Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Christmas

Well we should really say Feliz Navidad shouldn't we. Its wonderful weather here just before the big day. Not as big as Three Kings here of course. We had a lovely Christmas dinner with Bec and Joaquin last night, Rocky had some too of course. Introduced Joaquin to a few Brit traditions in the food line, pigs in blankets, bread sauce (homemade of course)sage and onion stuffing, christmas pud and mince pies. Joaquin loved them all! We had the early celebration because we are off to UK on Monday to work, same gig as last two years. We wanted to say a very merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to you all. If we do not get time to post over the festive season we will "see" you all when we get back.
Footnote: Look out for next months personality of the month: JOAQUIN

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Personality of the Month

Thought it might be a good idea to introduce you to a few of the neighbours. Of course first on the list has to our mate Lil accompanied here by the loopy Jack, also know as jumping jack flash.
Lil is an avid motorbike enthusiast, well know for her love, no make that obsession, with the colour pink. This lady has even been know to colour her hair pink, and very good it looks.
As president of her community, that lot across the street from us, she is a busy lady. Just recently she has also been responsible for starting a bread making craze which has us all piling on the pounds. A committed shopper with an endless capacity for a nice cuppa tea she makes a mean meat amd potato pie.
Whats she doing in Spain? She bought her appartment having only viewed it on line by the way. Well she's here taking a well earned rest from bringing up her large family, running youth clubs, taking care of lots of lucky kids as a childminder/foster Parent and generally running around doing some good whenever and wherever she could.
Always fun to be around Lil is our first and well deserved " personality of the Month"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New laws for drivers

The law is changeing for drivers on a couple of points, firstly where you used to have to carry documentary proof of insurance to show to the police on demand, now it is the responsibility of the police to check through the insurance database, i know i will still carry some proof though!
Secondly, the need to carry a spare set of car light bulbs and tools to change them has been scrapped, this is because on most modern cars the job needs to be done with specialised tools and by a mechanic.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Did you know?

My mate Lil was over yesterday and we showed her the days posting. " did you spot the little man on the toilet" she asked. We were somewhat mystified and asked what the heck she was talking about. Well its seems that every Belen has a little man with his pants down and bum on show. To tell the truth we thought it was wind up, but no Lil insisted it was true. Well of course off we went to see if this was true, it was! He took some spotting, and that's part of the fun, find the man. We stayed for a mulled wine from one of the international stalls set up around the Belen and very nice too.

Friday, December 12, 2008


What a treat the Belen is set up again in the middle of Rojales by the river, best view at night time when its lit up. It must be a mammoth task to set this up every year. A "Belén" is a nativity scene by the way. Nativities are very popular in Spain. Many homes will have them,its something we always did when our children were young. We would make all the figures ourselves all part of the build up to Chritmas.Here you can buy an amazing variety at all different prices. If you are looking for a bargain there's a shop with a sale near the big electrical store on the Calle De Las Valencianas in Rojales. In some towns you find very elaborate nativities in the town square. In most towns they depict not only the scene in the manger but also scenes leading up to and after the birth of Jesus. This is the case with the Rojales one. Some places go the whole hog and use real actors. One town in Spain shows 25 different scenes and uses 180 actors! People walk throughout the town visiting the different scenes. They have become very popular tourist attractions. It is very common for a nativity scene showing the manger to have stream or brook. And in addition to the traditional animals shown at the manger, such as pigs, sheep and donkeys, you might also see that symbol of Spain, the bull. In rojales you will see about every animal you can think of including snakes, which is appropriate as we watched a whopper of a snake swimming in the river the other day.
If you not here for Christmas take a look at the link and enjoy the Belen online. By the way Belen is also a popular name for girls here in Spain, lovely isn't it.

The Yule Wreath pictured was made by our daughter Bec

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Back To Nature

We need another election, I know after the long drawn out USA presidential one you may think I'm wrong. Though what a good result there, congratulations to President Elect Obama. We had some elections here of course and prior to these elections there was flurry of activity in the Town. Roads where resurfaced in Los Palacios and a lovely job was made of the park alongside the river walk. This is a area with lots of specimen trees, pathways to pleasant seating areas. Well it was when it was spruced up before the last local council elections. They also put in lots on trees alongside the river and renewed fencing.
So why do we need another election? Well since the last one nothing seems to have been done to these areas. They are now totally overgrown, some bright spark has dumped rubbish in at least one of the seating areas. Whats more the fences have been vandalised. The whole area is now a sorry sight. Its also obvious that the watering system to the trees along the river has malfunctioned, many of them have now died.
Call me an old cynic, well not so much of the old maybe, but I really cannot help but see the original work as just a vote grabbing ploy. I know the local council will be suffering from the present economic climate just as much as anyone else but really a stitch in time would have helped. They do keep a lot of the parks and flower beds in lovely condition, i just wish this particular park could get some TLC. When its usable its a wonderful resource.
Like they say every cloud has a silver lining though, the wild life is flourishing in this undisturbed plot. In particular the great Shrike commonly know as the Butcher Bird seems to love the place. We always see at least two hanging out there as they wait to pounce on small mammals and other tasty snacks. In case you are wondering the Shrike is also called the butcher bird because of it habit on storing its catch on thorny trees and bushes. I know it sounds yuck but it makes you realize just how amazing animals can be doesn't it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Games sans frontieres

Johns Spanish has really improve since he has spent time speaking to Becs partner Joaquin. However sometimes you just do not need words. It is perfectly possible to enjoy a game like dominoes without speaking the same language. The game of dominoes is often played in bars in Spain in much the same way as it is played in pubs in UK.

Although domino tiles are most likely of Chinese inheritance, there is argument over whether the game arrived in Europe in the eighteenth century from China or was in fact,invented independently. European dominoes are shorter than Chinese ones and there is a single tile for each permutation of the throw of two dice or a blank making a total of twenty-eight tiles. This is the standard or "double-six" set and, as in China, various games can be played with it. Double-twelve sets (91 tiles) are popular in America and Double-nine sets (55 tiles) also exist.
The game appears to have arrived in Britain in the late 18th Century from France (it is thought via French prisoners of war)It quickly become popular in inns and taverns at the time. The word "Domino" is French for a black and white hood worn by Christian priests in winter which is probably where the name of the game derives from.
There are no references to them in Western Literature before the middle of the 18th century, when domino games were first played in Italy and France. Later they spread over Europe and to England and America.
Wherever and when ever it came from it is still very much enjoyed here and in UK. There are leagues in Both countries, thought I don't think this pair will be playing in them anytime soon. Still a great way to over come the language barrier.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Red Sky at Night

We have had some more than spectacular skies recently. The sun setting over the Vega Baja is pretty much what sold us on our apartment and it still gives us a lot of pleasure to stand on the solarium and watch the wonderful changing colours at close of day. This week we also has a special treat with a startling display of the Moon in conjunction with Jupiter and Venus. So special was it we rang daughter Bec and Joaquin to ensure they did not miss it. They said it was an amazing sight from their roof top to, in fact they got pretty cold up there as they watched for so long. Check out the BBC site to get an idea of what I mean
Last night was more than a red sky at night , well words fail me and that's a first. True to the old saying that red sky has been a Shepherd's delight today. It has been dry hot and bright with temperatures in the 20s this afternoon. Ah now you know why we are here, is this really December.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Up Dates

Tree Trimming: nice job now done on the swimming pool square in Los Palacios. Bunch of workman spent yesterday tidying around the pool to so its all looking pretty neat and tidy.
Rocky the rescue dog: Is growing into a lovely young dog. Always looks like he's smiling with that great big wirehair terrier mouth. Very well behaved around the table at meal times. Of course one look at my mate Lil and hes as mad as her dog Jack.
Jumping Jack: Comes to visit now and then, Stands at the gate at the foot of our stairs barking like the loony he he is. Our cat Suzi is not impressed.
Suzi the "I'm a celebrity get out of here" cat: Who will not share her home with any other animal. We have to pop her into the bedroom when Rocky calls. Not that she minds that shes a lazy moo, loves nothing better than to lie around on the bed.Last night I could not get off to sleep so you'll never guess what I caught her doing. I always take a drink of water into the bedroom last thing. I have so many books etc. on the bedside table I stand the glass on the floor, easier to reach in the night to. Last night I was reading pretty late on and Suzi the cheeky minx strolled in and proceeded to drink from my glass! Oh yuck! how often has she done this, will now take water in a bottle. She does have a bowl of water in the living room by the way, go figure?
San Fulgencia: Your guess is a good as mine, local accused politician did suggest La Marina become a separate town though,presumably with himself as Mayor.
Petrol: Wow price yesterday was 84.7 cents a litre at Eroski. great. Topped up the car for 14 euros.
Brit TV:Lots of solutions but it seems to me the best one is a 1.9 metre dish and free sat box. No ongoing payments no chance of a switch off. With other solutions there do seem to be some very dodgy and unreliable suppliers around. Handle with care!
Lost and Found You will recall our surpirse and delight at the rteturn of my lost phone well it sems that such honesty is more the norm here. My mate Lil has just had a pair of new shoes she left on the bus returned by the driver. Whats more another driver has returned her shopping trolley left on another Bus a while ago. I know we're not letting her on the bus without supervision agian, we're afraid we might lose her!
Water: well we've had a bit more rain, makes everything nice and green. Still WE LIVE IN A DESERT. Please take care do not waste water, ditch the hose don't run water into the ditch. Save two precious resources, water and money.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Gizza Job

Last month figures showed that Spains unemployment was the highest in Europe. The knock on effects of the collapse of the construction industry are really making themselves felt here. The unemployment rate here now affects 11.3% of the active population, compared to 8.3% just a year ago.
The average rate across the European Union comes in at just 7.5%
The numbers come from Eurostat which names Spain as the EU country with the highest unemployment rate, followed by Slovakia at 9,9%. The Spanish government has taken measures to help those who lose their jobs and have mortgages under 170000 euros. Of course official figures are only part of the story,we cannot ignore the black economy and those caught up in it.
The real struggle is for those already at the bottom of the pile. That includes an awful lot of expats who have been pushed to work without a legal contract by employers wanting to save money. Without doubt there are some expats who would not have taken a contract if they could have one, the employers are still breaking the law by allowing employees to work without a contract of course. For what ever reasons we have a lot of desperate and often frightened people around who have no idea where there next penny is coming from. Its is worrying to see how easy it is to reach this stage, how so much has depended on the continuing prosperity of one industry.
I have heard quite a few expats,usually retired or working, who say we did the Spanish some sort of favour by coming here. For myself I cannot see that. To believe that you would have to buy into the idea that only our, north European, way of life is the correct one. If I may quote one expat "they were all peasants growing oranges". Well a lot of the oranges groves are now built over with houses that no one lives in. I know its been Spanish companies who built them and took a lot of the wealth but once again that means a few have benefited while a large number have worked hard but now are on the scrapheap. The bubble has most surely burst and an awful lot on locals and expats are now caught in the downpour. You can bet quite a lot would rather be peasants with an orange grove.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thermal Weather

The Benidorm Council may have beaches on there minds but the weather lately has us all hunting out our woollies. Spain has had some very very cold weather, we may have escaped the worst here but its still a little on the chilly side. We read that Malaga had the lowest temperatures since 1969 and saw news reports of snow in other parts of the Alicante region. We could see snow over on the mountains on Friday ,thought we were back in Scotland for a minute. Suzi the cat has become a recluse, she hates the cold wet weather and the snow has been falling as rain here as they say. We have been looking at installing solar panels but John is yearning for a wood burning stove after sitting in front of Becs log fire. Trouble is we have no where to put one in our wee flat. You can get some nice little stoves for outside that burn wood, I can see us now out on the Solarium huddled around the stove. You know it would be quite nostalgic, a bit like being back on the picket line, ah happy days. Cheers comrades

Benidorm Beach Clamp Down

Benidorm City council have introduced new legislation that is going to affect most people in one way or another, so make sure you know the new laws or you could end up well out of pocket.
1 You cannot enter the beach between Midnight and 07:00hrs. Penalty 750 Euros
2 You must not place parasols and towels to reserve space. Penalty 150 Euros
3 No playing ball games outside designated areas. Penalty 120 Euros
4 Swimming when red flag is flying. Penalty 1000 Euros
5 Peeing in the sea. Penalty 120 Euros (beware there maybe frogmen swimming round testing the water near you!)
6 Building Sandcastles. Penalty 150 Euros
7 Fishing with a rod, net or harpoon. Penalty 750-1100 euros
8 Drinking alcohol on the beach. Penalty 750 Euros
9 Sex on the beach. Penalty 750 Euros.
I agree with the swimming penalty, as quite often others lives are put at risk to rescue people who get into difficulty. but the some of the others seem over the top.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Food Glorious Food

It was Becs birthday on Saturday and Jochin made us all a meal. I am telling you his Paella is just second to none. He was taught to cook this famous Spanish dish by an elderly lady many years ago. Jochin prefers to cook the traditional dish over a wood fire, but however he does it its a real treat. Sitting in one of the house's cave rooms in front of an open fire made the occasion a birthday not to be forgotten.
We all seem to get even more interested in food when the weather cools down, guess you don't really feel like eating so much when the temperatures 40 degrees. Well its not 40 degrees now so as I said in an earlier post we do love our soup. I also like the fact that you can get lentils, chickpeas and all sorts of beans precooked in jars, very convenient and not expensive. We always get ours from Inter Marche now as their prices are best. Of course fresh vegetables come from the street market. At our house we have whats called our Wednesday soup. That's when I try to use up any remaining vegetables before the market the next day. So here's the basic recipe you can adapt to use any veg as necessary. The only vegetable I would say is essential are onions, you can manage with leeks at a pinch, if you only have them and not the afore mentioned.
Dice all your vegetables. Typically I would use the following
Onions,courgettes,aubergine,leeks,carrots,turnip,parsnip,tomatoes.You not not need masses of any particular type.
Saute the onions, do not brown, add the rest of your ingredients in order of hardness. For example, from this list carrots and other root veg next ending with courgettes, then tomatoes. You do not let the veg brown at all just "sweat" untill they are quite soft. Now you add fresh or dried chili to taste, (when my sisters here its big chili time!) You now add cartons or tins of tomato frito. You can get away with other tomato products but we like the intensity of the fried tomato puree. If I have a good large pan full I would use two 350-400 gram containers of frito. You need enough room in the pan to add stock or water of roughly half the volume of the mixture. Bring to boil, then turn down and simmer, by the time the soup has reduced to a nice thickness it will be ready. You can liquidise for a smooth soup if you prefer. Season to taste, eat or cool and freeze. By the way if you have an apple or two languishing in the fruit bowl, core and chop and add at the sauteing stage. Remember chili gets hotter if you are reheating. This is a good basic recipe that can be changed by omitting the chilli and adding Basil or lots of garlic. You can add lentils or chickpeas or any kind of bean for a really hearty meal. It can also be further reduced, poured over pasta or used in a Lasagna.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Over the Hills and Far away

Well not so far as it happens. Hands up if you have great view of the mountains that almost seem to encircle the Vega Baja. It really was this view as the sun set behind the mountains that sold us on our apartment. At anytime of of year the ever changing sunset is a sight to behold. However we have really only just started to explore the mountains and hills we have admired for so long from our roof solarium. Today we took a trip to Crevillent, and what an interesting town it is, Very different from the Spanglish feel of places near the coast. Lovely church and that usual mixture of new, old well persevered and crumbling building you find in Spain, even in the capital Madrid. After a look around a coffee and a bargain buy,( more of that in another blog! ) we headed for the Sierra de Crevillente . It was hard to believe we were only a little over 30KM from home. Not a soul in sight very very quite, only the bird song. John saw a Rock Thrush almost a soon as he got out of the car. It was heaven to have a peaceful walk along paths bordered with wild herbs and flowers. We will be going back to explore more of the marked paths amongst these hills. Stouter foot wear and a compass are called for the tracks are rough and it would be easy to stray so you need to be able to get your bearings. We hope to see some birds of prey next time and given the terrain I am sure we will.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Games People Play

In his thoughts for the millennium the Dalai Lama said "Remember, that not getting what you want, is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck." It always reminds me of another favorite line of mine "You can't always get what want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need". Rolling Stones released on their 1969 album Let It Bleed, Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Very different sources, but I think the same sentiment.
Anyway why I am telling you this? Well I was reminded of these two quotes in connection with the lack of Brit TV. Many many ex pats have definitely not got what they want in this respect. It maybe, just maybe, however that some have got what they need. We have spent many a fun evening with TV exiles playing board games, cards, domino's, looking at family albums that had been gathering dust, sharing a home cooked meal and sharing lots of chat and laughter. And guess what, despite the fact that Brit TV is once again accessible, to some extent anyway, the fun continues. Tomorrow its meat and tattie pie with a few games of rummy cup. We don't know how to play yet, but we're sure it will be fun learning.

Short back and sides

The days are so much shorter now we really try to make the most of the sunny afternoons. Its this time of year that makes you appreciate living here, Still plenty of warmth in the sun, though the early mornings and evening can have a bit of a chill. Its not winter or even Autumn as we knew it back in UK though. One thing that does always happen around now is the trees in the towns get what we call one of there regular hair cuts. We have yet to discover where the tradition for the shape comes from, but to keep it they need a few cuts during the year. So last week the cherry picker appeared around the corner from us and what seemed like a large number of workmen arrived to do the job. There were numerous breaks for refreshments and discussion before they achieved the desired results. Meanwhile most plants do not seem to take a break for winter and continue to grow here. We are planting some spring bulbs this year as are our neighbors and look forward to seeing them bloom next year. It really makes a big difference to an area when people take the time and trouble to garden. Its not just our own efforts we enjoy but the show that the others put on too,and at least at this time of year we do not have to water the containers quite as often. When you have going on for a hundred pots it can be quite job.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Results of the poll

If you cannot have English TV

Leave Spain = 4 people, Might be thinking about getting air tickets.
Watch Spanish TV instead = 8 voters, will soon be able to understand if not speak Spanish fairly well in the near future.
Watch DVD´s instead = 3 voters, theres a car boot sale this weekend at La Marina you may get good second hand DVD´s there.
Not bothered about it = 8 people who voted have obviously got better things to do --nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
Get drunk instead = 4 voters are going to spend the subcription fees onthe Vino -nice choice.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fortuna - thermal

The Church at Banos De Fortuna
Yesterday we had a trip to Fortuna, which about 15 kilometres west of Orihuela situated in a quite mountainous area, it is a large town with mainly narrow streets and has a nice unspoilt feel to it, with some lovely architecture.
3.5 Kilometres along the road is the Banos De Fortuna, a small village with several luxurious looking hotels, a church and other facilities, The main attraction is the open air thermal pools and swimming pools where entrance is included if you stay at one of the hotels, but 10€ for the day otherwise. Other health treatments are available including mudbaths and massages. The Hotels are all brightly coloured and fresh looking and you can have a 7 night stay all inclusive for about €450 this includes several free treatments, and wine and water with your meals.
It is a very popular health resort, and it is quite normal for people to wander around the village in their bathrobes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pretty and Practical

Although the Carnation is the national flower of Spain the Lantana camara, which is in flower now. is more commonly know as the Spanish flag. Its a wonderfully colourful bush which is native to tropical regions in Central and South America.It is very hardy and invasive, which is probably why you see it on road side and central reservations. It seems to survive any sort of treatment or conditions here. This Shrub can cope with minimum amounts of water, tolerates high temperatures and is not affected by most pests. It is also attractive to butterflies. You do see various colours but the one that gave it it common name is of course yellow and red.There are some wonderful examples in flower beds near the river. Such is the survival rate of this shrub in many countries a whole host of uses have been found for it. As you can see from the photo it has a very pretty flower it also produces a blackberry looking fruit. There are reports that children have died from eating unripe berries though I have read the berries are edible when ripe.
All the parts of this plant have been used traditionally for several ailments throughout the world. The root of this plant is used for the treatment of malaria, rheumatism and skin rashes according to some sources,it has also been said that it has properties which help in the treatment of cancer.In some parts of the world Some communities have found alternate uses for Lantana, because it is so difficult to eradicate. Some household furniture, such as tables and chairs are made from the stalks, or the small branches are bundled together to make brooms. I am not sure I will risk trying the berries maybe just stick to admiring its beauty

Friday, November 14, 2008

Its In the Bag

We are getting some lovely afternoon weather right now, just great for a stroll around Rojales or Formentera. We opted for Rojales yesterday, I was hoping for a browse around the secondhand shop that's appeared in the main street but it was closed. That being the case we decided to walk up to the river to see if there was much water running, not bad as it happens. Lots of wild fowl too and something in the murky depths with a jaws size fin, well OK maybe not that big.
Now I have always made a bit of a joke of the "dog dirt" on the pavement brigade, you know every parish council and local newspaper from here to eternity has this on the agenda at several points in any one year. Not that i advocate leaving behind your pooches leavings so to speak. In fact having just fostered friend Lil's dog Jack I cannot seem to leave the house without a plastic bag in my pocket. Which brings me to the point of this post. I was so pleased to see a plastic bag dispenser for the offending materiel in Rojales, are there more I do hope so. They are a common site in Australia wherever more than one dog walker gathers. Good on ya Rojales council. Now all we have to do is get the owners to use them. So if your an irresponsible dog owner, and remember what your pet leaves behind has the potential to cause blindness in a child, beware you may find me chases you down the street waving a plastic bag. And just for the record it wouldn't be the first time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

That Sinking Feeling

Do you think it’s a slog getting the Laundry done, think again. How about if you had to carry it out to the nearest irrigation ditch and scrub away at it. According to the Author of the classic The Root and the Flower, John A Crow, it was still a common site in the 1960s. Can you imagine in the 40 degrees heat we sometimes get. I recall the big washing day my mother did every Monday before washing machines were a common household item in UK. We had copper boiler, worked by gas, a mangle and a lot of elbow grease. That said we did have running water and we could work inside the house.
I have not seen anyone washing in this way though I read only this year that the river Segura was being used for washing of clothes by poor immigrants. It’s hard to imagine what everyday existence must be like when the Segura is your only source of water.
As I say I have not seen anyone washing their clothes in the irrigation channels here or in the several stone sinks you come across in the campo. The picture here is of oneof those sinks along the track near the Royal Thai restaurant. The sink is next to a well that has just been renovated so thought I had better get a record of this ancient artefact before that to disappeared too. Just imagine for a moment the harshness of most women’s lives here within living memory, remember also such conditions still exist within a stone throw of where we live.
So next time you open the automatic washer say a big thank you and a may be a little pray for the fortunate.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Red Squirrels of Guardamar

Is there any more lovely small wild animal than the Red Squirrel or to give it its Spanish name the La Ardilla roja. Red squirrels are the only type you will see in spain.You may have seen them and not realised they are the red variety as in the winter they can lose the bright colouration that gives them their name. During the cooler weather they become browner and darker and develop prominent ear tufts. There is also a lot of variation in their general colour right across their range in Europe, from quite pale to reddish to almost black. The ones we see in Guardarmar are looking very very red at present though and have lovely almost white faces and fronts. We have read that you do not get them in southern Spain but I have seen postings on the WWW about the squirrels in Granada. Maybe they where on a cultural visit! If you want to see theses lovely creatures take yourself off for a coffee at the cafe in the Parque Reina Sofia. On a week day when its little quieter you have a good chance of spotting a few playing in the trees, If you are as fortunate as we were the other day you may get to see one taking a drink by the pools in the middle of the park

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

TKO is a KO OK

I have always listened to Local Radio, in Leicestershire, Cornwall, Highlands and Scotland and now here. Station of choice here is TKO. What I like about local radio is that it’s so accessible. You can get an almost instant request and that makes you feel part of it, that’s what promotes brand loyalty I suppose. What ever it’s nice to be able to email or call in a request and hear it sometimes minutes later. They have a good range of music based programmes. Also though it is local you can, should you wish, listen to it anywhere in the world on the PC. You can find TKO at FM 91.9 and 87.5 FM
Website is .

So if you want music, light chat, competitions, local charity and Job info give it a try.
Now as far as radio goes I would love to be able to get a talk based station too. I listen to Radio 4 online but a more local based “intelligent speech” station would be excellent. Mean while I shall carry on enjoying TKO.
If your wondering TKO stands for The Knock Out

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

By The People For The People?

Maybe not my business as its San fulgencia, but had to make a general comment on recent events there. Not about corruption, let me make that clear, no comment on rights or wrongs, who done it and who didn’t. I prefer to leave that to the courts. However something did seem worthy of a posting, see what you think out there.
You will all no doubt have seen the story of British councillors take the reins, if only for a day. Even the good old BBC took a moments rest from the Brand/Ross story to take a look. The details seem a little fuzzy with at least one British guy saying that he had not been Mayor for a day. The one point that does seem to be clear is the fact that these two representatives of the people who do not speak much Spanish at all. Now I would have thought to be effective as a politician in any country you would need a very good command of the language. I know I would never give my vote to someone who in reality would not know what the heck was going on. May be that’s why one of them was made councillor for animals, do dogs bark in Spanish?
No joking a side, it maybe very noble and not a little brave to stand for election to represent your community, isn’t it just a little short sighted to do so if you cannot understand what is going on in the meeting you will attend.

What surprises me is that there is not some sort of ruling about competency in the official language of the country in which you are standing. Surely that would make sense.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Souper Time of year

Even here in sunny Spain soup is high on our family meal menu. The vegetables in season and available on the markets are perfect for a variety of hearty, tasty and of course healthy soups. Loads of root veg about now, mushrooms* are good, pumpkins of course, lovely fleshy ones. Any slightly squishy tomatoes can be used in soup.
My fresh herbs are still doing well, even the annual basil is holding out. All in all a really “souper” time of year for those who like to cook. A family favourite with us in a fish soup which makes good use of the marvellously fresh and flavoursome leeks you can buy at present. Here’s the recipe enjoy!

For each person

1 potatoes peeled and chopped into large chunks
Half a leek chopped
Half an onion diced
259-300grams of fish in bite size pieces
Fish Stock (freshly made from fish trimmings or from stock cube, if using stock be careful when salting the soup)
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Garlic to taste
Plain flour
Black pepper
In a large heavy base saucepan sauté the vegetables adding in this order:
Onions, potatoes, garlic crushed, leeks. Sauté the Vegetables carefully but do not allow to brown. When the onions and leeks are looking transparent stir in a dessert spoon of flour per person, do this of the heat. Return to stove cook for a minute then slowly add enough stock to well cover the mixture ( add a little more during cooking as required while veg is cooking) reduce heat and simmer until veg are cooked. Season to taste. Just before serving heat the soup and add the fish a little at as time. Fish will cook in a very short time. To serve, liquor should be first with crusty bread followed by fish and veg topped with a mixture of oil. Lemon juice and parsley. If preferred you can serve all together.
*a lot of these are grown in the area La Manchuela area if you’ve ever been up to Cuenca you will have seen the special growing buildings.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Lost and Found

We read so much about crime these days I wanted to tell you all about something that happened to us the other day. We had been out taking a friends dog for a walk. We went all around Rojales and came back through the fields and then out to the road by the Thai Royal Gardens Restaurant. When we got in John noticed that the clip that held my mobile phone was still around my neck but the phone was missing. There seemed nothing for it but to retrace our steps and search, I had just got a new sim and put a lot of cash onto the phone so I was really spitting feathers! Not holding out much hope I nipped into the friends to make sure it was not there, no luck. In the mean time John tried ringing the phone, I was just about to tell him not to fearing that if it was lying somewhere ringing might attract attention to it and it would be picked up and gone. However what happened next proved me wrong. The phone was answered, a local farmer we had seen working in his artichoke field had found the phone, He told John to meet him at the Dia supermarket in half and hour to collect the phone. What a nice, honest faith restoring individual Thank you again Senor and muchas gracias

Angels Trumpets

The Datura Tree
It’s always amazing to see these trees in flower at this time of year. The huge trumpet shape flowers give the tree its other name angel’s trumpets; however you might think devils trumpets more suitable. The tree is very toxic, despite that it has been used as a medicine plant in the past. Most especially by the curandero (or curandera for a female) shaman of Hispanic South American countries, Shamans are healers who uses all types of natural methods. When we lived in Cornwall there was a major problem with people eating this plant, so much so that all the trees where removed form public parks. It is very dangerous and causes all sorts of problems including hallucinations. The effects can be long lasting in some rare instances.
Never the less if you look and don’t touch it’s a dramatic and attractive plant seen in may places around Formentera

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Clear Horizon Empty Pockets

It was a cold day yesterday but bright with a clear up on the roof terrace there was a clear view over the Vega Baja. As I stood up there taking in the view I realized something was missing, I was so astounded I shouted John to take a look. We have taken in this view many many times over the last four years but never ever have we seen a sight like this. Wait for it! There is not a single crane in sight, no I don’t mean birds I mean the Grua, those hugh cranes we see on building sites here, well you used to. What’s the story behind this? Quite simply the building industry has hone into freefall. Hard times maybe for the promoters, developers the agents harder indeed for the poor, now quite literally, workers

Friday, October 31, 2008

Adams Ale

Couple of weeks ago we got a water bill, we were pleased to see it was not a “William”, you know a serious bill! It’s more than the financial aspect of course, though in the present climate it’s good to keep outgoings down. No the real issue is the use of precious resources.
If you think about environmental matters, and shouldn’t we all, you cannot be in Spain long without realising how little water there is. It’s easy to get a false impression living in the Vega Baja because of the centuries old irrigation system. Do not be fooled though there is a real water shortage.
That’s why it’s important to save water whenever and however you can. What you do in your home and garden does make a difference.
Everyone lives in a river basin. Even if we don't live near the water, we live on land that drains to a river or estuary or lake, and our actions on that land affect water quality and quantity far downstream.
When rain falls on your street, roof or patio, what stream or river will it flow through on its way downhill towards the sea? When you drain your bath or shower or sink, where does the water go? When you turn on your tap to get a drink of water, where does the water come from. It’s our belief we should all be asking ourselves these questions.

Although Spain has lead the way in the setting up of controls and regulations it often appears that the political power is there but not the political will. Spain was one of the first countries in the world to create river basin agencies in 1926. In 1986 all surface and ground after went from private to public ownership. However the political pressures on the organisations that regulate the water are great. Property developers, growers, the tourist industry all want more water than there is.
What can we do? Two things I suppose, first do make every effort to save water on the home front and second become involved in a public campaign to save the Segura river basin. The WWF put out a report in May 2006 laying out the problems and what they could lead too. Having spent several extended holidays in Australia we have witness the death of the Murray Darling basin, we don’t want to see things get as bad here. It may be a smaller scale but it will be just as much an environmental disaster.
As I said on the Canal Vega Baja Life programme only this week we should not just be saying the waters not fit to drink and filter it. We should also look at the bigger picture and put our efforts into ensuring that there is a decent water supply here so that everyone has decent drinking water and the preservation of natural habitat takes priority over development.

Note: Adams Ale is what my late father called water.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beware of the wasps

Right at the end of the summer I had a run in with a wasp. I was stung twice in fact on my arm. The resulting reaction was a bit of a surprise and rather scary. My arm swelled, was bright red and very painful. My hand also swelled including the fingers. As I say it was very painful too. What’s more despite medication it was like this for a week. Rather worryingly I thought my list of allergies needed adding to, pink grapefruit had been the worst but now wasp stings took the lead.
I was interested therefore in an article about a breakthrough in treatment for stings inflicted by the “swimming pool” wasp also called the "litter bin wasp"
It seems this little blighter is now quite a nuisance in areas around the Mediterranean. The new treatment is an important break through. The Vaccine which has been developed at the Miguel Hernandez University in Elche and a Malaga Hospital is specifically designed to treat serve allergic reactions. Trials will now take place on outdoor workers who are most at risk.
It seems the sting of this American wasp can be life threatening - ouch!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Petrol down

For the first time for a couple of years the cost of a litre of 95 octane unleaded petrol is below a 1 euro, yesterday it was 99.7 cents from the new Eroski filling station near Cuidad Quesada. and judging by the global fall in the price of a barrel of oil it should get even cheaper, this "should" hopefully be reflected in the price of all other consumables, as we are constantly told the rising cost of transportation of goods are the reason they go up in price.
Mind you OPEC are trying to keep the oil price higher by putting quotas on oil. So far this has had no effect. The global recession is taken hold and the demand for oil has dropped.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Quiz night at Tylers

Monday night, Mary, myself, Lil and Caroline went to the quiz night at Tylers Bar and Restaurant, we had a very enjoyable evening and between us managed to answer all the questions although a few were wild guesses and quite a few were wrong, but we did not get the booby prize. Its free to play and half way through the quiz there was a free raffle and a break with a buffet of filled rolls and chips, It was great fun and we had a good laugh.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trying to "sort it"

The ongoing sage
John and my mate Lil have been getting a lot of attention lately. They are both community presidents and the not so happy campers in their respective communities are hoping they can work a miracle. Well the English speaking ones anyway. The big issue is of course Brit TV. “Where’s it gone”, from those just over for a holiday or for the winter. “Can we get it back” everyone is asking this. Of course almost everyone wants to know what the alternatives are, if those same alternative companies will them selves be closed down. Then there is the question of community satellite dishes. That brings a whole new raft of question, not least of all who would pay for the installation of same. Very controversial this when some communities have Brits who have not paid there community fees.

Our daughter Bec was acting as a translator at another community meeting the other day and she said it was on the agenda there too. Of course all communities will be looking at their TV reception equipment in the near future anyway because by April 2010 all analogue tv will go in Spain. Oh happy days.
Glad John is President now and not me. Only thing I can say is when I was President I used to say to people that I was neither God nor in the Guardia and therefore could neither enforce the law or perform miracles. Lil and John are beavering away try to come up with an answer so I do hope everyone will be a little patient and also appreciate how much time and effort they are expending on this.
Incidentally we have never had Brit TV in our house nor do we miss it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

On The Telly in Spain

Me and my mate lil (also known as lily the pink) had a fun time making our TV debut here in Spain. “The Life” programme on Television Vega Baja is in its infancy and its good to be involved in what we hope will be a big success. We also hope as time goes by it will be extended to more than an hour a day.
We were on the programme talking about living here, looking at the news and commenting on it. We were very glad to find we were to share the platform with a professional actor, Nick Moore, who teaches English in Orihuela. We were interested to here about the Networks Theatre productions in which he is involved. You can find out all about them at I recommend you take a look they have some wonderful productions coming up.
As I have said it was really fun to take part and we did get asked back so we must not have disgraced ourselves. I do hope more and more English speakers will contact Yolanda who presents the Life programme and offer to appear, the more input there is the better the programme will be.

Monday, October 13, 2008

English speaking slot on Tvb

Every weekday at 12:00 on the Tvb Television channel, there is a new one hour television programme where guests are invited to give there news, views and opinions on current events and inform the viewers of future events. The programme called "Life" started on October 5th and is hosted by Yolanda Juárez. There is also a slot during the show, with news, weather and local events. Viewers are invited to phone in or email any comments and suggestions live on the show on telephone 966736871 or Local English speakers are invited to go to the studio to take part, Telephone Yolander and she will be pleased to hear from you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wine Cocktails

Ive just found another way of drinking red wine, "Calimocho" is 50/50 red wine and coke served over ice, it is popular at the "botellon" street drinking gatherings, a variation of the drink is to add a dash of blackberry liqueur.
A similar drink is "Tinto de verano", which is already very popular in the Costa Blanca,it is half red wine and half "Casera", a mildly sweet sparkling water. Another drink is to mix 50/50 white wine and lemon-flavoured soft drink also very refreshing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Watermelon festival

Still talking about Valencia, this last week has been the watermelon festival, held in the City of Arts and Sciences, featuring the benefits of eating and also its decorative possibilities, The watermelon festival is expected to become an annual event.
Recently experts have claimed that the red-fleshed fruit contains an ingredient that affects the body's blood vessels in the same way as when a man takes the sex drug viagra. Researchers believe that the juicy fruit could be used to help men who suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Watermelon could also improve heart health, the immune system and even help people who suffer from obesity and type 2 diabetes
Almost 92 percent of watermelon is water, but the remaining 8 percent is loaded with lycopene, an anti-oxidant that protects the human heart, prostate and skin health.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Valencia Day

Today everywhere is closed, The Valencia Region celebrates its fiesta, in commemoration of the entrance of King Jaime I into the city of Valencia, which took place in the year 1238, The celebrations started last night with a massive firework display, part of the international firework festival, today the Valencia flag is lowered from the balcony of the Valencia town hall and the civic procession starts, heading through the streets to the cathedral. Later returning to the town hall and another round of explosions. It is also the fiesta of Sant Dionís, This saint is traditionally considered as the patron saint of lovers and there is the custom of giving the gift of a Mocaorà, a silken scarf containing marzipan pastries handcrafted by Valencia’s confectioners.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Telemicro update

The Guardia Civil have issued a statement concerning Telemicro Levante, saying that they illegally pirated British TV programmes to re broadcast in Spain, Fourteen people have been arrested. The company has also been accused of claiming they only had 17000 clients instead of 60000 and not declaring their profits to the treasury. The court case is expected next year.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Free holiday for your Pet

The Magic hotel chain in Benidorm and Alfaz del Pi are giving free holidays to pets, on condition that an all inclusive holiday is booked at one of their hotels.
Its nice to know your faithful friends will be having a relaxing time as well.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Henry´s is closed

The popular English bar and restaurant Henry's is now closed, while we were away last week they ceased operating and all the furniture has been removed. Henry's opened at the beginning of this year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Property prices down

The price of houses along the Spanish Mediterranean coast dropped by 8.3% last month in comparison with August 2007, report Spains biggest surveyors TINSA.
TINSA reports that since March, prices have been falling gradually in all areas and that an expected ‘stock’ of between 800,000 and 900,000 unsold new homes are expected to be on the market by the end of this year, this does not include resale property.
The average national price dropped by 4.6% last month.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

That Was The Week That Was

Well things have been shall we say a little different this last week. The municipal pool closed on Sunday the Plaza Bar has been open but very subdued this week and closes at the weekend. Normal end of summer routine stuff, what happen last Tuesday was far from that. A long story to which we are still in the dark re the outcome and indeed cause. Let’s just say gunshots, men on roofs, special-forces police armed and wearing Ski masks all played a part. We are hoping some absent owner’s agents take better references in future!
We had our community meeting on the Thursday, well attended and lots of issues dealt with. Agreement to take action on non payers being one. Interesting and a little alarming to hear from our administrator of apartments being lived in without owner’s knowledge, squatters I suppose you could say. They have dealt with three such cases in this area alone. Yesterday there was a fire in a house in Benijofar; word is it was started by someone who was robbing the property.
It is unusual to hear of so much criminal activity but we tend to get complacent I think. Just glad we have some good neighbours and that most of us watch out for one another.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The President for another year

It was the AGM last night for our community, i was re elected president for the year 2008/2009, i must have done a good job last year! our administrator gave us a rundown of the community accounts which although we have a number of non payers, is still in the black. He also gave us information on the procedure that is going to be followed to get the community fees from the non paying members of the community. Quotations for a spanish digital freeview satellite system are going to be obtained, this option should give the community some English freeview channels. Apparently the analogue television system in Spain will be completely finished by 2010.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Tu Ritmo Opens

A new music/disco bar with resident DJ has opened on Avenida Los Palacios. Formerly Badulake now under new management of local boys,We went to the opening night which was on Thursday 4th with free beer and cheap drinks all night. It has had a new decor inside and out and was well patronised on the opening night. Street artists have done the murals inside, and Santi and joaquin the outside facia.If you want to dance the night away to some Latino sounds this is the place to go.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sardine Fiesta

Monday was the day of the Sardine fiesta in Formentera del Segura, Many people from the area gathered to eat tons of freshly cooked sardines roasted on the barbeques in the new recreation area,they were enjoyed with fresh bread, beer and wine, there was a constant queue untill the middle of the afternoon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

How to keep cool

The hot weather continues and keeping cool can be difficult without useing the air conditioning system,
Here are a few methods you can use,
Hold a cold drink can or bottle on the back of your neck it cools the blood to the brain very quickly.
Wet your wrists and other pulse points with cold water. Use a piece of ice wrapped in a face cloth, to continue after the coolness wears off. Constantly cooling off the wrists will also cool off the body. Never use just ice; make sure it is wrapped in a towel or something similar.
Put on a tee shirt that is has been wet with cold water and wrung out.
If you're in a situation where you can go without clothes, this can be the most comfortable, natural way to stay cool.
Do not use a fan to wave air past your face and neck. Contrary to popular belief, the activity created by waving actually burns calories and raises your core temperature.
Smaller meals with less protein will reduce metabolic heat. Whatever you do eat should be cool and not require heat (or much heat) to be prepared (e.g. salads, sandwiches, etc.) But be sure to eat something, even though the heat might spoil your appetite.
It's no coincidence that many people in hot countries of the world eat spicy food. Spicy (hot to the taste) food increases perspiration which cools the body as it evaporates.

To me its a lot easier to keep cool, than it is to get warm.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lethal weapon

The ancient replica firearms that are fired at the Moors and Christians festivals all over the Costa Blanca are pretty dangerous, a man had to had three fingers amputated and suffered head injuries when one went off by accident at Elche last Sunday, it was reported other people also recieved injuries, a fractured leg, a sprained ankle, and woman on the fifth floor of an apartment got shrapnel wounds.
Obviously you need more than earplugs at the festivities now, You would be safer with body armour.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lets Dance

Saturday night a great time was had by all. Fiesta time here in Formentera Del Segura and once again our local ayuntamiento has done us proud. Lots going on for two weeks. On Saturday the excellent band playing in the church square had everyone on their feet. How lovely it was to see young and old alike enjoying the fun well into the early hours of the morning. No police required to keep order, no one drunk, or not noticeably so. Lots of laughter and fun, everyone keeping an eye out for the youngster. Could there be a better place on a barmy evening, I would say not.