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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Birthday Treat

It was recently the birthday of a friend's daughter, and to our suprise, we were invited to attend on the evening. I'm sure she didn't really want us there! What 20 year old wants to share her birthday with a couple of old foreigners?!

In reality, all of the family are lovely, and we were treated as nicely as everyone else.

I didn't know what to take. I had no idea what to buy as a gift, and birthday cards are not really the done thing here. In a moment of inspiration, I decided to make a trifle!

Easy peasy. Sponge cake from the supermarket, along with a big tin of cocktail fruit. No sherry, so a good helping of moscatel, then in with the jelly. (That took me by surprise - it was powdered stuff, that you have to mix with water and bring to the boil. No eating the raw cubes!) I did the best cheat of all, and topped it with a tin of Ambrosia custard, then made pretty cream rosette flowers all over.

They had never had anything like it before. They quickly figured it all out (I didn't give them the secret to the custard though) and I'm sure it will be a new addition to their sunday tea! Several of them had seconds, so it must have been ok. I left the remainder in their fridge, and the dish came back the next day - empty.

A little strange I know - but one of the guests was someone who had had a gastric operation to help lose weight. I found this very fascinating, as the ins and outs were described. I think it will be easier to stop eating so many biscuits and crisps. But very well done to them. It must be terrible to get to such a sad state of self worth that this seems to be the only course of action. (And yes - they did look lovely and slim - and simply ate a small amount of everything going. They were full by the time the birthday cake came out, so simply took a bit home for the next day.)

Flora and Fauna

I've normally got the camera with me as we go out and about, as we never know what we are going to encounter.

I let myself down this summer, as there was a huge dandilion clock that I wanted to photograph. I swear I would have had difficulties putting my hands around it! However, I also knew, that if I picked it, and tried to take it home, all of the down would have blown off en route!

I did get this though. A beautiful thistle down the lane from us. Sadly, the camera doesn't always tell the truth - in the natural light, it almost shone with the UV light, which isn't being reflected through the lens.

Too Many Cooks Spoil The Kitchen

And so it came to pass, that the hour of destruction was past and the time for rebuilding had arrived.

Ed was very lucky with the floor. The way the tiles were laid out, there ended up being only a few tiles that needed to be cut. We had already removed the loose floor tiles, so there was some work to do, but it all went together very well indeed.

Ed and I had put the kitchen units together ourselves in the garage, which was fine, but for the recontruction of the kitchen, we called in a friend. He put plasterboard on 3 of the walls for us, and fixed the ceiling, where the patry had been before. He was a dab hand with a saw and screwdriver, and soon made a big difference. Thankfully, he was very respectful of my wishes, and queried everything with me, before he did anything. He had some good ideas, but some of them I had already considered, and they didn't work for reasons that he wasn't aware of, but others I was happy to take on board.

He had obviously done this type of work before and was a pleasure to have around. Measure twice and cut once wasn't his thing - he measured everything several times and everything he cut fitted perfectly.

He and Ed soon had the framework together, then Ed and I lived in it for a while, before we called him back to finish some jobs. There was a funny design issue that needed to be resolved, and the archway to finish off.

Then we got into a muddle. I didn't realise that Ed had asked him to do the tiling too and I aked Paco to do it. Thankfully, he was fine with this, but it created other problems.

Different people work in different ways, and Paco had his own ideas. I managed to convince him that I wanted the tiles horizontal, not vertical, and he was sure I wanted the border at the top, even though I told him several times, it was to go in the middle, but finally we got there!

Afte that, little Paco came back and fitted the sockets, and connected the extractor hob. There was some confusion with the hidden socket for the dishwasher, which was finally resolved, and then... after 5 years, I have a fully functioning kitchen. No extention leads across the floor, and doors to hide everything!

I've finished painting it now too, so it looks lovely and clean. It still needs 'dressing', but I will take my time with that. I have some ideas, but I'm in no hurry.

Oliva Matinal

Ironically, after all of the rain in England, it is too hot in Spain to ride the bikes. We were lucky recently, and the temperature dropped some 10 degrees, giving us the chance to go to one of the better matinals around, in oliva.

We set off nice and early, and ende up being one of the first bikes there. This was great, as it meant it was easy for us to park. Instead of buying a ticket for the matinal (how many t-shirts can anyone wear) we had breakfast at a bar adjacent to where the club had set up the long tables. This was pretty sneaky, as it gave us good service, with the perk of the music and entertainment laid on by the club!

It was very hot, so I changed into shorts while I was there, which was a good move. We met up with some English people we already knew (Roger & Nina)which was great and then strolled off to look at the stalls and bikes.

Like last year, there was also a commercial sales area, with cars, caravans and bikes for sale, along with an assortment of other stands selling odd things - these seemed to be very charity related, but I'm sure they would have done very well, with such a high number of visitors.

Last year, we lost Ed for a while, and this year, we lost little Paco! There is so much to see, it is easy to get distracted and misplace someone. Thankfully, Emy realised he hadn't come back, so we waited for him, while the other walked off, but then had to wait for us elsewhere.

They are such a good group of peole, that nobody was bothered about the delay and simply asked what was so interesting.

We slowly made our way back to the bikes, by which time it was nealy 1pm. We had a steady ride home, but still stopped at a local bar for a drink, before lunch. To our amusement, it tried to rain, so we moved inside. As usual, the rain lasted about 5 minutes, and evaporated before we had time to get ourselves reorganised.

With the weather the way it is now, I epect it will be a while before we are out and about again.

Dam Busters

When travelling around a few weeks ago, we took an unplanned rural route over the mountains into the next valley.

It was very scenic, but the sat-nav had us very confused for a long time. Once we had decided which way it was taking us, it was too late to turn back and go a much more sensible way. I'm sure that, mileage wise, the sat nav was right, but it obviously didn't differentiate between country lanes, and dual carridgeways. It would have been much quicker to double back from our intermediary position, and taken a main road to our destination!

For quite some time, we drove through an assortment of villages, before finally ending up at Beniarres reservoir, which we have been to only once before. From here, we took a road I had seen on the map before, but we had never explored.

I am a firm believer in exploring country roads, but there are so many around here that it would take a lifetime to do so. This was one route that we probably won't bother with again!

Up in Flames

Last year, there was a very bad forest fire on the way to Gandida. We could actually see the flames from here, even though it was about 15 miles away.

Sadly, this year, there has been another one in almost the same place. This time, it was on the other side of the main road, and a little nearer to here. This fire surrounded a small village, but then crept over the top of the hill, and towards some other villages.

It is a terrible time for everyone. Those that live there, those that need to go past, and people like us, who watch from a safe distance, but wonder if/when it will be our turn.

About 20 years ago, La Gaveta (the woodland area where we wlak the dogs) went up in flames, and everyone had to get out. Since then, (about 8 years ago) there has also been another fire nearby, when this area had to be evacuated. Everyone here thinks that we are now in great danger of a fire, as we are one of the few forrested areas around that hasn't been burnt for some time. A scarey thought.

Thankfully, we now have no big trees near the front of the house, although the 2 at the back could catch fire if the wind was right. This last week, we have heard the forestry commisssion working somewhere above us. We went to investigate on Friday, and they have been taking down trees that were overhanging the road that leads to the Port (the old road into the village, before the tunnels were built).

We already know what to do, should anything happen... take your animals and gas bottles, and leave everything else behind! Hopefully it won't come to that. Last night, we had a very heavy rainfall, which should have dampened the undergrowth. It was the first rain in months, so was much needed. Needless to say, it rained after Ed had watered the plants!