Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Menjabollos Giant

The Menjabollos Giant is a famous man at Christmas time in Guardamar del Segura, this mythical character is very tall and strong and is known well around the area. He lives deep in the forest in a very nice timber house and he looks after the forest and keeps it clean and tidy. He comes to Guardamar every year to announce Christmas and stays untill the night before the Three Kings day, while he is in Guardamar he gives gifts to the children at midday on 23rd December and takes part in a dancing procession -the dwarves and giants dance- through the streets with the children. Afterwards in the Placa d Constitution afternoon snacks are served.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Father Christmas

The latest Christmas decoration of a Father Christmas hanging from balconies, windows and chimneys has really caught on this year, of all sizes from 2 foot tall to lifesize they are everywhere, unfortunately some people do not realise the danger they can create, a couple of days ago a young child fell out of a fifth floor window trying to reach the Santa, young children do not appreciate how easy it is to fall and the consequences.
But the danger of windows and balconies for children here in Spain are always present, with so many multifloor apartments and studios. while walking the other day i saw two young children playing a bouncing game on a bed beside a 3rd floor open window, they had no idea they could have bounced out the window quite easily - i shouted at them, danger, in Spanish and they went away from the window. Whether they realised what the danger was is another matter.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The break in codes

Police have cracked a new code used by burglars to mark properties that are targeted for break-ins. A list of the codes was released this week by Altea citizens’ safety councillor Gregorio Cortés, although the code has been used widely in other areas of the Costa Blanca.
The authorities warn that these marks have been chalked or engraved on the outside walls or entrances of properties that are targeted for robbery.
Police have enquired and victims have corroborated the signs that had mysteriously appeared on their properties before they were broken into.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Demolition in Costa Del Sol

The Coastal Authority of the Costa del Sol has announced that it will start the demolition of buildings built illegally along the sea front in a couple months time. The Chief of the Coastal Authority in Málaga, Juan Carlos Fernández-Rañada, says they want to recover all the land which belongs to the public and which has been built on, and that the current list has around 50 properties along the province coastline. Most of the constructions date from the 1950’s and 1960’s and include beach bars, buildings, and a pumping station. Two of the main cases are the Marymar residence in Benalmádena Costa, and the Nautical Club in Torre del Mar. The local council is trying to save the Nautical Club building by having it declared as being of historic architectural interest.The new Coastal Law passed in 1988 established a zone on the beach which is for public use.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Turron - An almond candy.

Turron was invented over 500 years ago in Jijona, north of Alicante, It is a traditional sweet invented by the Moors. There are two kinds of Turron , smooth and soft or a thick brittle nougat type. Honey and almonds are important ingredients of the turron, which is made by roasting and chopping the almonds then mixing them with the honey, and it then goes through more processes with different flavours being added to make bars of chocolate, praline and even Kiwi flavoured turron, sometimes other ingredients such as dried nuts and fruit are added. This sweet is real favourite at Christmas time where the supermarkets will have every type available.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Formentera Del Segura

Formentera del Segura is in the Veja Baja which means the low fertile valley, it is situated between Rojales and Benijofar, named after Don Nicholás Pérez de Sarrió ,the the lord of Formentera who in 1731 settled eight families there. Originally it was a moorish village, untill it was re-conquered by the King of Aragon in 1242. The village was completely destroyed in 1829 by an earthquake and took 11 years to rebuild. The main products of the town are oranges, lemons, vegetables, cereals and honey. Situated on the banks of the River Segura it benefits greatly from the regular supply of water in an area of very low annual rainfall. The town now has large housing developments being constructed especially on the outskirts, and there is a thriving industrial estate.
There is a small selection of bars and restaurants, a few shops and a good size municipal swimming pool. The town hall looks over the square where there is a kiosk bar this is the centre of festivals and events.

Monday, December 04, 2006

La Mata Wine

On November 20th La Mata wine was presented for the first time. The vine growing area around the the salt lakes had fallen into a state of neglect and is now being improved for cultivation of the vines. A wine museum and bodega are being built to promote the wine and show how it is produced from the grape to the bottle. At the moment only there is a limited quantity of the wine available, from restaurants in and around Torrevieja. The new wine will be called Humedal and is made from the mersegeur grape. It is the first time this type of grape has been commercialised and made into a viable wine product.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rights of Way, La Cañadas

In Spain there are 120,000 kilometres of rights if way known as Cañadas, these were granted by the King for the movement of animals and cattle between pastures, farms and markets, and for movement around the country, they are actually ancient footpaths which are between 20 and 75 metres wide, allowing room for grazing. It was not until around 1970 that the rise in the interest to protect the environment resulted in a movement to re-instate the traditional cañadas. The cause was about reasserting the Public Legality of the Right of Way, just as has happened in the UK with many of the old footpaths and bridleways. In 2003 there was a big demonstration in Madrid when a large flock of sheep and goats was driven along the exact route of a lost cañada, exercising legal rights, crossing a Golf Course before arriving in the very heart of the Spanish Capital.

There are 5 of these legal footpaths - Las Vias Pecuarias - in The San Miquel de Salinas area, they would probably the original tracks androads when San Miquel was just a small village. To see a map of these routes go to there are signs to help you find the routes.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Valencia Water Judges

We see the orange groves being waterlogged and the farmers diverting the water in the irrigation channels, this is all controlled by the Water Judges.Every Thursday at midday The Tribunal de Aqua (Water Tribunal) meet in Valencia. This was set up by Jaime I to regulate the distribution of the River Turia's water for irrigation. The irrigation system itself was designed and built by the Moors. The judges are eight ordinary workers who each represent a different irrigation network. It's their job to sort out the inevitable problems and conflicts between users. They are elected for two year terms of office, wear traditional smocks and hand down their sentences orally in the Valencian language. There is no right of appeal. The speed of this particular justice system and its longevity have made it world-famous.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Six Thousand Euros a Kilo

It would take the stamens of 15000
purple crocus flowers to make a kilo, and the product is called saffron, it can be bought in little satchets for about a euro and is used in paella, chicken dishes, fish, stews and for making cakes. It was probably introduced to Spain by the Arabs.
It would take a proffesional all day to pick the flower heads to produce couple of ounces of the stamens, which are toasted over charcoal to bring out the flavour, the harvest period is normally mid October.
Spain produces 70% of the worlds saffron. In the campo people grow enough to keep themselves supplied throughout the year.
Only a small amount is used in the cooking, 0.3 of a gram would be enough in a paella for 4 people.