An explanation of the title of this blog...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

For the Foodies

Did you know you should be frying your eggs on a block of Himalayan pink salt and not in a frying pan?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Did the earth move?

Well, yes, it seems it did. Last Sunday morning at 6.40am, we were woken by a long low rumble and rattling windows. My first thought was that either it was an earthquake, or the other end of the house had fallen down. My second that there had been a major landslide brought on by the constant heavy rain. We got up and looked out into the surrounding darkness but saw or heard nothing to indicate calamity. As we had just come through two days of continuous thunderstorms, we put it down to an isolated overhead lightening/thunderflash, brewed up, and then made our way back to bed to read.

Later that day, I watched the TV news and scanned the teletext of the half dozen or so channels that carry it. There was no mention of an earthquake, just reports on the clear up operation. People we met commented on the early wake up call, but no one had any definite information, just that it had been noticed over a wide area, as far inland as the Jalon valley. I can now report that it was an earth tremor; 2.2 on the Richter scale, and although nothing like the 7.9 that hit Spain in 1954, it did its little bit towards shaking sodden soil into landslides and tumbling down (not so) drystone walls. time the windows rattle and the floor vibrates, as it has done many times over the last twenty odd years, I now know to visit the Goverment's Seismic information page and confirm there has been a terremoto.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Small pleasures

I have always preferred the book to the film and radio to TV. Is it because as a child I had regular access to books but not to films, and that radio was available from a battery driven Bush, but a TV hadn't been developed that ran on bottled gas? Is it that we always remember our first loves, even when we appreciate the new? Dan Dare, the Ovaltinies, David Davies reading the Would-be -Goods are all long gone, but the Archers carries on. As a young mother, my morning coffee was timed to coincide with Mrs Dale's Diary, and later, Waggoners Walk. The Archers kept me company as I prepared an evening meal. I have continued to listen whenever I can. Sometimes on shortwave, sometimes by satellite. For the past few years, I have received a daily email with a short synopsis of the previous night's episode, and over the past year have had broadband access to Listen Again on the BBC website when I remembered. Today's small pleasure was in the form of an email from the BBC, inviting me to sign up for a daily podcast of my favourite soap, delivered straight to my blogreader. What more could an exiled Archerphile ask?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Flood levels are falling...

...but it is raining again.

On Saturday the sun shone, and in the morning we were able to shop for food, but only at the supermarket at the bottom of our hill. It was just above the flood water, but we had to park on the road because the underground car park was flooded, and the entrance to the upper car park was inaccessible because of the amount of water coming down the Merced road. The dual carriageway from this point was under water, and we were told that the back road into town was also under water.

After lunch I got itchy feet and set off from home on foot, heading for the cliff top at Calalga. The road was blocked off to cars as the cliff had come down, but I risked ducking under the tapes and walking on the side away from the edge. I reckoned if the houses there hadn't fallen into the sea, the cliff would take my weight. There had been another cliff fall in front of the Esmeralda, but the Levante beach looked unchanged. The paseo on this stretch is between one and two metres higher than the beach and surrounding roads, so the worst of the flood water had all been kept away. It was still lying in all the beach access roads and in the ground floor flats of the low lying blocks.

Our Craft Club room was up to the chair seats in dirty brown water, but I am hopeful that our boxes are still dry, as they are up on the stage behind the music decks. I can't get in to check until the room is pumped out, and that could take a while as residential property is the first priority.

It was only when I walked past the port towards Casita Belga that I saw the full impact of what had happened. I am used to seeing the dual carriageway flood when it rains, but to see it covered in a thick layer of canes from a river bed over a kilometre away was a new experience. I tried the Avenida Europa, parallel to the dual carriageway, but only got as far as the back of the Residential home. The three ambulances that had driven past me on the Levante beach were evacuating the residents. Some were being taken to the local hotels, and some to residences in the neighbouring towns. The police had been called in during the storm to help carry those in groundfloor rooms upstairs away from the rising water. The road down the side of the Home was the main route for the water to flow to the sea from the flooded Salinas area. A bulldozer had driven a path through the paseo to help it on its way, and was in the process of turning the street into a canal by digging out a channel in the tarmac. The Roman villa, the fish sauce factory and the newly discovered cathedral are all under water, and no doubt a thick layer of mud. All the hours the international archeology students put in cleaning the mosaic floors gone to waste! The iron plates laid down over the channel were the only means of access between port and town unless you were prepared to do a long detour inland up to Benissa and then down again, or paddle your canoe.
Blogger is misbehaving tonight; it keeps rejecting photos, so I'm going to put some links in instead. I've put a few photos in a Flickr album,
but they pale into insignificance compared to those uploaded by conmipero. Here's the link; more graphic content, many taken on Friday when the "dry" river bed was overflowing its banks and piling up cars and canes.

I waited my turn to pass over the makeshift bridge and walked on to Playa del Bol. Water had flowed down the street at the side of the Neptune apartments and carved out a deep channel through the sand and deposited a deep tangle of canes. The Arenal beach was a sorry site. Small islands of sand between deeply carved channels. The bars and restaurants along the front were all inundated, but already everyone was hard at work, piling chairs and tables outside, shoveling mud and hosing walls and floors. Our friends at Las Olas had a harder job than most, as they are a foot or so below the level of the paseo, as are the other older buildings that were built before the paseo was built back in the eighties. One of the benefits of having a large extended family is that bucket lines are well manned! Abuela was sat up on bar stool directing operations.
As I got closer to town, I had to choose between wading through dirty smelly water on the paseo, walking on the top of the beach wall, or braving the canyons of the beach. I decided to walk along the beach, and in fact, walked in the surf most of the way, as the surface was fairly smooth there. The tricky part came when I neared the river. I had to climb over tumbled rocks and the remains of the beach wall to get back on to dry land, and then had to walk through a thick layer of mud until I finally reached the fountain. I wasn't sure how high the water had been at its height. La Nina was the worst hit, obviously, but I found La Pinta was in a worst state really, because it was full of mud, whereas La Nina was swept fairly clean by the force of the water. What of Santa Maria? If that had been hit as well, then the Post Office would have been under water, and as our box is now at the bottom of a stack, I might have soggy bills.....but no, the water had stopped short just yards from the Post Office. By now I had been walking for nearly two hours, so I walked back to the Kiwi and sat for half an hour with a bottle of water and the crossword. I made the decision not to walk back along the beach, but to try the back road. The problem was going to be how to get across to it. When in doubt, ask a policeman! He told me that if I made my way down the Avenida Europa as far as the Police station, that the dual carriageway there had now drained, and I could get across and keep walking inland until I hit the old Comix road, so that's what I did. That old road is quite a lot higher, well above the flood plain, so I didn't see water underfoot again until I had to cross the Merced road, still running with the surface water from Pedramala.

Sunday was again sunny. The clear up continued. Ministers, Regional Statesmen, and local politicians made flying visits. Helicopters hovered, heavy equipment from surrounding areas arrived, more army units brought more pumps. We stayed at home and watched it all on TV. More storms were forecast for Monday. The Valencian Goverment promised money, and the mayor announced that an office would be open first thing on Monday morning where residents could register their losses and put in a claim for compensation.

Monday dawned bright and sunny. Anne rang to ask if we were bowling, then Peter rang. If four of us turned up, at least we would have a game, and I had to go up anyway to put up the list for next week's competition, so the decision was made to bowl. I also had to arrange the lunch with Debbie, as Beryl seems to have resigned her position as Social Sec, but hadn't bothered to let anyone know! I only found out when I rang her to ask if she was playing in the Triples. I'm already doing two jobs on that committee and have no intention of taking on a third, so unless someone puts their hand up and volunteers, there ain't gonna be no Christmas Do!

Friday, October 12, 2007


The lightening started at about 8pm last night. By 9pm the thunder was very close. At 10pm the heavens opened, and it bang crashed and walloped down continuously until teatime today. If you look closely at the wrought iron gate in the picture, you will see 18" of water flowing through it. At one point the water had backed up enough to be flowing through the open bricks at the top of the wall. Luckily for us, the road slopes away from our gate and takes the water through next door but one's garden. He has had this happen before and has built a concrete channel to divert it around his pool so that it doesn't fill up with mud as it did the last time.
We have been fortunate. Calpe town has not. I have just watched a TV report showing the normally dry river bed completely overflowing its banks and flooding the lower part of town. Cars are under water and some are swept on top of others. The force of the water has swept away part of the sea wall. I have no pictures for you, as I can't get out to take them. The dual carriageway that leads to town is under water. Last time this happened we had to head up the mountain and take the high road to the other side of Calpe and then drop down into town. I don't know what tomorrow will bring. It is still thundering, but the rain is not heavy now. Good weather is forecast for tomorrow and Sunday, but more storms are heading our way on Monday. The TV said Calpe had received 400 litres of water per square metre in 24 hours. 1 litre of water per square metre is equal to a millimetre in depth.  That is one hell of a lot of water by the time it has run down the surrounding hills and gathered in the river valley.
I have to go and light some candles; the weather is closing in again and the power may go off again.