An Englishman Abroad

Well, just had a really nice few days working in Spain. I have a place in a very Spanish town called Cuevas Del Almanzora about 15 minutes from the coast near Mojacar. I have been getting it ready for sale, visiting estate agents, hardware shops (which are far more interesting than it sounds, you can get anything from guns and hunting knifes to kettles and keys). Lots of cafe’s and even had a juice (not a real Jason Vale Juicemaster type juice I am afraid, it does not appear to have reached remote Spain just yet), in the local ice cream parlour. Lots of fresh fruit and salad. Got a few really nice runs in as well. 35deg on a couple of days kept them down to 5 or 6 miles but on thursday it was a little cooler and so ran off into the mountains for an hour and half. Just lovely and wild campo. All in all a very healthy and enjoyable few days. I love Spain a lot, it is such a nice place to be, or at least real Spain is, not the English enclave’s that exist over there.

I am now thinking of going over for a month just before both Cricklade and Swindon half Marathons and just train in the mountains around Cuevas, it should help with the hills around here. Nice.

The only thing that spoilt it was the trip back. The flight from Bristol was three hours late due to a fire/electrical fault at Bristol. Then as the aircraft was approaching Murcia airport it got diverted to Alicante because (Murcia) got closed down to allow a faulty (on fire) military jet to land. They eventually brough the aircraft back from Alicante to Murcia and we left 4 hours late. Got to Bristol ok and got to passport control. Now up till this point I was ok as they were all events that could not have been foreseen, so was still pretty chilled. Untill the girl at passport control told me and a few others to go down a certain que even though we had e-passports. They would then not let us back into the que for e-passport scanning. Well you will just have to go to the back of the que again. Well I decided enough was enough and launched into a tirade of poor customer service lack of concern to the customer etc etc, all the other passengers were cheering, it was great. The Border Control staff were absolutely awful in their attitude to me and a few others and not apologetic at all, I am also talking about the supervisor who I insisted they get out of her office. Of course I got absolutely nowhere so I am going to put in an official complaint. Just a sad end to a nice few days.

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Sunday Project – No More

Well no photo of Sunday anymore. Why? I have been carrying out quite a bit of research and despite it being only the 4th Sunday of the year I have decided to bin it because it is not providing any benefit to me or anybody else. Stats are showing very few hits on those posts and to be honest I can understand why. There is no theme and is therefore completely random and unless I am on another assignment then I am just taking an image just for the sake of it with very little thought behind it. With very little information around the photo, why it was taken etc then why would anybody actually be interested in reading it.

What I should be doing more of is explaining things and why I do them, how I do them etc.

So as a start, I did a small photo shoot this morning. It was only mug shots for the person to send off as part of his profile as part of a competition. It was carried out in a gym, (in the squash court to be precise) where lighting is just awful. And short of getting the flash and umbrellas out it was a case of the ISO at 3200 and hope for the best. I just did not feel happy with the results which prob will suffice for what it was for but I just did not feel satisfied. Which at the end of the day is what it is all about for me. I have to feel emotionally involved in what I am doing and I didnt. Is that true of all professional photographers? I dont want to just earn money and not feel as though I have not done a good job.

So this blog is going to go back to the Swindon News/Photojournalism and I am not going to try to combine other things with it.

Likewise I am going to re-design my website to provide a better experience, better show case for my better images from both the UK and Spain and try to make it more interesting.

The Pain in Spain …….

Well, this isn´t a blog about news in Swindon but the other place I spend a lot of time. My girlfriend lives in a small village in rural Andalucia, Spain called Freila. It is not the Spain of tourists and English bars, but one where there are very few other English people and you really need to be able to speak Spanish. In England we hear all about how the Spanish are having it really hard at the moment. Well it is true. There is a very limited social welfare system here in Spain and it is very easy and very common for people here to have absolutely no income whatsoever nor any benefits. Entire families are thrown out on to the streets and it is only because it is a very family orientated society and families look after each other that most are just about surviving. But what about those who have no family. Suicides have already taken place by some of the homeless.
The photos above are just a small view of what is happening. The mainstay of the local income has been hardhit by the early heavy rains and the intense heat of the summer leading to shrivelled and dry olives. Some small land owners are not harvesting their olives at all as the sale price is so low it is not economically worth it and so the olives are left to rot on the trees. Also even in a tiny rural village like Freila where houses and caves are very cheap, they are not selling or being left half way through being built.
In England we get the impression that all Spaniards live on the coast, own bars or hotels and earn quite a lot of money from tourists. That is definitely not my experience of what is going on over here.

Handing out leaflets for protest in Baza Spain

leafleting in Baza Spain

leafleting in Baza Spain

Whilst out shopping this morning in Baza (Granada province of Andalucia) I came across a couple of guys handing out leaflets informing people of and encouraging them to attend a protest against austerity and anti capitalism in Baza on the 3rd of January. Of course I could not resist talking to them, taking a photo of them and of course I will be at the protest on the 3rd. The message is STOP Capitalism and that this is the ‘hour for revolution!’ Below is a translated copy of the leaflet.

A month after the 14N (general strike on 14th November 2012) the silence continues.

In spite of the increase in unemployment in numerous sectors (including the food and agriculture industry) and in spite of the demonstrations with millions of workers and youth in the streets the union CCOO (comiciones obreras – commission of workers) and UGT (Unión General Trabajadores – General union of workers) continue with the only proposal on the horizon… a referendum.

However, it is felt that the government of Mariano Rajoy is not going to call a referendum when they know there is a great possibility they will lose.

Based on the sectors that are currently fighting, conflicts multiply throughout the region. The majority have been in Madrid for the past year and a half.

The educational community carried out a demonstration with over 150,000 attendees in July in solidarity with the struggle of the miners. As well as the actions of the 25s (occupation of Congress on 25th September) and resisting police repression and the struggle for public health, was the strike of the workers of Telemadrid who were threatened by ERE (Expediente de regulación de empleo) that they could fire more than 800 workers.

Authors note. ERE is a ‘record of employment’ regulation and is a procedure under current Spanish law whereby a company, supposedly in a bad economy, is seeking authorization to suspend or fire workers. It aims to obtain from the competent labor authority permission to suspend or terminate labor relations in a framework in which guarantees certain rights of workers.
The best antidote is the unification of all these struggles done in association with each other.

Toward a general strike in Madrid.
Unions must convene in Madrid and uniformly carry out a regional general strike. Where there is already a widespread strike in a particular sector, such as health in Madrid, they should promote a general strike of the health in the region as a whole.

Today, the protests are centered in Madrid and it is necessary that the whole of the working community and the youth join in with global mobilization. Strike committees, assemblies, all occupations should join together for a general strike.

In Baza we should also ensure that all resistances converge, in defense of the hospital and the defense of education.

These are measures that would show the government is on the side of the workers:

Don’t pay more to those who have more.
Abolish the tax exemptions to the bosses.
Expropriation of the banks, not a public euro more for banks.
To maintain employment, repeal of the labor reforms, distribution of working time, reduction of the working day and the age of retirement with no decrease in salaries.
When prices rise, they also have to raise wages, benefits and pensions.

These measures may be imposed only by the general mobilization and mass of the workers and the youth, the struggle is the only guarantee.

There are no shortcuts.

All of us therefore have a responsibility to influence the political decisions and bring about a radical change in this crisis situation untenable for the vast majority of the population.