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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Pou Clar

While the pool was still being finished off, the lads wanted to go to the ponds at Pou Clar. After the terribly dry summer have had, I wasn't certain that the water would be ok to swim in.

A quick visit with Faz and Tim soon proved that it was ok. There is still spring water comming out of the mountains and people still swimming in the pools. Needless to say, it was very cold, but they are a hardy bunch.

Pub Uni-K

The lads decided on a night out in town, but, as it was Sunday night, lots of the places were shut.

We popped into one pub Uni-K and Tim, the landlord was good enough to ring another bar for us, to see if they were still serving food. After a swift drink, we went off to the Park Bar. It was very quiet, so I checked if we could order some burgers. As it happened, that was pretty much all he was serving! We also ordered a couple of plates of chips along with our drinks.

As Ed and I knew, when the burgers arrived, everyone was very impressed. They do a mean burger. The usual lettuce, tomato etc, but this time, also with bacon, cheese, and a fried egg. The burger itself is not a processed thing from the supermarket either! (In fact, the lads were so impressed, they had another one on their last day too.)

After eating, we all bimbled back to the Uni-K for another drink. As we were the only ones in there, I tried to get the lads to sing on the karioke. Thye wouldn't. However, to my amusement, Sweeny Todd was on the TV and they all knew all of the words to the songs. Tim changed the sound over, and he, John, Ed and I were somewhat amused to see these 4 lads singing along to a gruesome musical. However, the novelty soon wore off, so instead, we all went off to play table football and darts! Living the high life eh?

Everybody In The Pool

Tim and his 3 friends arrived in September. Tim's first words to me, "I've got a surprise for you" (which was my new laptop), were turned back on him. "I've got a surprise for you" as I walked him around to the back of the house, to see the nearly finished pool.

All of them were thrilled. Ed apologised for not having been able to finish it, but they couldn't have been happier. Within no time at all, they were stripped off and in the pool, cleaning the excess grout off, while Ed continued tiling the steps. The next day, they started with the grouting and what a difference it made. 5 people grouting, while Ed finished off, was perfect. All I had to do, was feed them and supply beer!

Within a few days, the pool was finished off and we started to fill it. Our next door neighbour supplied us with the chemicals needed to keep it clean. I supplied the lads with lilo's.

Needless to say, they soon went to the shop and bought other pool toys to play with.

Chip Chop

At the back of the poolhouse, was a youngish pine tree. However, as is the way with trees, it has continued to grow, and was now on its way to causing a problem with the power and phone lines to the laboratory at the back of us. Even though the laboratory is for sale, it is most unlikely to sell. The house itself is in a terrible state of repair, and needs taking down, and the lab itself is really not much more than a block, which is of no use to anyone. Anybody wanting a building project can easily find something nicer in a better spot, and anybody wanting a building to run a business from would find hundreds of them available.

So - the time came to chop the tree down. Ed sent John up with a handsaw, and bit by bit, John took down the branches above the cables.

Ed thought he was taking too long, so he started cutting the tree down, with John still up it, to make him hurry up.


The Moors and Christians each have an Ambssador. This year, the Moor Ambassador was the brother of my previous spanish teacher, Marie-Jose.

The ambassador is responsible for the float that they have as well as having to learn the poem that is performed during the storming of the castle, both in the daytime and in the evening. When we saw her, she had been practicing with him every night, as he learned his lines.

At the front of their parent's house, Marie-Jose had painted the symbol of their particular Fila (Brotherhood) and had hung bunting all accross the street. Their mum is lovely and I'm sure she would have had great fun with all of the pomp and ceremony, but apparently their dad is quite retiring, and was terribly embarrassed by the whole thing.

Different paintings like this can be seen all around the town, for those with a special place in the events - the festival queens, different ambassadors and such like. The artists (family) just put railings around the front of their houses to stop the cars running them over, then simply paint the streets. Depending on the location, the paintings may last a few years, or may be worn out quite quickly.

Nature's Handiwork

We had to go to Javea early in the morning, the day after the rains that put paid to the paella competition.

The rising morning mists on the way were spectacular. The little digital camera we have is fine most of the time, but I did wish I had something mush more decent on this particular occasion.

Later, having attended the appointment in Javea, we went to the beach - which was shut! It was still very stormy, so the red flags were flying.

We found a lovely little bar that did a superb english breakfast. For us, it was rather funny to hear english voices all around - especially since most of them seemed to be from Essex! This is when it bring it home to me, that we moved to Spain for a peaceful life - I'm sure we wouldn't have found it, had we moved to somehwere near the sea.

l'Olleria Paella Night

Yum Yum. Paella night again. The whole town enrolls in the event, and then everyone gather in a huge car-park and cooks paella over a fire. Cost? Free. Just bring your own accessories (chairs, tables, crisps, olives - and friends)

But not this year.

There had been terrible rumours that there would be a fee this year, but that was not the case. The problem - was the weather. There was a huge deluge late afternoon, making it impossible to hold the event. In the end, everyone collected their vouchers from the council and then got their food supplies from a truck parked at the local petrol station then went home to cook their food. No tasting this year, so no prizes for the best one.

In fact, this didn't really affect us, as we had planned to cook at Paco's house anyway. We were hoping to say 'hi' to everyone in the carpark, before getting to Paco's, but that was not to be.

We congregated in the garage (spanish style) and had our own party, in the same way that hundreds of other people had to, all around the town. Great fun. We couldn't sit outside under the bunting that Victoria had made and hung up, but we could still have a great night out!

Get stuck on

In spite of the hot weather, Ed managed to persevere with the pool tiles.

Although they are stuck on in sheets, very often stray ones fell off, or didn't stick properly. It has been a huge task. The sides took a long time, and were difficult, because of the curved corners. He thought the bottom would be easier, but, it turned out not to be the case.

However, slowly and surely, it is comming together.

Easy Life

Poor Ed has worked very hard this summer, what with the new kitchen and doing the pool. Thankfully, he has had some time to chill out as well.

l'Olleria Bous

As usual, we went to see the l'olleria version of the bull running this year. Whilst this is nowhere near as good as Aielo, we should support our local fiestas.

This year, the ring was a bit different, with an additional stand having been installed. There seemed to be less people than previously though, and we had no trouble parking ourselves on the railing, with our feet (just) out of harms way.

The bulls are brought up to do this sort of thing, and the council pay the 'taurinos' for the hire of the bulls. The more agressive the bull, the more the price of the hiring. There is a well known bull 'El Raton' that has actually killed several people over the years. His appearance can be secured for several thousands of euros, for just 10 minuts of 'entertainment'. In our case, this year, I think the council shelled out a couple of hundred euros for the whole 4 days! Things were rather quiet.

During the event, two of the bulls were able to climb onto the table, one of them with as much dexterity as the people that thought they were safe up there! That was rather funny. One of them decided to attach a large tyre, and managed to shift it all around the ring. It took 3 men to pick it up again, onto it's side, so they could roll it back to the original position.

There was one person, who had bought a dog to the event. Although the dog was on a leash, out of the ring itself, it was under the stands, where the bull could sniff it and react. To say that the bull wanted the dog, was putting it mildly. The dog, too decided it didn't like the bull either, and barked like mad at it. This was highly entertaing for most people, but, in fact, this was about 5 feet away from me - rather too close for comfort.

This year, on two of the days the bulls had their horns lit up 'embolat', which was unusual.

Thankfully, there was only one minor injury during the whole week, so maybe quiet cows are a better idea really!

l'Olleria Festes - Comedy Parade

Ah. The end of (official) summer approaches, so it is fiesta time in the village again.

The main parade is always held on 1st Saturday in September, so, the week before is comedy parade.

As usual, most of the floats had a political theme, complaining about the crisis. Some of them were very funny, but some of them were a bit obscure. In the UK, I'm sure they would have been frowned upon, but here, all things political are fair game. Even small children are asked questions about current affairs, and they can answer with a high degree of conviction too!

The new airport that hasn't had a single plane land on it, in 12 months (just north of Valencia)

The obligatory man dressed as a woman - who seemed to be rather good a pole dancing

Pool Partly

We finally began the next stage of getting the pool done.

Ed re-laid the coping stones, with the help of a friend, so that we can be certain of getting the tiles level.

Summer is definately not the best time to be doing major tasks outside, but the timing was out of our hands. We ordered the tiles in mid-july, with the promise that they would be delivered within 3 days.

On the Monday, I called, to see if they were there. "Thursday", he said. Hmm. Ok, I'll ring back on Thursday. So I did. "Monday", he said. I waited until Tuesday before ringing again. "Thursday" he said, and advised me that he would call me, when they did arrive. I waited, but no call. Finally, I called him back. The tiled had arrived, but not the special pool grout - or so I understood. He promised to call me, when the remainder of the order had arrived.

After a chat with Ed, we decided that we would collect the tiles, and buy the grout elsewhere. I decided to play safe, and get a spanish friend to chase him up again. She told me, that the main tiles and grout had arrived, but not the border tiles. This made our plan impossible. We needed to put the border tiles on first. The tiles would be there in a couple of days! She called them again, to be told that the man was fed up with his supplier, and he would fetch them himself. A couple of days later, and still no tiles. "They will be here today". Yeah, right. Ironically, my friend was due to go on holiday, so I thought we would be stuck, but, no, late afternoon, we got a call... the truck is on it's way, we can meet at the petrol station. We drove down, and, sure enough, a white van soon rolled up. The driver stuck his head out of the window, "Bramley?" "si", and off we went! He was good enough to help up store the grout and tiles in the pool house, even though he had to go up and down the steps multiple times!

Still, we had lost a month during the wait, so poor Ed had to work mornings and evenings, as it was far too hot during the day. The border tiles are covered in protective brown paper by the way.


Whose idea was it, to think it is ok to put a micro-cache in the middle of nowhere?

Well, actually, it really can work, if your spot is a good one.

Not too far from here, there is a winding road over some mountains, with a small junction at the top of the hill. Of course, there is a road sign, and this is where the cache was hidden. The views around were pretty spectacular, but this is a road we have used many times with the bikes. We scurried off in the car, as it was actually International Geocaching day, so I really wanted to do one, even if it was a simple one.

This one was actually so tiny, that putting it on my windscreen wiper was the only way I could get it in focus!

And I got my virtual souvenir too!

Hells Gorge

Since it was such a hot day, we did a cache at 'Hells Gorge'.

This is a 9km long walk, in a vally with interesting geology as well as cave paintings. The gorge in actually on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites and is very beautiful. To do the round trip, one has to climb 6,500 steps, build into the rocks by the moors.

Needless to say, this wasn't going to happen on a 40+ degree day. The cache I was looking for, was at a lookout spot above the gorge. We pulled into the lay-by and found the cache in moments. Much better.

Since we were on the right road. We also took in a few minutes of respite from the sun - a visit to Cova del Rull. It was only a few euros to go in, and we were taken around by the spanish guide on our own. Personal treatment - wonderful. She spoke lovely clear spanish, and Ed understood most of what she was explaining, as she was so demonstrative. It was lovely and cool, but when we lingered too long, the lights in that area went off, urging us on to the next point of interest! No hanging around inside for an hour then!

The guide had a good torch, and pointed out interesting rock formations and minerals that could be seen. I actually understood everything she said, so my spanish must be getting better. We first came here during our honeymoon, so it was nice to see it again. (Photos not allowed inside, I'm afraid)

Since we were near the coast now, we decided to pop to Javea for a late lunch. We sat in a very trendy beach front bar, that was actually not too pricey and had good food. My only complaint was some of the decor. When I went to the laides, it was so nicely done, that I actually couldn't find the light switch. The walls were matt black so there was no way I was going to fumble around in the sheer dark! Once the lady showed me the switch, I was very impressed! No, the dark wasn't to hide any cockroaches!

Return to Cache

In the winter, we went to a geocache in an abandoned village, which was very interesting. It began to snow while we were there, but we decided we would visit again, in the warmer weather.

As a second cache has now been hidden in the village, it seemed like a good excuse to go again. Unfortunately, I took the wrong route before setting the sat nav, so once again, we took the 'scenic' route. That said, it is a good way to discover the countryside around you!

We finally arrived, and quickly found the cache. Ed spent a while wondering around, but it was actually such a hot day, that it was impossible to stay outside for long. Nearby, was another cache, located by a 'nevera'. (Snow well - snow was packed into deep wells, to use during the warmer months.)

We moved the car to the second cache, then walked a few hundred yards to the new cache site. It was really hot and dry, and following the path was a struggle in the heat. We soon realised that we had to go into the wooded area a little, and quickly found the site we wanted. I felt so ill, it was all I could do to just sit in the shade and gasp for air. Thankfully, I had my medication with me, so I just sat in the shade, while Ed found the box! I quickly recovered, and signed the log, and replaced the box, while Ed took a picture for me.

On the walk back, I felt terribly ill again. Even though I could see the car, a few hundred yards away, I wasn't convinced that I would get to it, before passing out. Thankfully, there was a picnic area next to the car, and it was possible to sit in the shade again for a few minutes, before lurching the final steps to the car. Water. Yes, of course there was plenty in the car. However, the water was really warm, but at least it gave us chance to recover.

Subsequently, we discovered that it was 43 degrees in the shade. Nearer 60 in the sun (centigrade, of course). There is a line... 'geocachers are always ready'... well, that day we failed. I may have had a pen, and spare batteries for the GPS, but the most basic thing (common sense) was missing. Next time, we will visit the village on a pleasant day!

Squirrel Nutkin

Ed was sitting on the front terrace one morning, when he spotted something in the garden. Lo and behold, our little squirrel had re-appeared.

Needless to say, Max was fascinated, and spent the entire day sitting at the bottom of the tree that the squirrel had run up. He did check out a couple of other trees, but was evidently convinced that it had to come down the same tree it had gone up.

Speaking to some locals, there is a big family of squirrels living near the monestary. This one must be a bit more adventurous, having scurried some 1/2 mile from there. There aren't too many trees in places, so he was quite determined to find his way to our garden.

As far as I am concerned, he can eat as many pine cones as he likes, and bring his family with him.

For those that don't know - there are no grey squirrels in Spain. The nearest ones are in France, but hopefully it will be a long time before they are able to cross the pyrenees.

Storm Brewing

I have to confess, this picture dates back to July! I have had technical issues, that have prevented me from posting for some time. My poor laptop has died, and my new one doesn't read the card from the camera! Technology has made life more interesting, but can also raise some serious challenges.

Having had a pretty dry year in 2011, the same can be said for 2012. We have had practically no rain since last April. One day, it did coud over, with the most dramatic storm clouds I have seen in a very long time. Tropical storms - eat your heart out. This was a rolling cloud base that looked worthy of a disaster movie. Had a space ship or something appeared from within the clouds, I wouldn't have been surprised.

Finally, some rain. Well, actually, not really. It rained for a bout 5 minutes, before moving on. The coast got quite a bit, but the storm was moving so quickly, most of the rain fell out at sea. Not much use for filling the reservoir back up.