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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Rat Trap - and you've been caught!

Ed has had a serious clearout of the garage. He laid 2 rat traps, but all they did, was feed the rats! Everytime he checked them (sometimes 3 times a day) the cheese had gone, the traps had fired, but there was no sign of anything!

Previously, the nearest we had come to rats was the spotting of one, as it stole almonds from the tree and then scurried back into Ursula's woodpile. However, in the summer, they moved the woodpile and built a new store. Evidently the rats decided to try out Hotel Bramley. For them, the free cheese must have been a real treat!

Underneath his 12 ft long workbench, he found the beginnings of a nest. Well, more than the beginnings, but thankfully no baby rats.

Time for more action. The purchase of a poison bait rat trap. I read all of the instructions (Spanish), but it was simple enough. Our main concern, was the liklihood of rotting rats. Yuk. He baited the trap, and spent a lot of time in the garage, trying to figure out where they were and how they were getting in. Oh, oh. One day, he admitted to me that he had seen 3 of them. 1 black and 2 brown. One of them was the size of a cat. No wonder the poison trap didn't work - the rats were too big to get in it! (must feed them less cheese)

A total clearout still found no rats, but Ed finally decided that they were getting in in the space around the boiler flue. He sealed that up, and there have been no further sounds or mess.

Then, yesterday, as I collected wood for the fire, I nearly picked up a big furry thing in the middle of the wood pile. Argh. Ed (my hero) went and removed it for me. Yes, it was a dead rat. Yes it was huge. In fact, it's tail was about 9 inches long (or so he said).

Gross. I'll let Ed get the wood for now, until he restacks it, later in the week.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

San Antonio - 17th January

San Antonio (St Anthony) is the patron saint of animals, and on his day (or the nearest Sunday) you can take your animals to the chuch to be blessed. We still haven't been, but apparently people take everything, from horses to fish (still in their tanks I presume).

In Canals, on the way to Xativa, the night before San Antonio, they celebrate with a huge bonfire right outside the church, in the centre of the town. We have been before, but this year, as it fell on a Saturday night, it seemed a good idea for another visit.

In true Spanish style, we turned up just 15 minutes before it was due to start, and squeezed the car into a non-existent parking spot! The weather was mild and there was no wind - perfect for a bonfire.

The square was packed as we expected, but there was still room for a few hundred more (I don't think so). At 9pm. the church bells tolled and everyone cheered. Firecrackers around the bonfire went off, and those nearest used them to ignite newspaper and push the burning paper into the fire, to get it burning. After just a few minutes, thick white smoke billowed out from behind the greenery, rising into the air - and probably into the church too!

It took about 20 minutes for the whole thing to get really alight and for the oranges on top to catch alight (another round of cheers) and then 10 more minutes or so and it was pretty much over.

This year, due to the mild weather, the firemen didn't have to work too hard, to keep the buildings safe. In fact, I noticed that they were taking as many photos as everyone else! The houses nearest to the fire even left their protective aluminium shutters open until the fire really got going.

Great fun! Totally barmy!

Serra Grossa - the hard way

Well, New Year Resolutions are made to be broken, but surely not without at least some attempt at maintaining them?

I had promised myself that I would climb up to the cross behind the house more often. In all honesty, I haven't climbed up since we actually moved here... the only times I have been up, have been by 4 wheel drive! (I did climb up when we holidayed here in 2006)

So... Jessica and I put on our walking boots and trekked off. In actual fact, it wasn't too bad. I had sussed out a few potential and non-potential routes previously so after about 3/4 hour, we had the best view for about 40 miles. It wasn't clear enough to see the sea, but it was still worth the climb through the bushes and over the rocks! (We took the road back down - easy peasy) While we were walking, Jess asked about the shotgun cartridges we had seen - what do they hunt here, just as I responded with 'wild boar' there was a scurry, as 3 rabbits bounded across the track! Thankfully the dogs happened to be on leads at that point, otherwise we might have had to walk to Xativa to get them back.

Snowy Spain

Well, since the whole of europe was snowed up, Spain decided to join in the fun too! This is what we woke up to, on 8th January. A beautiful sprinkling of fluffy white stuf.

I was due to teach an English lesson that afternoon, but my student cancelled. She admitted the next day, that she had cancelled so that her and her mates could go and play in the snow - she is 24!

The snow lasted for only a few days, but it was nice sitting in front of a log fire and looking at it out of the windows.

Birthday Cuddles

On Jess's birthday, we didn't really go anywhere, however Max was happy to cuddle her all day, and wish her a happy birthday!

Jess at the Belen

On the day of the 3 kings, (6th January) I took Jessica to Xativa to see the Belen. This an almost full sized set, representing Bethlehem at the time that Jesus was born. There is a pond, a working water wheel, and lots of planted crops, of various type. Very well done really.

(In most towns, this is a small set-up, not unlike something you might have at your own home!)

It was quite busy, which suprised me, as 6th January is the day on which presents are opened, following the arrival of the kings. (Remember - it was the kings that bought gifts for the baby and they arrived after the birth?)

This time, as well as the goats, turkey, duck, donkey, we actually saw the camel too. He looked a bit tired, as he had probably been used to carry one of the kings the night before!

What I had forgotten, was the man lurking behind the bushes! Terribly graphic and unpleasant! You can see him near the camel.