Sunday, June 25, 2017

Football cheats

Like many Brits living in Spain, we make an honest declaration each year and pay our taxes on time.

I read somewhere though, that a fair number of Spaniards try every which way to avoid paying their taxes and that many get away with it. Footballers are amongst the highest paid people in the country, especially the super stars that play for the big teams. They are also the biggest cheats when it comes to paying their taxes.

 Here are some examples:

 Lionel Messi and his father were found guilty of tax offences when they failed to declare €10 million in income from image rights, for the period 2007 to 2009. Both were sentenced to 21 months in prison but Messi’s father later saw his sentence reduced to 15 months after being deemed an accessory to those tax crimes. It is now possible that Messi will not go to jail because this is his first offence and he has now paid off his tax debts.

 Manchester United manager (former Real Madrid coach), José Mourinho has also been accused of having failed to pay €3.3 million to Spain’s tax authorities in 2011 and 2012 and for failing to declare income from image rights.

Lastly,  Portugal and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is being accused of a €14.8 million tax fraud by Spanish prosecutors after allegedly having used a shell company in the Virgin Islands to hide image rights income from 2011 to 2014.

Bad news

Those living near the junction of Calle Alemania and Calle Inglaterra will have heard the commotion at about 11pm last night. Many had come out to see what it was all about.

 What it was about was another break-in. You could hear our neighbours shouting "ladrones".

 I don't have specific details, ie exactly how they attempted to get in to the house or whether they were disturbed.

 We hope that the people affected are safe and that the police can quickly put a stop to this current wave of burglaries.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pepe, el maestro de la paella.

A fantastic way to spend an afternoon. In great company (both English and Spanish)enjoying this superb arroz con serranas y conejo.

Great entertainment for just 10 Euros

Getting hotter

Take care

It has been awhile since the last break-in at Villas Andrea and it is possible that people are not as careful as they used to be when we had a spate of burglaries.

I am sorry to report that another home was broken into during  the last few days. The thieves gained access by removing the grill from one of the windows. Our sympathies go to the people who suffered, we hope that they are OK.

The lesson for all of us is to remain vigilant and take whatever precautions we can to stop thieves from getting in to our houses.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The big clean up

Fifteen agricultural workers will play different roles for Bigastro Town Hall this summer. Eleven of these agricultural labourers have started their first day of work this morning cleaning and conditioning of different points of the municipality. Through a subsidy of the Program for the Promotion of Agrarian Employment, these fifteen people will work in public spaces that need maintenance in order to avoid possible fires in urban and rural areas.

This year's state employment program is extended to the recreational area of ​​La Pedrera, as well as to parks and municipal lots located in housing estates and other parts of the urban area, such as the Apatel industrial estate. The different actions also focus on the clearing of rural roads to improve the visibility for drivers on these roads.

The subsidy, granted by the Ministry of Employment for Bigastro, amounts to 45,000 euros to cover 65 working days. The neighbours selected for these tasks must count in the special agrarian regime and have a series of requirements that the Servef demands.

The councilman of Works and Maintenance, José Manuel Maiquez, highlighted this morning that, the contractors "are working in the most needy areas and, especially, plots and places that are close to homes and Where small fires can originate, "adding that" the recreational area of ​​La Pedrera will also be improved, which is a point that we pay special attention to. "

Archive material

At the request of the Mayor, Pascual Segura is in the process of putting together an exhibition of posters, photos and other documents about the band.

Pascual knew that I had taken photos of concerts and so asked me if he could have copies. He suggested that I could burn them onto DVDs.

I have photos dating back to 2009, some are stored on my computer and others on a Network Attached Storage i.e. an external pair of hard drives.

Once I collected all the photos I could find together, the total came to almost 4,000 and the size of the collection weighed in at 46.2Gbs. That would have taken over 10DVDs so I put them on a USB memory stick for him.

As I explained to Pascual, the 4,000 were a mere selection from the thousands of photos that I have taken. Normally, I take somewhere between 100 and 300 photos at a concert and then choose about 40 to 60 to save. I also explained that photos of the band were only part of my collection of photos taken in Bigastro. I have many more photos of various fiestas and other occasions. I would estimate at least 10,000 in total, probably more.

When Pascual came last night to pick up the USB drive, he brought me a book of photographs of Spain taken from the sky. That was a very kind gesture and one which I appreciated very much. The photos in the book are a fascinating collection showing a different aspect of the country which most would not see. It is a book that I will dip into many times.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The boom returns

The construction sector maintains its recovery in the province of Alicante. Promoters' applications to launch new projects have increased exponentially in recent months, but especially in coastal municipalities, such as Guardamar, Torrevieja, Orihuela Costa and Pilar de la Horadada,

In our region, the towns of Torrevieja and Orihuela continue to lead the boom for new housing construction, not only in 2017, but in the last three years. What the data indicate is that the recovery of the sector is consolidated and is accelerating. According to experts,2017 is being turning out to be very productive in the real estate sector. Some of them say that it is possible to reach the housing figures of 2004.

According to the TINSA report, based on data provided by the Ministry of Public Works, new construction visas in Orihuela Costa in 2015 stood at 448, while in 2016 they rose to 1,038, an increase of 132%, a growth much higher than that of Guardamar, with 66%, Torrevieja, with 27%, and Pilar de la Horadada, with an 8% increase in the number of new work visas.

The contrast of Orihuela city
Faced with data from the Oriol coast, the city and districts hardly present any construction activity of new housing, not only during this 2017 but in recent years. In fact, the licenses granted by the Department of Urbanism are practically all directed to promotions in Orihuela Costa, as confirmed by the councillor of the area, Begoña Cuartero, The mayor says that in the city and districts few licenses are given and are for minor works, "generally reforms, but not for new work".

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

For fans of medieval music.

Over for another year

Well that is Corpus Christi over with for another year. It is incredible how much effort and time the townsfolk put into the preparations. I am sure that the children, taking their first communion, thought it was worth it.

For my part, I took plenty of photos which are posted here and on Facebook. I hope they serve to remind people of how beautiful the town looked, the special procession and concert.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A bite free summer

In the last few days, the Bigastro Town Council has carried out measures to combat a plague of mosquitoes this summer.  This summer-long campaign to prevent the proliferation of these pests.
started with the arrival of high temperatures this week.

A specialised company performs this work by fumigating trees and placing pads in areas with standing water. The councillor of the area, José Antonio Maíquez, explained that this treatment is performed "where there is greater incidence of larvae e.g. in the reservoir on the way up to La Pedrera or in scuppers." In addition, the mayor seeks citizen collaboration and asks that neighbours do not leave standing water inside their homes or in their gardens.

The council have also carried out the process of disinfecting the sewage system in the town to prevent or at least control a summer plague of insects.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dates for the diary

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Corpus Christi

Those of you who have been down to the town will have noticed the buzz as preparations are well under way for Corpus Christi.

Although the actual day is this Thursday, we will be celebrating at the weekend instead. On Saturday the band will play their traditional concert in the town square. Then on Sunday there will be a special mass followed by a procession around the town.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Roman Bigastro

Pascual Segura has kindly researched and documented the history of Bigastro in Roman times.

In ancient Rome, a vicus was a group of dwellings that belonged to a town or a large city. What we all know today as a neighbourhood. But, if Bigastro has its origin in the XVIII century, with the decision of the Cabildo of the Cathedral of Orihuela to found in these lands its New Place, how is it possible that Bigastro belonged in ancient times to the  Roman Empire? The Bigastro that we know today never actually belonged to the Roman Empire, but to the inhabitants who occupied these lands before us.

Two thousand years ago, the colony of ilici Augusta (Elche) was founded. A colony populated for the most part by war veterans to whom the Empire, in gratefulness for their services rendered, presented them with lots of land in the present field of Elche.

These veterans had their own port -located in Santa Pola, along with their "highways" -the popular Via Augusta-thanks to the construction of the branch that linked the old Hannibal Way from Caudete in Albacete to Cartago Nova Cartagena), passing through Ilici (Elche) and the Vega Baja.

Along these "Roman roads" hostels were set up dedicated to the lodging and rest of travellers and warriors, and also small towns or neighbourhoods which were built around the great Roman cities.

At that time Orihuela was composed of a series of villages, villas and estates along the Segura river bed, the Thader, Among these was the vicus of Bigastro.

Fertile land, water in abundance, the proximity of the great communication routes, elevated spaces. In short, a conglomeration of optimal conditions for the construction of a small population, which offered rest to the Roman warriors, while producing food with which to fill the gigantic Roman storeroom. But what was the vicus of Bigastro? Where was it? And finally, how did it fade over time?

Based on the studies carried out on the ground, and after various archaeological excavations, we can now assume that this vicus was a series of houses or farms distributed in the vicinity and spaces that today occupy Bigastro. Fincas owned by veterans and lords installed in a fertile territory, and whose domestic work and works were carried out by families of settlers and slaves.

Currently we can document the estate of Los Palacios (at the entrance to Bigastro from Orihuela), and also four more farms in the natural surroundings of La Pedrera. In addition, there is documentary evidence of Roman remains in the very heart of Bigastro, recognised by all as the square of the church.

All the bigastrenses estates-those that were manifested today and those hidden from research-made up a small slum whose inhabitants fed on their gardens and livestock, benefiting from the water of the Thader River. Natural resources of a privileged environment that allowed them to trade with larger towns, exchanging provisions for utensils from all parts of the Empire, as ratified by the archaeological pieces that have been rescued from the bowels of the terra-cotta land:

Common and Republican amphorae, coins, mortars, bowls, plates, cups, Italian sigillatas from Central Italy, also from Pisa, from Africa, Dressel amphoras, used to transport the mythical Garum - fish meal made with viscera and blood - and The Oberaden, used for the transport of wine. Oil lamps with a chronology that extends from the time of Augustus until the beginning of the Flavia period, and dozens and dozens of archaeological pieces that sketch with tiny strokes such a rich Roman culture that from the eighteenth century would confuse dozens of researchers and archaeologists, who came to attribute to Bigastro theories about Roman cities of higher rank.

For more than four centuries, the homes of vicus bigastrense, built with large rocks from the hills, decorated with large arches of ashlar masonry, fulfilled their main objective: to supply the Roman pantry thanks to its agricultural production, and serve as a resting place for lords and warriors. But from the fourth century AD, the days as a vicus of the great empire were numbered.

The decline of the  Roman Empire began, and its cities began to weaken, affecting the maintenance of Roman road infrastructures. As a result, the direct route of the Via Augusta between Elche and Cartagena was abandoned along with the route  through the city of Orihuela,which left the rest of neighbourhoods marginalised.

Without the traffic of travellers or warriors, and without merchants who encouraged the life of its inhabitants, the vicus bigastrense was separated and condemned to death. Gradually, its neighbours were dispersed by other vicus, towns and cities with greater population, commerce and a view of the future.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Starting to get real

Last year we were asked if Pam and I would be prepared to be Third Age King and Queen at the local fiesta. Since I was in the middle of my treatment for prostate cancer, it did not seem a good idea and so we asked if we could postpone until this year.

Early on this year, we booked a villa in Molins where the family could stay and they have arranged flights.

We now move on to the next stage of preparation.

This morning, Pam and I are scheduled to visit Pilar who will be making the sashes we will wear. She needs to measure us to make sure they are the right size and most important, check our names so they are embroidered correctly.

Tomorrow, we have an appointment at the photographer's so that he can take the picture of us for the official brochure. Pam already has an appointment at the hairdresser and I may just have a quick trim. We want to look smart!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A bit of a mystery

For those who may be interested, there are several albums of my photos from our trip to Florence available from the sidebar. However, to see them all you need to click on where it says "What's this" and then "". This will take you to all of my currently stored albums including the 6 from our trip to Florence.

The trip went well. Yesterday, we had a taxi to a railway station in Florence to catch the train to Rome, Then we took a taxi from Rome Termini to the Airport, flew back to Alicante and finally drove home.

As I opened the door to the house, I noticed the alarm had been triggered. Then we saw that some papers had been scattered and there was a pungent aroma about the lounge. It became obvious that we had a bird flown in but it was impossible to say how because the chimney is blocked with cardboard that was still in place.

Eventually I found a dead blackbird hidden behind one of the sofas. Fortunately it had not made too much of a mess. We did however feel sorry for the poor thing.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Why is it?

When you are on holiday, time flies by a lot quicker than when you are at home. At the same time, we seem to have been here ages and seen so much. We've certainly done a lot of walking and covered most of what we set out to achieve.

What has impressed us more than anything though is how accommodating everyone has been. That and the superb food we have enjoyed. Anyone who thinks that Italy is just pasta and pizza needs to visit the country and try some of the cuisine on offer. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Where are we?

Last year we missed out on holidays because of the treatment I was having and the after effects of it.

We were determined to put that right and so booked a trip to Florence which is where we are at the moment.

Those of you who have made the trip from Bigastro will know that there is no direct flight from Alicante and so, one way or another, you have to make a stop over. In our case, we stopped over in Rome and picked up a train to Florence which meant we had a long day with a four hour wait in Rome.

Still it was worth it. Florence is everything that people told us and more.

The downside of this trip is that it meant we missed San Isidro for what I think was the first time. On the plus side, we won't miss Corpus Christi this year and of course the Fiesta for San Joaquin where we will have an important role to play.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Coming soon

Pascual conducted a little survey to find out what aspect of the town's history people would most like him to feature on his webpage. The most popular period was Bigastro in Roman times.

I'm not sure just how much evidence he has but I am sure that whatever Pascual presents will be fascinating.

My interview with Pascual Segura

Keith Williamson: "I hope that in the future my photos will help people remember the current Bigastro"

Every documentalist, researcher or passionate of a place knows, that there is no more seductive and faithful chronicle than that of the foreign traveler. Centuries ago hundreds of outsiders such as Richard Ford, Lady Holland, Charles Rochfort or George Borrow visited our country in search of knowledge, social uses or simply an exotic land such as ours, where we could experience adventure that would break into a thousand pieces The rigid mold of his daily life.
The legacy they left on their way through our country was substantial and transcendent. And is that if a villager may be unable to rant to his village, the traveler who comes from outside does not. In this way his chronicles full of details and criticism are highly valued, because in most cases they tell the truth.
Bigastro is fortunate to have a traveler. An English traveler who for years has immortalized our day to day with his camera. Thousands of snapshots that speak of your band, your San Joaquin, your Lady Virgin of Bethlehem, you, your people, your street, your town. After a while there will be no one left now, neither you nor I, our children will remain. And when their footsteps are lost in the backstreets of the older Bigastro they will wonder ... how did everything happen? Then they will not be orphans of history, because they will have the photographic chronicle of an English traveler that years ago, perhaps centuries, dedicated part of his life to portray us as we were, as we are, and I hope that for many years, as we will be . A wonderful legacy, immortalized in time, and only in exchange for the beautiful gesture that provokes his photographs, a smile. Worth from my little blog my greatest gratitude. Thank you for your work, my friend, Keith Williamson.
Keith Williamson. Retired Director's Assistant. Photographer
Pascual Segura: In a moment of your life you decide to come to live to Bigastro. When does that moment happen and why?
Keith Williamson: After our retirement we intended to move to another country and face new challenges. Since we had enjoyed many visits to Spain, this was the logical choice. Bigastro offered us a life in Spain far from Britain. We found a city in which we could integrate and learn Spanish, besides knowing the authentic Spanish customs.
PS: Although you live many years in our country, which is already yours too, you must keep many memories of your city of origin. What was your city ?, and your profession?
KW : I was born in Manchester, I lived in Yorkshire and then in Canada. I returned to Yorkshire, and finally I lived in Wirral. I started my career as an art teacher at a Liverpool high school. I promoted to Head of the Art Department and, finally, Deputy Head in charge of Local Finance and Administration.
PS: We all recognize you next to your inseparable camera. When does your passion for photography arise?
KW: I had my first camera at the age of 11. Then I would buy my first "serious" camera while I was in college. Since then I have had many cameras, the new one always more expensive than the previous one!
PS: Your work with the camera has generated a great photographic legacy. Do you know how many pictures you've made? How much time do you dedicate to this hobby?
KW: At my house I have thousands of photographs and slides in movies. I also have movie reels I took when my kids were young. Now I have an online Flickr account with 6,500 photos that have been viewed more than three million times, and a photo archive stored on hard disks with more than 100,000 digital images along with many hours of digital video.
My wife says I spend all my time in my hobby !. I usually spend two or three hours each day working on my photographs. For every hour I spend taking photographs, I need at least four hours of work to process them on the computer and publish them on the internet.
PS: For many years you have photographed the performances of the Bigastro Music Union. What is your opinion about the musician's tradition?
KW: Bigastro's musical tradition is fundamental to the history and culture of the city. It is the base on which it is built. There is still a great musical tradition in England, but the formation of local bands no longer exists. In the north of England there were many metal bands created by factory workers - especially coal mines - who were acclaimed internationally. Bigastro's band reminds me a lot of that old British pride.
PS: The old street of the village or the use of its garden invite us to think that we live in an ancient place. What do you know about Bigastro's story?
KW: I know a little about the history of the city thanks to your excellent website, but I would like to know much more. The differences between the history of Bigastro and the towns in which I lived fascinated me.
PS: Of its streets, squares, recreational spaces or natural areas. What place of Bigastro would you highlight?
KW: I especially like the area of ​​La Pedrera for its natural beauty and the garden, which reminds me of the horticulture of the villages where I grew up. For me the green spaces in the cities are very important, and that's why I like gardens and playgrounds. Of course, the Auditorium is a great asset to the city, it is a place where we have enjoyed many concerts and other events. Did you know that, my wife and I act on stage for the children of the local schools? We were in two productions organized by the School of Adult Education. We were also involved in a production at the Integrated Social Center and for several years we sang carols to children in local schools before Christmas.
PS: Bigastro is a place where ancient traditions endure to which, over time, new ones have been incorporated. What tradition or cultural aspect would you highlight?
KW: Apart from its musical tradition, I enjoy its religious celebrations, like the Encounter and Corpus Christi and of course the parties, games and other celebrations.
PS: The Bigastro of today must be a little different than the one you saw for the first time. What do you think has improved? What has been neglected?
KW: When we first arrived our impression was that the city was scruffy in some parts and elegant in others. Although much work remains to be done, much progress has been made to improve the city. There are more beautiful cities to live in, but surely there is none as friendly, welcoming and proud as Bigastro.
PS: If a friend from your country asks you to define Bigastro by helping only three words. What three words would you use?
KW : Friendly, traditional and quiet. Pascual, although it is important that Bigastro seeks to progress towards the future, it is vital that he remember his past. I hope that in the future my photos will help people remember the current Bigastro. More importantly, I hope people will enjoy my work. Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The noise you heard

You may have thought that it was an earthquake, a firework or an explosion of some sort but no, investigation shows that it was actually two military aircraft breaking the sound barrier.

A tribute to Elvis

On Saturday 20th May at 7pm, the Union Musical Torrevejense and the John Mencis Band will present a tribute to Elvis Presley - August 16th marks the 40th anniversary of the "King of Rock'n'Roll's death.

The John Mencis Band already pays tribute to Elvis Presley so it will be no challenge for them but for the Torrevieja band, which is roughly similar in formation to our band, this will represent a new direction.

NB The International Auditorium is just off the N332 on the same site as Quiron Hospital.

John Mencis Band

Torrevieja Band in the International Auditorium

Monday, May 15, 2017

Walking in the moonlight

Get a free T-shirt and a ice drink at the end of it.

PS From past experience, the older ones amongst you will have difficulty keeping up with the youngsters who will be taking part. Don't let that put you off though!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Are you up to date?

You have probably read about the latest crisis that has hit the NHS in Britain. A large scale ransomware attack has meant that many UK health trusts have had to shut down their IT systems.

The ransomware got into the systems via infected emails and other internet links. Those affected will have a message on the screen telling them that their files have been encrypted and will only be released upon payment of 300$ worth of bitcoins.

Large companies in Spain have also been affected including Telefonica, Iberdrola  and Gas Natural , along with Vodafone's unit in Spain. These companies have asked staff to turn off computers or cut off internet access in case they had been compromised.

It seems that Microsoft patched the issue earlier this year, but only on version of the Windows operating system that it continues to support. However, up to 90 per cent of NHS computers still run Windows XP which was released in 2001. Microsoft cut support for it in 2014.

Windows XP was very popular because it was robust. It followed in the wake of Windows ME (Millennium Edition) and Vista both of which were bloated and buggy.

Since then Microsoft introduced Windows 7 which stripped out all the bad parts of Vista, the equally unpopular Windows 8 and the latest  -Windows 10.

The issue for the NHS is more than just updating the operating system on its computers. Many of the machines in use are simply not powerful enough to run later versions. An upgrade would cost more than the cash strapped service could afford.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Drumming up support

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Summer activities

In case you were wondering, padel is paddle tennis and I believe fronton is handball.

Well blessed with great beaches

I understand the Mar Menor is not best pleased that it doesn't have a blue flag beach.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

For the cyclists amongst you

This is described as suitable for all ages with no tough sections to hurt your legs.

Coming up

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Froome's bike

Look at the state of Chris Froome's bike after a motorist got angry, followed him onto the pavement and then deliberately crashed into him.

Apparently Froome is fine but his bike is wrecked. The motorist just drove off. This was in France.

PS Understand, this was no ordinary bike. It is (was) a Pinarello Dogma F10 with a full Shimano DuraAce groupset - available from Sigma Sport in the UK for 11,255 Euros (not including the pedals).

Baches galore

Two new words for you, baches and socavones - potholes and sinkholes. These two words have been used to describe roads and pavements in Orihuela but they could equally well apply to some roads in Bigastro.

A lot of work has been done but there is still more to do. For example, the road into the town from the roundabout which leads to Oruhuela, Torrevieja and Jacarilla (Calle Joaquin Moya Martinez0 is in a terrible state.

There are baches and socovones at the side of the road which, if you hit, could easily damage your suspension. Most of the time it is possible to avoid them but if one of those large lorries carrying lemons is coming out of the town, it can be difficult to prevent your car from hitting one. The tarmac itself is also breaking up badly and urgently needs repair.

Apart from the problems that the state of this road presents, it is a poor advert for the town as one of its main entrances.

The shame is that the Socialists did not use the Plan E money wisely. They improved the final section of the road with benches, trees and even a cyclepath that never gets used but left the rest untouched.

I suppose they would claim that the section from where they stopped to the roundabout belongs to Orihuela and so is our neighbours responsibility. That may well be the case but most visitors would not be aware of that and would associate the whole road with Bigastro.

A must for dog lovers

Final Agility Championship at El Molino.

El Molino Polideportivo Municipal will host the Spanish AGILITY finals during the weekend. All animal lovers and the general public can see up close this final test.

The scheduled time is on Saturday 13 May at 17.00 and Sunday 14 May from 9:00 am. Admission is free.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Dust on its way

For those who have just cleaned the paving and washed the car, look up at the sky and you will see Sahara dust creating an eerie orange glow.

There is a chance that we will have some weak showers that will coat everything below with the dust. The good news is that, tomorrow, the cloud  will move away on its route to Italy. As the notice says, best wait until Sunday to clean up.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

The May Fair will be in October

The Sevillanas Fair in Torrevieja will be held from 9 to 12 October as announced by the Councillor of Fiestas, Domingo Pérez,

Traditionally known as the May Fair, time has run out to organise it for this month so the date of the bridge of El Pilar has been chosen for this year.

A quick ride into Bigastro and back

 Let's not get carried away, although my electric bike gives me assistance, it doesn't turn me into Chris Froome. The video was speeded up to make it a bit less boring to watch.

Watch closely though and you will see the poor condition of some of the roads in our town, places where the tarmac is breaking up badly.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Bigastro's cardboard coins

Pascual Segura tells us about this phenomena on his blog "Recuerdos de Bigastro"

During the Spanish Civil War, lack of currency was a real problem. In fear of what might happen, many neighbours tried to hoard in their houses all the coins and bills they had to hand. For this reason today it is not strange to find in old or abandoned houses, coins, stamps or bills of this time hidden between walls, false ceilings or holes in the floor.

This caused a considerable reduction of the money in circulation, to the point that it was necessary to produce alternative currencies to respond to the demand.

In the Republican area metal was scarce, since the regions where the main metal productions were located were in the national zone, so the decision was made to issue cardboard coins.

The cardboard coins had a picture on the obverse that made reference to the province to which they belonged ( in our case a fish following the fishing trade of the province). Alongside the picture, there was the name of the place -Bigastro- and a slogan "Cardboard coin of provisional use". On the back was a postage stamp with the value of the cardboard coin.

Like all coins and notes, these had many counterfeits, and the coins were produced with such inexpensive materials (stamps, paper, cardboard ...) that the security measures that prevented their falsification were practically non-existent. Today it is very difficult, if not impossible, to certify if one of those cardboard coins is authentic or not.

NB 5 centimos is 5/100ths of a peseta. In 2002, Spain changed its official currency from the Peseta to the Euro. Anyone with Pesetas could exchange them for Euros at rate of 166.386 Pesetas to one Euro. This coin was therefore worth 0.05 of a peseta which was worth 0.006 of a Euro in 2002 in other words 3 millionths of a Euro.

False claims

British television is populated with adverts by so called law firms that will offer to fight claims for you. Everything from an accident at work to being sold payment protection insurance. I'd not heard of this one though. It seems that the big business now is to claim against Spanish "all inclusive" hotels for alleged cases of food poisoning.

The claims are being led by so-called British 'law firms' who are exploiting legal loopholes and are touring hotspots in vans or sending representatives to stop tourists outside their hotels or even approach them on the beaches.

Hoteliers in Mallorca estimate they have paid out more than 50 million euros in damages over the last 18 months.

As the law stands at the moment, only a receipt for a gastroenteritis product is necessary in order to file a claim once the holidaymakers are back in the UK. The local hotel association wants to force anyone allegedly sick to go to the doctor which, it is hoped, will be a deterrent as this will cost them money or a claim on their insurance.

In some areas, false food poisoning claims are said to have soared by as much as 700 per cent from last year and with the summer season now looming, there are fears of another epidemic.
Benidorm is one of the British favourites most affected by the scam with around 10,000 claims so far.

Recovery is slow

From El Pais
The latest figures from the European Union’s statistics agency highlight how long the road to Spain’s economic recovery actually is. While unemployment fell in 2016 from 22.1% to 19.6% – it currently stands at 18.75% – it is still more than twice the EU average of 8.6%. And as with recent years, several of Spain’s regions are among the EU’s worst unemployment black spots: in fact, five of the 10 worst-affected areas in Europe are in Spain.

The report shows that for most Germans, unemployment is not a problem: seven of Europe’s regions with the lowest level of unemployment are in Germany, with Lower Bavaria leading the way at 2.1%. This overwhelmingly rural area exemplifies the strength of German industry: car maker BMW is one of the biggest employers in the region through its factory at Dingolfing, which employs 17,500 people and produces 340,000 vehicles a year.

Similarly, nine of the 10 European regions with the lowest levels of youth employment are in Germany, with Swabia (4.3%) the best-placed on the continent.

Lower Bavaria in Germany has the European Union’s lowest unemployment rate: 2.1%

The north-south divide shows in terms of long-term unemployment – or people have been out of work for more than 12 months – as well. While no Spanish regions are among the 10 with people who have been out of work for more than a year, seven of them are in Greece, which has the EU’s highest unemployment rate. The European Commission expects Greece to resume growth this year after a long period of recession and stagnation and a debt crisis that has led its creditors to demand deep public spending cuts, tax hikes and privatisation.

At the other extreme are Sweden and the United Kingdom, with four and five regions respectively among the 10 with the lowest number of long-term unemployed (below 20% of the total number of unwaged).

Monday, May 01, 2017

Over three hours

The Gala last night started just after 6:30 and lasted until nearly 10pm. The auditorium was packed as everyone wanted to see their friends and relatives perform. The Jubars started the show off in style and things progressed from there. Many of the performers were miming but it didn't matter because they were damn good.

Our neighbour Manuel brought tears of laughter to the faces of the audience with a great stand up comedy act. We just wish we could tell all that he was saying but I guess we'd have to be born here for that.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tour de Yorkshire

The event, in its third year, began as part of the legacy of the county hosting the 2014 Grand Depart for the Tour de France.

Today is the first stage starting and finishing on Yorkshire's beautiful coastline.

In time honoured tradition

The fiesta in the Santa Cruz area of town marks the start of the fiesta season in Bigastro.

When we first arrived here and made friends with John and Jean who lived on Avenida Europa, we would go down on the Sunday for  paella. We also went down for the music on the Saturday night a few times.

I would take my camera with me and seek out the floral crosses that people created to adorn their houses. Those days there was a competition for the best crosses with prizes.

The economic downturn has meant that fewer individual crosses appear these days but the iron cross that marks the area out is still a focus for our attention.

A few years ago, they abandoned the single giant paella and neighbours made their own smaller versions. Whether that was for economic reasons or not I can't say but the quality was certainly better.

There are a couple of new additions to the programme for this year, the tapas in aid of the Cancer Association will hopefully be popular as will the magic show on Sunday.  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

You already knew this

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

After 43 dry days we can hardly complain though!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Courier woes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Be aware

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

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

A worthwhile cause

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

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017


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

The next holiday will be on May 1st.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Testing times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

April 19th - International Bicycle Day

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

For hay fever sufferers

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Encounter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The crack of dawn

Well worth getting up for. I have my camera ready to take down with me to record this for those of you who like a lie in on Sundays. That includes Mrs W who doesn't do ungodly hours.

Mind you, unless you are out for the count or have earplugs, you'll know when the moment of encounter has taken place.

They have a few fireworks ready to set off at that point and then again when the procession returns to the church. Don't bother going out to watch them though, because they will be just white puffs in the sky.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A gripe

Pam and I shop at Mercadona, San Louis and generally we are very happy with the experience there. The shop is large enough to cover most of our needs but not so large that it takes an age to find the all items on Pam's list.

However, we do have one major gripe with the shop and that is with people at the checkouts.

You see, Pam is used to the kind of service that she got in British supermarkets. When she shopped at Sainsburys, they would summon someone to help pack for her and they would place the scanned items so that packing was easy.

The same applies in most other British supermarkets including Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Asda. In those that don't have personnel to help pack, the assistants will help bag the items making sure that similar things go together.

Apart from three of the people at Mercadona who do place the items in a way that makes packing easy, the rest simply scan the items and then almost throw them down piling items on top of each other.

Then when they have finished piling everything in a jumbled mess, the unhelpful attendants look at you as if to say "hurry up, we have customers waiting".  There is even one man who will walk away from the till rather than try to help.

Apart from making it difficult to pack, heavy items end up on top of fragile ones. It doesn't take a lot of common sense to realise that putting a bag of potatoes on top of cakes is not a great idea.

The three exceptions are more than helpful. They carefully place the items that have been scanned in a logical way, they put the wine bottles in the special bag that we take with us and even bring heavy items like bottles of water around to the trolley. We can only surmise these three have been trained properly, just a pity they can't pass that training on to the rest.

Change to the route

Those of you who are intending to go to Orihuela on Friday to watch the General Procession should take note of the changes to the route. These have been made to avoid passing a building which is considered unsafe.

The new barbecues

The Bigastro Town Hall has now reopened La Pedrera Recreation Area after work carried out to improve this natural space.

The improvements consisted of extension and adaptation of the barbecues to fire regulations. Also repairs were made in the area of ​​the picnic area, public toilets and the creation of pathways and bridges. Security has been heightened with the installation of CCTV for control and monitoring of the site.

It is now necessary to obtain municipal permission to use the barbecues. You must submit an application to the Town Hall before making use of the barbecues, who will be hand over the keys for access.

Monday, April 10, 2017


The Spring concert promised to be good and it did not fail to deliver.

Although Diego has not forsaken his classical roots, he wanted to try something different and so put together a programme of music from the 60s and beyond. There were selections from Coldplay, the Beatles, Queen, Michael Jackson etc etc.

You will find my photos as usual in the left hand sidebar along with my album from Palm Sunday.

For those who wish to listen to the concert, it is available from my Dropbox account.

You will likely have to download it to your computer first to play it - enjoy!!

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Holy Week in Bigastro

Friday, April 07, 2017


As every year, the Daily Mail shows us some of the worst examples of dress sense at the Aintree Grand National. The Liverpool Echo provides a more balanced view with some of those who looked suitably elegant. Just proves that not every lady feels the need to show yards of thigh or masses of cleavage. Nor were they all to be seen quaffing vast amounts of Pimms or champagne.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Most important

We have had spells of bad weather over Easters in the past.

It is vital for the parades that it is dry and preferably calm. Apart from the possibility of ruining the valuable pasos, wet roads are too dangerous for the costeleros who carry them on their shoulders.

I am therefore delighted to say that the forecast for this year in Orihuela looks favourable.

Eroski is now Carrefour

There was rarely a time when the carpark at Eroski was full. Most days you almost had the shop to yourself.

Carrefour Spain are hoping that will all change now that they have taken over the hypermarket and given it their own branding. The inauguration ceremony over, Carrefour Orihuela will open its doors today to clients.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Further reminders for Saturday

This Friday

Well worth witnessing this emotional procession that takes place with the street lights out.