Posts Tagged ‘friends’

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Although it is late in the year, normally we have played in two competitions by now, I was pleased when Serrano informed me we were playing in Mequinenza.  This is such a lovely place to visit, full of history, and this is where Catherine of Aragon’s parents had a castle which is still standing. Also on the opposite side of the river horrendous bloody battles were fought during the Spanish Civil war.  The town’s name originally comes from the Berber Tribe known as ‘Miknesa’ who settled in what is now the old town.

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The castle was built between the 14th and 15th century on a hill overlooking the surrounding country side and which, before the Ribarroja dam was built, sat alongside the river Ebro.  The original town is now under water, a new one has been built just underneath the Castle and is where we are today.  Now it provides a tourist attraction but still has an imposing presence, like a sleeping giant which might wake again.  It has been taken after battles then restored, making it more impressive and stronger than before. Since it was first constructed it has been a Phoenician tower, Arabic fortress, A Palace for Montcada, and Crown property of Fernando 7th.  During the Civil war it was a focal point, but such is the charisma of this castle that after all it has endured and witnessed during its lifetime, it has re-emerged as an elegant charismatic fortress, a sleeping beauty.

The people of Mequinenza are extremely proud of their castle, name and history, this is a place of great care and love for a construction and their country which is why we are always pleased to come here and play petanca.  The welcome is genuine.
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The monument is of a minor as there were shallow coal mines on the other side of the river, which as far as I can tell were working untill the late 1980’s.  The miner has a lantern in one hand and a mining tool over his shoulder.Today mequinenza is known mostly for the fishing. In the early days the setting up of the fishing holidays was known as ‘the gold rush’ due to the gold carp that abounded here. Today there is still fishing and as we drove into the town across the bridge we saw boats out on the river, so the fish are still here unlike other parts of the Ebro where they have almost been wiped out by illegal line fishing.
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But it is to play petanca that we come now, so to this years event. All of our friends were there including ‘the Boys from Tivissa’.  As you can see we all won something so it was a happy bunch that wended its way home to our various villages and towns.

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The prize table is different from last year, there are large hams and Cava for the over-all winners, smaller hams and wine for second place, then comes ten prizes of wine and a round cheese with 12 prizes of wine and a dried sausage for the runners-up.  All of which are highly fought for.  We arrived and were greeted by our friends from Tivissa who were pleased to see my wife which was very nice, another set of good friends.  Unfortunately my team only came second so no hams this time, but as you can see from the smiling faces we all enjoyed our day… Cheers!

© Michael Douglas Bosc

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Today being the last day of the fiesta we had a petanca competition, a tripletta, so our friends from the other towns turned up to take part.  Now a tripletta is simply what it says teams of three play against each other.  Today we were the hosts, as you can see we played under the ‘Mora’ trees that shade the clubs courts and provides shade from the sun. the wives who were not playing sat at the top table watching – except mine who wandered around with the camera.

We arrived around 8.30am to find everyone there eating their bocadilos, drinking either wine or water or both depending on whether they were driving.  Everyone was in good spirits with good banter doing the rounds, however we soon settled down to the serious art of playing.  My team played well and we won all our games so were in the play offs.  I spent the rest of the time watching the other games and seeing who we might be up against in the international playoff.

We have been invited to play at Tivissa at the end of September by ‘The Boys from Tivissa’  these are a team of young people who are very good players and who we – pure novices – beat a few years ago.  We have visited their club since then and played in competitions the last time my wife won a trophy.

The petanca club of Tivissa are the people who made us welcome when we went to watch a match then invited us to stay on for the BBQ and yes our club was doing the cooking – try stopping em,  at which I tasted their local drink throughly enjoying myself.  So when on the way home with my wife driving, the Mossos (state police) stopped us on the roundabout at 1am and asked her if she had been drinking, it was me who leant forward grinned and said ‘no but I have he he’ the officer just looked and you could see ‘ English’ on his face then with a grin told my wife to ‘take him home’  oh such petanca memories.

Anyway there were 6 teams in the play off,  here we are waiting to start with Asco getting ready to bowl.  In yellow are Tivissa, I being me am in red whilst my team mates are in the white and green of Mora, Maquinensa in red and blue and  Fayon being all green.   A great deal of banter took place as the teams began to try to score points, with  teams finishing as follows:-

These are the first and second teams    Mora  and Tivissa  both teams won large dried hams.

The third and fourth teams are Asco and our team, it must have seemed strange to our President having to present herself with the prize of wine, I did offer to accept it on her behalf but strangely she declined the offer I wonder why….

These are teams five and six  Tivissa and Fayon, with their wine.  the other teams all received a bottle and chorizo sausage so everyone won something.  We returned home to relax and chill out before preparing for next weekend.  Cheers!!!!


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Ever since we came here my wife and I have visited Bar Turu which is owned and run by Ramon and his family.  Over the years we have dined there, gone for drinks after school or petanca and consider them our friends.   Each year at Christmas Ramon holds a raffle for charity, and each year the prize is highly sought after so you can imagine my wifes excitement when I won it this year.

My wife and daughter had gone into town for some shopping and called into the bar/restaurant for a coffee and were told by Ramon that I had won the raffle.  My daughter said it was so funny, my wife kept saying ‘oh my goodness its wonderful’ they had their coffee’s then Ramon and his son kindly loaded it into the car and they came home.

Now as you can see the prize is rather large Ramon has always done both the prize winner and charity proud.  Inside were: bottles of top Cava – Flexinet & Marques de Monistrol, sweets and sweetmeats, biscuits, nibbles, dried fruit, nuts, some top quality wines – Berberana, Legitimo Blanco, Penascal Rosado  and Marque de Grinon 2008. Then came two bottles of sparkling cider from Austuriana, a sparkling grape juice (non Alcoholic), and a bottle of the following: Martini, Whisky, Brandy, but in pride of place was a large Jamon (dried ham).  If I have forgotten anything  I am sorry

So I thought I would share the event with you.  To say I was pleased is an understatement, I was delighted and my wife ecstatic.

Bon Fiestas   and A Happy New Year everyone.

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You have over the past year heard me talking about my new sport Petanca which I play most afternoon with my Spanish friends.  It was a game that was recommended to me when I was at school learning Catalan.  Eventually my wife and I visited the courts and were not only made welcome but positively encouraged to join so we did.

I will start with a quick outline of the game:

There are two types of teams triplettas (3 people) and doublettas (2 people).  In a tripletta each person has 2 balls making a total of 6 balls per team.  So in a doubletta each person has 3 balls (6).  The winning team is the first to reach 13 points – although in some competitions it’s to 15.  There is a ‘bouletchi’ a small red or green ball which the objective of the game is get as many of your teams balls close to it thus scoring points.  If the other team has a ball nearer than yours you can ‘pica’ (knock the ball off the bouletchi) leaving your team with the points.  Still with me?

The Ball in the middle above would be picered as it is the opposing teams ball and nearest the bouletchi, there is also a lot of measuring when two balls look an equal distance out comes the measure, nearest wins.  As you can see this is a game of tactics and can be fun, lots of shouting some swearing (and yes I can swear in Spanish lol) There are several ways of throwing the ball. 1) the aireal way in which the bowler tosses the ball in the air. 2) bowling along the ground and 3) a short toss with the ball rolling a short distance.  When you see the experts doing it it’s a real treat.

This is our club on a Saturday afternoon getting ready to play.

The rule seemed to be that the men played in the afternoons during the week and the women played on Saturday afternoons, (just as the golf clubs used to do in England) so we joined our club. Everyone was and still is kind especially to my wife who is by no means the best player in the world.  Still she has her moments and can produce some good shots.

In the summer there are often competitions between clubs where we go to play on their grounds or they visit us. We have made some good friends this way and been beaten by the best from several villages. We have also beaten some of these teams, winning coveted dried hams (Hammon) wine and olive oil as well as dried sausages and a cup. So I thought I would share some of our pictures and tell you of one or two events.

We have had a few delightful competitions one where my wife won the ham I cut my finger carving (Silly Old Fool blog) and these two.  The first one was at the club a combination of triplettas and doublettas.  I, my wife and Gregoria made up a tripletta, and believe it or not we beat the champions from Tivissa – the guys in yellow but we were all beaten by the champions from Fayon – in green- with  our friends winning small hammons.  We won a bottle of wine with a large chorizo.

We spent yesterday at Tivissa watching the clubs play in a friendly competition. I call it a ‘fast’ competition as each team of 2 players had 20mins to play their game. Then a whistle blew scores were noted and off they went again untill every team had played their opponents in their group. Then after the scores were worked out and before the runners-up played for 2nd, 3rd & 4th place we had a BBQ. There were various types of sausage, pork on sticks and fresh bread with wines to wash them down followed by hazelnuts, almonds, pastries and good banter.

So well fed and watered the teams went off to play the playoffs and I followed to watch whilst my wife helped clean up.  My wife joined me shortly then in the middle of a game the flood lights went out, it felt a bit like a scene from MASH so we sang a chorus of when the lights go again all over the world he he he.

Then around midnight came the presentations as we watched our friends collect their prizes a lovely end to a perfect day.

These are the prizes waiting to be presented to the winners, by a lady to whom I must apologise to for not getting her name or position in Tivissa. She was introduced by the chairman of the club who made a very nice speech.

I would like to thank you to the Tivissa club for making us feel so welcome, we really enjoyed our day even if we were not playing.

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This weekend was the wine fiesta at Falset. So on Saturday afternoon we drove to into Falset found a space in one of the car parks which was almost full, and made our way to the main street.  This had been closed to traffic and was where the tasting stalls were usually set out, but this time there was nothing. Apart from the tables and chairs set out in the street by restaurants and bars and some of the cellers that had opened their doors for passing trade, the area was quiet,  where were the people?


As we wandered on we found crowds moving up towards the castle.  We had visited Falset Castle De Vi, a short while ago and knew the courtyard was large enough and relatively flat, an ideal place for the vintners to display their wines. 

Each cubicle is approximately 2m x 2m with a counter giving each vineyard and co-operative an equal chance to exhibit their wines. One or two also displayed a small selection of their olive oil. 

The idea is that you purchase a pouch which contain a large wine glass. This enables you to wander round the displays and taste the various wines on offer.  People were wandering off with small boxes or bags with bottles of wine inside, but most were there for the sheer pleasure of tasting and drinking the wines on offer whilst noting their preferred ones for purchase later.  A good social atmosphere abounded, friends meeting, laughing chatting more like a club scene but without the music, but this did not dampen their enthusiasm.

Through all this relaxed jollity, to me, something seemed to be missing. People were going straight from the car parks to the Castle, missing the town altogether.  We walked back towards the main street, looking for somewhere to have a coffee, and it was as though we had walked into a different place or time. Although the tables and chairs were in the road hardly anyone was sat at them, even the cellers who had shops in town had no visitors. This was a shame, the fair could have involved the whole town, people would have been able to sit, drink or eat and watch others enjoying the fair whilst the bars etc., would have had considerable trade.  As it was unless like us people were looking for a place to sit and have a coffee, people were leaving as they arrived from car park to castle then castle to car park.    

The wines were of the usual standard, for the DO Monsant and DOQ Priorat very good.  Full bodied reds,  deep in colour with a richness that denoted a smooth taste. Tinto’s that were a little lighter than the dark Negres, light Rose, a clear pink wine delicate but soft on the palet. The whites some a little dry, others more subtle not exactly sweet but again soft. My wife prefers white wine to red so I bow to her opinion here.  The wine I particularly liked was made from the Grenache grape, something I will be looking into. Oh and yes we did take home some wine.


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