Let's get ready to rumble!

Did you know that apparently women make better investors than men? 

BinckBank Spain part of Saxo Bank together with Talk Radio Europe have decided to put this concept to the test.

Stay tuned for BOYS versus GIRLS Portfolio Talk on TRE every other Monday starting on February 17 at 11.45am when presenters Giles and Hannah take on the challenge of trading their portfolios and explaining why, with the help of their mentor Kaspar Huijsman, Director of BinckBank in Spain.

Will they play nice? You’ll have to wait and see!  The winner of the challenge will receive a donation of 1000 euro from BinckBank to a charity of their choice.  Hannah will be battling on behalf of AGE CONCERN and Giles for DEBRA Charity.

You can follow them on air and keep an eye on their investments at binckbank.com/boysversusgirls. 

So whose side will you be on?  Boys or Girls?

Sunday Morning Mutterings - Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the water…

As my friends and family will readily agree, I’ve done some pretty foolish things in my time, usually late at night and undoubtedly with alcohol involved.

Since my, ahem, ‘lifestyle change’ of a few years ago (You did Dry January? Welcome to my world) I've decided to ‘put something back’ whenever I can. This is why I usually say yes when I’m asked to get involved with charity events. Normally this involves me flinging on a clean shirt and acting as MC for the night.

So when I took a call from Virginia Macari asking me if I wanted to get involved with an event that the Collective Calling charity were organising to help children in Tanzania, I immediately said yes. I anticipated dusting off the diner jacket once again.

Which just goes to show that I should enquire more thoroughly before agreeing to do something.

This event was a little different.

It was a 200m sponsored swim.

In the Mediterranean.

In January.

The last time that I went in the water in January was to celebrate my birthday. There was snow on La Concha – which should have perhaps warned me that it was going to be a ‘little chilly’ – and when I dived it was so cold that I certain parts of my anatomy retracted at a rapid rate. So far and fast in fact that I had two round lumps on the top of my head where my man jewels had shot up and rebounded off the inside of my skull.

Any thought that I might undertake the swim wearing nothing but a pair of swimming trunks were soon ruled out by two factors. The first was the advice of a Romanian yachting friend who explained that, as I’m not exactly in my teens anymore, ‘cold water shock’ might actually induce a heart attack.

The second was perfectly clear at the Press call for the event, when I found myself standing next to a group of ‘ripped’ crossfitters who where also taking part in the event. No amount of chest puffing out and stomach holding in was going to help me here. A quick call to a friend who runs regular canyoning trips soon sorted me out with a wetsuit.

After several days of torrential rain, the day itself was beautiful and sunny and a sizable crowd gathered to watch the event. After saying hello to the organisers, I casually slipped away to shoehorn myself into the wetsuit – no easy task, I can assure you. But when I looked over my shoulder I saw in horror that the rest of the charity swimmers were already in the water. I yelled, charged through the crowd and crashed into the surf with all the grace of an oil tanker being launched.

Once again the water was freezing and I had the ignominy of being the last one back on the beach. But as I gulped a life reviving café solo I could reflect on a job well done.

And at least no one had mistaken my floundering form for a cetacean and alerted the Norwegian Whaling Fleet


Wuhan Zall see friendly matches cancelled on coronavirus fears

Chinese Super League side Wuhan Zall’s preseason plans in Spain have been left in ruins by the coronavirus, with European teams refusing to play them.

The refusal has come despite the fact that the team have been nowhere near Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the deadly virus, for several weeks.

Instead, they have been training in Guangzhou since January 2 with their new coach, Jose Gonzalez.

Last week they travelled to southern Spain via Istanbul and Shanghai. The team were cleared on arrival at Malaga Airport on Wednesday by local health authorities as showing no symptoms of the virus.

Gonzalez spoke to the Spanish media at the aiport

“We all understand the social alarm that the name Wuhan can generate but I want to stress that the players were grouped together 1,000km from

“Since day three the incubation period is more than over. We have a doctor in the team who travels with the team who has certified to the Spanish health authorities that there have been no symptoms of possible infection in any player. There has been no sick player.

“So it’s good to try to transmit a certain calmness – that I understand is difficult.

“These are people who have come to carry out their professional work. In many cases they have families in the area [Wuhan] and I hope that in Spain they will find a little empathy.”

Those hopes seem to have fallen on deaf ears, however. Russian side FK Krasnodar cancelled a game scheduled for Tuesday, while Gibraltar’s Europa Point FC cancelled last night's friendly in Estepona.

The Chinese team are staying in Sotogrande, where they will remain until at least February 18. Wuhan is locked down and the Chinese Super League is indefinitely suspended.

The empathy that Gonzalez was hoping for seems to have evaporated.

La Liga Star joins Marbella FC in shock move

Marbella FC's quest for promotion to the Segunda received a major boost with the surprise signing of Espanyol star Esteban Granero during the January transfer window.

The 32-year-old, who captained Espanyol, as well as playing for Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, made his debut for Marbella in Saturday's 0-0 draw away at Merida. 'El Pirata' will be officially presented to the fans at the stadium at 18.00 tonight.

The signing of Granero is a major statement of intent from Marbella FC, who also signed Bolivian star Juanmi Callejon last month. Granero's contract means that he will be at the Costa del Sol side until at least July 2021.



Sunday Morning Mutterings - a bad case of the Marbella Blues

It was my birthday last month. Not a milestone event like my Rock n Roll 50th two years ago – and if you are good with numbers you will have worked out how old I am – but just an “early to mid fifties” day.

Back in the day, of course, my birthdays were rather liquid affairs. As Spain celebrates Christmas until Three Kings on January 6 and my birthday is on January 19, I tended to single-handedly carry on the festivities. My hangover would be so severe after my birthday weekend that I like to think that I personally discovered the term 'Blue Monday', which describes the general depression and existential angst felt by most of the population in mid-January.

A combination of events, including the usual chasing of clients for cash – present company excepted – more car trouble in the form of the brakes, which are rather important as the track leading down to the Casita is frequently described as 'something out of an Indiana Jones movie', and the tragic and traumatic death of Lilly, a friend's Yorkie that I looked after over Christmas – left me with the growing feeling that Marbella was losing some of its appeal for me.

The pre-Brexit scramble of getting my paperwork together didn't help much either and I coined a new noun, 'Marbellaise', for the way I was feeling, even contemplating a move to pastures new.

Driving back through the hills at the end of the week, I turned a corner just as the last of the Sun's rays hit La Concha mountain, turning it a gorgeous pink. The view was so outstanding that I pulled over to admire it.

I took a deep breath and a look around and realised that, as a place to live, Marbella isn't so bad after all.

Something for the Weekend? Art in Action

Grab your paints and pencils! The Creative Arts event of the year takes place in Benahavis this Sunday.

On  February 2 the Gran Hotel Benahavis opens its doors to host the annual Art Exhibition organised by The Arts Society Benahavis. Now in its eighth year the display area will move from the ballroom to the spacious foyer and courtyard walkways, allowing spectators to see the artwork with fresh eyes.

There will be a huge variety of artwork on show from painting and sculpture to jewellery and ceramics with over 30 artists available to talk about their techniques and inspiration. Due to the generous sponsorship of Blevins Franks and Benahavis Town Hall the artists are able to show free of charge.

A highlight of the day is the Young Artists’ Competition when Key Stage 2 students from local schools show their paintings. The theme is to provide an image to illustrate one of the Society’s upcoming lectures on its brochure.  In addition to the winner having his or her image printed on the front cover of the Society’s brochure there are three cash prizes also donated by Blevins Franks

For those not content just to watch, The Arts Club San Pedro offer the opportunity to take part in their “Sip and Dip” painting project. Complete a small sketch which will later be revealed to be a crucial part of a big picture.

Those with a literary turn of mind can enter the light-hearted Start A Novel competition winning a bottle of wine for the most compelling opening paragraph.

For youngsters there are the thrills and spills of Virtual Reality rides and for primary kids the chance to join a creative arts workshop run by professional Paco Alarcon whose murals decorate many walls in Estepona. Advance booking is advised for the workshops on 659 626 510 as Paco’s sessions are exceptionally popular with the children and a joy for adults to behold.

The Awards Ceremony when prizes will be given to the winning young artists and prospective novelist will be held at 16.00 hours.

For more information see www.theartssocietybenahavis.com

Wuhan Zall FC arrives on the coast

While the world anxiously monitors the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, the city's football team Wuhan Zall arrived in Malaga today ahead of a three week training camp.

The First Division team, whose coach is the former Malaga manager  José González, arrived without showing any “virus-related symptoms”, according to a statement by the Board of Health and Families of the Junta de Andalucia.

The outbreak has its epicentre in Wuhan, where it has infected over 4,500 people and killed over 100 victims.

The Junta also stressed that the football team was previously in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, about a thousand kilometres from Wuhan, so they were not in the ‘ground zero’ of the coronavirus when it began to spread.

Wuhan Zall has been out of the city since January 2 and, therefore, has passed the maximum incubation period the statement continues.

The team will stay in Sotogrande where it will remain until February 18 and the Coronavirus Monitoring Advisory Group in Andalusia will carry out a follow-up check when the team arrives.

Brexit update from British Consul

British Consul Charmaine Arbouin today updated UK Nationals on the latest developments ahead of the UK leaving the EU on Friday.

"The Withdrawal Agreement which sets out how the UK leaves the EU has now passed into UK law, which, once the European Parliament has ratified it this week, means that the UK is leaving the EU with a deal on January 31.

This is very positive news for UK nationals who are resident in Spain, as the Withdrawal Agreement contains some really important protections for your rights:

You will be able to continue to live and work in Spain

UK state pensioners will continue to have lifelong healthcare as long as they remain living in Spain. This also applies to residents who claim a UK state pension in the future

 Your UK state pension will continue to be uprated

You will be able to exchange your driving licence until the end of 2020 without taking a driving test and your Spanish licence will be accepted in the UK when you visit.

Those rights will be protected for as long as you live in Spain, provided you are legally resident here by the end of 2020.The Withdrawal Agreement also provides a Transition Period (from  January 31 until 31 December 31) during which time nothing will change for UK Nationals in Spain.

The approval of the Withdrawal Agreement is a very important step for UK nationals living here. It provides reassurance on key rights, such as being able to continue to live and work here, and for pensioners to have lifelong healthcare and uprated pensions. Alongside those rights, you have obligations – the main one being to make sure you are registered with a green residency certificate. This remains a valid document after January 31 and we will communicate any details on future residency processes once we have them. For further information visit the Living in Spain Guide on gov.uk.

HMA Hugh Elliott and Regional Consular Policy Adviser Lorna Geddie will be hosting a  Facebook Live Q&A on Friday January 31 at midday (CET) on facebook.com/britsinspain
Information for UK nationals can be found at gov.uk/livinginspain

Lightning strike near Diana Park

Marbella still on Orange Alert as rains continue

Dramatic overnight storms along the Costa del Sol last night brought chaos to many towns

Unprecedented hail storms caused the closure of several major and minor roads, including the main Fuengirola to Mijas route, as well as several in Bello Horizonte in Marbella.

Marbella's fire service responded to 20 emergency calls overnight as the storm raged, with driving conditions described by one motorist as 'insanely loud, relentless hail delivered by industrial jet washers!'

The Spanish Meterological Office (AEMET) warns that the Orange alert will  be in place until 18.00 with continuing heavy rain. The forecast for Sunday, however, is for sunshine.

Main photo. Jacob Vogh

BREAKING NEWS: Marbella on Orange alert for rain tonight

The bad weather that has caused widespread destruction and at least 13 deaths across Spain continues, with Marbella placed on Orange Alert tonight.

The warning, issued by Spanish Meterological Office AEMET, has forecast 100mm of rain failing tonight across the whole of Malaga province.

Malaga city itself was blanketed in white after heavy hail falls struck overnight, and there was flooding in Coin as well.

The Orange warning continues overnight, with more rain expected for Friday and Saturday.