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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Geocaching with the Douglas's

We were introduced to geocaching by Mark and Tracey and quite often go together.

Recently, we went to two sites quite close together, in the next valley. We packed a small picnic and followed the TomTom. Thankfully, I had read the instructions and looked at a map, and realised that we could actually park very near to the first site, next to a waterfall.

It was a beautiful spot. Steps down to the bottom, and a beautiful pool for swimming in (once the water has warmed up). There were already some people there, so we had to hang around for a while, before we could start searching properly. Then, we realised that the cache was not at the pool itself (too busy) but nearby. Off we went exploring and then found the 35mm cannister, hidden in a wall. As we left the site, there were more people arriving. Obviously a well known spot for the locals!

A short walk from there, and we entered into another beautiful valley. It was almost from 'The Land That Time Forgot'. There was a small river running along one edge, and a flat pasture, surrounded by rocky crags. Really lovely. We then followed a footpath down towards the river, past a derelict mill, and then on to the location where we found the cache.

How clever this game is, to take us to such wonderful spots that we would have never found ourselves.

Geocaching - FTF

A new geocache had been placed in our valley, and Ed and I had the chance to go and find it and hopefully be the FTF - First To Find.

We drove to a village nearby, and then found our way through the village to the bottom of the mountain where the cache was lcoated. We still had 500 meters to go, but that seemed ok. We parked up and then followed a pathway. After a short time, this was obviously the wrong direction, so we simply climed up the side of the hill.

Simply? Those Romans and their terraces! Every 3 meters, we had a wall to climb. Unfortunately, in between each wall was an overgrown raggle of weeds and pricky bushes. We ploughed on (literally, sometimes) for ages. Afer a while, Ed asked how we were doing. I checked the GPS - 300 meters to go. What?! It was a nightmare. Every 10 meters felt as though it took 1/2 hour. At one point, I thought about going back, but, the car looked so very far away, and we would have to climb back through the undergrowth, I was certain it would be better to carry on.

Eventually, we cleared the shrubbery and managed to make better progress. By now hough, we were both exhausted. This game is not meant for people of our age! Finally, the way got much easier, even though it was still quite steep. Then, we were near the ridge at the top - at last. The wind here was very strong, as there was another valley on the other side, and this eas acting like a funnel. Then we found the proper path to the very top! No big suprise really, but it would have been nice to have found it 2 hours earlier!

Then Ed said, "I've found it", as he spotted the cache. It was a container hidden under a small overhang of rocks. To be honest, we were both too tired to enjoy the view, and Ed was also concerned about some dark clouds moving in. This time, we folloed the path back down, but it still took us 50 minutes on the correct path, to reach the car.

A few days later, I was thrilled to find an email from the cache hiders, asking about it, and how easy or difficult it was. I admitted that we got there the hard way, but it was a good find. The best part was - we could see l'Olleria in the distance!

Elixir of Eternal Youth

Whilst winding around the streets of Xativa, during the celebrations of the Borja's, I was cornered by a couple purporting to be 200 years old. (I doubted my spanish at that point, but I was sure that was what they had said!)

The man showed me a piece of paper, and asked me to keep it a secret. It was the secret of eternal youth. When he unravelled the scroll, it was written in a code (dots, triangles and circles), and he asked me if I could read it. In the spirit of things (being watched by the other passers by) I declared that I couldn't read... so the man then said, it was ok, they have a version in Spanish. The lady then gave me a scroll to keep, and they moved on their way.

Elixir of Eternal Youth:
To ensure eternal youth and beauty you must follow the subsequent instructions in the strict order of execution.

Collect the morning dew from the flower of the third orange tree in the campo near Valldigna (near Gandia) at the moment that it first receives the first rays of sun on the morning of 24th June.

Mix the dew with some drops of holy water from the hermitage of St Rita de Barbera (Rita Barbera is the current mayor of Valencia) in a bowl, made from the wings of an albino bat. Leave the mixture in sun and shade for five new moons, until it has heard the howl of the wolf. (No wolves anywhere near here) Heat it with the flame of a dragon, until it boils (How much dew were you meant to collect?).

If this doesn't work, find a lover 20 years younger than you, and return to your adolesence.
If you arrive at this point, they have remedies for acne, should you need them.

Brilliant, but I don't think I'll be trying this any time soon.

The Borja's

Xativa recently had a celebratory weekend of the Borja Family. (For those that don't know, the Borja family had two members which became Popes - so very influential.)

There were two full days of activities, based on the medievel theme. Although similar to the market that is held in Concentaina in November, this was much more fun, with lots of other things going on.

There were two acting troupes, moving around constantly, providing lots of street performances. At one point, I was accosted by a couple claiming to be 200 years old, that gave me the secret of eternal youth! (More about that in another post)

There was a man walking around, being followed by a small gaggle of geese. They were so funny, the way they waddled around behing him. He had a horn, which he blew occasionally, and the crowds made way for him. Behind was another man chasing up any stragglers. The best bit was when he ran... all of the geese ran after him.

There were two troops of soldiers, similar to the cavaliers and roundheads, that performed mock battles in the main avenue. (A small section of the avenue was sealed off, and straw laid out to simulate an ancient town.) There were some very large bulls to stroke and a fabulous display of falconry too.

Later on, we saw a troupe of banner wavers performing, which was very colourful. Near to the cathederal some actors were performing on some steps, but we got there towards the end, so we couldn't really follow it.

As usual, the market stalls were wonderful, with a fabulous selection of crafts and foods. We spent about 3 hours there and had a lovely time. Can't wait for next year.

Next Job

Once the rain finally finishes, Ed is going to clad the wall of the house.

Here, houses don't have damp proof courses, but usually have a lower coating of bricks or tiles to prevent any bad weather penetration. Our tiles were originally the same as on the floor - the s-shaped paving tiles.

They were taken off some time ago, and we now have some lovely stone to clad the walls. When the sun shines in the right direction, they sparkle with minerals, looking very luxurious. They are actually the same stones that were used for the main steps in the garden, as well as some of the other garden decorations. This will blend the whole house and garden together beautifully.

If there is enough left over, Ed plans to clad the front flower bed too.

It's all coming together nicely.


Max has finally started to retrieve tennis balls (only when it suits him) but he still won't hand them over when he brings them back.

Recently, we gave Paddy a new ball, but when Max realised it was a new one, he went after it too, so Paddy didn't have it for very long. However, little did Max know, that I actually had more than one new one, so, while he was fiercely hanging on to it, I had another new one for Paddy!

For Paddy, the best part is runing up and down the garden, but for Max, the best part is playing 'dodge'.

Very funny - both of them.

Still Waiting

Still waiting for summer that is.

England may have basked in a glorious Easter, but here in Spain, it was a washout. As was pretty much every weekend since then.

Ed has a job lined up for a Saturday, but the chap came one Thursday and said, due to the rain and the subsequent soft ground, he would rather wait until another time. Ed totally agreed (working on wet ground is not the best idea, if it can be avoided). Unfortunately, it has rained almost every weekend since then.

We have had a couple of lovely warm days (28 degrees+) but nothing of any duration. Last night, I was woken again by the rain at about 5am. Still, looking on the internet this morning, I see that there is none forecast for the next 10 days.

Has summer finally arrived?

Blue Moon

Whenever there is a full moon here, we know about it!

As we have no street lights and only a few houses around, at night time, it is genuinely dark. We need a torch to go to the pub, otherwise it is a slow and slightly dangerous walk back home. However, when the moon is full, it is better than street lighting, as the whole valley is lit up.

This can be quite disconcerting if you happen to get up during the night. one glance out of the windows leaves you checking all of the light switches, to see which floodlights have been accidently left on overnight!

Unfortunately, this year, when the Perseid Meteor shower is due to strike (12/13 August) it will be a full moon again, so there's not much chance of seeing many shooting stars. I guess I'll have to wait until 2012 for the full effect!

The Return of Hissing Sid

Late one evening, I could hear both dogs barking in the back garden. They seemed to be very static (ie, not racing around the garden), so I assumed that they were right at the bottom of the garden, perhaps barking at Ursula's animals.

After a little while, Ed called me. Grabbing the camera, I went out, and there were both dogs, in the middle of the garden, barking at something on the floor. It could only be a snake - anything else would have run off.

Sure enough, it was another adult ladder snake. Ed got a metal rod, and carefully persuaded it to go into next door's garden, as they would not be back until the weekend, by which time it would have moved on again. However, the snake had different ideas, and it took a long time to get it to go. Once it got to the wall, it kept trying to come back into our garden, instead of into the next one.

After all this time only seeing them at a distance, I can't believe that we have had 2 inside a month. I'm still not brave enough to touch them though... maybe next time?

Cake Mistake

With all the hype about these new silicon baking tins, I thought it was about time I got some. In Marks & Spencer, a loaf tin was £7, so Mum and I bought two from the Pound shop. (Guess how much they were - £1!)

Back in Spain, I noticed that there were a couple of bananas in the fruit bowl, a little past their best - time to make a banana cake. I quickly made one, then poured the mixture into the loaf tin. Disaster! The tin was so flexible, the sides simply bulged out with the weight of the mix.

Oh well. I baked the cake, which came out perfectly cooked, but a very strange shape! Instead of a long loaf shape, it was almost round, but with corners on it! However, the cake came out of the mould perfectly, so I was actually impressed. Short learning curve - from now on, when I make a cake mixure, I will have to distribute the same amount between 2 cake tins, so that they look like they are meant to.