Saturday, December 25, 2010



Friday, December 24, 2010

Manjaballos giant and big heads

Yesterday was the parade of the Guardamar giant- Manjaballos and the big heads, the parade started around midday and roamed through the streets accompanied by a large crowd and a folk music band, ending up at the town hall square, the children danced in a circle with the giant in the middle and afterwards everyone had free Mona cakes and chocolate.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Alicante airport terminal

Alicante Airport has now completed the new terminal which will allow it to increase capacity by up 25%. In the past the airport apron could take 31 aircraft an hour. The new terminal will increase this to 46 aircraft with a maximum of 22 being processed in an hour. The new terminal has 92 check-in desks, 40 gates, of which 16 has airbridges and 14 baggage reclaim carousels. it will enable the airport to process 6,000 passengers an hour.
Before the terminal opens testing will take place by the general public, as `extras' if you are available from February and would like to participate you can register on this web page -

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Easy Horse Care rescue centre

The Easy Horse care rescue centre is situated between Rojales and San Fulgencio on the service road next to the CV91 to Guardamar.
The Centre is open for visits on Wednesdays and Sundays from 13:00 to 16:00, where you can see the horses, have a guided tour and hear their stories, We visited the centre this afternoon and had a very interesting afternoon, it is hard, listening about the cruelty, abuse and neglect that most of the horses here have been through, but nice to know they are all in a good place now, Volunteers, sponsorship and donations are needed to help the centre that provides the rescued horses, ponies and donkeys with a safe haven where they are rehabilitated with kindness care and love.
On Wednesdays and Sundays a BBQ lunch menu, drinks and snacks are available in the garden cafe or to eat indoors.
There is a pony club every Saturday and Sunday from 13:00 where there are supervised sessions with qualified staff for an opportunity for young people to learn about caring for ponies and miniature horses with a lead ride later, membership of the Pony Club now stands at 50, so booking is advisable.
Riding lessons and Hacking are also available.
Easy Care also has one stop shop with everything for the rider and horse,this is open every day.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Quesada fish and chips

Yesterday lunch time we nipped over to Quesada, primarily to have a look at "Tony Ellis" second hand furniture store, we had been the day before and the sign on the gate said NEW OPENING hours 10:00 - 14:00, we got there yesterday at 13:00 and it was all closed up, Permanently or not who knows!
Anyway decided on Fish and Chips as we keep hearing the adverts on TKO radio. Quesada fish and chips have pies, gammon and much more, We had the day menu of Fish and chips peas and bread and butter which is 6 euros, this is between the hours of 12:00 and 17:00, you get a good size piece of fish and plenty of chips, very fresh and tasty. service is fast and efficient even though the restaurant was 3/4 full.
Would definitely recommend it.
The Restaurant is located at C/ Los Arcos 1 -turn left at the roundabout before the arches on the way into Quesada and keep going nearly to the end of the road.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

N332 work starts

Work has started again on the N332 between Guardamar and La Mata, In the last few days,heavy plant, diggers and trucks have arrived and the road construction is taking place again, hopefully it will be finished by the summer, and also we will not have the 5 kilometre round trip to get from the Lemon tree road to Guardamar, mind you, it looks like the Lemon tree road/N332 junction will be pretty daunting with underpasses,flyovers and sliproads.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Facts about the Pomegranate

Around the campo we quite often see pomegranate trees. the pomegranate is an ancient fruit that was mentioned in iron age greek mythology, it is actually native to Persia and the Western Himalayas, but has been cultivated in the southern meditteranean countries for thousands of years. Granada was renamed after the fruit by the Moors, and Spanish colonists introduced the fruit to the Caribbean and latin America, the syrup Grenadine, used in cocktail drinks is thickened and sweetened pomegranate juice. The medicinal qualities of the flower juice, rind and tree bark can be used for nose bleeds, toning skin, sagging breasts and hemorrhoids, and can be used as eye drops to slow the development of cataracts. The juice of the pomegranate reduces heart disease, blood pressure and viral infections, and clinical trials are in progress for the effect on various cancers and kidney disorders
Pomegranate juice is also used as a natural dye on non synthetic fibres,
And every pomegranate has exactly 840 seeds.
If you dont believe me count them.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

El Gordo time again

Are you buying an El Gordo ticket this year? for a chance of a share of 3 billion euros, each number ticket is divided into 10 decimos (a tenth) a ticket costs 200 euros so a decimo costs you 20 euros, if you buy from a bar or somewhere like that it might cost you 23 Euros because 3 euros that goes to a charity.
Many people search around to find lucky numbers - numbers with 777 in them are popular - so hard to find, but because there are around 180 series of tickets of 85000 numbers, with patience you can find your lucky numbers.
Bars, restaurants and workplaces buy one or more decimos and sell it off in parts to customers, friends and colleagues, so if there is a big win a whole community can be celebrating, and be seen dancing, hugging and drinking cava on the TV on the 22nd of December - the El Gordo Draw date.
Unfortunately there are many internet scams where you will get an email to say you are a winner and to send personal details, so remember the bottom line is that if you didn’t buy a lottery ticket, then you have not won, so don't fall for anything without checking at the official organisation in Spain.
Good luck everyone

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Santomera Services

Nearly every week we take a trip over to see Bec and Joaqiun in Blanca, its around 80 kilometres, not far, but we normally stop at the Santomera Services for a cup of coffee and a snack. this service station is around 15 kms from Murcia on the A-7/E-15, we always find you get a nice coffee and some decent food,that is not overpriced, The toilet facilities are good and clean and there is a filling station and plenty of parking, the Centro commercials of Murcia are around 12 kms away and easily accessed from the A-7/E-15, Ikea, Decathlon and Leroy Merlin are just some of the large stores located at the Centro commercials.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Going solar

If you are in Spain for the long term its well worth investigating the installation of Solar power for heating and power, over the longer term you will make a saving on your household bills and also help the environment. Equipment can be installed to heat your swimming pool, power a ventilation system, provide hot water, and electrical power.
Grants are available for hot water and electrical systems that are certified by the Spanish government and by accredited installers.
A company called Solar in Spain are one of these companies and have been on the go for the last 10 years, and are at the moment offering a 100% finance package over 5 years in association with a national bank. They have an information day scheduled at the Museo Del Vino in Jalon on 16th December between 9:30 and 12:00 AM, Pre registering at is reccommended.
While you are there have a tour of the museum and a wine tasting.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Driving concentration

Between the 8th to 14th November Guardia civil officers issued 3,316 fines for driving while distracted, 2800 were for using a mobile phone while driving, 32 for adjusting or programming a GPS satellite navigation system, 124 for using headphones, 368 for other behaviours that were considered to be distracting whilst driving. The clampdown is part of a special campaign. A positive point that arose was the fact that 25% of the vehicles stopped had a hands free kit.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Useing Ubuntu 10.10

Last week i decided to give a different operating system a go. Mainly because the hard disk on my desktop failed and the new HD has no operating system on it and i havent got any up to date O/S s on disk. So did a little bit of research and decided Ubuntu 10.10 was about the best free to download. It took three attempts before i got good download so it was a good job i was useing a CDRW disk, once downloaded it is possible to run the operating system without installing it. i tried this and it looked good so installed it. basically i put it in the CD drive answered a few questions and it was installed, and up and running. The default browser is Mozilla Firefox which i have never used before either, so i spent the day exploring, trying applications out and putting my important files into folders. i am very impressed, internet, music, video, printer, scanner, email etc all work without any messing around.i had one or two questions regarding how different applications work but there is an excellent Ubuntu forum, You can post a question and it is normally answered within minutes by very helpfull people.
As this is not Microsoft, programmes like MS office are not usable. but there are many good alternatives that are included in O/S installation and more available from the Ubuntu software centrethere is a programme you can download that converts some Microsoft programs for use on the operating system.
A new version of Ubuntu is released every six months, but i am quite happy with this version with firefox and would quite happily use it without going back to Microsoft Windows again. which i will keep on my laptop just in case i find i have to use Microsoft at any time.

Cold, Hot, Cold

We appear to have the changeable weather arrived, Friday it was a nice day but cold, Saturday it was bleak, cold and rainy, Yesterday it was a beautifull day, clear skies and warm sunshine, and today its a grey rainy day again and quite chilly. Its actually not that cold but we have acclimatised to a warmer climate. I dont know how we would cope if we were in the UK, with below freezing temperatures and snow.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

El Olivo Market, Catral

We went to Grand opening of the new El Olivo Market this morning situated the Dolores side of Catral on the Calle de Hondon. the market will be held every Tuesday and Sunday from 09.00 till 14.00.
When we arrived at around 10.30 there was not many people and for the area the market site covers, only a scattering of stalls, there was a variety of goods for sale of the usual market items and several bars and cafes. It was obvious that some of the stall holders and cafes have gone to a lot of expence and effort to create a good impression and get businesses going. But with the Dolores Sunday market just down the road, and also the big Lemon tree market near Torrevieja also on Sundays its not going to be easy.
Available for for hire to stallholders are open fronted portacabin type stalls and numbered marked pitches over the rest of the site, If they are all taken it will be a very big market on a par with the lemon tree.
For the opening today the Market site owners had hired a security firm to direct vehicles to the car parking for which is for around 1500 vehicles, there were also donkey rides, Bouncy castles and a free giant Paella.
The market is on a large flat plot and with only a moderate wind the gusts were playing havoc with the stall holders awnings and because of the new grit surface there was a lot of dust in the air.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New K9 charity shop

The K9 animal charity has now opened its own charity shop in La Marina urbanisation,(La Escuera) the shop is in the same shopping complex as the famous Domti and on Carrer De Alfredo Kraus. it is a good size shop with a wide variety of second hand, clothes, books and other bric a brac, im sure if you have any items to donate they will be welcome, call into the shop and browse for a bargain, help the animals and recycle at the same time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Loggerhead Turtle

A Loggerhead turtle has been found on the beach at Torrevieja, it was alive and has some injuries but is recovering in at the Arca de Mar specialist centre in Valencia.
It is micro chipped and has come across the Atlantic from the NMFS Galverston, laboratory where it was born in 2003 and released in 2005. This is important evidence that turtles make a transatlantic migration from Florida and enter the Meditteranean through the Straits of Gibraltar.
A couple of months ago while i was kayaking i noticed a round grey object like a ball about 100 yards away from me, i paddled towards it to investigate and it disappeared under the water. It could have been the turtle.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nice bikes

Kept hearing powerfull engines throbbing in the distance, it turns out The Harley davison owners club spent the night at the Guardamar hotel last night, some beautifull machines were parked outside.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Improving my Spanish

I have found a new way of trying to improve my Spanish language skills, every day on there is a new word which is incorporated into a sentence, you can hear the word and the sentence as it should be spoken. i practice the new word and sentence each day and then write it down in a book and frequently revise. Its surprising what a difference it has made to expand my vocabulary, and every so often a word/sentence comes up that i know and understand already. With the sentence being spoken with the correct pronounciation this is extremely helpfull as well.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Round Trip

Guadix Cathedral
We have just had a round trip through Almeria, Andalucia and Murcia, staying at Mojacar the first night,on the way we called in at Mazarron, but were not very impressed, everywhere seemed uncared for and a bit down at heel, we took the mountainous coast road to Aguilas, with some fantastic views over the sea. Aguilas is a pleasant town with some nice buildings and a nice square with cafes for coffee, tapas or meals , then on on to Mojacar. Stayed at a very busy hotel with lots of Inmerso clients - government sponsored holidays for people over 60. Mojacar playa seems to be very Brit dominated,lots of brit owned cafes and sports bars. The next day into Almeria city, this is a ferry port to Melilla in North Africa and there was also a large cruise ship in the harbour. We had a look at the Cathedral and shopping area and then set off to Guadix, the other side of the Sierra Nevada. Guadix has some interesting architecture and historical buildings and is a busy city, but seems to have a shortage of bars and restaurants to get a meal. The weather turned cold, wet and very windy and from our hotel we had views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range with a capping of snow. Next morning after driving through rolling hills of Olive groves the City of Jaen was our next stopping point,it has an magnificent cathedral, we took a guided tour with a personal handset,which gave us information on all the points of interest and artifacts in the cathedral. After, we decided to go to the ancient Arab baths, We drove through Jaens narrow cobbled streets, mingling with Jaens maniac drivers for about an hour, because the sat nav was taking us round in circles, then parked the car Jaen style and walked, luckily the heavy rain had eased a little. Although the Palacio Villardompado was hard to find it was worth the visit, as there is an amazing art exhibition of mainly modern primitive works, The extensive 11th century Arab baths and also a folk museum. We had an overnight stop at Baeza, and on to Ubeda the next morning, Ubeda centre is a world heritage site with many buildings of renaissance architecture, considered to be Spains best example and it was like walking round an open air museum. Time for a change so a longish drive to Caravaca del la Cruz passing through Olive terraces, forests, and mountain gorges and continually changing scenery. We arrived at Caravaca in time to walk up to the castle and church which overlook the town and then wander through the narrow streets. The old part has some beautifull old buildings, lots of tourist orientated shops with lots of souvenir crosses, jewellery and trinkets, but there are modern shopping streets with clothes and shoe shops selling the latest fashions. After staying the night we headed back towards Guardamar and the warmer climate, It had not occurred to me how much colder it is in inland Spain this time of year, watching the television weather forecast there appears to be a 8-10 degree difference.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Back again

Hi everyone, O.K.weve been away for a while, got back safely from Australia, and had two family bereavements in the last few months. We have now rented out our Formentera apartment and moved to Guardamar by the sea.
Mary and myself went for a walk around La Mata Reserve this morning it was a beautifull morning and peacefull, it was nice to see an osprey sitting on a pole in the middle of the lagoons. The La Mata resource centre has been upgraded since we were last there, it is bigger and they seem to have more information.
The work on the N332 between Guardamar and Torrevieja has completely ground to a halt, when we went through this morning ,there was not one worker or piece of machinery in sight. the contractors seem to have completely abandoned the work, seems that we are going to have the half finished project forever.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Hawkers market

This week is the Melbourne Festival of food and wine, Monday night we went the hawkers market heat beads event, this was held in the Queen Victoria market, a $45 ticket bought us entrance and 4 plates from a variety of over 30 different Asian dishes, it was very hard to choose from the great assortment of Japanese, Chinese Indian, Balinese and so on, expecting a small taster plate we were surprised to get a great big plateful of food for each voucher. We sat at tables and it was quite a social event, where we got to chat with some really nice people. There was music and dance with Chinese Dragons, Japanese drummers and Indian and Balinese singers and dancers.
While in Melbourne we stayed at the Travelodge Docklands, a brand new hotel which was very modern and can be reccommended for convenience to get into the City and also the new Docklands where there is a large restaurant and shopping area which has been built around the old docks.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wilsons Promonitory

Its 15 years since we went to Wilsons Promonitory, so we thought we would give it a try, we had a nice trip down stopping at some great towns on the way, Korumburra, and Fish Creek.
There is now an entry fee to the park and then 30 kilometre drive through lovely scenery, unfortunately there is some bad burn from last years fires. We got to Tidal River the furthest point we found it has become very commercialised, with an outdoor cinema, camping for hundreds of people, including school parties, we had a walk along the trail to the beach and a cup of tea which took the cafeteria staff half an hour to prepare! then made our way back to Foster for overnight accommodation and a meal at the Exchange Hotel - this was excellent. On our way to Foster, Mary spotted a Wombat grazing, we stopped the car and managed to get really close to it, it was not bothered at all and just stood looking at us. Next day we returned to the park and had some good walks to Darby Beach and Cotters lake beach. Midday we started back to Melbourne stopping at Coal Creek on the way, this is an old mine site with streets and houses set out as they would have been in the early 1900s, it is a very interesting place where you could spend several hours.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Kalbarri and back to Melbourne

Early on the road and there are lots of goats nibbling the roadside verges, the best thing is to blast your horn as soon as you see them ,because if they run in front of you they can do a lot of damage to the car.
On the way to Kalbarri we stop at a couple of viewpoints to see the Murchison River gorges, beautifull, but the flys are a real nuisance, we did see an eagle fly over the road in front of us with a 3 foot snake hanging from its talons,
The bush fires are all out, though in one area we drove through, several kilometres of bush were burnt and blackened by fire.

Back to Perth
last leg of our trip bringing us back to Perth.We arrive in the suburbs mid afternoon the traffic is horrendous, after driving on virtually empty roads for the last fortnight its a bit of a shock, still our reliable sat nav gets us there in the end. We have been surprised at the big variation in petrol prices the cheapest was just outside Perth at $1.19 and most expensive in Exmouth at $1.59. The odometre reads that we have covered 4,700 kilometres in the last 15 days – we were on unlimited mileage

Tiger Airways flies on time
Arrive at the airport after a 15 minute drive from the hotel, drop of the hire car, and YES, the flight is on time ,no delays, we were a bit worried after our 5 hour delayed flight out to Perth.
Today is the coolest day since we left Melbourne, the temperatures have been in the low forties by mid morning most days, so its a good job we had A/C in the car,
On The Plane---Pilot Announcement---
Melbourne airport is closed due to thunderstorms,we are on hold for 45 minutes then divert to Canberra to refuel, finally arrive in storm battered Melbourne at 19:30 in the evening, and arrive at Emmas around 10 :30 at night. And hear there has been lots of storm damage throughout Melbourne.

Coral reef and Spangled Emperor

Mary with Spnagled Emperor
termite nests

A long drive today along very straight roads,with very little traffic, the occasional road train, emus, hundreds of goats and loads of road kill, from which the Wedge tail eagles have a free feast, In the terrain alongside the road are hundreds of Termite nests up to 8 foot high.
We arrive at our chalet, to a mother and baby emu greeting us, following day went up the coast dropping in at beaches and bays arriving at the end of the sealed road at Yardie creek where we had a walk along the gorge spot ting the black footed wallabies.
The beaches are amazing with coral reef sometimes no more than three metres from the shore with an amazing variety of fish.
A lot of holiday makers bring there own boats,for fishing and our neighbours asked us if we would like a fish for supper, next day we were presented with a 10 pound Spangled Emperor,which we barbequed ,twas very tasty.

Exmouth was the furthest North, so we set off back south, after we left Shark Bay we had heard the road between Kalbarri and shark bay had been closed with Bush fires ,but we hear it was opened again, the snorkelling at Coral bay is fantastic, i find myself surrounded by purple fish around 2 foot long—guess what? they are Spangled Emperor come to get there own back! Later a family were feeding them fish guts and they were jumping out of the water
Our accomodation is around 5 kms from the town near to the Carnarvon 1 mile jetty, apparently a steam train (called the coffee pot) runs down the jetty in holiday season, we walked down it and it was very wobbly and so i would not like to do it on a train, even though it is made of Jarrah wood.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Geraldton to Monkey Mia

An early start from Perth to miss the traffic, we arrived at the Pinnacles national park mid morning it was very hot - around 40 degrees but we had a walk through the pinnacle rocks which are really weird then carried on up the coast to Geraldton, really nice Bed and breakfast ,as soon as we arrived we were invited to use the pool,which is set in a garden full of trees and plants, then we explored the town.
Shark bay and Monkey Mia
we stopped at several places on the way to shark bay, Shell beach where the beach is completely made up of tiny shells which are said to be 10 metres deep in places and the sea is a fantastic turquoise blue, The stromatolites, the living rock that produces the atmosphere we live in. these rock formations are under the sea and we were the only people on the jetty where you can see them.
On the walk to the jetty is a shell quarry where blocks of consolidated shells were cut to build with, the place we stayed in Denham was built with these blocks. We stayed at the Shark Bay Hotel Motel the most Westerly Hotel in Australia,but that is ALL you cou say about it,
Following morning we had an early drive over to Monkey Mia , where the dolphins were waiting to say hello to us, there were about a dozen around at one time and another and several very young ones,who amused us with there antics, again it was very hot, while snorkelling off the beach i saw a sea snake around 5 foot long, luckily it was swimming away from after lunch set off on a Catamaran to spot some more marine life, the boat was around 60 foot and with only 14 people on board we had the run of the ship, one of the main things we wanted to see were Dugongs (sea cows) before long we had seen turtles, shark, rays, and eventually a dugong which we followed for around 15 minutes, another really hot day, with loads of sunscreen to stop getting burnt.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Out of range

Sorry there has been a gap on the news ,but we have not been able to get internet access, anyway, news of the rest of the western Australia trip coming shortly.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The road back to Perth

Wednesday---Quite a long trip, The sat nav would not fire up ---OH NO! Pressed the reset button and it was okay again,--- Phew--- the temperature hovering round 42 degrees at midday although strorms forecast. We stopped at Koronup on the Albany Highway and looked around the aboriginal interpretive centre and a rose garden maze, this highway has loads of roadtrains using it. We arrived in Perth mid afternoon, this is a different kind of accommodation again, a few minutes walk from the City and overlooking the freeway, but have about 10 free wifi connections. We sat by the Swan River and had coffee then had a trip round the city on the free bus- there is lots of building and renovation work going on and its really weird to see original old buildings sitting amongst the ultra modern blocks.

Porongurup and some walking

From the Porongurup Range

TUESDAY - An Early start again and heading for the hills, we were going to call into Albany and look round but changed our minds as there was so much traffic on the road. and were at the Porongurup Inn by midday, so we put our stuff in our apartment and set off for a walk in the Porongurup range, our aim to walk up to the balancing rock which we managed, but is was a struggle as the weather is getting hotter by the day, so we had an afternoon siesta and a low level evening stroll before dinner, loads of Kangaroos and skinks around here.

Augusta and to the Giant trees

tree climbing
Monday - A single road runs through Augusta to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, this cape is where the Indian ocean and the Southern Ocean meet, the scenery is very dramatic, and the sea very wild with very strong currents, this does not stop the surfers who take advantage of the big waves, we stayed at the Youth hostel in Augusta, which lived up to its reputation of being the best in Australia,
The following morning we set off towards Denmark, stopping at The Gloucester tree which is one of several trees used as a fire lookout, stakes are hammered into the tree to form a ladder to the top, where a lookout shelter is built, the public are welcome to climb it - at there own risk, i got about 50 steps up and decided against going further.there was still along way to go! The big bloodsucking flies here were also a real nuisance, also we saw a 3 foot tiger snake winding its way across the road - highly poisonous!
We drove on to the Valley of the Giants where we enjoyed a guided walk and then an aerial walk 40 metres above the ground through the massive Jarrah trees. We were well and truly ready for our evening takeaway of Barramundi and chips, a beer and an early night.


Had an evening walk round Bunbury, we sat and had coffee and watched the world go by, and an almost continuos stream of utes parading around the precinct, revving engines, with loud music issuing from them, best was a Mack truck unit joining in the fun,
SUNDAY - Bunbury Motel was excellent, with a nice big swimming pool where we swam first thing in the morning.
I had heard about the dolphins at Bunbury so we headed down to the beach, early the following morning and sure enough they were there. There was quite a few people around so the volunteers who are at the beach, instructed us how to behave, we lined up with the water up to our bums and waited - a female dolphin came swimming in and inspected us from about 2 foot away and swam round us for about twenty minutes the volunteer guy giving us information. It was an amazing experience.
We then set of towards Augusta stopping at Busselton on the way. Busselton has very long pier which was damaged in a fire recently so is under repair.

Tiger Airways late

Saturday -All was going well yesterday untill we arrived at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport for our trip to W. Australia, looking at the departure screen several flights were delayed or cancelled, then our flight came up delayed for a massive 5 hours, apparently the plane had been affected by a bird strike in Queensland and a replacement had to be sent,we were provided with meal vouchers, and spent a sociable evening talking to Josh from Tasmania, and Lucas from Melbourne and anyone else who fancied swapping a story or two, before we knew it the flight was boarding and we were in the air, arrived at Perth after catnapping through the flight, picked up the hire car – free triple upgrade!!!! and set the sat nav for the accommodation. Hardly any traffic which was good, and before long into our chalet for the night - Melbourne time would have been about four o clock in the morning. Perth time 01:00 any way slept well, had a walk on the beach and then set off to explore Fremantle, before heading off towards Bunbury where we were staying the night.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thank goodness for the sat nav

We hav just been for a four day trip to the Geelong area, with our granddaughter, this is the surfcoast with loads of kite surfing, wind surfing and other water sports, the prevailing wind on this coast almost guarentees good sport to the surfies.. as for us we enjoyed exploring the area, we had a great guided walk around Geelong botanical gardens where the guide pointed out and gave us the history of a lot of the trees, some over 150 years old, there were a row of fan palms, the same as we have in Spain and apparently there is a big debate as to whether to trim the dead leaves of the trunks, hence they have these 20 foot palms with the dead fronds all the way up them. They look terrible.
To get to the Geelong Area we had to go through Melbourne, theres no way without the satnav.... The freeways close to Melbourne are 4 and 5 lanes wide and most of the day are continous heavy traffic with some massive trucks which power along at the maximum speed for the road.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Around and about

Lilydale lakeLILYDALE LAKE
We have been getting around locally the last few days, have been to a couple of the local shopping centres, the shops are amazing and most things apart from food are cheaper than Spain or the UK, you see very few shops unoccupied and they all seem to be thriving, the savings interest rate here is around 5.75%. so although the global crisis has affected here it appears to be minimal, We have had a stroll round Warrendyte and visited the op shops(charity shops)they have loads of books so we are not short of reading material,not that there is much time....
We went to Lillydale lake and park on Thursday where they have put sandy beaches around the lake and we had a very pleasant swim and a picnic, Its not like Guardamar though.
Last night Mary and myself went to an evening of entertainment in Warrandyte, we were treated to some poetry, Bellydancing, Russian songs accompanied by guitar,Irish drumming, poetry, The Pianola and storytelling, and met some nice people, quite an evening.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A Koala and an Echidna

We have been here over a week now and we have not seen any Kangaroos, but i take Rascal - Emma and Warwicks dog, for a walk most days and looking up in the trees along the Andersons creek road there was a Koala sleeping in the fork of a tree trunk, no more than 20 yards away, i have been along there twice since and its has moved branches but is still in the same tree, Emma has not seen one in Andersons creek for around three years, - then yesterday we went for drive into the lower area of the Dandenong Ranges and while driving along the forest track an Echidna (spiny anteater) was strolling across the road, these too are rare animals to see as they are nocturnal and very timid. Females produce one or two eggs, which are deposited in a rudimentary marsupial pouch. The newly hatched young remain in the pouch, feeding on a milky fluid, until their spines begin to grow.
The weather is very warm here at the moment - in the high 30s, yesterday afternoon it clouded up a bit and there was thunder around,there are also lots of mosquitos once the heat of the day has gone, you need to wear insect repellent if you are outdoors.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Healesville picnic races

Sunday was a sunny hot day so off to the Healesville picnic races. with plenty of activities for everyone it was a real family affair, with animal corner, donkey rides, bouncy castle for the kids, with hot dogs, ice cream and a bar, there were loads of people mainly families and a really nice atmosphere, we had a nice picnic with a bottle of wine and tried to pick some winners, There were 6 races mainly of around 6 or seven runners on a beautifull grass course, with a bookies area where you could go and pick who to bet with and who were giving the best odds, the races were every half an hour and we managed to pick a couple of winners,
On the way back home Emma, Mary and myself stopped for a walk around a Wurrunjeri aboriginal reserve where there was a marked way with notices describing what various plants and trees were used for, here we learned that the young shoots from the tree fern can be used to rub on insect bites to ease the itching,and as there are plenty of mosquitoes around it might be usefull although we have also found that rubbing a freshly cut onion on a bite takes away the itching almost immediately.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Arrival in Australia

The flight from Gatwick had very few people on board,so was very relaxed, excellent attention from the cabin attendants, arrived at Doha and because we had a five hour wait for our ongoing flight we were given meal vouchers, Mary had chips and samosas i had a curry and rice then we sat it out at this massive airport, the flight was delayed for 40 minutes waiting for the Manchester flight to come in for connecting flights then we set off on this ultra modern Boeing 777-200 with every seat taken, and arrived in Melbourne well on time, It took 30 minutes from landing to be get our luggage and clear customs, so arrived at Emmas around midnight. As we walked up the path to the house there was the possum that lives in our daughters garden sitting watching us no more than 8 foot away. The grandchildren woke up and we had an hour with them before bed.
Slept well,In the cabin that Emma and Warwick have furnished for us to use, Awkke to riotous dawn chorus the bird life is incredible here, after breakfast, a walk to “the Bakery” in Warrendyte for Coffee and muffins , We have had heavy rain showers on and off for most of the day and through last night and its still raining, but it is very warm, almost tropical,in the middle of the night some thing quite large jumped out of the trees onto the cabin roof and walked along it sounded like an elephant to me, but Mary reckons it was a possum!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Start of the Australia trip

Bec and Quin drove us to the airport this morning, Bec threw water after us which is the Spanish tradition of saying goodbye and to bring good luck and safety on a journey, We left a bright and sunny Alicante on an Easyjet flight that departed 20 minutes before time and arrive 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled arrival time,35 minutes from landing we were in our overnight accommodation at Horley near Gatwick, We are staying at the Castle Lodge Guesthouse which is very nice, They picked us up from the airport and return us in the morning, despite our early start a substantial continental breakfast will be available before we are dropped off at the terminal ready for the next leg of our journey. We have Lunched at a Wetherspoons, had a walk round the town of Horley and now relaxing ready for our flight. We have already checked in online so so hope everything goes smoothly.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Iberdrola contract renewal

Panic over, Whats the problem you may be asking. Well it all stems from an article and subsequent letters in one of the english language free "newspapers". We were informed, not reliably it seems, that change was afoot with our electricity suppliers. Those of us who did not hot foot it off to a far flung Iberdrola office and renew there contracts would pay dearly, no literally, hard cash up to 20% more than we need to, well that was the story. Fearing a price hike they could not afford many brit immigrants have in the last few weeks sought out the office in Pilar de Horadada and signed on the dotted line.(but what for we ask) We took the easier route and rang the company, no need to do anything we were told, you are on a free contract.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Little Weed

Though the nights and early mornings still have a bit of a chill we are once a gain seeing some lovely early spring sunshine. The oxalis on the edges of the farmers fields by Los Palacios are a welcome sight. We always looked for celandine as the harbinger of spring when living in UK, here it’s another gentle little yellow the above mentioned Oxalis. This lovely cheering plant is I understand classed as an agricultural weed, but then as the saying goes a weed is only after all a flower in the wrong place. A member of the sorrel family we have seen it growing in many Mediterranean countries having first noticed it whilst on holiday in Malta. We shall be keeping an eye out for this plant on our Australian trip to as it appears they are classed as somewhat of a nuisance there. One species of concern in Victoria is Soursob, Oxalis pes-caprae which invades coastal heath vegetation, grassland, woodland and dry forest. It also occurs along roadsides, and in gardens, crops and pastures. It is distinguished by the three heart-shaped leaflets with or without stalks which fold in dull days or at night. Flowers are bright yellow in colour and open in sunlight and close at night. There are masses of underground bulbs which are spread by water, birds, in dumped garden waste and during cultivation. This sounds just like the flowers we are see here from spring onwards. I am sure to they are in the same family as the wood sorrel that we had in our wooded garden in Scotland, the locals called them sour sucks, very like the Aussie Soursob, which children would pick to suck the plant stems. I do not know if this yellow one is edible too so at present will not be adding it to my salad. I will have to ask Joaquin, who is pretty knowledgeable about wild plants, if you can eat them. Meanwhile we will just enjoy the look of them as they brighten the path from winter into spring

Whats up Doc?

Torrevieja hospital
A Flying Visit to Torrevieja A&E

Had a bit of a medical emergency last week this called for a trip to the local Salud in the middle of the night. As if that was not bad enough the Doc there decided I needed to go to hospital, scary at any time let alone when its 4 o’clock in the morning and you are in pain. The ambulance was duly called and I was carted off to Torrivieja with John ambulance chasing in the car.
It was very quiet in the ER, which was a surprise as the last time I was in an A&E recently when i was in the UK, Leicester Royal, in fact the busiest A&E in Europe I am told. That was a nightmare place with armed police, high security presence on the doors and a lot of sick and injured people. Over all those visits were not pleasant experiences. It’s slightly different when you are the person in pain but non the less it was amazing how quiet it was, no sound of rowdy violent drunks or worse, certainly no armed police or security men on view.
So it was straight through to the business side, I saw a doctor within minutes. Now his bedside manner left a little to be desired but you cannot have everything and I had not waited hours to see him.
After assessment I was taken over to the observation ward, a very high-tech place to be sure. What really struck me, as I came too with the help of the pain killers, was the high proportion of non Spanish patients there was being treated. Made me wonder what it will be like in another few years time with an aging immigrant population requiring more and more intervention and care.
Countries like Spain, that attract those wishing to spent there retirement in warmer climates may well need to be funded at a higher level from countries of origin to sustain their National Health Service.

Guardamar hotel and others

The Guardamar hotel, at the bottom of the Avenida Meditterraneo in Guardamar has been closed for the last couple of weeks for extensive interior renovations in the public areas, They are normally open all year and have been very busy over the Christmas and New year period. One of the popular and well attended events at the hotel is the regular Saturday night dinner dance.
Meanwhile in Rojales, The Royal Thai restaurant has also been closed for the last couple of months with a sign on the door saying closed for the winter, but it does not look very promising that it will open again. Also Tylers Bar in central Rojales has closed and rumours are it will be opening again soon under a new proprietor.
The Pub at Benijofar has been closed now for a couple of months, and is looking very forlorn, we can only guess whether it will open again with new management for the 2010 season.
****Latest News****
Tylers bar will be reopening on the 19th February

Friday, January 22, 2010

Alicante, El Altet tops

Despite the financial crisis Alicante,El Altet airport has had the best year of all the Spanish airports, turning a profit of 43.5 million Euros in 2009,only two other airports made a profit, Palma and Girona with Madrid and Barcelona making losses. Meanwhile Alicante airport extension is coming on well and will increase the number of passengers to 20 million a year.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ducks Ducks Ducks

rubber duck
A new shop has opened in the centre of Guardamar del Segura, (on the main street near the church) they sell ducks and anything to do with ducks, no, not live ducks, but plastic, wood, ceramic, or any other type of duck that people might like to collect. (or put in the bath), The ducks for sale are from extra small to XX large. And I am sure if you want a giant one they will be able to obtain it for you. They shop is open all hours and always seem to have browsing customers. You cant miss the shop as they have a rubber duck on top of a pole in the road outside the shop, when they are open, Give them a visit and bath in company.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Parque de Palmera

Parque de Palmera
When we were visiting Alicante last week, we noticed the Parque de Palmera on the N332 south of the City and decided to stop and take a look, this turned out to be a lovely recreational area which overlooks the sea and harbour entrance to Alicante. There is a large variety of plants, mainly palms, with lots of seating areas set around the pathways and features. There is a cafe bar, exercise equipment, sports courts and a rough terrain mountain bike track. There are also some manmade waterfalls, pools and canals where it is possible to hire a small boat to navigate round the system. I should think the park (which is a free facility) is a great place to go in the summer with a breeze from the sea and plenty of shade from the trees.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lemon tree road / N332 turn

Road sign
If you wish to turn into the Lemon tree road from the Torrevieja direction there is no left turn, so you have to go 1.5 kms to the roundabout at Guardamar and return on the right hand side of the N332 where you can turn right into the Lemon tree road. Similarly leaving the Lemon tree road you cannot turn left onto the N332 towards Guardamar but have turn right towards Torrevieja where after 1.5 kms a new roundabout has been built enabling you to reverse direction again towards Guardamar/Alicante. This situation has been created by the widening of the N332 from Guardamar to Torrevieja and we wait to see how the N332/ Lemon tree road junction will operate when the road is completed, though this could be a while yet as there has been very little work on the road in past few weeks.

Lunch at the Captains Table

yorkshire puddings
We went for a nice Sunday lunch at the Captains Table on the Lemon tree road three kms from Los Montesinos, there was a choice of starter –salad or vegetable soup, and a carvery with ham, beef or turkey, a buffet choice of mash and roast potatoes, peas, cabbage, carrots, stuffing, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. And apple crumble with cream, ice cream or two varieties of cheesecake with cream for desert, it was all very tasty and well served for a great price of €9.95, the restaurant also serve an A la carte menu. There is a special, which on Sunday was fish and chips for €6.50 - from what I saw it looked very good. It is quite a big restaurant with a conservatory and inner restaurant and bar, while we were there the majority of custom appeared to be brits. The british staff are friendly, helpfull and efficient. The venue has live entertainment some evenings.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Night of the Three Kings

giant heads
On the 5th January the main road through Guardamar was closed for several hours for the arrival of the Three Kings, thousands of people met in the street for the parade and for the children to collect the tons of sweets that are thrown in the parade, with bands and groups of dancers, decorated floats it was an amazing carnival atmosphere and the children were plainly over excited in anticipation of three Kings day when Spanish children open their presents.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A Brit In Spain to Oz

Kangaroo sunset
The beginning of February we are heading of to Australia to visit our family on the outskirts of Melbourne, this is going to be a long stay and we will be having a holiday on the Mornington Peninsular with Emma and having one or two adventures on our own, we have already planned a tour of the west coast of Australia starting in Perth rangeing south for a few days then up to the north of Perth, Arranging car hire and accommodation on the internet makes it so easy.
Bec suggested we carry on writing the Blog from Oz which we certainly will do, the laptop will accompany us this time, as there is plenty of internet access. so it will be “A Brit in Spain” in Oz and hopefully we can keep you up to date with our adventures, with plenty of Pics and maybe one or two videos.

Blissfull ignorance

Here we are, its a bit misty this morning but mild, Im picking a friend up from the airport, check flights are arriving at Alicante, all seems well. get to the arrivals point to find the flight has been delayed for at least 3 hours, oh well go home again..... check the weather in Manchester (the departure airport) on the internet. to find all flights are suspended as it is snowed in. I had no idea they were having snow again. Next time im meeting someone i will check the departure airport as well!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Another Airline goes bust

Last week Scottish based airline Fly Globespan ceased operations leaving many people stranded or with a holiday flight, this week the Spanish airline Air Comet with 13 aircraft has has stopped flying with not enough money to pay fuel and fees, apparently they have not payed salaries for several months, Air Comet flights were mainly between Madrid to Latin America and around 7000 people were affected by the stoppage of the company, several hundred being Equadorians.
The Spanish ministry of development chartered four planes to move stranded passengers with urgent need to travel.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Happy New Year to all our readers and friends

Christmas at The Albir Gardens Hotel

We have just spent Christmas with Bec and Joaquin in the Albir Gardens Hotel in Albir just outside Benidorm, we had the all inclusive package so were able to eat and drink as much as we liked, the food and service were excellent, included was a fantastic six course Christmas dinner, starting with canapes of cheese, prawns, avocado, next soup, then a fillet of Salmon, then Turkey with all the trimmings, followed by Christmas pudding and mince pies, as much wine as you wanted and Champagne, unbelievably, some people just picked at the food or turned it away - - It was just too different for them.
The Albir Gardens is an aparthotel with apartments in blocks set among grass and trees, each apartment has bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, lounge and balcony and our accommodation was spacious and clean. There is a large outside swimming pool, indoor pool, Jacuzzi, Sauna and Gym among other facilities.
The weather was not that good but we still had the chance to do a bit of walking and we thoroughly enjoyed a very relaxing Christmas.