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Spain
Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Comedy Parade





Last night, was the town Cavalcade Humoristica. In true Spanish style, it didn't start until midnight! The filas (clubs) each had a celebratory diner before hand, so they were in true party spirits for the parade.

As last year, many of the floats had political themes, but there were some obvious funny ones too. One of them was in celebration of the inauguration of the enclosed, climatised swimming pool in town which is currently under construction. The 'pool' was followed by a large number of men, dressed in womens swimwear, doing 'sychonised swimming'. I thought it was very funny, as I have never seen so many people in the pool in real life (I often have it to myself, at 10 in the morning)!

There was a troupe taking the mickey out of the highways aouthority. One man set up a theodolite, another man measured a hole in the road, 5 men approved the measurements, then they called in a another team with a road roller, to fix the hole. It was very funny.

One troupe stopped to take a photo... the tractor towing their float waited for a few moments, as the girls all posed together, then moved off, unfortunately, the photographer standing on the back wasn't expecting it, and fell into the float, causing chaos!

The bands that accompany each troupe were very good (some better than others) and they all seemed to have a good time too.

Once the parade had finished at about 2 am, there was another band playing in the park. This was a rock group. Although I didn't know any of the tunes, they were obviously a popular group, as I saw many people singing along with the songs. We stayed for an hour or so, before going home.

Thankfully, the temperature had dropped by about 10 degrees in the last 24 hours, so it was much more pleasant. video

Saturday, 28 August 2010

l'Olleria en Festes



Yes, it's our fiesta time again. The last year has gone so quickly, it's shocking!

Last night, we had the presentation of the festival queens and princesses (Falleras) as well as the Captains and Ambassadors for the Moors and Christians. This is a very formal affair, with each of the girls (and her escorts) being introduced and then the queen from the previous year handing over her crown. Thereafter, there are lots of speaches, and then all of the people involved go to the park for a celebratory dinner. As usual, this was all supported by the good old Spanish firework display.

This year, the weather was unbearably hot all day (highest recorded temperature for 100 years in Valencia), and even though the event takes place very late, the breeze was still hot (not warm).

Afterwards, there were some bands playing in the centre of town. We only stayed for the first group, as they didn't even start until 2am. This was a group of 14 year olds, and they were really good. video video

Friday, 27 August 2010

La Pobla Fiestas (Not for the squeamish)




Most of the villages have a similar series of Fiestas. The presentation of the Fiesta Queens, Bulls in the streets (contained!), Entry of the Moors and Christians, and several parades in between.

At La Pobla Del Duc, they have a portable bull ring. They actually have a proper bull fight on one night (no - I didn't go) and they also have more general entertainlment.

On one night, are the Recortadores. These are men that jump over the bulls, either summersaulting or leaping. They are spectacular to watch, and after a short period, the bull is removed and exchanged for the next one. The bulls are not hurt by the actions of the men in the ring, unlike bull fights. (The bulls are actually hired out by specialised farms, and are used to these activities.)

There is also a 'comedy' night, where the teams show their skills with funny antics. For example, standing (very) still on a small platform, while the bull runs past; hanging from a see-saw, and hoping that your opposite picks you up in time; and also having the bull chase a motorbike!

Although many people think this is inhumane (I don't totally disagree) the individuals all treat the bulls with total respect - unlike when the general members of the public are permitted to integrate with the bulls - and wonder why they get hurt. video video video

La Raima




On the last Friday of every August, La Pobla Del Duc (a local village) celebrate the grape harvest, with a battle!

All of the (presuambly) less than perfect grapes are put into trucks, and taken down a street, and anyone in sight is bombarded. Also, for some random reason, a water bowser went down the street too.

Needless to say, the street is full of people, ready to take part in the battle. Sturdy (or no) shoes are best, as flip flops just fall of. Goggles are a good idea, whether swimming goggles or safety ones. Cotton wool in the ears (or earplugs) and cover yourself with oil before it begins. The oil, is to prevent the tannin irritating your skin. Many people used vegetable oil, but baby oil worked fine too.

It was very hot today (over 40 degrees most of the day) and it was funny seeing everyone with very shiney skin, but knowing it wasn't sweat.

At 12 o'clock, a firework went off, and the battle commenced. The trucks slowly moved down the road, with people in the back, throwing bunches of grapes at everyone in sight. Needless to say, everyone on the street simply threw then back! However, that, of course, simply gives them more ammunition. After a while, it became apparent that even those on the street were throwing them at the other spectators. How rude. I'm not used to throwing things at strangers. I soon got used to it though!

At one point, a young lad grabbed me from behind, and used me as a shield from his friend. He did appologise afterwards though. The whole thing was great fun. There were people of all ages. The grapes didn't hurt too much - a lot like snowballs. Only if you got hit in the head by someone with a good strong aim did it hurt. Most of the time, it was simply a constant thumping of small bunches, or single grapes.

Within minutes, the road was 3 inches deep in dark red juice, and at the end, 2 people lay down and 'swam' in the mess. As usual, the TV crews were there, recording the Spanish at play.

Afterwards, there were showers laid on for everyone to use. I had a good rinse off, but on the way back up, there was a single lorry laying in wait, and, although I tried to hide behind a tree as it passed, I got covered again! Thankfully, we know someone who lives in the village, and she gave us her house keys, so we could have a proper shower! (Thank you Laetitia)

We returned to the site of the battle for a wonderful paella - the traditional Valenciano celebratory meal! Yum yum.

Brilliant day out. (But that T-shirt didn't get white again!)

video

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Glass Blower


I've been meaning to take a photo of this for a while, but either, I haven't had the camera, or the time was wrong, so, today, I made a special trip!

It may not look much, but this is a lovely piece of art work, about 20 feet high, on a new roundabout on the industrial estate. It is one of the main entrances to the estate, so it is seen by many people.

Many years ago, when there were some excavation works being carried out, a piece of pottery was found near l'Olleria, with a picture of a glass blower on it. This bowl actually dated back to medieval times, showing the long history our town has with glass (for which it is famous).

The new artwork is a depiction of the original, and includes a multi coloured glass globe being blown. I think it is really lovely that something so symbolic of the town's history was commissioned.



Post Script: A couple of cars passed, as I was crawling around the roundabout. One of them saw me, and the occupants commented on the fool lurking on the roundabout. The driver assumed I was taking a photo, then realised it was me... it was my next door neighbour!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Cova Sant Nicolas




One of the neighbours has seen the cave from a distance, but never been up there. This week, we took advantage of the cooler weather, and went for a long walk. The mounta range that we are located on, is called the Serra Grossa, but really, it is simply a long range of rolling hills. From a distance, they (almost) look like overgrown sand dunes. There is cetainly nothing very mountainous about them.

We parked in a clearing at the bootom, and them walked through the trees and undergrowth, until we reached the main path. We then followed it to the top of the hill, and started down the other side. Ed had done this before, with Tim and Lauren, but this time, he knew where to climb down the side of the hill, to find the cave. Bizzarely, the cave is marked with a sign post, but the signs have been removed (presumably, because it is a vertical drop to the cave, and very unsafe)!

Ed, Andy and 2 of the children quickly scrambled down, but as I looked, I realised tht the dogs could not posibly climb down a vertical drop of some 20 feet. They kept trying to reach Ed, which was rather worrying (Andy's 2 dogs wanted to get down too). Andy scouted around below the cave, and finally found a 'simpler' route that we could take, and finally, all of us, along with the 4 dogs got to the cave.

Some of them went quite far inside, as this time, we actually had a torch with us. There are rings inside, enabling the use of ropes, and there are a series of caves and tunnels to explore. Ed thinks it is actually only about 30 feet long or so, which makes sense, as the ridge it is on, is not too deep anyway. Certainly, within an hour or so, it would be possible to explore the whole thing.

I was glad to have walked up there, but, having seen it once, I don't know that I would go again!

Xativa Fayre



15th August is the main date for the big fayre at Xativa. The Avenue is lined with tents selling all sorts of wares, and there are lots of other events taking place all around the town for several days before and after.

Ed and I went on Friday morning, but not everything was set up, so we went again on the Sunday afternoon. Mistake! We parked just out of the town centre, and I joked, that if it rained, I would borrow his T-shirt. We strolled around, and then I was sure I felt a drop or two on me. As the trees were so full of leaf, it was hard to be certain. But then, yes, it was definately raining. All of the locals stood under the overhangs of buildings, one or two people had umbrella's, but the rest of us just had to get wet!

It didn't rain too much, but the temperature was so warm, that the humidity instantly hit 100% and stayed there. It was like walking around in a jungle / tropical forest. Everyone was dripping, with both rain and perspiration! One lady, in front of me, looked as though she had been crying... her mascara had run down her cheeks, and her face was wet. Thankfully, I happened to have waterproof mascara on that day.

The stalls were full of the usual 'fayre' goodies; everything from hand carved walking sticks, through home made cheeses, to plastic toys from china. We only bought an ice-cream and a granizado (lemon slush puppy). As we drove home, the heavens opened again. Good job we didn't hang around for the fireworks!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Lotto Logic

Generally, Ed buys our Euromillions lottery ticket on a Wednesday or Thursday.

However, last week, he was in town on Tuesday, so called in to the lottery shop. Unfortunately, the machine wan't working, so no ticket, but, never mind. On Wednesday, he returned. Ticket machine still not working. On Thursday, he returned yet again - machine still not working! This time, however, the man at the counter took Ed's voucer off him, and asked for his name. He didn't want any money, but asked Ed to return the following day. Sure enogh, the next day, the man had a huge pile of tickets, which he had evidently processed elsewhere. He found Ed's ticket, and Ed handed over his cash.

This week, on Wednesday, Ed popped down to the lottery shop... machine not working again! This time, without any problems, they took his ticket again and asked him to return the next day. However, the shop was shut, so Ed couldn't pay for his ticket before the draw!

Saturday morning (today) Ed went to pay for the ticket, but there was some confusion. The man didn't want any money from Ed, but gave him some instead! We had won a (very) small amount on two rows, even thought we hadn't paid for the ticket! I guess, if we hadn't gone back, he would have kept all of the winnings, but it doesn't seem like a very profitable way to run a business to me! I wonder how many people know their numbers, and simply don't go back, if they haven't won.

Could you imagine doing that in the UK? I don't think so!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Carrasqueta




There is a well known piece of road on the way to Alicante, where all of the bikers hang out - a bit like Matlock and the A6!

Ed and I went for a ride out recently and paid it a visit. I was quite wary, but, in reality, the bends were not as bad as I feared - although, as Ed pointed out, had I taken them faster, they would have been scarier! Very true. The roads themselves are generally very well maintained, it is just the nasty drops at the sides that frighten me to death.

We stopped at the cafe on the route, and met up with another English chap, who lived much nearer to Benidorm. While we were there, another group of brits popped in too. Obviously this was an international meeting place!

On the journey back, we saw the new roadway being dug out of the mountainside, which will link our valley to Alicante. When it is all done, it will be just 1 hour to the airport.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Max Fun

This week, Ed decided to put a couple of feet of water in the pool, so the dogs could have a paddle in this heat.

As normal, Paddy just stood at the top in fear, as Max bounded up and down the steps, swimming, splashing and generally having fun. Every time mMax got to the top of the steps, he jumped on Paddy and ran around like a 4 month old puppy. Wonderful fun.

The next day, he didn't seem very well at all. It took little while to figure out what was wrong with him - he couldn't wag his tail.

Further investigation has revealed that he has strained the muscles around his lower back (playing so much) and now he needs to rest for a few days! I guess it's like doing a step class and a spinning class on the same day!

Poor thing - he couldn't even lay down without wimpering to start with, but that didn't stop him going back in again, later in the day. video

Cycling Proficiency

On the way home from town last week, I encountered an interesting scenario in the back lanes. As I approached a nasty corner, I saw a car in front of me, going very slowly. Just ahead, were 2 small children on bicycles.

Aha, I thought, Dad has gone on ahead, to make sure that it is safe for the children, how sensible. We all crawled around the corner, and then, as I looked ahead, I could see 2 more small children, but no adults. They rode down the hill, and then cycled along a small level, before turning left, uphill, the way I wanted to go.

Then I realised what what going on! Two mum's were taking their children for a bicycle ride! One was in a car at the front, and then another was in a car at the back. The youngest children could barely ride. A little girl wobbled all over the road, before getting off, as she didn't have the strength or co-ordination to ride uphill. This triggered the mum at the back to beep her horn, so the first mum stopped.

I have never seen anything so dangerous in my life. Although this is a back lane, that section leads to a huge number of other lanes, and there is always a lot of traffic - even more so at the moment, as people are using their 'country houses' during the summer. Loco!