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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Older Boys, Smaller Toys!

On the outskirts of town, and not well known about, is a small race track for remote controlled cars.

Although small (by its very nature), the course is well equipped, with a control tower for the operators, a pit lane, repair benches and an office for the race officials. There is even a camping area, for the National Races, with toilets, bbq area etc!

The guys take their sport very seriously. If the 'spotters' didn't see a car which had overturned, there was almost a riot, until it was turned back! The spotters had a very hard job - jumping into the middle of the track, without landing on another car, but at the same time, hoping not to get smacked on the legs by another car.

These things were petrol driven, about 3.5 bhp, and were doing about 60 mph. Not bad, considering the size of the track.

The 'Final' was about 40 minutes, and we noticed that the operators were getting tired, as there were a lot more crashes nearer to the end.

Dressing Up Time

When we were in Cocentaina recently, I managed to get some photos (through the window) of the costumes worn by the Moors and Christians during the big parades.

The costumes are 'one size fits all', much to my suprise. Many of them lace up at the back, or sides, and then have the cloaks draped over the top. In general, one or two people from a fila (troupe) go to the store and select which costumes they would like. They may choose 2 or 3 costumes, depending on how many there are in the troupe, and then, just in time for the parade, the costumes are collected (say 10 of each).

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Ferrari Day

Ed and Jamie have spent the day at Cheste circuit today, to watch the 2009 Ferrari World Finals.

It was only 20€ to get in. Not bad, considering it was 25€ to buy a mug! They didn't come back empty handed - as well as the photos, they got a free newspaper!

Call to Order

I can't believe that I have actually attended a Town Council Meeting - in a foreign language!

One of our neighbours came and told me that there was a meeting on Wednesday at 8pm, to discuss the poor state of our road (or at least, that's what I thought)!

He wasn't able to contact Monica, but as I could get her on the internet, I offered to do this for him. All I knew, were the basic details, but I thought that she would find out more, if she needed to.

At 8pm, most of our neighbours were waiting patiently inside the Town Hall. Apparently, there were a series of meetings that evening, for each street that was badly maintained. When it was our turn, we went into the main room, where 2 councillors explained the situation. There were some 30 roads in need of repair, and not enough money to do them. Just like back in England.

Since our road had been tarmacced in the past, the council accepted responsibility for it, and acknowledged that they should pay for the repair. The cost would be just over 7,000€. The council were not prepared to pay this, as the rates received from the few houses in the street did not cover the costs. They would, however, pay half, if we would pay the other half.

Unfortunately, of the 10 plots of land on the lane, 2 of them belong to people with no houses on the plots (just scrubland) and 1 belongs to a very old couple, who have only visited the house once in 3 years. Needless to say, they have no intention of paying anything. There are only 3 houses fully occupied (including ours) and one of them does not want to pay. We are not prepared to pay over 2000€ for everyone else's benefit. Oh well - it could be another 2 years before anything happens!

In the meantime, Ed will simply go on filling in the pot-holes when necessary! (I must admit, we seem to have no through traffic any more!)

Big Step

To my absolute delight, Ed and Jamie have been laying the slabs. Ed has finished the big step off the terrace, and the area around it.

It looks beautiful, with the risers being made of the same slabs as the steps themselves. I have put a big plant pot on the corner, so that it is easy to see where the step is, as it is so well done, that after a few sangrias, it might not be noticed!

At last, we can walk out of the house, without having to walk on the dirt in the back garden, or the dogs bringing the dirt in.

(I think it looks great - Ed just thinks it's a big slabbed area - Builders eh!)

Plumbing the Depths

At last, the plumbers have been, and installed the pump, filter etc into the pool. Ed dug out the trenches for the pipework and all they had to do was supply the bits and bobs, and connect them up.

The hardest job, was for the drilling of the 3 points for the jets that push the water towards the skimmers. It took ages, as there is so much re-inforcing in the pool. At least now we know how well built it is.

The crew were really nice. A German owner, an English salesman, A French plumber and a Spanish labourer. Everyone spoke a little of each language and there were no problems at all. By 5 pm they had finished and Ed was able to start back-filling.

The next day, he and Jamie relaid the pool floor, so that we have a good surface ready for when we can tile it.

Fancy Seeing You Here

I got an email from Tina, saying she was in Spain on holiday, about an hour or so from us. That was as good an excuse as any for having a trip to the seaside. We had a nice day out, then headed off for her urbanisation. A combination of sat-nav, map and written instructions, and at 5 mins to 7, we were just 5 minutes away from them (allegedly). Perfect. Follow the road signs up the hill to the estate, and there was the information centre, as described. But, it was on the right, not the left. Hmm. Follow the instructions, but something seems wrong. Go back to the information office and try again. No. Something very wrong. Ring Tina. Voicemail. Try again. No connection. Go back to information office and call again. Success - sort of, but my phone ran out of credit before we had finished the conversation! Use Ed's phone, but it's ok - she's on the way... It turned out that the urbanisation is so large, there is an information office at each end of the estate, and we (of course) were at the wrong one.

So, we arrived rather late for a lovely barbeque with her and had a great time. We told her about the market at Cocentaina, and sure enough, we met up again (twice) amongst all of those people the next evening.

All Saints Day

1st November is All Saints Day in most of the world. (Preceeded by All Hallows E'en) In Cocentaina (a small town near us) every year there is a huge market. The market can actually trace its origins back to 1346, so the event is still held in Medievel style.

As well at the stall holders, the stalls themselves are dressed up, and the streets are lined with flags and banners. It is a wonderful event, filling up most of the streets through the town.

It is so well organised, that everything is zoned. The original medievel area is in the old town, with craft stalls, artesan foods and lots of staged events. Then, there is a separate food section, with cheeses, hams, olives etc (all local produce). There is also a funfair, a trade area (cars, tractors, fireplaces and anything commercial) and the usual market stalls that you would expect anywhere. In the middle of it all, is an outdoor food court, with huge barbeques, baked potatoes, crepes etc.

We arrived at about 5pm, just as the stalls were re-opening after the siesta, but before the crowds had arrived. As we strolled around, there was lots of shouting.. Just behind us, four medievel guards were escorting their squire and his maiden through the market, and making everyone get out of the way. As they passed us, the squire saw a cheese stall, and insisted on stopping, and sampling the wares. He was very loud about it, making comments on the cheeses he tried. When he was ready to move off, one of the guards had disappeared, and there was a big argument, as he was punished for not paying attention to his duties. All great fun. Later on, we encountered the same group in the main square. They had aprehended a robber and were administering his punishment. Sadly, my Spanish was not quite up to understanding his final sentence, but they took him off with lots of noise and fuss.

We spent about 5 hours wondering around (including eating out)as we were so lucky with the weather.