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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Saturday, 29 October 2011


We had some business to attend to, in the Jalon valley, and decided to go in person (rather than doing it electronically) for a day out. Business over in about 15 minutes, so we decided to have lunch in Calpe.

After 4 years here, it was about time we visited one of the most famous landmarks on the Costa Blanca, the Penyal d'Ifac. The weather looked decidedly dodgy when we set out, and black clouds loomed overhead as we go there. We strolled along the beach, braving strong winds, hoping to find a nice restaurant before the skies opened. In fact, the wind was so strong, we were able to walk quite far before choosing a restaurant based on it's appearance, rather than on the rain!

We sat in a nice place, with a pleasant sea view and were given our menus. Now, maybe it's just me, but, after 4 years of trying very hard to learn the language, I feel very insulted when I am presented with a menu of photo's with prices stuck on them. Chips and egg 4 euros, chips and sausage 4.50 euros, chips and hamburger 4.50 euros etc. No thank you. In Spanish, I asked if we were too late for the Menu Del Dia, no, he admitted, and bought us a proper Spanish menu. That's more like it. (I had seen it on the blackboard outside.) Nice dinner ordered, 3 courses plus drinks, for a sensible price. Nicely cooked too!

Outside, as we approached the beach again, I felt a drop of rain on my cheek. Oh dear, it was quite a walk back to the car. But, in fact, the strong wind had blown most of the clouds out to sea, and the few drops we felt were the sum total! The wind had dropped too, so we had a lovely stroll along the seafront, right up to the harbour.

En route, we discovered that there were lots of roman ruins right by the coast, with several notice boards giving information about the excavations. Those Romans got everywhere. One thing was certain - their pathways lasted a lot longer than the Spanish ones.

Although it was a grey day, one chap decided it was still warm enough in the sea to go for a swim. Fair enough, but he took his little daughter (about 7 years old) in with him. I'm not convinced that she was going to thank him afterwards. I wouldn't even go for a paddle (although I did think about it).

As we walked along the narrow sea wall around the harbour, another couple came up behind us, walking a little quicker than us. In Spanish, I asked if they would like to pass, as I cautiously stood on the edge to make room, and she thanked us in English. I apologised - Oh, sorry, you are English - she laughed - only the English would be mad enough to walk along here. So true.

I think we have got things worked out here. Stay at home in the summer, and explore the tourist things in the winter, when there are empty, and looking their best.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

School Trip

During my Castellano class on Monday, the teacher explained that at 5pm, we would all be going to the local museum (Casa Santonja) to hear a talk on the history of fireworks. We duly trekked off, along with several other folk, to the museum (at the end of the road the school is on).

Inside, were lots of photos, collections of parafinalia and old-fashioned fireworks. Extremely interesting. The chappie started to talk, and, as I suspected, he was talking in Valencio, rather quietly, and I couldn't really understand him. One other English person was there too, so, we sneaked a look at everything, and then crept out! Shhh.

On Wednesday, I opted to go again on my own, and have a proper look. In the end, I actually went with some English people from another class. The museum was open from 18:00 to 20:00 and we got there at about 18:15. There was a mother and son waiting, along with another gentleman. We all stood there for a while, and I commented the it was the normal Spanish timekeeping (they did smile, but looked rather embarassed). Then, a policeman came. He called the people that were meant to be inside, and it transpired that they were in the cafe next door, so they had locked up. A few minutes later, and we all went inside.

I don't know why, but once again I ended up being the interpreter. Outside (on the back terrace), was a layout of a typical firework factory from centuries ago, and the guides explained everything, allowing me to translate for the other three. They showed us exactly how the fireworks were made, with what chemicals, and even how they made the fuses. It was actually very interesting, and I'm sure my interest inspired them, as they then took me around everything, bit by bit, leaving the other Spanish visitors to read everything for themselves. We even managed to ask a few questions, which they were more than happy to answer.

There were fantistic frameworks that fireworks were attached to. One was even an animated snake, chasing after a butterfly. As the firework burned, the butterfly and snake moved around in a three leaved clover shape. Incredible. Other catherine wheel shapes were easy to understand, but they also had a copy of the first firework with moving parts - a dove, whose wings flapped, as it progressed along a rope, driven by the force of the fireworks themselves. The original was created in 1350. It was used in a cathederal, so represent the rising of Christ, and had 12 fireworks underneath, to represent each of the 12 apostles.

Many of the exhibition components were from Italy, Germany and England, as well as Spain. Needless to say, the biggest ones were from Valencia.

Red Tape, taped up

It has taken a while, but we finally have Spanish number plates for both cars! The story is a long one, with frustrations over time and money spent on rip-off merchants, who ought to be (insert suitable verb here).

It is the only thing that we were financially ripped-off with, so we have done better than some people.

Still, we finally found a genuine person who did the job, for a honest amount of money. Ed's was still a fiasco, as the Spanish won't import any right-hand-drive commercial vehicles. Somehow,we have managed to get it through. Subsequently, we have done the same, with much greater ease, for my car. Being left-hand-drive, we knew it shouldn't have been a problem anyway.

Even without the rip-off conmen, it has cost a lot of money, but at least we will now be able to drive around without any fear of punishment from the Gardia Civil. Apparently, if they stop you, they will give you 10 days to get it sorted, otherwise they will impound your car. (This is usually after 1 stop and a warning.) I have no idea how that is meant to work, because the process is so drawn out.

First, get a report from a technician. Then get some special paperwork from Trafico. Next, get a proper legal MOT (HOW MUCH did that cost???!!!!). Strangely, the MOT has to be held in their office for 10 days. At this point, your local council will come up with a (random) amount of import tax to pay. Then, take the MOT document to Trafico, and get issued with a number. Now, you have hit a sticky part... technically, your car is now on the new number, but you haven't actually got it yet, and therefore can't change the insurance. Still, I guess the chances of being in an accident in that short period is fairly unlikely. Next, the numberplate has to be made up. Then, change the insurance over to the new number. Of course, you then have to attach the new plates. Phew. I'm glad we paid someone to do the dirty work for us. Money well spent - once we'd found the right person.

For anyone wanting to import a car, I would seriously advise them to consider buying one here. It may seem to be more expensive, but in the long run, it probably isn't.

Well done Mum, who spotted that my letters (sort of) spell HUGS. I like that.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Palm Beetle (part 2)

Well, today the top has dropped even more. To be expected I guess. We now have 3 leaves that are vertical and all of the others are on the wane. The really sad part is, not long ago, Iwas thinking how lovely and full it was looking, and how well the one in the back gaarden has taken after it transplant.

Today, we managed to buy the special insecticide. We went to 3 different co-operativas before we found one open. How crazy is it, to only open 1 or 2 days a week?! Really bizzarely, the one that was open, was the one in l'Olleria. It is the first time we have ever seen the door open. (We weren't quite certain where it was until now.) The lady was very helpful. She sold me the product I wanted (25 euros) plus, she explained that on different months, you treat it with a different chemical. I bought that too, as it was only another 4 euros. I was a bit concerned, when I paid her, and then she walked off without giving me anything... the stock is kept in another warehouse nearby! She also gave me a piece of paper, with instructions on what to treat it with and when. I'm not certain about 1 sentence though, so need to get someone to translate the Valenciano for me!

As soon as we got back, we poured the treatment into the crown, Ed standing on the roof of the truck, in order to get to the centre. Fingers crossed. I know it will look worse before it gets better, but hopefully we will be able to save it.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Devastated Palm (Dreaded Palm Beetle)

Yesterday, our palm tree looked a bit odd. Ed noticed, when he came into the drive, that the middle seemed to have lessened and that somehow the leaves had fallen.

It was hard to see last night, but today I had to agree with him. The middle was much less full than normal, and one side had fallen a lot.

Thankfully, we have a friend that works for the council, so I sent him a message, and (hero that he is) he turned up tonight to have a look. He had a smell and a listen and then confirmed the worst. We have been affected by the dreaded palm beetle.

The beetles (or maye the larvae) omit an odour, which, when you are close to the tree, you can smell. Also, if you listen very closely, you can actually hear them munching away at the insides of the trunk. Horrible things.

The whole area around here has been very badly affected over the last few months. The council have been treating all of their trees, and have only lost 4 out of all of them.

Thankfully, our hero had a bottle of treatment with him, and, since we called him so quickly, he thinks we might be able to save it. I need to buy a bottle of the insecticide (imidacloprid 20%) which will be about 30 euros, but he thinks the bottle will last us for 2 years, as we only have a few palms.

We have to treat all of them, not just the 'pineapple' ones, to ensure that the bugs don't swap from one to another.

Fingers crossed. Watch this space!

Sunday Lunch

We were invited to Sunday lunch at The Olive Branch by one of our friends.

We had heard it was very good before, but had never gone. If we are not out on the bikes, then I am perfectly capable of cooking a decent meal myself!

However, it was Laeticia's birthday, so off we went. Parking the car, we noticed how low the reservior was. No real rain since May has taken it's toll. It was a lovely day, so we sat in the garden having drinks, before going in for lunch. There were 6 of us, and the food was excellent. Ed had a mixture of beef and pork, whereas I had chosed turkey braised in gravy. Yum yum. Mine came in a teracotta pot, and there was no room for the veggies (again). The table was groaning with food, all of it beautifully cooked.

I had some 'happy birthday' confetti and sprinked them over the table. Laeticia was thrilled and took them home with her afterwards (I didn't tell her that I had re-used them lots of times and still had a load in my bag).

After pudding (warm Bakewell tart with ice cream) we went outside for coffees. When we asked for the bill, we discovered that Laeticia had already paid it, and sworn the landlord to secrecy. With some persuasion, I managed to get the figure out of her, and we all chipped in. How can Sunday lunch last for 4 1/2 hours!

Fira de l'Olleria

Once again, it was time for our annual fair.
The funfair arrived on Thursday, and the fair was inaugurated on Friday night. We got there just as the dancers and human towers were working their way up the High Street. The music is lovely, although it is done by quite a small band. As this was an opening ceremony, the were all dressed very smartly in dark suits (unlike on the practice nights for the processions, when they wear shorts and t-shirts).

The High Street was the usual mix of stalls selling handbags, scarves or toys. There were a few food stalls too, with olives, almonds and hams. Each year there seem to be the same things, just the style of the handbags changes a little!

We went to one of the local bars and had a drink with an English couple who are returning to the UK so didn't go around the whole fair.

On Saturday, we returned, expecting to see people we knew. From last year, we learned that Saturday is the day to see and be seen! Sure enough, we bumped into severl people. In fact, we bumped into Paco and Emy about 5 times. They spent more time chatting with different people than looking at the displays!

This time, we also walked around the fair itself. The usual rides were there, including a new one.
Floating hamster balls! Great fun. Sadly, these were a little too small for adults. I did think about having a go, but, as they are zipped up tight enough to be waterproof, then, they must also be airproof - ie, the person inside must use up lots of energy and oxygen trying to move around on the water. It must be horrible and smelly inside! The balls were on long pieces of string, so that the operator can pull them back again at the end (or when the customer passes out?).

By about 11pm, we had had enough - thankfully. Apparently, at about 1am, there were a series of fights in town, and a lot of people were hurt. I understand that some of them were even taken to hospital. The gardia civil turned up in great force to restore order. Shocking! We always miss the exciting things!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Family Time

After some persuasion, I booked Ed a break in the UK with his family. In reality, it is the first holiday he has had in four years. Other trips to the UK have been out of necessity, not choice.

He spent time with each of the children, as well as with many friends, which was really nice for him. Having deliberately including 3 weekends in the trip, he even managed to include some bike racing.

Hopefully it won't be so long before he sees them all again.

Sola en Casa

Ed scooted off to the UK for a couple of weeks, leaving me 'home alone'. As it happened, John was here for a few of the days, and then Tim and his friends for a week, so I was only alone for a short time.

On the Sunday, I had the opportunity to go to another matinal with the spanish bikers. There were only four of us in total this time, Julian, Paco, Emy and I. This was much easier for me, as I didn't have to spend my time translating for Ed, and I could have a proper chat with Emy.

Julian was in cracking form, winding me up nicely, but I even managed to understand the innuendo's and fell about laughing along with everyone else.

We only went to Denia, but we went the scenic route there. I was a little dubious, as Muro de Alcoy tends to be about 10 degrees colder than everywhere else and I was only wearing jeans and an airflow jacket. Sure enough, at one point, I had to switch my heated grips on (for about 5 minutes). The scenery was gorgeous. There were rivers of clouds sitting amongst crags in the mountains, but it was impossible to stop and take photos. We went up and up, through the clouds, (which was just like being in the UK on a foggy November day) emerging into the sunshine amongst the cherry orchards. This is a valley I really do need to visit again when the blossom is out.

Finally, we reached the coastal zone, near the Montgo mountain, and the lads were lost! Julian wanted to go one way, and Paco another. As it happened, I knew roughly where we were, and Julian was right. We pootled off again and soon found our way into Denia, finding the coloured arrows for 'motos' and parking up with everyone else.

I did see an English couple I know, and chatted for a while, but they had their own agenda, trotting off for lunch elsewhere. We did catch up again before leaving, which was nice.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Boys on Tour

Mum, can I come over for my birthday with some mates?
Yes, if you like.

I can't come, I haven't got enough holiday left.
Oh, ok.

We're all coming, they've let me have an extra day. There'll be 4 of us.

Uh, oh. Where on earth am I going to put them all?! In the end, it was ok. With a combination of double and single beds and airbeds, everyone had somewhere to sleep. And so it was... four twentysomethings to trash the house. Which they didn't, as I knew they wouldn't.

We had such a laugh. One of my students came on the first night, so they were all tasked with a game for her. The poor thing. It was actually her birthday and she didn't get away from here until after 8pm, not knowing that her friends were all hiding in her flat, ready to shout 'suprise' when she got home.

On the Tuesday, we climbed up to the cross on the hill. Stupid idea! It was actually 38 degrees out in the sun. Then, in the afternoon, we all went to Xativa Castle.

Wednesday, they were meant to go to Aqualandia in Benidorm, but their hire-car broke down. Thankfully, it died in the garden, rather than leave them stranded in the middle of no-where. The recovery man wasn't very happy, but at least they got a replacement car pretty quickly. In the end, they went to Benidorm anyway and chilled on the beach, going to the waterpark the next day.

They were also brave enough to go swimming in the pools at Pau Clar (near Ontinyent). Not suprisingly, the water was cold, but really clear and deep. Two of them even jumped off the cliff into the pools.

As is often the way, when you only have one week, there were several wet days, but, there were also enough sunny ones for them to enjoy themselves. I think Paddy and Max missed them just as much as I did, when they finally went home.

Just Chillin'

While John was over here in September, the weather was still wonderful, so we went to Javea for a couple of hours.

The beach was fairly desserted as the schools were back and most people had returned to work. The water was somewhat calmer than last time Ed and I were there, but it was still really warm.

We stopped at a supermarket and bought a picnic lunch. John was very impressed with the tools I keep in the car; teatowel, sharp knife, knife, fork and spoon! I must have learned something useful from Mum after all!

Half A Century

Well the time finally came and I confessed that I am no longer 25. 'Tis true. The dreaded half century finally caught up with me.

I had a really nice day. We chilled out at home and went out for a meal in the evening.

Birthday pressies included an ipod from John, a brilliant photo album from Mum and Dad and some stunning earrings from Ed, amongst other things. I had a really lovely day.

Vincente, when he discovered how old I was, even made me a special cake, which he presnted to us at the end of the evening.

Thank you everyone, for all your kind wishes and messages. xx

My Darling Happy Anniversary

This year, for our Anniversary, we were invited to a 50th Birthday Party! Andy's birthday is not actually until November, but as the weather is still nice in September, he decided to celebrate it early.

We went to their house, a beautiful house on a ridge, giving 360 degree views around the valley. There was a table groaning with food, and lots of people to eat it! Children of all ages were running around, going in and out of the pool and trying to clear the table at the same time!

We stayed for a while, then went off to The Olive Branch for a meal. Ed had a mixed grill and I had prawns. Both of us made mistakes! There was nothing wrong with the food at all, but, Ed's plate was piled so high, he had no chance of finishing it. As for my prawns, well, they were delicious, but the first one's were too hot to open without burning my fingertips, and then the last one's were cold!

The platefuls of vegetables were barely touched. I think I had 3 chips, and the mushrooms, but that was all. Poor Ed didn't have any dessert, but I managed a small lemon mouse!

Since it changed hands a few years ago, we have always eaten well there, but (I hope they don't read this), they really do need to cut down the portion sizes a bit! A couple of euros off the price, and only 1/2 on the plate, and they would turn a much better profit!

One clever thing they do there... in the basket of sauces, there is a little pair of scissors, so you can actually open the sachets! Good move.


At the end of the fiestas, there is a big firework display.

Although we would be able to see it from the house, we decided to go into town, and watch it from where they are all set off, across from a dry river bed.

Having been told it started at midnight, we decided to go into town at 10:30ish, and have a couple of drinks, before wanderign down. We drove in, parked up and wandered to the bar. Just as we sat down (outside) with our drinks, the first rockets went up.

It started at 11, not 12!!!

Thankfully, the street we were in was wide enough for us to see quite well, although we missed the ground level ones (seeing only the change in the colour of the sky!

Ah well. One year, we will get it right.

The Show Must Go On

Each year, there is an extravaganza of some sort, on the big stage in the park.

There have been some fantastic shows in the past, but this year I was a little worried, as the Town Hall have been adamant about cutting costs for the fiestas. In the end, it was actually quite good.

To start with, there were some dancers. They were more of a gymnastic style, but they put on a very good show, to some up-to-date music. Much of it was the men twirling the girls around, but they also moved into the audience, so that everyone was able to see them properly.

After that, there was a magician. He got some children up from the stage, but one of them had to be told (and then shown) exactly what to do. I think the poor lad had stage fright. It was quite clever, but we were a little too far away to see exactly what was happening.

The magician also did several tricks with an assistant. For a couple of these, I could see how he did them. Still, it was quite impressive to see. The girl was incredibly bendy to move to the very bottom of the cardboard box that he was thrusting swords through! When he chopped her in half, the audience was very intruiged, especially as there were two men from the village helping out.

The last act (I presume) was a comedian. We only stayed for a little while, as, being foreign (!) we couldn't understand everything he said. Some of it was perfectly obvious, but the innuendos were lost on us! Also, we were quite tired after all of our late nights, and just wanted to go to bed!

Let Battle Commence

I was quite convinced that the battle of the moors taking the castle from the Christians was at 12 o'clock, and had been telling everyone that. On the day of the battle, we got up ratherlate, so this was another event that we were to miss.

As time went on, we couldn't hear anything and I didn't understand why. We may live some way off, but the battle is loud enough to hear from here!

Then at about 2pm, we heard it all. Then the penny dropped... there is a Mass at 12 o'clock and the battle takes place afterwards. First, all of the filas have to parade into the square (the Christians and then the Moors) and then the speeches are all done, before the battle itself commences.

As usual, we went to the later one, when the Christians re-capture the castle. This year, both of the lead roles were held by people a little uncomfortable in the spotlight. The Christian king had someone next to him, with a sheet of paper, prompting him whenever necessary and the Moor King was actually the Queen, as the King didn't want to do it! She didn't live on l'Olleria and her natural language was castelliano, so she had to learn the whole thing in another language! Well done her!

Come the actual battle, we weren't in our normal spot and I found myself hiding in a doorway to take some photos. HUGE mistake! The sound of the guns echoing inside the porch turned out to be enough to keep my ears ringing for nearly a week! I went quite deaf for about 2 days. Next year, I really must take some ear defenders (we have enough of them around the house).

Variable Weather

In spite of the localised showers, it has been a dry summer.

The showers have literally been for a few hours at a time and although very heavy, being so short lived, any dampness has soon cleared.

I don't think there has been much rain since May really. I remember using a brolly in July, dashing to my spanish classes, but that too was a sort shower, just bad timing!

Max made the most of his sunbed (until it got too hot)!

The Grand Parade

Once again, there were showers on the day of the Grand Parade. This is such a big event though, that a shower doesn't count. Only a full blown storm would result in it being cancelled.

We scurried into town and managed to park, then raced through the streets to find a good viewing spot. The town seemed rather empty, although there were certainly some people around. Then, we spotted our neighbour. She told us, that the start had been delayed by 1/2 hour, because of the weather. We live too far away to hear the town tannoy, so didn't know about the delay! She suggested that we sit with her, as there were lots of vacant places, but we politely declined. We didn't want to spend the whole parade in one place, and also, we would have had to pay for the seat!

We strolled down, and tucked ourselves in a nice spot, with a view up the high street. We were just opposite all of the princesses and near to a decent bar! As the crowds got thicker and the chairs filled, I was highly amused by a couple trying to show 2 folding chairs into the space where we were standing. They did their best to shove us aside, but we stood (quite) firm. Did they thing we'd been saving the place for them?

Thankfully, a light shower just before the start didn't last long, and everyone was able to put away their umbrellas. The storm clouds held off and it ended up being a nice evening.

The parade itself was the usual affair. We spotted the people we knew, despite their outlandish costumes and were even able to view from a couple of different places. At the end, the two floats with the pricesses came by, and we saw Marta throwing confetti.

Once it finished, we caught up with several spanish people we knew, and were introduced to a few more. We only saw a couple of english people during the whole event, so we have no idea where they were all viewing from. The parade itself it actually quite long, so there are lots of good spots. Maybe one year, we will actually go and have a look at the end part, to see everyone enjoying them selves as they complete the march. It must be quite a relief for some of them, to remove their headdresses!

Flower Presentation

I was really looking forward to the presentation of flowers this year, as our little friend Marta, would be there, in her local traditional costume.

The Valencian costume is a full 'peasant' skirt, with a fine apron on top, and with hair tied into buns at the ears (Princess Laia style) with golden decorations.

As the day progressed, the heavens opened. In true spanish style, the rain came down as though someone had pulled the plug. But - the rain clouds kept moving about, swirling around the valley, so it was hard to know what to do. In the end, I decided that the event must have been called off, as the stage and chairs for the priests and dignatories would be soaked.

We didn't go. The next day, I discovered that it hadn't rained in l'Olleria! What? Although only 1 mile away, the rain turned out to be so locallised, that the town itself didn't get wet. Ah well - we will just have to wait to see the photos of Marta another time.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Desfila - Moors on Parade

Straight after the paella cook-off, we scurried to the high street, to see the moors doing their parade.

We managed to miss quite a bit of it, as we were late, but that was ok, as we got there just in time to see the people we knew and they saw us too. Phew!

I think it was a bit disorganised as many people were at the paella contest still. There seemed to be a huge gap between troups, while everyone tried to get themselves together. Still, everyone was having fun as usual.

Afterwards, we spotted little Marta, covered in soot marks too, returning from her adventerous night.

Paella Night

This year, we somehow managed to be a bit more organised!

We joined several friends, and actually arrived on time, being able to park easily! We actually felt quite guilty waiting to start, as many of the other competitors hadn't even arrived. We collected our firewood, and build our little mounds, ready to start.

When the time came, 3 of us joined the queue to get our goddies from the council! A bag full of; rice, oil, a red pepper, chicken, rabbit, paella spices, salt - only the water was missing. This is all provided free of charge. You simply go to the council and register your entry, then, with your entry ticket, collect the produce on the night.

We cooked 2 between us. Ed cooked a normal, traditional style paella, whereas Mark cooked a special hot, chilli paella. We all had great fun while this was going on, with Ed and Mark actually being on television later. I did wave at the cameras this time, but I don't think I made the cut!

When the paellas were ready, Tracey to their spicy one for judging. There were gasps of terror from the judges, as they all ran for glasses of water! Very funny. They were not amused. This was NOT a normal paella! We knew it wouldn't win anything, but it was worth entering it, just for the laugh!

In reality, it wasn't too hot, it was just that the judges didn't expect anything spicy. We all had a great evening. Once the pans had cooled a little, many people rubbed fingers underneath the smoke blackened pans, and marked their faces.

Sadly, we had to scurry away to see the next parade, anticipating seeing some other friends there.

Desfila - Fancy Dress Parade

Before the big parade, the different groups parade in their club uniforms. Christians one day, and Moors on another.

Unlike the scouts or brownies, these are costumes relating to the names of their groups or to traditional costumes of 600 years ago. The Pirates dress in lovely costumes, even though none of them look like Jack Sparrow, but other groups have simple striped tunics, with pointy slippers and leather belts. Either way, it is a much more casual affair, but everyone has just as much fun.

This time, everyone has the chance to look around at the spectators, and acknowledge anyone they know with a nod and a smile. (And, as it starts much earlier, they are not all drunk before it starts!)

The band with each troupe are dressed quite casually, but they still put every effort into their music. I'm quite astonished that the drums actually survive the pounding they get, even though that's what they are designed for. The grin on the drummer's faces says it all.

All Bull

As usual, we went to see the bulls most nights. We sat on the rails as normal, to get close to the action, but there wasn't much action to be had.

Many of the bulls (heiffers) were quite young, and had no idea what they were meant to do, and the older, larger ones were so used to the people around them, that they didn't do anything!

One night, one of the bulls knew how to get onto the table, which came as quite a shock to the people standing on it at the time.

To be honest, I don't think that the bull activities in the town are very nice. There seems to be little respect for the bulls, and the ring is quite small, resulting in little choice of movement for the bulls. If they could make tha area bigger, it might be better, but I don't think that the people would behave any nicer. One night, several of the lads had lazer lights, which they kept trying to sine in the animals eyes. (They did get told off for it though.)

Ah well - each to his own.

Horses for Courses

An event we hadn't been to before.

As part of the annual festivities, there is a horse show held in the bullring in the afternoon (before the bulls arrive)!

Although I am not a horsey person, it was fun to watch the control the riders displayed, doing figure of eights, and cantering around. I find it intruiging how they can get the horses to do their fancy steps, although I have seen our little neighbour training his horse to do it.

To be honest, this was quite an amateur show, and some of the costumes left a bit to be desired, but it was still good entertainment, and free!