Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fishing in Blanca

John has always loved a spot of fishing, even better if we got to eat the catch. There are not many kinds of fishing he has not tried, from commercial off the Cornish coast, fly fishing in Scotland, fishing the little streams, the ocean and the longest river in Australia  not to mention catching supper from a canoe off the beach in Guardamar, hes tried them all. It was a forgone conclusion then that he would want to fish here with the river Segura right on our doorstep not to mention a lake just up the road.
We have been a little busy to say the least since we moved but once he got a spare moment first thing to do was to get a licence sorted. Whilst I sat and had a little chat with Jan in the Real Homes in Spain office John set about the task with determination. We were somewhat amused to see John pass the office on several occasions, he seemed to be going for a real ground-hog day!

So a little run down on what was happening:
Visit to Town hall to get licencia de pesca
Trip to bank to pay fee of 6.61  for licencia
Return to Town hall with proof of payment
Informed of need for insurance
Off to insurance company to get compulsory policy*
Back to Town hall with proof policy
Licence is issued
Trip to bar for well earned drink

*The Insurance company used was Mapfre in the Gran Via Blanca.  The cost for 6 months was 16.80 euro, which is automatically renewed by direct debit until you choose to cancel.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our feathered friends

                                  European Bee eaters

Looking back, a bit of a serious week on the Blog. A sign of the times I suppose, the "crisis", as its always referred to here, means more than even the decisions of Government really do have an instant impact on our everyday lives. However we have so much here that remains beyond the grasp of even the most determined Politicians. Whats more if you take a little time out from the hustle and bustle of everyday life the real moments of joy are free.Many wonderful "in the moment" experiences for us are when we connect with the magnificent natural surrounding we are lucky to live in.
Our feathered friends top the list this week. We were thrilled to see the most colourful of summer visitors in Europe the Bee Eater arrive from its African winter one morning this week. Our daughter was also  lucky to spot a short toed eagle over near our Los Tollos plot. Very much smaller but extremely pretty Green Finches have delighted us as we had our first coffee of the day at the far end of the garden. We have eagerly watched for mr and mrs Collared Dove in their nest in the large pine tree too.
Nature may be red in tooth and claw but as ever its a welcome distraction from the battle field of everyday life.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Back to the 80s

A touch of deja vu  as the week progresses. Feeling like I am back in the Thatcherite 80s with talk of  education cuts, more police powers and changes to health services.
We can only hope the end results are an improvement on the infamous Iron Lady's policies.
Rumblings all over the EU with regards the Schengen  agreement*. Interior Ministers in France and Germany have signed  a joint letter in which they call for the reform of, and ‘temporary suspension’ of the Schengen agreement which allows for the free movement between most member states of the EU.
the reasons stated for such a move are stated as the need to "control the massive flow of immigrants’. The call comes just ahead of the 25th anniversary of the treaty this coming Monday, although many countries signed up in March 1995.

France and Germany believe  that a ‘temporary suspension’ is needed during the present  crisis, both Paris and Berlin speak of ‘provisional’ closure of frontiers, and only when a country in the Schengen space cannot control the flow of immigrants. They say they will give the details to their European partners at the next conference.

 Spain has announced the suspension of the Schengen Treaty and the re-establishing of frontier controls with France ahead of the European Central Bank meeting which is to be held in Barcelona on May 3.
Spain has not yet said how long the border restriction will remain in place, they say it will allow the authorities to act if there is ‘a serious threat to public order or interior security’.

The measure will only affect the frontiers between Spain and France from the Basque Country to Cataluña. Reports indicate that it was the Catalan Government to step up the controls in the face of possible disturbances and the arrival of  protesters from other countries in Europe.

So as I say its just like the 80s, we even have an argument with Argentina going on, all we need now is a poll tax!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Costa del Crime

The old name, first given to the Spanish Costa's in the popular press in the 70s  I believe, seems to have taken on a new meaning in recent days. First we had the Government here raising the issue of illegal use of the Spanish NHS now the British Government is pledged to catch those defrauding their system for a large proportion of the 43 million pound they pay out every year to fraudulent claimants living abroad.
In such difficult economic times no Government can afford to ignore the blatant misuse of its limited funds and I am sure a lot of the perpetrators of such frauds will now be caught and brought to justice. For some it will mean a double whammy as being in reciept of some UK benefits will have given them access to the Spanish health care system. I can only imagine that once caught for claiming long term disability or sickness benefit for example whilst able to work, often working on the black here, they will be on interest to both governments.
The small Pension, Benefit & Health care team based in Spain provide support to the estimated 1million Britons living there. They work with the Spanish Authorities on behalf of the DWP and Department of Health to prevent and detect benefit fraud, ensure correct access to the Spanish health care system, and combat misuse of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
What is termed abroad fraud involves a range of scams such as people on means-tested benefits going abroad but failing to declare their absence, undeclared property abroad, and individuals working while claiming sickness benefits. Here in Spain  claims for Income Support or Pension Credit are the most frequently investigated for fraud.
It has puzzled us in the past when we have heard people who are below state pension retirement age talk about getting a a"winter fuel payment". Understandable if they suffered from ill health and received a disability pension but confusing when we saw they working or  running a business here. What goes around comes around as they say and I am guessing they will very soon being feeling pretty sick indeed, when they are found out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kings and Things

A couple of items caught my eye in the news this week so thought I would share them here.
 It seems the King, Juan Carlos, is in a bit of bother all round lately. Whilst on Holiday he had a fall and broke his hip, a common peril of old age! However his troubles did not end there as reports of the accident drew attention to the fact that he  was on holiday in Botswana  and had taken part in an Elephant hunt. As King Juan Carlos is an honorary member of the World Wildlife Fund it has not gone down to well with members and activist alike. There have been small demonstrations outside the hospital where the King has been treated. The governing board of WWF España held an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday ‘and have agreed unanimously to start the necessary process to modify article 6 of the statues, in relation to the honorable figures of the organisation’.
The environmental organisation also wrote to the King two days earlier they ask for a meeting to express the discomfort generated among the WWF members about the news that he had been hunting elephants in Botswana. I must say the Photograph I saw of the King standing with a gun next to a dead elephant was most distressing. A real lack of judgment here fro a Royal who usually displays such good sense.
The other item worth noting is that prescription charges may shortly be levied here, you do pay a small amount at present if you are not retired but the Government wants to charge 50% for every one not except pensioners who would pay 10%. I can see where they are coming from as the economic crisis is hitting hard here but do hope they will make provision for those on low income especially those with families. The health service is very good here and I would hate to  the comparatively wealthy Brits complaining and this I. If it does happen I hope they  will pay up with good humor.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cream scones, Friends and a lion

We are very busy at the moment what with one thing and another, thought it was nice to snatch a break on Sunday and have a real afternoon tea with the family plus a walk around the campo. Lots of naughty things for tea, scones, cream and Jam, citrus cheese cake, though I made it with Quark so not so naughty. Of course we had to have egg mayonnaise sandwiches which we all love and home made lemonade very tangy and refreshing.
This week we are moving a lot of things which we have bought from friends who are selling up, loads of things that are very very useful for our building project on the campo plot. Sad to see some one going but everyone has to do whats best for themselves after all. We only meet them since moving to Blanca but we soon became firm friends. When we first met I recognised there accent as they come from our home town, This meant we had lots in common a  shared history so to speak. It also means if we are back in UK we will be able to catch up, they have a house very near my sisters place as it happens.
One thing that will not be going to the campo is a fabulous statue of a lion that we have also been given. It is now standing by the lemon tree, wonder what Suzi the cat will make of that!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow....

                                          Yellow Broomrape

This week has been amazing for bird and plant sightings. We now have swallows, swifts and  martins wheeling overhead as well as our friends the collared doves building a nest in the pine tree at the far end of the garden. So many small birds tweeting around its hard to keep track of what they are, crested and long tailed tits, yellowhammers and another small very yellow bird we have not yet got a definite identification on. Mr and Mrs. Blackbird are busy on the Campo and in the Garden and Mr. Hoopoe is to be seen calling away in a large pine two gardens away. Then we have the Herons that fly over on a daily basis no doubt following the river looking for a tasty meal. The cormorants of course I have mentioned before and its nice to see the egrets morning and evening. We enjoy starting the day when we can with a pot of coffee and a little birdwatching from the end of the garden. This gives us a view of a wide range of habit that attracts different species. Water, open ground, reed beds, trees and bushes as well has the hills where we sometimes see Raptors.

We have also been very lucky to find two rare plants whilst walking this week. The first was close to the river in a old olive grove, the striking Yellow Broom rape, The second was in a boggy dip in a little valley up the hill, the Gladiolus Illyricus. John spotted this beautiful flower in the shelter of an ancient olive. We have photographed both plants but are keeping quiet about their exact location. The countryside is awash with wild flowers after the recent rains and is a sight to behold. Its such a treat to live once again in an area that really does have seasons. We intend to enjoy every minute of it.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Growing time

 Whilst the UK is plunged back into winter we are at last getting some much needed rain. The very heavy showers of rain, and some hail, are slotted between sunshine and pretty decent temperatures. As a lot of the rain has been after sunset it is soaking nicely into the ground. This is great for our garden and our plot in the campo. We have put in one or two herbaceous plants in the last two weeks and they all seem to be settling in nicely. Our main flower bed is looking good and the soil is very much improve because of the addition of our home-made compost. Fingers crossed the Agapanthus and Astilbe will survive as we loved both these plants. The sweet peas, seeds collected by our daughtetr from plants in Rojales, are doing really well and we look forward to some fragrant blooms later in the year. John as planted a large number of mesembryanthemum on the slopping terrace at the very end of the garden. We hope these will spread to give us a wonderful display of their bright coloured flowers and help to hold the soil in place. Meanwhile in the campo the seeds planted are sprouting merrily and the trees are getting a much needed watering for free.  We have a great variety of trees oranges, lemons, almonds, cherry plums, peaches and we look forward to harvesting the crop. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Riverside fire

The bamboo at the side of the River Segura in Blanca town has been cut down and set alight, whether this was on purpose or not i dont know, but a team of at least a dozen fireman were on hand this morning keeping control of the blaze and damping down the cliff face. the heat was fairly intense and could be felt from the other side of the river.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Corvera airport opening delay

The latest news is that the opening of Corvera Airport in Murcia has been delayed until Summer 2013 at the earliest, The president of the Murcian government said a thousand technical requirements and approval of the equipment used still has to be carried out,

Luis del Rivero from constructors Sacyr was sacked last October as boss of the multinational and this has apparently slowed down the paperwork in Madrid. and he was the person putting things in place to get the airport operational.
For a tour of Corvera airport as of 30th December 2011 have a look here
Meanwhile AENA has announced 22 extra flights this summer from the San Javier airport.

Monday, April 02, 2012

New Neighbours

We have two quiet noisy newcomers to the area at present and it looks like they have set up home here. The collared dove, one of the most successful birds in the world has taken up residence. First we had one bird who´s favourite spot was on top of a post at the far end of our back garden. My they do like to coo coo! I can here one now even as I type. After spending a considerable amount of the day calling from its chosen lookout it was joined by another bird, its new mate we presume. We fully expect to hear a multitude of cooing before the summer is out.
The collared dove has spread its wings through Europe and beyond since it was recorded in Hungary in the 1930s. This amazing example of the rapid expansion of a species saw them colonise most of the UK by the end of the 1960s,we had many in all our UK gardens. They are now wide spread in Spain and you will see them in pairs, like ours, or small flocks.

It is 34 cm (13 inches) in size. Its plumage is predominantly pale brown. There is a black stripe on the neck that looks like a collar. The belly is whitish. On the tip of the wins there is a white stripe. Its amazing
this bird has done so well as it normally only lays two eggs. One things for sure it will find plenty of food to its liking around here, it likes to feed on seeds and plants. We just hope our herbaceous border does not prove to tempting.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Information Technology

Its over a decade since I started to use a PC. I had resisted the technology, luddite by nature in true Leicestershire tradition. The need to get to grips with the the workings of the "machine" became unavoidable when I started a Social Science degree course. Not only did I need to submit word processed work there was also research to be done and the modular entitled computer applications for the social sciences to be passed. It was a painful process and the most useful thing that was said to me re this learning process was that not to worry I would not break the PC if I made mistakes. Its true that the technology has been put to dark purposes by stupid and evil people in the world and we have to hope that the efforts to prevent criminal activities will continue and succeed. Also that those who spend their time causing problems for other users will either be caught or cease there mindless behavior. I have to wonder  what sort of person spends time creating something that is solely aimed at causing a total stranger inconvenience.

 In the main though using the WWW has had so many benefits for all the family. We can book, buy, research. We get almost instant answers to queries that pop up on a daily basis. These range from who's that actor and what else have they been in through recipe ideas, practical advice from building to bee stings. In fact the PC helps us remain curious about life, an essential factor in enriching the process of living. We have found Jobs and homes through this media too. There is also the communication factor. This Blog is one example, enabling us to share our lives with people from many countries as well as our own family and friends. Used properly the WWW is a marvelous tool that helps break down barriers between peoples of different countries, as we tell each other about our interests our communities, share views on life. True there is a lot of rubbish on the web but its like any other medium its up to the individual to sort the wheat from the chaff.