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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Biker Weekends

Every weekend for ages, it has rained, so we hadn't been out with the boys for a while. Ironically, as we were heading off to Benidorm for a bike meet with some British people, we met up with the Spanish lads! After a quick chat, we went on our way, but the following weekend, we went out with them.

The meet in Benidorm was in a good loction; just out of town, in a sports campus. However, the organisers were lacking in a few points. 2 portaloos for 1,000 people, and no chairs! Then, when it came to the giant paella, we discovered that only the first 600 peole had tickets for it, so we didn't get any, even after queuing. Not impressed.

The following week, at Oliva, there were about 2,000 bikers. The food area had loads of seats, there were bars open everywhere, so toilets were aplenty. The entertainment was good, and there was lots to see. We didn't go on the rideout to the beach, but took a walk around the Fira (commercial fair) which was very interesting.

I hate to say it, but soon it will be too hot to ride!

I Don't Speak Dog

One night, Max and Paddy woke us up barking. Not normally a problem, they then go quiet, and we go back to sleep.

This night however, Max then started jumping and scratching at the back door. This is a noisy trick he is very good at. We tried to ignore him, but to no avail. He then started scratching at the front door. It was now 4am, and he had been scratching on and off for a while. After 1/2 hour or so, I got up, and shouted at him to be quiet. There were no other sounds around, so I knew there wasn't a burglar in the garden. Max carried on being a nuisance.

After another 15 minutes, Ed got up, and let Max in through the front door. He positively bounded around the livingroom like a 12 month old puppy, then waited at the back door to be let out. What?!! I opened the door, and he shot out, tail wagging frantically. I closed the back door. Had a drink, and went back to bed. Daft dog.

Next morning, we found Max nursing a dead rabbit. Evidently that was what he had been trying to tell us in the night. 'Look what I've got'.

Next time, I hope he just (puts it in a paella and) eats it himself!

Splish Splash

The public pool opened on 20th June. The outdoor one, that is. Trying to find out when the new indoor one opens is impossible (although September seems to be promising... and it does have water in it now).

Several times, I have had the pool entirely to myself, which is heaven, and mostly it has been just Tracy and I.

We did have to laugh last week. I could hear lots of chattering, but didn't know where it was comming from. Then as it got louder, about 150 children appeared around the corner, with lots of teachers. Oh dear - final day out! They managed to strip off in about 30 seconds flat. The teachers all apologised, as hoards of children jumped in everywhere. Thankfully, we had done 28 of our normal 32 lengths, so it wasn't too bad. And yes, we did do the extra 4 next time!

Paella Passover

Yummmm. Time for a paella.

Ed set up the gas stand and paella dish on a tarpaulin on the terrace, and set to to make us a wonderful tea. The local supermarket does a special rabbit and chicken pack, which is perfect, and he carefully browned, simmered and flavoured everything, as we licked out lips in anticipation.

After an age, we were just thinking of serving it up, when there was a sound in the lane... Max raced across the terrace... knocking everything over... so the paella ended up on the floor.

I managed to keep the dogs off it, but it was beyond saving. We had bacon and egg sandwiches for tea, and the dogs got paella for breakfast and dinner the next day.

Sixty Years Young

What to do? How to celebrate? Ed has never been one for big birthday celebrations. A nice dinner out makes him happy, but I wanted to do more this year.

As no-one had planned to come over for his birthday, I thought he would like a day at the safari park, as he loves animals so much.

We actually went the day before, as the forecast looked a bit poor for his birthday. As we knew the score this time, we went a about 1pm, then had a quick drive around. we then had a lovely menu-del-dia in the restuarant. I ordered chicken noodle soup, and Ed ordered Safari stew for the firs course. When it arrived, I saw a huge bowl of soup, with a ladle. I thought it was soup for both of us by mistake, then Ed got his stew, in a similar sized bowl! There was enough for 2 in each bowl. The soup was delicious. Mum, I'm sorry, but it was better than any of your soups! I had to ask, and yes, the soup was made there. The main course was nice too, but the tinned pineapple I had for desert was a bit of a let down! (sort of - I could hardly eat it anyway.)

We then made certain that we were first in line for the 3 pm re-opening, so the we could follow the guide and feed the animals. It was perfect. He showed me how to feed the giraffe (rub the bread on its lips, then it sticks its tongue out) while I was being nudged by the softest thing I have ever felt. It turned out to be a llama, after some bread.

We then went on to the ostriches and emus. I let them peck my fingers as I fed them, and the guide told us all about them. Then, other people arrived and watched. The men were to scared to feed the birds, which I thought was very funny. They may not have teeth, but they can still peck pretty hard.

Next, we moved on to the ponies and donkeys and zebras. As the guide was telling us all about them, I realised that I was the ony one thast understood him. I then found myself translating for everyone there, including a Danish group, which had one young woman who could speak English. Every time we stopped, she stood next to me, and then translated my translations for her friends! Other people soon realised that it was ok to ask questions, and the guide and I did a great double act. At the end, he said I had been very good and gave me a sweetie.

We had a lovely day, including the visit to the small sanctury around the back. I stopped off on the way, they couldn't find Ed. Finally, I spotted him, and he asked if I had seen the snakes. No. I had gone a different way around. We went back and there were two white pythons on the loose. Perfectly calmly, I sat next to one, and patted it, while Ed took some photos, then, I went up close and personal with the other. Just 12 months ago, I would never have done that, but now, with all of the strange creatures we encounter, I didn't bat an eye. Maybe next time there is a snake in the garden, I will just pick it up, and put it out...

We had a coffee in the restaurant before we left, and as we sat there, a monkey strolled in. It jumped on the counter, and selected a packet of crisps. The man behind the counter heards the Danish girls cry out, and realised what was happening. He souted at it, but it just grabbed the crisps off the stand, and strolled off. It then sat outside, and ate them very nicely, one at a time.

The next evening, we had a lovely meal at our local restaurant. We were the only people in there all night. Vicente was kind enought to give Ed a bottle of cava for his birthday, which was very nice of him.

Did he ever think he'd get to 60? Apparently he didn't think he'd get to 20! x

Throw Another Hippo Steak on the BBQ

We were invited to a BBQ in the mountains by some friends of ours who have spent a lot of time in Africa. (I think the chap is Africaans, but I'm not sure.)

I took a cheesecake and a cherry cake, as we had all been told not to bring anything except drinks. In the end, Sally was thrilled with the cakes, as one of her puddings had gone wrong (and I got to eat cherry cake, which I don't make very often as Ed doesn't like cherries!).

The barbecue was done in the African style. Three barbecues were lit, and then everyone goes and cooks their own food. A brilliant concept all round. Everyone gathers together around the fires chatting (rather than one person standing alone) and the food is cooked to each person's specifcation. In reality, we all cooked the food, then put it together in dishes, before sharing it all out on the tables. There was a huge selection of salads, as well as a few typical African dishes. Although Chris claimed there were some African steaks on the bbq's, I didn't think so, although I must admit that the special recipe sausage was rather tasty.

The strangest part of the night, was the weather. One couple got a call from their daughter, saying it was thundering and lightening, with very heavy rain. They lived only 3 kms from where we were. Sure enough, a litle later, and we were all running into the house with food and furniure! We watched the storm from the terrace, and then went back outside to continue, as the storm had passed over within 1/2 hour.

A lovely evening, with african music in the background, and good company.

Sparrow Spotting

Ed built a lovely bird house, with a perspex back hidden behind a wooden door. This is fixed up on our terrace. The idea is, that birds nest in it, and when we want to, we can open the wooden door, and see the eggs/fledglings inside.

I thought it might be a bit too close to us, but evidently the sparrows don't. In no time at all, we had a nest inside, and mum and dad sparrow flying in and out. Soon, there were babies inside. I felt quite intrusive, sitting on the terrace listening to them shouting for their dinner! Within a very short time, they had fledges, and the parents had laid another set of eggs.

Max was very interested, when he realised that there was something inside the box, but there was no way for him to get at them. (He does well enough with the wildlife in the garden, but more of that later.)

Stash a Cache

Well, after searching for lots of caches, I figured that it was time for me to stash one of my own.

I bought some large containers from the chinese shop (bit like Poundland) and got some goodies to put inside. As well as the obligatory notebook and pen, I included some toys, a biro, playing cards, post-it notes etc. A veritable treasure chest!

The first one I planted very near to home, near the north side of the Tunel d' l'Olleria. Ed and I found a safe place to hide it, then registered it with the Geocaching web site. Next day, it was live, and ready to be found. I told my spanish class about it, and then found out that this is a popular spot for drug dealing! I thought it was a little 'out of the way' - obviously it is! Not being of that persuasion, I had no idea. Still. Our friends Mark and Tracey found it, and one other geocacher has found it too. (I get a message when anyone logs the find.)

The second one I planted was actually an empty plastic vitamin bottle. This one, I hid in a stone wall, near to the reservoir. Although a few miles away, it is a place I like to go to occasionally, so maintaining it is not going to be a chore. Originally, I put a photo of the relevant bit of wall on the site, but Mark said that this made it too easy. Having removed the 'spoiler photo' someone else has already found it, and commented that the co-ordinates are spot on.

I have 2 more to plant, but in this hot weather (which has finally arrived) I don't feel like trekking up any mountains to hide them.