Sunday, 30 May 2010
Today, the baby sparrows have fledged from the nesting box that Ed made. Unfortunately, they have not quite worked out how to fly yet. They are hopping around the garden, with their parents trying to tempt them up into branches or onto walls; anything to get them to use their wings.
Hopefully they will figure how they work, before Paddy and Max realise that they don't and that there are easy pickings available.
(I think they are safe for a few hours as it is quite warm today, so the dogs are being lazy in the house - lets hope so.)
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
A few weeks ago, for homework, we were given the topic 'Intergenerational Convivience in the School for Adults' and asked to write something. What an obscure topic. Apparently, this year is the 25th anniversary of the Adult School. I wrote a few paragraphs, and Lyndsey wrote a story about how she learnt spanish in the bars, before going to the school.
To our astonishment, both of our tales were picked, and published in the local annual magazine, along with a selection of others from all of the different schools in the valley. (The Val d' Albaida is very big)
Today, we went to Cocentaina (where the medieval fayre is held in November) to be presented with certificates. Lyndsey and I had no idea what was going to happen nor did the teachers! In the end, some 300 people turned up for the presentations, in a hall.
As well as the usual speeches, there was a choir, a band, a strange act with an old lady and a thief (!) and some badly dressed clowns. The lady that had organised it burst into tears when she did her speech.
One by one, each of the villages was called up, and the names of the winners read out, as they went forward to receive their certificate and prize. Although a lot of it was spoken in Valenciano, it was simple enough to understand. Suddenly, one of our teachers jumped up and shouted "l'Olleria" and made Lyndsey and I run to the stage! I hadn't heard our name being called by the compare, so I didn't understand what was happening. Apparently, they had got to the end of the presentations and missed us out! How funny.
We were then taken on stage, and our prizes given to us - everyone thought it was so funny, I think we had the loudest clap of all.
The book we were given, contained all of the contributions by everybody in the Valencia district. At last, my name in print.
(In the second photo is Marie-Jose our teacher - wearing the sunglasses)
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Last week, the dogs escaped out of the garden. This time, I decided to play cool and, sure enough after about 20 minutes, I heard the sound of their chains, as they returned. However, they managed to out-smart me, and just as I was shutting the gate, they both dived out again! Still, another 15 minutes and they were back, safe and sound.
Today, we have had a new telegraph pole installed opposite our gate. When I returned from night classes, I couldn't get in the gate, as there was a lorry parked in the lane. Just as I was parking outside a neighbours gate, Ed (and a gaggle of assorted workmen / neighbours etc) shouted that it was ok, the lorry had moved down. I revered back, and clicked the button to open the gate, just as Ed launched forward... the dogs promptly ran through the gap and off into the woods opposite. It was really funny to see; 5 or 6 men running after the dogs.
Oh well... they'll be back in a little while. True enough after just 10 minutes, they returned, however, with all of these people outside the gate, they decided not to go in. They ran around a little, never very far away.
Soon, the workers and everyone else disappeared, but there was no sign of Paddy and Max returning. Ed and I went into the house, and just moments later, the little boy from next door buzzed the gate, and shouted something about the dogs being 'down below', but I didn't catch everything. As I grabbed the gate keys, and went up the drive, I saw both dogs being shepherded (just like sheep) into the garden by the little boy, his father just behind. As soon as they were inside the garden, I shut the gate. Max was sopping wet. Apparently, he had fallen into a water supply, which was several feet deep, and couldn't get out. Paddy had been barking at him, which the neighbours had heard, and the father had hauled him out. I couldn't believe it. The daft dog then spent the next 1/2 hour happily running around the garden, having cooled off, as though it was all a great big adventure! Grrr
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Sorry if I am getting boring with the fauna and flora. It's that time of year again, when the poppies are out. These photos are a plot of land just down our lane, about 4 plots below us.
I have driven past them almost every day for the last few weeks, and finally managed to remember the camera. (Of course, it would have been far too simple to just walk down one afternoon!)
Now that the nice warm weather has finally arrived, hopefully we will soon be out and about, getting more interesting pictures and stories for you all.
Sunday, 16 May 2010
Although it was Dad's birthday on 2nd May, we were able to celebrate it with him on 5th May in Cartagena, as Mum and Dad were on a west Mediterranean cruise.
On Tuesday afternoon, I travelled down to visit John, partaking in a very pleasant dinner, along with a vast quantity of alcohol! Well, it was for me! I drink so little these days, that just a few drinks left me in a very delicate state on Wednesday.
We got to Cartagena very easily, just around 1/2 hour from John's house. Only one mistake with trying to find the port (we suddenly spotted the liner behind us) and we managed to park right on the front, in an undergraound car-park. Thank goodness for mobile phones - 2 mintues later and we were all greeting each other.
We had a wonderful day. Cartagena is a beautiful city. Very important during roman times, it's natural harbour and surrounding mountains made it obvious as to it's importance in controlling the west of the mediterranean. Nowadays of course, it's importance is of a commercial nature, as well as still being the home of the Spanish Navy. It is still one of the main ports in spain, but now also has a wonderful shopping area, as well as historic sites, such as an amphitheatre, colonnade and tower.
To my delight, the restaurants and cafe's were wonderfully efficient, considering the influx of some 2,000 visitors and the prices weren't inflated either. (Apart from the cafe right on the front, but that is pretty normal.)
All too soon, it was time for them to return to the ship. As we all walked back, there was a party of spanish people going to look at the boat. They saw me taking photo's and asked if I knew these people! "Yes, my parents." (Si, mis padres) Oh, they were delighted that someone who knew something could talk to them! Where are they going next, how many people on the ship, where are they from, why is there a red flag on the top, not a Union Jack...? Somehow, I actually managed to answer these questions, and poor John had to rescue me, otherwise I would have been there for an hour!
A wonderful day out, and a wonderful trip for them (now home, safe and sound).
I hope you like my photo. I know it's not brilliant, but please bear in mind, that this is a normal pocket camera, even though I have taken some good shots with it!
The attached, is a photo of the moon, stars, planets, satellites, and the shuttle! Honestly! (Well, sort of)
On the left, is obviously the moon. Next to it, is Venus. These two can currently been seen in the evening, around dusk. To the right of the photo, the light at the top is Capella (the 3rd brightest star in the northern hemisphere) and just below it, is the ISS (International Space Station). I can also claim that the shuttle is on the photo too, as, at the moment, the shuttle Atlantis is linked to the space station, on it's final voyage. (Looking at the NASA web-site, I think there is another satellite with them too, called Progress, but I could be wrong!)
For those that are actually interested, on 22nd May, it will be possible to see Mars, Saturn, & Venus, as well as the moon at around the same time. I must remember to get the binoculars out, to see if I can see the rings on Saturn. (Saturn will be closest to the moon)
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Opposite our gate, we have a run-down cassita (house) owned by a very old couple, that we have only seen 3 times in the last 3 years. Recently, we spotted a lot of activity but couldn't decide exactly what was happening.
Unlike the nosey spanish, we simply wondered and waited to see what happened. (The spanish, in contrast, quite literally stand at the fence when something is happening, and pass comment until they know all of the ins and outs!)
One day, the 'builders' appeared at our gate, asking (in spanish) about Ed and the digger. They didn't look much like builders to me, more like enthusiastic DIYers. However, this was just before a few bank holidays and we didn't see them again for a little while.
Recently, Ed saw them again, and went up for a chat. He returned with a big grin. He had had a nice chat (in English) and they were a couple in their 30's, doing the house up, ready to move into. In the meantime, they have a house in the town.
Last weekend, they chopped down the overgrown conifer hedging. This has made a big difference to us too! We can now see across to the road that leads up to the top of the mountain, as well as see the old run-down bar in the cleft between the two valleys separating ours from Xativa. This area is called Foya del Port, which, before the tunnels were built, was the main way through into this valley.
I will have to trek up the mountain again, and take a photo from there. I think our house will still be hard to spot, but if Ed parks his truck in the right place, I should be able to pick it out! (Watch this space...!)
The nasturtiums in my flowerpot man have flourished, without any sign of cabbage white's. Evidently the scouring and plucking of infested leaves, along with a good washing of soapy water, did the trick.
They have been very colourful (red, orange and yellow), so now I am waiting for the ones in the front garden to flower. As these are planted in the ground, rather than nourishing potting compst, they have taken a little longer to grow. In all reality, they seem to have taken better than those in the tub, as they are less 'leggy' and a better colour. Looking at them, I expect them to flower in another week or so.
(I'd better do the weeding, to show them off properly!)
Actually, both of these are sunrises!
Looking down the valley from our balcony, is looking eastwards towards the sea (at Gandia). A few days ago, Ed took one of these, and then, this morning, I took the one with the moon on it. These were both taken at about 6am. Still pretty cold, but at least it's a sign that summer may finally be on its way.
We have these beautiful flowers in our front garden. Technically, they are succulents (like cacti) but they are ground covering, rather than upright. They grow in a strange 'finger' shape, hence the common name of lions claw.
The flowers open very wide in the sunshire, but close a little at night, although not completely.
Recently, I saw some bees inside them. Evidently, the nectar must be very deep inside. The bees climb so far in, that they almost disappear. I don't know if the nectar had fermented, because none of the bees seemed to fly straight when they emerged.