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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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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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Plot and Counter Plot!

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They look lovely sweet caring lovey dovey love birds  OH NO THEY’RE NOT!!!!  believe me.  Michael came home from his op and showed them where he had been. (Now I have said this before these birds really help him to relax, when our daughter came to visit they helped her as well).  Anyway after Michael had got used to not being able to type or use his hand for a while he would sit there and chat to them all very friendly.  So when they had him in a relaxed mood they got him to fix the rope and wood ladder they had been given then asked for something to chew on.  He found a nice piece of wood pushed it through the bars so it formed a perch then sat back and watched.

 

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Who US???

Well as you can see they made short shift of that, but he managed to stop them for a while.  The bit they were chewing was next to the bars and their intention was to get it to fall to the cage floor once they had chewed through it.  But Michael pushed the wood through so that bit was now in the middle and this is what it looks like now.

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who us??

who us??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But we would not change then for the world.  They shout and holler at the other birds and if anything/one approaches the house they do the same better than watch dogs lol.  The pictures above are them just being themselves, mind you during this time we would listen to the cricket on -line  and they loved it, especially when the test match was on and Tuffer’s was talking, must be his only true birdie followers…

The Finca

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Now for a long time I have also been watching the olive trees and they are loaded so we have been looking at a good harvest and our own oil for next year.  WRONG… because we have not had any rain (I mean proper rain the sort that soaks into the ground)  for over 6 months the olives have formed but when you touch them they are basically stone covered fruit, no flesh to produce any oil.  So bit disappointed but then we have had this before, and it will give me  time for some pruning.  I am just hoping that it rains between now and Christmas or we could be in a bit of a pickle water wise.  Yes I know we chose this finca knowing all the problems but we are told it has been the driest year since 1924…. We did have a few almonds though enough for cooking and Christmas.

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The garden is looking good for the conditions. I have cleared the Cacti garden and planted a few more it’s looking quite good up there. My wife has cleared away most of the dead leaves from the beds.  She found that during the hot weather they help to keep the ground from turning into rock, it doesn’t always work but it helps.  Together we have created a small Bougainvillea garden next to the little house and I built a small wall so she can build up the soil around them and hopefully they will again survive the winter.   The white stuff is their ‘winter blankey’ which along with some bubble wrap will keep their little roots warm.  Now begins the deciding where to put the ‘water tanks’ she is making for the various beds/flowers and to prune the roses.  She cut the lavender back and we now have a nice new lavender pillow to hang over the bed.

 

(c)  M.D. Bosc  Author

 

 

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3A4E1C57 (640x387)[1]We had SNOW!!!  as you can see not as much as the rest of Catalunia but it snowed.  I will admit that this picture is not from last week but because of the weather the signal kept breaking and when I tried to down load the pictures they ‘got lost’, nothing new there….    Anyway it was sunny so I decided that what we needed was a trip out to the coast for a cuppa. So Sunday afternoon we set off towards Ametlla, a little fishing port, only to find when we got there that it was blowing a hooly and everybody had gone indoors.  No bars were open and when we walked round the harbour we both wondered who suggested the trip lol.

So we decided to go to the next town for a coffee, guess what that was shut and the wind was getting worse so erring on the side of caution we decided to head for home via the mountains. Ummm not sure it was the best choice, the scenery was fantastic but as we climbed towards the pass the wind was gusting and the snow looked frozen.  It was freezing up there and we could see where they had gritted so we kept an eye on the pass in case of ice.  My wife was never so pleased as when we started down the other side, when we reached town we called in at Ramon’s bar for hot chocolate and coffee then went home to snuggle up in the warm.

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Meet my wifes stalker, cheeky little sod but rather tame. I first noticed him following her round the olive tree as she weeded the garden, he was obviously looking for food but it looked so funny to see him playing hide and seek with her as she was totally unaware of his presence. She has named him ‘Stalker Sam’ as he has made a nest up under the eve’s of the little house and sits outside the kitchen window watching to see if she is going gardening.  We would be interested to know what he is, although he looks like a robin he has none of the markings anybody help out?  I have attached his water adventure photos:

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Wife is sitting in ‘ff’zone having  a coffee when Sam turns up perches on the watering can and starts tapping away.  The more he taps the more she ignores him but gets her camera. Next thing she knows he’s fallen in the watering can so she fishes out a soggy bird berating him for being so stupid.  Now she has a garden ‘helper’ when I walked round to the rhubarb patch the other day there they were wife weeding Sam by her knee looking for grubs etc., So if anybody can tell me what he is we would be grateful as we like to keep a tally of the different birds up here.

Now one of the things we really need up here in summer are Bats, insect-eating tiny bats.   We are going to see if we can get some bat houses installed in various places in the hope that along with the sand martins they will help keep the ‘black biters’  down, one thing is for sure they will get very fat up here.

One of the things we have noticed is that the forest dwellers are camera canny.  We have cameras around the place but only see signs of where someone has been in places they are not.  Rabbits, boar and, we suspect, goats have left their prints in various places but as is their want NOT where the cameras are.  We will keep trying and one day have some photos to show you.

©  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

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We would normally spend a petanca paella, sitting down to eat in good company and sunshine, however, today was to prove an exception of sorts.  For a start, we had been looking at the weather – el tiempo – for the past two days and according to the tv we would be up to our armpits in water oh yeh???

This morning arrived in full sun warm and promising a lovely day with no clouds in any direction and as we could see down the valley we made the usual remarks about pity it was raining so much or we wont have to drive down with all this rain we can float…. should not have said anything.

We spent the morning tidying up and fiddling about to pass the time – we did not get up until gone 10 o’clock as I was watching the football on tv then the Godfather 2 till late. Anyway I decided to have a lie down before we left – it’s a requirement as there is plenty to eat and drink and a few games afterwards – so I was a little surprised to find it getting cloudy with large white clouds that were giving way to varying shades of grey appearing over the mountains. Still we have a club house so I was not worried we have had the paellas in there before, we are a versatile lot here.  So once rested and washed I was handed the bag with our dishes, forks, glasses – for vino – a bottle of wine and lemonade plus the obligatory roll of paper towels -and we set off for town.

It was getting grayer as we drove into town but the tables and chairs were set up out under the trees then the sun came out.  This was more like it, however this did not last long and I think the weather report might have put quite a few people off as there were not many there, but those who were were good company and  good friends.  We found our spot at the table and whilst I went to chat with my friends my wife went to the shop for one or two bits to go with the lunch, crisps, cakes and apricots.   Then we all settled down to the traditional country paella of rabbit, chicken, peppers and rice cooked to perfection as always by Hosea.  It was whilst we were on the last course the water melon and coffee – the coffee was passed round from various flasks – that the first spots of rain were felt.  During the conversation no one had noticed the clouds getting thicker and darker, but just one not so dark and dense was the one that tinkled on us.  Well that was that, we went from laughing at the remarks of the women about our petanca prowess to being told by an army of female  organisers – my wife included – to get out of their way and with in a few minutes the tables were cleared so we men could stash tables and chairs away all neat and tidy.   I looked around but everyone had basically gone, so it was really annoying to find that 10 minutes later it stopped raining and as I write the sun is out.  Can’t trust the weather man can you lol.

So no pictures were taken however here are some of the best from past meals just to give you an idea of the fun we usually have.

 

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So hopefully the next one will be like this good company and  friends lots of sun and a few games after, oh and I must remember to take a flask of coffee next time…..

© Michael Douglas Bosc

 

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