Saturday, October 15, 2016


Another Garden Plague

Joining the list of local plant-pests, a list that includes mortal plagues on the chumbo cactus (cochineal bug), the palm tree (palm weevil), and lesser plagues on the olives (olive psylla), pine trees (processionary caterpillars), bougainvillea (ant-bourne infections), eucalyptus (gall wasp) and so on, we are now host to the 'agave snout weevil' (here).
This insect, similar in looks to the palm weevil (picudo rojo in Spanish) is about half the size of its more colourful cousin, and it attacks several different types of agave.
The normal green acacia, the one that abruptly produces the dramatic century flower that towers over the rest of the plant, and then dies, grows in abundance near to Retamar in Almería and this has upset our friends the ecologists. These city-dwelling absolutionists are against what they term as 'invasive plants' (the conquistadores brought them back in their luggage) and they have vowed, at least until the funding dries up, to exterminate the above-mentioned plantation. If they succeed, there will be nothing left but the Almerian pre-desert scrub which seems to soothe their souls.
Whether or not they introduced the picudo negro into the plantation will perhaps never be known. The insect comes from Mexico, and its large, fat, white grub is the thing that is at the bottom of every decent bottle of tequila or mescal. Powdered, with salt, you lick it off your finger with a shot of José Cuervo Gold.
Inevitably, the picudo negro has found other things it likes to eat, including ornamental agave, the type that features in many local gardens. It kills the plant as sure as the picudo rojo killed the palm trees.
They may be in the yukka as well...
Later: the bottom picture after I started removing the dying agave: inside were several palm weevils as well (picudo rojo)! You can see both types, rojo and negro, in this picture.

Saturday, October 01, 2016


The British are Nuestros Amigos

Around a quarter of all town halls in Almería sent a clear message this Friday: 'We want our Britons to stay'. These town halls, collected together in a union, have little or no tourism: and much of their recent wealth stems from foreign, mainly British, settlers.
The Spanish authorities in general spend heavily on tourism, with a ministry and a large budget. They however allow nothing for 'residential tourism', as the phenomenon of foreign property owners is described. Small obscure interior towns often have no normal tourism, and are therefore much more understanding and indeed welcoming of foreign settlers than their coastal colleagues
The Mancomunidad del Almanzora is a union of 21 towns in Northern Almería. On Friday in a full plenary session, they agreed to give every support to the British residents to protect them, as they can, from the potential ravages of Brexit.

From the left: The president of the Mancomunidad, the mayor of Zurgena and councillor Jim Simpson. Three local mayors are on the right of the photo.

The institutional photograph after the plenary session. Andrew Mortimer is on the far right next to Jim Simpson. I'm in the back somewhere...

Specific points raised included health services, the right to work and to vote.
The meeting was held in the Town Hall of Zurgena and the subject was presented by local councillor Jim Simpson. Experts called to argue the case were Lenox Napier and Andrew Mortimer.
The President of the Mancomunidad, Antonio García, speaking for his fellow mayors, said he would take on the subject as his own.
There are an estimated 12,000 Britons living within the area covered by the union.
The Mancomunidad is now set to send out a notice to other town halls and councils suggesting they should join in the statement.

Jim, Andy and myself work for a group that seeks to give rights and protection to all ex-pats living in Europe - find out more at Europats here

Friday, September 16, 2016


The Cuevas Art Museum

At the top of Cuevas del Almanzora, in the old (and beautiful) part of the city located in the desert region of northern Almería, there's a XVI century castle. The castle houses a collection of modern Spanish art which was put together by a man called Antonio Manuel Campoy, who lived there for a period in the mid 20th century. The art is collected in half a dozen rooms, and includes paintings by most Spanish artists of the first half of the nineteen hundreds, including Tapies, Miró, Solana, Barceló and Picasso. There are also paintings from two famous artists from the Almerian Indaliano movement: Cantón Checa and Jesús de Perceval. Fascinating. The two euro ticket also gets you into the facing gallery with two collections of Goya prints - 'Los Disparates’ and ‘La Tauromaquia’, plus a modern art gallery and a museum dedicated to the local discoveries of the archaeologist Luís Siret.
Antonio Manuel Campoy was originally from Cuevas and was an acknowledged 'man of letters'. He died in Madrid in January 1993. 
Opening times are 10,00h to 13.00h and 17.00h to 20.00h Tuesday to Saturday, plus Sunday mornings. The museum does not allow cameras (Stock photo above).

Thursday, September 15, 2016


The German Visit to Garrucha

This fine looking pocket battleship, the Admiral Scheer, has been in Spanish Shilling before, with a report of her shelling Almería City in 1937, in a revenge attack for the ambush on the German sister ship Deutschland by Republican forces in Mallorca.
A few weeks earlier, the Admiral Scheer has startled the good people of Garrucha by dropping anchor offshore and sending a skiff into the harbour. From the surrounding hills, the local people, all supporters of the Republic and scared already of the progress of the Civil War, watched as the skiff berthed on the sand. A group of militia from the Revolutionary Committee, armed with pistols and sticks, warily approached the boat.
The Commander of the pocket battleship was Otto Ciliax, and his mission was to collect any German nationals that might be resident in Garrucha. After a merry Heil Hitler, his agents were escorted by the militia to meet the German consul (Garrucha was a mining head and had three consuls at that time: British, Dutch and German) Federico Moldenhauer was also the local pharmacist, and he told the Germans that he was perfectly safe and would stay in Garrucha, and that, by the way, here was a crate of wine as a gift for the Kapitan.
To this day, the Moldenhauer family resides in Garrucha, and the pharmacy is run these days by a descendent. 

From an original story by José Berruezo here.

Friday, September 02, 2016


We Hold These Truths To Be Self Evident

It seems like it only took a few minutes before the British ex-pats in Spain started to react in horror to the result of the referendum held in the UK in late June – look at that, they said: the bloody British electorate have ditched us.
We may not be Falkland Islanders, but we had still expected a slight bit of concern from our fellow-Brits trapped over there in the xenophobic atmosphere of 21st Century UK. After all, we did put in our time there alongside them at one point (before a sensible and well-planned exit to a far better place to live). We still have our British accents, our British pride and our British passports - although it looks like, in the not too distant future, only our accents will remain.
How could they have been so stupid?
Well, they were and we are stuck here in Spain (or Germany, or France etc) without a lifeline. We can hardly sell up and go ‘back’. Firstly, the high price of a home over in the UK would have us all ending up living in protected housing in Anglesey. Secondly, who on earth would want to live in a society that appears to be inspired by the early days of Nazi Germany?
They’ll have people wearing triangles on their jackets within a year.
So, over in Europe, we British ex-pats are in shock. Will the new British Prime Minister start laying new rules on the Europeans living in the United Kingdom? Work permits perhaps, or special new registration, or visas or quotas, or even, in certain cases (penury would be an obvious example), deportation? We worry because the European authorities, with their affronted electorate’s insistence, would do the same to us.
We have learned that we are little more than pawns in the politics of ‘Brexit’.
But remember this London: you really don’t want one and a half million indignant ex-pats all being sent back to your tender care. Imagine the reaction of your home-grown Nazi groups and their critical posts on Facebook!
Over in Europe, the ex-pats have formed a number of protest groups. Let us work together with the local governments, say some, or let us ask for a sense of reason from the British authorities, or let us search for protection from the ‘Brexit’ from the European leaders in Brussels.
Coverage of the ex-pats and their concerns has never rated column-inches in the highly partisan British media, but in Spain for example a group called ‘Europats’ has already featured in articles in El Mundo and Almería Hoy (here and here). Another, ‘Brexpats in Spain’, is introduced in La Vanguardia (here).
A full list of ex-pat groups against the Brexit can be found here.
From another age, from another fall-out with those who no longer wanted to be British, a quote: “The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I Am Not A Virginian, But An American!”― Patrick Henry.
Friends, I am a European.

Friday, August 26, 2016


The Almería Toros

With all the anti-taurino stuff in the local English press, it was good to go to the Almería corrida on Thursday to see some proper bullfighting. The stadium, built in 1888, was almost full (it holds 9,500 people).
Almería has a tradition of delaying the fight after the third bull so everyone can get out their beer and sandwiches. Or, as is the Spanish way, to offer them to anyone seated nearby.
The three toreros yesterday were a rejoneador (mounted bullfighter) called Hermoso de Mendoza, and the two matadores, Enrique Ponce and David Mora (the latter is substitution for the Peruvian sensation Roca Rey who was bashed by a bull in Málaga ten days ago).
The bulls were all around 450 kilos and born in February 2012.

Everyone came away content.
El Mundo report here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016



We went to the pretty little town of Frigiliana in the hills above Nerja (Málaga) for a short break last week.
I had looked for a hotel with a swimming pool and found one prominently displayed on a Google search for the town. I booked for three days and after a remarkably short drive - the motorway between Almería and Málaga now finally completed - we were soon checking in. The hotel overlooks the old part of the town, a maze of narrow streets and pretty views - a sort of gentrified Mojácar, and the two pueblos are in fact both members of the 'Beautiful Towns of Spain' club.
The clerk at the desk told us where everything was, including 'nuestra piscinita' - which sounded ominous - our lil' ol' pool. Turned out, the swimming pool was more of a baño, with a sign displayed saying that the maximum occupancy was, erm, six. That's a pretty good photo of your pool you've got on the Internet, guys, it looks Olympic!
Frigiliana is great, and compares well with Mojácar - except for the obvious lack of a beach. The architecture is richer, while the planners have been careful to not allow any eyesores. Their arches, openings, incongruities, charms, courtyards and passages, stairways and public gardens, are all in perfect shape and blend harmoniously with their neighbours. There are no nick nack shops but rather, a number of boutiques (the former, by the way,  have their stock delivered by mayoristas - wholesalers, who sell them any old schtock that sells well, while the latter must go forth to find their wares - or indeed make them up themselves).
OK, there's a fly in the Frigiliana ointment - a walley trolley does the rounds with three little gaily painted carriages drawn by a fake train engine built in Italy. The vessel is driven apparently by one Rafael (the hotel clerk may have been a relation).  Cheesy.
The public looked a little wealthier than the usual Mojácar guests, or to put it another way, they had evidently spent more on their tattoos and - as is presumably always the case, were happy to show them off to the rest of us. At least, the spider web elbow fashion was less visible there,  but nothing I saw made me want to rush into a parlour, drunk, to disfigure myself for life in a burst of low self-esteem.
The food was good, with a variety of restaurants, including a Polish place called Sal y Pimienta with a good selection. The ethnic waiter - heavily tattooed in the best Post-it style - was  mildly disapproving as I ordered a Polish vodka (good stuff).
Since the agency that, via Google, asks me for a rating for their hotel, I should probably mention the dysentery I caught from something on my visit - maybe the Polish sausage, or perhaps the suspect breakfast tortilla back at the lodgings. Whatever it was, it's taken four days of high temperature, aches and a spectacular number of visits to the dunny to overcome.
Still, that's travelling for you...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?