Spain’s Ana María Vela Rubio is now officially the third-oldest person on earth after the
death of Jamaica's Violet Mosse-Brown aged 117-and- a-half. Ana María, if she is still alive
at the end of next month, will be celebrating her 116 th birthday.
Born in Puente Genil, Córdoba province, Ana left school at age 11 and became a seamstress
before moving to Catalunya in the 1940s, where she still lives. Ana was a compulsive
bookworm when her eyesight still allowed her to be, despite her lack of formal education.
She began going to the La Vereda nursing home on a day-centre basis aged 104 and moved
in as a resident aged 109, where she has always been among at least four or five others aged
She is not bed-ridden, but every day the staff get her up and put her in a wheelchair and,
although she, like many other residents, eats liquidised food, she ‘eats very well’ and
‘doesn't look her age’, staff say.
Her only surviving daughter, who visits her regularly, is aged 90 – the rest of her children
have died from old age – and her grandchildren are now in their late 60s.
The only two people on earth older than Ana María are Chiyo Miyako, from Japan, who is
five months older than Ana at 116 and four months, and the woman who now takes over
from Violet Brown – Nabi Tajima, also Japanese, who is 117 and one-and- a-half months,
born on 4 th August, 1900.
Jamaican president Andrew Holness confirmed on Twitter this morning that Violet, the last
person alive on earth born when Queen Victoria was on the throne, had died. She was born
on March 10, 1900 and has been the oldest person on the planet since April this year, after
the death of Italy's Emma Morano.
Spain, known for having one of the longest life expectancies on earth – currently 83 for
women and 79 for men – has several residents aged 100-plus in every province and at least
seven of its 17 autonomously-governed regions has one or more residents aged 110 or
more. The country is home to the third-oldest person, and third-oldest woman in the world,
and also the oldest man on the planet, Francisco Núñez Olivera, who fully expects to be
alive on 13th December this year when he is due to celebrate his 113 th birthday.
He became the planet's oldest man in August following the death of Yisrael Kristal from
Israel. Two years ago, he became the oldest in Spain and showed he was still doing
remarkably well for nearly 111. Francisco said back then that he 'would like to live another
couple of years', and so far his wish has come true.
Recently, scientists placed the natural limit of human life at 125 years, but nobody is
thought to have lived that long and the world record until now has been Frenchwoman
Jeanne Calment, who died aged 122.
But Mbah Gotho from Indonesia has official documentation to show he was born on 31 st
December, 1870, meaning if he lives until New Year's Eve, he will be 147 years old.
His papers need to be independently verified to award him the title of longest-ever living
human, however – others who have claimed to be older, James Olofintuyi, 172, from
Nigeria and Dhaqabo Ebba from Ethiopia, 164, were unable to prove their age officially so
cannot be considered as world-record holders. To date, Mbah Gotho's papers have not been
authenticated, meaning he is still unable to claim the top spot.
A European Union rule that requires English to be the official language between pilots and
air-traffic controllers has come into force – and, curiously, even applies where both parties
share a native tongue that is not English.
The rule only affects airports with over 50,000 international flights operating per year,
meaning Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez-Barajas and Barcelona’s El Prat will become ‘English-
only’, but many others, such as those in the Canary and Balearic Islands, will still be able to
choose the language they wish to speak in.
Aiming to streamline communications for maximum security, pilots and air-traffic
controllers having to speak English is not a problem, since being able to do so fluently is a
basic requirement of their job.
But pilot unions in Spain SEPLA and USCA say it is ‘ludicrous’ to require this when both
pilot and air-traffic controller are native Spanish-speakers. Captains on board Iberia, Vueling
and AirEuropa – all three being Spanish carriers and typically staffed with natives – will
have to talk to the control towers in Barcelona and Madrid, also staffed with natives, in
USCA and SEPLA criticise the fact that the move ‘has not taken into account’ the criteria of
the professionals involved, and that using a language which is a foreign tongue to both rather
than the native one they share ‘is unlikely to bring about any potential air safety
Also, the unions say previous research by the State Air Safety Agency (AESA) has shown
that in a crisis situation where fast thinking and action is vital, it is better for the people
involved to use their mother tongue to communicate in order to avoid misunderstandings or
split-second delays that could ‘compromise security in delicate circumstances’.
USCA and SEPLA also point out the irony of a situation which means pilots from Spain can
speak Spanish to air-traffic controllers anywhere in Latin America, given that natives share
the same language, but cannot use it when speaking to each other in Spain.
“For effective communication the best solution is, without doubt, for air-traffic controllers
and pilots to use the native language they have in common,” say the unions.
It’s the perfect combination if you can raise money for a worthwhile cause
whilst having fun. That’s what a group of volunteers have been doing on
behalf of the Samaritans in Spain. They took part in a sponsored Zip Wire at
La Rufeta to raise money for suicide awareness.
The Samaritans in Spain receive many calls from people who are
experiencing such emotional distress that they are considering taking their
own life. Through encouraging people to talk and giving time, the volunteers
who are on the end of the Samaritan’s help line provide a much needed
However, it’s also important that society generally is aware and understands
the issues associated with suicide, depression and mental health generally.
There is still stigma around the subject that can prevent people from coming
forward when they really need to.
Events such as this are hoped to raise awareness generally amongst the
public. On this occasion it was organised by Maureen and Colin Smith of San
Luis, Torrevieja. Those participating included Maureen, Colin, Johnno, Kath
and Alex. Recording the event for posterity and a little publicity too was
Warren Bradley. Thanks go to all those who took part on the day as well as
those who sponsored them.
British author Steven Dale, who lives in Santa Pola, is celebrating having his first children’s
book published. Planet Mirth Adventures One, by the Port Talbot-born author, has been
published recently by Austin Macauley.
How exciting would it be if you could explore a world where you could meet a chocolate
crocodile, or where toys can be found growing on trees? The planet of Mirth comes to life
through the dreams of a little girl named Mia, with a collection of gnomes guiding her
through the wonderful sights and sounds contained in the book’s five stories. As well as a
safari trip, Mia enjoys two celebrations with Mirth's resident gnomes, as well as taking part in
exciting competitions; tales which the author hopes will spark the imagination of any child or
the young-at- heart.
Steven said: “I wrote this solely for my three grand-daughters. My daughters encouraged me
to get it published and now my dream has been realised.”
Steven has been happily married for 38 years. He has two daughters and three
granddaughters. He currently lives in Sanat Pola where he, until recently, worked as a vocal
entertainer. He’s now retired from singing and concentrates all his efforts on writing.
Pets in Spain animal charity has rescued three more puppy farm mothers from an illegal puppy mill;
making a total of 16 recently rescued. Made to endure a life of pregnancy and puppies the dogs
were kept in cages in a filthy outdoor shed all of their lives and forcibly impregnated every six
months to produce puppies to sell.
Now aged 5-7 years they were to be discarded due to ill health and taken to a killing station. Pets in
Spain animal charity collaborates with animal groups in Spain to free puppy farm used and abused
mothers and fathers. The charity aims to take them into foster homes, provide them with all
necessary veterinary treatment, care and rehabilitation.
One of these mothers has tumours in a mammary gland, this occurs frequently in un-spayed female
dogs, another has proved positive for Leishmaniasis. When they are well enough all three need
surgery which will include their sterilisation. An appeal for donations to help the charity fund
veterinary treatment for rescued puppy farm dogs has been launched.
Pets In Spain is a registered charity in Spain run entirely by volunteers. It does not receive any local
or regional government funding. The charity registration CIF No is: G-54669262. To donate by bank
transfer or setup a monthly direct debit the details are:
Account Name: Pets in Spain, Bank: Sabadell, IBAN: ES14 0081 0687 7700 0168 1672, SWIFT/BIC:
BSAB ESBB. Donations by Paypal to: email@example.com or please call 645469253. Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: petsinspain.com
As children look towards the new school year with dread and parents with
relief, spare a thought for those who might be turning up at school without the
basic pencils and pens that others take for granted. Carmens Bar in El
Chaparral are collecting stationery for the children at San José Obrero
Orphanage who otherwise might struggle to find themselves equipped for the
new school year.
The orphanage in Orihuela currently caters for 70 children and 80% of the
running cost is covered through donations. The orphanage is home to children
from 6 to 18 years of age who have been abandoned by their families or who,
for various reasons, do not have a family who can take care of them.
The home is run by the church and they do their best to recreate a family
atmosphere. They also have a day centre with 24 children where the children
are looked after only during the day after which they return home. When they
reach the age of 18 the young people still can’t count on the help of any family
so they are allocated some space in one of the flats to assist them in their
transition to adult life. The aim of the centre is to ensure the future for the
children, enabling them to settle in society and have the skills they need.
Carmen’s Bar are raising money for starter packs for the children to take to
school. The children need basic items such as pens, pencils, rulers, pencil
cases and rubbers. If you would like to help you are asked to either donate
money or purchase some items to hand in at Carmens Bar. These will then be
transported to the home itself.
Julie and her team are delighted by the number of donations that have been
made and are also raising money through holding raffles. They would like to
thank everyone who has already donated towards this very good cause and
asks that the donations keep on coming. With 70 children needing stocking up
for the school year, every item is welcome.
We have just passed the busiest part of the summer, however, with so many people visiting for the
first time, we thought we’d share our top 10 tips for driving in Spain.
1. In Spain we drive on the right. It might seem like an obvious thing to say but many people do
forget. In fact, the law says we should drive as far to the right as possible, so don’t go
hogging lanes. Also, remember, we go anticlockwise on roundabouts.
2. Speed limits are a maximum, not a target, and remember, they are kilometres per hour.
Most signs are the same as in the UK but a blue square is a recommended maximum.
3. Seatbelts. All vehicle occupants must wear a seatbelt. If there are only 2 seatbelts in the
back, only 2 people can sit there. Seatbelts must be worn properly too, not under the arm.
4. Kids. Children are not allowed to sit in the front seat. In fact, it is children under 1.35 metres,
irrespective of their age, who must sit in the back. They must also be in an approved
restraint suitable for them. The only exception is when there aren’t any rear seats, like a
sports car, or when the seats are already occupied by smaller children.
5. Alcohol. Spain has a much lower limit than many other countries. However, the best advice
if you’re driving is don’t drink at all. The same applies to drugs, but if you’re on prescription
medication be careful as these can sometimes affect your driving.
6. Never use your mobile when driving. That goes for any device actually. You are allowed to
use your phone as a GPS sat nav, but you mustn’t touch it when you’re driving. Program it
before you set off and stop in a safe, convenient and legal place if you have to change it.
7. Some traffic lights have filter arrows. If the light is red but the filter arrow pointing right is
orange, you are allowed to turn right, just remember to give way to traffic already on the
8. When exiting a roundabout, always exit from the right-hand lane, irrespective of how many
lanes there are. Unless signs or signals say otherwise.
9. Traffic police vehicles have blue lights illuminated all the time. If you see these blue lights it
doesn’t mean pull over or stop. They use flashing red lights to stop you, or flashing white
lights from the front.
10. If you get into difficulties or an emergency, dial 112 from any phone. The operators speak
many languages, including English, and are there to help. One thing though, try to identify
exactly where you are before you phone, as this will make it easier for help to find you.
Overall, enjoy your holiday is Spain, stay safe, drive carefully and remember these rules. For
more detailed explanations, visit the website, n332.es
Those looking to explore the ‘real Spain’ are being offered tailored trips and tours that aim to offer something completely different to those organised by large tour companies. These, arranged by local Spanish lady Begoña Josa del Portillo, aim to discover the hidden gems of Spanish heritage and culture, with traditional food and wine weaved in for good measure.
For many years Begoña has been an integral link between the local Spanish and ex-pat communities offering Spanish language and Spanish cooking lessons.
It is the popularity of these courses and the influence of her students that has led to Begoña organising tailored trips and tours. The next trip organised by Begoña is to Morella and Peniscola in the north of Castellon. This region is steeped in history. In the 14th Century the was a unique phenomenon, there were not one but two Popes in the world; the Pope in Rome and another living in Avignon, France, known as Papa Luna. Papa Luna came to live to Spain in Peñiscola and Morella. There is a huge amount of history connected to this story in the region and this will form the basis of the tour, taking in the heritage he encouraged and the legacy he left behind. Peñiscola is a beautiful town on the coast and Morella is an inland medieval Town. The hotel in Morella that Begona has booked is a stunning converted palace linked directly to Papa Luna.
The trip will take place on the 8th, 9th and 10th June. The price includes coach travel, a double room, full board and local tour guides who have excellent historical knowledge and know all the hidden gems. Places are limited so speedy booking is advised; to do so please call Begoña on 622 188 772.
Begoña said: “I always like to offer something extra and special; I don’t use run of the mill hotels, but centrally located boutique-style accommodations that reflect the character of the area and I arrange meals in traditional, good quality, restaurants used by local diners. The food and wine is always excellent and reflects the typical local cuisine and traditional regional dishes. I never have more than 20 people booked, this way the group soon get to know each other and there is always a great sense of fun and camaraderie.”
Several local pick up and drop off points are available for passengers and range from Los Alcazares to Torrevieja. The first evening will be spent at the converted palace and the second at a 4 star hotel in the old town of Peniscola where the group will take a scenic evening train tour. On the final day of the trip, the group will have lunch at a privately owned traditional Spanish country house.
Spain has always been a popular destination for British holidaymakers all year round and according to the latest Official Airline Guide (OAG) data, the UK-Spain market is the largest European country pairing this winter season.
Compared to last year’s winter months, the market has grown by more than 12 percent for the number of seats and flights between Spain and the UK suggesting that more and more Brits looking for winter sun are choosing Spain as their desired destination.
The pairing between the UK and Spain being named as the largest in Europe is not only good for the airlines but also positive news for the Spanish property market, as Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of leading homebuilder Taylor Wimpey España, explains.
He said: “The increase in the number of flights and seats available between Spain and the UK reaffirms the high demand for the Spanish sunshine as Brits seek an escape from the dreary winter weather at home.
“With short haul flights from the UK to Spain proving the most popular routes in Europe, Taylor Wimpey España is ready to accommodate this winter sun demand with the launch of a new residential phase on the La Recoleta III development on the border of Orihuela Costa and Torrevieja.
“This area of the Costa Blanca is particularly popular due to the excellent climate and transportation links as well as the range of available water sports including windsurfing, sailing and paragliding that can be enjoyed all year round.”
Local hotels, bar and restaurants are also looking forward to benefitting from winter tourists. Many hostels, hotels, campsites and apart-hotels are already reporting increased occupancy rates based on the same time last year and are predicting that thiswill increase even more over the Christmas and New Year period.
Pollution causes 30,000 deaths a year in Spain
Air pollution caused an estimated 29,980 premature deaths across Spain during 2013 according to the Air quality in Europe report, released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) last week. This number, based on data obtained from official monitoring stations around Europe, marks a slight downturn on the EEA’s 2012 estimate for deaths in Spain of 33,200.
For the European Union (EU) as a whole, the total number of deaths attributable to exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2,5), ground-level ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was nearly 520,000 in 2013, up from 491,000 a year earlier.
In terms of individual contaminants, the EEA stressed that PM2,5, linked to traffic and diesel fuel, was responsible for most pollution-related deaths in 2013, both in the EU as a whole and Spain in particular.
Germany (73,400 deaths), Italy (66,630 deaths), France (45,120) and Poland (48,270) headed up the list of countries with most early deaths linked to exposure to PM2,5 in 2013. The EEA put the number of such deaths in Spain at 23,940 in that year. For the EU, the total figure was 436,000.
The EEA study stresses that Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Poland are most affected when it comes to early deaths related to O3 exposure. This exposure was the cause of 1,760 deaths in Spain in 2013 according to the environmental watchdog.
A recent study by the green group Ecologists in Action stated that from 2014 to 2016, 10.2 million Spaniards, or 21.8 percent of the population, lived in areas where legal exposure to O3 limits was exceeded. While levels for other contamination have dropped during Spain’s long economic crisis, this has not been the case with O3. This gas is not produced directly during the burning of fossil fuels or through industrial processes. However, these activities generate precursors which – in combination with solar radiation – form ozone in the lower layers of the atmosphere.
The third contaminant analysed by the EEA was NO2, which is also related to traffic. This was estimated to be responsible for 4,280 premature deaths in Spain in 2013 while the figure for 41 countries studied by the EEA was 71,000.
Damage to health
“Emission reductions have led to improvements in air quality in Europe, but not enough to avoid unacceptable damage to human health and the environment,” said EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx on the release of the study.
“We need to tackle the root causes of air pollution, which calls for a fundamental and innovative transformation of our mobility, energy and food systems. This process of change requires action from us all, including public authorities, businesses, citizens and the research community.”
In Spain, Madrid has the worst record for air pollution levels, and one of the blackest spots is the area around its central Retiro Park. Other cities with areas that consistently show dangerously high levels of air pollution are Barcelona, Granada, Palma de Mallorca and Bilbao, according to Spain’s Environment Ministry. In early November, Madrid unveiled draft proposals aimed at cleaning up the city’s air including a possible ban on the cars of non-residents in the city centre.