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Now living in l'Olleria, south of Valencia

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Comedy Parade

Dragged ourselves out again at midnight, ready for the Comedy Parade.

Sad to say - what a poor show this year. The parade was much smaller than in previous years and the floats were not much more than tractors or small trucks with bits of card on them.

This is not meant as a criticism. There is no money around now, to spend on decorating a truck or trailer. The little money that can be spared, is used for the costumes, to show a team effort. And an effort there still is. There were fewer political floats this year and quite a lot of plain funny ones. Everyone still made it a fun occasion. The bands were as noisy as ever - no chance of sleep for anyone this week. On top of that, it still took 1 1/2 hours for them to pass by.

I had no idea what some of the other things represented. Two of the troupes had lots of rabbit that lay on the ground randomly. No idea why. There was also a lot of references to the police, but something else has evidently passed me by.

The most effective one, had a working BBQ on it, and they were actually cooking as they went. The smell was wonderful! The funniest thing I saw, was a man dressed up in full safety gear, with harness etc - the thing was, his safety line was attached to a supermarket trolley (being pushed by someone else) full of drinks for the troupe!

The final float was very clever. They had made a giant book (copies available to purchase from the Town Hall) depicting the l'Olleria Festes and each of the troupe were dressed as either a page in the book, or one of the events. Needless to say, the festival queen was a man in drag!

Once they had all passed by, we bimbled up to the park, where the band had already started. I felt sorry for them. Most of the youngsters would be drinking in their filas, rather than watching the band. Still - they get paid to play until 5 am, so they do.

I think we need a sleep this afternoon - so might well miss the horse display. Never mind.

Fiesta Time

And it's that time again... l'Olleria en Festes

Friday 23rd was the first night of celebrations, with the crowning of the Queen, along with the proclamation of the festeras and members of the courts.

Saturday 24th - Comedy Parade
Sunday 25th - Horsemanship Display, then the Bulls
Monday & Tuesday - Bulls
Wednesday - Bulls and Brotherhood (Fila) Parade
Thursday - Paella Night and Fila Parade
Friday - Offering of Flowers
Saturday 31st - Moors & Christians Parade
Sunday - Children's Parade
Monday - 2 Battles
Tuesday - Parade and Children's Show
Wednesday - All back to normal!

We strolled into town to watch the festival queens walk up the town in their finery. There was a lot of organised chaos around the main square, then, they were paraded through the town to the park. It was lovely. They were led by some of the filas, then there were the little girls and then the 18 year olds.

As they all walked up the main street to the park, their families and friends followed. We spotted all sorts of people that we knew. The parents of Anna chatted to us, and then we saw Rafa and his beautiful daughter (9 months old already). His sister Lorena and wife (another Anna) were there too. It was lovely to chat to them all.

We stopped for a drink before wandering up to the park and once were were there, we spotted Paco and Victoria. It was an excellent social night.
Once again, we will have our paella with Paco's family, which will be lovely. (He makes such a good paella, he's won the competition in the past.)

Loop the Loop

Jessica wanted to do a big loop of geo-caches that she and Sutty had not been able to finish around the village of Church Broughton. Tim came too, so it ended up being a lovely Sunday out. To be honest, we were a bit disorganised. We did have a litre of water each, I did have a pencil and my camera, but that was about it. No bags to put our rubbish in, no jackets in case it rained, no first aid kit in case of nettles or wasp stings! Thankfully, none of the emergency stuff was needed.

We had trouble parking, as there was some sort of posh event going on, but we found a spot that was safe enough. The first cache took me just seconds to spot, but I couldn't get the log out, as it was damp. A stroll through a field, and Tim found the second cache. Once again, it was too damp to sign. This wasn't looking very good.

The circuit turned out to be a 4 hour stroll through fields and over brooks, which was really lovely. Sometimes, the footpath was difficult to find but were were careful not to damage anything and, if challenged we would have simply asked for the right path. Only once did we get asked, when a lady asked if we were lost. I explained, and she pointed to the corner of the field, where the stile was hidden from our view, purely by the thickness of the hedge.
We encountered all sorts of sights. Beautiful views, lovely houses, and mostly easy-to-find caches. Not all of them were in need of maintenance, so it was a very successful day out.

As we finally returned to the village, we encountered a Tractors Day Out in the pub. Great stuff.

Matlock Bath

Sunday. Biker's haunt. Has to be done!

Darling Jess took me in the car (shhhh) to Matlock Bath to meet up with some mates. Lovely day as we set off, so the top was down. As we drove over Carsington, it started to look pretty horrible though. Thankfully, we managed to park up and put the roof up, before the heavens opened. There were 2 giant umbrellas in the car, so we casually strolled around Matlock looking at the shops and bikes. It was certainly warm though - typical British weather!
We had arrived a bit early, so after another circuit, we made our way back to the Fishpond and met up with Chris, Rachel, Maxie, Mickster and Rugs. What a laugh. There were some others around too, but I don't remember who! Thankfully, the rain stopped so we were able to have a lovely time, without having to find somewhere to shelter.

After a lot of laughter, people had things to do and places to see, so we slowly split up. Chris and Rachel were meeting friends at a Chinese in Ambergate and we were invited to join them. By the time we had walked back to the car, they had already gone, so we joined the slow traffic and pootled off. I was convinced the restaurant was on the right hand side of the road, so it was with some amusment that we drove straight past Chris on the left, and we waved to him very regally, before we could find a place to turn back around!

The Memory of China turned out to be a revelation. On the A6, on the junction with the A610, you can't go wrong with a cheap Sunday dinner (if you like Chinese food). £7 a head, if you finish before 5:30, with all you can eat. BUT, this was not a buffet. You order what you like and it is cooked for you there and then. You can order as much as you like, as many ties as you like. Between the 7 of us, we had soup, then a starter selection. We then had another starter selection (it was rather nice), before ordering the main courses. As the food is freshly prepared, not only is it hot, it really is fresh. I honestly think it is the best Chinese food I have ever eaten in the UK (or in Europe). The cleverest part, I thought, was, as there is some level of delay between courses, patrons stomach's have the chance to start feeling full, so nobody orders huge platefuls of meals that they can't actually eat. Perfect. For our table, there was only one dish wasted, which turned out not to be to the person's taste. Fair enough. It was picked at enough by the others anyway, that there wasn't much wasted in the end anyway. She also simply ordered a different dish, so she didn't go hungry either.

(The service was a little slow on the day we went, but that was unusual. Certainly, there was a good turnover of tables, so the locals know about it.) I can seriously recommend it.

East meets West

Early August, I took a flying trip to the UK (well, how else would I get there).

As I was en-route to the airport, Ed asked if Tracey was still in the UK. No, I was sure she was back in Hong Kong. Then I wasn't so sure. Certainly worth a text to check. Wonderful news, she was in London, but would be in Stafford the next day. A quick flurry of phone calls and we managed to meet up for lunch.

She was her usual self - chaos all around her. She was still in the hairdressers when we should have met, having already put one disaster behind her that morning!

Lunch was in the old post office, which is now trying very hard to pass itself off as an upmarket bar. They really do need to invest in some staff training though, if they wish to succeed. Ali wanted to open up a tab for the lunch, but, as we were sitting outside, this wasn't possible. Fair enough, but the barman then took a payment directly off her card (contactless payment), without any permission, and without telling her the cost of the drinks. An argument soon ensued, as he claimed not to be able to give her a receipt either. As she rightly pointed out, he could have made a genuine error, and she wouldn't know until she got a statement and then would have no course of recompense. Thankfully, someone else knew what buttons to press to get her one. She did point out to us, that our dinners would probably now get spat in when we ordered!
Tracey finally arrived, and we ordered lunch. More to the point, I ordered lunch, in the hope that they wouldn't realise that I was on the table with the stuck-up blonde! After quite a delay, it arrived. (We were offered someone else's first, but soon worked out the mistake.) Chicken panini (me), baked potato (Maddie), bacon butty... What? Bacon Butty? There is no bacon butty on the menu. Bacon butty (the very words of the waitress) turned out to be the chorizo and pear baguette. Seriously. More staff training needed.

Ali bit into her sandwich and pulled a funny face. The chorizo turned out to be salami. Do the staff not know the difference? Unfortunately, Ali doesn't like salami. This was really not a good day for her. The next thing she heard... there was no cucumber left for the cocktails. How does that work? The bar is in the middle of Stafford. They could have popped to the greengrocer at the other end of the same road, or scurried to the nearest supermarket and bought some more.

Pretentious? Moi? The Post House deserves the top prize.

Good job we were there for the company, which was perfect, not the food.


Aielo de mal Ferit celebrates their fiestas at the tail end of July, so off we went again, to see the bulls on the streets.

This was the same format as before, except that it was one day less than previous years - the recession impacts on everything here.

We watched the first bull from underneath one of the grandstands. Even here though, you have to be careful... everyone seems to eat packets and packets of sunflower seeds, spitting the shells onto the floor. Unlucky if you happen to be underneath someone that likes them!

Soon enough, we ventured into the main arena. It was fine where we were for a while, until I started to get overcome by the marijuana smoke! To be fair, a lot of people smoke it here, but I just don't happen to like the smell (and no, I have never smoked it, nor had the desire to). We moved to a more central spot, which was fine (with only one joint in sight).

Most of the heifers were sprightly, although not too aggressive, which was very entertaining. The bull, on the other-hand was determined to cause damage. At one point, as I was balanced on the trestle, some fool next to me was waving his leg at the bull. I was horrified - if the bull decided it didn't like his leg, I would have been the one that got the fallout. Thankfully, it decided that feet weren't enough of a target. A few minutes later, it attacked the occupants of a cage opposite us. The cage was around a doorway into a building, but, the people at the back didn't move inside fast enough and the bull managed to gore a man at the front. He was lifted clean off the ground twice, receiving a nasty injury to his thigh. Just because you are in a cage, doesn't mean that you are safe. We have seen this before. Personally, I want to be far enough away, that I don't get drool all over me - that seems to work well.

As usual, the crowd was very well behaved and the bulls weren't mistreated at all. No hitting with sticks or pulling of tails. I know this is not everyone's idea of entertainment, but this is what the animals do week after week. They are not killed afterwards, unlike in a bullfight, as they are in Pamplona. These animals are running free, unimpeded, and are able to act in any way they see fit. It is the foolish spectator that is at fault, if anything happens.