March 2014 Archive

Spain’s New Traffic Regulations 2014

This coming July will be the 9th
anniversary of the introduction of a points based driving licence here in
Spain. Since then, road accidents have dropped by 65%, so no one can be
critical of that particular legislation.

Now more changes are planned.
Recently, the Director General of Traffic (DGT) stated that the purpose of the
new proposed changes was to further reduce the number of deaths and accidents
on the road.

As a consequence, several changes
concern vehicle speeds. On some segments, motorway speeds will increase from
120 to 130kph. By contrast, urban speed limits will reduce from 50 to 30kph.
It’s claimed the reduction of 20kph, will uplift the survival chances from 5%
to 50%, of any pedestrian involved in a car collision. The plan is to further
reduce the speed limit, where pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles are in
close proximity, and on secondary roads where some 75% of road accidents occur.

Predictably, opponents of the
government are voicing the view that the plans are little to do with improved
safety on the roads, but everything to do with raising revenue through fines.

However, some changes seem
completely sensible. For example, if a test of a driver shows a ”mere presence
of a drug” it’s guilty as charged and a large fine will be imposed together
with 6 massive points coming off the driving licence. There’s an increased fine
for drink drivers too. The introduction of saliva testing for both drug and
alcohol presence will ensure none of these idiots will be able to escape

Drugs and alcohol tests for
pedestrians who jay walk – not just those who are involved in a traffic
accident are on the cards. There are also plans for a total ban on speed camera

The new regulations are not all
about restrictions though – rules that restrict the right of cancer patients to
drive will be relaxed. Currently, doctors have to specifically support a cancer
patient’s right to drive and to liaise with DGT on their behalf. The plan now
is to relax such restrictions.

New rules will be introduced setting
out deadlines for the registration in Spain of foreign registered vehicles.
Authorities claim it is difficult to track down owners at present, making fine
collection almost impossible.

It’s likely that police will be able
to fine drivers for offences without having to pull them over. However, before
this change, and all the others mentioned, come into force – they will first
have to be published in the official state bulletin.

A final aim of the changes is to
promote cycling and the use of bicycles. To this end, children under 16 will
need to wear cycling helmets. Furthermore cyclists will be allowed to travel
below the minimum speed limit. This illustrates extreme naivity on the part of
the reformists. As a regular pedestrian and vehicle user, it’s possible to
claim with certainty that cyclists do not take any notice of existing road
traffic rules – like traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, so why assume
they will obey any new regulations. It would be interesting to see statistics
relating to accidents caused by cyclists riding 3, often 4 abreast!

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Posted by on 03/30/2014 09:37:00

11-M anniversary

Known in Spain as 11-M, it’s the
horrific terrorist attack that took place on March 11 2004. It was a whole
decade ago, but numbing pictures of the four blown-up commuter trains were
beamed around the world, making it an atrocity that remains indelibly in the
memory on an international basis.

Ten bombs ripped through 4 commuter
trains heading for Atocha Station in Madrid, killing 191 people and injuring
some 1900. Many injuries were life changing, and of course, the lives of
hundreds of families were shattered too. They still are, in all probability.

The bombings were indiscriminate,
and designed to inflict harrowing harm to the trains’ commuters. The fact that
the bombs were filled with shrapnel shows this to be the case. Although the initial
view was that it was the work of ETA, the Basque separatist group, a prompt
examination of all the facts and forensic evidence, revealed it to be the
handiwork of al-Quaeda inspired Islamist terrorists. Indeed, during the
subsequent full scale investigation of this outrage, the authorities have
arrested almost 500 suspected Islamic extremists. Latterly, 18 people were
arrested for the actual attack, though the 7 main suspects committed suicide in
early April 2004, by blowing themselves up in a Madrid apartment, killing a
policeman in the process.

Understandably, Spanish authorities
have been gathering intelligence ever since, from all sources, including
electronic, and have reported frequent references to "Al Andalus”. In Arabic
this means "to become green at the end of summer” and refers to the large chunk
of Spain that the Arabs colonized centuries ago. Understandably, Spain’s
counter terrorist services believe this means Spain is in the terrorist sights
once again, and the alert level here is at the second highest category – "a
likely risk of attack”.

A study by the Spanish research
facility, Royal Elcano Institute, revealed that 84 Islamists, all young men,
were convicted for attack plots in Spain between 1996 and 2012 – or died in
relation to such attack plots. Most of them were first generation immigrants
from Algeria, Morocco or Pakistan. This is a phenomenon that all UK citizens
will recognize. Clearly, whether we are UK or Spanish residents our duty is the
same. We have to watch out for behavior that is suspicious and unusual, and
report such instances to the authorities. If our suspicions prove, at a later
date, to be unfounded – that’s OK. It’s far better to thwart a terrorist
atrocity, than to allow it to happen through embarrassment at reporting a
suspicion, just in case it proves to be wrong.

The devotees of political
correctness, both here and in the UK, have a great deal to answer for. I’ve
chosen to live in this country, and so I have to respect the traditions and
culture in place here. I’m not entitled to demand changes to dress, language,
or religion. It’s about time we made it clear to Islamists, or any others
trying to bring about change by terror, that the same applies to them.

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Posted by on 03/17/2014 16:21:00

Who is the world’s largest exporter of strawberries

Who is the world’s largest exporter
of strawberries? Why, it’s Spain, of course. Some 285 thousand tons of fresh
fruit leave these shores annually, bound for European countries and the rest of
the world. Some 90% of this production is grown around Huelva, a city in
south western Spain, in the autonomous region of Andalusia.

People have lived in the area since
3000BC and Huelva claim’s to host Spain’s oldest football club – Recreativo de
Huelva, though it cannot be that old.

The strawberry industry is said to
generate in excess of 500000 thousand euros in revenue for the country, and
continuing strawberry success despite difficult economic times, has forced many
Spaniards to return to strawberry picking for their income. However, they face
stiff job competition from low paid immigrant pickers. Last year some 65000
women from eastern Europe and north Africa were hired. All pickers need to
beware though, because Japan has developed a strawberry picking robot. Its
special cameras detect the colour of ripe fruit, and pick accordingly.

There is a benefit for the women of
Huelva though. Apparently the divorce rate climbs at the end of the picking
season, when many of their men have become infatuated with attractive immigrant
pickers. The men will surely not be as enchanted with the robotic pickers of
the future.

So, which countries are the biggest
strawberry lovers? Well France is certainly well up the list. It takes around
75000 tons of fresh Spanish strawberries annually. Germany tops the list,
buying some 90000 tons each year.

In recent years, production has
increased by 18% annually, and this has encouraged Spain to look around for new
markets. A toe hold has been established in Asia, but business levels remain
relatively small with exports totaling just 6 tons last year. It’s a start
anyway. It’s a similar story with Russia and the Eastern Bloc countries. They
are starting to show interest in fresh Spanish strawberries, and undoubtedly
sales with gradually blossom there too.

Why are strawberries so popular?
First they taste truly wonderful, and they signal that summer’s on the way.
Then, they are very good for your body. Just one handful of strawberries
(around 9 or 10) provide less than 30 calories; 0.1g fat and no cholesterol;
less than 10g carbohydrates; oodles of vitamin C; 20% of the daily recommended
intake of folic acid; lots and lots of fibre; along with high antioxidant

A highlight of a trip to the local
market is to see stallholders set out their strawberry stocks, plied high on
plastic trays. Then with a small plastic spade, they fill a bag with the
quantity of fruit that you want to buy. Driving home with the strawberry smell
impregnating the car is the highlight of the morning, giving those taste buds
an intense work out.

If you have not read our blog
regarding Spanish Cherries this is also worth a read! Spanish

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Posted by on 03/08/2014 18:36:00

UKs Foul February Floods

Without doubt, the vast majority of
the Costa Blanca’s Brits will have been watching the TV news, or listening to
the radio, to determine the UKs worst hit areas. Most will have an association
of some kind with the Thames Valley, with the West Country, or with Wales.

To say we wished we were with you,
helping to fill up sand bags would be a whopping lie. Of course, there is
measureless sympathy with the plight of all those knee deep in water, with
property floating around the lounge. Of course, we understand that it must be
extremely depressing to have rain falling every day from grey/black skies,
without a single ray of sunshine to be seen.

But then, go to any café in Moraira
for a cup of coffee, and fellow coffee guzzlers will confess to being delighted
at no longer being located in the UK. They reckon they are blessed to be away
from all the problems you are experiencing. The temperature forecasts here in
Teulada Moraira for the final days of February are 14°, 18° and 16°. OK, that’s
not paddling/diving in the sea weather, but it does allow you to go for a walk
in a T shirt and light sweater. There are plenty of pleasant beach walks too.
Behind the fine sands and crystal clear waters of El Portet Beach is a long
walkway hosting 2 cafes offering morning coffee and a pleasant light lunch.
Then towards Moraira, near the entrance to Club Nautico, you’ll come across
Portixol Cove. It’s crystal clear waters make it perfect for diving and
fishing. In fact, Teulada Moraira can proudly point out that all its beaches,
spread along 8 km of coast, have been awarded the Blue Flag by the European
Union. Additionally, they have been granted ISO9001 (Certificate of Quality
System) and ISO 140001 (Environmental Management). These awards stem from
cleanliness, unbeatable water quality, and numerous convenient services and
activities available.

Continue walking south, and you’ll
probably hear shouts from the "Lonja” – the fish auction held every weekday
from 10.00am. Then, just by the side of "Castillo” you’ll find L’Ampolla, the
busiest and largest of the town’s beaches, with bars and cafes close at hand..
Go on for a few hundred meters or so and you’ll discover Les Platgetes, two
coves of clear waters that combine sandy and rocky areas, and there’s an
attractive promenade viewpoint, with gardens and a car park.

Your walk will now be interrupted by
cliffs that conceal L’Andrago Cove. Here the rocks and the depth of the
transparent waters make it an ideal place for diving and fishing. An attractive
viewpoint dominates the cove, and makes it one of the areas most photographed
stretches of coast.

The going continues to be rugged,
and reaches its highest point at Punta de L’Estrella. It’s called this since
its shape resembles the arm of a starfish. On the other side you’ll reach and
find Cap Blanc Cove. It’s the least well known of all the coves mentioned, but
it’s well worth a visit. Access from the Moraira/Calpe road is good, but it
would be sensible to park and proceed to the point on foot.

There are no destructive waves
crashing down on the beaches, so you may prefer to spend some time at sea. If
so, sailing or boat tours are available, along with outings in kayaks. If you
like sea spray in your face, then a few hours on a jet ski are easily arranged.

If you’ve had your fill of grey skies and rain, then
why not join us in Teulada
. Of course, to categorically promise no rain would be dishonest,
but it’s not likely to fall for long.

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Posted by on 03/02/2014 13:06:00