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Spain
Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Paddy in the Pool!



We are slowly working on the pool and poolhouse. We now have power to the pool and pump house, and Ed is currently building the steps in the pool, before we get the new pipework fitted.

The weather has been very wet, so Ed has covered the steps with a tarpaulin to stop the rain causing any problems. On Tuesday morning (very early) Ed heard a terrible noise, but couldn't see what it was. He got up from the chair on the terrace, and saw Max peering into the pool. Oh no. Paddy had stood on the edge of the tarpaulin and slipped, falling into the empty pool.

It was pouring down, but Ed had to go out into the rain, climb down the ladder into the pool and rescue Paddy. The worst thing was, he doesn't like to be picked up, so Poor Ed was struggling with a wriggly dog, in the rain, up a ladder! (I wish I had been awake to see it!)

Monday, 21 September 2009

Sunshine and Showers


As you can see from this photo, the weather just doesn't know what to do at the moment! It is still warm (20+ degrees every day) but a beautiful sunny day can quickly turn into a wash-out.

Flower Power



We still have lots of beautiful flowers in the garden, even though we haven't cultivated very much yet.

Ironically, now that we have had a little rain, it will soon be time to get the lawn mower back out. There are already signs of green underneath the almond trees, as the grass grows back after it's summer scorching.

It's Raining, It's Pouring


We have had a very warm summer - apparently one of the hottest Augusts in many years. As a result of this, everyone has warned us that there will be a terrible Gota Fria this year. (Gota Fria literally means 'cold drop' and refers to the change in the weather.)

In 2007, when we moved here, there was the worst Gota Fria in 50 years. The devastation was terrible. Last year, there was a Gota Fria again, although not quite as bad, the storms were awful and even led to 2 people drowning in our village. Now, we are expecting the same again. Thank goodness we live where we do, at the top of the town, only a few houses higher than us.

Last week, we had the first of the annual rain. Within just a few minutes, the 3 terraces were awash. But a few hours later, all was dry and sunny again! video

Hablo Espanol

Well at least sometimes my little Spanish goes a long way.

The thermostat for my cooker had gone faulty, leaving me with no grill (well, unless you wanted to wait 20 minutes for cheese on toast). Ed took the offending part off, and we trecked around for a replacement. First stop, a white goods shop in l'Olleria. Oh no, not available anywhere in l'Olleria, we need to go to Xativa. The nice man named the shop, and said it was on the industrial estate near the car showrooms. Easy!

Off we went to Xativa. Hmm. No shop with that name visible, but we found an electrical shop. This must be it! The most unhelpful chap I have met said no, try a plumber on the way into Xativa. (He thought it was a heating element and didn't give me the chance to explain.)

Off to a third shop, (white goods again) where they have always been very helpful. Sure enough, no, they didn't have them, but the lovely man explained where we needed to go. He asked if we knew Xativa well, and even drew us a little map. We trecked off again, and sure enough, found a wonderful shop with everything you might need, to repair cookers, washing machines etc. Better still, it was almost 1/2 the price of the part I had found on the internet!

"Que bien. Muchas gracias" "A ti"
Wonderful. Thank you very much. And the same to you.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Kidnapped!

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Indeed. My knowledge of Spanish is still little, and my ability to speak it, even less, but somehow we manage to communicate very well - so I thought.

Recently, we had some business dealings with a Spanish man from the village and we had muddled along pretty well, considering I was spending a lot of money on his behalf! One morning, much to my annoyance, he turned up at 9:45. This was when I was still going to the pool every day, and I knew that my friend would be waiting for me. He wanted me to ring the UK again but had forgotten that there was an 1 hour time difference. I explained that I was going to swim my 32 lengths and then I would call, as there would be no answer now.

We had a further conversation, and, after Ed had put on a T-shirt, we would all go to the pool. As there is a bar there, I thought this would be perfect. I could swim, and they could have coffee and a bocadillo (baguette). We jumped into his car, and drove towards town. Then, as we passed his friend's house, his friend said "this is my house" - ah, we knew it was near us, but didn't know which one. Much to my suprise, we turned into his drive. Why? Perhaps he wanted to show us the house? I presumed that we would turn around and drive back out. No. The car stopped, and both Spainish men got out. What is happening? I thought we were going to the pool. I looked at Ed, and got we out too. Then he said "this is my pool, would you like to get changed?" Oh dear. I had misunderstood. Instead of going to the public pool, we went to his (10 meter) pool. Did he really expect me to swim 800 meters, or just 32 lengths? How funny. I tried very hard to swim without touching the sides, but it just wasn't the same!

Happy Anniversary


Ed decided that we would celebrate our anniversary at a small restaurant in the mountains (if he could find it).

We took the N340 to Xativa. This goes past the side of the reservoir, then winds through the mountains. There are concrete barriers at the side of the road, and it is very worrying, if a lorry comes the other way. Ed didn't really know where the turn off was, just that it was on the right hand side! I drove quite slowly, but as we came to the first break in the concrete wall, Ed realised that this was the correct turn. There were no notices for a restaurant, nor any indication of anything except some houses. (For other potential visitors, the turn was at km marker 838) We turned off the road, and down a narrow road, which seemed to lead straight into a garden. Then I noticed that there were chairs and tables around.

We parked up and I asked the 2 staff outside if the restaurant was actually open. Yes indeed, and we could sit wherever we liked! We chose a pleasant balcony spot, overlooking the valley to the west, where the sun had just set. The setting was lovely, the service was excellent, the food wonderful, and the bill acceptable! We can heartily recommend it to anyone that can find it!

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside


Some friends of Ed's, with a holiday home in Ciudad Quesada (very near to John) recently came and visited us for the day.

We had a lovely meal at the Moli Canyar and then had the afternoon in Gandia. This year, as well as it's usual 'blue flag' for it's clean beach and water, Gandia received a special award for it's additional services. On the beach, are lifeguards, bars, toilets, showers, games areas as well as regular special events. The beach is wonderful, and, on this occassion, following an unual warm current, the sea water was about 28 degrees. Had we know, we would have taken our swimming gear, and had an afternoon on the beach, not just on the promenade.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Festes - Storming of the Castle




My favourite event of the year. This actually takes place twice in the day. At lunchtime, the Moors have a big battle and take over the castle and then 500 years later (at about 6pm) the Christians re-capture it.

We missed the lunchtime one, as we were busy, but were there for the evening. The Christian entered the square on his horse and challenged the Moors in the castle. They spoke to each other, getting more and more agitated, until finally, it was time for battle. The crowd cheered and clapped and the atmousphere was amazing. It would have been even better, if I had understood everything that was going on.

This time, I stood just to the side of the square for the battle, but even so, I was literally shaken by shockwaves as the blunderbusses went off.

This time, we strolled the streets afterwards ans watched everyone having a good time. It was as though they had just re-captured the castle for real! Everyone was celebrating the fiestas and cheering and partying in the street. The atmosphere was really wonderful.

I like it here!



video video

Festes - Musical Legends

On the Sunday, there were various church services and parades around the town. Also, there was a 'Mascleta' (loud firework display) in the smaller park.

In the evening, there was to be yet another event in the big park. This time a 'Spectacular' entitled Musical Legends. They had already had some very good bands on, so the general consensus, was that this was likely to be a series of tributes to the likes of The Stones, Bruce Springstein and some Spanish legends. As usual, it was a midnight start.

We selected some seats, and then she show began. Ah. Two people dressed as children's characters singing something very strange, backed by a bunch of cheerleaders. Oh dear. However, we endured the first song, then the characters went off-stage, leaving the dancers singing. They were actually very good, and then we realised that this was in fact a tribute to 'High School Musical'. Enlightenment dawned, Musical Legends was actually 'Musicals'.

They did some excellent performances, covering Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, amongst others. The biggest problem, was that this was a show for children, and most of them were now asleep in their mother's arms. Had it started at 8pm or so, it would have been perfect. video

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Festes - l'Entra de Moros




After a very short break in the procession (not really long enough to get a drink) the Moors entered the town.

Their costumes were outstanding. It is easy to understand why the peasants of spain succumbed to them, many years ago!

As well as the troops, leaders and bands, there were also several floats. These were so beautifully made, it makes the English lorries with paper flowers look pathetic!

It may have been a lengthy parade, but it is certainly worth watching (probably every other year) video

Festes - l'Entra de Christians




The highlight of the Fiesta Week, is the parade of the Moors and Christians. Starting at about 7pm, it goes on for about 5 hours. The troups (troops?) are dressed in stunning costumes, and each one is accompanied by a band. Many of them have defined leaders too, so there is quite a gap between them.

First of all, the Christians came through the town. Sadly, there was lots of drizzle, so we had to peer between umbrellas to see. (However, last year, it rained so heavily, the parade had to be suspended.) video

Festes - Offering of Flowers




We thought we ought to investigate the religious side of the festes, as well as the lively bits, so we went to the offering of flowers, to the patron saint of l'Olleria (which happens to be Mary Magdelene).

All of the separate troops took bunches of pink flowers through different streets in the town, leading to a stage in the centre of the street near the church. On this, were the clergy. I presume that that blessed the flowers as they went by. The flowers were then arranged on a trellis outside the church, for everyone to admire.

Festes - Paella Competition



Yum Yum.

What more should I say?

On Thursday, 132 competitors met up at the sports ground and collected wood, to light the fires, to make their paellas. Needless to say, they brought their family and friends with them too, so that the whole place was abuzz with people enjoying themselves. The smoke was heavy at times, but the smell of cooking paella was wonderful.

The people we went with lived very nearby, so, having cooked the paella (for 20 people) it was carried back home, for us to enjoy.

It tasted wonderful, but there were only 8 of us to eat it. (Tim - we needed you!!)

Festes - Bull Runs




The annual bull runs take place over 4 days. The bull ring is put together over the previous week or so. A road that I use regularly is closed off, covered with sand, and then stands and safety zones are constructed. One one side, is a permanent seating area. Ed and I however, sat on one of the A-frames, on the opposite side. (Well in amongst the action, but reasonably safe!)

Each day follows the same theme; a firework goes off and then a bull is let into the ring for about 15 minutes. There are 6 bulls each night. The brave / foolish young of l'Olleria show their true colours (mostly by entering the ring only when the bull is going in the opposite direction!)

On the final night, the last bull is tethered in the ring, and flaming torches attached to his horns with special clamps.

video video