Learning Spanish… a good idea!

Spanish: c2018 Daniel Franklin (1843magazine.com)

Imagine that the Spanish-speaking world was a single country, called Hispanidad. It covers a territory perhaps one-and-a-half times the size of China. Its population is nearly 500m, making it the world’s third most populous country, behind China and India.

(See below for course ideas)

Among these people, the number of native Spanish-speakers is rising towards 400m; as a mother tongue, only Mandarin Chinese is bigger. Hispanidad also has a rich literature, from Cervantes to Gabriel García Márquez, that is best enjoyed in the original. And you really should see an Almodóvar film without subtitles. Only English and Chinese are more widely used on the internet than Spanish.

So if you are in business, into the arts or just want to join la conversación, the sheer size of Hispanidad is a powerful reason to learn Spanish. But Hispanidad is not a single country. The fact that it spreads across the Americas, Spain and even parts of Africa and Asia makes the case for Spanish stronger still.

After English, it is the most used international language. For tourists it eases and enriches travel in the 20-plus countries where Spanish is a main language (though some may prefer to skip Equatorial Guinea). Students have an enviable choice of stimulating places to hone their Spanish skills, from Venezuela to Argentina to Spain itself.

Not forgetting the United States, the country with the second-largest number of Spanish-speakers (about 50 million and rising) after Mexico. Latinos are growing in influence culturally, commercially and politically. Nowadays, would-be presidents make sure to advertise in Spanish: Soy Mitt Romney y apruebo este mensaje.

Even for those with no political ambitions, there is another compelling reason to pick Spanish as your second language: it’s easy (certainly compared with, say, Mandarin). And once you’ve got Spanish, you’re half-way to Italian, French and Portuguese too.

Learn Spanish? ¡Cómo no!, as they say in Hispanidad.


Here in Hondon, there are many private teachers, shared classes and the Townhalls in the area will from time-to-time offer free courses. if you want to learn remotely online, a quick “Google” will find you many courses (free, cheap and full certified courses). There are also interactive mobile Apps such as DuoLingo (free) to get you started. Rosetta Stone make a DVD-ROM course.

Or you cold plump for the old fashioned “buy a book” to learn. Which ever is best for you, we highly recommend you learn some Spanish as it will help you integrate more, understand the rules and medical and of course engage with the many friendly locals in the Hondon Valley.


Learn Spanish in HondonLane Green suggests:
Duolingo
is a free all-in-one package, and will get you going. If ready to commit, Babel is a cheap and high-quality subscription that helpfully explains grammar in the teaching. Rosetta Stone, much marketed, now offers a competitive subscription price, but its approach of teaching through pictures, without ever using the learner’s native language, is best kept for easy European languages. Memrise, with many free courses, is brilliant for vocabulary, and even some elements of grammar. It is based on the science of spaced repetition: words are re-introduced at lengthening intervals in flashcard-style exercises. When you get one wrong, the length between repetitions is shortened again, before gradually lengthening. (If you can find them, use the Memrise courses that have audio: when you hear and see the word simultaneously, each reinforces the other – and the audio will train you out of pronouncing the words as though they were English much faster.)

Primavera: Soon be Spring in Hondon!

Spring (Primavera) is always a special time for nature with new growth and wondrous regeneration of life and colour. The Hondon Valley is no exception, having an amazing wealth of agriculture. And with record rain fall this winter the valley is greener and more colourful than ever. It really is outstanding this year with the Hondon Meadows a floral tapestry to behold right now.

Poppies in Hondon, Spain

We at Hondon Villas are no green fingered experts but you can’t help but notice this year is quite wonderful in the gardens and countryside this Springtime.

After the winter citrus harvest of grapes, clementines, oranges and lemons, February sees the valley full of pink and purple almond blossom. Which with the late winter winds fall like snow flakes to make way for March when the grape vines are starting to bud with vibrant green leaves. The pomegranate trees show the bright red flower to later turn to fruit. The thyme and rosemary herbs are in abundance with a small purple / blue flower and just smell delightful.

The Spanish Daises are amazing in full bloom and just seem to grow and are very hardy. The common and locally known “Sally Ann Handsome” (a very prevalent succulent) lines many a drive way or country road edge spreading it’s pinky purple flowers like a carpet. Roses do well in Hondon too. And for those that have managed to find the right spot can see stunning Bougainvillea. We are always amazed at the Yukkas creamy crown against the green blades and blue sky! There also some wonderful fragrances from Spanish Wisteria. All Gorgeous.

But the star of the show this time last year has to be the wild red Poppies. In all the years we have lived in the Hondon Valley we have never seen the fields so full. It must have been the heavy rain falls earlier in the year that has made this scarlet flower spread and thrive so much.

Easter and Free Chocolate… Perfecto!

FREE ENTRANCE and FREE CHOCCY!
If you love chocolate or have children to entertain over the Santa Semana period we would recommend a delightful tour to the VALOR CHOCOLATE FACTORY & MUSEUM in Villajoyosa, off the N332 towards Benidorm (see their website).

Visit the chocolate factory in Villajoyosa

It is open 6 days a week (except bank holidays / festive breaks) the tour times are on the website. It is done in English & Spanish with free samples and big discounts in the factory shop!

Best go in the week as you will see the factory making a fantastic array of chocolates. DETAILS HERE: http://www.valor.es/en/museo-del-chocolate/

Who needs Agents? Find an Expat instead!

LOL! A recent story (abridged) …
Buyer: “Oh no I’d never buy a DVD player from a random bloke in the pub. Too rissssssky.”

Agent:Very wise! Oh so how did you hear about the house you want to buy here?

Buyer: “Oh the barmaid in that bar showed me it, she was very nice! She says I don’t need a to worry about black money or the paperwork.  And I don’t need an estate agent!”

Thought bubble!  So the biggest purchase of your life, 1/4 of million+ €€€ and you think the … well phhfff… we wish you luck with that one!

We know that a mechanic can fix a car. We  know the electrician will fit new lights. We know a butcher will cut a nice fillet of beef. We know the barmaid will serve ice cold drinks on hot days and the chef will cook that beef…

But a good real estate agent will sit next to you and hold your hand through the long property purchase maze, they will value, photo and video your property, negotiate the deal, sort the deposits and contracts, take you to get the right paperwork like NIEs, find me a good lawyer, open a bank account with you, know the area, the trade people,  help you with transport and the legal notary and always help you after the sale.

Do we also know the estate agent has lots of costs in running an office, employing staff, equipment, computers, websites, tax, insurance, advertising, networking, car / petrol, telephone bills, electric, water, heating, fixtures, fittings and so on… ?

We know the local agent will be part of the community, give to local charities, pay the rates, keep abreast of local planning and events, help the other businesses, create and distribute wealth, introduce people as friends, eat & drink in the local catering establishments and so on.

So a good estate agent is more than just sales person in our opinion. What do you think?

The first almond flowers arrive 2018!

The province of Alicante is already seeing the first pink and white blossom of the almond trees on their farmland. The areas of Torrellano, in Elche, Hondón de las Nieves and Hondón de los Frailes, in the Medio Vinalopó, the districts of Marina Alta and Vega Baja are some of the points of the province in which you can already enjoy a beautiful landscape.

This flowering is earlier than usual in the region. It is common for the first petals and the first almond buds to begin appearing at the beginning of February. The high temperatures registered in recent days in the region, where in some points, such as Elche, have reached between 18 and 20 degrees has been the final push for this week to start to appear the first flowers. However, the farmers are a little worried that some almonds trees may be exposed to possible frosts as the local temperature and inclement weather is forecast to be poorer.

Grapes and wine are part of Hondón’s Heritage

The Vinolopó area produces 40 million kilos of table grapes every year. The Hondon Valley is at the heart of this production … you will see acres and acres of land is dedicated to the grape (mainly for eating). It is a key employer of casual labour at bagging and harvest time. Of course the late harvest means some grapes are kept back for the New Year celebrations where locals, on the stroke of midnight try to down 12 grapes and sip cava with each chime of the town hall bell. Not easy we can tell you!

Grape Bagging in Hondon

Beyond Hondon other regions are producing wine grapes, Jumilla is one to note. Hondon de las Nieves has the outstanding Bodega Cerdas that would grace any city as both a building and as a historic reference to one of Spain’s key industries and culture. If you live or visit Hondon then you really should pay Bodega Cerdas a visit and purchase the local wine or take in a Tapas on the terrace.

» More about the Vinolopo grapes here.

Tranquilo – Introducing the Hondon Valley

Video by Hondon Villas c2017
Enjoy the sunshine, the views and chill. This video is a short introduction to the glorious Hondon Valley inland to the Alicante Region, Costa Blanca South, Spain.

INTERESTED? CONTACT:
Email: property @ hondonvillas.net
Tel: OFFICE: (0034) 965 075 357

The Hondón Valley is a peaceful, friendly, warm place surrounded by mountainous scenic beauty

The main two villages of Hondon de las Nieves and Hondon de los Frailes nest in the beautiful Hondon Valley. The relatively newly built Urbansation of La Montanosa is sandwiched between these two Hondón villages.

For decades they have grown an abundance of agricultural delights such as Grapes, Almonds and Olives (the main economy).

Hondon is surrounded by an expanse of stunning mountain views and traditional arid Spanish countryside. These excellent vistas are a delight in all seasons! Take a walk or drive through the country roads and you will just marvel at the changing light, shadows and picturesque skies.

The Hondon Valley is well known for its mild climate and pleasant summer breezes, which is very welcoming in those hot summer months when temperatures rarely fall below 30 degrees. The region enjoys sunshine in excess of 310 days per year, where the air is very clean and the pace of life slow. Hondon offers a very peaceful and stress free life.

Come take a look at the Valley of the Vines, drink the local wine under the bluest of skies and feel the warmth of the Spanish sun on your face … and you’re hooked! We were! We love it!

WEBSITES & SOCIAL MEDIA:
UK Site: http://www.hondonvillas.net
NL/BE: http://www.hondonvillas.nl
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hondonvillas/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hondonagent
Blog: http://www.villasinhondon.net/

Drones in Hondon Valley. Good or Bad?

As an established estate agent in Spain, Hondon Villas are always keen to use new technology if it helps present and sell our clients houses, improve our real estate services and help speed up our work flow.  [ Published on: 29 May 2017 ]

We did consult an experienced lawyer on the use of drones ( see below). She advised us that in a nutshell: it seems clear that currently in Spain (2016) it is not advisable to fly drones for commercial purposes or anywhere over urban or populated areas, particularly government owned or where security and privacy is paramount. To do so can incur massive fines.

Background: Well we saw some excellent promo’ footage of luxury properties in places like Marbella, Florida, UAE, etc. After seeing these we thought that for some luxury properties with a global appeal, aerial photographs or video would help the prospective buyer in their potential property choices.

But are they of use in Hondon? Does the law allow us? Well,  about two years ago we at Hondon Villas researched the use of Drones for aerial photography as we were unsure of the appetite for such a service, the cost to do it or even if it would help or hinder or business.

Of course it is early days for such technology and because of mass production and a relatively low price entry level, unmanned remote aircraft are now in abundance. Rightly or wrongly, many people already have them. But as a result, there are now numerous reports of some pilots abusing their use with no regard for others. In short aerial photography has become a “wild west”  situation.

So it turns out that the use of retail drones, particularly over private land, government buildings, urban land & housing estates is contentious across the globe. Indeed there are few places you can fly them legally unless the drone and pilot register and get permissions, particularly for commercial purposes.

Indeed, a local Hondon Valley real estate agent has already used a drone to film the area and some of our own clients have expressed to us the dismay they have that their home, location and land layout have been exposed without permission. Did the agent get permission? Well the law would suggest it would be necessary as it’s used for commercial advertising (branded with a logo) and the flights are over populated urban land and critically within the Alicante airport flight paths.

So whilst the use of drones in Real Estate seems a good idea, it is not as straight forward to just buy a drone and willy nilly film whatever you want! Indeed, it is risky in many ways. The Spanish government has collected almost €2 million from drone fines alone since 2015 as they actively looked for breaches of the law. There is a total ban on drones in around the Balearic Islands for instance.

Pro’ versions of drones with high-end UHD cameras can be costly and difficult to fly. So the EU & USA in general are keen to legislate on their use and limit the areas they can be used. The reasons are mainly on safety, privacy and security grounds. After all a falling drone could damage property or hurt someone and people are quite precious about their privacy and can feel spied on.

We think in general, the above reasons for laws on drones have some merit in this uncertain world. And of course many people will and do misuse this new technology for criminal or dubious activities.

So Drone laws make sense to us. And whilst the main manufacturers and retailers pile drones high on shop shelves and sell them to anyone, there are actual laws to govern their purchase, registration, use and permissions. It can be a “red-tape” paper chase, especially in Spain. ( Royal Decree-Law 8/2014 on Air Navigation and Law 18/2014, of 15 October )

We certainly advocate laws on grounds of privacy in built-up areas. E.G. In Spain a property vendor may list their house with many agents, so do we really want those many agents “droning” over properties on a regular basis? We don’t think so. We get the impression that local residents would take a dim view of regular “spies in the skies“.

So, after a lot of questions to legal eagles, near-by flying clubs and asking people in the Hondon Valley, plus taking into account the price of a pro drone purchase, accessory costs and training, we at Hondon Villas concluded that currently using drones in Real Estate might not be the way to go until the laws are changed over these temporary 2014 ones in place now.

So, yes we’d love to offer the service to those that want it but as the Hondon areas are predominantly an urban sprawl we think that many locals would soon complain about noise, nuisance and security issues. In short, we respect the law and our prospective clients privacy and safety. We can’t rule it out for the future of course so we will be keeping an eye on any developments and laws.

Our SOLICITOR spelt out the current stance in Spain:

The matter of private or commercial “drones” is regulated in Royal Decree-Law 8/2014 on Air Navigation and Law 18/2014, of 15 October, approving urgent measures for growth, competitiveness and efficiency.

Article 50 of that Law establishes provisions relating to civil aircraft piloted by remote control.

That provision primarily regulates identification, features, possible uses, operating conditions, enabled airspace, security, accreditation of pilots and authorization certificates. An important remark is the obligation to obtain the necessary authorizations and make the flights always during daylight, in good visual meteorological conditions and out of congested areas of cities, habituated towns or settlements and outdoors gatherings of people.

Also, the drones can only be used for technical or scientific works; which in accordance with European standards it includes specialized operations such as research, pest control, photography, surveillance, security, patrol, advertising, fire fighting, rescue and scientific works. So, although the law does not define what is meant by specifically technical or scientific works, it seems clear that in Spain is not currently allowed the use of drones for commercial purposes.

On that regard, State Aviation Safety Agency showed, in his note of April 7, 2014, the following statement: “is not allowed, and has never been, the use of aircraft piloted by remote control with commercial or professional purposes “.

As a final note, it is important to know that this regulatory framework is provisional and will apply until the approval of the regulatory rules laid down in Final Provision second, second paragraph, of the Act. So, it is possible that operating drones in Spain in urban areas and for commercial purposes can be allowed despite that is not what Law has permitted so far.

Update May 2017 …

The Spanish RPAS regulation (Ley 18/2014) is only applicable to flights for commercial purposes and all professional activities.

But for recreational use (hobby) you should comply with the provisions in Spanish Law “Real Decreto 552/2014” (rules of the air), article 15, that allows RPAS flight at low altitude “as long as they do not involve any risk or harm to people or properties on surface

So in particular you should:
– operate at Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) and below 120m height.
– not fly in urban areas and over buildings and people. Overfly of populated areas and crowds is not allowed.
– not fly in controlled airspace (near airports) and avoid flying in areas where flights are conducted at low altitude with manned aircrafts.
– not fly at night or in bad weather conditions.
– please ask your local authorities prior to flying.
– other special restrictions may apply, for example in some special areas like Natural Parks and Biosphere Reserves.

I like the Hondon Valley because…

Living in the Hondon Valley

We asked our Facebook Group “What’s On Hondon” why they liked to live or visit the Hondon Valley… here are some of the answers. c2017

Kathryn says … “I love the laid back attitude along with the peace and quiet of a small Spanish village. Being surrounded by mountains is my favourite thing, it is so relaxing 🙂

Joan : It’s our little piece of Heaven on Earth – our little bit of Paradise ❤❤❤

Mia : Nice people, nice places around, good entertainment. I hope to live there soon.

Pamela : I luv living there. No regrets!

Janni : The weather is sublime. The Spanish are so welcoming and kind. The mountains are stunning and we have Hondon de los Frailes nearby with fab restaurants and a wonderful community of Brits, Dutch and other nationalities. There are many social activities and the coast is not far away. We feel lucky to have found the Hondon Valley.

Christopher : Yes a nice place with nice people. But the Indians in the hill are a pain when coming over the mountains, their arrows took out 2 of my tyres last week lol !!

Toni : It’s my little piece of paradise!

Sabrina : I love living in Hondon because it’s a tight community, friendly and beautiful. I am so glad I get to raise my children here! (And that’s from someone who didn’t want to move here! )

Helen : I love living here, who wouldn’t? It is one of the healthiest places around. It’s a laid back friendly area and ideally situated to visit the coast 😃

Duncan : I love it here. We have great friends. The panoramic views of the mountain’s never let you down, it’s a delight to get up in a morning!

»  JOIN IN ON FACEBOOK : TWITTER : BLOG

Adele : Travelled around a lot and this is our 36th house! We have lived here 12 years…. so far so good.

Percy : It has been said Paradise! In seventeen years we have watched this beautiful place grow from an old Spanish village to an old Spanish village with modern amenities. There are good eateries and friendly people with a weather which is also friendly…most of the time!

Andre : It’s my paradise with nice warm people living here. English Dutch & Belguique and Spanish

Irene : When ever I am there I look at the views and never fail to be impressed. All my visitors from London adore the time they spend in Hondon. It is a little bit of paradise.

Roy : We just love it here! We are living the dream, second best to paradise x

»  JOIN IN ON FACEBOOK : TWITTER : BLOG

Spain Info for Tourists, Travellers & Events

Visit SpainWe at Hondon Villas use SPAIN.INFO a lot for tourist information in Spain. It’s a great 0ne-stop place to go if you are planning a trip to to or around Spain. They also have Facebook and Twitter pages if you care to subscribe to them. Well worth the time we think. » Visit the website here| spain.info

This website has some excellent articles and outstanding pictures about Spanish art, culture, museums, monuments, beaches, cities, parties, tours, cuisine and nature in Spain. You can plan your journey with their “Interactive map” and then document your travels with a free online Journal.

The weather is sublime, the Spanish are so welcoming and kind, the mountains are stunning and we have fab restaurants and a wonderful community of Brits, Dutch and other nationalities. There are so many social activities too. The coast is never far away. We feel very fortunante to have found this place to live.  : says Janni (Hondon Valley)

2017 was another record year for Tourism in Spain and the projections are that 2018 will be even bigger. We live here so we know the reasons people come to Spain year-after-year, often tempting people the buy a property for emigration or a holiday home. The Hondon Valley is very popular with Expat Brits, Dutch and Belgiques who have made homes in the campo and the upmarket Urb La Montanosa, near Hondon de las Nieves.

Spain Information for Tourists Screen