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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Messy March

Well, what a funny month we have had! Earlier this month, I was laying on a sunlounger, in my bikini, reading a book. A few days later, I cleaned the livingroom, top to bottom, thinking we had finished with the fire! Big mistake. We are now back to lighting the fire, there is an extra layer on the bed, and the winter woolies are back out! On top of that, having washed my car, the next two weeks were 'bright green pollen' weeks, which I had forgotten about from last year! I couldn't see out of the windows! But - hey ho, tomorrow is April, the rain has dried up, and summer is just around the corner - then I can work on topping up my tan again!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Fallas Dogs!

Well, we couldn't let them miss out! We bought some bandanas at the Fallas, so that we blended in with all of the other tourists! Paddy and Max look wonderful in them!

Fireworks and Bonfires

The main event at the town square started at 1am. There was a huge firework display, followed immediately by the burning of the central falla. Great fun. Wonderful atmosphere. And too many people to get cold!

Valencia Town Square

We had decided to get to the main square in time for the main fireworks and the burning of the 2 fallas in the square. It is not possible to get right next to them, for safety reasons, so we were all hearded back behind safety barriers and into the side streets. Sardine's anyone?

Fallas - Valencia

Some of the scultures were really beautiful - it was amazing to think that they were literally made to be burnt. The one of the girl in the pink dress was pretty enough to stop us in our tracks, as we were headed elsewhere. There were pretty silver glitter patterns on her dress, and the birds above her head were attached by the smallest link possible. Truly amazing. Many of them have satirical themes, and this one even included a mock of the Spanish Prime Minister!

Fallas - Valencia - The Winner

Each year, all of the Fallas are judged, and the main winning one is often saved from cremation and placed in a museum of winning Fallas. This year, the winning one was in an area called Nou Campoanar (I think) which was their third win in a row. We walked to have a look at it (quite a trek) as it cost a reported €900,000 to make. The creators had decided that they would set fire to it after all, since this was meant to be a celebration/fiesta, and they didn't want the event to be marred by the crisis. This particular one was 24 meters tall, and took more than 2 years to make.

Fallas - Valencia

On the way home from Xativa with John, Ed called - we had the opportunity to follow someone into Valencia and go and see the Main Event! Wow - unexpected bonus. (Previously, we have avoided Valencia, for lack of knowledge of where to park, amongst the huge crowds.) Sure enough, we ended up right near the old town, just a 20 minute walk from the council square. We had a lovely look at the main Fallas, but apparently there were 760 of them - so we missed quite a lot!
In the main square, there was to be a huge firework display. I asked (in Spanish) when they were being lit, and the policeman replied (in pefect English) at 1am. I then asked a different policeman for the location of a particular Fallas (in Spanish) and this time got a Spanish answer - he simply directed me to the nearest Tourist Information Office. In there, I asked in Spanish for some help and got a reply in English again. Much later, I asked a Spanish person on the street for some directions, and he too replied in perfect English. What on earth am I going to lessons 3 times a week for?! Would I recommend Valencia for the Fallas? Yes, certainly. However, I think you need 2 days before-hand to have a good look around. And as there are so many people, you will only be able to see one or 2 of them actually being burned, but the atmosphere was wonderful.

Fallas - Xativa

John came up to see us on Wednesday 18, so that he would be able to see the Fallas on 19th. Although they have a few examples in Alicante, there is nothing like the amount we have here, nearer Valencia.

On 19th, I took him into Xativa - Ed and I having already seen the displays a few days before. John was very impressed at the amount of work that had gone into the statues - just to set fire to them!

We also watched the Mascetas (fireworks) which we thought were due to start at 2pm. As this was the final day, they actually started at 3pm - so we (and many others) had a very long wait! Much to our disgust, a 'mature' Spanish couple shoved in, in front of us, so we no longer had a good view. In my poor Spanish, I managed to complain, but they quite obviously didn't think they had done anything wrong! However, 2 tall determined Brits soon made them rather uncomfortable, and we got a good view in time for the main event! John was shell-shocked!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Door Step

Ed has pottered about, and laid the slabs down the side of the house, making the path around the back at last! It was just over 12 months ago, that he tore up the previous ones. We have decided to make the path just 2 slabs wide, and fill the rest of the ground with gravel. This will keep it lovely and clean, and still give the rain a good area to soak away in. On a different tack, the lovely standard trees we bought for the front were blown over in the terrible winds we had last week, and the root balls damaged. We have replanted them, but it is 'fingers crossed' time, that they will recover properly.

Busy Bees

Well, our plum tree, right next to the terrace, has had 2 serious hair-cuts in the last 2 years. This year, it obviously appreciated it and it is covered in flowers. It looked really nice for a few days, when it was full of tiny white flowers, but none of the green leaves had quite peeped through. Thankfully, we also had an influx of very busy little worker bees at the same time. Each time we went down the stairs by the terrace, we could hear the tree buzzing! In fact, it was even on the news this week, how happy the farmers are, with the number of bees about, pollenating the flowers. If only a fraction of them turn into plums this year, I will be very happy.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Tourist Time - Guadalest

It was a beautiful day today, so we decided to have an afternoon out. I had mentioned Guadalest before, so we decided to do the typical tourist thing and go there. It was only an hour away, most of which was at about 30 mph as it was on very bendy mountain roads. I had always thought that Guadalest was a village of cave houses, inhabited many centuries ago, but reality turned out to be a little different. It was certainly a very pretty village, but the original castillated homes were in fact simply houses built onto the side of the mountains, rather than proper caves. We had a lovely walk around the ancient centre, but couldn't find the way to the top. In the end, I asked a lady in a cafe, and she very politely told me it was via the first house on the way in! I laughingly joked to Ed, that she must get asked that many times a day! Sure enough, later, as we were having a drink, the lady was asked again by someone else - and she was just as polite as she answered! (They really need to make the signs clearer!) It was only 4€ each to go through the museum and right to the top of the castle, so off we went... As you can see from the photo's it was a lovely place. Certainly to be recommended.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Poorly Paddy

If it's not one - it's the other! Having finally got Max somewhere back to fitness, Paddy has now got himself in the wars. Yesterday, when I got back from night classes, Ed said that he had cut his pad. He kept licking it, but it wasn't actually dripping, so I thought it would be ok. This morning, it is still bleeding and there are spots all over the terrace. That hasn't stopped him from playing ball though! I have now resorted to putting a dressing on his foot! Sadly, I also needed to put a second one over it, as it is quite bad, but looking a the wound, it would not be possible to stitch. Poor Paddy will just have to hop about for a few days.

Monday, 2 March 2009

All the men together

Ed, Max and Paddy, with the flowerpotman!

One man and his dog(s)

Ed, Max and Paddy having a rest after the steps have been finished! (Who is leaning on who?)

Step to it

Wow. What a clever man I have married. Ed has done a wonderful job of the steps. As well as cladding the stairs, he has also done the sides a little, to blend them all together. The stones themselves have a wonderful metalic shimmer when the sun is on them. From the terrace, they blend in with the original stone wall much better than we expected. I'm very impressed, and so are the neighbours!

All Peachy

Well, not a peach, but my nectarine flowers. The tiny tree is full of blossom. Really pretty. Hopefully this year, we will get some nectarines off it. Last year, when be bought it, there was one nectarine already growing, but Max spotted it, and ate it!

All Pristine

Ed has finished the steps now, so has had another clean up. It really makes me laugh, the way he does the weeding with an excavator! As well as finishing the steps, he has done an area on the wall at the far end of the garden, so that it all links together. We have decided to put a 'rough coat' of render on the wall and then paint it, rahter than the smooth finish we have on the poolhouse and long wall. This should be more inkeeping with the garden, rather than with the house. Will keep you posted...