Sunday, November 29, 2009

Is There A Point To This?

road sign
New traffic regulations have now come into force in Spain, effective from Wednesday last. The new regulations reduce the number of offenses which could mean a driver losing points on a license. The new traffic Law was approved by Congress only last month so they did not hang about did they. Its is the changes which are seen as favorable to drivers which come into effect last week, with the remaining changes to the Traffic Law to be brought in at a later date.

These changes will include the removal of seven infractions from the list of points-related offences, although it’s reported in the Spanish Press that each will still carry a fine. They range from driving without lights, parking in a bus lane or on a bend and negligent driving which is seen as a possible danger to other traffic or pedestrians. Also removed is driving on a motorway in a type of vehicle which is banned from motorways and driving with twice or more the maximum permitted number of occupants.

As far as speeding is concerned, points will now only be lost for motorway driving at 130 kph or more.
The other important news for drivers is that those who have appealed against losing points for any of the 7 offensives and have not yet received an answer will automatically keep those points. The DGT Central Traffic Authority is now obliged to archive all such cases.

The penalty of the temporary loss of a license also goes. A license may now only be lost when all the points have been used up.

Other changes, such as the 50% reduction for on-the-spot payment of a fine and the loss of 6 points for using radar inhibitors, are due to come into force in about six months time.

On related point, we had an interesting comment from an American guy we met the other day. He was praising the Spanish police and saying how friendly they were, also that they just did not hassle you. He compared this to their counter parts in the USA who he said where very threatening. So much for the Land of the free and the home of the brave then

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Not turkey!

When we go to Guardamar market we always like to walk through the Reina Sofia Park. It’s still looking lovely and the wildlife seems to be enjoying the cooler weather. We never fail to see a red squirrel or two playing chase around the trees and as the children’s playground is quite mid morning the local duck population seem to make good use of it.
The Muscovy ducks are my particular favourite, they look a little like the wild turkeys of America which could be pretty dangerous for them at this time of year.
The Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) are a large duck which is native to Mexico and Central and South America. They are particularly good at adapting to different weather conditions.
The weather is still warm enough to fill the air with the scent of pine eucalyptus and even Jasmine, unbelievably we are still hearing the odd cicada as well. I must say it does feel like summer goes on and on this year. We have lots of self sowers coming up in pots and containers on the terraces, seem like winter is bursting out all over.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Not So Mean Streets

Rojales Square
There has been a lot of digging up of streets and new pavements being laid in many of our local towns and villages, indeed Rojales had major disruption during a lot of the summer due to such works. Torrevieja Council has just received more money for public works to help ease unemployment in the town. It’s good to see central government money getting into circulation in the area. Also good to see what a splendid job has been made of the little area out sides the bars and lotteria in Rojales. Its now got some new seating and has had a general tidy up with Bollards now in place, ideal for watching the world go by on this busy little corner. I must nip down to the other end of Formentera and see what it’s like now the pavements have been widened and improved there. Now the weather has cooled it’s a lot easier to stroll around and see what’s been done, though it’s by no means cold during the day it’s the early morning and evening which are chilly. I would tell you about having lunch sitting on the beach yesterday but I don’t want to upset our UK readers who are somewhat under black cloud weather wise. Lets just say it would be no problem spending sometime resting on that new bench..

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Now heres a thought

We were just having an interesting conversation on language usage ( well what do you do on a saturday afternoon) in particular the terms expat (expatriate) and immigrant. So what are you? A number of years ago when we were queuing for our residencia I had a few sharp words with a lady(?) from London who commented to us as she joined the queue that she had been standing in the wrong place earlier, in the immigrants queue, in fact it was the non EU applicants queue. I felt obliged to point out that we were in fact all immigrants; this did not go down to well. I was correct of course, those of us who have chosen to move here are all immigrants whether we like the term or not, personally I have no objection. An immigrant is after all defined as a newcomer to a country who has settled there. So what’s an expat I hear you ask got big ears me. Well the origin of the term is actually based on economics. They can be a citizen who has left his or her own country to live in another, usually for a prolonged period. In original common usage, the term is often used in the context of professionals sent abroad by their companies, as opposed to locally hired staff (who can also be foreigners). The differentiation found in common usage usually comes down to socio-economic factors, so skilled professionals working in another country are described as expatriates.
In some countries the term "expat" is not used for all foreigners living and working there but refers to those on "expat" contracts. In Switzerland for example expats will be living in housing provided by the employer, with most other expenses such as children's (English) education also paid by the employer. In theory, this is because they are still maintaining a home in their original country. This is in strong contrast with those on "local" contracts who are treated and paid like other locals. The "expats" have a reputation of being flush with money, and raising the prices for others who are not subsidised in this way. Expat contracts are usually time limited, so the expats either move on to another assignment, or are given a local contract without expat subsidies.
So here’s a thought how many of those in our "expat communities" fit the above description, not a lot is my guess .Quite a number I guess where "flush" with money when they got here, given the exchange rate and the lower cost of living, my how times have changed. Question is has there title now changed, I would say there is a good argument for it to do so, in fact for most they never were and never will be an expat in the true sense of the word. No problem for us we always saw ourselves as very lucky immigrants to this country. Oh yes by the way there is another definition of the term expatriate its a citizen who has renounced his or her citizenship or whose citizenship has been repealed.Makes you glad your just a less well healed immigrant.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day trip To Cartagena

Yesterday on the spur of the moment we decided to go down to Cartagena on the Costa Calida. Its one of those places we have been meaning to visit ever since we moved to the area. It’s about 60 KM from here and a nice little run either by the motorway or the 332.
Cartagena has been a major sea port for centuries and has a fascinating history. It is a walled town and has a fine harbour defended by forts. In the time of Philip II of Spain, it was a major naval seaport of Spain. It is still an important naval seaport, the main military haven of Spain, and there is a big naval shipyard. Cartagena had a population of 211,286 in 2007, making it the second largest city in the Region, the 6th among the non-province capitals of Spain, and the 24th overall.
For all that it has a charming old quarter and many free to enter museums. So much to see in fact we are already planning another day there.
We were quite astonished by the style of the buildings and the fact that there seems to be a concerted effort to save the facades where the building is beyond repair. There is also an abundance of cafes and restaurants with menus at very reasonable prices. We had a lovely meal, real home style cooking and regional dishes and only 8 euros for 3 courses salad and a drink.
On the way back we called in at Mar Menor, another place we have always meant to visit. Mar Menor is a salty lagoon separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a sand bar 22km in length and with a variable width from 100 to 1200m. It belongs to four municipalities including Cartagena. In 1994 it was included on the list of the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands. It is also a one of the Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI) by the United Nations.
If you take a drive down do look out for the remains of the windmills, they are all over the place with a very few still intact. Can you imagine what it must have looked like in past times, very Don Quixote. Before the arrival of modern technology the turning sails of the windmills could be seen at almost every place where a small hill rose in the flat plain. With the arrival of electricity and new machinery, the old windmills were allowed to decay and many now are not much more than circular heaps of stones. However, the picture is not completely black and there plenty of enthusiasts who love the windmills and are working to restore them. Interest in the history of the windmills is very high amongst local people.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lets hope it starts trend

Airline approaches to Spanish airports will change in 2010 when airlines will have to adopt the ‘green landing’ system at Spanish airports.

What does this mean well for one thing an end to those twists and turns and rapid changes in altitude ahead of landing. Also a longer and gentler approach to the runway will be taken. Planes will in effect glide down to land and start the approach from as far as 180 kilometres away.
Those on board will probably only notice that it seems to be taking a long time to land. The good news is that between 300 and 480 kilos of carbon emissions along with 100 to 160 kilos of aviation fuel will be saved on every flight. These changes will mean the plane is in the air for a full two minutes more than before.

Those who live below the flight paths may notice a 4-6 decibel reduction in noise if they live more than 18 kilometres from the runway.

France and Sweden are testing similar systems, but José Blanco and his Development Ministry in Spain are to be congratulated for making the move now and re-arranging the flight paths as needed. In some cases airspace previously reserved for the military will have to be used.
On a practical note aside from greener flights I wonder if those of us that suffer ear pain at landing will find it different, I do hope so.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

We had a lovely morning in Torrevieja last Sunday along with quite a lot of other people. It was such a nice sunny, warm day we decided to have a walk along the front, out on the harbor wall and a look around the marina. Although there are signs of the economic crisis hitting business it was still very lively, especially for the time of year. Would be nicer if the local council and police got to grips with the graffiti issue though so many buildings are defaced in the town.
As we drove out of the town along the 332 we had a real surprise sighting, we are quite keen bird watches so were alerted at once to some thing a bit unusual in the skies. In fact it was a Griffin Vulture, birds of prey are classified as an endangered species here in Spain but we do not normally see them in this area.
The Griffon Vulture is 93–110 cm (37–43 in) long with a 230–269 cm (91–106 in) wingspan, and it weighs between 6 and 13 kg (13.2 and 29 lb). Hatched naked, it is a typical Old World vulture in appearance, with a white bald head, very broad wings and short tail feathers. It has a white neck ruff and yellow bill. Believe me if you see one you cannot mistake it.
Five griffon vultures have been rescued in Orihuela Costa over the weekend. They are most likely to come from a feeding station in Alcoy, where there is a colony of 70 to 100 of the birds. We just hope the one we saw was one of them.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Driving your other Half up the Wall

bottoms up
As you can see its Johns who’s making his way towards the ceiling. I will be following him with a bit of luck and a lot more effort and practise. Ok Ok what the heck am I talking about, in word Yoga. We are trying to ward of old age and have started to get to grips with this ancient practise. Novices still we will get better meanwhile as you might have guessed Johns further up the wall than me

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stop Press.................

The Government has granted a six month grace period in Spain's mobile phone switch off. It gives users of pre-paid lines the chance to recover their number if they register after the phone has been deactivated.
Ah so thats why its was so manic in the phone shop!

Stone Me Man

News is in the Spanish papers that 12 tons of Cannabis were seized in Santa Pola. The haul was found at a local industrial estate
This is one of the largest hauls of cannabis ever made in Alicante province: The estimated 12 tons were seized in a Civil Guard swoop on Monday.

The smugglers network had been under surveillance for some time and is reported to have brought over regular consignments of cannabis into the country by sea, hidden in containers of fish. The papers note that 10,000 kilos of fish were confiscated as part of the Civil Guard operation.

This is the latest haul of cannabis in Alicante province in the past 5 years. There have been no details as yet on how many suspects face charges in the case.
I wonder if any local "smokers" noticed anything fishy about the stuff they’ve been buying recently.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

I've got one with Wheels on

If there’s one everyday sight, other than you've average housewife out and about in her dressing gown, that tells you your in Spain it is the lady with shopping trolley. I know you see them in other countries but here in Spain they really are an essential item. They range from the tatty, well loved, well used, years old ones to the brand spanking new fashion item. The range of colours and designs they can be seen in seems endless. You also see smaller version used by schoolchildren to carry books etc. to and from school. I have to admit to having one myself, bought at a bargain price from a local charity shop, not a very exciting colour but serviceable. I tend to pull mine along but I noticed the other day while having a coffee in Guardamar Street market that the local ladies push there’s. I think they may have something, its a lot less strain on the arms that way. Incidentally it’s not only the women who use "shoppers" older chaps can increasingly be seen making use of these practical items. I wonder will the manufacturers catch on and start producing more butch, manly looking trolleys?

The Phones With No Name

No Phone
If you have not registered your prepaid Spanish phone then you had better get cracking because all unregistered pre-paid mobile phone lines in Spain will be permanently disconnected at midnight Sunday night. Despite the objection made by the phone companies the Spanish government insists that all pre-paid mobile phones numbers which have not been registered by midnight on Sunday night will disappear forever. The phone companies wanted to delay the switch off of what they say will be some three million lines. Its seems to me the date of the action has been in the public arena for some time. The measure comes as a result of the Madrid train bombings in 2004 where anonymous pre-paid phones were used to set off the explosives. The Law for the Conservation of Data in Electronic Communications came into effect in Spain two years ago and obliges the phone companies to keep all the data on the destination and origin of calls, as well as the identity of all the people implicated in the communication. Any one who has not registered there phone will find it no longer works and that any credit they have is lost. For some time now any one who purchased a phone or new sim had to give details and show prove of who they are and where they live.
What we need now is for other countries to do likewise for the actions to be fully effective.

Friday, November 06, 2009

In Sheeps clothing

If you spend any time in Spain you may well notice the habit of keeping your dressing gown on. What do I mean? Well its very commonplace to see your average Spanish housewife in her dressing gown until lunch time. No they are not all late getting out of bed. It’s a habit that’s easy to get into and this time of year, when the mornings can be chilly indoors, it’s a perfect way of being cosy. So you wear you nice snugly housecoat while you do the housework, water the plants, see the kids off to school,take out the rubbish, walk the dog even. Its one of those things that brings a smile to your face and makes you think it could only be Spain. If you want to join the club try your local market for a bargain in the housecoat/dressing gown line. Me I've got three!
PS:: My merino wool is the Fav

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Charity begins at Home

and if you’re reading this in Spain then you may like to help a very worthwhile charity here. Caritas is the charity arm of the Catholic Church, indeed the word caritas translates as CHARITY.
It was created in 1971, Caritas Europe bringing together over 45 organisations that work in 44 European countries. It is one of the seven regions of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organisations working to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed, in over 200 countries and territories.
Caritas Europe focuses its activities on issues related to poverty and social inequality, migration and asylum within all countries of Europe, humanitarian assistance and international development throughout the world.
What this means at a grass roots level is people get fed. Many people in this area have received food parcels in these difficult times. So what can those who are more fortunate do to help? Its simple really, donate non perishable food stuffs to you local branch. You can be sure that everything you give will be passed on to a family who have fallen on hard times.
With the jobless total in Spain going up by almost 99,000 it seems likely more and more families will need help, so if you can give please please do.