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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ondara Fayre

The Ondara matinal was timed to coincide with the town fayre, although we didn't know that when we got there. The food in the marquee was something of a delight, be we realised why, we we discovered that it was actually a gastranomic fayre, not a bikers bash!

There were some 12 stalls preparing the different types of food. For those not partaking in the bike meeting, it was possible to buy separate tickets to swap for a plate of whatever you fancied. There were the usual offerings, but also oysters, sea urchins, kebabs, all sorts. The food was wonderful. We have not really had any bad food at any of these do's, but this was something else.

Afterwards, we walked around the streets of the town. There was a funfair and also a huge collection of cars. Some of them were very old (20's Al Capone type of things), some of them just old (lots of Seat 500's and minis) and a few were very new (Porche, Lambourghini, Audi R8). Some of them were in a terrible state (befores?) but some of them were really nice to see.

It made me laugh when a big old car pulled out, with mum and dad in the front, and a little girl rattling around in the back (no seat belts in the old cars) as it reminded me of all of the trips we used to do.

Winter Riding

On Saturday, the temperature never got above 10 degrees, and it rained for most of the day. This is actually quite a good thing, as we have had hardly any rain since April and the reservoirs are quite low.

When we went shopping, we happened to meet Paco and gang and all agreed, that if it was still wet or raining on Sunday, then we wouldn't go out. Fine. At 3 am, it was still tipping it down, so time for a Sunday lie in then! Not. at 8:45, Paco called, he had spoken to the others and it was agreed that we would al leave at 9:15. Um, can we leave at 9:30 please?!

Ed and I were quite oblivious as we set off, wondering where we were going this time. We took some very strange back lanes through villages but always skirting the 332. At one point, I laughed and said to Ed that we were going to see the waterfalls at Algar. It was like a treasure hunt, where you have no idea where you will end up. Then, after a while, we saw signs for 'Motos' - aha - the bike meeting at Ondara. We followed the signs, and there was a huge parking area, next to the road, very well organised, with people telling us where to park, and police making sure that everything was safe. There must have been about 600 bikes parked up.

We finally found our way to the stall to buy our tickets and went into the food marquee. There were all sorts of foods, not the usual baguettes. We got our normal t-shirt, and I had a cap in my bag. When Ed looked into his bag (in front of everyone) he found a €50 note! Paco2 cheered the loudest. I said 'keep it quiet', Victoria was shocked, but Julian just grinned - he had seen Ed plant it there just before, when no one else was looking. After a few minutes, the truth came out, and everyone thought it was very funny.

The sun came out in time for us to have a good walk around, but when we got back to l'Olleria, there were a few snow flakes in the air. Time to go home, and settle down in front of the fire again.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Wild Strawberry?

The wild strawberry bush is looking spectacular at the moment.

There are loads of flowers on it, and the fruit is both plentiful and ripe. It is such a shame that the fruit itself doesn't taste of anything and I don't know of any uses for it. (Although apparently in Portugal they make good wine out of it ~ perhaps I should give that a try.)

The sparrows think it is Christmas (it nearly is)as they have the fruit to themselves.

Pruning Assistant

Ed trimmed the almond trees, putting the cut branches into neat bundles, ready to clear away.

Max helped, by running off with the branches...

Chip, Chop, Chip, Chop

Ed has been busy again!

His poor chainsaw has spent most of the last few weeks in various stages of repair as it doesn't want to run properly any more.

He took it to the Stihl shop in Xativa, as he suspected that it had a faulty oil pump, but the man said it would not be possible to repair it. They thought that if they tried, it might be impossible to get the parts needed to fix it. Ed was disappointed, but understood. He bought a new cutter bar for it anyway.

They were very helpful, but showed him which chainsaw was the current replacement for his model. Around 700€. He told them in the shop, that he had paid about £250 for his. The man was very suprised. Then Ed admitted, that this was 39 years ago! I guess you get what you pay for.

I would still like to have the nisperro tree trimmed, but thankfully Ed thinks the saw will manage that, if he has (yet) another go at fixing it.

One thing is for certain, we won't be buying any more wood this winter.

Fonts de l'Algar

On Sunday afternoon we decided to go out and try to find some pretty waterfalls that we had heard about. These were quite near to Benidorm, but we went the scenic way, via Guadalest.

We went into Callosa d'en Sarria and continued along the main road, but couldn't find the waterfalls. After a while, having crossed the river Algar, we went back again and asked at a petrol station. The man was very helpful, giving us very clear directions. (CV-715 then CV-7531) We followed the road to the village and parked up in a small orchard. A man sprang out of a car and demanded 2€ for parking. No problem really. I then asked him where the falls were - just along the road, on the left.

The road was very narrow, and quite unsafe to walk along really as it was not possible to move out of the way of any traffic. Thankfully as it was November, there weren't too may cars around. There were lots of restaurants and the whole thing seemed to be very commercial. We turned left and followed the river, but the road quickly went uphill with lots of twists and turns. We couldn't hear any water and the climb was very steep. When we got about a mile or so along the road, we realised that we were going the wrong way! Ah well, walking downhill again was somewhat easier!

Back into the village and we found a large sign/map that we had missed before. There were 2 Dutch ladies trying to understand it, and between the 4 of us, we realised where we had to go. Across the river, then another trek up another hill, and we quickly encoutered the correct entrance to the waterfalls. Another 2€ each.

The entry fee was actually very reasonable. The falls were quite extensive and there were lots of walkways around and places to sit. At it was outside the summer season, we had the place almost to ourselves. We were able to take lots of super photo's without any problems. In summer, the place must be packed. The pools looked very inviting to swim in and I could certainly imagine spending several hours there, if only it wasn't so far away.

All Hail the Jamon

Having won a full jamon (pronounced hamon), Victoria and Paco decided to have a party to celebrate. We were invited on the Saturday, at 5:30 - time for tea! I offered to bake a cake, but this seemed to confuse matters. It was then decided to eat at 7pm. Ah - dinner then!

On the saturday afternoon, we got a text, saying dinner was now at 8pm. No problem. I had made a german cheesecake and also an apple crumble pie. Ironically, I had to go and buy a new plate to serve it on, as I only had one large serving plate!

We turned up at 8 as requested, to find that everyone was downstairs in the garage. The garage had been cleared out and a long table set up, covered with food. Lots of plates of jamon, cheese, prawns, olives, pastries, etc. It was wonderful. We spent the entire evening eating and drinking. Many times, when walking past under-builds, we have seen people having private parties, and this time it was our turn!

All of the biker gang were there, along with their wives. Most of them managed to speak castellano for our benefit, although when things got a bit exciting, they often tipped back to valenciano. Still - I'm certainly understanding a lot more of that now, even though I can't speak it. (Although I did accidentally use a valenciano word in castellano classes this week, which made the teacher laugh!)

On the Sunday there were no official meetings that we knew of, and one of the men was working in the fields harvesting olives, so our Sunday breakfast turned out to be the leftovers from Saturday night, in Pacos garage. This was actually very nice as most of the food was still crisp and fresh (if the bread was a little chewwy).

I made a poster, saying that there was a matinal in l'Olleria and gave it to Paco. There is a meeting here today - where - here. He read the poster and was thrilled. He realised that I had used a drawing of his bike for the poster, and put his name on it, along with a fake email address!

Drink of beer on arrival
Gastronomic breakfast
No t-shirts
No raffle

The poster now has pride of place on the notice board!

Monday, 15 November 2010


Ed has made a mushroom feature out of the tree stump he deliberately left in the garden.

He is so pleased with it, that he is going to do a few more of them, as and when he cuts the remaining 5 or so down.

I think it is really good. It is tall enough and sturdy enough to use as a seat, which is always a useful addition to any garden.

Seaside Tour

Following our morning in la Vila-Joiosa, we took a scenic tour along the coast towards Moraira. Much of this was along the notorious A-332, known as either the road of death, or the road of tarts! Certainly, there have been many people killed along here over the years, and the number of prostitutes has certainly grown. Perhaps if they took the scantilly clad ladies off the street, there would be fewer accidents?

To be honest, the ride was very pretty. In between the buildings, it was possible to see the sea, and sometimes it was very near indeed. The bends on the road deserved full attention though, making it a slow and steady trip. At one point, another bike pulled up alongside me, egging me to go faster, but I just laughed. He simply shrugged his shoulders and passed us.

We went to the sea front at Moraira for food and drink and had a great time. At this point, Julian asked Victoria what was in her bag... her face was a picture as she pulled the crab out! Paco thought it was very funny. Better still, was her reaction when Ed asked about the second one. She carefully checked all of the pockets, but there wasn't another one to be found. No doubt the rucksack is currently on the washing line, airing out.

We had a nice stroll along the sea front too. It is hard to understand how over-developed Benidorm became, when there are such pretty places so close by. It is hard to compare it to Blackpool, as many of the buildings are quite new and prestigious looking, but so many of them are just so very tall. More than 30 of them, are 30 floors high, and the tallest is currently 52 floors high. A concrete jungle indeed.

As we rode along the coast, amongst the supermarkets, tourist bars and burger joints, I realised why we moved to l'Olleria. It may not be the prettiest town, but it is in a beautiful spot. Overlooking the valley, lots of greenery, just 30 miles or so from the beach and a €4 train ride to Valencia, this is certainly the spot for me.

Final Meeting

Theoretically, the last Sunday meeting took place yesterday, this was at la Vila-Joiosa, but I am certain that there will still be lots of smaller (non-affiliated) meetings still taking place.

We met at Paco's house at 8am, and set off over the mountains to the seaside... gosh, it was cold! As we rode through Muro de Alcoy, all of us felt it. The worry was, the we knew there were higher mountains still to go over. In the end, the cold eased quite quickly, but the rising sun caused its own problems. Many times, it was impossible to see when riding directly into the sun. A vauge shadow of the bike in front was about all that could be seen. Dangerous in principle, that was actually not too bad, as the 5 riders were all very safety concious, and had no intention of speeding around the bends. We took the 'scenic' route, which involved a trip along a road numbered CV-785. If you want to google it, it will make you laugh, especially around 'Penaguila'. What google doesn't show, is the incline on each of the hairpin bends, nor the terrible foundations to the road, (the tarmac was fine) riddled with tree roots - it was more like riding a horse.

On this road, we passed a Safari park, that I had no idea was there. (Safari Aitana) From the road, I saw a llama, and Ed saw some deer too. He also saw some red quirrels, but I don't think they were official attrations. Looking at their web-site, this is somewhere will will venture to soon. (Ed says we could take the dogs for a walk!)

We stopped for a coffee in Sella and were rather amused by the decor in the cafe. The whole place was decorated with tea towels from all over the place (most of them English). Very strange! On leaving the cafe, I was embarrased at not knowing one of the groups name. I asked Paco what Paco2's wife was called. He didn't know and muttered something to Vicoria. I thought he didn't understand me. Next, I asked Victoria for the name of Paco2's wife, she responded, "I don't remember". How terrible. To my horror, Paco shouted down the street, "hey, what's your wife's name". Then Julian pulled up, and he didn't know either. How funny - everyone just referred to her as 'Paco's wife'. Needless to say, this was soon put right, and now everyone knows that her name is Emy.

We set off to the sea front at la Vila-Joiosa, and soon found the hotel, the venue for the meeting. We paid our €10 but found that lunch wasn't being served until 12:00, as there was an official ride out around the area. Having covered more mailes than they were about to, we gave that a miss. We had a nice stroll around the beach front, and I can certainly recommend it. It was very pretty, considering it is the next town along from concrete Benidorm.

At 12, lunch was served. There was a selection of foods available, from the usual bocadillos, to a plateful of baby crabs. Julian took a crab, and hid it in Victorias rucksack! The usual draw took place, and the final prize was a jamon (a full leg of cured ham). To our delight, this was won by Victoria. Worth the trip out, just for that - they can cost €150 for a good one, which this was. Thankfully, I had a cargo net with me, so we were able to take it back without any problems at all.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Suprising Sunday

There was no matinal planned today, but we had agreed to go for a ride out anyway. Three of us met at Paco's house at 8:15 (ready to set off at 8:30, as usual), but there was no sign of Paco. Even his wife didn't know where he was. He had gone out on his bike, but no one knew where. We assumed he had gone for petrol, so waited for him... Xavi had passed us, and we thought he had gone for petrol too, as he returned a little later, but hadn't seen Paco.

After while, we gave up on Paco, and the 4 of us set off, for a ride towards Navalon. This was on the far side of some mountains we hadn't crossed yet. We set off merrily, enjoying the quiet roads and stunning scenery. The veiw was amazing, as we rode higher and higher. Leaving Enguera, I saw a sign saying 'Road xxx - OPEN', relating to 4 roads were were about to travel. Ah, right up into the moutains then, just like Snake Pass, or the Cat & Fiddle. Since it was only autumn, the roads were clear and fine. It was a little chilly, but not cold enough to put the heated grips on!

We finally arrived at Navalon (Abajo and Arriba ~ lower and upper) and stopped for breakfast in a lovely bar. We all ordered bocadillos and the waiter laughed at Ed and I, when we ordered our drinks. We both had coffee, which they all thought was odd (they are foreign said Xavi). After 3 years, we have now discovered that a normal drink with a meal is wine, beer, coke or water. Coffee is for after the meal. Xavi had 1/2 bottle of wine, and Julian a beer. After coffees, we set off again. This time, heading over the mountain tops towards Moixent, along with lots of groups of (very fit) cyclists. The views were stunning. I suspect that Ed was glad we were with the other 2. Had we been alone, I would have been stopping every 1/2 mile to take more pictures. I will return soon, with camera in hand, and do so! In the meantime - thank you to Google maps for the attached.

After Moixant, we returned home over another range, via Aielo del Malfereit. The twists and turns in the road were similar to to those leading to Moixant, but this time the road was busier, with both cars and bicycles. As we rounded one corner, the view into the valley was beautiful. As we dropped into the valley, Xavi, who had been leading the whole way, suddenly drifted onto the wrong side of the road. There were no curbs, and he simply fell off on the wrong side of the road, into the ditch, just missing a high bank. Goodness knows why. Has something locked up? A puncture? It happened so slowly, we all stopped almost before he fell. Unfortunately, as it was downhill, it was hard to park the bikes. Having had mine fall over so recently, I was struggling to feel safe enough to get off it. I decided to do a u-turn and park up-hill. Just as I had made my decision, I heard a crunch, and Ed's bike, behind me, lay on the floor.

Now we had 2 bikes down. Julian helped Xavi, and I parked to help Ed, but by the time I got to him, he had already got the bike upright, with help from Julian. Looking at Xavi, he was still struggling to hold his bike upright. 2 more attempts to get him safe and we all looked shell-shocked. What a nightmare.

Everyone happy, and we set off back home again. About a mile down the road, a little van in front of us was turning left (across the traffic) and had to wait for an on-coming car. Xavi didn't see the indicator and nearly went around him, into the path of the on-coming car. Hmm. Bottle of wine at play here me-thinks. We managed to get back to l'Olleria without any further mis-hap and went for a drink. Xavi made his excuses and went home. As the 3 of us chatted, we surmised that he must have fallen asleep. A late night out, a probable brandy or 2 to wake him up, coupled with the wine and we were lucky that nothing worse had befallen him. (If it turns out that we misjudged him I will be the first to apologise.)

As we were drinking our cokes, Paco turned up. "Where were you all?", he asked. "I waited until 8, then left on my own." "8? Every other week, it has been 8:30!" He was mortified. After a great deal of teasing, next week, he has agreed to see us all at 8:30!

Ed is now in terrible pain with his back. He can hardly move. It is not like recent problems, when it has been muscular. This time, it is in his spine itself. We have already ordered a replacement clutch leaver, but the bike now has some terrible scratches on it; fairing, engine casing, and seat unit.

Still, no-one was in need of an ambulance or police call out, hopefully Ed's back will be ok in a few days and we have learned to keep a careful eye out in the future.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Can't see the wood for the trees

I thought it would (wood?) be a good idea to put a picture in, showing the before and after, now that Ed has finished clearing the trees.

The wood is chopped up and stacked, ready for next years firewood. The brash has all been burnt / shredded , and now there are only the tree stumps left to sort out. (Until he takes the next ones down)