Archive for March, 2012

Fire! Fire!

Fire! Fire!.

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I recently had a conversation with Farmer John regarding 001 Claude Pheasant.  It seems that acting in a James Bond film has seriously gone to Claude’s head, he has got himself a bit of a ‘bird’ problem & Farmer John wondered if I could offer some advice.

It appears that one morning Farmer John answered his door to find a worried Claude furtively glancing over his shoulder. Farmer John noticed at once how Claude seemed to have lost a bit of weight. So he asked Claude what the matter was and Claude said women!

He had been showing some hens the pictures that make up his portfolio and they just swooned.  Well of course he took full advantage of the situation and now regrets doing so.  It seems the ‘ladies’ won’t leave Claude alone and it is costing him a fortune in seed as they expect to be taken to be best restaurants just like other ‘bond’ girls.  Well as Farmer John said what could he do? Ummm  tricky situation.

Whilst Claude was telling his woes to Farmer John the ‘ladies’ in question turned up and sat on the fence preening themselves whilst they waited for 001 Claude. It seems they think Claude actually is a special agent, obviously did too good a job.

Poor Claude Farmer John really felt sorry for him so he asked the ladies their names.  The lady on the left (partially hidden) is called Hot Hanna Pheasant (HH Pheasant her family have a place in Arundel)  whilst the lady listening to Farmer John is called Lady Upforit Pheasant (LU Pheasant her father makes porcelain items).  Farmer John & I both had to admit the ladies are both well-rounded and rather tasty.

Well the only advice I could offer was to take a leafy out of Stanly’s activities. Claude should take up contracts then he could afford as many meals as his ladies could eat.  That did the trick, 001 Claude found a contract taking out a couple of woodies who were running riot in the salad garden. The result a large dish of seed in the ‘Under Stool’ restaurant as often as he wants.

With the hope the Bond films will contact Claude.

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The other day we were sitting drinking coffee on the terrace when Bobbin Robbin paid us a visit. He landed on one of the plant pots then hopped down under the table.  I said ‘hello what are you up to?’ but he ignored me and hopped towards my wife and the following conversation took place.

Bobbin Robbin: Peck peck

My Wife: Hello Bobbin what do want?

BR: It’s all right for you humans you can get a drink anytime you want but there is no water up here and we birds are thirsty.

MW: So what do you want me to do?

BR: Build us a Water Bar so we can have a drink

MW: Is that all?

BR: Well if it was big enough for the odd bath it would be even better.

MW: You cheeky bird and when would you like this built?

BR: Oh no rush anytime today will be fine.

Thus the conversation finished. I was surprised to see my wife rise and wander off to look for a suitable dish. How does that bird do it? I must remember to ask him.

Anyway I had some wood to cut so I left them to it and went up the field. When I returned I found that not only had a water bar been installed but cemented in place and filled.  Then the trouble began.  The Great Tits had decided that bar would also make a good bath and promptly proceeded to prove just that.  There were several birds in the tree and some on the ground shouting the odds about not being able to get a drink. When at last the bird finished there was no water, so a great deal of tweeting went on until the bar was filled again.

Now every morning there is a lot of shouting and hollering until the bar is filled again and as I say to my wife “you built it and filled it your problem” and at 7o’clock in the morning that is a sound fact.

Here are a few of the regulars who drink at the Water Bar:

When Big Blue arrived the others gave him a wide berth but he just had a couple then flew off.  You should have heard Bobbin then all returned to normal.

Then just as I thought I’d seen it all this happened.  Bobbin hopped onto the Water Bar looked directly at my wife with the camera said “thank you we really appreciate the Bar”  then flew off.  You see birds are grateful.

Bobbin Robbin saying thank you

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As I have mentioned I live in Catalunia in a forest near the river Ebro where I own a small olive finca in the forest. The Battle of the Ebro  raged across the river through the mountains to Corbera D’Ebro then on to Gandesa.  I have written about Corbera http://bit.ly/qvGwGd where I talked about the town and the battle which crushed Cobera and left the streets covered with dead.  How the people rebuilt a new town below the original which they have left as a monument to all those who fought and paid with their lives

Beyond Corbera lies Gandesa which was the main target of the Republicans.  Gandesa is around 25 km west of the river ‘Ebro, and was the cross-roads into Catalonia with the roads running both north/south and parallel to the river making it a vital supply point. The land around the town is extremely hilly with three mountain ranges around it the Serra de Pandols, the Serra de Cavalls and the Serra de la Fatarella.

At this time the Republican army was being supplied by Russia, but when Russia joined the International Consensus in 1938 they stopped supplying the Republicans and with no one else to supply them with arms they found themselves stranded and trapped.  When the battle stalled Franco sent in around 500,000 troops with some heavy artillery and it was basically over. However, because the landscape was so difficult Franco’s advance was delayed which meant that the battle actually lasted for another 2 months finally ending on the 16th of November 1938.

Over the years whilst working on my finca I have found live bullets along with bits of shrapnel.  So one year I decided to take these finds along to the museum in Gandesa just in case they could use them.  We arrived to find an old building jam-packed with artifacts from the war, plus photographs on the walls depicting all areas from the Ebro to Gandesa. That was then!

I had decided to write about both the museum and wines in the Terra Alta region. So I drove to Gandesa to do some research on the battle still expecting to see the original facade. However, today when I drew up I found it had a new facade and inside although smaller it was bright and spacious.

The entrance hall is light and you enter via sliding glass doors and facing you are an arrangement of machine guns, here you turn right past a bomb towards the desk. Before this building became a museum it was the local school, then during the battle it became the hospital after which it reverted back to the school until it was taken over and opened as a private museum.  The tiles in the entrance hall are the original ones that have seen all phases of the building’s history.

Beyond this in a long room are displays of grenades, medals, badges and bayonets displayed in white cabinets ranged along the walls.  In the middle at one end of the room is a large glass cabinet displaying bombs, shells, and two uniforms plus other artifacts, whilst on either side hanging from the ceiling are two models of the planes used by the Germans.  In the middle of this room is an electric map which gives you an idea of what went on depending on which of the three screens you touch.

At the far end is a moving screen which tells personal stories, with interviews and memories from people who lived through those times.

Off to one side is a room with an equipped tent in it, and when you turn round you find you are looking at a machine gun wall, with ammunition boxes and guns set up.

On the other side of the entrance hall you find a viewing room where films are shown so you can learn more of the battle.  Here the walls are hung with pictures, newspapers, posters, the Republican Flag and newspaper cuttings a very interesting place.

This museum is privately owned and still undergoing renovation as and when funds allow. It is about the Battle of the Ebro it does not take sides, but tells the story from every point of view no matter how sad it is to find families against each other, that is war and part of history. If you visit the museum I would ask if you could leave a small donation.  If you would like to visit the region which is full of interesting places and stay in comfortable accommodation with fine views of the river Ebro you might like to contact Dena @EbroApartments.

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