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Spain
Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Xativa Belen




The Bethlehem (Belen) nativity scene is on display in Xativa again at the moment.

Unfortunately, we picked a lunchtime, on the last day of school, to go and visit it. As we entered, there were lots of young children walking around, enthralled. A few minutes later, a group of 12 year-olds walk in, somewhat less enthralled. As I stand back, to allow them to pass, a group of teenagers enter. Evidently, the school outing was a requirement, not a choice! It was quite funny really, watching them go around as quickly as they possibly could, calling to their friends and not looking at anything at all.

The setting was the same as previous years, but before, I hadn't noticed the upside-down statue of king Filipe V near the entrance. This king ordered the burning of Xativa, and subsequently, his portrait hangs upside-down in the museum, as a mark of disrespect.

Axe Murderer


Ed has taken out a further 3 small trees from the front garden. After this, there is another small clump and then, I think, we are done.

He pushed them over very easily with the digger, and then dug out the tree roots, so that there is no trace of where they've been. This is to help with reversing the trailer, so he couldn't make mushrooms out of the tree stumps this time.

Having sharpened his axe (enough to shave with) he then proceeded to limb the trunk, removing all of the branches, ready to turn the trunk into logs. He waas very pleased with his progress, until the moment when he sliced the axe straight through his shoe and into his foot.

He gritted his teeth, and made his way to the patio, calling me on the way. Unfortunately, I didn't hear him at all. He struggled to the patio, and carefully removed his shoe. There was a perfectly clean cut through it, along with an equally clean cut through his sock. There was also a huge puddle of blood in his shoe.

I felt quite sick, when he told me that he had (possibly) cut his toe off. Carefully removing his sock, we discovered that the cut was on the upper part of his foot, missing the sides by very little, but was possibly right through to the bone.

Thankfully, Ed heals very quickly, and after changing the dressings several times, he now has a simple gash in his foot, rather than needing a visit to the local clinic for stitches.

Feliz Cumpleanos


Little Alessia has turned 3 already - I can't believe how quickly it's gone by. She moved up to 'big school' in September (they go in the September during the year in which they reach 3) although she is the youngest.

We were invited to celebrate with the family, which was lovely. I think we are surrogate grandparents!

Ed managed very well, as they have some understanding of English, but afterwards, I realised that I had spent the entire evening talking Spanish. After 3 years of lesson, I should think so!

A Bird in the Hand...


A few days ago, quite early, Ed heard a 'thud' in the house. He thought it was me, but I hadn't dropped anything. Closer investigation revealed that a small bird had flown straight into the big window - very odd, considering that it tis made up of lots of panels, not a single pane of glass.

I held the dogs, while Ed went to rescue it from Max, who would have found it a pleasant snack! The poor little thing was stunned, but not killed.

Ed looked after it for a while, and then it flew off, after a brief rest on the patio railings
. video

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Going For Gold




This year, I have gone for the simple gold look on the Christmas tree. I think Ed thought I wasn't going to put one up, I had left it so late. Still, it was up before the 4th Sunday of Advent, so that was ok!

My thrill this year, is that Ed has made me a special metal frame that fits the curved mantlepiece. It has little feet on it, so I can decorate it in any way I like. I did plan to cover it with (fake) pine branches, but I left it rather late.

I have used the candles that are normally on the tree, and decorated them with tinsel, and hung a stocking on each end. The effect is very simple, but very traditional.

Ed is now planning to make me a wrought iron Christmas tree to go with it, but I guess that is a project to finish for next year, since I haven't even designed it yet!

Technology Conspiracy

What a week for IT!

First of all, I couldn't log on to the server at work - problem at their end. Then, my laptop thought it had a virus. I checked everything, but I think Ed had accidentally landed on one of those nasty 'you have a virus, click here to get rid of it' type of links. I didn't click (of course) but it certainly threw something out. I did a full check, and everything was OK, until the next morning, when it wouldn't start up!

A process of trial and error, and everything is working again. (I think I know just enought to keep me out of trouble.) I really must back-up my data!

The third thing was on Thursday, when all of the power went off, only in the study! No lights or power, but everything fine in the rest of the house. Mains fuses fine. On Friday, in the daylight, we discovered that the fuse inside the socket had blown. As the socket is also the light switch, we lost everything in that ring.

Off to the ironmongers for fuse wire. Hmmm. He didn't understand. Ed found a fuse, and showed him what he wanted. A-ha... he troted off and grabbed a length of random cable, and cut off a 10cm long piece. Pulling it apart, he showed Ed the bits of wire inside, and said to use one of those!

And what ampage is that meant to be? Oh well, Spanish electrics eh? Thankfully, I do have a surge protector on. Also, we discovered that the source of the overloading was the oil filled heater, so that has now been banished to the spare bedroom, where it can do no further damage.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Windy Miller



Brrrr. 8.9 degrees and time for another Sunday ride-out. A long time ago I promised myself that I wouldn't go out if it was 5 degrees or less (been there, done that) so wrapped up warm and off we went.

This time, we headed out towards Ontinyent and then turned off towards Fontanars on the CV-656. This is a valley famous for it's grapes and bodegas (wine making). The valley was quite pretty, but winter is not the best time for viewing vinyards! Along the left hand side of the valey, we could see where the terrible fires had been earlier in the year. Here, there were many houses that must have been terribly close to being set alight - very scarey for the owners.

We then jumped onto the A-31 towards Albacete for breakfast. Ed and I had been this way before, at a similar time of year. Yep - as we went along, it got colder and colder as we quickly rose to some 800m above sea level! My arms were a little cold by the time we stopped at Alpera, but poor Victoria was frozen - she vowed not to go out again until spring.

Breakfast turned out to be a very hearty meal, shared by all. Chops, sausages, peppers and fried potatoes, washed down with wine (coke) as usual. Yum. Even the toast was nice - baguette, cut in half lengthways, toasted and drizzled with olive oil.

We wrapped up again, and set off via the CV-590 back home. Not the shortest route, but definately the prettiest. As we climed higher, we encountered lots of windmills. Then I realised that we were going to ride right amongst them. I didn't know what to do... I couldn't take my gloves off, get the camera out and take a photo whilst riding along, but, equally, it is frowned on to stop at the side of the road. (Not that the road was wide enough to block with 5 bikes anyway.) Thankfully, as we neared the top of a crest, I saw Julian's indicator come on. We were able to park right next to the windmills, as they all had really good access roads leading to them. Evidently, this is a very popular spot, as while we had a break, another bunch of bikes came from the opposite direction and stopped for a while too, at another windmill.

As we dropped from 1000m, the temperature soon warmed up, and the remainder of the ride was much nicer. Good roads, beautiful views as well as great company. Next weekend the weather is due to be somewhat colder, and then it is Christmas, so it may be next year before we go out again. Ah well. Today was (yet) another one of those days that I was glad to have got the bike back on the road again, but roll on springtime, when I don't have to put so many layers on.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Bous Continued



A timely early dinner, and off to Ontinyent again to see the second day of the bulls on a rope. Start time 4pm, so leave home at 3ish. We got to our usual parking spot, and there were still a few spaces left. Perfect.

We strolled to the road where the bulls start, and took some pictures around the corral and leading to the old town centre. Strolling up the hill, I was impressed that there were so many people about so early. Yesterday, no one appeared until after the first bull had started. As we neared the main square (still in a narrow street) I suddenly became aware that there were actually a LOT of people in front of us, and they were all looking in the same direction. Ah. Obviously there us a bull just in front of us - this wasn't a part of the game plan. Sure enough, it had started at 3pm and we had walked into the midst of it all. When the bull finally went into the main square we followed it. At least now we had somewhere to escape, if we needed to.

We had a drink in a nearby bar during the interval. They have a TV on, which is showing the bull live. When the next one came out, we saw it on the TV, then looked out of the window as it ran past! After a few minutes, when we had both finished our drinks, we went back outside. All the people were running as I left the bar, so I headed the same way (towards the main square), but within a few feet, I realised that I was now actually being passed by the bull. He ran into the square ahead of me, but I was certainly glad to be out in the open again.

Once the 3rd (and final) bull went back through the arches for the last time, Ed and I followed, as our car was in that direction. When we were part way down the hill, to our suprise, the bull decided to come back up again. Hundreds of people running in such a narrow space was rather dangerous. Most of them are running one way, but looking another (at the bull) so everyone is bumped and pushed about. Finally, we broke into the square again. About 10 minutes later, it went down through the arches again, but this time it really was the final time!

We strolled down to the bottom and across the bridge. It was very pretty in the twilight, with the lights on everywhere. Then I realised... lots of people again, all looking in the same direction... sure enough, once again, we had managed to get between the bull and its destination. This time, instead of going uphill to the corall, it had gone downhill, and had to be brought back. When it came past us, it decided it didn't want to go up the hill and stopped and turned. This time, I was very unsure of which way to go. I looked for Ed, and he was trapped by a low wall, with a very large drop behind him. In front of him was a signpost which certainly wouldn't have protected him! Thankfully, they bull then decided to follow the crowds, and went back to the corral on it's own.

Everyone sang songs and cheered. Time to celebrate the end of another fiesta. video

Bous en Corda




It is the weekend for the 'bulls on a rope' again in Ontinyent.

We went yesterday and this time, took Tracey, a bull 'virgin'. He husband Mark had been before but Tracey had always stod right at the back, away from all of the action. This time, she was right in the mix of it. At first, she was very scared and ran back to the pub, but with a bit of persuading, she was in the centre of things for the rest of the afternoon.

At one point, she had her back to the bull, and kept asking me, "which side is it coming past?" I didn't have the heart to tell her that it was heading in a straight line towards us, and was about to pass (on either side) by less than 6 inches. I just kept saying, stay there, stay there, untill it passed by! She was stunned. I coould feel her shaking as she gripped hold of my arm tightly. At one point, I had to ask her to let go, as she was hurting me! I'm not making fun of her at all. It is a very scarey thing. The people surge around and scream when the bull changes direction, and it is quite a thing to be in the middle of it all. The adrenaline buzz is amazing, and she will be feeling the effects for days.

Today (Sunday) the first bull runs at 4pm. Last year, we thought it was 3pm (as on the Saturday) but we had to wait around for an extra hour before it all started!

On the walk back to the car, we saw someone with blood all over their face and hands. I don't know what happened to him - it could have been the bull, but it was just as likely that he fell over. Nearly everyone seemed to have a drink in their hands. If you ask me, drink (and unsteady feet) don't mix very well with rampaging bulls!

Pat's Party




On Friday 3rd December, was Ed's cousin Pat's 60th Birthday. She lives in Ciudad Quesada, not far from where John was.

I made some cakes for her, as she was having a buffet in the local 'Country Club' but this was only savory dishes. A German cheesecake and my cherry crumble cake, along with an apple crumble cake. Typically, when you bake for someone else, the applecake decided to leak, so it looked a bit messy! Still, at least it tasted good. I thought it was a bit mean to bake so many cakes and Ed not get any, so I baked a fruitcake especially for him too!

On the way to Quesada, we pass one of the famous Osborne bulls (Toro de Osborne). These were erected from 1956, to advertise their 'Brandy de Jerez'. They were all meant to be removed in 1994, but by then everyone loved them, so, the name Osborne was blacked out and they were allowed to remain.

Ed and I stopped for lunch in a cafe before goinf to Pat's house, and we just laughed at the service. We asked for tea, and it came in a little teapot, along with a tiny milk-jug and cup and saucer. What's wrong with that? Well, in most of Spain, if you ask for tea, they assume you want a herbal one, and if you ask for the 'black' type, they still don't think you want milk. You then get funny looks. It was like being back in England. The staff and all of the customers were english. Even the owner admitted that she never spoke spanish at all (having studied it to A-level years ago).

Pad was pleased to see Ed, not having seen him for ages, but better still, just before we arrived, she was given a suprise present; her daughter turned up from the UK! Alan said he was 'going out to get her present' and came back with Dionne!

The buffet was held in a beautifully laid out room in the club, and in the main area, there was a singer on that night. The girl, Lucinda, had an excellent voice, and out of all the songs she sang, Ed and I only thought that one of them was not very good. She certainly had lots of confidence as well as lots of staying power!

We left at about midnight, ready for the long drive home. The roads were good as usual, but very quiet. In fact, for a 10 mile section, we only saw 2 cars on the road. In England, no matter what time of the day or night, there is always something else around!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ondara Fayre




The Ondara matinal was timed to coincide with the town fayre, although we didn't know that when we got there. The food in the marquee was something of a delight, be we realised why, we we discovered that it was actually a gastranomic fayre, not a bikers bash!

There were some 12 stalls preparing the different types of food. For those not partaking in the bike meeting, it was possible to buy separate tickets to swap for a plate of whatever you fancied. There were the usual offerings, but also oysters, sea urchins, kebabs, all sorts. The food was wonderful. We have not really had any bad food at any of these do's, but this was something else.

Afterwards, we walked around the streets of the town. There was a funfair and also a huge collection of cars. Some of them were very old (20's Al Capone type of things), some of them just old (lots of Seat 500's and minis) and a few were very new (Porche, Lambourghini, Audi R8). Some of them were in a terrible state (befores?) but some of them were really nice to see.

It made me laugh when a big old car pulled out, with mum and dad in the front, and a little girl rattling around in the back (no seat belts in the old cars) as it reminded me of all of the trips we used to do.

Winter Riding




On Saturday, the temperature never got above 10 degrees, and it rained for most of the day. This is actually quite a good thing, as we have had hardly any rain since April and the reservoirs are quite low.

When we went shopping, we happened to meet Paco and gang and all agreed, that if it was still wet or raining on Sunday, then we wouldn't go out. Fine. At 3 am, it was still tipping it down, so time for a Sunday lie in then! Not. at 8:45, Paco called, he had spoken to the others and it was agreed that we would al leave at 9:15. Um, can we leave at 9:30 please?!

Ed and I were quite oblivious as we set off, wondering where we were going this time. We took some very strange back lanes through villages but always skirting the 332. At one point, I laughed and said to Ed that we were going to see the waterfalls at Algar. It was like a treasure hunt, where you have no idea where you will end up. Then, after a while, we saw signs for 'Motos' - aha - the bike meeting at Ondara. We followed the signs, and there was a huge parking area, next to the road, very well organised, with people telling us where to park, and police making sure that everything was safe. There must have been about 600 bikes parked up.

We finally found our way to the stall to buy our tickets and went into the food marquee. There were all sorts of foods, not the usual baguettes. We got our normal t-shirt, and I had a cap in my bag. When Ed looked into his bag (in front of everyone) he found a €50 note! Paco2 cheered the loudest. I said 'keep it quiet', Victoria was shocked, but Julian just grinned - he had seen Ed plant it there just before, when no one else was looking. After a few minutes, the truth came out, and everyone thought it was very funny.

The sun came out in time for us to have a good walk around, but when we got back to l'Olleria, there were a few snow flakes in the air. Time to go home, and settle down in front of the fire again.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Wild Strawberry?



The wild strawberry bush is looking spectacular at the moment.

There are loads of flowers on it, and the fruit is both plentiful and ripe. It is such a shame that the fruit itself doesn't taste of anything and I don't know of any uses for it. (Although apparently in Portugal they make good wine out of it ~ perhaps I should give that a try.)

The sparrows think it is Christmas (it nearly is)as they have the fruit to themselves.

Pruning Assistant


Ed trimmed the almond trees, putting the cut branches into neat bundles, ready to clear away.

Max helped, by running off with the branches...

Chip, Chop, Chip, Chop


Ed has been busy again!

His poor chainsaw has spent most of the last few weeks in various stages of repair as it doesn't want to run properly any more.

He took it to the Stihl shop in Xativa, as he suspected that it had a faulty oil pump, but the man said it would not be possible to repair it. They thought that if they tried, it might be impossible to get the parts needed to fix it. Ed was disappointed, but understood. He bought a new cutter bar for it anyway.

They were very helpful, but showed him which chainsaw was the current replacement for his model. Around 700€. He told them in the shop, that he had paid about £250 for his. The man was very suprised. Then Ed admitted, that this was 39 years ago! I guess you get what you pay for.

I would still like to have the nisperro tree trimmed, but thankfully Ed thinks the saw will manage that, if he has (yet) another go at fixing it.

One thing is for certain, we won't be buying any more wood this winter.

Fonts de l'Algar




On Sunday afternoon we decided to go out and try to find some pretty waterfalls that we had heard about. These were quite near to Benidorm, but we went the scenic way, via Guadalest.

We went into Callosa d'en Sarria and continued along the main road, but couldn't find the waterfalls. After a while, having crossed the river Algar, we went back again and asked at a petrol station. The man was very helpful, giving us very clear directions. (CV-715 then CV-7531) We followed the road to the village and parked up in a small orchard. A man sprang out of a car and demanded 2€ for parking. No problem really. I then asked him where the falls were - just along the road, on the left.

The road was very narrow, and quite unsafe to walk along really as it was not possible to move out of the way of any traffic. Thankfully as it was November, there weren't too may cars around. There were lots of restaurants and the whole thing seemed to be very commercial. We turned left and followed the river, but the road quickly went uphill with lots of twists and turns. We couldn't hear any water and the climb was very steep. When we got about a mile or so along the road, we realised that we were going the wrong way! Ah well, walking downhill again was somewhat easier!

Back into the village and we found a large sign/map that we had missed before. There were 2 Dutch ladies trying to understand it, and between the 4 of us, we realised where we had to go. Across the river, then another trek up another hill, and we quickly encoutered the correct entrance to the waterfalls. Another 2€ each.

The entry fee was actually very reasonable. The falls were quite extensive and there were lots of walkways around and places to sit. At it was outside the summer season, we had the place almost to ourselves. We were able to take lots of super photo's without any problems. In summer, the place must be packed. The pools looked very inviting to swim in and I could certainly imagine spending several hours there, if only it wasn't so far away.

All Hail the Jamon


Having won a full jamon (pronounced hamon), Victoria and Paco decided to have a party to celebrate. We were invited on the Saturday, at 5:30 - time for tea! I offered to bake a cake, but this seemed to confuse matters. It was then decided to eat at 7pm. Ah - dinner then!

On the saturday afternoon, we got a text, saying dinner was now at 8pm. No problem. I had made a german cheesecake and also an apple crumble pie. Ironically, I had to go and buy a new plate to serve it on, as I only had one large serving plate!

We turned up at 8 as requested, to find that everyone was downstairs in the garage. The garage had been cleared out and a long table set up, covered with food. Lots of plates of jamon, cheese, prawns, olives, pastries, etc. It was wonderful. We spent the entire evening eating and drinking. Many times, when walking past under-builds, we have seen people having private parties, and this time it was our turn!

All of the biker gang were there, along with their wives. Most of them managed to speak castellano for our benefit, although when things got a bit exciting, they often tipped back to valenciano. Still - I'm certainly understanding a lot more of that now, even though I can't speak it. (Although I did accidentally use a valenciano word in castellano classes this week, which made the teacher laugh!)

On the Sunday there were no official meetings that we knew of, and one of the men was working in the fields harvesting olives, so our Sunday breakfast turned out to be the leftovers from Saturday night, in Pacos garage. This was actually very nice as most of the food was still crisp and fresh (if the bread was a little chewwy).

I made a poster, saying that there was a matinal in l'Olleria and gave it to Paco. There is a meeting here today - where - here. He read the poster and was thrilled. He realised that I had used a drawing of his bike for the poster, and put his name on it, along with a fake email address!

Drink of beer on arrival
Gastronomic breakfast
No t-shirts
No raffle

The poster now has pride of place on the notice board!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Stumpy


Ed has made a mushroom feature out of the tree stump he deliberately left in the garden.

He is so pleased with it, that he is going to do a few more of them, as and when he cuts the remaining 5 or so down.

I think it is really good. It is tall enough and sturdy enough to use as a seat, which is always a useful addition to any garden.

Seaside Tour



Following our morning in la Vila-Joiosa, we took a scenic tour along the coast towards Moraira. Much of this was along the notorious A-332, known as either the road of death, or the road of tarts! Certainly, there have been many people killed along here over the years, and the number of prostitutes has certainly grown. Perhaps if they took the scantilly clad ladies off the street, there would be fewer accidents?

To be honest, the ride was very pretty. In between the buildings, it was possible to see the sea, and sometimes it was very near indeed. The bends on the road deserved full attention though, making it a slow and steady trip. At one point, another bike pulled up alongside me, egging me to go faster, but I just laughed. He simply shrugged his shoulders and passed us.

We went to the sea front at Moraira for food and drink and had a great time. At this point, Julian asked Victoria what was in her bag... her face was a picture as she pulled the crab out! Paco thought it was very funny. Better still, was her reaction when Ed asked about the second one. She carefully checked all of the pockets, but there wasn't another one to be found. No doubt the rucksack is currently on the washing line, airing out.

We had a nice stroll along the sea front too. It is hard to understand how over-developed Benidorm became, when there are such pretty places so close by. It is hard to compare it to Blackpool, as many of the buildings are quite new and prestigious looking, but so many of them are just so very tall. More than 30 of them, are 30 floors high, and the tallest is currently 52 floors high. A concrete jungle indeed.

As we rode along the coast, amongst the supermarkets, tourist bars and burger joints, I realised why we moved to l'Olleria. It may not be the prettiest town, but it is in a beautiful spot. Overlooking the valley, lots of greenery, just 30 miles or so from the beach and a €4 train ride to Valencia, this is certainly the spot for me.

Final Meeting





Theoretically, the last Sunday meeting took place yesterday, this was at la Vila-Joiosa, but I am certain that there will still be lots of smaller (non-affiliated) meetings still taking place.

We met at Paco's house at 8am, and set off over the mountains to the seaside... gosh, it was cold! As we rode through Muro de Alcoy, all of us felt it. The worry was, the we knew there were higher mountains still to go over. In the end, the cold eased quite quickly, but the rising sun caused its own problems. Many times, it was impossible to see when riding directly into the sun. A vauge shadow of the bike in front was about all that could be seen. Dangerous in principle, that was actually not too bad, as the 5 riders were all very safety concious, and had no intention of speeding around the bends. We took the 'scenic' route, which involved a trip along a road numbered CV-785. If you want to google it, it will make you laugh, especially around 'Penaguila'. What google doesn't show, is the incline on each of the hairpin bends, nor the terrible foundations to the road, (the tarmac was fine) riddled with tree roots - it was more like riding a horse.

On this road, we passed a Safari park, that I had no idea was there. (Safari Aitana) From the road, I saw a llama, and Ed saw some deer too. He also saw some red quirrels, but I don't think they were official attrations. Looking at their web-site, this is somewhere will will venture to soon. (Ed says we could take the dogs for a walk!)

We stopped for a coffee in Sella and were rather amused by the decor in the cafe. The whole place was decorated with tea towels from all over the place (most of them English). Very strange! On leaving the cafe, I was embarrased at not knowing one of the groups name. I asked Paco what Paco2's wife was called. He didn't know and muttered something to Vicoria. I thought he didn't understand me. Next, I asked Victoria for the name of Paco2's wife, she responded, "I don't remember". How terrible. To my horror, Paco shouted down the street, "hey, what's your wife's name". Then Julian pulled up, and he didn't know either. How funny - everyone just referred to her as 'Paco's wife'. Needless to say, this was soon put right, and now everyone knows that her name is Emy.

We set off to the sea front at la Vila-Joiosa, and soon found the hotel, the venue for the meeting. We paid our €10 but found that lunch wasn't being served until 12:00, as there was an official ride out around the area. Having covered more mailes than they were about to, we gave that a miss. We had a nice stroll around the beach front, and I can certainly recommend it. It was very pretty, considering it is the next town along from concrete Benidorm.

At 12, lunch was served. There was a selection of foods available, from the usual bocadillos, to a plateful of baby crabs. Julian took a crab, and hid it in Victorias rucksack! The usual draw took place, and the final prize was a jamon (a full leg of cured ham). To our delight, this was won by Victoria. Worth the trip out, just for that - they can cost €150 for a good one, which this was. Thankfully, I had a cargo net with me, so we were able to take it back without any problems at all.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Suprising Sunday



There was no matinal planned today, but we had agreed to go for a ride out anyway. Three of us met at Paco's house at 8:15 (ready to set off at 8:30, as usual), but there was no sign of Paco. Even his wife didn't know where he was. He had gone out on his bike, but no one knew where. We assumed he had gone for petrol, so waited for him... Xavi had passed us, and we thought he had gone for petrol too, as he returned a little later, but hadn't seen Paco.

After while, we gave up on Paco, and the 4 of us set off, for a ride towards Navalon. This was on the far side of some mountains we hadn't crossed yet. We set off merrily, enjoying the quiet roads and stunning scenery. The veiw was amazing, as we rode higher and higher. Leaving Enguera, I saw a sign saying 'Road xxx - OPEN', relating to 4 roads were were about to travel. Ah, right up into the moutains then, just like Snake Pass, or the Cat & Fiddle. Since it was only autumn, the roads were clear and fine. It was a little chilly, but not cold enough to put the heated grips on!

We finally arrived at Navalon (Abajo and Arriba ~ lower and upper) and stopped for breakfast in a lovely bar. We all ordered bocadillos and the waiter laughed at Ed and I, when we ordered our drinks. We both had coffee, which they all thought was odd (they are foreign said Xavi). After 3 years, we have now discovered that a normal drink with a meal is wine, beer, coke or water. Coffee is for after the meal. Xavi had 1/2 bottle of wine, and Julian a beer. After coffees, we set off again. This time, heading over the mountain tops towards Moixent, along with lots of groups of (very fit) cyclists. The views were stunning. I suspect that Ed was glad we were with the other 2. Had we been alone, I would have been stopping every 1/2 mile to take more pictures. I will return soon, with camera in hand, and do so! In the meantime - thank you to Google maps for the attached.

After Moixant, we returned home over another range, via Aielo del Malfereit. The twists and turns in the road were similar to to those leading to Moixant, but this time the road was busier, with both cars and bicycles. As we rounded one corner, the view into the valley was beautiful. As we dropped into the valley, Xavi, who had been leading the whole way, suddenly drifted onto the wrong side of the road. There were no curbs, and he simply fell off on the wrong side of the road, into the ditch, just missing a high bank. Goodness knows why. Has something locked up? A puncture? It happened so slowly, we all stopped almost before he fell. Unfortunately, as it was downhill, it was hard to park the bikes. Having had mine fall over so recently, I was struggling to feel safe enough to get off it. I decided to do a u-turn and park up-hill. Just as I had made my decision, I heard a crunch, and Ed's bike, behind me, lay on the floor.

Now we had 2 bikes down. Julian helped Xavi, and I parked to help Ed, but by the time I got to him, he had already got the bike upright, with help from Julian. Looking at Xavi, he was still struggling to hold his bike upright. 2 more attempts to get him safe and we all looked shell-shocked. What a nightmare.

Everyone happy, and we set off back home again. About a mile down the road, a little van in front of us was turning left (across the traffic) and had to wait for an on-coming car. Xavi didn't see the indicator and nearly went around him, into the path of the on-coming car. Hmm. Bottle of wine at play here me-thinks. We managed to get back to l'Olleria without any further mis-hap and went for a drink. Xavi made his excuses and went home. As the 3 of us chatted, we surmised that he must have fallen asleep. A late night out, a probable brandy or 2 to wake him up, coupled with the wine and we were lucky that nothing worse had befallen him. (If it turns out that we misjudged him I will be the first to apologise.)

As we were drinking our cokes, Paco turned up. "Where were you all?", he asked. "I waited until 8, then left on my own." "8? Every other week, it has been 8:30!" He was mortified. After a great deal of teasing, next week, he has agreed to see us all at 8:30!

Ed is now in terrible pain with his back. He can hardly move. It is not like recent problems, when it has been muscular. This time, it is in his spine itself. We have already ordered a replacement clutch leaver, but the bike now has some terrible scratches on it; fairing, engine casing, and seat unit.

Still, no-one was in need of an ambulance or police call out, hopefully Ed's back will be ok in a few days and we have learned to keep a careful eye out in the future.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Can't see the wood for the trees


I thought it would (wood?) be a good idea to put a picture in, showing the before and after, now that Ed has finished clearing the trees.

The wood is chopped up and stacked, ready for next years firewood. The brash has all been burnt / shredded , and now there are only the tree stumps left to sort out. (Until he takes the next ones down)

Sunday, 31 October 2010

All Hallows E'en



For the first time, this year l'Olleria have organised a Hallowe'en Parade. There were lots of children lining the streets, dressed as witches, devils and ghouls (many of the parents were dressed up too).

The beating of drums announced the imminent arrival of the participants. The usual band, then a huge dragon, surrounded by lots of people dressed in red (as devils). Once they had converged, they pulled black hoods over their heads and then organised themselves into a wonderful noisy, flashy parade.

The parade was led by a (fake) bull, and then people holding sticks aloft, with catherine wheels spinning out above their heads. The dragon had fireworks coming from it's mouth as it was wheeled down the street. The people with the fireworks skipped down the street, showering sparks over everyone and as their fireworks ran out, they returned and got some more. The sounds reverberated down the street, as they worked their way towards the church.

The whole thing was wonderful. Noisy, fun and vibrant. I'm certainly looking forward to a repeat next year. video

Cocentaina Matinal




This week, the bike matinal was held at Cocentaina, at the same time as the fair. We expected it to be the biggest one yet, but it was one of the smallest ones we have been to.

The usual €8 fee got us a good quality t-shirt, a magazine and a torch, all contained in a very useable rucksack. Excellent. The breakfast cob was yummy, and once again was washed down with a morning anise! This time, as there were so few people, the organisers soon launched into the raffle... this time one of the Paco's won. He got 2 bottles of olive oil, some lubricant (like WD40) and some metal cleaner. It soon became apparent that this is what every prize winner got!

Once the raffle had been drawn, we wondered off for another look around the market. It was really nice, as everyone waited for each other as we strolled around. The real suprise, was the journey back home; the traffic going into Cocentaina for the fair was horrific. Huge queues for several miles. Thank goodness we were going the other way.

Cocentaina Fair





Well, it's that time again already - the medieval fayre at Cocentaina. This is an annual fayre, that has taken place every year for some 600 years. I won't go into it all this time, as I have written plenty on previous posts!

This year, as we entered, I was disappointed to see that the children's corner was empty. The rides for children are all wooden, and powered by operators riding wooden bikes, (ie, operated by wooden gears) or by pulling ropes. Thankfully, as we walked around the market, I spotted the rides scattered around different parts of the town. This is probably a better idea, as it gives parent the chance to give the children rides at different times, rather than all at once.

We didn't get there until much later than normal, but we were still able to park fairly close. There were, however a lot more people around. Ed got a call from someone in the UK while we were there, and joked that there were about 1 million peole there! Whilst that was an exageration, it was certainly very busy. The nice thing is, as everyone is simply strolling around, there is no pushing or shoving, and people just move aside if you are trying to squeeze past. In all likelihood, whoever you have just passed, will probably come past you a few minutes later!

This year, we bought some artisan cheese, bread, and sweets. The cheese was rather expensive, but it was the strongest tasting cheese we've had for a long time. Yum.