Welcome everyone Sandra in Spain - FlamencoI’m Sandra Piddock, and I’m a freelance writer, dividing my time between Spain and the UK. I’ll write about anything that interests and/or challenges me, and I like to focus on the lighter side of life whenever possible.. Read more
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Around Algorfa

Algorfa is my home. It’s a lovely pueblo, with lots going on. This page is all about what’s happening around Algorfa, and the surrounding areas such as Benijofar, Benejuzar, Almoradi, Quesada and Rojales. Let me know if you need something publicising, and I’ll do what I can.

Lo Crispin Old Boys trounce Algorfa Young Guns!

On a hot June Morning, the moment everyone – well almost everyone – in Algorfa had been waiting for arrived. The Mayor, Manuel Ros Rodes, challenged the Lo Crispin Walking Football team to a match against the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) to kick off the annual Fiesta Fortnight.

While Algorfa’s finest – or rather those who could be persuaded to show up on the promise of a barbecue – battled it out on the pitch, the WAGS (wives and girlfriends) from both sides encouraged their teams to give of their best. And although the players outnumbered the supporters, what the WAGS lacked in numbers they made up for in decibels.

Lo Crispin’s captain Mike Cooper – aka Cooperman – was awarded the honour of refereeing the game. It was a big ask, given the budding Neymars who threw themeselves to the ground at the drop of a hat, and the general flouting of rules by kicking the ball higher than regulations allow and the sheer speed of the ‘walking’ pace. Still, it was a compliment to his refereeing skills that Cooperman only elicited the occasional comment of, ‘árbitro, ¿dónde están tus gafas?’ (Where are your glasses, ref?). And nobody questioned his parentage either, so all in all a Good Show by the Ref.

After a hard-fought game and some very bad acting in the penalty box, the Lo Crispin men emerged the victors, beating the much younger Ayuntamiento side by 6 goals to 2. I mentioned to temporary Captain Red Ray that it must be a change for him to be associated with the winning side, being a Manchester United supporter. Tears filled his eyes, and he said my remark was way below the belt. If only Ray had been the drama coach, the lads may well have picked up some extra penalty shots, because it was a pretty convincing performance.

Chatting to Cooperman at the post match barbecue, his pride in his team’s efforts was palpable. This was the third match between the Lo Crispin boys and the Ayuntamiento, and the second victory for them. When you consider that the Ayuntamiento side had two players from the local league team, and the minimum age for the Lo Crispin lads is 55, it certainly was a creditable performance.

Lo Crispin Walking Football team practice every Monday and Thursday from 10.00 am in the Algorfa sports stadium, as well as playing in matches around the southern Costa Blanca. Check out their Facebook Page for more details, or drop into the Lo Crispin Tavern to find out more. If you’re not yet 55, ask if you can be a guest player, like young Josh – 15 – who played a blinder. It’s all about having fun in the sun with our Spanish neighbours, and you’re guaranteed a good time with the Lo Crispin lads. See you at the next prestige game.

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Blossom time in Algorfa

Here in Algorfa, spring has definitely sprung, and it’s nothing to do with the date, or the clocks ‘springing forward’ an hour. It’s the bursting out of blossom everywhere that confirms that the long, cold winter is giving way to the balmy days of spring.

It does get cold here in Algorfa, although at least we haven’t had any snow this year. Last year, on 18 January, the Torrevieja area experienced the first snowfall almost in living memory. The last time snow fell on Algorfa was way back in 1927, so everyone – including Yours Truly – was out there taking photos and videos for posterity.

On 11 March, we headed off in the motor home to a rally, and when we returned home 5 days later, our garden was a riot of colour. There was beautiful pink blossom on the nectarine tree Tony had grown from a stone, and our orange tree – which had yielded the last of its fruit just a few days before we left – was bursting with blossom. It looks like we’re in for another bumper crop later in the year.

Paddy loves to run in the orange grove at the bottom of our road, and there, the fragrance of orange blossom is heady and intense. I now know what mind-blowing truly means. On top of all this, the jasmine which climbs lazily from our garden to the terrace is in full bloom, and again, the fragrance is overpowering, especially at night.

The jasmine plant was a moving in present from Glenys and her husband John 10 years ago, and we’re so pleased that she is staying with us and can experience her everlasting gift in all its glory. Every autumn Tony cuts it back ruthlessly, and every spring it rewards us with even more beautiful blossoms. He’s taken a couple of cuttings, which have also flourished, so we now have a wall hanging of fragrant white flowers cascading from the terrace ceiling down into the garden.

One of the few things I miss about life in the UK is the spring flowers – the daffodils, crocuses and primroses, springing up in the hedgerows, or flourishing in carefully tended gardens. Granted, we have several varieties of daffodil growing in the garden thanks to Tony, but it’s not quite the same.

That said, spring in Algorfa has its own special beauty, and it’s wonderful to step out onto the terrace in the morning. We can smell the orange blossom and jasmine as we enjoy our freshly squeezed orange juice, made with oranges from the very trees that are now assailing our senses with the fragrance of their blossom. And we know that this wonderful aroma promises a bountiful harvest in the autumn.

Walking up to the Red Chilli for lunch last week, it was breathtaking to see the beautiful splashes of yellow on the many mimosa shrubs on the new road from Algorfa to La Finca. So we have our own beautiful yellow spring flowers right here. I’ve seen mimosa in Devon and Cornwall, but not in such profusion, since it’s happier in hot climates.

Blossom time in Algorfa is truly magical. Try walking instead of driving, so you can see and smell the flowers in all their glory. And take a camera with you, to remind yourself how wonderful spring in Algorfa can be.

Football in Algorfa – A game of two halves for all ages!

For a small town with a population of around 4,000, the boys in Algorfa are pretty obsessed with their football. The town boasts a modern, state-of-the-art stadium that would be the envy of a few English league teams, and there’s a game going on most days, whether it’s the up and coming boys, Algorfa F.C, or the Lo Crispin Mens Walking Football Team.

If you’re wondering what walking football is, it’s football for the over 55s, and there’s no contact or running involved. It’s still a serious workout though, and not for the faint hearted. The Lo Crispin team has been around for two years now, and is a major part of the sporting community in Algorfa. They play on Mondays from 4.00 pm until 5.30 pm and on Thursdays from 10.30 am until 12.00 pm. Then they retire to the Tavern Bar Lo Crispin for refreshments and post match analysis.

The team are proud to display the town crest of Algorfa on their shirts, and grateful to the Ayuntamiento for allowing them to use the pitch free of charge. After being welcomed into the bosom of the sporting community, the boys felt they wanted to give something back, and they got the chance to do this recently when there was a boys’ football tournament over the Easter break.

Lo Crispin Mens Walking Football Team financed the trophies, and Committee member John Pratt presented the trophies on the night. Mike Cooper – aka Cooperman – who writes the match reports and tries to keep some semblance of order on the pitch said the team felt privileged to have the opportunity to help encourage youngsters to achieve in the sport. ‘We welcome the chance to give something back to the community after they’ve been so supportive of the first-ever walking football team in Algorfa. Who knows, in 50 years time, some of these boys may be playing for us!’

So lucky to be in Algorfa in spring – or any time, for that matter!

If you’re a regular reader and you’re sick of hearing me say this, I apologise, but it’s true, so I’ll say it again. I am so lucky to live in Algorfa. I’d never even heard of the place until we were shown the home we bought back in 2007, yet now I can’t think of any place in the world I’d rather be. Well, sailing the Carribbean with George Clooney might come close, but even then I’d rather he made the trip to Algorfa, just in case the Carribbean was a let down.

It was brought home to me yet again when I took Paddy for his customary jaunt in the orange groves. As I walked sedately after my mad mongrel, the smell of orange blossom filled my head.Judging from the quantity, the bees are going to feast royally this year.

Mount Escotera was looking sharp and clear too, with a few clouds assembling over the peak. I love this time of year, when ‘My’ mountain isn’t obscured by a heat haze, and you see different colours depending on the direction you approach from. I have literally hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of the mountain, and every one is different. I never tire of the view, which is just as well, since we can see it from our garden and terrace.

When Paddy had exhausted himself chasing rabbits, we headed back for home at a much slower pace than on the outward journey. Just as we climbed the incline above the groves, I spotted something in the middle of the road. It looked suspiciously like a snake, and indeed it was, so I approached it with caution. Incredibly, in the 9 years we’ve called Algorfa home, I’ve never seen a snake locally, although most of the neighbours have. This one was around a metre long – or 3′ 3″ in English money, and I had no idea if it was venomous or not, so I kept a sensible distance. Luckily Paddy had spotted a lizard enjoying the last of the sun under a nearby bush, so I was able to get a couple of decent photos without worrying about either or both of us becoming snake target practice.

I’m not brilliant at identifying snakes, so I posted the pics on Facebook, and it was identified as a Ladder Snake, which is apparently harmless and also a protected species. It’s native to Spain, Portugal and parts of France and Italy and it gets its name from the markings on its back, which look like the rungs of a ladder. Apparently they grow to around 160 cm, so the one we saw was probably a teenager in snake terms. Good job Paddy was so fascinated with the lizard, because protected species or not, there might have been one less of them if he’d spotted it.

I love the fact that a simple walk with Paddy can bring me so close to Nature at its best, and yield such great photo opportunities and material for the blog. So I’ll say it once more – I am so lucky to be in Algorfa in the spring. Okay, I’m missing the hedgerow flowers and green fields, but my adopted home has its own brand of spring beauty. And I bet George Clooney would agree with me!

Chinese New Year – Nan Kin Garden style!

I’m a Brit in Spain – the name of the website kinda gives that one away – and while I love every aspect of the Spanish way of life, I’m always up for something different.  I’ve always considered myself multicultural, and I love going to restaurants with other national cuisines, as well as pitching up at various  fiestas. Our corner of Spain is home to many nationalities, so there’s often something different for you to find out what makes other countries tick, and you don’t have to go very far to do it.

Last year, we went to our favourite Chinese restaurant – Nan Kin Garden in Benimar – and stumbled on their Chinese New Year celebrations by accident. Not realising what we were missing, we just ordered our normal Menu del Dia, but as we saw all the food coming out, together with entertainment, party packs and free raffle tickets, we vowed that in future, we would be part of the whole Nan Kin Garden New Year experience. So, on Friday, we pitched up with our friends Glenys, June and Larry, who are over in Spain until March.

As usual, we got a great Nan Kin welcome. After the most important bit – ordering the drinks, which was doubly important, as for once I wasn’t driving – we were served with our appetisers. Appetisers? It was as much as I normally eat for a meal. Sesame toasts, spring roll, barbecued rib, pork won ton and a delicious crab thingy. Then we got a much needed break before the main course was served.

We were a bit concerned about that, because it was advertised as ‘duck on a sizzling platter and sizzling family with steamed vegetables.’ I wondered which unfortunate family had been sacrificed to feed us all, but thankfully it was just a ‘lost in translation’ moment. The sizzling family consisted of king prawns, chicken and beef in a delicous sauce with a lovely selection of vegetables. All this was accompanied by rice and noodles, and there was enough to feed 10 people, let alone the 5 on our table, but we did our best with it.

Once the food was out of the way it was time to party, and to help us along we each got a party bag, complete with hats, masks, garlands, blowers, streamers and balloons. Some people rather creatively turned the bag into a hat, and there was all sorts of silliness going on – probably helped along by the wine included with the meal.

Colt 45 provided the entertainment. They’re a husband and wife team, and he’s a wizard on the guitar, while she has a stunning voice – think Elkie Brookes meets Amy Winehouse. They sung and played all sorts of music, and really got the party going and connected with the audience. If you’ve never seen them before, you’ve missed something very special. All the diners received a free raffle ticket, and we managed to win two bottles of excellent red wine on our table. In fact, virtually everyone in the place got something, but even if you didn’t, you didn’t leave empty-handed, since each couple had a bottle of cava to take home, after the midnight firework display.

All this worked out at just over €20 a head, including a tip for the hard working, friendly staff, for whom nothing was too much trouble. All in all, it was a lot more festive than the regular New Year celebration – and a lot cheaper too. A great night was had by all, and we can’t wait to do it all again next year. Maybe we’ll see you there!

Another first: Fashion show at the Centro Rural de Algorfa

What comes to mind when you think of high fashion? London, Paris, New York, Milan, Algorfa? Yes, Algorfa, because on Friday 21 October, there’s a big fashion show at the Centro Rural, Montebello. That’s the old railway station, which since August 2015 has been a bar and social centre, hosted by Therese and Mike. They’ve done a lot for charity, raising funds for Reach Out Torrevieja, Help Vega Baja, Hope for Podencos and local people who needed special help.

However, charity begins at home as they say, and the roof of the Centro – which is constructed from the original timbers of the old railway station – needs a lot of expensive work. When the building was restored, the timbers weren’t treated properly, and nesting eagles have also availed themselves of the Centro’s famous hospitality, so it needs around €1200 spending to make the building safe. It belongs to the Ayuntamiento of Algorfa, but no funds are forthcoming from there, so Therese and Mike have been hosting various functions and events to raise the money for the repairs. There’s over €900 in the kitty, so hopefully the fashion show will bring in the remaining funds, and give the regulars an evening of fun at the same time.

If the rehearsal is anything to go by, it’s going to be a great night. I can’t be there as I’m in La Manga, but the promise of pink cava to put the models in the mood is almost enough to make me rethink my weekend plans. Fittingly, the rehearsals took place in the roof space, so the models’ minds were kept focused on the purpose of the fashion show. Josie and Mervyn will be compering the evening. Josie is a compering virgin – it’s the first time she’s done anything like this – so she’s relying on Mervyn to inject a bit of humour. I asked if he was going to keep it clean, and he said he hoped not, so those of a nervous disposition may want to stay at home or bring ear plugs along.

Eight models – real women of all shapes and sizes – will be showcasing around 16 outfits for all occasions, which have been donated by regulars at the Centro. There are lots more separates, dresses shoes and handbags, but if the models wore the lot, they’d be strutting their stuff well into the early hours of Saturday, so there’ll be a sale rail available before and after the fashion show. Several of the outfits are courtesy of Marion and John from El Raso, who had the sad task of clearing out their neighbour’s house when she lost her battle with cancer, and everything on sale is new or virtually new, and of excellent quality.

Nothing is being left to chance, because this is the first time Therese has put on a fashion show, although she has organised lots of charity events since the Centro opened. Nancy – whose cousin was a model in the 1960s and has done this sort of thing before – is in charge of collating the details, making sure each outfit is labelled with the model’s name and in the right order for the catwalk. The models need to negotiate the steps from the loft down to the red carpet, but escort Dave will be on hand to make sure they don’t go base over apex in their high heels as they make their way down to their eager audience.

Ann and Jo will be providing costume jewellery and other accessories for the models, and they’ll have a selection of jewellery and bags for sale on the night. If you can’t make it, there’s a permanent display of their stuff in a cabinet at the Centro. Caroline of KCI beauty products Guardamar will be doing make up and titivating the models’ hair. She’s also donating baskets of beauty products as raffle prizes.

John – whose wife Linda is one of the models – is in charge of lighting. It may be Therese’s first fashion show, but it’s going to be a night to remember. As well as the raffle, the Centro is doing football scratch cards with a €40 first prize, and avid readers can take advantage of the special deal on paperbacks. The exchange rate may be in freefall, but at the Centro, €1 will buy you three books to help you while away the winter evenings. Mike will be serving a selection of tapas, so there really will be something for everyone. Call in at the Centro to book your table, or just turn up before 7.30 on Friday evening and enjoy the fashion show and help raise much needed funds for the roof repairs. Hasta viernes, amigos!

Another first for the Lo Crispin and District Cultural Association: The Tavern’s Got Talent

Since its inception in 2010, the Lo Crispin and District Cultural Association has provided regular entertainment for local residents and much-needed funds for local charities. President Colin Ranson believes that fund rising should also be fun, so he and the Committee try to come up with novel ways to socialise and raise money. This has resulted in a number of ‘firsts’ such as a car rally, Christmas carols with real artificial snow, 4 day getaways, and now a talent night.

On Friday 20th May, the Association held its inaugural The Tavern’s Got Talent contest at the Tavern Bar,Lo Crispin. Forget Simon Cowell, our judges were much better and kinder – which was a relief, as I was one of the 8 acts performing. However, they did have formidable looking hooters – and that was just the men! Still, Colin assured us they’d be used in the best possible taste. 102 people paid €5 each for a hot buffet and the privilege of choosing the first ever winner of The Tavern’s Got Talent. The judges were just for show, the audience decided who would take home the first prize of €100. Around another 30 people were on the outside terrace, so it was a packed house that settled down to watch the best – or maybe the bravest! – of Algorfa’s talent.

Andy James of TKO Radio valiantly tried to bring order to the proceedings, as the acts did their stuff. Wes, Alisha, Niamh, Christine, Vanessa, Maggie and Yours Truly sung various popular numbers, with Alisha singing a song in Russian, accompanied by her husband and son on the keyboard and tambourine. However, all semblance of sanity left the building when the Whistling Duo – aka Colin and Mike Cooper, or Cooperman as he’s known in the Walking Football team – took the stage. How to describe their act? Well, you had to be there. Suffice to say that when Niamh Ellen caught a glimpse of them as she launched into a moving rendition of My Heart Will Go On, the poor girl’s heart almost stopped. At just 17 years old, she’d never seen anything quite like it before, and neither had anyone else in the room for that matter. ‘Dance’ is a woefully inadequate description for what they did to the music of Bridge on the River Kwai. but it did involve body painting and dustbins, and proved – were any proof needed – that the Association’s members are up for anything, as long as it’s fun and it brings in the funds for charity.

Voting was close, but Maggie Driver’s enthusiastic rendition of Blanket on the Ground took the €100, with Niamh Ellen a close second. She’s a real trouper, although her mother Therese fears the sight of Colin and Cooperman in all their glory may have put her off men for life! All the acts benefited from great support from the audience, and Maggie raised the biggest cheer of the night when she donated her prize money to the charities.

A handsome profit of €363.75 will be shared between the Association’s chosen charities for 2016 – the Torrevieja School for Special Needs Children and the Torrevieja Alzheimer’s Association. I call that a pretty good result, and a great night was had by all. The Lo Crispin and District Cultural Association certainly know how to put the fun into fund raising. If you’d like to be part of it, head along to the Tavern Bar on Friday lunchtimes between 12.00 and 2.30 pm and chat to some of the members about upcoming events, or check out their lively Facebook page. You’ll be guaranteed a warm welcome – but watch out for the Whistling Duo!

Just call me the Walking Football WAG!

I love being Sandra in Spain. I get to do lots of interesting things that, in the normal run of things, I wouldn’t have access to, and last Thursday was no exception. Our neighbour Dean is keen to keep fit, and he was telling me how much he enjoys walking football. That’s a new one on me, because most of the football I’ve seen includes running for the ball, rolling around on the floor in the hope of getting an undeserved penalty, sliding into the tackle and diving to make the catch. But walking? I had to see this for myself, so I headed along to the Algorfa Stadium with Larry and June in tow. Larry is a keen football fan and Spurs supporter of many years standing, but walking football was a new one on him, too.

Algorfa has had a walking football team for around a year now. Mike Cooper is the organiser, and the team – which is based at the Lo Crispin Tavern – meets on Monday afternoons from 4.00 until 5.00 pm and Thursday mornings between 10.30 and noon.

Briefly – and stating the blindingly obvious – in walking football, you walk rather than run. One foot should always be in contact with the floor, the ball should never go above waist height, and it’s a non-contact sport, so sliding tackles are off the menu. The game is played in 15 minute sessions, and if you’re in need of a break, that’s fine, because there’s no limit on the number of substitutions. It all makes for a more slower paced experience than the beautiful game we know and love, but don’t think it’s an easy option. While you don’t need to be fit – or even know how to play regular football – to take part in a walking football match, you can expect a serious work out.

However, you do need to be over 55, because walking football is designed with the older gentleman in mind. There’s no upper age limit, as long as you want to get fit and have fun while doing it. You’ll also need a sense of humour, because it’s a laugh a minute with these guys, both on and off the pitch. Most of the team members have nicknames. There’s Chicken George, whose real name is Steve, but got his nickname because he demolishes so many chicken wings at the post match feeding frenzy. Then there’s Big Chris and Little Chris – only Big Chris is little, and Little Chris is big. Lino Keith got his name because he spends so much time rolling around on the floor, while organiser Mike Cooper is known as Cooperman. I didn’t quite have the nerve to ask where Tom Tit’s nickname originated!

For the spectators – or WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends), as the watching ladies are known – walking football is just as much fun as it is for the players. The lads won’t win any tournaments with their soccer skills, but they do have a great time while they work out, and this communicates to the crowd – well, the four of us, anyway. After the match, it’s back to the Lo Crispin Tavern for post match refreshments and analysis. Mine Host David is very much involved with the walking football, although he’s far too young to participate. He generously sponsors the team shirts, and provides the post match nibbles, which include industrial quantities of chicken wings for Chicken George. I got in quickly to try one, and I have to say I can understand the attraction.

The Lo Crispin Walking Football team don’t take themselves too seriously, either on or off the pitch, as is clear from the post match reports, circulated by Cooperman after every game. Our friend Larry got a special mention – and his very own nickname, as this excerpt shows. They were a man short, and Larry got talked into a game, even though he’s just shy of 79 and hasn’t been near a football in over 30 years.

For the second quarter there appeared from the watching crowd of four a gent who said he could see the unfairness of the lop-sided teams that he felt he ought to make things a little fairer. This gent was Larry the Lamb and at 78 years of age made Chicken George (56 or so he tells us) look a bit slow.
Larry the Lamb although not match fit tried hard to get the Pure Whites back in contention and made a few jinxing runs down the wing, trouble is this was while the ball was on the other side of the pitch!!!! It was like a Lamb to the slaughter.

As you can see, you don’t need special skills or equipment to enjoy walking football – just the right age requirement and the right attitude to have fun and get fit. If you want to see what it’s all about, head along to the Algorfa Stadium on Monday afternoons or Thursday mornings, or email Cooperman on supa.coopa1992@gmail.com for more details. You don’t need to live in Algorfa – if you turn up, you’ll be made very welcome. WAGS welcome too!

Lo Crispin Residents Cultural Association – A great place to meet new friends in Algorfa!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Algorfa may be a little pueblo, but it has a great big heart. The people are friendly, and they like to help others whenever they can. That may involve raising money for good causes, or just extending the hand of friendship to those who need it, and organising social events to get people together and enjoying themselves.

One group that has been working at bringing the residents of Algorfa together to make the most of life in Spain since 2010 is the Lo Crispin Residents Cultural Association, which is based at the Tavern Bar, Lo Crispin. I caught up with President Colin Ranson and his lovely wife Beryl at the group’s annual Carol Concert, just before Christmas. The event has become something of a local legend, with the TAABS Charity Singers leading the carols, mulled wine, minced pies, and even snow, although being the Costa Blanca, it’s not the real deal. Still, it made it seem a lot more like Christmas – which can be a bit challenging in a country where Christmas is not commercialised and you can still get wall to wall sunshine and temperatures of 25 degrees Centigrade or more in December!

The locals dress up in their finest festive gear, and a great time is had by all. So much so that this year, for the first time, the Association decided to hold a Christmas party after the carols, with a hot buffet and live entertainment from Cherry K and Rebecca Holt. Cherry and Rebecca are tribute artistes, and great entertainers. They did a set of Christmas songs each, followed by an Andrews Sisters tribute, Tina Turner, the Blues Brothers and Abba. With a hot buffet including lasagne, meat pie, pizza, popcorn chicken, mini beefburgers and sausages, it was a fantastic evening, made even better by the friendliness of everyone, especially Alison, Jayne, Gail and Julie, who were on the table next to us. Half way through January, Tony still hasn’t recovered from the ministrations of these lovely ladies!

If you’re thinking you couldn’t afford to keep up with that kind of social life, even in Spain, you’d be wrong, because all anyone had to pay for on the night was drinks from the bar, and a raffle ticket or two to benefit the Torrevieja Alzheimer’s Association. That’s one of the Association’s two charities – the other is Elche Children’s Home. More of that later. Members of the Association also received a free drink on arrival.

Although you don’t need to be a member to attend social events such as the Carol Concert, the Summer Fair and the various coach trips and weekend breaks that are organised through the year, it makes sense to join, because you’ll be among the first to know about the planned functions. That’s a Good Thing, because these events are really well supported. The 110 tickets for the Christmas Party were soon snapped up!

There is no membership fee, but the Association does ask for a voluntary annual donation of €5, which goes to Elche Children’s Home. Since the Association was set up, the members have raised €6000 for the home, and for the last two years, they’ve also taken a coach load of chidren to Terra Mittica in Benidorm, treating them to lunch and ice creams. Most of the money for this comes from the Lo Crispin Summer Fair.

The Association currently has around 200 members, but it’s always happy to welcome new faces. There is a regular meet up at the Tavern Bar between 12.30 and 2.00 pm each Friday. While the get togethers are all free and easy, Lo Crispin Residents Cultural Association is a legal, registered charity, which focuses on two main objectives:

1. To provide enjoyment for  all members by organising events throughout the year, including coach trips for days out, weekends away and short breaks. They also organise other events such as fund raising fetes and fiestas, car rallies and other special events for members.
2. To raise much needed funds for local charities. This year’s charities are the ELCHE CHILDREN’S HOME and the TORREVIEJA ALZHEIMERS ASSOCIATION.
The programme for the year comes out in late January, and you can find out more about the Association and get an update on events at their website. Or check out their lively Facebook Page. On February 28th, the Association will be holding a Car Rally and Treasure Hunt. At just €10 per person, including a delicious roast lunch, it’s set to be another fun-filled day at the Tavern Bar, Lo Crispin. Why not head along and join in the fun? You don’t need to live on Lo Crispin to join the Association or go along to their events. It’s open to anyone who lives in or has a holiday home in the Algorfa area. See you there soon!

The inauguration of the Belen in Algorfa

So, it’s confirmed then – the Belen in Algorfa will be inaugurated on 19th December. Right now, there is no confirmation of the time, but watch this space. After all, there are still two weeks to go as I write this, so there’s no real rush!

One thing is certain, the inauguration will be another well supported, happy Algorfa event – more than likely with a few unscripted moments which will give everyone a good laugh. First prize surely in the ‘You Couldn’t Make It Up’ category must go to the goats who were part of the live Nativity production in 2012. They stole the show by staging their own Nativity, aimed at their own kind of production – or maybe that should be reproduction! Luckily the embarrassed owners of billy and nanny managed to separate the prospective parents before too many sensibilities were offended.

We were very impressed with the Nativity itself – the 10 year old angel who was narrating it really did have the face of an angel, accompanied by a voice like a foghorn. He rattled through his lines at a rate of knots, his speech punctuated by the occasional ‘Vamos a ver!’ That meant everyone had to follow him around the village, stopping to collect a suitably virginal Mary and a rather bewildered looking Joseph on the way. The procession was accompanied by men playing guitars and abuelas flourishing castanets. And yes, it was noisy!

Baby Jesus was ‘born’ on the church steps, there being a significant lack of stables and mangers in the Plaza Espana. There was no messing about with dolls – this was a real live baby, if a little on the large side for a newborn. Elf and Safety always takes a holiday in Spain, which is one of the many reasons we love living here.

After the safe delivery, it was time to inspect the Belen and search for the caganer, or the defecating shepherd. If this wasn’t a family friendly blog, I’d probably just say shitting shepherd and have done with it, but I’m behaving myself for once, so I won’t.

Anyway, Algorfa’s caganer is much more traditional than in some places. Here, it is just any old common or garden shepherd, but some Belens boast caganers who look decidedly like one of the local politicians. I love to look for him, but I love it even more when I hear the squeals of delight from the village children which herald the discovery of the shepherd and his download.

I’m in England from 7th to 16th December, and by the time I get back, I’ll have had enough of the rampant consumerism that has been building to a crescendo since the kids went back to school in early September. However, the inauguration of the Belen will put me right back in the mood for Christmas – because whether you are religious or not, that is where it all started. Allegedly.