We had a lovely walk again last evening just as the sun was starting to set and the temperature was a little lower. It has been another roasting day,as we walked we both remarked on how much everything has grown this year despite the lack of rain. Our walk took us along the old road towards the centre of Formentera and back along the side of the river. There are a lot of plot along the old road, some with houses some with out, lots of trees and plants on the plots make the walk interesting. We have noticed one or two owners have uprooted orange trees this year for some reason. We are hoping its not to start building there as this particular walk would loose a of its attraction then.
As i say lots of plant life and one plant we always find fascinating is the Loofa. Many people seem to think the loofa you get for the bath room is some sort of sea creature, not true so its a bit more environmentally friendly than a natural sponge. Indeed the loofa is sometimes know as the sponge cucumber.
The Loofa is in fact a fruit, probably native to tropical Asia or Africa. It comes from a plant called the Loofa cylindrical of the gourd family. Some species can be eaten though I have to admit I have never tried to cook them, watch this space! We did try to grow some one year using seeds we colleted form the campo. Lots of leaves but non of the lovley yellow flowers so no fruit.
To harvest for use as a body scrubber or as a pot scrubber in the kitchen you have to wait until the The fruit are picked when the skin turns a dark orange colour, the seeds are removed and you have ya loofa. The seeds are large and black and are easy to shake from the fruit.
I have found a recipe for the plant so i will let you know what they are like.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
The San Miquel San Roque Fiesta started on the 15th August and in Formentera there have been fireworks, parades, discos, live music, bullfighting and much more going on, then on Friday the 4th September the fiesta continues in Los Palacios, mainly at the Swimming pool square where on Friday night there will be a film (Mamma Mia), Saturday - Childrens bouncy castles and games during the day and in the evening, music and dancing and the usual fantastic firework display, and on Sunday, Solemn mass will be held in the social centre at 13:00 the grand finale of "Great Thunder" (fireworks) to end the Fiesta.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Well not so wee actually. It’s been as hot as ever over the last few days and maybe that’s why we have had so many "visitors" and they didn’t fly in by easy jet.
First of John spotted a praying mantis on the gate, you may recall we had one of these in house sometime ago. Fascinating creature that are suppose to visit when the house is in need of tranquillity, that’s sounds about right to me. We then had a couple of very large grasshoppers. Finally Last night we heard a really strange noise on the terrace a sort of rattle, Suzy the cat was giving chase but even she got a little worried and retreated up the stairs. John went out, he's brave, and captured the beast with a glass and card. What we had got was a cicada. We have heard these insects in many countries over a number of years but have never managed to catch sight of one so we were pleased to be able to have a good look at it before it was released. Rather like a giant fly but lovely wings. There are about 2,500 species of cicada around the world.. Thought they do cause damage to some crops they have no sting and do not bite. Cicadas have been (or are still) eaten in Ancient Greece, China, Malaysia, Burma, Latin America, and the Congo. Shells of cicadas are used in the traditional medicines of China. There name is a derivation of the Latin cicada, meaning "buzzer". Male cicadas have loud noisemakers called "timbals" on the sides of the abdominal base. Their "singing" is not the stridulating (where two structures are rubbed against one another) of many other familiar sound-producing insects like crickets: the timbals are regions of the exoskeleton that are modified to form a complex membrane with thin, membranous portions and thickened "ribs". Contracting the internal timbal muscles produces a clicking sound as the timbals buckle inwards. As these muscles relax, the timbals return to their original position producing another click. The interior of the male abdomen is substantially hollow to amplify the resonance of the sound. A cicada rapidly vibrates these membranes, and enlarged chambers derived from the tracheae make its body serve as a resonance chamber, greatly amplifying the sound. They modulate their noise by wiggling their abdomens toward and away from the tree that they are on. Dam clever I say. Additionally, each species has its own distinctive song. The noise of these creatures is synonymous with hot summer weather the hotter it gets the louder the noise they make. Average temperature of the natural habitat for this species is approximately 29°C (84°F). Cicadas like heat and do their most spirited singing during the hotter hours of a summer day.
The noise of a single cicada has been known to keep people awake if it is in the house or on a patio. Hunting the rouge cicada is a game played quite of often on a barmy summer night; it’s just very rare to find the culprit in our experience.
Footnote: To protect our more sensitive Blog followers I have not included a pic of any of our visitors the above Pic is the view from our door.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
A couple of weeks ago we noticed a sign on the garden ornament shop opposite Dia and InterMarche which read "Jubilacion". Not a word we hade come across but it sounded like some sort of celebration was taking place. Back at home we checked our trusty Spanish/ english dictionary and found the work actually meant retirement. Well I guess for the man concerned it is a jolly good reason for a celebration!
We always feel a little sad though when such a local landmark of a business closes as it appears this one will shortly be doing.
The shop is really a treasure trove of thing outdoors and much used by Brits when the want to decorate the outside of there apartments and houses. So hurry hurry if there is something you want along those lines. Bargains to had too with up to 50% off.
We are hoping the family will remain in this lovely unspoilt old building and the shop area will become there patio area as it must have been many years ago.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Another weekend looms and the hot hot weather continues. We have seen no reports about the reservoirs but our guess is they are very low indeed, more fires in other parts of Spain as the country remains tinder dry. Fire is not the only danger in the hot weather tempers are apt to flare also when the mercury is high. Being trapped in a traffic queue seems to add to the need to vent anger and horns will beep for the slightest reason. Its always a few degrees cooler down by the sea so maybe that’s the place to be, you can of course stick on the aircon but we try to be as environmentally friendly as we can so use our very little.
Our tip is taking an evening stroll through the reserve in Guardamar, go down to the Marina for a cold drink or an ice-cream. There is something about being closes to nature that’s very soothing. Some lovely flowers out right now too. We are still trying to find out the name of a striking white lily type plant that always appears at this time of year. Most people seem to respect this lovely area and leave the wild flowers to grow.
Its almost 6 here and still baking hot so we may well take our own advise and head on down for a leisurely walk as the sun goes down
Thursday, August 20, 2009
It was extremely sad to find a dead turtle around 3 foot in length on Guardamar beach,it had been dead for quite a while as it was quite decomposed and must have been washed up with the tide, there were no obvious signs of the cause of its demise, so it may have died of old age although these creatures live for many years.
Tuesday, Bec and myself were on the rota for driving and help at K9, K9 now have a small cat sanctuary in the campo just outside La Marina, where the lady who runs it (Jill) needed some assistance with the tasks that had built up, There are 20 cats there at the moment from young kittens to full grown adults, so we helped by cleaning the litter trays, assisting with administering medication, feeding them and tidying up,If anyone would like to spend some time helping at the cattery, Jill would really appreciate the assistance and the cats would love the extra company.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
As I said in an earlier blog we really want to move to Guardamar del segura. With this in mind we decided on saturday to spend sunday night there. Little realizing how lucky it was to find a room, it was a major spanish holiday, we set off on sunday morning for our very mini break. When we got to the town it became a little clearer how crazy it was. The place was full the beach road was closed by the police as there was no more parking space. We had booked into the Las Dunas right down by the beach, luckily they found us a space under the washing line!. The hotel is only open for a short time during the year. The staff are so so helpful and friendly the rooms are very very clean as are the public area. The room facilities are simple, beds are comfortable and each room has a balcony. Lots of variety in the continental breakfast. The Bar prices are amazing a beer is only a euros so is a good cup of coffee. We enjoyed a stroll through the night market a meal near the park and an evening stroll along the beach. Next morning we had an early walk on the beach, we always find it strange to see the sun rising from the seas horizon, it was always the other way around when we lived in Cornwall.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Here in Spain unemployment is a serious problem and the benefit system is no real safety net as in UK. The Spanish media reports that jobless numbers are falling but as usual statistics without any back up information do not tell the whole story. Aside from the "on the black" workers, those working outside the system, if figures are put together using the official lists of who is signing on as unemployed the numbers will be hopelessly out. Living in this area full time with a daughter who lives in the heart of the spanish community the picture is very grim indeed. Many peoples benefit rights have run out or they just do not bother to go through the process knowing there is little or nothing in term of cash at the end of it. With a history of managing without help for those in power families pull together and somehow survive. Food is shared with family and friends, meals cooked together to save fuel. The older generation indeed anyone who was alive during the Franco era truly know what hardship is and are facing this latest crisis with a resilience that we can only admire. Not whingeing because a comfortable lifestyle is taking a bit of a hit, but trying to keep body and soul alive from an already basic standard of living that slips further down as the recession continues. Admirable yes, but I feel it should not be necessary in a modern day european country. The Government here are said to be looking at reform, lets hope its a rapid process. All this said there are also expats who have tried there very best to make a life here working hard and paying there dues. Not knowing the system or having a complete grasp of the language makes getting help even more complicated. It is good to see the English language press trying to help with this, in particular the Costa Blanca News has published an article which explains the Benefits system for those who need to apply. You can email for this article if you cannot get the paper. Check out this link to contact the paper.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
The holiday season is in full swing here though that makes it sound better than it is. Most businesses are very quiet and we look at some and wonder if they will ride the storm. Of course there are quite a few factors that effect the number of people who come to our particular corner of paradise. We are after all not truly a "holiday" destination, not in terms of what many of the Brits want anyway. The Madrilènes still flock here,Guardamar is traditionally a favourite with the folks from Madrid.
Although a number of owners and agents try to market this area, most especially Los Palacios as a destination in truth its a residential area at its heart. Yes many apartments here have been bought for holiday homes but those who bought are normally looking for something a little less commercialized. Coming back every year they can become very much part of the community. Local businesses have geared themselves to this type of repeat business to some extent. This year many of this group have either been out less or not at all, a number have lost there holiday homes since the recession. Then we have the holidaymaker who rents a property for a couple of weeks. We have a number of professional holiday lets near us. We have often heard the cry of "there's nothing here, its all spanish" for people arriving at a let. I cannot help but feel sorry for those who are sold the idea that this is a an area geared to the Brits vacation needs. Looking through a few websites yesterday I saw more than one ad that said, and I quote "Apartment is on the Los Palacios Complex and there is a community pool" naughty naughty! As anyone will know who spends time or lives here Los Palacios is most definitely not a holiday complex, it is an area where new properties have been built over the last 6 or 7 years. The pool, thank goodness, is run by the local council and is municipal not community owned. There are a number of community of Owners in the area but they could not legally collectedly own the pool as they are separate entities. The Lifeguards at the pool have the right to prevent anyone without a pass from using the pool. Passes are only given to those on the padron (residents)or those who have prove of ownership of a property in Formentera del Segura. Both can get passes for the whole family. This pass is for all the sports facilities in the town. We are fortunate in that we do not pay an entry fee,many towns do charge, costs for pool come out of the rates.
What I am trying to say, and forgive the ramble, is this, WE ARE NOT A HOLIDAY COMPLEX. The reason I think its worth making this point is this: Raise the expectations on a destination which it cannot live up to and your on a loser all the way. We have lived in many places that where popular with holidaymakers, over sell is a killer. This area has such a lot going for it there is no need for inaccurate advertising. It does nobody any good at all.
The picture with this Blog shows Rojales Centre yesterday at 10.00 in the evening
NB. A Complex: A set or group of interconnecting Buildings
Friday, August 14, 2009
We have decided after much thought to put our apartment on the market. We will not be leaving Spain or even the Costa Blanca though, so A BRIT IN SPAIN will continue, in fact I doubt it will change much in the near future, the housing market is not exactly red hot at the moment. Must be the gipsy blood in me that gives me itchy feet every few years, we have our sights on Guardamar del Segura so its not going to be a big trek when we do move. This means the blog will remain very much focused on the same area.
We have chosen to go with EASYBUY to market our property. You will find us HERE. We like the idea of their rent to buy scheme and would consider selling our place in that way. However as I say we all know how slow the market is and we are not in a great hurry, its more a long term plan. Now I've said that I can just picture a buyer materialising next week! If by chance you are interested do email us via the blog if you have any questions re the apartment.
Footnote: I like to think, old romantic that I am, that coming to Spain was something of a return to family roots all be it the shifting travelling kind.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
For first time Alicante police imposed the a fine on a swimmer
The new by-law approved by Alicante City Hall last summer makes it an offence to swim on the city’s beaches while the red warning flag is flying, On Tuesday a man swimming on the Playa de San Juan was the first bather to be fined for doing just that.
It happened when Local police were called out to the beach after the man reportedly ignored instructions from Red Cross lifeguards to leave the sea because of the dangers of swimming. A council spokesperson said the objective in such situations is to give a warning rather than issue a fine,however it was the man’s attitude which finally pushed officers to impose a fine. He is reported to have told police that he would swim whenever he liked, as he had been doing for the past 20 years, and that no-one was going to tell him when he could or couldn’t bathe in the sea.
The by-law allows for fines of between 750 to 1,500 €.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Last night it rained and rained and rained, not to mention the thunder and lightning that seemed to be non stop for about 12 hours. Poor suzy the cat was most unhappy, she's never liked storms and makes a sad little mew noise as she tries to sit under your pillow. Needless to say we did not sleep outside last night. The plants all got a really good watering and hopfully the water supplies have been topped up. We have had no heavy rain since 31st May,just a couple of very light showers and as I said before July was the hottest in 40 years.
The rain was not to sandy so cleaning up will not be to bad, hope everyone remembers NOT to use loads of water to clear away the sandy deposits. Much easier to leave it to dry them sweep it away.
The pool was nice and cool this morning, this time of year it can get really really warm in there which is not so refreshing.
Rain also effected the airport with some flights delayed and others diverted. We flew in in a thunder storm once,not a lot of fun. Still more rain forecast for today which is good news for the water supplies and the plants.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Being a president of a community of owners is a thankless task at the best of times now another legal issue has arisen that anyone who is president of there community needs to be aware of. Last week a number of Britons are amongst 60 people arrested across Spain as part of a National Police crackdown on the redistribution of pirated television transmissions. Amongst those arrested were Presidents and Financial administrators. Commercial operators have also been detained and two illegal cable television businesses which supplied pirated pay-TV signals for a monthly fee have been closed. This is the first time in Spain, the administrators of an Internet site have been arrested on charges of illegally rebroadcasting pay-TV channels on a website.
We already knew that a president could be held legally responsible in some instances but we will be checking this one out. The question we need answers for is what happens if owners in a community are recieving illegal TV signals, will that mean the whole community is in trouble or is it only if the community has a set up they all share. I know some communities in Formentera have gone down this route, in fact a friend of mine was more or less forced to pay towards a system she did not want and in truth is pretty useless.
So Presidents beware now is a good time to speak to your administrator about how culpable you are in this regard
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Valencian central government are starting to move on anyone who is letting a property without the required paperwork. Tourism authorities want to crack down on unregistered holiday lets of apartments and villas along the whole region's coastline. I have heard some expats say it’s my property I can do what I like with it. Not so, an apartment must be registered as a holiday let before you can market it as such. Registration will not be automatic, local authorities may refuse the licence if they consider your property is only suitable for residential use. Personally I can see the logic in this as it would go someway to preventing whole areas of towns and villages becoming ghost towns out of season. The owners who comply with the law are suffering as they cannot afford to lower there prices to far, they have taxes etc. to pay, but that’s not the whole story. An illegal let may well have consequences with regards insurance, quality of product and effects on the community it is in. Quite aside from the fact that a community of owners can its self be fined if property within it is used as holiday lets, and the building/complex is not registered as required, there can be detrimental effect on community life when large amounts of people are arriving and using, or misusing faculties. Sadly it is often the case that holidaymakers will not respect the fact that some people have to get up and go to work in the morning.If they or their family do not own the property they are in they have no investmant , financial or social in the area. Rules for using pools etc. will be ignored and residents are even subject to abuse if they try to remonstrate. I would think a claim against a community insurance policy would be on shaky ground to if the company found illegal letting was going on. If more and more properties in a residential area become purely holiday lets, it means less and less people signing on at the padron. This leads to cuts in services as council income decreases. This is the no doubt the reason holiday letting licences are not granted for what are primarily residential. When owners let and do not pay taxes they make no financial contribution the governments coffers which does have a serious knock on effect for local services. It’s not all bad news for holidaymakers either. Health and safety issues should be better addressed under a licence system. The type of facilities holidaymakers seek should be more available in areas which are catering to tourist.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Our Popular local Bar proprietor Pedro celebrated the big 50 yesterday. Pedro and his wife have run the Bar in the pool square for 4 years now. They work long long hours but are always excellent hosts, friendly cheerful and welcoming to one and all. Pedro showed his usual community spirit when he gave everyone a free drink. He was obviously well pleased when we all sang Happy birthday to him followed by three rousing well deserved cheers.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Suzy is a darling but when she makes up her mind there's no changing it. Suzy seems to have done just that with regards Billie the dog. Billie so wants to be friends and is very enthusiastic, Suzy is have none of it. So its all been a game of musical animals for the last few weeks or is it more like a french farce, dog in one door cat out another and visa versa, and never the twane shall meet.
Jo and Gary around the corner, other end of the streeet from Lil around the corner, have taken in another wee stray dog. The ever popular local vet Javier told Jo about this little white ball of fluff the other day. Its a year old and had been found running wild on the streets of a local town so was but in the pound. Fearing it would soon be put down Jo and Gary have taken it in. They say until its found a new home but somehow ........ well I don't think it will be moving on any time soon.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Its official July was the hottest for 40 years. It is still very very hot so lets see if August breaks any records. Fires are still raging in the tinder dry country. After a quiet start holiday makers are starting to arrive as they try to escape the UK rain. Guardamar of course is always busy as it is a favorite destination for holidaymakers of the home grown variety from Madrid. Beaches are looking pretty crowed most especially right down at the waters age where it is coolest. Go after 4 o'clock and you can catch some shade from the beach houses as the sun goes over the top. Its great to sit in the park too where there is always some shade from the trees. perfect for a little siesta after a nice lunch in one of the many great restaurants in the town.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
One of the good things about fostering a dog is it does get you out for a walk in the evenings. When the day has been so hot it would be oh, so easy not to have a walk, but with a dog in the house you just have to make the effort. We like to walk where the current pooch can have some "off lead time" so we often head through the campo behind the Thai restaurant. This also gives us a chance to see what's being grown locally. We frequently see the local farmer, and his wife, working in the evening, guess its cooler then. My, but these people have a hard life, very tough. They've been working on clearing the artichokes that have gone over and preparing the soil to plant more. They use cuttings from the old plants once the ground is prepared. After this they flood the field from the irrigation system then runs through the whole of the Vega Baja. Boy does that stir the mossies up!
We had a chat to the farmer the other evening and he told us that he was only being offered 10 cents each for the melons he was growing. He blames this on imports from other countries and other areas of Spain. Two days later he ploughed all his melons into the ground. I guess he just needs to plant a new crop of something he hopes will pay him for all his hard work.