Happy Three Kings

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No sooner has Christmas and New Year finished when along comes another excuse for Spain to close down. The Three King’s holiday starting on 12th night is now in full swing and I hope everyone’s got plenty of provisions in because its party time again. The BBC recently reported that an upsurge in confidence is expected in the Spanish property market over the next six months.

Let’s hope so as although 2010 had many property sales taking place they were often at discounted prices. As the weather remains glum in the UK people may decide a warmer climate is for them. With so many people nowadays being able to work from anywhere with broadband connection it’s tempting to be based here in the relative warmth of Almeria.

 

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Years ago in Britain I attended agricultural college as at the time I was an apprentice gamekeeper. The best part of my 2 days a week was not castrating young bulls and definitely was not the working on the college pig farm but… Tractor driving.

We were all taught how to respect agricultural machinery as it takes no prisoners. Basic maintenance was taught, with ploughing, hitching and trailer towing all practiced. The reason for this thread of thought is because I recently read in this newspaper that an 81 year old Antas man was killed when his tractor fell on him. Yes, 81 years old!

In the UK all tractors have a roll bar or safety cab so that in the case of a tipping over the driver is safe.

Naively I expected that the same safety rules are applied across Europe but apparently not in Spain.

We were taught at college that if the tractor does tip then stay in the cab, hold on tight and NEVER jump off. Here in Spain no such thing. Tractors are often seen being used without a safety cage and often by a decrepit old farmer. Never plough straight up and down hills, in fact never drive a tractor this way in case of brake or power failure, follow the contours instead. In Spain as can be seen on any hillside once it’s been ploughed, straight up and down they have been.

There is a special class of tiny car on the roads which we all have been stuck behind at some point. They are called Noddy cars, are often coloured red, have tiny 250cc motorbike engines in them and travel everywhere at a snails pace. These cars are generally for older people that have never taken a driving test!?! In fact for the same type of people aged 81 that drive tractors along the roads. A Spanish compromise just like the ever present mirage on the horizon, yes the smoking ban!

Come July and the same ancient looking farmers get out that most fiendish machine, the mechanical almond sheller. Anyone who has never had a peek inside one of these most devilish of contraptions really should have a look making sure it is disconnected. Row upon row of thick steel cogs, hungrily waiting for a careless scarf or piece of clothing to be trapped and pulled inside, dragging the wearer with it. It’s scarily reminiscent of the devices seen at the Museum of Torture in Cordoba.

The problem is that often people do not treat the machines as dangerous pieces of machinery and whole families happily work beside these contraptions with no regard for safety. Fag in hand and tiny children all wanting to have a turn at the machine.

A few weeks ago I wrote that the highest peak in Almeria was Calar Alto at 2168m. I was reliably informed by a reader that in fact the highest peak is called El Chullo at 2609m situated near Bayarcal and Punto de la Ragua in the far west of Almeria in the Sierra Nevada. I found a website www.senderosdealmeria.wordpress.com which has walking routes with maps and photos.

What could possibly go wrong when reading precise route instructions on a mountain peak in Spanish? Never fear the whole website can be Google translated into English.

 

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