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The Course and The Club  

Once again its race time on the river at Club Nautique.  As you can see its a long way to the bridge where they round the central pillar then row back.  The downward journey is not too bad as they are racing with the flow of the river (about 6knts), however, on the way back it against the flow and a really hard pull. An awful lot of strength is required for this as pulling against a 6knt flow in a large rowing boat with only oars to get you where you want to be is no mean feat. Not here your Oxford or Cambridge boats these are sturdy river boats that have been used on the river for a long time.

              

As you can see from this photo there are safety boats out as well as canoes, plenty of assistance if needed.  So this people, is what these youngsters do every night of the summer for fun. Out in his boat are Pep and Chris two of the people who are always there for the club, today they started the races.  This is an annual event which we try very hard not to miss.

   

The club is always well attended and this year was no exception. As you can see it was very busy, but they have a good system for the food and drinks area.  You went to the two people sitting at the table who were issuing tickets for drinks and food, paid for what you wanted took your ticket to either the bar or BBQ on the other side of the bar – which was doing a roaring trade with kebabs – and collected your fare.

So to the Races

There are such a lot of pictures for the actual races that I shall just post them hope you enjoy.  Starting with the competitors:

The competitors,line up,the off finish and prize giving enjoy

   

   

 

 

And this young lady won a cup because she SWAM across the river  beating the only other competitor a young man by yards.

 

So there you are our day at the races in photographs, friends and life just get better.   Looking forward to next year boys and girls

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc – Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Has Arrived

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Last year we never went to Club Nautique because the road was being dug up and the round trip to get there after petanca and school was just a bit too far.  So this year now the road works have finished, we started watching the bar from mid June and last Monday after shopping we drove by to see the netting being put in place and knew summer was almost here and we could return  to evenings by the river in the company of our friends.  So on Tuesday after petanca I drove down to the bar to wait for my wife to join me after bingo.  When I got there Pep and his family were sitting in their usual spot and suddenly it felt like home things were as they should be, I am so pleased that I have been to school to learn more Spanish I can now converse better and understand a good deal more.

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This is my friend Pep who like me is a qualified yacht/sailing master (here he’s called a Captain) and we have spent many hours over the years talking about boats and life in general. He gives a lot of his time to the club and youngsters in the summer and in winter its football, he’s a really nice man and friend.

 

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Above are some of the photographs from years past pictures, of friends and the young people who races and are now grown up but still support the club. I sailed for many years on the south coast of England crossed the channel a few times, made some really good friends and met interesting people doing so. Sailing, racing or just messing about in boats provides you with a ‘family’ made from the bond forged by a love of the water and boats whatever they may be.  That’s what I like about Club Nautique the family atmosphere and a real sense of enjoyment by the youngsters who train on the river.

The Ebre is not a river to be taken lightly, its has a strong main stream of fast flowing water, plus back eddies and large boulders hidden beneath it people have died training on it. So I really take my hat off to these youngsters who every year train for the races under excellent supervision and provide a good basis for a very relaxing (if you are watching) rowing sport.

So Glass raised and here’s to a good summer of sailing and friendship.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc (author)

 

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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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A Gentle Ramble Through My Life

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Well yes the sun is shining but there is also a cold wind which means the beaches are either sand blasting places or sun traps, either way the sea is still cold and when we have been to the coast recently the beaches were not exactly crowded. Which is a shame as we have some of the best beaches along our stretch of coastline, besides the main sandy stretches there are little coves dotted around which makes discovering them interesting.  Places to fish from or topless sunbathing or just a quiet secluded beach for romance.

It’s also where I get some inspiration for my books. The sea is a wonderful conflicting place calm one moment a raging tempest the next and just sometimes something in between. A walk along an empty beach or sitting with a rod waiting for a fish to take the bait these are moments when stories find me. Whilst looking out to sea I am joined by characters new and old all jostling for attention linked by a love of seafaring and somewhere in there is always a new story.

PETANCA

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For those of you not familiar with our life these are our Petanca friends whom Michael plays in the competitions with.  He was at Fraga a while ago and won wine and a round of goats cheese which we have literally just finished. Then last weekend the club had a paella and Petanca day on Sunday (blog to follow) and I and my partner were top in our group so we played the top team in the other group to see who was top over all. We came second, wine and olives were our prizes and very welcome to.  The paella was a sea food one with salad, dried meats, crisps and olives to whet our appetites. Only when we felt the first spots of rain were we convinced it was time to go home. Mind you we had been there since 8.30am and by the time the rain appeared it was close to 3.30pm.

 

Doctors

Right so What’s Up Doc? well when you get older things begin to squeak and rattle (mostly from the pills) and that is a question I could have asked three times this last week.  The medical staff is very good here, go for any test and they not only tell you the results but give you a printout so you can see how you’re doing, no secret squirrels here.  Well where to start, a visit to my dr found that I was doing well so she thought she would try to lessen the tablets I take “we will try leaving off the aspirin for a month.” Ok sounded good to me but after a couple of weeks I began to get headaches and stuff so I made another appointment with her to let her know things were not going well, and went back on the aspirin. Headaches disappeared and felt better so when I told her about it she asked how long I had been on them 8 years I said oh my god, quick as a flash she had written me a prescription for some other tablets which help to safeguard the stomach so now back to normal. Then I got a phone call from the hospital, need to see the anaesthetist as they are going to operate on my hand next month this entails two visits and an ECG before they will confirm a date.  Looking forward to this as hopefully my little finger will finally be straight and I will have to be chauffeured around meaning I can look at the country side and spot the birds.

 

The Boys

IMG_0052 (640x480) This is where their cage sits during the night and on windy days with the nest box facing the other way for protection. During the day they are at the other end of the FFZ enjoying the sun and shouting at the birds.  But as all kids do when we go shopping and return home first thing they do is to stand on their perches and shout until one of us appears and gives them a treat.  Or if Michael is at his desk working with the window open they shout and holler till he either speaks to them or I go and sit in the FFZ with them taking my laptop/tablet with me. Yep I know it’s confusing but sometimes we both contribute to these blogs just for the hell of it.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Well 2015 is closing fast only a few hours to go then a new year begins, strange how it happens every 12 months….  But seriously I would like to wish everyone a Healthy, Peaceful and Happy New Year. 

Christmas in the Forest

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Ok now for some serious stuff.  This little chap as you will know is a white Wallaby and looking cold even though he’s been around for several years. “been around” brings me to the Big Cat…. IT’s BACK!!!!  not our small wild one but, we think the Lynx.  We heard it last night when we were turning off the generator, Michael thought it was a large Boar out there but boars don’t make deep growly grumbling noises.  So this morning we got the camera in and took a look but all it had on it was the car going and coming and an old boy walking up the drive.

Up here at night you develop a sense of something being around be it humans or wildlife, and for the past few nights we have felt a ‘presence’ now we know what it is. So I no longer have to creep forward towards the generator shed torch in hand in the hope of seeing the wild boar, they’re not here and we now know why.

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This cat arrives every so often when weather conditions are strange he didn’t come last year but it has been so dry this year  (we have had one real storm). It is possible that the river has become a watering hole and possible hunting ground, and could explain why we haven’t seen any boar  around recently just foot prints on the track, but if we are lucky 2016 could give us a sighting –  the hunt is on!

The Weather

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Well what can I say, last spring it was sort of wet but nothing like normal. The summer was very hot with no storms,  and now it’s foggy, damp and misty.  This is a picture of the valley around midday, if the sun comes out its only for a short while but you have to admit it turns the landscape into a Japanese look a like.  This is not normal though, there has been a lot of mist along the Ebro Valley which runs from up near Santander right down to the Med. We have also seen tremendous flooding and wild fires along its route which is not comforting.  Even now there are wild fires up north, but we think they have been started deliberately.

The Boys

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Another addition to the farm are these two ‘erberts.  They are a constant source of amusement and provide a calming effect after a stressful day (which can and does happen on a farm).  They are still squabbling over bits of wood, paper and anything else that one has and the other one wants.  Even after buying them a larger cage which can be wheeled about they have escaped and are currently trying to dig a hole in their nesting box.  As I told them you do that and you will fall through the floor, waste of time one just looks at me while the other keeps pecking at the wood.  Some people keep cats or dogs, us we keep a pair of noisy escapees.

The Garden

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Well this is an ever-changing environment.  Ideas come and go – mostly go – because I start off with wanting to put something in one place then when Michael and I start it evolves into either something different but almost what we planned or we don’t like the look of it and start over again.  So a very brief update.  The tyre garden has been finished and planted up with bulbs,  what was going to be a new bird bath is now a new bulb planter (the gang and Michael didn’t like the look of it) so change of plans.  Round behind the house we have started landscaping a small area making stone beds planting bulbs (because they don’t need much water in summer)  and paving the washing line area.  Walls are being built to stop the water – when it rains – from washing earth down onto the patio and the garden away.  The tree garden is still being done having trouble with the water tank for the bird bath but that’s nothing.  most everything else is normal winter work.  I shall be posting a proper garden blog when and as things are finished.

ME!

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Its been a bit of a roller coaster year with my health. I can say that the medical people over here are looking after me very well.  My Blood Pressure still goes up and down but I am being monitored regularly.  They are keeping a watch on the prostrate and kidney, but apart from getting a little tired now and then I am fine.  Our first holiday in years set me up for the year and was a real treat, something I had always wanted to do see the Comarque and the white horses.  A drive round the corner into the South of France and there they were. Nothing stressful, no airports, ques, trains, strange hotels and the other stuff that went with my twice yearly medical’s before.  We could stop as and when we wanted and my wife shared the driving as usual.   I still play petanca though not as much and have not been in as many competitions, but I still enjoy my afternoons.

I am now learning Spanish at school twice a week, which helps me and keeps the old brain ticking over.  Still writing, I’m on my latest novel set in the middle ages so it’s a lot of interesting research keeps me occupied for a while.

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Well that’s about it for 2015,  we are meeting friends for drinks tonight but not going for a meal this year.   Keep safe everybody  see you in the New Year   Bon Fiestas.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Party Like The Moon

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Now you may well be wondering what this has to do with fiestas, well as we are involved it has everything to do with it.   I have forgotten a little bit where I’ve got up to with the news so if I repeat myself its old age and late hours……

DSCF5210 (640x480)First there was the Petanca social in town so we went to that if you remember ham is very nice, we were home around 3 pm this time.

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Then we went to the seaside and found their fiesta going strong with fair ground and bands, we got home around 2am .

 

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Then we had a small party at the Petanca club which meant we played a few games I won a small bag of goodies then we sat down to eat under the flood lights.  All in all a very pleasant evening, we got home around midnight.

But our annual visit into town for the correfoc meant that in true Garcia style we wound up getting home at 3am.  This is a big night in town as they close the streets, set up stages for the bands and shows. Then tables come out in front of bars and restaurants, chairs are put for people to sit and watch the shows and a dance area is made. Lights are on, bunting is hung, bands are ready and everything begins.  We always go to the river bar which is run by Ramon’s youngest daughter. Here there was a singer, all the songs were from the 80/90’s, and the minute the correfoc was over he started and we were dancing.

There are no pictures of this event as we were with friends and dancing plus with so many people about it was not practical. But I can say that when our friends left around 2am – they had been travelling for most of the day –  we danced on.   Two happy but tired people who wended their way through the crowds towards their car and home.

It Rained – Honest!!

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You will have gathered by now that the weather and climate change in our valley has been one of my oft mentioned gripes.   I look at the weather outside, watch the weather on tv and wonder why the hell they don’t match up.  The weather chart shows a cloud with rain coming from it and out of the window I see…. sun ….  So having said my usual “oh look it going to be sunny” bit to my wife I decided we would go to the club for a few games then on to the coast.  Then along comes the clouds!  “you going to take in the cushions?” I asked “no we’ve seen it all before, dark clouds no rain” came the reply so off we set.  We were playing nicely when the first rumble was heard then a few flashes, game ended just as the rain came.  “where the hell did this lot come from it certainly wasn’t forecast” was heard from the lady running ahead of me.  So we headed for the coast by which time it was really raining parked up and went for a coffee.  I didn’t fancy driving around in this lot so we headed home as we came out of the pass we could see – wait for it – sunshine….  It had rained and yes the cushions were soaking but the garden looked refreshed and the forest smelt renewed. So that’s about it, I will have to make sure I write about our adventures as they happen otherwise I forget or repeat myself, the  weed killing – no that’s for next time.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Petanca Mora D’Ebre

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Well not fire but certainly ‘Smoking’….  We were on form yesterday but then came the last game and we somehow lost the rhythm, bit like Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. The result was we came second in our group winning wine and a dried sausage, so I was quite happy.  As usual it was nice to meet our friends, most of whom, like ourselves,  had belonged to this club, but moved on when numbers dwindled.  We still like to play there and are more than pleased to see old friends and I think that is the problem, old being the operative word. I am in my 70’s and some of my friends are older, we are gradually becoming the fewer of the few. But we are not sitting waiting for anybody, the competition is fierce and I was geared up for the battle.

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Mind you, on reflection there is hope as you can see from this picture of a young man who could bowl with an accuracy that we all envied, but was far to young to play. One day he will be collecting his own prizes as his proud dad looks on.

The Sunday Morning Game

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We played on dappled courts under shade giving trees, whilst a gentle breeze kept us cool as the morning wore on.  There are 10 courts in all but as there were more teams than could fit on them, they laid out one more at the end by the car park. Playing is intense and you will often find teams playing tactically for that vital point.  Sometimes there is a game which is almost snail pace because they are playing for first or second place, that is when things get interesting and take a while to resolve.  For me this is the attraction of the game. You can have a laugh and a joke whilst playing, but always there is the serious business of winning.  Tactics to be discussed, whether to pica or not, how many points do you need to win and how to get them.

I Spy..

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As you will have gathered by now, my wife takes the pictures and has been the unofficial photographer for the club for almost two years.  Now a sense of humour is always necessary in competitions, and today was no exception. The guy in the picture is Louise, and neither he nor my wife could help themselves from playing ‘I Spy’, whilst the rest of us waited for the prize giving.

Prize Giving

This is purely a picture story so I have started with the overall winners with their hams then everyone else follows on in no particular odrder:

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Rainer and Eunesio

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Last but not least I must thank Rainer for putting on a good show and making everyone welcome.   He and Eunesio did a sterling job, the prizes were wonderful and much appreciated.  It takes a lot of hard work to run a Petanca club, not just in time and effort but organising competitions and other events, I couldn’t do it so my hat goes off to these two outstanding friends.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

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