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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Xativa Fallas 2012

This year, we didn't get to see the fallas until the night of the burning.

We arrived after the children's fallas had been lit, which gave us a nice window of opportunity to stroll around, without too many people in the way. There is a bit of a lull between the children's fallas going off and the bigger ones being lit, from 11pm.

The standard of these things is stunning.

We looked at the main fallas and took time to have a drink on the main avenue. It is quite odd, sitting in such a lovely place, having fireworks going off every few minutes. Most of these, of course, are simply bangers, rather than the pretty English type. In Spain, it is the noise that is more important! As you stroll around, tiny babies simply sleep through the constant explosions, as they are wheeled around in their pushchairs.

I was highly amused by the Ali Baba and the 40 thieves falla. I'm not sure who the face on the snail was depicting, but the 40 thieves around him were easy enough to work out... the tax man, the politicians, the insurance men, etc. Very clever. This one was actually the winner, so it was the last one to be burned.

We happened to bump into some friends as we watched the Botticelli Venus falla go up in flames. They had some american friends with them, which we found rather amusing. Health and safety? What's that about? You know we are going to set fire to these, so it's up to you to make sure you are out of harm's way.

Fallas Supper

On the night of the Fallas, we were invited to have supper with some spanish friends. Well, we were invited to something anyway, due at 7:30. We weren't really sure why or what, but we turned up, gifts in hand!

When we got there, the wife was in her pyjamas and dressing gown, perfectly happy. The rest of the family were there too, and everyone was relaxed and happy, as we all sat down at the table.

Out came... a huge saucepan of hot chocolate and a massive tray full of home made pumpkin doughnuts (buñuelos). Ah. Apparently, this is the traditional dish on fallas night, so, even though we weren't out and about, that was the thing to eat. A bit like having toffee apples on bonfire night. They were wonderful, but how many can you eat?!

By 9 o'clock, we had eaten enough to last for the rest of the year, and we made our excuses, so that we could go to Xativa and actually watch the fallas.

Moixent Matinal

Not far from us, there was a matinal, so, naturally, we took the scenic route to get there. This was actually quite confusing, as, to start with, we hopped on the motorway for 1 junction. I assumed we were going straight there, but then we turned off again! I love this. I know where we are going, but I somehow miss something within the Valenciano chat before we set off, and then I have no idea what is going on! Great fun. Every trip is an adventure. It's a bit like a mystery ride, which is quite odd, when you are in control of the vehicle!

We then stopped for breakfast, which confused me completely. So much for the matinal then! As we waited for our order, Ed spied a parrot in a cage next to our table. Paco had obviously seen it before, and lifted the cover and started to whistle to it. Within moments, it was whistling back, and singing beautifully. I'm sure it was singing the 'Valencia' song. Clever thing. It was much more entertaining than the giant TV screen!

Off we went again, along a route we have used many times. This was up towards the modern windmills which I love. I could see them in the distance, but I knew we had to turn off before getting to them. (Who needs a satnav?) Sure enough, we wound our way around the countryside, eventually dropping down to Moixent. We rode into town and then I realised why we had eaten breakfast elsewhere. The town was absolutely packed. Every street in the centre was thronging with bikes. We ended up going the wrong way up a one-way street in order to park! As soon as we could, we moved the bikes and parked them the right way on the street!

There were lots of stalls around and all of the cafes were open, as well as some of the shops. It was so busy, it was actually difficult to walk around. All of the town locals came to see whoch just added to the pleasant atmosphere. It did seem a bit odd though, so see the locals in their Sunday best, straight from church, mingling with bikers in their leathers.

After a very pleasant stroll around, we decided to leave and go back for a coffee. We kitted up and wiggled our way out of town. Then, Paco went straight on, as we all turned left at a roundabout. We pulled over and waited for him, but he didn't re-appear. Eventually, we turned around to try and find him. It was obvious to me, that he had gone home on the motorway, instead of taking the back road, that wind through the valley into the back of Aielo del Malfereit. Finally, Julian agreed, and we scooted off down the motorway too. As we rode into town, there he and Vicoria were, sitting at the cafe, waiting for us!


Knowing that we had managed to kill our beautiful palm tree, we had to decide what to with the remains.

As the front of the house still needed a feature, Ed had the idea of hollowing out the remaining stump, and planting something else inside it.

This was a big, messy job. The chainsaw was certainly the tool for the job, but as a palm tree isn't normal wood, but a strange fibrous substance, Ed looked like a flour grader when he had finished. There were tiny bits of fibre everywhere.

Once the trunk had been hollowed out, we had to use a whole bag of compost to fill it back in! We then planted a pampas grass in the stump. This could grow to up to 2 meters, which will be a lovely replacement for the lost palm. It will obviously take a while to get to that size, but in the meantime, it looks quite nice with the wispy blades fluttering in the breeze. It will barely need watering, as the trunk of the palm is still very wet inside. In time, the roots will find their way down inside the palm, and it will be totally self sufficient. As the palm slowly rots away, there will be a mature plant in it's place.

All together now

One of the Sundays, instead of going to a matinal, we met up with another bunch of bikers from Canals (very near to us) and we all went off on a ride out.

This was very amusing. They all wanted to go much faster than we normally do, which was fine by me, but not for everyone in our usual group. On this basis, I felt it only fair to stick at the lower pace, but that meant the we split up a few times. As is the case, the lead group simply waited at the junctions for us to catch up, then off we went again. This happened a few times, but then, at one junction, poor Julian had no idea of where to go. I knew we needed to go right, but he was very hesitant. Thankfully, one of the other lads had tagged on to the back of us, and he confirmed which way to go. At the next T junction, there they all were - waiting again!

I must admit, given that we knew where we were going for breakfast, that had chosen an unusual route. Thankfully, it was an area that Ed and I have travelled many times, and, with my in-built map, I would have been ok, if we hadn't seen them again! We wound our way up to the village for breakfast, but it took us two goes to find the street with the right cafe in it. We parked up in the tiny street, bikes on both sides of the road, and strolled in. it was a lovely bar, with stunning views from the back, but they obviously hadn't anticipated 14 people turning up at once! Service was a little slow, and confused (wrong), but we eventually got what we ordered, although the poor girl was teased mercilessly. Thankfully, she took it in good measure.

We all ordered bocadillos of some sort, and there was wine, beer, coke and water for all. The usual nuts and olives were distributed too. Afterwards, we all had coffee or another hot drink. The food was excellent. It's no wonder I can't get into my leathers any more. When Ed went to the bar to pay, the bill had been split between us, and came to just 5 euros each. Excellent.

Off we went again. Really nice ride out, down towards Benidorm, but stopping short, and looping back around towards Guadalest. Once again, the fast group had to wait a cuple of times, but everyone was happy with this. Then, disaster. It was very busy just north of Benidorm and we lost 2 of the group. Up near Guadalest we all stopped at a roundaout and waited for them to catch up. No sign of them. Unfortunately, it was Ed and little Paco that has gone awol. We tried to call them, but, of course, as they were wearing their helmets, they couldn't hear their phones! Finally, after about 20 minutes, they actually arrived at the right roundabout. Very well done to them! Ed said later, that he had seen a bunch of bikes waiting at a roundabout, but Paco had gone straight on, instead of left, where we all were. Ah well - at least no one got lost on their own.

We set off again, but, this time, as we were heading in the general direction of home, once the group split again, we were on our own until we got back. Not a problem, as we all knew the way home (well - I certainly did anyway!).

Some People have all the Luck

Very recently, we had some mixed weather.

Ed called me, and I looked up, to see the most beautiful rainbow in next door's garden! As we watched, we could even see the reverse rainbox that always exists, but is only sometimes seen.

We tried to work out exactly where the crock of gold was, but couldn't pin it down. We think it was in their orange grove, but it evaded us. I was hoping it would move into our garden but sadly not.

Town of 1000 Fountains

Xativa is famous for it's fountains, and I am sure that there are more than 1,000 of them. As you stroll around the old town, there are lovely fountains everywhere. Even the new areas have pretty fountains.

This one, is next to the Bull Ring, and looks beautiful in the late afternoon, as the sun shines through the cascading water.

School Dinners

The Adult School had a dinner that everyone was invited to.

There are lots of activities available, but as many of them are held in Valencian, I don't bother, or, if they are trips, I tend to shy away too. However, this was a 2pm lunch, to be held in the school courtyard. I have been to a couple of these before, so put my name forward (after checking tht a couple of Brits were going too!).

The following week, everyone was chipping in their money for the meal. 5 euros. No problem. Then, a few days later, I discovered that the proper price was 3.50. Apparently, in our class, everyone chipped in a little more, and some of the girls made extra cakes to share.

The meal is very well organised. It is a 'casoletta' and the best cooks in the school prepare a local savoury baked rice dish (arroz al horno) which is distributed school meal style. This year, we were asked to bring our own plastic plates and forks, to save money! There were nuts and olives on the tables as usual, as well as wine, beer, water and coke.

This year, it was rather cold, so the meal was held indoors. I chickened out of sitting with the locals, and sat with the british contingent. Thankfully, this was next to my class, as I was given extra dishes of everything to try, which was wonderful. Cakes of all types, as well as extra rice (which of course, was much tastier than the general one!).