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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Monday, 31 January 2011

Tree Feller

Ed has done a great job of clearing small trees that we don't want and tidying up. We have a lovely big pile of wood ready for next year, having only just started on the wood we paid for this year!

There are still several trees to take out. Two very small pines in the back garden (only about 30ft high) and some that are too close to next door and leaning slightly their way.

In the front garden, is a tree in which the trunk splits evenly into two. Ed has made a briliant feature out of it!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Garden Gimmic

With all of the trees that Ed has been chopping down, we will have a collection of tree-stump toadstools.

However, as he was chopping his way through the tree roots, I noticed that one of them had a very interesting shape. I asked if he could put it in the garden, as an ornament! (Thank goodness for excavaors!) He put it in place, and with just a little adjustment, we now have an interesting piece of natural sculpture. Today, we have put some stragegically placed plants in some holes and I think it looks great.

Well done that man. x

Aitana Safari Park

Towards the tail end of last year, we happened on a safari park that we had never heard of. It is tucked away in the mountains south west of Alcoy, and this week we decided to take a look.

The cashier spoke English and told us that we could get out of the car, as long as we stayed near the car, and the animals were far away (Obviously, this does not apply for the lion, or tiger enclosures!). I was very suprised as most safari parks make you stay in the car. Also, she advised us that the animals would be fed at 3pm, and we could go around again then.

We drove through, and followed the road around. There are some 1,500 hectares, in which the animals are able to roam freely, with just a few exceptions. There were only a few other cars around, giving us a wonderful view over the whole park. Having sussed out the layout, we had lunch in the restaurant (good food, reasonable price) and then went around the park again.

This time, we quickly came on a family in a Mercedes, but I asked Ed to pass them, so that we could enjoy the park on our own. This was very successful, giving us the chance to see the animals very close up, as they ate their food (hay), without anyone else chatting nearby. The other family understood what we had done, and I saw them hold back a few times, so that there was always a gap between us.

When we came to the elephants, we quietly watched them, but the handler told us to come down to where they were. We crept down, then, to my astonishment, he told us to stroke them. I was stunned. He chatted away, and explained that they were both females, and had been there for a long time, and were used to being stroked by the visitors. When I stepped back to take a photo of Ed, he said "no" and took the camera from me, and took a few photos of both of us. Excellent customer service. Later, we saw the other family, and they had stroked the elephants too.

For €17 each, we felt that this was an excellent day out and will certainly be going again.


We decided to go for a walk, but somewhere different. A quick trip just a few miles away (south of Ontinyent - cv-81) and we parked up next to the waterfalls and pools that are a haven to swimmers in the summer.

We have passed by here many times, but never walked along the gorges before. There are steps leading down to the beautifully clear pools, and safe walk-ways enabling families to make the most of the scenery.

Although it was January, the pools were so clear and deep, I was sorely tempted to strip off and jump in! Good job I didn't have a towel in the car, otherwise I might have been persuaded!

There were lovely walkways around the pools, and also a footpath leading over the top of the cliffs, for the slightly more energetic. I'm not sure why we went this way, but certainly the view from the cliff-tops, back down to the pools was rather scarey! I laid down to look and wiggled as far forward as I dared! Ed of course, simply walked to edge and looked down!

Medieval and Modern Markets

In Xativa for the festive season, there was a medieval market, similar to the one in Concentaina, but no where near as big. It was scattered amongst the old town, and in the old square, which was very atmospheric. The wooden rides and games for the children were in a separate square, near the cathederal.

It was really nice to see the crafts for sale, and smell the home made products. Although not a 'German Market', it certainly reminded me of the cosy traditional feel of christmas markets that are held everywhere.

Further along the main avenue, was the typical modern market, with fun-fair! Here, you could buy the usual handbags, scarves, or hot-dogs! I treated Jess to a hat, and then she succumbed to a candy-floss!

The 3 Kings

On 5th January, the 3 kings arrive at Bethleham, brining their gifts to baby Jesus. This is still reflected in Spain, with the children receiving their gifts on 5th (from the 3 kings) rather than on 24th December, from Santa Claus. It is also traditional to each a ring shaped cake filled with cream, but we broke with this, and had hot chocotale and pastries instead!

This year, we went to Xativa, to see the procession (Gaballeta?) progress along the main avenue. There were lots of different acts, and the clowns were accompanied by trains, carrying sack-loads of sweets. The children spectating held their carrier bags out, and the clowns filled them up! We stood back at little, as it was so crowded, but Jessica was lucky enough to catch a bag of crisps, as they were thrown into the crowd. (Just before it hit her in the face!)

After the various acts, a simple float, with a huge lit up star came along... follwed by the Kings themselves. Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar. Each of them came on a separate camel, followed by a large trunk of (pretend) gold, frankincense and myhrr.

The children were all delighted and, as usual, there was a big display of fireworks afterwards.

On Top of the World

Having found a slightly easier way to the top of the mountain, I managed to pursuade Jess and Tim to trek up. We were incredibly lucky with the weather. It was about 20 degrees, with fairly clear views all around.

This time, the dogs seemed to know which way to go, so we simply followed them!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Biggest Bonfire

We paid a flying visit to Canals last week, as, next Sunday night (16th, at 9pm) will be the lighting of what used to be the Biggest Bonfire in the World.

It was well under construction, with branches and logs all over the street. I feel sorry for the poor people that live in the square in front of the church - I hadn't realised that it takes so long to build the bonfire - they have the mess for weeks beforehand, and then the ashes afterwards!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year Resolutions

I've never been one for making the conventional new year resolutions... stop smoking, go on a diet etc. I have always felt that new year is a time for new beginnings and new acheivements.

Normally my resolutions have been things like; learn to jet-ski, go water-skiing in the sun, learn to wind surf... all of these I have had a go at, even if I wasn't very good at the wind surfing!

This year, I promised myself that I would climb to the top of the mountain on New Year's day, regardless of the weather! Typically, it tried to rain, but, nevertheless, off I went, with 2 unsuspecting dogs in tow. In no time at all, I thought... no, not today, but I presevered. Once more, much higher up, I thought I was going to give up again. This time though, I found a reasonable route up, and in a short time, I had cleared the undergrowth and shrubbery, leaving a simple trek to the top.

Next time, I will remember to pack a bottle of water and my inhaler!

Yes - I know there is a drivable pathway to the top, but I refuse to use it. To me, it is much better for both the dogs and I, to get an all over workout, climbing rocks and scrabbling among the trees!

Pity the mist didn't lift a bit more, but I will be back!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all. May 2011 bring all that you hope for - peace and prosperity, health and happiness.

Ed and I shared a tiny botle of bubbles at midnight, just big enough to fill two champagne flutes!