Tuesday, September 26, 2006

La Mata Nature reserve

Extending across the municipal areas of Torrevieja, Los Montesinos and Guardamar del Segura are the La Mata and Torrevieja lagoons, which are still used for salt extraction, as they have been for many decades. Salt water is drawn from the CabeƧ de la Sal in Pinoso and left to dry in the sun until the water evaporates. The marshlands here are an important wintering and nesting area for over one hundred different bird species, such as the greater flamingo, the black-necked grebe and various duck varieties. At La Mata there are good walking tracks on a variety of terrain and several hides for studying the nature, Access is well signposted and is gained off the N332 at La Mata and there is an information centre at the back of the car park.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

San Javier parking Charges

Here we are back in the U.K for a few days, first day could not believe the weather it was hot,hot hot, 28 C , but yesterday these wet drops started falling out the sky and the sky was grey, but its nice to see every one, and catch up with all the gossip.

We flew out of Murcia- San Javier airport so i checked on the parking charges, to put the record straight, because when i phoned them they said it was 8 euros a day, NOT. the charges are 40 cents half an hour, 80cents 1 hour, 7.50 a day for 4 days, and after the 4th day 6.00 euros, complicated and pricey! The Airport security from Spain was not very strict they did not even check our passports, between the checkin desk and the boarding gate, but we heard they were even making you take your shoes off at East Midlands Airport, we will find out on the way back.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Driving licence points system

If you have a Spanish Driving licence the points system changed in July 2006, Each licence starts with 12 points, if you dont loose any points for 3 years you get another 2 points.

Speeding - Between 2 and 6 points depending on how far above the speed limit you were travelling.
Using the mobile phone or any other apparatus considered a distraction – 3 points.
Not using your seat belt or helmet for bike riders – 3 points.
Drink driving – 4 or 6 points.
Points can also be lost in the following circumstances:
2 points will be taken for:
Dangerous parking
Using radar speed trap detectors
Forgetting to turn on your headlights
Taking a child under 12 as a passenger on a motorbike
3 points will be taken for:
Making an illegal turn
Driving too close to the vehicle in front
4 points will be taken for:
Driving without the correct license
Taking a vehicle onto a motorway that is not authorized
Reversing on a motorway
Dangerous driving or overtaking
Blocking another driver from overtaking
Jumping a red light
Disobeying police instructions
Throwing any dangerous objects from the car – this includes cigarette butts
Driving with too many people in the vehicle
And finally 6 points will be taken for:
For extreme dangerous driving, which could be, for example, taking part in racing, driving against the traffic and so on.
Professional drivers risk losing six points if they do not respect official rest periods.

Passengers can lose points too. If you are a passenger in a car and stopped not wearing your seat belt, then your license will still be deducted the three points, even if the driver is wearing his.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Water and Lizards

Here are some tips on Water conservation, being as there is a shortage of water. It will also save on your water bills

  • don't leave the tap running when you clean your teeth

  • take showers, not baths, and fix dripping taps -share a shower.

  • buy water-efficient household appliances

  • only fill the kettle and saucepans up with the water you need

  • only wash full loads in your washing machine or set machine to half load

  • fit a water-efficient toilet -did you know if you press the flush a second time it stops it flushing.

  • only water your plants when necessary and use a watering can

  • collect rain water to water your plants

  • wash your car with a bucket, not a hosepipe


Traditional food in Spain -- This is a really nice one, Roasted Lizards, apparently they used to eat them cooked in tomato, with spot of garlic and parsley, meant to be delicious. rather like the texture of chicken, and the taste of herbs. the lizard that was eaten was the Oscillated Lizard which now is a protected species so unfortunately it is a traditional food that can´t be tried.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Poisonous Snakes in Spain

Apart from the Poisonous Snake I mentioned a couple of days a go, there are 4 more in Spain, Seoanes Viper, Asp viper, Latastes viper and the False smooth snake, here are pictures of them.

Asp Viper

False smooth snake

Latastes viper

Seoanes Viper

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Last night of la Plaza bar

The bar in the square is now closed for the winter. It will be opening again in May 2007, it has been a meeting place and watering hole for the community throughout the summer, opening at 11.00 in the morning and staying open untill the early hours. As it was the last night we had a grand finale with our hosts Pedro, family and friends supplying traditional food, entertainment and serving plenty of the amber nectar , there was of course Fireworks as well. With the pool closed and now the bar we shall have to create our some of own entertainment in the square, petanqe is a popular idea. Pedro has gone back to his bee keeping for the winter so the honey will be flowing.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Snakes -- hisssss

This is a hot country, so of course we have snakes here, of the 14 different types there are 5 which are venomous. Normally you will see snakes in mountain areas, the campo, on scrubland and on the saltflats, when you walk in these areas it is a good idea to take a stick and thrash about a bit with it, this will reduce the chances of stepping on a snake and being fanged. After all they are only trying to defend themselves, If you do get bitten stay calm -ha,ha. -phone 112 for immediate medical attention, and try to get a description of the snake, while you are waiting -calmly- try to keep the bite above the level of your heart.
There are only 4 or 5 snakebite deaths a year in the whole of Spain.

(Photo by Jan Van Der Voort)
The Montpellier snake. - It can grow up to 2-metre long

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Blonde Streaks

We went to Rojales market this morning for the fruit and veg for the week. We have found a great stall where you can get tomatoes, peppers, apples, grapes and other things for 1 euro a kilo, it may not be the same quality as you get in the supermarket, but it is fresh farm produce.


I put blonde streaks (highlights) in my wife Marys hair today, i used to be a hairdresser 30 years ago, so she trusts me. I put a plastic bag over her hair (not her head) and poked out thin strands of hair through little holes, then i plastered hairdressing bleach onto the strands of hair, left it for 30 minutes and washed it all off. It worked well and she is very pleased with it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Radio Ga-Ga

Here i am in Spain, turn on the radio and tune in a recognisable tune, -ah, an english radio station, one of the many on the Costa Blanca, these stations provide english and spanish news, information, chat shows , request slots and quizzes among other things.
Sunshine F.M. 101.3 - 102.8 is one of my favourites, with a great variety of music and it is easy to make requests. Details of programmes and times for Sunshine F.M. and other english radio stations can be found in local english newspapers.
Although i do not advocate watching and listening to all things english, it is good to listen to some of your favourite tunes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

La Gota Fria - The Cold Drop

photo credit www.FreeFoto.com

La Gota Fria - The Cold Drop, This is the name given to the heavy rains we experience in the Costa Blanca at this time of the year, a bright sunny day transforms into black skies and a deluge of rain in a very short time. La Gota Fria is created by the warm sea of the Meditteranean and the cooler air coming from Northern Europe, the sea warms the air which rises higher and higher to form cumulus clouds, warm updrafts carry the water droplets even higher forming thunder clouds, these clouds can often reach 20000 feet, When the droplets become too heavy they fall as heavy rain and hailstones, often causing severe damage to crops and property.

The spanish met office is warning of an extreme Gota fria this year, as the Meditteranean is 6 degrees warmer than normal for this time of the year. As I am writing this it is spitting with rain, so maybe the Gota Fria has started.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Goat Sucker

Last evening we went for a walk through the nature reserve at Guardamar, this has been created to hold back the sand dunes that are pushing back from the sea at an alarming rate, this reserve runs for several kilometres to the north of Guardamar as far as the Marina.
We could not believe it when we saw someone with a handfull of wild lillies that they had picked from the reserve, - there is still much ignorance about conservation of the flora and fauna.

The highlight of the evening was when we spotted a hawkshape bird diving and flitting, in the moonlight above the dunes , it was the nocturnal, red neck nightjar searching for moths and other insects, they can normally be seen at dawn and dusk. Back in the middle ages these birds were called Goat Suckers as they were believed to come down and suck the milk from the teats of goats.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

No Mosquitos - but flies

I cant believe it, I can sit out at night with a light on, walk around outside with no anti mosy protection and all through the year i have absolutely no problem with Mosquitos. i have visited many destinations in the summer and the mosquito has always been a big problem, but it seems that this microclimate does not suit them. The only insects that are a problem are the daytime flies, there are not a lot of them, but one always seems to decide to antagonise me continually untill i chase it in an attempt to KILL, then with its superior intelligence it hides untill i resume what i was doing, then it comes back again, if i do manage to kill it another takes over where the last one left off, -- Back shortly i´m just going for the kill...........

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Pot goes Murcia

Apparently 63% of all Marijuana grown in Spain is produced in the Murcia region, this is put down to the perfect climate and the large areas of agricultural land. In the last year 588 kilos were seized by Murcia police.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Wheres the Rain

Once more it is a hot, sunny morning. On Wednesday the weather forecast predicted rain and thunderstorms for Thursday and Friday, It was a bit cloudy at times yesterday but still no rain.
In 2005 reservior levels dropped to 45% of there capacity after the driest winter and spring for 60 years and rationing of water supplies for up to two million people could soon be put into place in the Murcia region.
Olive growers in the town of Granatula de Calatrava, in the La Mancha area of central Spain got more than they expected while deepening a well to extract more water,they unleashed a 30-meter-high gusher - or spout of water - that has been shooting from the earth for more than a month, the fountain gushes its mixture of water, clay, sand at rate of 50 litres a second.
The source of the reddish fountain is a huge aquifer, a water-bearing stratum of rock or sand, which has been put under pressure, the farmers who unleashed the surprise tried to block it off but were overwhelmed by the sheer pressure of water pushing up from a depth of possibly 140 metres.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bangers and pumpkins

My old car that i got for 500 Euros brought from the side of the road. Theres not many cars in Spain without dents and scrapes, with this car, it does not really matter, It is economical and reliable and thats all that matters.


Many of the smallholding farmers have a crop of Pumpkins, the pumpkins make great soup ( soup recipes) and a Spanish traditional preserve "Angels Hair" jam (cabello de angel), and are used in many other recipes.

These pumpkins are just down the road from here.

Technorati Profile

Sunday, September 03, 2006

hoop, hoop, Hoopoe

I have seen 3 hoopoes in the last two days around the Formentera area, what a beautiful bird. The hoopoe is an exotic looking bird that is the size of a mistle thrush. It has a pinkish-brown body, striking black and white wings, a long black downcurved bill, and a long pinkish-brown crest which it raises when excited. It lives in open country with a scattering of old trees, olive groves, orchards or small woods. Its call is a soft, low, resonant ‘hoop, hoop, hoop’
Buying/Selling a car
Privately selling a your car on the Costas is a bit hit and miss, you can advertise in the British language newspapers, on the internet or sell to a dealer, but what a lot of people do is put a for sale(se vende) sign, with a price and phone number on the car window, park in a highly visible area or as you drive you advertise, then wait for a phone call, i brought my last car like this from a nice old Spanish guy, we did the deal with my little Spanish language, he had no English. the car cost me 500 euros 18 month ago and its still going strong, having done about 10000k
- and it went through the ITV(MOT)Test first time.

Hot Rastro

The Live music in the Square was excellent last night ,there was a good crowd and nice atmosphere so we did not go to bed till 3.00 a.m. but, we got up bright and early this morning and decided to visit the Rastro (second hand and car boot stalls). Situated on the N 322 at Guardamar, there are many stalls with everything you can think of for sale, with many bargains. parking is quite difficult as there are a lot of people go to the market, so it is worth walking a bit to get there. There are also snack and refreshment bars, There is little shelter from the sun and it was very hot today, so take plenty of water.

I have heard rumours of a new golf course being created between Formentera and Rojales. Which is better for the environment an urbanisation or a golf course.
Long live the Orange groves.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Palacios Fiesta Weekend

Palacios is the area of Formentera where we live, it is Fiesta Weekend, last year the celebrations consisted of three nights of all night disco music with the usual fireworks.
This year in the square we have a bouncy castle, trampoline and various other entertainment for the kids, this evening there is live music, so it is a lot more appealing for all who live here.
Today is the last day the swimming pool is open this year, i hope they let the water out soon because it is going to be frustrating seeing it there, while it is still so hot.

Galician forest fires

More than 2,000 forest fires, most deliberately lit, ravaged the North-Western province of Galicia in a two week period this summer, the worst fires in the province in 20 years, a regional government environment spokesman said Friday 1st September.
Galicia emergency service dealt with 2,055 fires during the first two weeks of August - up from 995 during the same period last year. Most of the fires were lit by arsonists. On Friday Police arrested a man suspected of having lit 94 fires since 2002, Two women died last month in a fire he allegedly lit.
Most of the fires raged between August 4-15 and scorched 77,000 hectares of land in a province which borders the Atlantic Ocean and is normally rain swept. Three new fires broke out in the region on Friday.
Police have arrested 52 people in connection with the fires this year. Four people have died in the fires.

Friday, September 01, 2006

CB News, jobs and bins

The Costa Blanca News is in the paper shop today and every Friday, it has gone up from €1.50 to €1.60, it is full of paid advertising and and a relatively small amount of news, i have to wonder why the price increase.

There are very few jobs in the situations vacant, some of them appear to be in week after week, with the shortage of employment i wonder why! i am sure some of the employers collect c.v´s for a hobby.

I noticed the binmen round last night, i was amazed to see the operatives scrub the outside of the bin, then it is loaded into the truck and emptied , the back of the truck then closes down and the bin is automatically power washed, then returned to its position at the side of the road.if you leave a large item by the rubbish bin, a vehicle is sent to collect usually within 24 hours.

The recycling here deserves a mention , there several are recycling points all within walking distance , with separate bins for cardboard ,plastic, glass, and battery's.

We all wait with bated breath to see how the fiesta (so called) pans out this weekend, last year we suffered extremely loud music from 11.00P.M. to 7.00 A.M right through the weekend, -nobody slept. This year several people are leaving the area for the weekend to get away from it.

But this year they have not blocked the road with disco equipment like last year, so maybe it is going to be more people friendly.