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Spain
Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Aires de Menorca



On Saturday evening, we went to see a Gran Espectaculo Ecuestre.

This was a horse show in Xativa bullring, with the display being carried out by 'Menorquina' thoroughbred horses. There were 16 of them in the display at various stages, along with 8 riders and 4 grooms.

The horses were beautifully trained, dancing to music, walking with cross steps, diaganolly, backwards etc, as well as standing on their hind legs.

The music was excellent, and the compare spoke very clearly, so that I could actually understand most of it this time.

There was even a section where the horses came out in the dark, dressed up in lights. This was very clever, as, with the horses being black, it was impossible to see anything except the outline of them as they performed.

I'm not a horsey person, but the show was so well put together, and lasted about 2 hours in total, that I would certainly recommend it to anyone.
video

Spring Clean



Ed has been working very hard in the garden, spring cleaning!

We have cleared the front flower bed of anything English (there were 4 tulips in there as well as a few narcissi) and have left everything spanish. The bay tree is fine, as well as the small palm, which Ed managed to split into two. There are also several different succulents. We have filled it with gravel, and now just need to clad it (new cladding is currently in a big pile, around the back of the house).

Ed has also raked up all of the pine needles and fir-cones from the front garden. A massive task, which, thankfully, only needs to be done every couple of years.

We did plant 15 red geraniums around the tree in the centre of the drive, but, unfortunately, Max loves the smell of the compost and has managed to uproot them several times already. Hopefully he will get bored with them soon and they will actually manage to grow and flower again.

Monday will be burning day. As well as the pile of garden rubbish, there is now a truck full of pine needles to burn. These can only be done bit-by-bit, as they are terribly flamable. The last thing we need, is to start a forest fire of our own.

It turns out, that of the three fires last weekend, one of them was a farm fire which got out of hand - the other two were started deliberately.

Like Something from Under a Rock


When searching for geocaches, it is often necessary to look inside treetrunkc, down holes or under rocks.

This, of course presents an interesting issue in Spain. There is every chance of finding a snake, scorpion, tarantula or something else, instead of a tupperware container. In this case, we found a pair of Megarian Banded Centipedes.

These are reported to be slightly venemous. Hmm. Maybe climbing around looking under rocks is not such a good idea after all!

Serra Grossa Geocaching



There are two geocaches on the mountains outside our house, and we finally managed to find the time to go up there. Admittedly, I didn't want to go up during February or March, as the processionary caterpillars were already out, and they don't mix well with the dogs.

Mark and Tracey had already found the new cache, but they went up with us. That turned out to be a good move, as the co-ordinates were out, and we would have been looking for hours! The cache itself was also very well hidden, so there was no chance of finding it by accident, should you decide to look under every rock on the whole mountainside! I guess we were cheating a little, but even so, we were there for quite a while.

Next, we moved on to the one a little further along. I knew roughly where it was from the description and there did seem to be an obvious rock that I checked under, but no joy. We searched around for a while, then Ed looked under the same rock that I had earlier. Bingo. Evidently, I have to learn to reach right underneath, not just girlie fashion, around the edges.

There are now another two new ones in the valley, so we will soon be off exploring again.

Glow in the Dark



As I walked back up from the garage a few nights ago, I saw something glowing very brightly on the garden wall. I had no idea what it was, and couldn't see in the dark, so I assumed that Ed had dropped some took or something.

I mentioned it to him, so he walked outside and quickly spotted the glow! Investigating more closely than I had, he shouted, "it's an insect". I must be getting braver nowadays, as I quickly grabbed the camera, and managed to get some very close up shoots.

In the end, it was a male glow worm. He was there the next day too, so maybe in the near future, we won't need our outside lights, to light up the garden!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

First Forest Fire of the year




We have just had a couple of extremely warm days (38 degrees) considering the fact that it is still only April. Sadly, since we had a pretty dry winter, this has led to four forest fires this weekend.

The first one, was reported at 9:15pm on Friday night, and is still smouldering now, although it is under control. This was in our valley, and we have been able to see the smoke during the day, and the flames at night, even though it was some 15 miles away.

I have not been able to work out where the helicopters were going, in order to get their water, but they have been flying overhear non-stop for the last 2 days. When the sun goes down, they have to stop, and the poor firemen are then left to do their best overnight.

The helicopters actually flew over Bellus reservoir to get their water from somewhere near Ontinyent, or Enguera, which seemed rediculous. One person did say, that the water from Bellus was too expensive, but surely the cost of flying further would have cancelled that out! (I didn't know that the fire brigade had to pay for their water - but I guess someone has to!)

This afternoon, we toured around a little, and saw that one helicopter was taking water from very near the fire (Rotova), but the others were still travelling a long way. The fire was out by then, and they were just keeping on top of it, making sure none of the smouldering parts caught fire again.

As far as I know, no-one has been hurt, and no houses actually damages, but a very large area of forest and mountainside has been destroyed. Terrible for those nearby. Thank goodness we have cut down the trees nearest to our house now.

Hissing Sid



Arriving home yesterday, Ed suddenly braked very hard by the gate, and backed up a little. There, stretched out across the entry, was a lovely snake. By definition - a ladder snake.

Being brave, I jumped out and took a few photo's, but I certainly wasn't brave enough to pick it up and move it. I shoved it a couple of times with my foot, but it wouldn't move. Ed then got out of the car and managed to persuade it to move along. However, it then went along our wall, and into the hole where our water meter and stopcock are. (We have checked since, and it's not there any more.) video

MFN





On Wednesday night's, it's Bike Night, but on Sunday night it's Car Night at MFN (Miles From Nowhere) at Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.

Years ago, this used to be a sucessful nightclub, but rules and regulations, along with a couple of complaints, have resulted in it operating just a few days a week now. The pub does have one redeeming feature - it has a huge carpark, and overspill field.

On a Wednesday night, I have seen all of the carparks full (some 2,000+ bikes), but on Sunday 3rd, was the first car night of the year, and the whole place was packed. I thought it opened at 7pm, but we got there at around 6, and already had to park on a grass verge. In the end, it was a good spot, as it was at the entrance/exit to the rear carpark. Thereafter, once all of the curbs were full, parking was on the gravel area, and then the field. £1 per person, and there must have been 2,000 cars - most of which will have had 2 or 3 occupants.

The burger stand had a new bbq, and the burgers were really nice (according to Tim, who 'borrowed' £5 from me) and they only charged 50p for a good sized paper cup of tea. Good on them. Good food, good prices. I wish them every success for 2011.

There were many fancy cars, and a few disasters, but everyone had a great time walking around, looking at everyone else's cars. (Apart from the one's parked 1/2 mile or more away!)

Strike A Pose



Utoxeter has some new statues, on two of the three main entries into town. They are both by the same sculptor, and quite impressive.

The bull is representative of Uttoxeter's past as a cattle market, but as for the Centaur, I have no idea. Perhaps it is meant to represent Uttoxeter's Racecourse and/or Uttoxnian's affinity to horses!

Nice though - I like them (although I think the bull's legs are a little too tall!)

Geocaching - UK Style





1. Having introduced Dad to geocaching, he took me to the point of his first find - well, to the gateway anyway. He parked up, and left me to find the cache myself, as he sat in the car and watched. I looked around one gatepost, and then the other. Nothing too obvious. Then a saw a snail, which looked out of place (in as much as a snail can look out of place!). I tentatively picked it up, and, sure enough, it was a snail shell, with a tiny sealed capsule inside, with the log rolled up inside it. Very clever.

2. The next time I went out, was with the two Tims. For the first one, only (son) Tim was able to go, and we strolled past the Racecourse towards gz (ground zero). Hmm. Problem. It was race day, and the whole area was full of people. This made it rather difficult for us to find the public footpath, as we had to walk around the field that everyone parks in first, to find the right track! Finally (after asking someone) we found the footpath, so off we went. A quick diversion off the path, and Tim was soon rummaging inside a hollow tree "found it".

We were then joined by (son-in-law) Tim, so off we went looking for more. We had trouble finding the tiny caches, and were even joined by their friend Liam, so the next stop was actually near Alton Towers. We walked down to the Chained Oak (of spooky tale fame) and I quickly found the cache near there. In convoy, we set off to Croxden, and Liam found that one (after a nasty lady told us where NOT to park!). A diversion through a ford, and Tim (S) found that one. Perfect - one find for each of us. Brilliant day.

3. Jess wanted to go with me too, so, on the Sunday, we went out again. This time, we had a geocoin with us, which had originated in Alaska. The owner was born in the UK, to an American forces father, and had never been able to return. In his place, he had sent the coin, to travel England for him, asking people to take pictures wherever his coin went. How clever. We left it in the cache we found at Stafford Castle, before Jess and I went on to find some more at Doveridge and Uttoxeter. She was very good, and even found a small one, shaped like a small stone, next to a fence post.

The Three Stooges



Tim said I looked like a lumberjack in this shirt. I wasn't very happy, as I liked it a lot. Now I will think I look silly each time I put it on. Thanks Tim.

Three Three Degrees



As it was Mothering Sunday while I was in the UK, I wanted a photo of the 3 women together, to celebrate. We had lots of laughs taking the photo's but of all of them, these two were the best one's I got.

Dad took some too, but I haven't seen them yet. Maybe they are even better.

Jess's new toy


As the saying goes: the older the boys, the more expensive the toys. Jess had bought herself a new car, which I had seen in phot but she was able to pick me up from the airport in it.

Initially, it was hidden behind a large 4x4, but I was thrilled for her, when I saw it. A lovely (girlie) red soft-top. I simply burst out laughing, when she pressed the button, and remotely unlocked the car, then put down the roof. Wonderful. (Not jealous at all - honestly :-s)

Thankfully, my 2 cases fitted in the boot, so off we went, sunglasses on, roof down, cruising through the Staffordshire and Derbyshire countryside. Great fun. I bet all of the other drivers wondered what the old biddy was doing in the passenger seat! video

Baa Baa Black Sheep


For once, I timed my visit to the UK perfectly, for the spring lambs.

In the fields all around, there were lots of new-born lambs. Dad, on his daily walk, even saw one that was just born, the mother nudging it, before it went for it's first suckle. It was lovely to see them, especially when they jumped - which I saw twice.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Pub Quiz

I love pub quizes. I may not be the brightest spark, but I have a good general knowledge, and I love the banter, both within and between teams. Sadly, there are no pub quizes here, but on landing at EMA last week, Jessica announced that I would be attending their local pub quiz that night. Yippee.

That evening found me sat at a long table, surrounded by 20-somethings all ready for the quiz. There were 6 in our team, the next oldest being 26 - about half my age! One chap was on his own, but other teams varied at around 4-5 people.

First, we had a picture round. I recognised Micky Mouse, and Museli, as well as a Mustang, but after that I was lost! Next, a pop round. I've heard of Justin Bieber, but if I fell over him, I wouldn't have known who he was, so I wasn't much good there either. However, I did know a few answers, (who was the Man Who Fell To Earth, with Lulu?)so not totally useless. Next, a round about the Wild West. Thank You Eddie. Ed loves westerns, and watches them most weeks, so, somehow, I knew most of these answers (although not all of them)!

A few more rounds, and the quizmaster said we would have a break. Havoc. Everyone started complaining that other teams would cheat, using their mobile phones (internet) to find the answers. The poor girl did her best to pacify everyone, but it got very unfriendly. The man on his own complained loudest, with us not very far behind... "look, he's using his phone..." About 10 minutes later, we completed the final round, (Which policeman did Jack Turner play in 400 episodes?) and it was time to correct the sheets.

We swapped with other teams, and all marked each others. The usual groans and moans when the answers came out... "I told you..." or "Oh, I knew that". Laughter everywhere. The girl went around afterwards, asking who had scored what. We had 32 out of 50. Not very good, but evidently not the worst. Jessica asked a friend how he/they had done. Well, he replied, we got 6 in the first round, which was 1/2 of our total. Oh dear.

Then, the girl announced that we were the winners! What? The nearest to us was 26, so we won by a lot. (And after all that complaining about the other teams too.) We won a free meal for 2, which was a great treat. The others allowed Jess and I to go, being the honorary visitor (and the one who knew the Wild West answers). Thanks all. Great fun. I'll go again next time I'm over.