With A Spring in One’s Step!
“The spring is sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is!” (Get on with it – Ed) Yes, well as I was saying before being so rudely interrupted, such thoughts come to one’s mind at this time of the year. But I should explain. (Oh Lord, must you? – Ed)
For those of you unfortunate enough not to have experienced time here in the Valencia province of Spain, you may be surprised, nay, shocked even, to know that we have seasons not dissimilar to the United Kingdom. That is to say that we have spring, summer, autumn and winter – yes winter! Indeed, not so long ago a spy camera in our casa would have revealed that yours truly, the lady wife, Wolfie (our Spanish Herding Dog) and Borja, our adopted gato (Spanish for cat – Ed) were curled up on the sofa in the snug, in front of a crackling log fire watching silly telly as the outside temperature plummeted to less than twelve degrees! I kid you not! Worse, at night we could hit single figures, I’ll have you know!
But here we are in glorious April, having enjoyed the increasing warmth of the day for several weeks now. The fireplace has been emptied and cleaned out, the fluffy blankets and furry Onesies returned to storage, top of the wardrobe, and thoughts of collecting more sticks and fire-starting materials banished to the backburner until next December. Yes, spring has sprung! (you’ve already done that to death – Ed) That golden orb rises into an azure sky almost every morning, meaning breakfast out by the pool again, which is gleaming and rippling in the now, light breeze, with not a trace of ice. Okay, I exaggerate a little under artistic license! (You exaggerate a lot, completely unlicensed – Ed)
I shall ignore the provocation of the literary challenged and continue! Yes, the lady wife is at this very moment watering the beds in the terrace and the bays on the drive. Last year we planted a Mandarin tree, a Lemon tree, an Apple tree and a Cherry tree, replanted the little Lime tree in the ground instead of a pot, planted a couple of raspberry canes, Padron plants and Peppers, both latter producing large crops of padrons and peppers, still taking up most of a drawer in the freezer. We have had much blossoming around the casa and the tiny hard shapes of what will become fruit are now clearly visible. We even have a fig, yes just the one, budding on our fig tree, again planted last year. Everything seems to grow incredibly well here in the rich red soil, although watering is almost an every other day job already.
Very recently as the orange blossom exploded around the area, the scent occasionally reached the density that was almost uncomfortable to the nostrils. The pine forests coating the hills and valleys produce a super-fine bright yellow pollen which coats everything, from your car to the water in your pool. Nothing is exempt from its proliferation. Unfortunately, this can be a less enjoyable experience should you be a hay fever sufferer. But it is short term and within a couple of weeks it reduces and suddenly it is gone. You know when that time is close, because all the local Spanish people completely clog up the car wash centres, getting rid of the intrusive yellow infusion, that even seems to get into the inside of your car! No point doing it until the right time because it will be just as bad again in a couple of days!
Many of the restaurants and other eateries either close or open for shorter hours or only on certain days of the week during the winter. Gandia is a working Spanish town, not just a tourist town, so we are lucky in that many more places stay open than in other more holiday-oriented destinations. But still, the life blood is flowing again, and people are eating outside, so everywhere has begun to feel much more alive again. Something else with this area is that there seems to be an endless supply of new venues to investigate. We have ourselves been introduced to a delightful Italian Restaurant in nearby Oliva, down near the beach. Owned by a couple of chaps who have completely refurbished it in Ibizan cum Moroccan style and serving just the most delicious food, including vegetarian and vegan friendly, highly toothsome stuff! In fact, we were there today taking our turn to introduce friends to the delights on offer.
Last evening, we ferried a couple of neighbourhood friends, a Dutchman and his Swedish wife, to Denia to another hidden gem to which we had been introduced some weeks back by Ambler friends. Just off the passeo alongside the large marina in Denia but totally hidden from casual view is an area called the Magazinos. You enter it through large wrought iron gates, greeted by a profusion of glittering lights suspended above you through what can only be described as the Spanish version of a souks but full of eateries, street food vendors and similar instead of shops and wandering hands. A fairy tunnel of every kind of food you could want from Sushi to Steak. Always buzzing, we dined at La Lola, a small fusion restaurant with an inside/outside courtyard to one side of the walkway. The atmosphere is delightful, the staff at the various businesses, delightful and all in a very safe feeling and very pretty venue.
There is so much here to enjoy, especially now that spring has arrived.
Some hour and a half south of us down the AP7 is a place called Xalo or Jalon as it is more commonly now known. This town is most famous for the valley, the Jalon Valley, that stretches inland and is reminiscent of Switzerland with its green coated valleys and high twisting roads. However, what a lot of folks don’t realise is that we have a great valley of our own, not twenty minutes down the road. It was largely terraced by the Moors and most of the terraces are still there, planted with Olive, Cherry and Almond trees. We totally mis-timed our first run down the valley this year with it’s craggy walls and tight bends. The Almond blossom having finished a week earlier, when we returned to see the Cherry blossom, that had passed its best too! Oh well, there’s always next year!
The Fiestas are also well under way. The most common call on social media being, “What’s going on? We haven’t had a Fiesta for almost a week!” No that is not an exaggeration! (For once, he is right - Ed) The Valencian province has exhausted its annual pyrotechnic madness, known as The Firas! Should one go to Valencia itself for that particular Fiesta, there is a very high chance that if you don’t suffer from tinnitus before you arrive, you will do by the time you leave! It’s a matter of local pride. We have had the Spanish equivalent to Beauty Pageants, food fairs, business fairs, motor fairs, music fairs, in fact think of something and there will have been a fiesta for it!
And so dear reader, yes I am well aware that there is only you reading this and I am very grateful for your attention (zzzzzzzz – Ed) it is time for me to take my leave and go gathering ideas and more ‘stuff’ for issue 15. My goodness nearly fifteen issues and you are still here. How gratifying.
Tarra for now.
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