for their two weeks summer holidays. In those days, the middle classes preferred Cleveleys, Lytham or Southport for their vacations.

The attractions that drew my family to Blackpool were the world famous lights, the tower and of course the wonderful fish and chips. On the few occasions that we holidayed there, we’d stay in B&Bs; spend our days on the beach with our parents, sat in deck chairs on the prom and by night we’d visit the Tower Circus, enjoy a show or just stroll along the prom with a bag of those fish and chips.

Since those days of my youth, I have only been back to Blackpool on a few occasions. When I was Master of my Masonic Lodge, Pam and I went there for the Master’s ball. I also went there to receive my promotion into Provincial Grand Lodge. I remember that we took our children once when my parents stayed outside the town in their caravan. Other than that, our preference was for the more genteel resorts on the Dorset coast.

Yesterday, Pam and I went for the day to Blackpool with Jemma, Laura, Dave and Molly and it was an eye opener. By day, it was just the same but without the deck chairs. There was a good mix of families, young and old enjoying a day of sunshine. We went into the Tower Ballroom to watch the dancers twirl elegantly across the floor to the sounds of the Wurlitzer organ. We ate fish and chips at Harry Ramsden’s and then strolled out along the North Pier. Finally we walked back along the promenade to see the lights. It was a great day out that we all enjoyed.

As I say,  by daytime it was much the same but as darkness fell you could sense that the town was being transformed. The families had largely gone home leaving the promenade to the young who were out for the night. There was  a party of young ladies (I use that word reservedly) dressed as Victorian tarts whose first port of call was for food – very sensible because drinking copious shots of vodka on an empty stomach is not clever.

If we’d stayed longer I have no doubt we would have seen many similar groups of both men and women hell bent on consuming as much alcohol as they could before the night was out. By the early hours of the morning when these young people eventually spilt out onto the pavements - it would not have been a pretty sight.
The argument goes that it is these stag and hen parties that keep Blackpool going by bringing money into the town. That may be true but they are also adding fuel to the all too familiar image of modern Britain as a country where binge drinking and excess are regarded as the norm for young people.

Sadly, Blackpool has a long way to go if it wants to shake off the tawdry image that is has created for itself and return once more to being a resort where families feel safe to stay.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Great grandad meets Nemo

After we had been to the Blue Planet Aquarium near Ellesmere Port we called in to see Great Granddad Arthur at Mayfields.
Although Arthur is suffering from dementia, he did seem to recognise Molly and knew that she was his relative. As you can see, he was quite taken with the toy fish that daddy had bought Molly.

It was good to see Arthur looking well. For near 89, he is physically in fine shape, he eats well, still enjoys endless cups of tea and remembers who we are when we visit him. I don’t think you can ask for more than that.

As usual, we took him a box of chocolates which were half gone by the time we left.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The disposable phone

Who would have thought that the day would come when you could pick up a mobile phone for under £10.

That is just what Pam did yesterday from Tesco. OK so it isn’t an all singing dancing device but it does have several virtues:

  1. It is very light and small.
  2. It is unlocked and so can be used with any SIM card both here and in Spain.
  3. Nobody is going to try and mug you to steal it.
  4. Battery life is long.

If you are the sort of person who is for ever loosing a phone, this one is perfect because a replacement won’t break the bank. It is also perfect for those who don’t want a brick in their pocket and don’t need all those gizmos that expensive phones offer.

What does it do?

Well it makes phone calls obviously and it can be used to send text messages and that is about it.

What doesn’t it do?

It doesn’t make tea, it doesn’t take pictures, it doesn’t have bluetooth nor a radio/MP3 player, it doesn’t run apps nor will it surf the Internet but who cares, we have other devices for all those things.

I reckon this could be all the phone that most of us really need. Forget Blackberry,  Galaxy and iPhone, get down to Tesco and pick up a Samsung for a tenner.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The little witch

Molly in her outfit ready for a Halloween disco.

When we were young, Halloween was just an American thing that we might have heard about in films and on American TV. Like a lot of Yankee customs, it moved across the Atlantic to Britain’s shores and took hold.

These days many shops cash in on the idea with all manner of blood curdling things for parents to buy for their offspring. Everything from ghoulish masks to bottles of bat’s blood.

PS I wonder how long it will be before Britain starts celebrating Independence Day and Thanksgiving?

Sworn to secrecy

One of the main purposes of our trip to Manchester (apart from seeing Molly of course) is to finalise the details of the wedding of our youngest daughter, Laura to her fiancé, Dave.

So far, so good. Laura has found the perfect dress and the right shoes to make her day extra special. The men have found just the right suits to fit in with the style of the wedding and the invitations are all but ordered to be printed.

There are a few more details that we want to sort out whilst we are here and then Pam and I can fly home satisfied that we accomplished what we set out to do.

Now as for the details of that dress – I am sworn to secrecy. Truth be told, I haven’t seen it but those that have say it is just stunning. What I have seen are the suits and I can safely say that the men will not be letting the side down.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A one way ticket

DPP_0005 I was fascinated by the size of this Japanese kamikaze plane in the Museum of Science and Industry.

This tiny aircraft was designed to be catapulted from an aircraft carrier.  Once it the air it flew to its target using a rocket engine. The unused fuel was the bomb.  Obviously there was no need for an undercarriage because it was not intended to land in the conventional manner.

Most interesting was the fact that pilots either volunteered or were chosen for these missions.  Dave and I did wonder, what the criteria might be for being chosen.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Manchester weather

With just a few breaks when the sun tried to break through, it has generally been wet and rainy since we arrived in Manchester. Still, it hasn’t spoilt our fun.

Saturday, Dave and I took Molly to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. What a brilliant place that is, lots to see and plenty to amuse children of all ages including those of Molly’s age.

Sunday we drove over to Liverpool to meet up with our great friends Pete and Laura. What we did not realise was that yesterday was the say they’d chosen to hold the first marathon run in Liverpool in 18 years. That did make access to the waterfront difficult. However we eventually found somewhere to park and met up.

Pete has recently had a very scary health issues so it was good to see him looking fine. In fact, I would say he actually has lost some weight. 

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Why we live in Spain

There are lots of reasons why we now prefer our lives in Spain. Principally, being retired, we have time to do the things that we want rather than having to fit everything in to a work schedule.

The other big plus is the weather. When it rains in Bigastro it pours down and we stay in the house because we know that within hours, a day at the most it will stop and the sun will come out to dry everywhere up. In Manchester, where we are at the moment, when it rain it continues for days.

Yesterday it rained more or less all day and then again throughout the night. This morning, there is a bit of respite and we did briefly see the sun break through but we know form the forecast that the rain will return.

Although it is lovely to come and visit people and we do enjoy shopping in England, at the end of our stay we are pleased to be back in Spain where we now belong.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Bus times

Remember that I had a reader who wanted to know the bus times from Bigastro to Torrevieja. Well, one of my other readers, Ramon, quickly came to the rescue with this timetable.




07:00  09.00 12.00 14.00 15.30 19.00


7:00 12.00 15.30 19.00


11:00 14.00 19.00



07.45 10.40 13.00 14.45 17.45 19.00 20.15


08:00 09.40 13.00 17.40 19.00


09:40 17.40

Apparently the bus arrives in Bigastro about 15 - 20 minutes after the scheduled departure time from Orihuela and gets into Torrevieja about 35 - 40 minutes later after stopping in San Miguel.
The cost for a one-way tickets is €1.82

For further information go to

Good golly, Miss Molly

How much you have grown.

Pam and I flew into Manchester yesterday to spend a little time with our family and friends. First stop Sale to see our granddaughter Molly.

What a greeting - with a smile broader than her face, this little voice said, “papa” then “mama” (she can’t quite get the grand bit yet). Just that on its own made the trip worthwhile.

Then Molly told us all about where we should sit, which was her chair and who owned the car outside. Then she introduced us to some of her toys; there was Eric the bear (dressed in Manchester United kit), Dora the explorer, baby, Wabaloo, ladybird (that is the bag that goes on her back with reins to control her) and a whole lot more. Molly then read me a book and told me the names of all the animals in it.

I was worn out just trying to keep up with her. Oh and did I mention, Molly is just over 18 months old? What she will be like when she is three is anybodies guess.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Information required

I got this email from one of my readers this morning.

We haven't communicated before but my wife and I have been checking your blog for sometime now and it is an excellent and informative read. Last year we purchased a flat in Bigastro and have spent last week finally moving down from Granada province. Unfortunately the frequent return trips were too much for our car which broke down Friday night. The lovely people at Linea Directa were excellent at getting us and our car back to Bigastro with the minimum of fuss. Unfortunately we got the news today that the problem is terminal. We have organised a rental car with Goldcar in Torrevieja for a couple of weeks however we need to get there to pick it up in Thursday evening. So I have finally got to the reason for my email...we haven't seen any buses here! Do you know if there is any way, other than taxi, of getting to Torrevieja on a Thursday evening?

The only thing I could tell him was that there is a bus which runs from Orihuela to Torrevieja which picks up at the tobacco shop above the town square. As for the cost and the times, I have no idea.

Looks like a done deal

In Liverpool, they used to say, “if they come to paint your school, that is a sure sign it is about to be closed”. Sure enough, the school where I first started teaching was painted one year and closed the next.

Over the last few years, a lot of money has been spent at San Javier airport to upgrade the facilities. The check in procedure is now a lot slicker than it used to be and the car park has been vastly improved with shaded parking. Although there are more facilities at Alicante, Pam and I preferred Murcia especially when the prices of fares were lower there.

Now it seems the choice will be taken away from us. Whilst passenger numbers at El Altet have been increasing, those at San Javier have dropped. In fact he number of people using San Javier has decreased steadily since 2008.

The decision has not been finally made but it seems likely that San Javier will be closed in favour of the new airport at Corvera which should be fully operational by next year.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

No news is bad news

We still do not know whether our Spanish class will take place this year or not and it seems that the ladies from the other classes don’t know about their courses either. Classes should have started yesterday and so some of the ladies were going to visit the Auditorium to see what was happening, if anything.

I doubt that the ladies would have had any success because, without contracts, the teachers are highly unlikely to turn up and teach.  

If anyone from the town hall knows about the situation one way or another, I should be grateful if they would let me know. My email address is

Jab time

As we were preparing to leave the UK, we gave the doctor one of our neighbour’s addresses as a temporary residence. It seems that in my case, the records have not been updated so I got a call the other day from the medical centre in Moreton offering me a flu jab.

When I explained that I now live in Spain, the lady receptionist laughed and said, “I don’t think we will be expecting you to fly all the way here just for a flu jab”.

In fact we will be offered a flu jab here in Bigastro. The regional health service has spent over 4 million Euros on 900,000 vaccines for this year. They are targeting the most “at risk” sections of the community which includes those over 60 years of age.

So far, Pam and I have avoided these injections because we know that the vaccine itself can give you quite severe flu symptoms. Maybe we should reconsider the situation because you never know whether this year will be the one where there is an epidemic that will hit us hard.

Your right to vote

For those who might be interested, you have until next Saturday to check your entry on the Electoral Roll

Monday, October 03, 2011

On your behalf

I think you have probably gathered already that Pam and I had a great weekend celebrating the International Week of the Elderly here in Bigastro.

The icing on the cake was to receive this very kind email from the secretary to the councillor for the third age.

Hola Keith, soy M. jose la secretaria de Sonia Belmonte, queria darte las gracias por las fotografias que has hecho este fin de semana, son preciosas, he leido lo que has escrito en tu blog,(bueno lo he traducido con google porque ya sabes que inglés lo manejo muy poco) y es muy bonito todo lo que dices, esta mañana se lo enseñare a Sonia y le va a encantar seguro, espero que te gustase la gala y que disfrutaseis mucho este fin de semana, espero que haya muchos asi, desde desde este departamento estamos intentando que las personas mayores de esta localidad se sientan bien y participen en todos los actos, pues todos sois historia viva de este municipio, Este miercoles a las 17:30H, es el taller de la memoria y nos gustaria que nos acompañeseis, ya que la memoria es la un herramienta fundamental que las personas mayores deben fomentar de nuevo te doy las gracias de parte de Sonia y de esta concejalia y ya sabes que cualquier cosa que necesites aqui estaremos, gracias Keith Gracias Pamela. un beso enorme.

I have replied to Maria Jose on behalf of the Brits who participated in the events of the weekend thanking both her and Sonia for all the hard work they put in to make the weekend such a success and so enjoyable for us all.  I am glad she enjoyed my photos which I hope will  provide good memories for all the third age people of Bigastro.

Classy acts

Last night’s Gala for the third age highlighted the fact that Bigastro has a wealth of talent both young and old. I can’t begin to imagine how much time and effort these people had put in to polish their performances. They were all absolutely brilliant.

Apart from thanking the performers and organisers, we also have to thank the Councillor for the Third Age, Sonia Adsuar Belmonte and the Lady Mayor, Charo Bañuls for their very kind words. As I said yesterday, the Councillor had prepared a few words in English for our benefit which she delivered perfectly. In her closing remarks Sonia said she wanted to give us all a hug which was very sweet of her.

You can find my other pictures here.

IMG_3922 IMG_3941
IMG_3955 IMG_3959
IMG_3965 IMG_3978

Finally, Mel, who lives on our estate, won the television in the raffle. Well done that man!

PS My apologies for the quality of some of the photos, I had to  handhold my camera at speeds as slow as 1/2 second. Even with image stabilisation, with the lens set at 200mm that is a tall order!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

A sad state of affairs

The unemployment rate in Spain is still double the European average; for young people, the rate is even higher. Is it any wonder then that many seek work outside of Spain - mainly in countries where English is widely spoken like Britain and Germany.

The demand for courses in English is therefore high because without the ability to speak in our native tongue, many of these job seekers feel totally disadvantaged.

A day to remember

That was a wonderful way to celebrate the International Week of the Third Age.

Yesterday we gathered along with our Spanish and English neighbours in the Plaza Concordia, Bigastro to enjoy a delightful day together.  First things first, we sat down to eat lunch; three courses of typical food from the region washed down with soft drinks, wine, beer, and brandy.

IMG_3812 IMG_3826
IMG_3863 IMG_3820

After the meal we needed a rest so everyone dispersed only to meet up again at 6pm in the club for the third age.

Following an energetic session of dancing, everyone was hungry again and so we adjourned outside for churros and chocolate.

IMG_3883 IMG_3891

All too soon the evening was over, so we returned to our homes with fond memories of our day together.

You can see all of my photos from this wonderful day here.

However, the fun is not over yet because tonight, at 7:30pm, there will be a special gala for us in the Auditorium, Francisco Grau. 

From our experience this will be an excellent showcase of the wonderful talent that the town has to offer. Expect singing, dancing, music and laughter in great measures and all for 3 Euros. I will, of course be there with my camera to record the highlights for those who cannot attend.

After the dancing was finished last night, Pamela and I met up with Sonia Adsuar Belmonte, the councillor with responsibility for third age and her secretary. They wanted us to help them prepare an address to the English members of the audience tonight. During our discussions it was clear that the new councillor wants to make the residents at Villas Andrea feel welcome in the town. As she said, the Third Age Association is for everyone, Spanish and English alike.

I think I can safely say that, those of you who are present in the Auditorium tonight, will be suitably impressed by the lady’s command of English! 

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Operation Bigastro continues

The current case against the ex mayor of Bigastro, José Joaquín Moya continued yesterday at the Palace of Justice in Orihuela. The anti corruption  prosecutor is alleging that the former mayor is guilty of bribery, embezzlement of public funds and fraud in relation to the purchase of a Volkswagen Toureg.

Now, the former secretary, Antonio Saseta and treasurer, Mari Carmen Grau are also involved because it was they, along with the mayor, who signed the cheques. In all there were seven cheques, six for 6,000 Euros and one for 25,000 Euros paid to the car dealer.

The car was bought by the constructor,  Manuel Nortes who had performed work for the council in previous years but had not been involved in any construction for the council during 2005 when the vehicle was bought.

The complainant, Aurelio Murcia, now  wants the  case to proceed in the Provincial Court in Elche.


At the presentation of the courses offered by this year's Adult School and the Student Association Vega Baja, the Mayor of Orihuela, Monserrate Guillén  said,  "you can cut money from other areas of the council but never in education. Training in Orihuela is the most important thing."

The Councillor for Education, Rosa Martinez said that although the Ministry of Education has not provided the 7000 Euros necessary to run the course, the popular Spanish for foreigners class at Orihuela Costa will continue.

The mayor went on to express his commitment to address the lack of a proper centre for the Adult School.

This morning I also read that the scores from the selection process for adult education teachers in Bigastro has been revised to take account of errors made in the figures. Ana, who has taught us Spanish for five years, has now moved from fifth to third on the list and Eduardo, who taught us for one year is now placed fifth.

Opening times for the Auditorium in Bigastro


Monday to Friday 9am until 2pm

Monday to Thursday 4pm until 10pm

Fridays 4pm until midnight

Saturdays 10am until 1pm

Closed Saturday afternoons and Sundays.

PS That is a fine picture of the Auditorium.