Tuesday, 21 September 2010

20 Sep 2010 - Monday Club BBQ

We have not had any rain for at least six weeks, it was saving itself for the Monday Club BBQ arranged by Wendy and John. The morning had started overcast, then light rain and it was pouring down by the time we arrived at 4pm. It had been planned to sit outside, so all the chairs and tables had to be moved indoors.

John had to move the BBQ through the house onto the front naya, and he was soon busy cooking for the 14 of us. Despite the weather and the change in arrangements he did us proud.

Not only did Wendy have to deal with the weather, and the change in seating and table arrangements, but she also had to manage it all with a broken arm. Just a week ago she had fallen whilst on holiday, resulting in a lot of time spent in Valencia and Denia hospitals. She was very brave, and insisted that it hardly hurt at all!

At the end of our last Monday Club walk in May, Wendy invited the group to a BBQ at her house just before the start of the autumn walks. It was the last time we had all met, and we were really looking forward to seeing everyone again and hearing all the news of their summer activities.

Bob and Janet share a joke, but Barry seems a bit uncertain about the whole thing

Jan and Janet make the best of “ladies first” to get the pick of the large amount of food on offer.

Despite the weather we all had a great time. Good company, good food, lots of drink and no shortage of chat. Well done and thanks for an excellent BBQ to Wendy and John.

Next Walk

The first walk of the autumn season will be on Monday 11 October . Meet in the Masymas car park in Javea at 1000. The walk will be similar to our last walk in May. Pat did tell me the details, but that was after I had knocked back quite a few glasses of wine so I am doing quite well to remember the date and place.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

11 Sep 2010 - Fontiles

From the bottom of our road there is a lovely view down the Jalon valley towards Orba. At first sight what appears to be a road running up the side of a hill catches they eye.

However it is in fact the wall of the nearby leper hospital at Fontiles. It was built in the early 1900s and is today mainly a training school for doctors and nurses who will work overseas. I understand that they still have a few patients suffering from the disease, however it is now used primarily as a sanatorium for elderly folks.

There is a large car park just outside Fontilles, unfortunately is it for the cemetery! We have parked there a number of times, and it has always been closed. Which is a pity because it is very Spanish and would be interesting to walk around.

There are no restrictions on entry to Fontilles, and no signs other than a white board with a red cross and the legend Fontilles Sanatorium. We have been told that visitors are welcome, in order to allay any worries associated with the subject of leprosy.

The first sight of Fontilles is a surprise, as it covers such a large area, in such a lovely setting and has the most impressive and interesting looking buildings. And of course the wall.

This large and imposing wall runs along the hills surrounding Fontilles. We have been told that it was built to ease the fears of the surrounding villages, rather than to keep the patients inside. To see this large wall running through such a beautiful area reminded me of our first sight of the Berlin Wall. It seemed so out of place and intrusive.

The first building you pass is the administration building. From a distance it is very impressive, but as you get nearer you can see that it is badly in need of a little maintenance. The staff are very friendly, speak English and have a supply of leaflets explaining the history and present use of the hospital.

There are extensive walks around the community, and again no restrictions that we could see. Being a warm morning there were groups of patients in wheel chairs taking advantage of the lovely weather.

There are a number of shaded areas with seating arrangements and religious statues. It has a wonderful peaceful feeling about the whole place, not at all depressing as so many modern hospitals can be.

We saw a number of these stone seats. Very attractive, but not at all comfortable.

At the centre of the whole complex is the very Spanish church. Each time we have visited it has always been open to the public. As Spain is such a religious country we had expected that this would be normal, but in fact we have only found them open during a service.

Not a very clear photo of the church. It was very dark and cool inside, and this was the best that my camera could do. It is very large inside, but also very gives the impression of being very simple and basic.

There is of course the usual brightly painted statues to lighten the gloom.

Just outside the church is this lovely little grotto, my favourite spot.

It is a short walk back to the main square….

…….and the statue of the founder of the colony

Our final visit was to the café, which was surprisingly busy. And being Spanish, surprisingly noisy. It seemed so strange given the peace and quiet of the area, to hear what sounded like a loud meeting, but proved to be just three men sitting and having a chat.

As we sat at the bar we heard one of the patients call out “Juanita”. Looking up we saw this large wild boar ambling past. All the patients seemed to know her, and she seemed quite unconcerned. Normally these animals avoid humans, and we have only spotted them twice, and each time they ran off immediately they saw us.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

4 Sep 2010 - A gentle walk

After an exceptionally hot summer, when even the local Spanish were complaining about the heat, the temperature has fallen this week to a reasonable 24-26c. So we decided this morning to walk into Jalon. We realised that it would be quite hot on the return journey, so we drove to Alcalali and parked the car there.

It was so nice to be out in the “campo” again, surrounded by the lovely scenery. We started the walk about 0930, we had the valley to ourselves and it was warm but pleasant to be walking again. There are so many impressive mountain walks in this area that it is easy to forget just how lovely the Jalon valley itself is.

Although cool by recent standards, it was still warm enough for this horse to be in the shade to eat his breakfast.

We were soon passing Alcalali in the distance. We would pass by the finca where Dave and Sue live, but there was no sign of them. They run walking holidays, and have a group starting today, so no doubt that is where they were. Although comfortable by our standards we did wonder how walkers just out from UK would manage a mountain walk.

We were surprised how green the valley was, despite the recent heat wave. The Jalon valley is best known for almonds and oranges, but we were surprised to see a lot of avocado trees.

We both wear our “foreign legion” hats when we are walking on our own, though we tend to tuck the flaps in when we are in danger of meeting other walkers. Dave made a remark about Jan looking like 'deputy dawg' with her flaps down, so she is particularly sensitive about it.

The only people we saw during our walk were this family who were picking grapes. At this time of year there is often a queue of trailers loaded with grapes waiting their turn to unload at the bodega.

The grapes did look quite ripe and ready for picking, but we were not tempted to try them. Far better to wait for the finished product in the bottle.

Being a Saturday there were no trailers full of grapes on the Jalon car park, but there was the weekly Rastro market. Often it is crowded and you have to push your way through the crowds, but today it was reasonably quiet. Perhaps everyone was on the beach, or perhaps it is just getting quiet now that the school holidays are coming to an end.

Ever creatures of habit, we made for our favourite café in the square. The Rastro crowds never get as far as this, preferring to use the many bars and cafes which line the road opposite the market. It was mostly Spanish families today, with the toddlers playing on the swings and running amongst the tables as they do. Lovely to see them at that age, so innocent and full of fun.

As expected the return journey was hot and hard going. Strange that the path always seems to climb on the way back. You never notice walking down a slope on the way in to Jalon, but always seems to be climbing one on the way back – no matter which path you take. So it was a welcome relief to come in sight of the car, and not have to face that steep climb up to our house from Parcent.

It’s still a little too hot for walking, even such an easy one as this. It will be another month before the Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers, and the Monday Club, start their autumn season of walks. But it was nice to get out and attempt a shorter walk than we usually tackle.