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Write from the Heart

In my blog I will write about whatever has my attention on the day I write, sometimes it will be funny, sometimes packed with information that I hope will prove useful for those living in Spain.

Moors and Christians Villajoyosa
21 July 2015

Guess What's Happening in Villajoyosa. I say guess what is happening in Villajoyosa, because you won't find the Moors and Christians Fiesta advertised outside of the town.

Our tourist information office only got the printed information out last week. If you don't know what's coming you would most likely not pop in and ask for it.

I don't know if it is deliberate, and the town does not wish tourists to know about what is happening, or they are not good at publicity.

On July 24th Villajoyosa will begin its week-long Moors and Christians Fiesta. Every day for a week there will be something going on.

If you go to the Tourist Information Office in the town you will be able to pick up a leaflet with the times of these events.

Villajoyosa's Moors and Christians Fiesta must be one of the largest and most spectacular in Spain. So, why oh why then are we not shouting about this from the rooftops?

Well I suppose if they are not going to tell you what's going on and when, then I will have to tell you myself.

Friday July 24th at 9 pm is the Inauguration of the Artistic Lighting. Following this is the official music bands parade. 

The parade will start off from the Santa Marta Association headquarters. The parade will finish at the Finca La Barbera dels Aragones in Barbera Park. 

This event will end with a spectacular mascletá. In other words, they will let off the loudest firecracker that you have ever heard called masclets.

You will need to cover your ears if you are within a 100 metres of this event as the sound will vibrate your bones.

If you are in town anyway, this is worth seeing, but if you are only going to come for a day trip, then it wold be better for you to come to either the Christian or Moorish parades or if you like early starts, the Desembarco itself.

 

Saturday July 25th starting at 9.00pm (this is Spanish time) is the Christian Parade. The parade starts off on Calle Colōn you will not be able to miss the route as you will see the crowds lining the streets. 

Bring plenty of water with you this parade can go on for over three hours. The Troops costumes are spectacular. Among the Christian troops are Catalonians, Pirates, Smugglers, Axemen, Sailors each troop dressed resplendently. 

Each Christian Troop marches accompanied by its own brass band. These Brass bands are amazing and it is an awesome sight to see each of the troops marching in time to the sound of the music. This is definitely one of the highlights of the Fiesta.

 

Sunday July 26th starting at 8.00pm is the Moorish Parade. The route is the same as the one the Christians took. It starts an hour earlier because there are more Moorish troops than there are Christian troops. 

The costumes are once again spectacular. There are troops of Beduins, Berbers, Riffs and many more. 

If you attended the Christian Parade you will notice the music the Moors march to is a different rhythm.

If you are only going to be able to get to one of these parades this is the one not to miss.

 

Monday July 27th  Starting at 8.00pm on the beach. The pirates and smugglers are surrounded and a battle takes place on the beach. 

In spite of the resistance from the Christian troops they reach the castle. The Parley takes place at the castle at 8.30.
At 9.00pm the Moorish troops are presented to their King. The procession starts at the crossroads of  Calle Barranquet
and the Avda Pais Valencia. The procession moves down to the central beach.  where the Bedouin's Parley takes place.

Tuesday July 28th it is the Desembarco.  It begins just before the dawn at 4.45 AM down on the beach with a light and sound show with pyrotechnics. Here is a link to one of my videos of the Desembarco https://youtu.be/HqN9b_lp6OY

The Christians who have set up camp on the beach fire off their blunderbusses which are unbelievably loud. 

The Moorish fleet sails into view just before dawn breaks. The Moors disembark and swim to shore where hand to hand fighting takes place. The Moors win and they take over the Castle.

At 8.00 pm A big battle between the Moors and Christians and the Christians take back the castle. 

Following the retaking of the castle by the Christian troops, a thanksgiving service to our town's Patron Saint Marta takes place at the Parish Church, just follow the crowds. 

They fire off a twenty-one cannon salute (cover your ears if you value your hearing) to mark our Patron Saints Day.

 

Wednesday July 29th 11.30 am. Starting from in front of the Santa Marta Headquarters there is a procession. The procession goes to the Parish Church where at 12 am there will be a Church service in honour of Santa Marta.

At 8.00pm the Solemn Procession takes place through the streets of the old town.

Later that night at 1.00 am so really, the early hours of the 30th of July, there is a firework display on the beach.

 

 

Thursday July 30th 8.00 pm Children's coach parade through the street of the city centre.  If you have children with you, bring a carrier bag because they throw sweets by the handful at the watching crowds. 
 

Friday July 31st one of my favourite events at 1.00pm the Paella Competition will be held at the marketplace where paellas are prepared in the traditional way and cooked over wood fires. 

If you would like to see more photos of the Moors and Christians Fiesta, or need photos for your blogs, please visit maggs224.com and help yourself.  
 
Our photographers have full unlimited access to all of the events of the fiesta and we will endeavour to upload the photos on a daily basis to keep you up to date.

 

 

 



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EWC World Base Jumping Championships in Benidorm
10 June 2015

If you like to watch extreme sports then The Gran Hotel Bali was the place to be on June 5th and 6th.

 

The Gran Hotel Bali is the tallest hotel in Europe. Bali played host for the 8th consecutive time to the Annual EWC World Base Jumping Championships.

 

Base jumping is when base jumpers wearing a parachute or in some cases a wingsuit jump from a fixed structure of some sort.

 

Base Jumping is sometimes written as B.A.S.E. Jumping.

 

Written this way, B.A.S.E. is an acronym that stands for the types of fixed structures that they jump from.

 

B - Buildings (such as the Gran Hotel Bali)

 

A - Antenna

 

S - Span

 

E - Earth

 

It seems that when it comes to extreme sports Base Jumping is the most extreme of all the extreme sports.

 

The Gran Hotel Bali is the tallest hotel in Europe at 186 metres high. But the Bali still doesn't look to 

me that it is high enough to launch off from.

 

It just doesn't look high enough for a parachute to inflate in time to safely deposit you back on Terra firma in one piece.

 

Jumpers were not even launching themselves from the roof of the hotel. Instead, they were jumping from the observation deck. At a height of 160 metres, the observation deck is even closer to the ground than the roof.

I know that I said that 160 metres didn't  seem high enough to jump from. But I would not even be able to stand on the launch platform like these guys never mind jump off of it. 

When you view the 160-metre launch pad from the observation deck, you can get some idea of  how high 160 metres really is. Notice that most of the Jumpers seem to be wearing the extreme sports type of video camera fixed onto their helmets. 

No doubt they will be able to re-live their jumps at leisure from the comfort and safety of their armchair as many times as they want.

Obviously, 160 metres is high enough because though these jumpers may be crazy they are not suicidal. They would not jump at 160 metres if their chutes could not open fully in time to safely deposit them back on Terra firma in one piece. 

Though watching them jump you can see there is precious little wiggle room. Looking at the photo you can see that the chute drogues are pulling the chute out of its pack almost at the same time as they jump.

 

This is the target that the jumpers are aiming at when they launch themselves off the building.

Not all of them manage to hit the spot as you can see from this next photo.

 

 

Much to the surprise of the hotel guests who were     swimming in the pool at the time, this jumper lands     in the hotel swimming pool. 

Though taking into account how hot it is here on the  Costa Blanca at the moment, the pool might well have been his intended target.

My son has just informed me that when this jumper was a couple of hundred feet from the ground the jumper shouted "I am going for the pool." So it seems his aim was not off after all. 

 

 

Two jumpers Dean Potter and Graham Hunt died recently while practising this extreme sport. This just goes to show how dangerous and extreme this sport really is.

 

The organisers and the jumpers taking part in the World Championship would be paying tribute during the championship to these two young men.

 

No matter how many precautions you take there is no getting away from the dangerous nature of this sport.

 

In 2013 a 22-year-old Austrian girl called Maria Steinmayr had a close brush with death. A closer brush with death than I suspect even a dare devil like her would want.

 

When Maria launched herself off the Bali her chute failed to open correctly. What happened next could have easily resulted in her death.

 

Fortunately Maria, whose failing parachute threw her against the side of the Bali, had a miraculous escape. If you want to see how lucky she was you can. It is on YouTube follow this link http://dld.bz/dGjjn

 

When you watch dangerous sports such as extreme base jumping you just cannot know what will happen next.

 

Extreme Base Jumping is extreme for a reason. What these jumpers do is extremely dangerous.

 

The difference between a good jump and a fatal accident can something as simple as an unexpected gust of wind.

As if this sport was not dangerous and extreme enough already, there are always some that want to take it one step further.

Some base jumpers, I am sure that they were not official competitors, were climbing onto the roof of the Bali's outside lift.

Guests arriving at the hotel from the airport stood open mouthed on the pavement. Wondering just what these young men were doing climbing onto the roof of the lift.

These  unofficial jumpers rode on top of the lift roof to the top floor and launched themselves off the roof of the lift. The photo on the left is one of these unofficial jumpers floating down towards the pavement in front of the Bali.

These feats of daring drew gasps from the crowd of guests watching from 186 metres below.

 

On Friday, there were only nine jumps between 7am and 8 am. This was because the gusting wind. After the wind got up the organisers suspended further jumps until the wind died down. Later that day at around 8:30 pm only one more jump was made.

 

They call people who take part in extreme sports adrenaline junkies. I don't know what kind of high they experience, nor am I ever likely to either.

But just watching them can get the spectators adrenal glands pumping too.


There were 30 competitors from around the world taking part this year's championships. The winner was Maurizio Di Palmer from Italy who is usually known as Maury.

 

The photographs to the right show Maury leaping from the launch platform. If you look above and to the left of Maury you will see the small DJI phantom drone camera which was recording the jumps.

How neat is the new technology available today? 

 

Winner of the 

2015 EWC World Base Jumping Championships 

Hotel Gran Bali Benidorm

  

 

Maurizio Di Palmer

 

If you would like to see photographs taken at this year's championships at the Bali then please go to maggs224.com

 

On the maggs224.com website, you will find around 180 photographs of the base jumping.

 

The maggs224.com website has a photo archive full of free to use photographs for your blogs and websites. There is even a special section for Spain.

#2015 #EWC #World-Base-Jumping #Championships #Hotel-Gran-Bali #Benidorm



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Danger in the Campo and Town
13 February 2015

It is that time of year again when danger can take you unaware. Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened to us today.

 

When we lived in the Campo we were vigilant and always on the lookout for the appearance of the nests of the Pine Processionary Moth. We were vigilant  because there were pine trees all around us. As soon as we spotted the nests appearing we knew we had to walk our dog well away from their nesting places.

 

 

 

The Caterpillar of the Pine Processionary Moth has fine hairs along each side of its body. These hairs are poisonous to humans and can be lethal to your pets.

 

If someone gets any of these hairs on their skin they will develop a rash like the one gotten from stinging nettles. The discomfort is also like the sting of a nettle but more persistent and the effects will last for much longer.

 

If it is your dog that sniffs the caterpillars or even sniffs or walks where the caterpillars have been, then the situation is much more serious. The hairs of these little caterpillars can kill your dog if immediate action is not taken.

 

We were walking our dog in the town this afternoon and because there are very few Pine trees in the town we don't have much trouble with the caterpillars. We don't get to see many of these pesky and dangerous little critters or their nests where we normally walk our dog, and we were not expecting to see any around town today.

 

 

But on our walk this afternoon we came across just a few of these caterpillars on the pavement. Unfortunately, we didn't spot the caterpillars before our puppy Bosun did. Bosun investigated the caterpillars with his nose, sniffing round the caterpillars. Fortunately my husband noticed immediately that our little puppy had sniffed the poisonous caterpillars.

 

 

We picked Bosun up and took him  immediately to our Vet's surgery. It was siesta time so the vet was not there but we rang the emergency number and told him what had happened.

 

The vet said he would come immediately so within fifteen minutes of it happening Bosun was seen and treatment started.

 

Within ten minutes of it happening the puppy was already drooling and feeling sorry for himself. The vet washed out our puppies mouth and flushed out his nose. The vet gave Bosun three injections, and hopefully we have caught it in time for our lovely little puppy to recover.

 

It is clear that our puppy Bosun's mouth is very tender and painful. Our vet suggested that we try to give Bosun some cold yoghurt to help bring the swelling down.

 

We tried, but unfortunately, the pain and discomfort from Bosun's swollen and inflamed tongue has made it impossible for him to lap up the yoghurt.

 

The vet told us not to try and feed Bosun anything solid as it would be too painful for him. We all feel so helpless and it is so distressing to see him whimpering and drooling and in such a sorry state.

 

Bosun is just four months old and so he is still only a baby, and just like a baby he has no idea what is happening to him and he is very distressed. It is very distressing for all of us, the vet has done all he can for little Bosun, now we just have to wait until the pain and the swelling goes away. I hope that it does not take long.

 

Please, please be very vigilant and look out for these dangerous critters. Please, don't let your pets get anywhere near where they are or where they have been. These hairs remain dangerous even after the caterpillars have shed them.



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Cowboys in Spain
26 June 2014

When we lived down in Andalusia, we knew that many of the so called spaghetti westerns were made in that area in the 1960s.

 

One of the most famous is the Clint Eastwood film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. For Brits living in Spain it is wise to be aware that some of the cowboys are still alive and well and living in Spain today.

 

Like their namesakes of the past there are the good the bad and the ugly. What has prompted this post is one of these modern day cowboys. This particular cowboy makes his living fitting and supplying satellite TV.

 

This cowboy has been fitting and sorting out my friends satellite package for about five or more weeks. Due to his shoddy workmanship and inferior products, my friend has not had what she paid for.

 

The cowboy charges top of the range prices, but gives anything but top of the range workmanship.

 

I heard that today he turned up and sorted out the latest of a series of problems and for the moment my friend has satellite TV. My friend had waited over a week without any satellite TV for this cowboy to come.

 

The set-up was not cheap and the service was terrible, he was full of promises that most of the time he failed to keep. Some of this was obviously down to the fact that he had a large part of the money up front before he started the job.

 

Unfortunately it was only afterwards that my friend has found out that many of our friends had similar problems with him.

 

Some of these other people have problems with the cowboy's work that are still going on. So when you look for someone to do a job, don't think that just because they are British they are honest and are going to do a good job for you.

 

Just because they are British does not mean that their products will be better than products that a local tradesman can fit.

 

It is sad that there are Brits out there that have no scruples when it comes to getting you to part with your hard earned cash. They also have no problems when it comes to doing as little as they can get away with doing.

 

If you are going to get a job done by anyone, ask them for the names of some of their satisfied customers so that you can get in touch with them. After all his customers will most likely be fellow Brits too. If he is worth his salt, the satisfied customers will be only too happy to recommend his work.

 

It is not a good idea to give most of the money up front before the start of the job. If you pay up-front they have no incentive to make your job their priority.

 

Unfortunately my friend found this out the hard way, along with a lot of other Brits. We know a couple of people who are also waiting on this man coming back and sorting out problems with systems he has fitted.

 

Remember just because someone is charging a lot for the work it does not mean that your are bound to get a good job. Paying a lot also does not guarantee that you will get the best products either I know that my friend hasn't.

 

The cowboy came today and got her system up and running, but I feel that this will not be the last of her problems with her satellite set up.

 

I truly hope that I am wrong and that from now on it will be trouble free, but I doubt she will be that lucky.

 

The photo is of me and my hubby in Bryce Canyon it is the closest thing I have to a cowboy photo..



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Moving to Spain a journey of discovery
07 June 2014

 

The photography above is of me getting my feet wet in the Med for the very first time, hard to believe that it is in January.

 

When you go to live in another country, you will encounter many new things, some expected and some not. Some of the discoveries will please you, and some others, well not so much.

 

You will read over and over again, that living in Spain is not like being on holiday in Spain, that is because it is not. The location may be the same but your experience of it will be different. Why will it be different, because you are living here now and you are not a tourist any more.

 

This journey of discovery that you have embarked on is not just of a new country and a new culture, but it is also a journey of self discovery.

 

Before my husband had said that he wanted to move to Spain I knew next to nothing about Spain. Well nothing except the stereotypical things. Things like Bull fights, flamenco, Benidorm, and that you can't drink the water.

 

I picked up that last little gem about the water from a cousin who had been to Benidorm in the sixties. My cousin had ended up with diarrhoea and sickness, which she put down to the drinking water.

 

I had never set foot on Spanish soil, and here is my husband deciding that this is where we should move to live. As you may imagine I was not too keen to move to country that I had never been to, or knew anything about from a first hand perspective. Add to this the fact that I had no desire or inclination to visit Spain back then.

 

My husband had been to Spain in the sixties when he was in the Royal Navy, and he assured me that I would love Spain. His assurances left me unimpressed because they were based on a matelot's fond memories of runs ashore at Dirty Dicks in La Linea. I insisted that I at least visit Spain before we made that decision.

 

I got my way, we booked a cheap two week package in Benidorm in January so that I could see Spain. We left East Midlands airport at around 4am. It was cold dark and sleeting heavily when we sprinted across the tarmac to board the plane to Alicante. As I sprinted towards the plane I wondered what I would find when I landed in Spain.

 

We arrive in Alicante at around 6.30 am, it is funny what things make the first impressions, for me it was the number of people smoking. This was over ten years ago, so things have changed, but back then, it seemed like everyone in the airport was smoking. When I say everyone, I don't just mean the people using the airport. When we went to the desk of the company we were having our hire car from, the people working there were smoking too.

 

Later I would see Policia Locale smoking as they directed traffic, or on the beat, I even saw people on motor scooters smoking.

 

Anyway I digress, immediately we walked out of the airport, we had to start taking off the layers of clothing this was so not the UK. It was a bright sunny day not a cloud in the sky and we decided to take the coast road to Benidorm.

 

As we drove along the coast road, I kept getting glimpses of the beautiful blue Mediterranean. I had never seen such a beautiful coloured body of water in my life. We had not been on the road more than ten or fifteen minutes, and I turned to my husband and said OK, you are right, I love it, and I can live here.

 

The reality of Spain challenged all my preconceived ideas about this wonderful country. I soon realised that I had let my misconceptions keep me out of a country that I now love.

 

I was not prepared for the beauty I encountered in this country.

In the ten years or more that we have lived in Spain I have encountered many things that I love about this country, but also I encountered some things that I did not. In my next post I will tell you about one of these unpleasant things that I encountered and that you need to beware of.

 

The photograph below is us relaxing in a cafe / bar on Benidorm beach after visiting properties for sale in the surrounding area.

 

 

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SAD
27 May 2014

Just over ten years ago we moved out to Spain. Like many people we had seen lots of TV programs extolling the the virtues of  a place to live in the sunshine.

Of course it can be very appealing when it is a cold December day and it is dark already half way through the afternoon. Many in Britain are said to suffer from SAD, and my husband was sure that he was one of them.

For those of you who don't know what SAD stands for it is Seasonal Affective Disorder. Now I don't think that he really had this disorder, it was just that the early dark nights depressed my husband. 

Let's face it most people can find the British winter somewhat depressing at times. Why? Because it is cold grey and dark outside in winter and it is depressing sometimes. However, those that suffer in reality with SAD are affected much more severely than just feeling a bit down.  

But, it was enough for us to know that he didn't like the long dark nights and and short dismal days of an average winter. We talked a lot about the places we saw on TV and the people who had sold up everything and moved to their place in the sun.

Seeing how they got on, and where they lived, made moving to a warmer climate very appealing. So, after watching lots of  TV shows which followed people finding a place in the sun, whetted our appetites.  We decided that if we were going to do this then now was the time in our lives to do it.

We came out to Spain looking for the sunshine and found so much more than we ever dreamed we would. Some of the things we thought we wanted would turn out to be not how we thought they would be,  but other things were unexpected bonuses.

We came out looking to pursue one dream but found another instead. I am not trying to tell people to move to Spain, what I am trying to tell you is that it is good to have a dream, and it is good to follow that dream. 

Even when life turns out not to be how you expected it to be, all is not lost. You will find many new things and experiences along the way, that will make the pursuit of that dream worthwhile.

You may think that I am writing this from a place that has been plain sailing, but nothing could be further from the truth. 

We encountered the perfect storm. In this storm three or four things, came together and adversely affected our business. One of these was the current economic crisis.

We lost our home and our business and for the first time in forty odd years we are living in rented accommodation.

Do I regret moving to Spain, not a bit of it, would I do it again if I could go back, yes I would in a heart beat. Would I do things differently, you bet I would.

Do I wish I had stayed back in the UK with a house that we had paid for, no I do not. I love my life out here, I love the way of life out here, and I am glad that we dared to follow our dream.



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Vodafone.es Users Beware
23 May 2014

Are you a Vodafone user? Have you noticed that your credit is disappearing much faster than Usual? If so I might be able to shed some light on what is happening to your mobile phone account's credit.

 

If you are one of the many unsuspecting Vodafone.es users you might be a victim of what I can only call a scam. Many Vodafone.es users are receiving text messages and are unaware that they are paying for them. For each message that they receive they are paying a premium rate each time one of these messages arrives on your phone.

 

The company Mogevilxion telecom s.l are the company behind the premium rate texts that are eating up your phone credit. I believe that they get hold of your your mobile phone number after you download one of their many apps.

 

This company have buried somewhere in their small print, that they have your agreement. By downloading one of their apps you agree to receive up to 36 of these messages per month.

 

These are the premium rate telephone numbers that this company are using. As far as I know you will receive from only one of these premium rate numbers. The premium rate mobile telephone numbers are

795045 795103 795820 797049 797216 797410

These premium rate text messages are charged to your mobile phone account at the premium rate of € 1.45 including IVA per text. When you downloaded one of their many apps you agreed to receive up to a maximum 25 messages a month. There is a maximum total cost that you will pay as they have capped at €36.25 per month. This capping just shows how caring and considerate this company is, yes this is an attempt at sarcasm.

 

The company that is doing this is based in Madrid and they are doing nothing illegal. because they have your permission. It doesn't matter that they buried it in their fine print. Buried or not, it stipulates that by downloading the app you agree that they can do this.

 

It is important that you understand, that even if later you uninstall the app, you will still receive their text messages. If you have a contract phone the first you might know about this is when you get your bill and it is €36.25 more than you thought it would be.

 

If like me you are a pay as you go user, as soon as you put credit on your phone the text messages start to arrive on your mobile. You will get up to three of these text messages a day until it has eaten up your credit or reaches their self imposed limit of €36.25 for the month.

 

The text messages contain a link to wap.games2u.es and you cannot stop receiving them unless you do the following. Send the word BAJA to which ever of the numbers you receive the text messages from, or send as a reply to one of the text messages.

 

Once you have sent this message you should then immediately receive a reply from the company. I think that you will be pleased to know that at least this message is free. This message will say that you have successfully unsubscribe from their service.

 

Most other mobile phone companies will block thisompany's texts to your phone. These other mobile phone companies will also refund money taken from your mobile phone account by this company. It is only Vodafone.es who refuse to take any responsibility or action for the money taken from your account.

 

Try contacting Vodafone.es and they tell you that this is your problem. As far as Vodafone are concerned, you agreed and subscribed and if you want it to stop you have to sort it out yourself.

 

You will have to find all the above out by yourself. They offer no help at all, this cavalier attitude has angered many of their mobile phone users, but they seem not to care. Vodafone know that most of their affected users are unaware that they have subscribe to receive premium rate texts.

 

Vodafone know that this is sharp practice by this company, but they don't care. Well I care and so I wanted you to know what is happening and also to tell you how to stop it from continuing to happen.  

 

I have a comment below from Colin that I think will help those that have been ensnared by this sharp practice and because not everyone reads the comments I am placing his comment here in the blog so that readers of this blog don't miss out.

 

"Hi, A friend of mine had the exact same problem with Vodfone here in Spain and wrote a very stern letter to the CEO of Vodphone UK and guess what! She did get a reply and all the money refunded as a good gesture that was taken from her account via this horrible means. I think a lot more expats should be writing to the UK version of Vodafone ES and pointing their absolute disgust and how they are being treated. " 



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