Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Weekend complete

Monday, June 27, 2016

I've already had two bites to irritate me

Colour me blue

Even though the map looks mostly blue, the prospects of resolving the political stalemate in Spain do not look good. To achieve an overall majority, the PP needed 176 seats and as it happened they got 133 with 33% of the vote. That was an improvement on the 123 seats with 29% of the vote they got in December but no where near enough to govern on their own. It was the failure of previous attempts to agree a coalition that sparked a re-run of the ballot in the first place, and Sunday's election resulted in no major changes.

So now we are back to the situation where deals have to be struck. The two left wing parties, PSOE and Podemos only have 159 seats between them and the PP combined with the centrist party, Ciudadanos have 169. A PP/Cuidadanos coalition would need the support of some of the minority parties to reach the 176 barrier. Could that happen? Who knows!

What we do know is that, if Spain had a first past the post system (as in Britain), then the PP would have romped home.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The night(mare) nurses

This group of four ladies put on a great show for Billy and Pauline who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary at La Pedrera last night. Carol, Sylvia, Barbara and Anne, you did a wonderful job and left us in tears of laughter.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Some good news

As an aside to the news about the effects of the leave vote in Britain. Orihuela has been informed that the high speed train will now stop in the city.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

From the Guardian

Some rather different polling stations used for the referendum.

Fancy a moonlight walk?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

This was Juan

Pascual Segura has posted this picture of Juan Cipriano, a bigastrense born in 1862.

This would have been the typical form of dress for farm labourers at the time.

The picture also highlights the long history of farming in this area. You can only imagine the long hours and the hard work that men like Juan had to endure.

How is it going?

"How is the course of treatment then Keith?", I hear you ask.

Well, the first day I was asked if I wouldn't mind being at IMED for 8am. That meant an early alarm call for me since I needed to be there at about 7:30am to drink the necessary three glasses of water 30 minutes beforehand.

That was last Thursday. I now have a 9am time slot which is a big improvement. Still, it takes about 45 minutes to get there, so I have to leave at about 7:45am - much too early for Mrs W. who says she will come with me - sometimes!

I was warned about the side effects of the treatment which basically means you have to visit the toilet more often. As you might imagine, the prostate is pretty close to both the bowel and the bladder so the radiation effects both. Not only do you need to pass urine more frequently, it isn't that easy and it burns - what is aptly described as "radiation cystitis". I also have some herbal medicine to ease the problem with loose stools - NICE!

Luckily, the effects are normally temporary and should go away once the treatment is finished which will be on about the 25th July. I say about because I was talking to someone today who was on his last but one day and he told me that his course was extended by two days when they had to service the machine sometime earlier this month. The bonus was that he got an extended weekend when he didn't have to travel to IMED.

You know, women often remind us of their "ailments", well we men do not all get off so lightly. However, the alternative to treatment does not bear contemplating. I shall grin and bear it.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fantastic support

It was good to see how many people were up at La Pedrera Camping yesterday to support AFE Cancer.

As you can imagine from yesterday's post, this is a cause that is close to my heart and of course to Pamela's since she is a cancer survivor.

I hope they made lots of money from the event to support the efforts made by those who organised it.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Medical matters

About two years ago, my annual blood and urine analysis showed there was sediment in my urine so the doctor prescribed a short course of medication. He also sent me for an ultrasound scan.

The scan showed that I have indeed got stones in my left kidney but also indicated my prostate was enlarged. A quick PSA test came back with a level of 8 which, whilst not off the scale, was too high to ignore. Two further PSA tests showed levels of 6 and 8, so I visited the clinic in Orihuela where I was given a digital rectal exam. Although the prostate was not lumpy, I was directed to a urologist at Vega Baja hospital just in case.

A man of few words and none in English, Dr Cruces determined that I should have a prostate biopsy. The result was that I have prostate cancer with a level of 3 + 3 on the Gleeson scale. His reassuring words were that it was not "mal". Still I went for an MRI scan to determine the size and location of the tumour(s). Strangely, there was no evidence of the cancer on the scan which indicated it was small and well contained. It turns out there may be two tumours, both on the left side one in the upper lobe and the other in the lower - neither are particularly large nor are they aggressive.

Dr Cruces first offer was surgery but since that can have serious consequences I asked if there was an alternative and yes, I could have radiotherapy. That would be at a private hospital near Elche which specialises in this type of treatment.

Unfortunately, there was a breakdown in communication between Vega Baja and IMED and so a few months later I had heard nothing. I returned to Dr Cruces who apologised and gave me a course of hormone tablets along with a very expensive injection costing over 543 Euros would you believe.

Then,whilst I was in England, I got a phone call from the hospital for my first consultation. That nearly didn't happen though because they had been given the wrong phone numbers and had to get back to Vega Baja to find the correct ones.

Anyway, I had my consultation and have now started a course of radiotherapy which consists of 28 sessions - five per week Mondays to Fridays.

However, in between the consultation and the therapy, I spotted an inflammation on my chest which was quickly followed by a red rash. By last Saturday I was running a temperature of 38.4 C which meant I had fever. A quick trip to "Urgencias" in Bigastro resulted in an injection and a course of antibiotics. A further visit to my doctor showed that, apart from the infection I also had shingles. Both seem to be clearing up nicely but of course it is something I could have done without.

I have been pleased by the number of people who have heard about my condition and have taken the trouble to enquire. I thank them for their kindness and concern.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Next phase

The court in Orihuela has now finished the investigation phase of the case involving "ghost" labourers in Bigastro.

The alleged fraud occurred during the terms of Joaquín Moya and Raul Valerio Medina between 2002 and 2011 and involved 48 neighbours who received benefits under the Special Agricultural Scheme. None of them had contracts of employment nor are there any records of them being on the payroll.

The prosecution and defence now have to put their cases forward.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Fascinating archive

There is a page on Facebook dedicated to old photographs of Orihuela which includes this one taken in the 1960s of the River Segura as it runs through the city.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Turning up the heat

I don't have to tell those of you who live here that it has just got hotter. Yesterday it was forecast to reach 38 ºC here in Bigastro, today is expected to be cooler but then hot again on Wednesday. After that it should cool down with temperatures of 25 and 27 for the weekend.

It is not just here though that the heat has been turned up, seven provinces were on a yellow warning (the lowest of the three in the system) for high temperatures on Wednesday. Most at risk are Córdoba, Seville, Jaén and Granada, were the mercury could reach 39ºC, while in Badajoz, Zaragoza and Valencia temperatures of between 36 and 38ºC are forecast.

AEMET is also expecting that temperatures will be “significantly high” in the Ebro Valley and in the southern part of the peninsula, especially in the Guadalquivir Valley. This situation will continue until Wednesday in some areas of the peninsula, but AEMET sources say that “it will not be a heatwave.”

The temperatures are likely to continue to rise in most of the country, and it is likely that the highs will exceed 32 or 34ºC in areas of the Guadalquivir Valley.

The two original air conditioning units in our house have been spitting out what looks like black soot for the last couple of years and so we ordered new units earlier this year. Unfortunately, the units we ordered are no longer available and so the order was changed to their replacements. The new units are now in stock but we are still waiting for them to be fitted - damn! We could really do with them at the moment.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Saturday night sorted

Saturday, June 11, 2016

That was some party

Last night, as we were watching the special service for the Queen's official birthday at St Paul's, we could hear a band playing in the street below. The band paraded down the road and then stopped outside the red house  where they continued to play. A little later, there was a salvo or fireworks set off on the vacant land owned by the council. Further salvos followed and we could still hear the band playing. That lasted until just before midnight when the party seemed to be drawn to a halt.

 I'm sure our friends Sheila and Robert will be able to enlighten us as to what the occasion was. After all, they live opposite the red house and are friendly with the owners.

You have to admire the Spanish ability to party in a big way - no half measures when it comes to a celebration.

Friday, June 10, 2016

What a shambles

The EU referendum risks becoming more about the infighting in the Conservative Party than the issues at stake.

It is hard to know who to trust especially when people like Boris Johnson seem to have hidden agendas. If the vote goes his way then David Cameron's position will become untenable leaving the door to No 10 open to him. My suspicious nature makes me think that they all have their own interests at heart rather than the good of the country.

One thing for certain, every time the "leave" campaign seem to be taking a lead, the pound slumps even further which is not good for us living in Spain.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Sad news

Many of you will remember Pearl who came to live at La Pedrera with her husband Stan. They were regular attenders at events here and we often met them in the village where they would stop for a coffee and a chat.

Sadly, Stan died leaving Pearl to live in the portable home they bought. Although her family wanted Pearl to return to England,  she was determined to stay.

Most days you would find Pearl walking down to the village or returning home on her own and sometimes we would meet her in the VaiVen for a chat.

As time went on though,  Pearl became confused and often failed to recognise you. Sadly now she has passed away, no doubt to be reunited with her beloved Stan.

Pearl was a cultured lady who never had a bad word to say about her life here in Bigastro even though it can't have been easy at times. I am sure she will be missed by all who got to know her.

According to my friend Scout John, her funeral service at Vega Baja was very well attended by many from our urbanisation and from the campsite. A previous appointment meant that Pamela and I could not attend but still our thoughts were with her.

Saturday in Jacarilla

A good cause

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Wise precaution

During the hot, dry summer months, the risk of a fire spreading becomes much greater. The Town Hall therefore ban fires anywhere near to areas that might be affected.

As a side effect, the barbecues at La Pedrera are also sealed off with Police tape to prevent people from using them.

You can use gas burners to cook with but not wood or charcoal which could inadvertently spit out embers and set fire to the tinder dry material on the ground.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

In your home

New regulations (dated March 11th) mean that is no longer possible to have dogs together in a centre for identification or vaccination. So, the Department of Health of the City of Bigastro are offering  these veterinary services at  your home.

15 Euros for dogs that already carry a chip and 45 Euros for those that don't.
REMEMBER - dogs should be vaccinated annually.

Monday, June 06, 2016

A treasure trove

No-Do newsreels were shown in Spanish cinemas from 1942 to 1981.

The former state-controlled operation, which was closely associated with the Francisco Franco dictatorship, produced 4,018 films in all and only seven have been lost.

No-Do – which stood for Noticias y documentales (news and documentaries) – was more than just a producer of news shorts. The agency also put together Imágenes, a light feature program, and looked after historical recordings, including the royal archive of King Alfonso XIII (1886-1931).

Now, state broadcaster RTVE and the Filmoteca Española Spanish film archive have provided free online access to a trove of recordings and documentaries produced by No-Do. The searchable database contains 6,573 files and 1,719 hours of video footage.

For those who are seeking information about this period of Spain's history, this is an invaluable resource.

You will also find a selection of free-to-view Spanish films on the site.

The archive

Bigastro in the 70s

This is what the town square used to look like.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Brilliant work

Time lapse  (click the link)

Thanks to Coque Celdran Sanchez, we have this time lapse video showing the construction of the floral carpet in Bigastro. Great work by those who created the carpet and Coque who produced the video. The video took nine hours and 3,250 photographs to produce.


Friday, June 03, 2016

The shield as explained by Pascual Segura

You find the shield of Bigastro on all official documents and elsewhere.

The design is simple; the left hand side represents Aragon and the right the river Segura. the bridge and windmill that symbolise the town. On top is a Ducal crown.

Its use dates back to 1975 when the mayor of Bigastro, Jose Navarro Guillen, authorised it  prior to the fiesta for San Joaquin.