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

Holidays

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

Outstanding!

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.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/77vq89og014gyvy/Concert.wma?dl=0

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

Elegance

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.

Collecting water

Lola taking home a jar of water collected from the Alquibla canal, which today is located in front of the Municipal Auditorium Francisco Grau. This ditch is more than 1000 years old.

The physical aspect of Bigastro - its limestone formations and its Arab heritage in the form of ditches, makes water culture one of its main hallmarks.

The street in the photograph is one of the oldest in the town,Calle San Joaquín.

I don't have a date for this photograph but judging from the clothes etc, it could well be in the 50s or even the 60s.

In those days there was a public wash house located where the Auditorium stands. Women would take their washing there, they had no means to wash at home.


Watch videos

Go to YouTube and search for Bigastro. You will be surprised how many videos you find.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Something different

Diego decided that he wanted to do something different for this concert.

Instead of a programme of classical music, we have a selection of tunes from the 70s and 80s including some Spanish pop hits.

I am assured by my friend Christopher, there will be plenty to keep your toes tapping and even some singing along.

If you previously thought Bigastro was just a brass orientated band that played classical pieces, this may be the time to give them a second look.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Catwalk show this weekend

For those who missed it, you can see my photos from the two catwalk shows in the albums I have posted.

Many congratulations to all who participated, that was an awful lot of work for you.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

You so want these!


Available in all full sizes for men and women, the e-boot is a revolutionary, first-of-its-kind walking boot, specially designed to assist those with nervous about their abilities and beginners, or just anyone who wants to enhance their walking experience. The built-in gadgets – including audio GPS route navigation, a boost button, three gears and a solar-powered panel – will allow walkers to tackle tougher terrains and make light work of longer walks with the occasional climb and uphill section.
With less breaks and stops to rest tired feet, you will have more time to soak up your surroundings and make the most of your holiday. And as the boots are pre-mapped with your routes by us, there’s less need to worry about unfolding large maps or getting lost, because the built-in GPS navigation will do all the hard work. It will even notify you immediately (with a gentle vibrate) if you’ve gone off-track, so you’ll know to turn back.

FULL SPECIFICATION

Colour: Blue and white
Headwater-branded nubuck leather hiking boots
Waterproof leather upper
Weathertight waterproof and breathable textile lining
Padded ankle and tongue
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Boost button in heel - for those steep hills
3-gear selector button on side of boot
Sole-r panels - no need to charge
Visual battery indicator and vibrate alert
Neon lighting for visibility
Easy-to-use breaking mechanism to slow down.
Off button so you can walk unassisted whenever you like
E-boots are also great fun for competitive couples who want to race to the next hilltop village (but, as the power is capped at 12kph, there’s no real risk of losing control!) and they are the perfect solution if you want to share holiday experiences, but don’t necessarily share the same levels of fitness. Having power assistance means you will be able to comfortably walk further too (if you wish), meaning more places are within visiting distance.

Price: For any walking holidays taken in 2017, you will be provided with a pair of e-boots if requested at time of booking, at no extra cost*. As these are available on a first come first served basis, we recommend early booking to avoid disappointment. Following the introductory offer, it is possible to hire e-boots for holidays at a supplement of £50 per person.

If you’d like to find out more about the e-boots or to book a pair for an upcoming holiday, please call us on 01606 369407 or email sales@headwater.com.

*T&Cs apply – email or call us for further information and full terms and conditions.