Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is personal view of Spain and Spanish life as seen by a Briton living in a small village in Alicante province.
The other tabs link to similar blogs when I have lived in other places. The TIM magazine is an English language magazine I write articles for.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cobbling it all together

Our palm tree is fit and well. You will remember that I was alternately worried about it bringing down power cables or being eaten by beetles. Well everything sort of miraculously self resolved. All I do now is spray it with some deadly chemical every six weeks and that's it. Just another routine job.

I bought the pesticide from the bodega. In their shop they sell all sorts of things for we horny handed sons of toil. Much later I was checking information that I'd heard on the local radio about the the beetle plague with the local environment office. I mentioned my spraying regime. The Park Ranger I was talking to, you could tell she was a ranger because she had those trousers that are baggy behind the knee and have lots of unexplained and apparently useless flaps, asked me if I had a certificate for handling pesticides. I don't of course. No problem she said. Nobody is going to bother you about it but really you should either do the course on how to spray safely or get a professional to treat your tree. As it stands I am apparently on the wrong side of the law if I spray. I remembered her advice when I saw a poster outside the shoe shop advertising a spraying course.

A few weeks ago I was shovelling down some breakfast longanizas and tortilla in Eduardo's when David asked me if I used any chemicals in the garden. He had heard that, from the beginning of October, only people who had been on the appropriate courses about handling pesticides, herbicides and similar would be allowed to buy them. His advice was to stock up before the law changed and that's exactly what I did.

Today as I drove to work I had the local radio on again. This time I heard how the containers for phytosanitary products have to be disposed of in an approved way and that not doing so is a serious offence with attendant fines. Now my guess is that they are talking about the farmers, who spray thousands of litres of the stuff on their crops and then dump the chemical tubs all over the countryside, rather than me and my one litre bottle. The principle, nonetheless, is the same.

It's obvious that something has been going on in relation to agricultural spraying. There was David's news, the conversation with the ranger, the news item on the radio and the training course poster.

To be honest, I have no idea how I kept up with things when I lived in the UK. I suppose it would be a mixture of things - an information leaflet here, a news item there and, maybe, a conversation down the boozer to top it all off.

We, we Britons, don't generally keep up quite so well here. We're disadvantaged because we live on the edge of mainstream society. Most of us don't watch the home grown telly, share the same WhatsApp messages, read the home grown press, live with a Spanish person or even have the same sort of  bar room conversations. Our news tends to be filtered by someone who understood the Spanish in the first place or who has heard it passed on in a sort of Chinese Whispers way.

A few years ago there were sweeping tax changes. Perfectly reasonably the Spanish media centred on those things that would directly affect most people - income tax changes, sales tax changes, pension and salary freezes. In amongst those measures were increased duties on air fares. To your average Spaniard the air fare news was inconsequential but to a retired Briton living in Spain on a pension paid from the UK, paying no Spanish Incom Tax but flying "home" every few months the key bit of information was simply not reported.

So, often, it's not the lack of information that surprises me it's the fact that we somehow manage to cobble it all together one way and another.

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