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Spain
Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Lodgers


Ed has built some nest boxes and now we have some more lodgers as well as the returned barn swallows. To my delight we have some crested tits. I keep trying to get my own photo of them, but they are far too quick as they dart in and out of the little house. When they are in the tree, the camera doesn't know what to focus on! So... I have had to cheat, and attach a photo I found on the web. They are very prety and have a lovely cheerful song too. The perfect lodgers.

Attack of the Killer Bees

I was playing merrily away on the laptop the other day, when a bee passed by, trying to get out of the office window. He couldn't as there is a fly screen on it. I felt a bit sorry for him, as he was a little worker bee, but I just left him wandering around on the screen. About 1/2 hour later, there were 5 or 6 more bees ambling by. Very odd. I decided to go and investigate what was happening.

To my absolute horror, there were bees all over the place. Lots in the sitting room, bathroom and spare bedroom (thankfully none in our bedroom as the door was almost closed). They were coming in through the open window in the spare room and back door. But, they could not find a way out. The bathroom only has glass bricks for light and no open casing.

I was terrified. I knew that if you are stung by a bee, it emits a 'danger' pheramone and then other bees come to investigate and sting too. There was no way I could afford for even one of these to get upset. I had to ring Ed in England and ask him what to do for the best. In fear, I entered the spare room and closed the window, and shut the back door. I took a can of insectecide and sprayed the bathroom and spare room. There were about 100 of them. Ed thought that the queen might have come in and the others followed, but I couldn't spot one wearing a crown.

After 10 minutes or so, I had to spray the spare room again, as they were still buzzing around. The really scarey part, was that there were still lots of bees outside, bashing against the window trying to get in. For the next few hours I could hear them tapping on the glass of the door.

Even the next day, there were few still trying to get in. I can only assume that they were so taken by my beautiful home, that they wanted to share it with me!

Close Escape

I picked Ed up from the airport today, after a 5 day trip to see his mum. On the way back, just as we were passing a wide load (with following safety vehicle) the front tyre blew out on the lorry. All I saw, was a big puff of smoke and a huge chunk of tyre heading for the car. I couldn't get out of the way and this huge chunk of rubber hit the bonnet and windscreen of the car. Absolutely terrifying. Somehow the windscreen hadn't blown in, and we were both ok. I pulled over to check for damage, and all that we have, is a small scuff, where the tyre hit the bonnet. The car behind was much worse off. As the tyre blew, it took out the hoses and air compressor (?) and sent all the debris on to the second car. Ed saw it all happen as he was in the passenger side. We were very lucky. It just goes to show you... fate has been kind to us in our middle years!

Spot the Difference



At last, we have found some white exterior paint on 'special offer' so we bought a load of it for the wall and pool house. I think this is going to be a long job, over the cooler summer days! Still, at least it is coming together slowly.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Flutter by, butterfly


How beautiful is this....? I spotted it this afternoon. Next to it was a broken cocoon, so I presume it had just hatched today. It just stood around for a while with it's wings closed, then opened them up. Thankfully it was gone before the swallows came back, so hopefully it wll have a full (though short) life. Wonderful.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Clean-up


For a change, Ed got to clean-up someone else's garden! The neighbours were very impressed with the way he cleaned out underneath our pine trees, and wanted the same doing to their garden. However, he also had to clear out lots of small tress including any that we thought might be inconvenient to us (eg, blocking light, or too close to our fence). It took him a few days, but the result was a lovely clean area of land, with no-where for the insects to multiply - wonderful.

Sunday with the Neighbours


We were invited to Easter Sunday dinner with the neighbours - paella. In a marked improvement from last year, where we struggled to speak to each other, this time we managed to chat away very well. The youngest sister speaks some English, as do Monica and Roberto, and the older sister speaks a little bit, along with her boyfriend. However, this time, I managed to speak mostly (bad) Spanish. When they other got stuck, searching for an English work, I asked them to speak in Spanish, then translated for them! We chatted about all sorts of things and managed very well.

I made a german cheesecake as my contribution and between us, we even managed to translate the recipe. (Although explaining the necessity of a spring sided cake tin took a lot of imagination!)

The photo is of little Alicia who loves dancing.

Tree Pruning


One of the neigbours up the hill has had a few trees pruned... however, these were 60ft high pine trees! They had to get a cherry-picker in, which closed the road for half of the day. Seems like an expensive way to do it to me!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Vet's (again)

Yesterday, we took Max to the vet yet again. Once more, he can't open his mouth very well, and this time, one of his ears was a little inflamed. He has been given some tablets and already seems a lot happier. The funniest part... we were the second patient... as we entered the consultation room, it smelled very strongly of anit-tic and flea lotion. Obviously the previous patient (a spaniel) had been given a spray. As I was chatting to the vet, I spotted a rather unpleasant object - a tic, crawling across the shoulder of her white coat. Yuck. In my poor Spanish, I said, excuse me, and tried to remove it! She had the perfect solution - she simply took a piece of sticking plaster, and removed it with the sticky side, then folded it in half, and popped the plaster in the bin - with the tic safely wrapped up! (I prefer my version - I remove them, then set them on fire, until they pop.) With no apologies to any buddhist readers, until they can convince me of something good about tics.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

The Lord's Prayer - in Spanish

PADRE NUESTRO


Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos

Santificado sea tu Nombre

Venga tu reino

Hágase tu voluntad

En la tierra como en el cielo

Danos hoy el pan de este día

y perdona nuestras deudas

como nosotros perdonamos nuestros deudores

y no nos dejes caer en al tentación

sino que líbranos del malo.

... Amen/Así sea ...

Semana Santa - Good Friday (Church)


After the prayers were said, there was a wonderful tattoo by the drumers and then the four icon's were taken into the church. (On the same evening, the icons should have been returned to the monestary, but the weather was very bad and that section of the programme had to be cancelled - or at least I presume it was, we didn't go.)
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Semana Santa - Good Friday (Church)



After the two icons had passed each other in the square, everyone raced around to the church. The only thing I had seen, was that there was going to be a musical souiree by the drums! But, since everyone was going there, we decided to join them! I had evidently missed something! Much to my suprise, we were now greeted by Jesus, risen on his cross being brought up to the church. There was also a fourth icon, bearing (I believe) Mary Magdelen, who stayed with Jesus until his body was taken down. (I will have to check this, and let you know later.) Christ on his cross was taken up the stairs at the back of the church, and a blessing took place outside for everyone. Then the Spanish all started praying, and I realised that this was The Lord's Prayer, in Spanish. (Had I been quicker on the up-take, I would have said it in English, but I only realised near the end.)
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Semana Santa - Good Friday (Town Square)





We went into town, to see what the main event was about. All I knew, was that we should be in the main square at 12:30. Now that we are getting into the Spainish way of life, we know that this means pootling into town at 12.25. (Actually, we still can't do it, so we left at 12:10!) The main display in the square, was the arrival of Jesus Christ bearing his cross, and being met by the Holy Mother. The scene was quite dramatic really. Drums were being beaten, and the processions slowly passed each other, in the middle of the square. At the moment of passing, the bearers lifted their pyre's right up into the air, on raised arms. Quite a feat, as these things are very heavy. Everyone clapped and cheered.
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KKK style Hoods


Many people encountering the hoods that are worn by the Spanish during the Easter week, are very alarmed, to notice the similarity between these, and those worn by the Klu Klux Klan. In actual fact, these hoods are Spainish in origin and were adapted by the KKK, for the very same reason that they are worn here. It is difficult to establish the height of the wearer and so impossible to identify the individual concealed. In the photo, these children are waiting for the adults bearing Jesus and the cross, as it is borne to the Town Square.
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Pesky Pups


Well, I guess they're not really pups anymore! We had such wet and rotten weather recently, that in order to protect the leather settee's from the dirty dogs, I covered one of them with an old duvet cover. Although it's easy enough to wipe off their dirty footprints, they were bringing that much mess in, it needed wiping down every hour (or every time they moved, to be honest!). Walking in the house in bare feet was not a good idea, as it was like walking in a sand-pit. Terrible really, considering that the week before, I had been lounging outside wearing shorts! Oh well, the weather will get better...in the meantime, Paddy took offence to the cover...
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White Dogs

Not really - I was just downloading the movies from the digital camera, and I realised that I hadn't uploaded this film of the dogs, from last November, when it snowed! I think Paddy looks very funny, as he keeps looking at the sky, wondering what the white flakes are.
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Thursday, 9 April 2009

Semana Santa - Holy Week



Well, I have not had a Catholic up-bringing, but I have certainly had a good Christian one. A wonderful children's bible story book, as well as singing in a church choir have given me a good grounding in many things holy - not just christian. Today, however, took me by suprise.

I had been told that there was to be a procession, from the monestary near us, to one of the 2 churches in town. I had seen the photo's from last year, and seen various similar processions on the television, so I knew what to expect - albeit on a much smaller scale of course.

We heard the band a long time before we saw anything (as usual) and then, finally, about an hour late, the procession came into view. In the lead, were people wearing long cloaks and tall pointy hats. The hats, when combined with the cloak render the wearer unrecognisable by either height, width or features, this is because they are meant to be in penitence, pleading forgiveness for their sins. They are not recognised, so that you don't know which of your neighbours have sinned.

Then came the platform, bearing the (an) effigy of Christ on the cross. This is borne by a large number of people, as it is so very heavy. They took several steps to each side and several steps backwards, along with those going forwards. No wonder it took them so long to get to us! It was a very solem procession, flanked by individuals from town, carrying candles. It was very moving and I found it difficult to talk afterwards. Later on tonight (midnight) will be another procession, but this time a silent one.

Whether you are religious or not, an event that brings the whole town together in a peaceful celebration such as this, cannot be a bad thing.
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