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A Little History of Fayon

This is the only map I can find which shows where Fayon is situated in the hills of the AUTS mountains.  The mauve bits on this map is where some of the bloodiest battles in the Spanish Civil War were fought. Those of you who follow my Petanca blogs will recognise various names such as Ribarroja, Asco and Mora de Ebro.

These fairly high dry mountains were to witness one of the most bloody and horrific confrontations during the Civil War (1936–39).  On 25 July 1938 the 42 division of the Spanish Republican Army successfully crossed the river in this area and occupied the Auts area taking positions in the hills.  This feat was claimed as a great victory for the Republican troops, and the Spanish Republic saw it as a positive outcome of the Battle of the Ebro effort. However death was on its way in the shape of  Franco’s rebel faction.

106-Brigada Mixta Standard-Spanish Republican Army.pngNow the 226th and 227th mixed brigades who had taken up position in the AUTS hills found themselves surrounded by the rebel faction who then set about relentlessly massacring them – no quarter given was an understatement. Although they fought bravely they were no match for Fanco’s troups. There were a few and I do mean few survivors, and after having suffered a great number of casualties these few battered survivors had to fight their way to the Ebro and get back across the river.

 

This is the monument to those many soldiers who died in the Auts hills at the feet of the range near the road leading to Mequinensa.  No wonder this little new town has a feeling of unearthly quiet about it, but the people are most welcoming.  Every year on the 25/26th of July (or nearest weekend) they commemorate the battle, and celebrate so those who gave their lives are remembered and the sacrifices they made are not forgotten.

FAYON

Official seal of Fayón/FaióThe Fayon of today is a new town.  The ancestral village was submerged by the waters of the  Ribarroja reservoir built in 1967 and the present-day village was built by the state-owned company that built the dam. After the closure of the nearby coal mine,  Fayón has lost about 50% of its population.  This quiet little town is peaceful and idyllic somewhere to spend a vacation fishing, walking or just soaking up its history, and leave the stresses of the world behind. here are some images of Fayon:

 

Petanca

So here we are today, back with our friends enjoying Petanca. So whilst Michael and the others play I have come here to the café with its wifi and tranquility to write.

They say that you should never work with children or animals they should also add cameras.  When I went to take the pictures BOTH the cameras played up so these are the only ones I have of the winners.

                       

The first picture is of the club President and the Alcalde  then comes the main prize winners and everyone else.  It was a really hot day and people were glad to get going to some shade.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  – Author

 

 

 

 

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Example of Computer Hooked

                                                                         Computer Hooked – Me??

I know when I have had enough of the computer because I say so, usually after I have been trying to find some information. My immortal words are “sod it that’s enough dam computers.” It’s around this stage the call of the sea gets me so after a good old winge and a cuppa I have a re-think kiss my wife grab the keys and we drive to the beach.

Some of our best ideas have come from these drives. Got a problem we cant get the answer to, we get in the car and head for the coast. Usually by the time we arrive ideas are flowing and often a solution has been found, and I can have a relaxing swim quite possible I’ll get one today thanks to Kindle….

Writing Frustration

But its the times when I’m struggling with my writing and get frustrated that I utter those immortal words.  Times when I can’t get the story to flow or find the information I need, then realise that it wasn’t there in the first place. I think  this all stems from the days we used to drive back and forth to visit my dr. Twice a year we would drive through France on the way to a port, talk about anything and everything. Problems both real and imagined, health, life and my writing and generally put the world to rights, and we still do although admittedly the longest journey we now make is to Barcelona airport.

Computer Hooked?

So why, I wonder, do we seem more able to talk in the car, or walking or having a coffee etc.,  the answer is simple NO BLOODY COMPUTERS!!!  Being a writer I spend a lot of time on one, most of the day in fact.  During the summer when it’s too hot to do anything (like today) if I am not writing I have the cricket on-line and sit in front of my computer either working or reading the reports that come in (and yes I am listening to it).  If my wife is not pottering around the house she is also on her computer talking to her gardening or FB friends whilst doing research or trying to put the wine book together.

It’s not that we don’t talk we do, but with these distractions it’s a bit disjointed.  So come the evening – like tonight – we look forward to petanca.  My wife goes to play bingo with her Catalan friends two nights a week and I go to petanca then we meet up and either go to the club Nautique for a drink by the river and see friends or Reiner’s if we are hungry.

In the early hours of the morning (well they are to us) when it gets light -6am here  5am UK time – and its cool we can now be found in the garden tidying up or watering.  We don’t water at night because the cubes have warmed up and hot water is not good for plants so they have around 3 hours before the sun get up here to enjoy a cool drink.

So with everything considered I suppose I have answered my own question. For some reason the sea is in me and a trip to the seaside is always sitting there at the back of my mind plus there are no computers ANYWHERE.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc (author)

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Asco

Coat of arms of Ascó

Asco is up river from us and home to the Nuclear Station for which it is well known.  We always know when coffee or meal times are as we can see the ‘smoke signals’ rising over the mountain behind us.  Today as we drove in it was puffing away and the river was ‘smoking’ (where the hot water enters the river from the plant).  Asco is a small town nestled at the feet of the  Serra de la Fatarella mountain range. This is the same range our valley is in only on the other side of the mountains. But it can be crossed as we found out one day a few years ago when a very tired man trotted into the garden asking for water.  This is normal for those running, cycling or walking in the forest, water is never refused to them. There is also excellent fishing to be had here as the warm waters around the power station is a good breeding ground for fish. A lot of our friends live and work here and during term time Michael helps them with their English in the linguistics class at the college in Mora d’Ebro.  Most of the employment here is based on agriculture with the power station providing a lot of work.  Here they grow almonds, grapes (the wine is very good) and of course, olives.

There is a good deal of history attached to Asco, it  was one of the castled points along the Ebro during the Templars time.  They controlled trade, collected taxes and got rich.  Today the castle is slowly being rebuilt/restored as the towns now realises that being part of their heritage it is important to preserve it.

Petanca

We have been coming here to play in competitions since we began playing Petanca.  Our friends used to come and play in Mora when we had a club there but age, time and other things have seen the club disintegrate  to basically three or four people.  We like others either joined Tivissa or Asco to play, but we still see our old friends around town and at the competitions like today. At the time of writing they have just started playing so it will be a while before I go to take the photos. I do this because I like to, it is nice to see the faces of our friends when they get their ‘winners’ photo something so small means so much, I get pleasure doing it and they get pleasure from the photos.

So here we go – PETANCA! This is the ‘family photograph’ winners and losers alike. We had a great day met up with friends and generally enjoyed ourselves.

          

Relaxing waiting for the last game to finish

Here are the winners, first prize large ham, second prize smaller ham, and so on from there. Michael, Maria & Gill won wine and a dried sausage (sausage didn’t last long yumm) and he is in another competition next weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So as you can see here is proof that like golfers, mad dogs & Englishmen, Petanca players go out in the midday sun…..

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Petanca in Tivissa

Well Mother Nature has turned up the heat and the weather is  hot and sunny so on a normal day in these condition we all arrived at the football ground in Tivissa for petanca in the company of our friends.  At 8.30am the heat was on so after breakfast of wine, water and a bocadillo, tables and chairs were cleared away and the little tents were set up at the top of the courts to provide shade for the players during the matches.

              

Once the games were over the International was held and the tents moved to the side of the pitch and again shade was provided for contestants and spectators alike.

 

            

For those not taking part there was the shade of the buildings and tent covering the prizes. However as is Sods´Law´ at the end of the International the wind blew and the tent had to be taken down so the prize giving was in the open.

These are the three who provided the fun whilst presenting the prizes the Sports Jefe, the President of Petanca and the Alcalde.  But take a look at the faces of everyone, they may well have been hot having played for a few hours in the sun, but they are happy laughing having fun and this is why we love of friends and the Petanca club.  Also take a look at the young lady in the wheelchair, not only is she proof that the disabled can and do play sports but she is one mean bowler  and not for the first time won prizes. So here´s the winners and our friends hope you enjoy.

This is the team that came first

                                                                             This is the team that came second

Here are the rest of the contestants who came from other towns and cities to play and meet friends.

                                                                            

And last but not least  the winner of the raffle and another good bowler.

So there it is a day at petanca with friends and `family´ and as I close I can say this really is a family club with young people encouraged to join in and play against us `oldies´ long may it be so.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc – Author

 

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Last Saturday there was a Clotcha (breakfast) at the club and we joined our friends for petanca and food.  Now the weather people said it would RAIN, well it did Friday night so the phone was on the bedside just in case things were rained off.  But as luck would have it the day started fine if a little chilly and we arrived to find lots of people there, friends from our old club and various villages/towns around. The Alcalde was also there with members of the Adjuntamente, they are great supporters of the club which is really nice.

The Clotcha consists of half a small round loaf which you take the middle out of then you fill it with the following bbq’d things:- garlic, onion, tomatoes and either a sardine or sausage depending on your preference, a good helping of olive oil then you toast the piece of bread you took from the middle push it back in and enjoy!!!!  Yes you get messy but that’s part of a Clotcha, and it was washed down with some very nice red wine.   Next we cleared away had our AGM the played petanca, I was with Jordi and Ramon bless them two very good players landed with me who on a good day can knock spots off balls on a bad day well I should have stayed in bed.  But Saturday was a good day we actually beat every team we played.  Michael was with Delores and they did the same so it ended up with Michael and Delores being first and Jordi, Ramon and I second  wine, olives, crisps and dried sausage came home with us  wonderful day.  Oh and the weather? well it held until the prizes were given out that was done in the rain – see Sods Law happens lol.

Well Jason D’ebre has finished his second children’s book, if you thought that was easy think again.  The book might be finished but now begin the rounds of proof reading, editing, description building, re-reading/proofing/tweaking and lots and lots of grrrrrrrs along with the odd ‘did I really write that’ plus the need to get up and wander off.  Believe me, whoever said writing was easy was wrong, they probably have no idea what an author goes through.  The idea of a story might be easy to put together – provided you have your facts/dates etc., (there are plenty of people out there who just love to pull you to pieces even if the subject is pure fiction. They profess to be ‘experts’ on the subject and know more about it than anybody – and as I said that’s ) but putting it into a story with beginning middle and end is not as easy as it sounds. So from quite early this morning Jason has been reading, checking, ooopsing the book  then its my turn. I have to read it make notes of anything I find does not make sense or sound right then back he goes to put things right and so it goes on until we both feel its ok.  BUT as anybody will tell you SODS LAW is a writers bane  there is  ALWAYS something you missed….. so after publishing you sometimes have to go back correct then publish again.   With out the army of people a publisher provides to do it for you, this is what a Kindle author/publisher has to do.

Jason tells a good story, he checks his facts and knows his history.  That’s why the stories  he writes are not only readable but interesting. He checks everything but its hard work believe me.   Those who just fill pages with words then publish aren’t really authors, they don’t know the first rule of writing  THERE HAS TO BE A STORY, without a story line running through it the pages might just as well be blank.

Well that’s what has been happening these past few weeks now it’s getting near to my reading the book, so someone is up as head cook and bottle washer as once I start reading I cannot stop.  If I have to stop reading and return to reality I lose the times and sense of being there, I tend to emerse myself in the story.  This is how I read, it helps me to make the notes for both Michael and Jason.  I am very proud to say that because of this I am actually learning a lot of history. At school all we got was battle of Hastings 1066 and all that, but there is so much more to English history as I am learning from Jason’s writing.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

(c) Jason D’ebre

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Petanca at Mequinenza over the years

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One of my favoured places for competitions is Mequinenza in Aragon.  Over the years when we have been playing we have had some memorable times and some we would rather forget, but that’s how competitions go. We have made lots of friends and it always feels like a reunion when we all meet up. besides being a place for Petanca Mequinenza is also renowned for its fishing, and as we arrived this morning there were fishermen all along the banks of the river enjoying their sport.

This town is also known for its castle which sits on the hill behind the town overlooking the river as it did in the time of the Templars when they controlled trade on the river Ebre. Katherine of Aragon also spent time in the castle so the English connection is always there.

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Looking at the Petanca courts from the club house – Old Age Pensioners Club – you can’t miss the castle which looks very impressive.   The statue commemorates the miners which is something you would not associate with Spain.  There were a lot of lead mines around here and in Cataluña (see http://wp.me/pVcwA-Bk) and until they were closed down they were a good source of employment. A certain amount of pride was attached, as a miner you had a job, and that meant money coming in and food on the table.

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These are some of our fond memories friends and colleagues with their prizes. Unfortunately one of them is no longer with us and is sorely missed.

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Reiner who, as President of Mora de Ebre, stands alone with the club trophy, and the one person who never shouted at me when we played in the same team, a real Spanish Don.

Today is no different from most competitions I am here writing and Michael is playing which is as it should be. The photos below are of today, the prizes are sponsored by Proctor and Gamble who have a distribution centre here.  Hams and olive oil for the winners and seconds, cheeses, wines and the trophies this year are little framed photographs of the Jubilate Club. Michael, Maria Cinta and Gill they won a nice round of cheese each.

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Our clubs photos start with breakfast and as you can see it is a serious affair. That’s right wine, olives and a bocadillo consisting of pan tomate and jamón, plus water and coffee.  That is a proper petanca breakfast and really delicious.

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This young lady is special and quite a bowler we were pleased to see our first disabled player win, and as you can see she and her friends are in the group photo wonderful.

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(c) Michael Douglas Bosc (author)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What a week:

So I have finally submitted my latest book Clearing in the Forest to Kindle Scout and been accepted, so now it s up to Kindle and people’s votes as to whether I am successful or not.

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/C3m14FIR3JW0 this takes you to the page where you can read the piece they have selected and vote.  Me I am busy working else I would have no finger nails left.

Hospital and Hand

Years ago I developed small cysts on the tendons of my little fingers, these were dealt with but over the years have grown back.  One finger is totally bent so that will be a hammer jobbie to put it right as the joint has become set,  but the other one is operable, so on Wednesday I go for ECG and blood-tests and on the 13th I see the anesthetist and probably have op same day, but at least it will be done and dusted.

 

Petanca

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Next weekend sees us back at Mequinenza, in another competition, I like Mequinenza although it’s a long way to travel which means an early start. Still its a nice club and good way to spend a Saturday morning. Full of history both ancient and modern – Katherine of Aragon came from here  and it was involved the Spanish Civil War – the castle is well worth a visit.

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Reina is in the middle with Roca on the right and Domas on the left.    This is the Restaurant where we last saw him. We were sad to hear news a few weeks ago that our friend Reina (pronounced Rayner) has passed.  To say it was a shock was an understatement, we knew he was ill but saw him around town when we went shopping or at the family restaurant.  Everyone assumed we must have known as somebody would have told us but no, we found out the sad news from our friend Roca.  He will be sadly missed especially by my wife at whom he never shouted when playing Petanca in a team.

The Boys

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Well they are just being themselves, still squabbling and shouting at the other birds plus they have a new game and friend. Boris Blackbird sits in the olive tree and sings to them they shout back and it gets louder and louder. At 6.30 in the morning that’s not funny, but Boris thinks its great fun he hides in the olive tree thinking he can’t be seen then dives down into the strawberry patch to nick one or two.  Oh well can’t really moan and my wife doesn’t seem to mind, but they have a new trick under their wings. When we go shopping or into town or anywhere and leave they on our return they holler and shout until either a honey stick or strip f millet is placed in their cage. Yes I know we spoil them but we spoil all the birds up here, they just get a little more.

 

My Camera and I

I have finally worked out how to take some good shots with my new camera use a tripod.  So whilst my wife was at her language hour on Thursday I took myself down to the river and sat under the trees watching the different birds feeding on the weeds.  Here are just a few of the photographs I took, hope you enjoy.

 

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Not really sure what happened here new editing suit.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc – Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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