Archive | March, 2016

Walking Over Oranges

22 Mar

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On a particularly beautiful day last week we found ourselves walking among the orange groves. For us this was a completely unexplored area of Jàvea and only discovered from the throwaway remark of a friend. He was amazed that we didn’t even know this walk existed particularly as it is surprisingly close to where we’re staying this year.

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His instructions led to the dry bed of the Ria Gorgos and a quiet road running alongside. A short distance through some very unprepossessing industrial buildings and the area gradually opened up into vistas of pretty whitewashed villages backed by the ever present pyramid of Montgo and eventually a maze of fields dedicated to citrus fruit. As the sun warmed the moist ground the newly opening orange blossom filled the air with a heady fragrance.

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The region of Valencia is renowned for its sweet oranges but judging by the amount that remain ripe but unpicked on the trees and now falling to the ground their popularity or the commercial viability must be in decline. I read somewhere that it is legal to pick the oranges from the trees, providing that you eat the whole orange without leaving the shade of the tree. I don’t know the truth of this but the temptation is enormous. We can vouch for the juicy sweetness of Valencian oranges.

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Some form of now disused irrigation system?

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This beetle seemed to be enjoying the newly opening blossom, too. Wouldn’t have thought he was good news, though.

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Las Fallas

19 Mar

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Today is Saint Joseph’s Day (also Father’s Day here in Spain). This is a big deal in the Valencia region as there is a long tradition of Las Fallas. Nowadays these are elaborate sculptures that take all year to design and build. They are set up a few days before and each day leading up to the 19th builds the excitement.
We were in Denia on Thursday to watch them all taking shape and already there were marching bands, girls in beautiful costumes and kids setting off firecrackers on every street.
Today, though is “La Crema” or The Burning. Yes, that’s right. They spend all year building these remarkable displays and then spend one night burning the lot. Well, except for one. The Fallas judged to be the best is spared but quite what they do with it then I really don’t know!

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The Fallas are often very political or making a point about life in the area. Some are surprisingly explicit!

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There’s more about las Fallas on our old blog: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/serenmor/?xjMsgID=263979

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Well, I Didn’t Expect That

10 Mar

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Photo by @samiralsaleh

I started my last post extolling the virtues of March in Abu Dhabi and, not unreasonably, thought the weather was a pretty safe bet. So it came as something of a surprise to see the comments and pictures friends were sharing on social media yesterday.
First it was talk of rain, then thunderstorms. I laughed on reading they’d closed the schools for two days. For a bit of rain? Someone shared a picture of hail stones. Hail in the desert?

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Then the videos started to come out. OK, now I get it!

Photo of hailstones from unknown photographer

Spain

8 Mar

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March tends to be a lovely month in Abu Dhabi. The temperature is rising but the humidity hasn’t kicked in yet so it’s one of the few months where it is a pleasure to be outside. So we decided to spend March in Europe.
Not just anywhere in Europe, though. We’re not that daft. No, our chosen destination was the area renowned for the highest sunshine hours in Spain. Mind you, on landing in Madrid to a temperature of just 1° above freezing it did occur to me to wonder what on earth we were thinking. You can imagine the relief, then, when heading south, descending the country’s central mountains to sea level at Valencia, the dashboard of the little hire car read a very pleasant 24°C.

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Sunrise over a chilly Madrid

Arriving in Jàvea always feels like coming home but, shattered after our night flight, all we could manage was a quick shop to get in basic provisions before crashing out earlier than most here would have their first aperitivo. The next morning was a different story. Rushing out into the early morning sunshine, it was such a delight to be walking along the seafront again and reacquainting ourselves with the delights of pavement cafes. It wasn’t long before we were bumping into friends not seen for a couple of years. Yes, we made the right decision.

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Sunrise Over the Arabian Gulf

2 Mar

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As you might expect, the sun is an intrinsic part of life in Abu Dhabi. Life and lifestyles revolve around it. Before the oil boom the Emirati people were nomadic, travelling to and away from the coast as dictated by the seasons. Now the black gold pays for air-conditioned everything and the city has gone from desert to Flash Gordon (great phrase, Mark, hope you don’t mind me pinching it!) in thirty years.
Being a Brit who has lived on a boat, it’s not surprising that the weather is of unfailing interest to me but watching the sunrise from our corner of a shiny tower has become something of an obsession. I hate to oversleep and miss it. Happily, this close to the equator, the start of the day comes at a very civilised time year round and never seems to be the same.

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Coppery rivers flow to the shore

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At times, when the air is heavy with humidity, the sun’s arrival is barely visible

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At others its blaze can be nothing short of magnificent.

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