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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Monday, 20 February 2012

Abandoned Villages & caves

On a day out, we recently encountered an abandoned village.

This is somewhere near Pego, and well worth a trip out, if you are in that area. The nearest village to it, is Alcala de la Jovada. Just to the east of the village, is a beautifully preserved snow well, and then, on the other side of the road, the abandoned village. Both places have information boards - including in English!

The village was extremely interesting. Although abandoned some 100 years ago, there was still quite a lot left standing and it was easy to imagine the 17 families still going about their business. While we were there though, a harsh wind came across the plain and bought a snowstorm with it! We quickly scrabbled back to the car, making a note to visit here again, when it is a bit warmer.

On the same road, nearer to the coast, is the Cova del Rull. (Uncle Curly's Cave) Ed and I had been here before, during our honeymoon, and we were looking forward to seeing it again. However, on this day, the Gods were not with us. It was closed from 16th January to 16th February!

We had a nice ride home, before being snowed on again. This time, the snow fell very thickly and it was difficult to see very far. Within no time at all, the valley was white. However, as we got nearer to Muro, it soon cleared and there was no sign of snow in the Val d' Albaida, just thick clouds. The next day however, we realised that the clouds had done their stuff, and the mountains opposite were looking very dramatic in grey and white.

Cova Negra

Near Xativa, there is a cave 'Cova Negra' which has signs towards the park it is in all over the place.

Recently, someone has placed a string of geocaches enroute, so this month, we set off to find the caches, as well as the famous cave! The first of the caches were easy enough as we already knew the sites they were at, but the walk to the cave was very nice.

It is possible to park quite near, and then have a lovely walk alongside the river to the cave. There were lots of little caves and scenic view points on the way so it was a really nice day out. Highly recommended to anyone. The Cova Negra itself however, was rather disappointing. The Authorities have put up horrible steel fencing across the front, and left the inside to become overgrown and untidy. Such a shame, as it is a nice big cave. The one near l'Olleria is much nicer.

Walking further along the riverside, you encounter some lovely scenery as well as a very interesting visitors centre. There are picnic tables here, and I'm sure, in the summer, this must be a lovely place to swim and cool off.

Help 4 Heroes

In November, I bought a Help 4 Heroes geo-coin.

The idea is, that you give the coin a mission, then send it on it's way. The coin has a special code number and you can track where it is and follow it, as it moves around. For this one, I have asked that it find it's way back to Uttoxeter, for Jess to pick up. There are about 70 caches in and around Uttoxeter, so the destination is easy enough!

On New Year's Day, I set it off. A few days later it had been picked up, so it was now a waiting game, until it was dropped off again. This is interesting. Sure enough, it got dropped off and then moved on again. It has now got to Aragon. But, I think it will be there for some time! It is next to a ski lift, but the cache it has been placed in has only had a 3 visits since it was planted in August! With a bit of luck, as the weather warms up, someone else might find it and put it somewhere more active! We shall have to wait and see.

Bakewell Pudding

We had a lovely drive out into the Peak District with Jess one day.

We went to Bakewell and in no time at all, Jess and Ed had found a cache! We then went into the Bakewell Pudding shop. It has changed a lot since I went there last! It is now more of a farm shop, selling lots of local goodies. There is also a big window, and you can watch them make the famous puddings.

At the shop, we asked the difference between a pudding and a tart. The girl must get asked this several times a day, but, she gave a wonderful, clear, clever and quite funny reply. Best of all, she delivered it as though it was for the first time that week! Ed bought a tart, I had a pudding and Jess had a tart and pudding to take to work and share. (Want to know the difference? Go to the shop and try them out!)

We had a lovely pub lunch, then drove out into the countryside. Unfortunately, we missed a turning and then spent the next few miles discovering hills and dales we'd never seen before. Suddenly, Jess and I went "I know where we are" just as we got to a junction on the Buxton road! We had gone much further north than we meant to!

On the way home, we encountered very heavy snow. Thankfully, she did have the roof up! The snow didn't last long, but, as we neared Uttoxeter, we discovered that they had had a huge prolonged snowfall, which was very localised. The north-east of Uttoxeter was thick with snow, but there was nothing in the centre! Some oncomming cars were thick with snow, but in town, it was completely clear!

Countryside Caching

When I was in the UK, Jess Tim and I spent an afternoon walking around the outskirts of Uttoxeter on a geocache trail. There is a link of 10 caches, all made into one lovely walk.

Tim was convinced he would get filthy, but I was organised and had a pair of wellies with me. Good job too, as some of the way was very mucky. Jess spotted the first one very quickly - a pine cone hidden in a fruit tree. Very clever. Goodness knows how you are meant to find that when the tree is in leaf though! The next couple were easy enough to find, but I ended up getting mud on my bag. Then I got pricked by some thorns, then I got leaves all over me, as we had to climb onder a fallen tree. Jess thought it was hilarious as I was 'being very girlie'. Tim too, found it funny that he wasn't the one in trouble!

The next cache was missing, but the next few were simple enough to find. I managed to stay out of the mud, but it was a challenge! We then struggled with one of them. Finally, I spotted it, and just burst out laughing. We had been looking in the wrong place, practically wading in the brook, looking under the bridge. I had given up with my bag and passed it to Jess by now!

Tim found the next one, then I nearly fell off a stile whilst climbing over it. It was getting dark now. A quick scrabble and we were getting to the end. This time, I got stuck climbing over a hedge. Tim was killing himself laughing at me. At the next cache, I managed to slip, and landed in his arms. I think I made his day. But, to be fair, I didn't actually fall over, and I did manage to stay clean!

We celebrated out finds with a Big Mac. (I think two per year is ok!)

A couple of days later, we managed to find one in the centre of Stafford too. I had looked for it before, but felt stupid poking around on my own. With a bunch of you, it doesn't look so obvious. Passers-by just think someone must have dropped something and you are looking for it. The wonders of technology make it so easy now - download the App onto your phone and away you go! (Me? I still have to use my GPS - no internet on my mobile!)

Let's have a celebration

If there's ever a good thing to celebrate, it has to be New Year.

This year, we were invited to join Paco and Victoria for a spanish family new year. The only thing I was certain about, was eating 12 grapes at midnight, so I took a big bunch of juicy, seedless grapes, as well as a bottle of sparkles and some nibbles. Sadly, our invitation was too short notice for me to make a cake!

We arrived at about 9:30, and found many of the family there; son, daughter-in-law, mum, brother - all people we already knew. The tables were already groaning with food! There was the normal selection of prawns, olives, salads, ham, cheese, doorstep bread (sliced about 1" thick!), as well as loads of drinks. We spent the next few hours laughing and chatting, while merry demolishing the buffet (which seemed to be constantly replenished as each plate emptied). The sweets were the normal spanish ones, which I merely sampled, rather than finished off!

As it approached 12, the tables were cleared, ready for the main celebrations. The women prepared small tumblers with 12 grapes in each one. My grapes were dismissed, as (apparently) they were too big to eat quickly enough. Some of the grapes were from tins of fruit. Closer inspection revealed that it is possible to buy tins of 12 grapes, in readiness for the celebrations. Brilliant idea, if you are out for the chiming of the bells. Another trick, is to put your engagement ring in your glass of champagne - as you drink your new year toast, this brings you luck in love. Soon, it was the count-down. Ed popped the first grape into his mouth... and everyone shouted at him - he was too early, it was just 12, but the bell hadn't chimed yet! 'Dong', munch 1st grape. 'Dong', munch second grape. 'Dong' much third grape, and remainder of second! 'Dong' shove forth grape into mouth and attempt to chew and swallow along with remainder of second and third. We had hit a problem. My juicy seedless grapes had been replaced by smaller, seeded ones! The first grape was ok - but the seeds in the subsequent ones made it harder to simply munch and swallow! Somehow, we managed all 12, and everyone cheered.

Time for the celebratory toast. Ah. New problem. My champagne flute had a pretty ball shape at the bottom, so my engagement ring was now stuck at the bottom of my glass! I didn't fancy tipping the whole lot down my throat, so I had a difficult time drinking, and watching for my ring! Finally, I gave up, drank the drink, then tipped my glass up and shook my ring back out! Not quite the right idea, but never mind.

We had a really fun night out, making up for the last 6 months, when Paco had been working in Cairo. (He broke his front tooth on a date while he was there!)