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Spain
Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

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.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Feria




This weekend, is our 'fair' weekend. The funfair has come to town, and there are street stalls along the high street. They seem to be the same stalls each time, perfect if you wish to buy a handbag or scarf. There are other things too, but as it is such a small village, I guess we can't expect too much.

Opening night was on Friday, and we saw the human towers, and traditional dancing. The opening ceremony and resulting fair is a tradition that goes back some 300 years, so it is nice that it still goes on. So many towns in the UK have lost their annual carnivals, due to lack of enthusiasm.

Having looked around on Friday, on Saturday I stayed in, when Ed popped into town. However, I wasn't too suprised to get a phone call a little later... I'll come and get you. He had encountered our 'gang' of bikers, and they all waited in the same spot, while he came and got me! We had a lovely evening walking around and meeting everyone. I didn't know it was possible to spend 3 hours walking down 2 streets and a carpark! Evidently, it was the night to be seen out, and everyone seemed to know everyone else. I even found myself offering stawberry flavoured turron to the local policeman (known as 'actionman'), but he claimed to be watching his figure. (I think most of the women in the town watch it too).

I had my winter jacket on, and Paco laughed and asked if I was cold, no... because I'm wearing my winter jacket! Sylvia spent most of the night linking her arm through mine. It was just like going out with my mum! Brilliant night out - just need to learn more Valenciano.

Another Sunday, Another Matinal

This morning rose cool and misty, but as on the previous Sunday's we met our 5 Spanish friends at 8:30!

This week's matinal was very local, at Alcudia de Crespins, only about 8 miles away. Thankfully, the leader decided to take the 'scenic route' so we had a nice bimble through the countryside. Well, we would have, if it wasn't for the fog! I guess one of the problems of living in a moutainous area, is that you sometimes get stuck in the clouds!

As we passed through a few villages, and through the back lanes to Xativa, we all experienced that wonderous loss of vision that winter riding brings to bikers! In the end, I rode with my visor up, but when I could actually feel water running down my face I guessed that I was going to look like a panda, with mascara down my cheeks!

As we neared Xativa, Julien and I had lost the other 3 bikes, so we pulled over and waited for them. Paco soon arrived, and after a wait, Paco2 and Ed came into view. We were about to set off again, when I realised that Paco2 was stopping, and getting off his bike. I shouted at Julien to wait and watched in astonishment as Paco leapt off his bike, looking terrible. I wasn't sure if he was going to be sick, have a heart attack, or kill his wife - whatever he was shouting in Valenciano made no sence to me at all! However, a drink of water and a lot of guesturing, and he seemed to be better.

We set off again, but as we entered Xativa, we somehow lost them again (within about 1 mile). After going back, we gave up and went to the matinal. When we arrived, they were already there. Ed said, that during the ride there, Paco2 had gone slower and slower, and, after stopping, simply took the quickest way to the meeting. Once he had had something to eat, he felt (and looked) much better. Poor chap.

This was one of the biggest meeting I have been to so far. Certainly, there were over 1,000 people there. I think we were lucky to get there early enough to find somewhere we could sit together and eat our breakfast. This one appeared to be sponsored by coke-a-cola. There were free soft drinks, and many of the prizes were cola promotions. There were shopping bags, t-shirts, colouring pencils, trousers... all sorts. There was also a nice helmet and jacket, and 3 ham's! It must take ages for the clubs to pull these wonderful prizes together, and we just turn up and pay our 8€.

Sadly, I forgot my camera this time, but lots of people took photos. If I find any on the web, I'll post them later.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Matinal




Today, we have been to another 'matinal' with some locals. This is a morning bike meeting.

Once again, for just 8€, we got a t-shirt, a gift (Ed got an umbrella - not much use on a bike!), drinks, breakfast cob and entry to the raffle. This is evidently the format for these, which is incredible successful.

After breakfast, as we left our table, I spotted a 50€ note on the floor. I quickly picked it up and showed it to Ed. It had fallen out of his pocket, as he bought a 1€ ONCE lottery ticket. Maybe it was a sign of good luck - I will check the ticket later!

Although the day was cold to start with, it soon warmed up. The free anis liqueur with breakfast warming our insides as well! This time, there was more luck for one of us; someone won a helmet in the raffle.

On the way back home, the leader of the group suddenly swerved off a roundabout into a small side road, and very quickly pulled off his glasses, helmet and bandana... 'una vespa' (a wasp) one of the others helped him pull his jacket off, but there was no sign of it now! It had walked across the top of his brow, just as he approached the roundabout. Every motorcyclists nightmare!

Hummingbird Hawk Moth


I don't normally like moths, but this one is a little unusual.

We first encountered these in Javea, where they were hovering, drinking nectar from the bourganvilla flowers. They can even fly backwards, hence their name.

Although moths, they are often active in daylight. This one was bit lazy though, allowing John to pick it up...

Hiccy Burp Day 2


It was happy birthday time for John this month.

Having sampled life in Spain for 18 months, and returned to England, John has celebrated his birthday with a holiday in the sun. One week with us and another in Cuidad Quesada.

Thankfully, while he was here, he helped with the felling and chopping up of the trees. For his birthday, I baked him a yummy cherry crumble cake (good recipe Mum) and we celebrated with a 'menu de casa' at the Baraccas restaurant near us.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

There were these two tree fellers...







In front of the house, rather too close, are two huge pine trees. They have caused us great concern for quite some time, but everyone kept telling us that there is a huge fine payable if you chop them down without permission - up to €2,000. Nearby, someone was threated with a denuncia when spotted by a passing Guadia Civil car.

Talking to one neighbour, he said it was ok to chop them down, as long as your neibours agreed - which he did (as he wanted to take lots of his down too). However, another neighbour said that we had to get permission.

After some soul searching, Ed went to the local council with a friend that speaks fluent spanish. They weren't interested at all, and told them to go to the police (in the same building now). They tried, but the police weren't interested either, and told them to contact the Forrestal. Next day, we heard that as long as the trees are in your own garden, and you have paid for them, then, since they are yours, you can do what you like with them!

No further time to waste... Ed has spent the last few days chopping down trees, logging them, and digging out roots. The front of the house looks totally different. Wonderful. Once the brash has been burnt (next week) we will really see the benefit. John has helped too, which is great, because some of the tree trunks were too wide for me to pick up! The poor little digger had to work hard too! video

Hiccy Burp Day




It was Tim's birthday at the end of September, so we celebrated with a meal in Frankie and Benny's followed by drink in a pub, then on to a nightclub. Out of 18 people, I was the only one over 30 - though I denied it of course, claiming to be 25 (yet again).

Although we had booked a table in advance, the service was quite slow, but the waiter we had was quite funny. One of the lads had his 16" pizza delivered, rolled it up, and started to eat it, there was then a flurry of challenges, as everyone wondered if he could finish it, before the last meal had been delivered to our table... he did!

It was lovely to see the familiar faces, as well as a couple of new ones. I was treated as one of them, not the mother keeping an eye out! I even got dragged into some in depth car-talk, which was quite funny.

Tim was given a birthday cake (baked by Nanny) in the restaurant, with the waiters all singing Happy Birthday to him, and presenting him with balloons. (Rapidly followed by helium induced conversations.)

We even went to the only nightclub in Uttoxeter, which was as dire as it always has been. The funniest part, was that there were several people dressed in 80's clothes, so it really did seem like I was 25 again!

Poor Tim. I had lost count of the shots he had drunk in the restaurant, so I wasn't too suprised to hear that he didn't get up until 3pm the next day!

English Autumn




Autumn in Spain lasts for about a week. The leaves are green, then suddenly they change and die and fall off! If you are lucky, you notice it, but if you are busy, (or blink) then you miss it.

It was nice to see the hips in the hedges, and the changing leaves. I was also delighted with the dew on the grass - our lawn is a combination of weeds and dead grass, so not very impressive.

Wet Day Out




When in England at the end of September, Jessica treated me to a day out at Alton Towers.

This time, we were going to get wet, whatever the weather - we had a session in the spa booked.

The changing rooms are tiny, but it was lovely to put on a big fluffy bathrobe, and spend several hours chiling out. We didn't book any treatments, but spent the time swimming, having a foot spa, in the jaccuzi, the whirlpool and the steam room. The worst part, was when Jessica pressed the button for the 'rain' when in the shower - I wanted 'tropical', which is a lovely fine mist of warm water, but 'rain' is really cold and heavy!

To my amusement, she couldn't relax, so we decided to spend the next few hours in the waterpark. We had to get dressed to go there, but we simply popped our jeans and t-shirts over our costumes (so it looked as though we'd wet ourselves!).

We had great fun. We went on all of the rides several times, including the outside one. She managed to tip me out of one of the rings, by holding me under a running torrent which was rather strong. I thought the Master Blaster was brilliant and was very relieved not to get thrown out of my ring, so I didn't have to be rescued!

We weren't allowed to take photo's in the spa, but it was ok before the water park opened. Quite often, Jess works in 'Quenchers' right at the side of the waterpark.