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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Climb Every Mountain

Towards the end of the year, I had the mad idea of climbing to the cross a few times a week!

On my first attempt, I went with John and had to stop about 4 times on the way up. Hot weather, no air, lack of fitness and lung problems don't make for a healthy climbing combination. Thankfully, he was very patient with me and we finally got to the top.

A few days later, I tried again on my own, and only had to stop a couple of times. Next time, I went with Ed. He wanted to walk the dogs through the woods at the bottom, so we split up and he went along the bottom, while I went over the top. About 10 minutes later, I saw someone walking down the path in a red t-shirt and black shorts, and wondered how on earth Ed had got ahead of me like that. A few moments later, I realised it was a totally different man, that happened to be wearing the same colours as Ed. How funny. When we met up at the other side, he was quite amused too.

I logged the route with a mapping system, and it is a 5km walk. That may seem simple enough, but it has an elevation of 200meters (600 ft), and most of that takes place in the first 2 kms. No wonder I found it hard going.

It is certainly worth it for the view, but the thing that surprised me most, was that only once did I do the trip without meeting anyone. There are cyclists and couples, as well as single people using the track regularly - which is a good thing (in case anything happened).

In fact, the fire brigade did a training exercise up there recently, involving fire engines, and helicopters. It was very entertaining from here.


This year's annual Halloween event took place as usual, even though no one seemed to know much about it!

As well as the crazy dancing firework people, there was a big display in the main square.

I love this event, but how different to the UK! Everyone can get as close as they like to the fireworks (apart from the big ones) and the main event takes place in an enclosed square. The attitude here, seems to be; if you get too close and get burned, it's your fault - and who can disagree with that?

Zoo Time

Second visit to the safari this year!

John hadn't been, so we took him. It was a lovely day out - a mixture of his and my birthday! We got there nice and early, so we could follow the guide around and feed the animals.

When we had done one tour, we went to get some lunch, but decided to pop into the 'petting zoo' first. What a good move. One of the keepers was walking a baby tiger. We were thrilled, as we watched this wobbly cub playing at our feet. After a while, some other people came in and the keeper fetched the two other cubs, so there were 3 of them playing around. It was an absolute delight. The only bad thing, was that we weren't allowed to pick them up and cuddle them! They spend each evening with their mother, so they mustn't smell of other people.
Once the keeper indicated that he was taking them back, I asked about the snake. To my delight, he went and fetched two, for John and I to hold. I was a bit disappointed, as I thought he would bring the big ones, but instead, he bought two small ones. They were very pretty though. Needless to say, I am totally over my fear of snakes now.

Annual Visitor

This year, John came over for nearly a month. A lovely break for him. He spent some time here, and some down near Torrevieja with friends.

The windows had already been replaced and everywhere re-decorated so there wasn't much or him to do.

One job Ed decided on, was the removal of a tree near the back of the house. Although it was a source of much needed shadow in the summer, the roots were now causing a problem and it was time for the tree to go. That is one of the problems of having a big garden - you just get it right, and the plants continue to grow (or die) and you have to change things.

As usual, it doesn't take Ed long to chop down, limb and split a tree. The first one was done in no time at all. After some thought, I agreed that the second one should go down too. I went out for a few hours and on my return, the second one was down, and Ed was covered in bandages.

Whilst up the tree, to remove a branch, he caught his arm with the chainsaw. Thankfully, the cut was fairly shallow, so he carried on. Then, whilst limbing the tree on the ground, he stumbled and caught his leg with the chainsaw. This one was somewhat worse. I got back and had another look at this cut, which was still pulsing blood. A quick trip to the kitchen and using up most of our dressings, and he was back chopping up the trees.

Thankfully, he heals very quickly and a trip to the hospital was not required.

Flashy Visitor

Was highly amused one day in September, to get a message from one of Tim's friends.

I'm in Spain, can I call by...?

He was working, and was en-route from the Barcelona area, to Andalusia. To my surprise, he told me that our house was now on google street view, so he knew how to get here! (Having been here several times before, he should have found the way without a map anyway!)

The next day, he appeared in the company car...

It was lovely to see him. I just wished my own children popped in now and then (ha ha).

Friday, 27 December 2013

Windows 2013

No, I haven't upgraded the latest software on my laptop.

This year, we have replaced the 3 bedroom windows.

Whilst I agree with John, that the wooden, shuttered windows were full of character, and in keeping with the house, the reality was a little different. Opening and closing them was not a simple task, as they had warped over the years. The windows no longer sat in the frames properly, meaning that they were cold and draughty in the winter. Even when sealed with draught excluder, the glass itself was so thin, it was cold just to be near them.

This summer, we installed double-glazed units. Naturally, nothing is straight-forward. As the original windows were quite low, I decided that the new ones had to be taller. Plus, as they were now fitted with roller shutters, that was imperative. Oh dear. It turned out that the lintels over the existing windows made this into a much more difficult job.

What can I say... I know a man who can, and, having got his head around the fixtures and fittings, the first window was duly replaced. For the other two, to make the job easier, he got en extra pair of hands in, and everything was done and dusted in no time. (Dusted. ha. What a mess everywhere!!)

It's total bliss now. Easy to open windows. Tilt on one side. (And easy to clean, as only 2 panes now instead of 6)

l'Olleria Festes

Well... I know I haven't posted for a while, so I thought I ought to catch up!

For a long time, I've tried to post 8 or so items a month, but, to be honest, there is only so much you can write about the same things!

I won't give up the blog, but I won't be putting so many posts up any more. I'll try to do two per month, in the hope that I can find something interesting enough to keep you all entertained!

The annual Fiestas went well as usual, with the parade taking a little less time than previously. It was still an astonishing sight, for those that hadn't seen it before. Sadly, with the crisis affecting everyone, the numbers were a little lower, but this was to be expected.

The bull running this year was totally different. The set up was the same, but, this year, much smaller bulls / cows were used. On the second night, they were only calves. Although only tiny in height, they were much friskier than the normal sized cows. Worse than that, these were small enough to simply run between the bars of the safety cages, and join the crowds that were hiding. (The ends had been blocked off, to stop them from escaping onto the streets.) It was very funny. Instead of the animals running around the bull ring, it was the spectators. The last day had to be cancelled, as we had very heavy rain. The bullring is situated in an area that floods (traffic is not allowed to pass in bad weather) and the whole area was under 1m of water.

Paella night took a twist this year. Previously, we have cooked the paella at Paco's house, after he has collected the ingredients from the park. This makes sense, as with having much older family members there, as well as a disabled one, sitting in the park is a difficult option. This year, however, in order to collect your ingredients, you had to show them your fire and prove that you were participating fully in the event. Oh dear. I got a late phone call - pack everything in the truck, we need to take the tables and chairs to the park. I unloaded the car, and moved everything to the truck. Then, another call. It's ok, come in the car, we are cooking at home! Unload the truck and put it all back in the car! Whatever - wherever we ate, we were guaranteed a good time.

As it happened, eating in the garage turned out to be a good move. At around 11pm, the heavens opened again. Thankfully, we weren't in the park, dashing to pack everything back up.