Marbella and Estepona hit by blazes

Two fires in less than a week highlighted the continuing high fire risk in the area as the end of August approaches.

Estepona suffered the mind-blowingly stupid actions of a French tourist who decided to deal with a hornets’ next by setting light to it. Not satisfied with the progress, he then threw petrol over it. The resultant huge blaze lead to the evacuation of over 2,500 people. Firefighters battled for the best part of two days using helicopters and firefighting planes to bring the fire under control. Three hundred hectares were destroyed and the tourist has since been arrested.

Late yesterday afternoon another fire started out in the Bello Horizonte area of Marbella. Emergency services were quickly on the scene and managed to deal with the blaze, but the fire left a pail of smoke over the town. Over 40 houses were evacuated and a policeman hospitalized for smoke inhalation; a timely reminder that fires can start all too easily and spread rapidly at this time of the season.

Tony Hadley plays Marbella tonight

Marbella Music Week continues as one of the most distinctive male singers of the 80s plays the Club de Tenis Puente Romano tonight.

Tony Hadley, lead singer with Spandau Ballet, will be performing all of his hits, including: “True”, “Gold”, “Through the Barricades” and many more.

The concert is part of Marbella Music Week at Puente Romano, organised by promotors Rock Lounge,

Doors: 20:00hrs
Tony Hadley: 22:00hrs
Tickets from 35 euros
Available at or call 0034 638422445

"Our Man in Madrid" bids farewell

Outgoing British Ambassador Simon Manley steps down from his post today and has written the following message to UK nationals in Spain

"I leave my almost six years as HMA to Spain with a wealth of wonderful memories of this fantastic country. I understand why so many UK Nationals choose to live and visit here.

One of the tremendous privileges of this job has been to meet many of you, the British Nationals involved in your communities in so many different ways. Those of you volunteering with organisations like Cruz Roja, Age Concern and so many more; helping fight forest fires in Javea or looking after British cemeteries; those raising funds to help those in need; young people volunteering with organisations like Street Angels in Mallorca, helping to look after British visitors to the island or British councillors serving their local communities.

The footprint of British education relies on UK Nationals living and working here, as teachers and assistants in the many British schools and language academies. UK Nationals are also working in businesses across Spain – from bars and restaurants on the costas to the Big Five accountancy firms.

It has been an honour to represent Queen and country and to serve you, the UK nationals living here. If I have one final message as we leave the EU, it is to make sure you, your friends and family are properly registered as residents. And check on your neighbours – make sure they are registered too.

I wish you all continued health and happiness in your lives here in Spain"

We wish you all the best for the future!

Photo: HMA Simon Manley and Planet Marbella's Giles Brown at last year's Royal Wedding Garden Party at the Ambassador's Residence in Madrid.

11 still on the run

Have you seen them?

Suspected murderers, sex offenders and drugs traffickers are among just 11 fugitives left on the run in a campaign that has seen 84 offenders already caught across Europe.

This summer National Crime Agency and the charity Crimestoppers are urging the public to help them catch the last fugitives who have escaped justice.

All of them have connections to Spain but may have moved around over the years and will be using false identities, so the NCA has re-released their details as millions of Brits are enjoying their summer holidays abroad.

“As my fellow Britons know, the success of Crimestoppers, whether in the UK or Spain, is all about the active support of ordinary people for the work of the police, so I would like to appeal to British residents and holidaymakers in Spain to be on the lookout this summer for these 11 fugitives from British justice. Your information, given anonymously, can put these criminals back where they belong: behind bars in the UK,” said British Ambassador to Spain Simon Manley.

The 11 include Sarah Panitzke. Panitzke, 45, from Fulford, near York, is wanted by HMRC and is accused of laundering approximately £1bn for a crime group involved in VAT fraud.

To carry out the alleged frauds, she travelled extensively to places including Dubai, Spain and Andorra. She absconded in May 2013 before her trial finished.

Panitzke has a Yorkshire accent and is about 5ft 5in tall. Eighteen members of her crime group received sentences totalling 135 years.

Also on the list is alleged murderer Allan Foster, 43, who has been on the run since May 2006 when David Rice was shot dead as he sat in his car in South Shields, Tyne and Wear.

The NCA works closely with Crimestoppers, the Spanish authorities, UK law enforcement agencies and the British Embassy in Madrid as part of the Operation Captura campaign.

We have seen 84 fugitives returned to the UK out of 96 publicised cases. One case has been dropped.

In June, Christopher Guest More Jr, 41, became the latest fugitive to be arrested and returned to the UK after being on the run for 16 years.

Andy Cooke-Welling, of the NCA’s International Crime Bureau, said: “Operation Captura has been a resounding success.

“But we are still hunting the remaining fugitives on our list and will not stop.

“We urge holidaymakers and expats in Spain and elsewhere across Europe to keep their eyes and ears open this summer.

“There may also be people in the UK with vital information on their whereabouts, and we would urge them to get in touch. Having the public’s attention focused on them makes it so much harder to hide.”

Mark Hallas, Chief Executive at Crimestoppers charity, said: “Members of the public are one of our greatest weapons in the fight against crime. Once again we are asking the public to help track down most wanted individuals who are sought in connection with some violent, sexual and highly organised crimes.

“We’ve always had an overwhelming response to this campaign, to date 84 offenders have been caught across Europe.

“You can view all the appeals on the most wanted section of Crimestoppers website and if you know anything about the individuals please contact the Crimestoppers charity.

“No one will ever know who you are, not even us.”

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of a fugitive should can contact Crimestoppers 100% anonymously at or call 0800 555 111.

If sighted, the public are advised not to approach any of the fugitives but to contact the police immediately.


Kevin Parle, aged 39, from Liverpool.

Nicknamed ‘Hemp’. Parle is wanted for two murders in Liverpool in 2004 and 2005. He is around 6ft 6in and has ginger/red hair.

John Barton, aged 63, from Nottingham.

Convicted in his absence in 2003 and jailed for 20 years for conspiring to import a commercial amount of heroin. Barton, who is about 5ft 6inch, has links to Fuengirola. He speaks with a Midlands accent.

Allan Foster, aged 43, from South Shields.

Wanted for the murder of David Rice at Marsden Bay Car Park, South Shields in May 2006. He is also wanted for drug trafficking and theft. Foster is approximately 5ft 7in tall, uses the alias Shaun Michael Wilkinson and has links to the Canary Islands and Majorca.

Shashi Dhar Sahnan, aged 61, from Leicester.

Accused of importing heroin into the UK in 2007. He was born in India, wears a hearing aid in his right ear, is approximately 5ft 7in tall and stocky.

Fatah Benlaredj, aged 42, from Manchester.

Wanted for the rape of a seven-year-old girl in 2007. He uses the nickname Samir.

Derek McGraw Ferguson, aged 56, from Glasgow.

Wanted in connection with the murder of Thomas Cameron in June 2007 at the Auchinairn Tavern, Bishopsbriggs near Glasgow. He is bald, has green/blue eyes and is approximately 5ft 1in tall.

Daniel Dugic, aged 38, from Serbia.

Suspected of conspiracy to import 255k of cocaine into the UK with a street value of £53m. Dugic, who is from Serbia, allegedly played a major part in the importation.

Jonathon Kelly, aged 38, from Drumchapel, Glasgow.

Kelly is considered extremely violent and is wanted on recall to prison for serious assaults including paralysing a victim with a machete. He is around 5ft 10in, heavily built, has blue/grey eyes, a Scottish accent and occasionally a beard. He has scars on both sides of his face, his arms and his right hand.

Sarah Panitzke, aged 45, from Fulford, near York.

Wanted by HMRC for fraud, she is accused of laundering approximately £1bn for a crime group involved in VAT fraud. She’s got a Yorkshire accent and is about 5ft 5in tall. Eighteen members of her crime group received sentences totalling 135 years.

Dominic McInally, aged 28, from Formby, north Liverpool.

Wanted by Merseyside Police on suspicion of conspiring to supply cocaine. Alleged leader of a drug trafficking gang that expected to bank £1.25m every month. Described as about 5ft 10in and blond.

Mark Quinn, aged 55, from Liverpool.

Wanted by Police Scotland for alleged involvement in distribution of amphetamine with a street value of £11m. He is around 5ft 9in and has a large build.

Sunday Mutterings - the Look of Lux

The Goddaughter was back again this month, to spend some time out and catch up before her wedding in Glastonbury in August. And as always when Ziggy arrives at the Casita, it was an action packed week.

This time she invited her best friend and maid-of-honour at the forthcoming nuptials, Lux, along. Like Ziggy, Lux is a modern circus performer and the pair does a routine involving fire. They are also planning to do something involving flaming staves at the ceremony itself and, as I’m going to be the celebrant, it’s fair to say this won’t be your conventional wedding.

The drama started before Ziggy had even landed in Spain. Flying with a head cold, she wasn’t able to adjust the pressure as the plane descended. As well as being incredibly painful and more than a little frightening, it also meant that her ears started bleeding and she went deaf. This was the cue for Ryanair signaling a full scale medical emergency, complete with paramedics running onto the plane on the tarmac, lots of shouting in Spanish (which she doesn’t speak and couldn’t hear) at the bewildered Ziggy, throwing her into an ambulance and dashing to the medical centre (complete with more shouting) where they stuck a needle in her. Deaf, in pain and with a fear of all medical institutions, they then dumped a completely traumatised Ziggy back in arrivals. Which is where I found her…

After giving her a huge hug and grabbing extortionately expensive water at the arrivals bar, I told Ziggy to sit tight while I went to find Lux, who was coming in on a later flight. “But you’ve never met her. How will you know her?” the Goddaughter asked. ”Ziglet, she’s you bestie. I’m sure she will stand out in the crowd” I replied.

That was the understatement of the year. As the rest of the Luton flight, all hen parties and shell suits shuffled past with that bewildered look that the majority have when arriving at Malaga, a lone female figure, wearing a hat with a pheasant feather, Game of Thrones style laced top, split skirt and cowboy boots, strode past. “You must be Lux” I grinned.

The rest of the week was hectic and included organising photo shoots, visiting my other Goddaughter up in Coin, and coining the term ‘Godsisters’, the drama of the right front steering arm breaking of the Landcruiser while thundering down the Istan road (a ‘life flashing before my eyes experience’. Although I did enjoy revisiting certain parts) and, after the social media furore that accompanied her last visit, christening Ziggy with a new nickname - ‘Trollbait’!

The highlight of the trip came from Lux, though. Winding down on the terrace overlooking the lake on the last night, the girls were discussing the fact that mosquitos had bitten them and that the little pests were attracted by pheromones. I mentioned that I had no bites.

“Basically, one of the things that attract mosquitos is if you are sexually active” she said, looking straight at me.

“So you’ll be fine…”

Trifit Marbella Big Challenge for Sarah on August 3

The ultimate in Sporting Endurance: The TRIFITMARELLA BIG CHALLENGE 2019 takes place on this Saturday.

This challenge is a 24 hour ironman distance ultra triathlon. An amazing 5KM swim from the Mediterranean beaches of Marbella, depending on the tide the route will be Hippopotamus Beach to Marbella Cable Beach. Followed immediately by 200 KM of undulating cycling with big climbs from the Marbella Arch to the historic Granada City Centre, finishing  with a 50KM run up the highest tarmac road in Europe to Pico Veleta which towers over Granada Provence.

Christopher Grenfell and Jansen Riley are heading up this amazing challenge, with support from fellow local athletes. Writing this in such few words almost makes this sound like a breeze. So read the words again, and fully digest the madness of this event.

But Why: Simple - Sarah Almagro Vallejo. At just 17, Sarah became ill with bacterial meningitis infection and later sepsis which meant amputation of her hands and feet: an amputation that saved her life. Sarah's kidney was also damaged and she is now on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. Money needs to be raised, and in association with Somos Tu Ola, the money raised is for Sarah to receive prosthetic limbs.

With support and fund-raising, which means help from you all, Sara will have the medical care and facilities she needs to enable her to make a bright and positive future for herself. Giving her parents, family and friends the support they need to watch Sarah develop into the life she deserves.

Dr Galache of Elviria Medical Centre will be at the Fuengirola Castle Car Park from 6.15 pm to give information on Sarah's life challenges, and to talk to you about how your donation will be the positivity that Sarah needs.

Please donate, just a little

Swim Start Time : 3.30 pm
Bike Start Time: 6 pm
Run Start Time: 7 am (4 August)

Finca Cortesin launches new development

Set to become an instantly recognisable landmark on the Costa del Sol, with its unique design and combination of real estate and lifestyle, Las Albercas at Finca Cortesin is a collection of stunning residences just launched on the international market.

Properties at Las Albercas include stunning penthouses, ground floor residences with private gardens and first floor residences with enormous terraces. There are two, three and four bedroom homes available.

With this development, the team at Finca Cortesin are creating unparalleled living environments surrounded by the best amenities, world-class service, architecture and design, with the development scheduled for completion in Autumn 2021.

Every  detail of Las Albercas has been designed with the utmost care and attention. The kitchens combine a careful balance between flair and functionality and feature high levels of insulation, sustainable plumbing, heating and air conditioning, including centralised solar energy per block, to minimise the developments’ impact on the environment.

Throughout, the design and build aims to combine comfort and luxury to meet the needs of sophisticated buyers who understand the art of living and share the desire to enjoy the freedom of a well-run, well-designed, uncluttered life.

Spacious terraces affording impressive views of the Mediterranean and an abundance of natural light, complete the connection between architecture and nature, building and landscape and make the most of the uninterrupted golf and sea views.

In addition to the spectacular properties, owners have access to the Las Albercas Clubhouse, an exquisite sanctuary exclusively for residents, offering a lavish spa experience set amongst tropical gardens. This includes an outdoor and indoor pool, gym, spa, hammam and treatment rooms. They also benefit from the Finca Cortesin lifestyle, including concierge and rental services, fantastic restaurants, a beach club, pools, tennis centre and a world-class golf course.

Prices start from €1 million for a 2 bedroom residence. The project will commence construction in Autumn 2019 and is scheduled for completion in Autumn 2021.

It's Another Hot One!

A new heatwave is set to send temperatures soaring today

Weather agency Aemet has issued yellow, amber and red alerts for extreme heat today.

Temperatures in excess of 38ºC are forecast in parts of the country, with northern regions expected to see higher temperatures reaching 41ºC.

People are being advised to avoid direct exposure to the sun in the hottest periods of the day, and to check on the elderly and infirm.

It's a stay in the shade, with frequent dips in the pool, kind of day!

Come Fly With Me!

If you were a child in the 70s, there were three films that you would have seen.

This was in the age before Internet, DVDs, Netflix or films on demand, so that in order to see a film you actually had to get off the sofa and traipse off to the local cinema, so going to the pictures was a proper occasion. Seventies kids therefore saw “Star Wars” – and lights sabered each other in the foyer afterwards, “Grease” singing loudly along with John Travolta and Olivia Neutron Bomb, and “Superman”.

One of the things that I distinctly remember about going to see the later was the fact that not only my mum but also all the other mums came to the cinema with us. Normally one longsuffering adult would have to be in charge of half a dozen nine-year-olds. With Superman, however, is while the nine-year-olds believed a man could fly, the Mums all believed that Christopher Reeve looked pretty damn good in a cape. It was, if you like, the "Aquaman" of its time.

then, however, I haven’t had any great yearning to take to the sky. I’m
not good with heights, so abseiling, bungee jumping, hang gliding and
the like leave me cold – or sweaty palmed to be precise. Even rock
climbing scenes in films make me turn pale. Little wonder, then, that I
have absolutely no desire to skydive. Let’s be honest, with my track
record with all things mechanical, especially transport, going up in a
light aircraft is never going to be a good idea.

When I got the invitation to go and check out Fly 4 Real, southern Spain’s first outdoor skydive simulator, I was intrigued. Rather than leaping out of a plane, you are kept aloft in a wind tunnel. It’s somewhat like being in a huge hairdryer, although obviously it’s been years since I was near one of those. So I headed up to Campillos, about an hour from Marbella, to the excellent KartingCenter Campillos, where the simulator is based.

founders at Fly 4 Real include former Red Devils – the British Army’s
crack parachute display team – who purchased the equipment after using
it to train Tom Cruise for the film ‘Mission Impossible: Fallout’. Tom,
by the way, is apparently totally professional, very friendly and has a
penchant for practical jokes. And the ex Paras I spoke to gave pop
pipsqueak Justin Beiber no chance if he does step into a MMA ring with

a safety briefing and the donning of a rather natty flying suit,
although I had brought the wrong shoes and had to have my Moroccan
sandals duct taped to my ankles – a look that won’t catch on – it was
time to climb into the wind tunnel with my instructor and fly.

I didn’t soar like Superman, I didn’t bounce of the bottom of the wind
tunnel in a crumpled heap and if nothing else, the upward blast gave me
the most thorough facial treatment in years.

Although I was more Christopher Biggins than Christopher Reeve, you could believe a (small, bald, 50-something) man could fly!

Eva's Marbella Magic!

Marbella once again showed that it has a heart, as well as soul, at the Global Gift Gala last weekend.

Founders Eva Longoria and Maria Bravo hosted the black tie event, now in its eighth year, in the beautiful grounds of the Gran Melia Don Pepe.

More than 280 guests enjoyed an evening of speeches, awards and music, with performances from stars including Chambao's La Mari, DJ Adassiya and West End star Brenda Edwards.

As well as a host of well known Spanish actors, models, celebrities and chefs, we spotted CSI actor Gary Dourdan. The weekend also included the Marbella Fashion Show in Puerto Banus and a visit to Casa Global Gift in Marbella.

And Eva proved that she is a working mum by appearing on stage at the Gala with her young son Santiago!