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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Thursday, 27 November 2008

More Visitors

Well, I'm glad to say that finally my Mum and Dad have been able to find a few days in their international jet-setting lifestyle to come and visit us.

They arrived at Alicante on a Sunday morning, so off I went to meet them. No problem! Except that I couldn’t find them! Apparently, they were waiting outside in the sunshine, but I drove past the entrance twice! Finally, I parked and wondered around looking for them. It turned out, that they were at another terminal that I didn’t know about! Never mind – we were still back in time for dinner!

On the Monday, we had a leisurely stroll around l’Olleria. There were quite surprised at how big it was. Although only a small town, it certainly has everything that you could need. On Tuesday, we took a ride to Gandia. The sea was lovely, the harbour peaceful, the beaches empty – but nearly all of the shops were shut. Just like Skegness in winter – but nicer!

Sadly, that was the end of the nice weather. On Wednesday, it was miserable. We decided to go to Xativa, for a stroll around. We drove right up to the castle, and walked in, just far enough not to have to pay! While we were there, the sun tried to come out, presenting us with a big rainbow over the old town. Beautiful. Then we had a stroll around the old town. A man saw us studying a building, and asked, “English?” Yes, we replied. Then he asked, “Italiano?”, No, “Sprechen Sie Deutch?”, Ja, and then he went on to tell us all about the monastery – in Spanish! Very funny! After a wonderful Hot-Chocolate break, Ed had the wonderful idea of driving to Cocentaina to see the beautiful costumes that the Moors and Christians wear at the parades. We drove into the most horrendous weather, and when we got there, we couldn’t find the shop! It turned out, that it was closed – as they had taken the costumes to Xativa (where we had just been) for an exhibition!

Sadly, on the Thursday, it was time for them to depart again. This time, I drove them up to near Taragona, where they were staying with friends for a few days. It was lovely to see the old neighbours and hear about their experiences! Somehow, I think that everyone who moves to Spain should write at least one chapter of a book! It would be so funny.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

I'm dreaming of a ....

Today, when I was still asleep, Ed came and told me that it was snowing! I thought he was doing his usual 'tall tales', but no... we had big fat flakes everywhere. (I might use this in my Christas Cards!) Today it is only 3.3 degrees, yet on Monday, it was 20 degrees! Still, we have a lovely warm fire to keep us cosy.

Red Berry, Yellow Berry

We have a beautiful ‘wild strawberry’ bush. It is known for having the fruit and flowers on display at the same time. Just now, it is looking really wonderful, and even the bees are having a feast.

Autumn Leaves are Falling

It is very pretty everywhere at the moment. Although we are mainly surrounded by pine trees, we also have a lot of other trees in the area, with all of the fruit orchards around. As I look out of my window, I can see various greens, yellows and reds. Our silver birch has already shed it’s leaves, giving a beautiful silhouette against the blue sky.

Sad Departure

Well, the
economic crisis is certainly world-wide and we are not immune to it here. When the August holidays started, a lot of businesses closed for good, leaving many people unemployed. The industrial estate at the bottom of town is probably only 50% occupied now, even though they are still expanding the roadway around it!

In one area near here, there used to be some 200 English families, but now there are only a handful. Many of them have returned back to England in the hope of finding work. Sadly, this applies here in l’Olleria too. Maz and Wood, good friends of ours have gone back to the UK. Maz has been offered a full time job, so they have packed up their kit bags and returned to Blighty. I wish them all the very best – they will be sadly missed.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A Grand Day Out

Today I have been to see Gordon and Lyndsey’s olives being turned into oil.

We travelled to Navares, to a tiny ‘factory’ in the middle of the town, not much bigger than a double garage! The olives and their baskets were weighed and then the olives tipped into a hopper. (The weight of the empty baskets was then deducted – and they had collected 399.9 kg – Oh for a handful more!)

The olives went up a conveyor belt, and were fed into a stone table, with 3 conical wheels / grindstones rotating over them. Everything was crushed together; skins, fruit, stones, until it was a fine pulp. The pulp was pushed down a channel, into a cast iron vessel. Once the pulping was completed, the resulting ‘porridge’ was made ready for the press. To do this, the pulp was layered in special baskets, a bit like up-turned berets. I lost count, but Gordon mentioned 40 at one point.

Once they were all stacked up, the previous stack was removed, and theirs put into place, in the press. This was a lovely old cast iron press, with a hydraulic ram. In fact, the very weight of the pulp on it’s own resulted in liquid being released before it even went into the press. (Although this was a mixture of oil and water – not just oil.) We were advised that it would take about 3 hours to process, so off we went for lunch…

When we returned, the lady was in the process of pouring the oil into the containers, ready to be taken home. They collected about 65 litres of oil, from this first ‘Extra Virgin’ press. The oil is cloudy to start with, but can be used straight away. If left for a few weeks, it starts to clear, and can then be filtered if necessary.

It was wonderful to see such a small ‘cottage industry’ in full flow. People coming and going, bringing olives and taking oil. There are 3 options; a) take olives and get paid for them, b) take olives for pressing, pay for pressing and keep all of the oil, c) take olives and swap for oil (But you get less oil than in option b.)

Monday, 10 November 2008

Wooden You Know It?

Well, after a few phone calls, we have finally found someone who supplies logs for fires, at a sensible price.

We had a 2,250 kilo load delivered! Yes - that is over 2 tons. The guy simply tipped it out onto our drive. We then had to stack it all...


Well, one thing that I didn't post on here earlier (for obvious reasons) was the loss of my purse!

When we travelled back from Germany (early September) we had to go through a host of toll booths and I kept my purse handy, in order to pay them. Ed was driving. Once we passed the final one (just north of Valencia), Ed had had enough, so we swapped drivers. Unfortunately, the junction where we turned off (to swap) turned out to be a filter road, not a simple roundabout. We ended up driving into another town, but managed to work our way back to the motorway and then swapped drivers on the hard shoulder of the slip road. Not a real problem, as it was about 3am and there was no traffic.

The next day, I discovered that my purse was lost. I looked everywhere, but couldn't find it. We finally deduced that I must have dropped it when I jumped out of the car on the motorway. Sadly, it is normally a very busy area, so it would have been very unsafe to try and go back to find it. I cancelled my bank cards and got a new driving license. (But spent a few weeks very worried, as it is an offence to drive without one here.)

This Saturday, Ed was looking for something in his bum-bag (which he carries most of the time) and he found my purse!! I must have put it in there in the dark, instead of in my own handbag! What a relief - at least now I know that no-one has found it and tried to use any details!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The Earth Moved

Last night, (4th Nov) I suddenly woke up in the early hours, with a strange vibrating feeling running right through me! Ed was sound asleep, snoring very gently, so it was nothing to do with him! I quickly realised that it must have been an earthquake, but obviously only a small one. As I lay there, about 20 minutes later, there was another one – the aftershock. Checking on the Spanish news I have discovered that we had a quake measuring 2.2 on the Richter scale. (Not even classed as ‘medium’ level) We were the only town that was affected, but needless to say – there was no damage reported!

Medieval Fayre

The 1st November is All Saint’s Day (bank holiday) and in the village of Cocentaina, they have celebrated with a fayre, for over 600 years. We have been to this twice already, and went again this year.

The whole of the ‘old town’ is full of stalls dressed up in typically medieval style and the stall holders are dressed up too. I have no idea how many streets have stalls in them, but we spent over 4 hours wondering around. At the top of town, in the more modern part, is the obligatory Fun Fair, but everything you could imagine is on sale!

At the entrance to the town, are some lovely old wooden children’s rides, horses, geese, goats, birds of prey, all very symbolic of an ancient market. (Just like in the movies – but it smells ok!)

There is a food section, with wonderful home made breads, huge vats of pickled vegetables, terracotta pots of olives, salted fish, jamones (legs of air dried ham) hundreds of cheeses, just for starters. Then, you could buys loads of different cakes, (yummy) chocolates, dates, figs, pastries et al. If you took a sample from each stall, you wouldn’t need to buy any tea!

There is a separate eating section, with stalls selling things such as baked potatoes, barbequed sausages and chops, pizzas, crepes, drinks – all sorts and here you can sit down and rest your feet, while filling your tummy (if you have room)!

There are streets of hand craft stalls. Everything from scented candles, herbal teas for every ailment, carved stones, jewellery, hand made toys, clothes…

There are also streets of modern things, such as handbags, commercial clothes, even windows, swimming pools, cars, motorbikes, tractor attachments and goodness know what else! (Can you think of anything more?)

We had a lovely evening. We ate ribs, sausages, crepes, hand made chocolates, and then on the way back, we got a beautiful hand-woven rug for the living room floor. Poor Ed had to carry it all the way back to the car – his hands were numb from the handles. There was no way you could get the car any nearer, as the whole place gets some 240,000 visitors in the 3 days that the market is on! Bless him x