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Living the Dream in Benidorm - or not

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With the current series of Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun, you’d be forgiven for thinking that every British expat that moved to Benidorm lived on a caravan site – a complaint I have heard many times from those settled here. Villamar always features regularly, although in last week’s episode, La Toretta made an appearance for the first time. The name of the program certainly implies that it is a bargain to live there and you would be forgiven for thinking it is full of last chance types scrapping by on their last euros. If you are looking for a cheap lifestyle then campsites are certainly not that... as I discovered.

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The Angels from Bargain Loving Brits TV

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The new series of Bargain-Loving Brits in the Sun is back on Channel 5 and last weeks episode featured two selfless expats – Linda Soler and Priscilla Pearce and their mission to save abandoned dogs and rehome them. There has been an incredible amount of people asking about these two wonderful ladies and the work that they do here in Benidorm, so I met up with them over the weekend to find out more. It was Cilla's idea to approach the television company, purely to raise awareness and interest in their cause… and it has certainly done that. The response has been phenomenal and following the program gained an extra 300 members on their Facebook group in one day – social media is a huge platform for them… mission accomplished!

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Eco-Vida...Helping the homeless in Benidorm

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Whilst we are snuggled up in our warm homes or apartments, looking out excitedly at the hailstones falling in Benidorm at the moment – or yesterday’s snow across Calpe, Javea and beyond, spare a thought for those that do not have that luxury… the homeless. Temperatures have plummeted over the last few days and that prompted Martin Kyme, President of Eco-Vida and his volunteers to reach out, to the often forgotten of our society. They went out - yesterday to Benidorm and today in Alicante, searching out for people sleeping in doorways, abandoned building and under bridges where they handed out blankets, food and hot drinks… all of whom where so appreciative. Many were just happy to have someone to chat to for a bit and receive some dry blankets in this awful weather.

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Costa del Snow!

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We heard the weather warnings but laughed… until waking up this morning that is! Yes it really was snowing along the Costa Blanca – not much in Benidorm, although if you check out the forecast for tomorrow it shows Benidorm is due some! Forget the shorts and flip-flops… although I did see many this morning walking around the Rincon area and pack your winter woolies instead. Just look towards the mountains framing Benidorm and you can clearly see the snow capped tops.

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Dee Kelly coming to Benidorm

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Not long now till the very first Benidorm Tattoo Convention takes place in the resort…. and one of the special guests that will be attending is Dee Kelly – remembered and better known to many as White Dee from Benefits Street. The three day convention is taking place over the busy St Patrick's Day weekend, when the resort turns into a sea of green and on the Sunday, it is the crazy Spanish fiesta of San Jose, which sees the Burning of the Fallas at midnight. It will certainly be a very busy weekend here!

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Fake football shirts confiscated

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The Guardia Civil have seized counterfeit sports goods with a street value of over €30,000 from four shops in Benidorm. 664 football shirts from Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as branded Nike and Adidas tops were confiscated and four people arrested. Fake goods are widespread here in Benidorm, especially at the weekly markets, where you can easily purchase ‘designer’ handbags, sunglasses, watches, logo t-shirts and premier team football tops.

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Benidorm welcomed in 2017

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The last day of 2016 was a glorious one in Benidorm – beautifully warm with plenty of people on the beach catching some rays. It's quite astonishing how warm it was even compared to the Costa del Sol, where apparently it was coat and scarf weather!
Once again the Town Hall put on a party to bring in 2017 down on the Levante promenade – and it was packed. Thousands turned out – residents and holidaymakers, armed with bottles of cava, hats, streamers and poppers.

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Repeat offenders!

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I am not referring to the criminal fraternity by that statement, but those that keep coming back to Benidorm again and again. Normally it’s the glorious weather that brings them here, but that was rather hard to believe last weekend. Although we have desperately needed rain here – the reservoir at Guadalest was virtually a quarter full back in the summer, it was gentle continual rain we needed to allow the water to gently absorb. Instead what we got was a torrential unrelenting downpour lasting over 3 days, which washed away everything in its path. Video clips on social media highlight the destruction that Mother Nature unleashed – dustbins floating along the Avd Mediterraneo, manhole covers blown off, cars being swept along residential streets and sadly a death in La Cala. Yet on Tuesday morning the sun was back out and shining again – it is almost surreal how it can change so quickly from one day to the next.

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'The Fat One" ... must be time for El Gordo!

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There is exactly a week left until the El Gordo Christmas lottery is drawn on December 22. El Gordo, meaning "the fat one" is an annual event held in Spain and sends Spaniards into a state of hysteria. I have never known such a gambling nation and queues form outside lottery shops and kiosks daily in the lead-up to the day. It is managed by the Government under "Loterias y Apuestas del Estado"- the Spanish lottery organization. 30% of the ticket sales go to the Government in taxes and the remaining 70% is paid out in prizes, meaning the more people that play the bigger the jackpot. It is a win win situation for the Government as any winnings over €2,000 are also subject to a 20% tax.

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Leroy Merlin opens in Finestrat

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The new Leroy Merlin opens in Finestrat tomorrow, a haven for DIY enthusiasts – and as a special promotional offer, are offering 15 per cent OFF all purchases made on the day! The Mayor of Finestrat Juan Fransisco Perez and the Director of Leroy Merlin Spain, Ignacio Sanchez officially inaugurated the store today, ahead of tomorrow’s grand opening.

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Benidorm's first Tattoo Convention

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Body Art or inking – normally referred to as tattoos, were once the reserve of bikers, sailors and criminals, but now widely accepted in society. Figures show that one in three young British adults have at least one, with many emulating celebrities such as David Beckham, One Directions Harry Styles, Angelina Jolie and Cara Delevingne. But if you think it’s only the young who have them done then think again - actress Susan Sarandon had her first at the age of 61. There are numerous tattoo and piercing studios here in Benidorm, much like many typical towns and cities across the UK – but one thing that has been missing here is a Tattoo Convention. Over 400 are held worldwide every year and in 2017, Benidorm will host its first ever, over the St Patrick’s Day weekend - which also coincides with the Spanish Fallas

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Compensation culture spreads to Benidorm

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The growing compensation culture, prevalent in the UK has spread – and evidence is emerging on a weekly basis of illicit practices occurring here in Benidorm. Spanish hotels are hitting back at so called ‘unscrupulous British lawyers’ for enticing holidaymakers to make claims against them, actively encouraging people to claim for anything ranging from thefts to food poisoning. They offer to act on their behalf on a ‘no win no fee’ arrangement - professing to win thousands of pounds in compensation. These so called reps, usually those in their early 20’s mingle with hotel guests around the pool, dressed in swimwear so as not to attract attention from hotel staff.

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Benidorm did Fancy Dress!

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Benidorm did it again, seeing thousands turn out for the annual British Fancy Dress Day, which always takes place the day after the official Benidorm fiesta ends. The beginning of the week was marred with grey skies and rain – coincidentally, the same as last year, but this morning the sky was a perfect blue and the sun was certainly shining down to greet all those who descended for what has been deemed Europe’s biggest fancy dress party! The entire Calle Gerona was closed to traffic, as were many of the street running off it, giving revelers free reign to party… and boy, do the Brits know how to party!

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It’s fiesta time in Benidorm

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Fiestas feature strongly in Spanish culture and every year towns and villages up and down the country celebrate at various times of the year - and Benidorm's is virtually upon us. The annual fiesta is a celebration of the local Patron Saint, which for Benidorm is the Virgin of the Sufragio and San Jaime Apostle (they have two) and religion features heavily. The event dates back to 1740 when an image of the Virgin was found in the remains of a burnt out fishing boat, which was taken up to the church. A re-enactment of this is played out every year on the Poniente beach on the first official day of the fiesta – which is this Saturday, 12 November at about 5pm followed by a procession up to the San Jaime church at the top of the Old Town.

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Located in the Old Town

Grupo Aurrera is Tapas Alley

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News Snippets

  • Festive Pizza +

    From December 7, select Asda stores will be selling a Christmas dinner pizza! The toppings will include Brussel sprouts, roast potatoes and strips of roast chicken drizzled with cranberry sauce. They will be available in two sizes - 10 inch at £2.60 and 14 inch at £4... Ho Ho Ho.
  • You are what you eat! +

    The ingredients have to by law be listed on the labels, but do you really know the breakdown of what goes in your mouth? A 400gm jar of Nutella chocolate spread is 55% sugar and only 7% cocoa, meaning that a 20gm serving contains 3 teaspoons of sugar and only 2 hazelnuts. There is NO chicken in a chicken & mushroom pot noodle and 65% of Flora Light is water. But did you know that 99.8% of diet coke is water, with the remaining 0.2% colour, sweetner and flavouring.
  • Monarch goes bust +

    Monarch airlines have gone out of business after nearly 50 years of trading - very sad news. 2,750 staff are now without a job and 110,000 Monarch customers are abroad at the moment - but ALL will be flown back to the UK more or less at the same time of their original planned return.
  • Driving ban lifted +

    After a 60 year long ban, women will be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. A royal decree issued by King Salman should be in place by June 2018. The country was mocked after a picture appeared with an all female aircrew landing a jet - even though none would be allowed to drive a car!
  • All about the shoes +

    Jimmy Choo - the luxury British shoe company has been sold to American rival Michael Korrs, for nearly £900 million. Jimmy Choo was founded be a Malaysian designer in the 1990's and shot to prominence after being featured in the hot TV show Sex and the City
  • British passports +

    The UK voted Brexit yet it seems ludicrous that a French or German company may win the contract to produce British passports after 2019! One Tory MP is outraged stating that British passports should be manufactured in Britain, in a British factory employing British people - and not many would disagree with that.
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