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Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Exploring a bit further afield

Well, it's now August 1st and we are into the two weeks of fiesta celebrations in Chella.  All around different events are taking place.  Tonight there is a paella making contest which we plan to call in on and last night there was a "Foam" evening.  However, with Michael busy on a project and all the work we are doing here, we did not have the energy to attend (this year) as everything starts at 22.00 or later... last night's events starting only at 00.30.

The town looks lovely all decked out in lights and usually there is something going on - even if it is just a practice session and we have encountered marching bands, fireworks and firecrackers - being on the hill we get a beautiful view of any displays.  I am "so" glad that I got the dogs used to fireworks as puppies as this would be a nightmare for them otherwise.  Ndzilo was a little worried at first but we then just made it all into a game - hear a firework and we play games, do tricks and get treats - so now fireworks means "yummy things arrive to eat".  In fact by last night she was so used to them - she just slept on through.  Saturday and Sunday will see the "Moors and Christians" parade - celebrating the history of the area and the lights reflect this in their design.

We also had a bit more of an explore around Xàtiva but only when taking M to get his hair cut.  There are some wonderful narrow old streets, I can't wait to get out there on foot and have a wander round - and that's the plan once the guests are settled at the casita.  Yes, we have guests due!  The guy who was renting has moved to a place nearer his children's school and so the casita is open for business again.  It has been a mad week cleaning and getting it ready - but now it is sparkling like a new pin.  There is still a little work to do - a bit of weeding and a final lick and polish, but we are all systems go.   You can see the general idea of the layout below - it's very cute.

There is one double room and a twin and a little dining area with a view onto the pool.  The room is open plan and there is a table and chairs outside with loungers and various air-beds and noodles for pool play time!

The caravan which is being used for the additional guests (there are 7 total coming in) is a lovely luxury one too.  I'd be quite cosy in there!  Cleo of course wants to go visiting all the time and the dogs wandered from one place to the next, watching and waiting while I cleaned.  Anyway, back to the exploring... the castle is stunning and this is one place we have on our "to do" list in the next couple of weeks.  The thought of how the walls were constructed so many centuries ago - clinging to the cliffs is quite something.  It dominates the town and one can see how it would have been quite formidable in its day.

This is not even the most spectacular view, that is from the other side, but sadly I did not have my camera with me when I walked with Kaishi along the roads below the castle while M was having his hair cut.  I will take more next time and include more pics of our visit when we go.  We also plan a day in Valencia as a birthday trip and this will give us a chance to explore the trains and the timetable.  It's approx. 41 mins.

We have been doing our own construction, although not on the grand scale of a castle - but as they say, an Englishman's home is his castle and in this case "A Ridgeback's home..."  here is their new home - in progress - and it will also house the running machine.  They will divide their time between their country estate (here) and our house - :-)

It's a good size and we will be able to get a few other things inside and hang up skis etc.  Here Bryan is helping M work out what goes where.  The job was super fast with his help and he brought along Rose, the dog's poodle friend, to hang out for the afternoon.  We have had some lovely walks with Rose it's nice to have a visiting canine.  She got the chance to curl up on the sofa during the Grand Prix M and Bryan's reward for shed building!  Cleo also likes to take part in things - although being a cat she surveys from on high of course!  It is hilarious watching her climbing the ladder - she does it just like a person!

Here are all the girls together - in the best place of course, under the shade while us humans toil in the heat of the sun!  A nice shandy after the work is most welcome though and it is so great to be able to eat out every day.  Not that we didn't have the weather at Paardeberg House of course, but there was always such a strong wind!  I'm glad it is not so windy here but on the other hand, it is so still, we'd be glad of the odd breeze now and again - that's not something I thought I would hear myself say in a hurry!

Sunday afternoon, week before last, we decided to take a picnic up to the olive grove.  It was so peaceful and the perfect setting.  We sat under a carob tree and after lunch, including a nice bottle of red of course (!) we all dozed - dogs and humans together.  The dogs were the stars as they carried our picnic for us (love them) and their water.  We also had the chance to use the fabulous fold up water bowl that Liesl bought us before we left.  It even just about manages to fit three RR heads!

I too got my hair cut - a LOT shorter.  I love it.  Very light and comfortable as it is more humid here.  The lady did a good job and I sent pics to my friend Debbie who always did my hair for approval.  She was great as she sent full instructions along with the wonderful gift of 6 months colour when I left RSA.  It all worked out perfectly.  A big hug for Debbie when she reads this xxx.  Here is the new "short" haired me along with a wonderful bunch of our own grapes - growing on the wall below the house.  Oooooh they are so sweet!  Delicious!

Finally we also have our NIE (registering with the local government basically) and also we have registered with the local council - so all is in order.  It all involves a lot of paperwork and back and forth, waiting in police stations and so on - but we had a very helpful lawyer who got it all done in 2 days rather than 3 or more weeks!

On our way to do it (in a place called Oliva and very close to the
sea) we passed the most stunning monastery.  It's now privately owned and
open to the public on certain days when they give a historical tour.  I am looking forward to going as it's in a beautiful setting.  Apparently we are on
the "Monastery Route" - M thinks this is rather amusing considering we used to be on the "Wine Route"...   but rather appropriate methinks!  I have added a picture of the monastery here also - you will see what I mean.

Coffee with Akina - at a local cafe
Well, that's about all the latest news.  I've finally cracked the mystery of baking with local flour and my cakes are rising - good news as I will need to put one into the casita for the guests.  I have also been working on some fun ideas to do with guests and dogs if they fancy a morning of play (more on that another time) and I have met a lady who runs a small holiday kennel for dogs and who also helps out with a rescue charity.  I'm thrilled as I wanted to find one to get involved with and I can register as a "Foster Home" like we did in RSA and help with the rehab.  Also, once the furniture is in and we have all our immediate urgent jobs out of the way I also plan to volunteer to help in their shop half a day per week on the rotation with other volunteers.  More on that too - as and when!

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