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Spain
Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Calm and Bliss


At last, following the chaos of last week, we have had a purge on the last of the unpacked boxes. When the rooms were returned to their proper state, we discovered that we rather liked the 'uncluttered' look. We therefore went through everything, and have now got 4 boxes of goodies to take to a car boot sale. The bedrooms (all) look great, and there are only 2 boxes left to unpack - one of which is only old paperwork, waiting to be filed. I said to Ed, that I would now like a single bed for the study, and that I would put the remaining bits and bobs in boxes underneath. He said that there would be no where near enough room, but today, I have proved him wrong! All 3 bedrooms are tidy, no excess rubbish about. The living room is tidy, and it is a lovely, traquil sight that will greet me in the morning, instead of the previous mess. At last, I think I can safely say that everything in the house is actually finished. (Apart from the kitchen, as that doesn't count. Lottery win needed, to get that done!!!) Time to chill. Maybe the rainbow is telling me that I have finally struck gold...

Chaos and Stress




ARRGGHH. For the last week, we have been living in a state of total chaos. We have finally got round to laying new tiles on the 3 bedroom floors, but, in order to do that, we have emptied the entire contents of the room into the living room! We managed to retain a narrow causeway through the living room, so that we could get to the kitchen, but other than that everything was covered! At the end of the day, we had to move things just so that we could sit down. Circumstances dictated that we do all 3 rooms at once. Quite mad! In the mornings, we had to go outside to get clean underwear from our cabinets, as they had been left on the terrace. But, the chaos of those few days, had resulted in lovely new floors in the rooms. We no longer have to step down into the rooms, nor do we stub our toes on the rough edges. Heaven. (Only the kitchen to do now, but that will be in another 3 years or so!)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

l'Olleria - Night School


In the middle of town, is my night school; Escolar d'Adults. This actually used to be a convent and is a lovely building. You enter through a very boring grey painted door, but inside is a small chapel, and then a series of rooms, based around a courtyard and a lovely garden. I haven't been upstairs yet, but there are evidently classes up there too. The school covers everything you would expect; art, languages, maths etc. The funniest part, is that we sit in one class struggling to learn Spanish, but in the next room, are people learning English! We just smile at each other and manage our hello's and goodbye's! Come the end of term, we will do a 'year end' play for the other classes. More about that later...

Storms


We've had loads of storms lately. A few weeks ago, they were simply good old rainstorms, but this week, they have been impressive electrical sorms, without any rain. Even yesterday, the sky clouded over, and we could hear thunder, but I only got about 10 raindops on me before it stopped again. In the photo, you can see both the forked and sheet lightening as it came over the mountain. Impressive stuff!

Monday, 26 May 2008

Arboreal Challenge


There are lots of these beautiful trees around. At the moment, they are simply awash with the most stunning bright blue flowers. Does anyone have any idea what they are? Please? :-)

l'Olleria - The Monestary



Just about 1 mile from our house, is a Capuchins monestary. The front is lined with 3 rows of italian cypress trees that have obviously been there a long time, and the monestary itself is tucked away behind them. There is no longer much land belonging to the monks, but in gardens nearby are signs of previous ownership. One garden has the remains of a very old watering system visible (like a mini viaduct) and other gardens have the same walls as the monestary, but with modern homes within them! There are still monks there, and occasionally they can be seen out and about, in the brown habits. I believe it is possible to stay in the monestary overnight, but obviously the accommodation will be pretty basic. Apparently there is a myrtle bush in the grounds that has grown for over 100 years and is now a full sized tree.

l'Olleria - Bull Ring


I think that most Spanish towns have bull rings, in one form or another. In Xativa, is a proper, new tiered one that has full bull fights quite regularly. However, in l'olleria, we have a part-time one! In reality, a road actually goes through ours, and when it is needed, the road is closed off, and the floor covered with sand. There is a small shelter that the 'hero's' can hide behind, and also a viewing stand on one side. In August, young bulls are set out into the arena, and young men run around and tease the bulls, rather than actually fight them. There is a stage in the centre of the arena, and the young men bravely leap off the stage, and challenge the bulls. Needless to say, now and then, the bulls decide enough is enough and as the youngster in question leaps back on to the stage to escape, the bull leaps up too! (In the picture, we have Brandon and Zak, being the matador and bull!)

l'Olleria - Laundromat



Since this is 'proper' spain, here we still have some old traditions that continue. At the bottom end of the town centre, there is a 'public wash-house' for the washing of clothes, not people! The water flows down a specially made trough and into a wash house, where the clothes are washed. There are numbers on the wall (1 - 6) presumably so that no-one takes up too much room when doing their smalls! The water constantly flows through, so you can do a soapy wash, then a rinse. I haven't quite figured out how it works though. For example, if you were number 5, and had done your soapy wash, and were now rinsing, what would happen if number 2 started on a dirty, soapy wash? Surely you would have to start again! Perhaps number 1 is heavily soiled, number 2 light soiled, number 3 synthetics, number 4 woollens, number 5 silk, then number 6 is rinse only!!! I have actually seen little old ladies in there (probably the bulgarians) so I know it is still in use. (Personally, I find the washing machine easier to use!)

Monday, 19 May 2008

More Building Work...


Well, we had the garden tidy for a few weeks, so it's time to mess it up again! We have arranged for a stone-waller to come in, and continue the wall near the house, and take it right down the garden, around the walnut tree, and slope down to create a ramp. He will also build us a wide set of steps, as well as a pump house, to locate the machinery we need for the pool. By co-incidence, it is actually the same man that built the original wall (so he said!) so he should have no trouble matching up.

He is due to start the work in the first week of June, but we have had to do the foundations. Not a problem for man or machine (and I even barrowed some of the cement too). Within a few hours, the job was done. Completely. I can't begin to imagine what it would have cost us, if we had needed to hire in any equipment when doing these jobs, or if we had had to pay someone else to do them for us.

Pool Patio


We have had so much rain in the last two weeks, that there is now more water on the patio, than in the pool (not that there are any slabs on the patio either)! We can't really complain as there has been hardly any rain for the last 5 months. In fact, in Barcelona, the reservoir is down to 18% capacity and they have been shipping water in, in tankers. (Thankfully, Valencia has a massive underground reservoir system, so we are relatively safe here.)

BIG puppies

Well, as expected, they keep growing. Paddy is now tall enough for us to stoke his head walking along, but Max is still a little shorter, although much stockier. They still play like puppies, which can be a nightmare, as they jump on you while tearing around! (But 2 minutes later, they are asleep) The funniest thing at the moment, is the rabbits! They sit on the other side of the fence (in the laboratory) while Paddy watches through the fence. On the odd occasion they do come into our garden, Ed whispers "rabbits" and they both race off!
video

Nisperro's (and other fruit trees)


This photo is of our nisperro fruits. They have just got ripe now. They are a little more orange than when the photo was taken. Simply pick from the tree, bite off the top, and suck the loveley sweet flesh out. There are 2 large stones / pips which are easily avoided! However, Paddy and Max quickly cottoned on, that these things are edible, and within 2 days, any hanging lower than 5ft had been eaten!

Max had also realised that other trees might contain fruit! Ed has seen him trying to climb the nisperro tree more than once! He has also dug up one of the lemon trees (which has now died) so we have bought a new one, as well as a necarine tree. However (again) Max spotted the single necatrine growing, and promply ate it (damaging several branches at the same time). Thankfully, the new lemon tree still has all of it's spikes attached, so he leaves that alone! Maybe next year we will get a proper fruit harvest! (Nisperros, lemons, oranges, nectarines, olives and almonds. Yum yum.)

El Campello & Relleu



We went out for a ride out, to a lovely pleace we have found in the middle of nowhere! A converted mill, now run by english people, with a 3 course sunday dinner (carvery) for just 10€ each. The food is absolutely superb, and the staff are really friendly. It is probably about 30 miles away, but perfect for incorporating on a day out. (Especially if you go via the seaside, for a cup of coffee first!)

Bluebells and Poppies



I love bluebells. This time of year a drive in the country is a pleasure. However, in spain, there seems to be something of a shortage of them! Instead, there are a huge number of poppies. I really like these too, and have been astonished at the number of them. Many of the orchards have banks of wildflowers between them, rather than hedges or fences and during April / May these have been filled with poppies. Sometimes the floors around the trees have been awash with red. I kept wanting Ed to stop at every corner, so I could take a photo, but it was pleasant enough to take a ‘mental picture’ and remember how beautiful it looked.

If you go down to the woods today



We are really lucky, in that less than ½ mile from here, is a small woodland area, sweeping the bottom of the ‘mountain’. The weather has been very up and down, so we haven’t been up there much recently, plus of course, we needed to be certain that the pesky processionary caterpillars have finally gone.

Thankfully, we have had a few nice days, so we took the dogs for a nice long walk. They really love it. There are many pathways, but it is perfectly ok to walk anywhere, unlike most of the UK. If you are feeling very brave, you can walk straight up to the top of the mountain (but it is much easier to use the path/road up the side). We have only done that once.

We cannot see our house from the top, as it is hidden by pine trees, but anywhere along the trail there are breaks in the pines and it is possible to enjoy the view across l’Olleria or to the far sides of the valley, 20 or so miles away.

The dogs behave very well. They rarely run more than 10 feet away. In fact, when we met someone coming the other way and they asked ‘¿estan bien?’ (are they good) before I had answered, Max had run back to Ed, and Paddy had gone round them! Later, when I put Max on his lead as we neared the road again, I accidentally dropped it, and he simply trotted on regardless, rather than race off.

Poor Max



Last week, I noticed that Max had a swollen eye. I thought he probably had some sand in it, but I wasn't sure. I boiled the kettle, and made up a salt solution. Once it had cooled, I got hold of him and bathed his eye. He didn't like it much, but since he got a cuddle at the same time, he didn't run away! He ended up with a very wet face!

A little later, I then noticed that his other eye was swollen, not the one I had bathed! Ed had a look, and his whole nose and snout was swollen too. Ed was all for taking him to the vets, but I had just prepared his tea. He munched it as happily as usual, so he obviously wasn't actually ill.

As we watched him, both sides of his nose swelled up, and one eye nearly closed. Poor thing. We have no idea what he had an encouter with. He could have dug up some nasty ants, or got prickled by some toxic plants. He looked as though he had been beaten up.