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Spain
Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Great Escape



Part 1

Ed got up one day last week, and the dogs were nowhere to be seen. He simply assumed they were right at the top, or bottom of the garden. When he made their breakfast, the appeared as usual, then trotted off again. Suddenly, he realised that they were gone, and the gate was open. They could be anywhere. Although were are in the countryside, it is actually only ½ mile to the nearest main road.

As I looked out of the bedroom in window – in horror – at the open gate, I saw Paddy and Max. They were leaping with great enthusiasm around Monica and Roberto’s garden! I shouted them, and Ed, and thankfully, in a few minutes they were back where they belonged! The night before, I had loaded up the washing machine in the garage, and I must have pushed the button on the gate fob by mistake. They may have been out all night.

Half an hour later, we discovered that it wasn’t me – one of the scallywags had eaten right through the cable to the gate, and shorted it out – allowing it to open. Thank goodness for Everready Ed and his assortment of tools… within another ½ hour, all was fixed (and concreted back into the ground)!

Part 2

When we got back from the fiesta, it was very late. We opened the gate, and Paddy and Max came bounding down the drive. I went through the gate, and saw Paddy beside the car. I drove down the drive and Ed closed the gate. No sign of Max. He was on the wrong side of the gate!

Ed opened the gate to let him back in, but he realised that it was now open – so it was his chance to run off! This time, we ignored him completely, and made a huge fuss over Paddy – Max soon came bounding back, to see what he was missing!

l'Olleria en Festes

It is now time for the fiestas in our village. As I write this, we are not quite certain what is happening when! There is a tannoy system in town, where the local news is read out over a speaker, but we can’t hear it from here. (Unless the wind is in the right direction, but then it is muffled – and it’s in Valenciano anyway!)

We do know that the Fiestas were officially opened on Friday night, with a big party, and massive fireworks. We were told that they would be lit at 10pm, but they also went off at 12:00 and again at 12:40. We could see them from the house, so we didn’t go in to town.

On Saturday, was the main ‘fiesta’, so we went down to investigate. It was rather odd, seeing the whole of the high street cut off from traffic, and lined with an assortment of garden and household chairs, for everyone to sit on. Trying to figure it out, we asked a random family ‘que passer?’ – what’s happening? To my amusement, she said – there’s a fiesta (I had figured that out!) I asked what time it starts and she replied midnight! Oh boy, another late night.

We went for a drink (or 4) and some tapas (Spanish snacks) and then at 11:30, went back to the high street. There were still loads of empty spaces, but we found a wall to sit on. (We spotted our neighbour too and waved!) At 11:50, the spectators suddenly appeared from everywhere. I don’t know where they hide, but they only come out when something is about to start!

At midnight, the parade begins. For Fiesta, read ‘parade’, for, apart from a few fireworks, we didn’t see anything else happen! That said, the parade was very impressive. There were floats of one sort or another, mostly dressed up tractors or small trucks, and accompanying groups. The first group appeared to be something to do with the countryside – the girls wore wellies and colourful mac’s and danced with umbrellas! Each group also had it’s own band marching behind. Because of this, there was quite a big gap between each group!

After the dancing ‘land army’ came an assortment of; waitresses; Robinson Crusoe and some shipwrecked people; cowgirls and Indians; prisoners and policemen; as well as loads of others. It took 2 hours for the entire parade to pass. (There also seemed to be a very high number of men, dressed as women, which seemed rather odd. Personally, I think it had something to do with the late hour, and the copious amounts of ‘falling down water’ that had evidently been consumed.)

Excellent evening – and all for free

Recortadores



In several villages around here, it is now Fiesta Time. It is different for every area. Last week, it was at ‘La Pobla Del Duc’, a village about 5 miles from here.

They had several nights of entertainment at the local bull ring (a temporary structure) as well as parades, and a huge ‘grape fight’, where everyone throws lots of bunches of grapes at each other.

We went to two nights at the bullring; the first was with professional people, (called Recortadores) who perform amazing stunts with the bulls. They goad the bull to charge, then, at the last second, they jump over the charging bull! The second night, it was just the local ‘have a go heros’ in the ring.

The Recortadores were excellent. As well as jumping over the bulls, they did lots of stunts. Sometimes there were two of them standing together, and as the bull charges, they simply parted, and the bull went between them. One of them even pole vaulted over the bull. Another 'game' was to try and hook a small metal ring with ribbons on it, over the bulls horn. It only counts if the bull is running towards you when the ring goes on (no sneaking up behind him!). They used several bulls during the course of the event, so that they didn’t get too tired. Good job really, because one of them jumped over the barrier 3 times. Thankfully, it didn’t land on the audience, but simply in the corridor the men usually use, to get away from the bull. It was very funny, watching everyone jump into the ring, instead of out! The oddest thing though, was that the entertainment didn’t even start until 11:30 pm. I guess that this is because it is simply too hot in the daytime! Oh yes – entry fee – 2 euros.


On the night of the ‘have a goes’ it was the same – very late and only 2 euros. Many of the lads were chicken really. They may have been in the ring, but they were only brave when behind the bull. There were 3 lads who were very good, one of them even doing a jump over the bull a few times. Excellent entertainment, with neither man nor bull being hurt.

video

Stairway to Heaven



Ed has started to build the steps from the middle terrace, to the top one, with the pool. They are a lovely curved shape, to counterbalance the curve further down the garden, around the walnut tree. The top two will be a little more difficult to lay, as the sides are not the same length. We don’t want to infringe on the pool any further, so some trial and error is required. However, Ed is like me, and spends a lot of time figuring things out in his head first, so I’m sure that when he moves on to do them, they will look brilliant.

As you can see, one gable of the pump house has also gone on now too. Is there no stopping this man?

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Big Dogs



For those that want to see the puppies, here they are... bless the little darlings, they are about 11 months old already. Not so little now, about labrador size, which is really nice (apart from when they land on you unexpectedly!). In the video, the little darlings had discovered a baby lizzard... if you are lucky, you can see it run a few times, before Paddy finally picks it up! MUM - they love their new beds thank you; they take them everywhere... down the garden, up the drive...
video

Garden Fence

When Ed was doing the back filling, the neighbour down hill from us happened to be in her garden, pegging out some washing. We waved to each other, and she indicated her approval of the wall. In my terrible Spanish, I told her that it would be rendered and painted white. She then said something else to me, so I went right across to her. We then had a lovely little chat about ‘who knows what’ all in Spanish!

I think she said that her husband built their walls, and used to do their painting, but he is no longer there. She asked about the pool, and I explained that we had removed the tiles, and needed a new pump and filter system. Bless her, she said that we could use her pool (I think).

We also chatted about the dogs, and how, when they were puppies, they tried to pinch the granddaughters flip flops through the fence!

She was expecting friends that afternoon, so she went the, but it was lovely to have managed a little conversation, not just a smile and a wave.

The build goes on...



It seems never ending, but actually, Ed has already finished the wall! There is still a lot to do, in that we need to fill in the cavities in the breezeblocks, in the main wall, and the supporting pillars.

We have backfilled with the broken tiles from the pool, and also the clean gravel and soil. Here will be some settling of the soil, so we will then need to level off a little. This has to wait anyway, as we will be rendering the wall along the front, top, and 1 block at the back.

Ed has done a huge tidy up, and the garden now looks 10 times bigger than it was. It is wonderful. We can’t do much more for now, as the building suppliers are all shut for the rest of the month. I’m not complaining, it looks great.

Next step, is finishing off the pump house, and the steps.

Incy Wincy Spider


None of the insects in Spain are incy wincy.

There are beautiful colourful butterflies and dragonflies, amazing lizards, and scary wasps, but I got a bit of a shock yesterday. Ed called out “tarantula” and made a spider motion with his fingers. Ohh. He was ok, he was sitting in the digger at the time!

I carefully went to where he had seen it, and, sure enough a true and proper tarantula. I tried to get a close-up picture, but I was shaking too much to get a clear one!

video

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

What ya doin?


Just to let you know, that Paddy is keeping a close eye on Ed's work...

The Wall



Ed is doing really well with the wall. On Sunday, he did the fiddly curved bit, and on Tuesday, Wood came around and helped him with the manual stuff.

Together, they got loads done, as you can see in the picture. When it is done, it will make a massive difference to the garden. There will be a big area next to the poolhouse, rather than the narrow path we have at the moment.

We have decided to render the new section, which will be much quicker and cheaper. We will paint it to match the poolhouse, so that it all blends in together.

Wood and Ed even got all of the tiles out of the bottom of the pool, which we had been keeping as large stone for the drainage behind the wall. This meant that the pool itself has moved on to the next step too. Now all we need to do, is win the euromillions and we will be able to finish it all.


More Orange Trees


We had the opportunity to acquire some mature orange trees. Ed did some clearing for Maz and Wood, and in return, we were given a couple of really good trees.

Ed dug the holes for them with the digger, which makes everything much easier! We soon put them in, and gave them a good watering. The neigbours were very intrigued.

Sadly, at the moment, they have gone rather brown with shock, but hopefully next winter they will get over it, and bloom again. (We keep watering them, which seems a bit pointless while they are brown, but it needs doing.)

Boot It

Well, I went to my first ever car boot sale on Sunday. Technically, it was a market (at Pedreuger) but people are allowed to set up their own stalls. I had lots of things to get rid of, and this was much better than just throwing them away.

I had been warned, that when we got there, the stall would be high-jacked, while we tried to set up. I went with some friends (Wood, Maz, their two boys and Dolly) as this was not Ed’s cup of tea at all. He stayed home and spent some time building the garden wall again. Setting up was a nightmare, we were inundated with people trying to grab anything worthwhile, so that they could sell it on. I had priced up most things, but it was still very hectic, trying to haggle in a foreign language.

I had a few minor things stolen, such as bottles of perfume, but this was only things that were valued at less than £1 or so anyway. It still made me cross, that people are so dishonest.

I did quite well really, as much of the stuff I wanted to sell was quite nice. The funniest sale, was a fake ‘Gucci’ watch, that brother John had brought me in Tenerife about 20 years ago. He paid about £2 for it all that time ago. The strap was always a little tight, so I rarely wore it. The battery was flat, but it did work ok. I made it look lovely, by putting it in a nice presentation box, and I got €10 for it, with no haggling. I think the buyer thought it was the real thing! (I told John, and he thought it was very funny)

It was a fun day out, and I need to do it again at some point, but not for a while. It was a very hot day and, combined with the early start, I was very tired by the time I got home. I even had a nap, before we went out in the evening!

Meteor Shower

Apparently in mid-August every year, there is a meteor shower, emanating from a system called Perseid. The meteors pass through the remnants of a comet as they pass the earth, and as a result, we have spectacular falling stars for several weeks.

I understood enough of the Spanish news to figure this out, but sadly, that night, we had a bank of cloud blow in, so nothing could be seen. I looked it up on the web, and realised that actually, this phenomenon lasts for up to several weeks, so the next night, Ed and I sat out again, star gazing. This time, we spotted lots of man made satellites and several falling stars.

Ironically, on this night, I happened to wake up at around 3am, so I crept outside and lay on the sunloungers again! This time, I saw several significant shooting stars, with really long tails, and also lots of quicker, shorter ones. I didn’t manage to catch one and put it in my pocket, but there is certainly a chance that at least some of my wishes might come true!


http://travel.latimes.com/daily-deal-blog/index.php/perseid-meteor-showe-2482/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perseids

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Knock your block off



Ed is continuing with the building of the wall, on the second level of the garden. We were concerned that the builders merchant would shut (as all construction comes to a halt in August) so we planned ahead, and bought the viga and bardos (beam and flat tiles).

We popped to the merchants and loaded up the bardos, but weren’t quite sure what was happening with the viga. I understood something about putting it in the back of the truck, but I wasn’t certain where is was! It certainly wasn’t there. Whist we were trying to figure out what he was saying, he disappeared for a few minutes. When he got back, he has a set of car keys in his hand. ‘We go now’ he said in Spanish. “Sure” we replied, even though we had no idea where we were going, or why! We followed him in his little car, and realised that we must be going to a different depot of theirs, even though we had no idea where it was. Sure enough, we drove down a track on the outskirts of town, and stopped at a builders yard! He unlocked the gates, and loaded up the viga. ‘Pay me on Monday’ he said. We still haven’t paid. I will probably go into town tomorrow, and pay them.

Ed has built up the walls of the pump house, and is now laying the blocks for the long wall, skirting in a curve around the walnut tree. We have decided on how the steps will look too. Once it is all up, and covered with cladding, it will look wonderful.