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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Saturday, 19 November 2011

MotoGP (Sunday)

With such fantastic parking, we didn't need to leave at 5am, however, what we did need, was every bit of water and wind proof clothing we owned. The day didn't dawn bright and sunny, nor was the forecast. Brrr. Go on the bikes? Not this year, thank you.

Having sussed out the grandstand the day before, we realised that this was not numbered seating, so, if we moved, we would (probably) not be able to sit down again. A few other people had done the same, and arrived early, with blankets and picnics to hand. We never though of blankets, but they turned out to be a good idea. It was really windy. My hat even blew off, and I had to run down to the back of the grandstand and retrieve it! Everyone that sat beside us gave up after a short time, to try and find somewhere warmer to watch the racing. Being such hardy bikers, we sat put for the full 6 hours! (A multitude of layers and hot tea helped)

Practice was pretty uneventful, but gave us the chance to chat with the other (fool)hardy fans that were there to watch. After the practice, there was a wonderful tribute to Marco Simoncelli, as the was the first race after his death in Malaysia. There was a great presentastion on the grid, preceded by all of the bikes from all of the categories doing a lap of honour. A huge banner was unfurled (which we couldn't see) and there was a lovely firework display right in front of us. I cried. Although it was a tribute to one person, it represented the spirit of all bikers, (and those that pursue other adventurous sports) and seemed to be a tribute to all those that have been lost. It was very touching.

The racing itself was great, but, as well as no screen, we also had no speaker system in our area. Who on earth put up a grandstand where not only coulnd't you see, but nor could you hear? Rubbish seats! Thank goodness we didn't pay full price for them. To be honest, not being sycophantic, we would rather have paid the extra £20 and had really good grandstand seats. (Maybe next year.)

The main race was a disaster to watch. Four riders fell at the first corner (which we couldn't see) then it was pretty boring for the next 20 minutes. The final few laps were exciting, then the very end was a real thrill, but, as we had no screen or tannoy, we had to wait until we got home before we knew the result. Hilarious. Ah well, we watched it all again later on the telly with our feet up and a roaring fire.

MotoGP (Sat)

This year, we were given the opportunity to see the MotoGP for the first time in a few years. One of Ed's friends had won some tickets, and offered them to us at a reasonable price. We didn't really know what they were for, but they were 'Premium Paddock' passes, along with a Paddock parking pass.

We duly stuck the parking pass to the windscreen (I finally took out the 4 year old tax disk) and we were waved through to the front of the circuit, parking practically outside the main gate. Even better parking than the VIPs! We wandered around for quite a while, before were were able to figure what our pass did and didn't get us!

Entry to the restaurant overlooking the circuit - yes
Entry to the paddock, including nearly getting run over by Dani Pedrosa (twice) - yes
Entry to the pit lane - no
Entry to the VIP suite - no (we are not worthy)
Entry to the general area - yes (but not to the nicer toilets, unless you chat up the pretty spanish girl guarding them!)
Entry to the flash grandstands - no
Entry to the windswept freezing one - yes (with awesome view of the final bend, but not of the rest of the circuit!)
Entry to the top hospitality zone - yes
Entry into any of the hospitality suits - no!!

Having finally figured it all out, we had a great snack in the restaurant and then watched the practice sessions, before walking around the general area and looking at all of the stands.

There was a huge tribute wall to Marco Simoncelli, which we both signed, as well as the usual stands. We watched people pulling wheelies on special bikes, and tried to enter a few competitions, but gave up on the BMW one. We met up with someone we knew, then watched some of the qualifying, before scurrying home to escape the rain. That turned out to be a good move, as it then rained so hard, hardly anyone bothered to more than one lap, leaving the spectators watching just 1 bike go around in the rain for the best part of an hour.

Cocentiana Fayre 2011

I can't believe this is our 5th visit to the annual Medieval Fayre at Concentaina. This year, as the morning was spent felling trees, and the afternoon limbing and logging, we didn't even set out until 7pm or so. As we drove towards the town, we noticed lots of traffic comming the other way.

The late visit turned out to be a great idea. Having been so many times before, a simple stroll around was perfectly ok, rather than a long visit to every stall! As it turned out, there weren't many people about at that time, most of them (presumably) having visited earlier in the day, and now on their way home for the evening meal. We had a lovely time wandering around, able to see everyting without being jostled.

No - I'm not expecting Ed to carve anything like this from our trees...

As we entered the Arabic quarter, I noticed a long queue of people at a stall. Curious, I wanted to know what was so good that the people waited in line for it - the spanish don't queue for anything. We got to the stall, and there was nothing there. Just a stall of empty baskets. The people seemed content to wait, so I waited too. Shortly, a man and a woman appeared, carrying a very heavy tub. They heaved it onto a counter and out poured a huge amount of dough. Ah - a fresh bread stall. The lady then began cutting the dough into loaf sized portions, as the man checked the bread already baking in the oven, to make sure the bottoms weren't burnt. We din't want any bread so we moved on, but, from the number of people there, I think that maybe next year we ought to try a loaf.

We did have tea 'on the hoof'. Tuna empanyadas, and a wonderful pie, just like a cornish pasty. It was quite late by the time we left, and many stalls were already dismantling, which was quite a shock. I was hoping to buy an ice-cream or something, but I guess they too had had enough after several days.


One of our neighbour's pine trees had died, due to an infestation of beetles of some sort. He often said that he wanted to cut it down, but had waited until burning season before doing so. (We are not allowed to have any fires in July, August or September, unless we get special permission from the authorities.)

Ed had recommended that the tree be felled into our garden, so that it didn't fall on their house, or into their pool! It was certainly tall enough to do some serious damage. Ed and Jordi (the neighbour) took down some of the fancing, then fixed a strap between 2 of our trees, to guide theirs into a safe spot. Ed strapped the tree to the digger to pull it in the right direction, while Jordi did the cutting. What fun to watch. Jordi was terrified - he had never felled such a tall tree, and Ed was chilled out, as it wasn't his tree, nor his house! As usual, all went well, and the tree was soon down and out.

The pair of them worked well together, removing up the brash and making everything safe. Two more to go, but it was late in the evening, so it was agreed to leave them for the next day. Jordi said it would be ok for Max and Paddy to run around in his garden overnight, but Ed was worried about the pool and the chickens, so they put the fence back. Good move...

Next morning, the fence came down again, then I heard shouting and a commotion. Max had managed to get into the chicken run, and all of the chickens were now running around, being chased by Max, Paddy, Ed, Jordi and little Julian. I watched from a window crying with laughter as they all raced around the garden. Then, Max managed to get a chicken cornered, and bit it. A flurry of feathers, and lots of squawking, but he let it go. Finally, Ed managed to grab him. (Max that is, not the chicken.) He dragged both dogs back into our garden, and I locked them safely in the house. The poor chicken meanwhile, was returned to the run, along with the others.

Within a short time, the 2 remaining trees were felled and the fence re-instated. As soon as Max and Paddy were let out of the house, they raced to get back to the chickens. Max did his best to get under the fence, but everyone had made sure it was secure. Jordi left at lunchtime, so Ed sliced up his logs, enabling us to take down the remaining trees of ours that were too close to their house.

For those that are concerned, the chicken lived to lay another day.

This is Hallowe'en

Once again, we are into autumn, and it is time for Hallowe'en.

I was hoping to do a pumpkin, but, as no one passes our house and we don't have anywhere outside the gate to park a pumpkin, I didn't do one. Also, one of Jessicas friends does such stunning one's, that I would be put to shame!

This year, there was an historical firework celebration in the town square.

The fireworks from the display in the museum were lit, with accompanying music and explanations. At 2pm, there was a mascleta, with the remainder being lit at 8pm. We duly trekked down for the 2pm display, arriving at 5 minutes to 2 - proper spanish style. (We are almost locals now.) The style of the display was like any other mascleta, with wonderful bangs and booms which we could watch from the safety of the archway under the old town hall. It seemed a bit daft to go all this way for a 5 minute display, but it was nice to see the old fireworks in a traditional location. (Where they were held many years ago.)

Later, we set out to watch the evening display. Arrived a few minutes before it was due to start... disaster. The square was absolutely packed and we couldn't see anything at all. Being tall, both of us are usually ok to stand at the back, but this time, we were 2 streets away (not really, but we might as well have been). We tried to wriggle through the crowd, but there was no chance of seeing much. Then the show began. A man explained everything in a quiet valenciano voice, which I could barely hear, let alone understand. Then came music and the first fireworks were lit. Stunning. From such an old version of something, the effects were simply amazing. I know chemistry is chemistry, and if something fizzes when reacting with something else, that will always be the case, but the effects were really glorious. The colours were very simple, mainly just reds and whites, but the showers of sparks and light were excellent. People standing in the square were shrieking to get away from the cascades of sparks.

We weren't able to see any of the displays fixed to the old town hall wall from where we were, but the taller displays in the square were easily visible. The 'ooos' and 'ahhhs' from everyone showed how good it all was. Fireworks now, tend to be mainly rocket (aerial) displays, so it was good to see such a fantastic display at close quarters. However, it must be said, some of them were at very close quarters, and many people literally ran out of the square on occasions. Maybe we were in the safest spot after all!