Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wine, Weather and chilli

The temperature today is around 30 at present and you would think that would be pleasant. However the humidity is around 51% so it feels uncomfortably warm. High humidity levels can cause health problems, heat stroke can occur. Those with heart condition and asthma need to take care in this type of weather. The problem although you perspire the humidity does not let the perspiration evaporate and cool you down so you just get hotter and hotter. We have had quite a few days like this and it is very wearing. Best thing to do is a little as possible!
Another thing you find is that you don't want to be eating large or heavy meals, It is the norm to eat very late at night, though when its humid its still to hot to eat much. Lovely, interesting salad with exciting dressings go down well. We did have a curry yesterday though. I made meatballs flavoured with ground coriander and cumin seeds and a chickpea curry which we ate with turkish flat bread that I had made earlier in the day. I love a mango chutney with my curry and as an experiment I made some mango chutney with plums as we had so many. If I say so myself its really good and I will be making more with the next glut of plums. We love flat breads and its so easy to make, requires no kneading and can be flavored with whatever you fancy. Most often I use sunflower seeds on top but John wants me to try using some of my homemade chilli paste, I have two varieties hot and, well, dam hot. Great in curries and chillies and far more body than anything i have found to buy. I know that curry is said to cool you down, because it makes you perspire but if its humid it doesn't work that way so you need plenty to drink to counteract possible dehydration. Would never waste a bottle of wine on a curry meal, far better to have water, beer or lassi ( traditional Indian yogurt drink). Talking of wine Lidl they have some wonder wines on sale at the moment in Cieza. A fairly local one, from Jumilla, Cinglano Jovan, a surprisingly full bodied red with lots of fruit taste. I find it hard to believe its only 1.11 euros a bottle.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Handing Back the Keys!

Over the last few years we have heard very many British immigrants and holiday home owners utter the words, "I am going to hand the keys in". What they were saying in essence was that they intended to walk away from the debt they owned a Spanish Bank. We found this incredible when we first heard it and so much more so now.

In our experience quiet a lot of people, prior to the current world economic crisis, came to Spain and took on mortgages that where ambitious to say the least. We personally have meet large numbers of our fellow countrymen who had a mortgage in UK and took on another here for a holiday home. Then there are  those who had no income here, often just vague ideas of running a business that would serve fellow Brits. The problem is just how many property management companies and the like were needed. Also how did you compete with those who worked illegally- and incidentally  using an unregistered management company can invalidate your house insurance.
Well given the problems of earning a living here, paying two mortgages  the current crisis you can see that cracks would appear in some peoples dreams. Ask yourself this though, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING.
 We are not being smug just count ourselves lucky we have leaned from our lives and our mistakes. You know what they say if you have never made a mistake you have never made anything. But really would you go to a new country, possibly unable to speak the language, without the were with all to live at least for the first year. Whats more would you take on a second mortgage in the hope that you will let the place for some of the time to pay it and that your job was secure. Secure jobs didn't they die out in 1969? 
Following on from the stories of people losing there homes, handing back the keys as many have, we have seen endless media stories about "hard done too" Brits. Some people it seems think its OK to up and walk away from their debt because it is in another country. But think about this for a moment Banks in Spain have 155.84bn euros of loans at risk of not being repaid. That is 9% of all loans.
Of course we are not saying that's all immigrants walking away for a mortgage debt. However consider the up roar there would be if it was happening in UK., this handing in the keys business and running off home.
We have listened to the argument that the Banks are at fault and of course their easy mortgage policy has been a contributory factor. But did all the people who took 100 and even 110 percent mortgages  do so with a loaded gun at there head, I think not. If large amounts of individuals are aloud to ignore their debt to Spain it will be very unfair indeed.
Spain has 1 in 4 unemployed and By 2010, one in four Spaniards were at risk of poverty
or social exclusion. We would say to all the defaulters if you think you are badly off living back in UK think again. For many life is hard now in Spain and I am not talking about not being able to go out for a meal so often I am talking about not being able to eat.We hope the banks will use the international laws now in place that enable them to pursue these debts across borders.
For all this Spain remains the place we want to call home and a country that we love.Here in Blanca despite the hard times local people remain cheerful, helpful and generous.  Property prices are continuing to fall and we hope attracting people who can afford to live the dream. that people will cut there cloth to match there purse. In our area alone there are many amazing bargains that with a little work will become perfect family or holiday homes. The banks are getting their acts together, the rubbish agents whose advice was always to buy big or buy two, we know we met them, have all but gone. The established local companies continue to match, people with houses that suit not only the buyers taste but also their pockets.

What we try to do is on a daily basis is rejoice is the good things whilst hoping for a change for the better,recognizing that no one country is to blame and that individuals contribute to any problem you care to mention, but, we can and should seek solutions that are within our power.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mayday in July

What seems to be an ongoing drama took a twist this week when Ryan Air received a denuncia following problems earlier this year. The controversial company have had an ongoing  battle with regards the landing procedure at the new Alicante terminal.  The latest incident pertains to one day in July this year.

The budget airline has had a number of mentions in the media here since July 26 when three of the planes were diverted from Madrid to Valencia because of storms over the capital.
it is alleged that  lack of fuel was the issue also that  the three pilots issued ‘Mayday’ calls,  All the pilots managed to land safely on Runway 12 at Manises Airport in Valencia. Ryan Air said that it had activated the alert when there was enough fuel left for 30 minutes. The  planes had to wait in a queue before they could land. The company claims that the three planes were flying in the stack over Valencia for 50, 68 and 69 minutes. Should the Airline be found culpable they could be be banned from landing in Spain for up to three years.
We await the outcome with interest.

Photo: The Plane, The Plane.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Watching the Mercury

Fridays temperature got the mercury jumping at 45 degrees. We are thinking this may have has something to do with the power cut that happened during the lunch/siesta hours.  Though it could have been the thunder storm that was rumbling around the hills around the same time.

Suzi was not happy with the heat and tried several of her regular siesta places. One fav usually wins and that’s the bottom shelf of the book case, the next  shelf up comes a close second. The shelves are made from terracotta bricks and have the same tiles as the floor so I guess they are pretty cool. If there was A bit, quiet a bit, more room I would be tempted to try it myself.

Its so important to be aware of food safety in this hot climate. We test the fridge temperature  on a regular basis.

A refrigerator temperature of 37°F and a freezer temperature of 0°F will keep your food from spoiling, without causing you to spend unnecessarily (usually the middle setting on the temperature knob).
To test the temperature of your refrigerator, place a thermometer in a glass of water, and check it the next day (or after the fridge has been closed for eight hours). To test the temperature of your freezer, place a thermometer between two frozen foods; then, check it after eight hours.

It has cooled down a little over the weekend and is mid 30s again today. You really need to get any jobs done in the morning though. Yesterday did manage to clean through the house, the hot Sahara winds bring plenty of dust. John gave the pool a clean too as always its looking fantastic under his care, John is known to keep the best pool in Blanca. One thing he cannot prevent though and can only remove are the tarantulas who decide to take a dip. It was not until our daughter spotted one  that John admitted he had been removing quite a few. Now I knew this was quite common when you live on the campo but was, until know at least, kidding myself it was not happening. Its a quick check of the pool every time I take a dip from now on.

More fires around Spain again this week. In the Alicante region two brave men lost there lives fighting a fire. In the Canary Islands around 4000 people have had to leave there homes. It goes without saying that the greatest care should be taken to avoid further tragedy.

Due to the hot weather progress on the building in the huerta has slowed, its still looking good though, well done you men!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Family get together

Last weekend we had a wonderful get together with family from Rojales. Joaquin's Mother, sister, nieces and partners came over for the day. Everyone enjoyed splashing about in the pool to cool off and generally a good time was had by all. Loads to eat of course with wonderful desserts made by Joaquin's sister. A particular favourite was brazo de gitano, a sort of Swiss roll cake but with much more cream in the centre, translates as arm of Gypsy's by the way. There was also a yummy apple slice and my cheese cake with caramel sauce went down quiet well as did the classic Victoria sponge with homemade apricot jam and cream filling. We all ate a large first course so a break in proceedings was  required before we hit the puds! What with pork, chicken, rabbit and Goat there was a lot to get through. What a lovely way to spend a Summer Sunday though, good weather, good food and best of all good company. Oh yes forgot to say Rocky had a jolly good time too.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Mr Blue Sky

Its a bit of a cliche that we Brits will always talk about the weather and you have to admit it is a good conversation opener. Given the UK summer,  and I use the term loosely, we get a bit nervous about telling you all how hot it is here and of course rain free! As UK residents we lived in the middle, the far end and the top of the country. We did undoubtedly have a lot more"weather" than we do here if you get my drift. Changeable is  the word for it I think. We saw the 76 drought in Cornwall, when we could walk on the dried out floor of the local reservoir and see the remains farmhouses and village. The winter that followed saw us snowed in. And who can forget the 87 gales and how badly wrong the met office got the forecast. So it seems there a lot to talk about when it comes to UK weather. What about Spain then? Is it always Mr. Blue Sky? Well its true we do get a lot of good weather here but the forecast is just as important and in some cases more so. The Weather in Spain brings its own problems as well as advantages. As with all hot countries we have to be aware of very high temperatures because of issues like fire risk and UV  levels. Aside from safety having an accurate forecast is very important with regards using and saving water. Although we use mostly grey water on our garden at the house we utilise the ancient irrigation system at our plot in Huerta. This means we contact the "water man" who will come along and flood the terraces for us. Its not only that we pay for the water we have, it also that it is an extremely precious resource. With  accurate up to date information on Spanish weather we will not water only to find it rains the next day. It also means that, for me at least, I can read the forecast and look forward to a nice overcast day! Well you don't want Mr. Blue Sky everyday do you?