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Expats – Lets create a huge stir – Friday 28th September!

Forty million pounds have been raised over the last seventeen years with MacMillans´ largest Cancer Support Coffee Morning. Last year alone they raised 2 miilion pounds.macmillancup1.jpg

Friday, 28th September 2007 – help make it the World´s biggest, greatest Coffee Morning ever.

Come on you Expats out there. Hold a good old Coffee morning, gossip and chin wag. Strategically place a little chipped mug on the corner of the table for people to drop their donations in. Invite your neighbours in, network with other expats and meet and mingle with old and new friends in multi-language groups.

Don´t drink coffee no problem! Whatever your tipple, lemon tea or herbal, sangria or cava- Earls Grey is fine too. Just get together and support MacMillans and help celebrate the lives of folk like Luciano Pavarotti and Jane Tomlinson, but also help support other cancer sufferers and their familiesin their daily burdens.

You may register today online at

This year there is more on offer on their site. Ever tried A “Virtual Coffee”? You can now!

Also peruse their shop online for goodies to uplift your coffee morning.

You may be late risers because fiesta season is till rife across Spain and you did not roll in until dawn with feet “all danced out”. Pas a nada! It will be morning somewhere in the world. So go on! Have a coffee morning and join in – do your bit. Jane Tomlinson did hers.

She gave us smiles. She gave us hope. She gave us courage. She gave us love and so much inspiration.

Luciano Pavarotti and Jane Tomlinson- dual inspiration to us all.

From years in convent school days attending boring, soul-screeching, cure for insomniacs- type operas (but, hey I got a day out of school!), I never ever dreamed I would be converted to love operas. Then this wonderful tenor voice of Luciano Pavarotti was everywhere. This profound voice and captivating, smiling, warm face was on television, in movies, in glossy magazines, books, on stage and in sports arenas. Luciano Pavarotti was in my heart and soul and mind.

We look back with fondness at this gentle giant, born in Moden Italy on 12th October, 1935 and who uplifted so many hearts from a young age when he followed in the footsteps of his opera voice father. What a legend to follow! He did so much more for Opera than any other male singer. We will recall his amazing feat in bringing the Three Tenors together -Jose´ Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

Even though cancer was ravishing his body and he was in the grips of so much pain, he strode on. He fought against it. He remained positive and calm, determined to keep on working on his new album.

For me his lyrics will live on- O Solo Mio, an old favourite Santa Lucia. Then there is Mamma and Notte E Piscatore and of course -Caro Mio Bien.

But today is tinged with sadness at the passsing of this legend in the early hours of dawn. We offer our deepest condolensces to Adua, Nicolette and his four daughters who adored the man as well as the voice.

We salute the King Of Opera!

Yet, he was not the only great persons´ life to be snatched away by rancid cancer this week. Jane Tomlinson, MBE and CBE lost her fight at 43 against her terminal illness after battling for seven years, on Monday night 3rd September.

Jane Tomlinson of Rothwell, Leeds only link to Italy may have been her cancer fund raising bike ride from Rome to Leeds,but she is another magnificent inspiration to us all.

She personally raised over 1.75 million pounds in one endurance event after another. She would not lie back on her couch and give in. She donned her trainers and ran every night, gruelling sessions in a gym, arduous hours in all weather in West Yorkshire – she cycled on and on. Always pushing herself forward. Always refusing to let this illness take over what days, hours weeks or months she had left with her family.

With awe and admiration we watched one endurance event after another undertaken by her. Mini marathons rolled into half marathons. They stormed into full marathons and always she crossed the finishing line smiling looking for her beloved family to hug, hold and cherish. The nations hearts went out to them all – as it does this week.

She rode on and on. Solo rides, became tandem rides and then when we thought she could do no more, as her treatment was heightened, the battle was becoming fiercer against her cancer, as it had spread from her breast to her lungs and bones- she amazed us all again!

Jane decides to do the ride across Amercia -not Route 66 on a Harley Davidson, but on a push bike! Where did this young woman keep finding her mental strength, develop such physical stamina agianst such medical odds?

Her smile lives on her! May her Fund Raising Appeal to help other cancer sufferers and families do likewise. – a tribute to Jane Tomlinson and all the heartsand charities she touched.

Bookshelf No.1 from the Voice of Ebro – 3rd September 2007




Every week I will delight you with a choice of good reading material covering all the various needs of Expats and their families. No two weeks will be the same. The selection will be carefully researched and will also cover other European languages.

All these books will be available through : — for a A Brighter Read .

Please surf these these pages as there will be regular reviews and updates .


1. The Jamlady Cookbook – highly acclaimed and a very good friend – Beverly Ellen Schoonmaker-she has been a source of inspiration for all my fruit produce in Spain.

2. Adventures of the Pillowcase Puppy -by Michelle Lee …already received 5 star reviews- a puppy who has magical powers-page turner for any age group-delightful read and very well written.

3.A Late dinner – Discovering the food of Spain – Paul Richardson

4. Ghosts of Spain – travels through a country´s hidden and intriguing past – Giles Tremlet

5.Bring Tapas to your Table- 1080 Recipes -best loved cookbook on Spain for for over 30 years- Simone Ortega

6. The Quickie – James Patterson -available since July 2nd, 2007 in hardback

7.The Almost Blossom Appreciation Society – Chris Stewart

8. Valencia- the Lonely Planet guide- Valencia is just over the Catalonian border and close to the Baix Ebre and Montsia regions…somuch to see and do there!

9.A Piano in the Pyrenees – The ups and down of an Englishmen in France – Tony Hawks

10. Europe on a Shoestring-big trips on small budgets – not just for the backpackers- Saraj Johnstone

11.The Olive Route – A personal and poignant journey to the heart of the Mediterranean – Carol Drinkwater – a brilliant British actress who can write so entertainingly as well.

12.Neither here nor there – Travels in Europe -Bill Bryson

13. **Newsflash: September 24th, 2007 – “Playing for Pizza” by John Grisham**


If you are an avid reader desperately trying to find something that you have not read or merely someone searching for a book for a present for an adult, a child, a teenager- a sibling “nothing to do Mom- I´m bored” sort of persona and can´t find what you are looking for.

I will relish in finding your requisite. Just go to my contact page on

Besides now is an ideal time to put away books for Christmas presents and avoid the festive rush on deliveries..or it may just be a learning aid required now!

Hey, Gareth , Lee and Julie, if you want to buy your Mom some good Christmas reads..I will send you a brilliant list to choose from -hint-hint!


Circus is back in town – Circo Raluy

circoraluykeyring.jpgEveryone loves the circus! Everyone loves fiesta time in Spain! Everyone enjoys the lights, noise and laughter of children and couples in a fairground!

Tortosa has all three of them this week.

The fiesta is in the main park (behind the police station where you queue for your documents) surrounded with bands, food stalls and market stalls bearing their crafts and toys and trinkets.

The fairground links into this and wraps itself around the park onto the big “sandy car park” along the wonderful Ebro River.

.circoraluy1.jpgThe Circus “Circo Raluy” is setup on the open land cornering on the roundabout of the new Millenium Bridge at Tortosa Plaça de Bimillenari – where we have that lovely modern Ironwork Sculpture (in the middle of the Roundabout). At night it oozes excitement when the “BigTop” tent is festooned with lights and show time atmosphere and beautifully painted and restored circus trailers, (some even rescued from the old circus giants of Chipperfields) enircle it all.

circoraluy8.jpg Don´t worry if you have not pre-booked your tickets are two performances a day at 19:00 – 21:15 and tickets can be bought onsite. Otherwise you can telephone :0034 627 535 512 or alternatively 0034 609 329 343.The circus will run from Friday “viernes” 31st August to Tuesday “martes” 11th September.

Seats vary in price for adults (adultos) and children (niños) according to your preference. They also have an offer on of one free child place. Snap it up, grandma! Obviously, the ringside seats are most sought after and more expensive, but oh so worth it to be so close as to feel as though the trapeze artists are flying over your head -Louisa and Rosita Raluy themselves do perform! This year has seen Pat and Kate Bradford join in with this esteem circus family. The Gentleman Juggler, Jean Christopher compliments the outfit,along with the Cuban Yosvani – just amazing.There is more – so much more to marvel at!

Then a circus would not be a circus without the adorable and humorous clowns.Then we have the suspense and sit in awe at the Globe of Death of Danny Varame.

circoraluy7.jpgYet, this circus is steeped in history from 1911 and is still travelling the world delighting young and old, believers and non-believers in their amazing craft of offering excitement, magic and intrigue and waterfalls of laughter.

But their are no animals.No animals tied up in small cages in the heat. Just very talented circus artists. Very professional and definitely captivating to watch their new show called ” Belle Epoque”.

Ever thought of “running away” to join up with the circus when you were a child at bedtime who did not want to go to sleep? Well, now as an adult Circo Raluy does have employment opportunities for you. You may be double jointed and able to hang upside down by your toenails at death defying heights or maybe you are a talented crafts person . a professional carpenter, electrician, painter, chauffeur, musicians ( a circus would not be a circus without music!), a solderer or simply feel you have the CV that would slot into the travelling circus world. Do contact them on email at


Loved this show and want to see more? Well, if you are on the Indian Ocean Island paradise of Reunion you can see their new show “Circo de España”.

Love to read more about the history and Museum of the Raluy family? Visit their website:


Fontcalda Spa – a hermitage along Canaletes River-TerraAlta


Summer holidays are not over yet. They are longer than in the UK. Three glorious months you have entertained the “offsprings”. . . One can run out of ideas as what to do with them, when you yourself don´t want to do another beach trip this week or go to crowded “hot spots”.

Temperatures are in the high 30´s and the kids are restless and want to go somewhere different, “but it is so hot Mum,” they moan. Throw them in the car and stove away in the boot a freezer box full of ice cold water and salad sandwiches (low bulk because of the heat and leave the chocolate behind) and some juicy fruit and melon to quench them. Take towels and swim wear or shorts will do. Pack the camera and a book for yourself (just in case your energy level is not the same as theirs.).

Head up the C12 away from Tortosa and turn left off it, up towards Gandesa, (before Benifallet´s Bridge over the River Ebro). Cross over the roundabout of Pinell de Brau and look out for a signpost on the left FONTCALDO. Then 50 metres along the turnoff the road splits, go straight up. The road will wind up and up, but it is a good tarred road and there are places to pull in for oncoming traffic.

When you get to the top, the views are like God´s window. You really have an eagles´ eye view across the most wonderful mountain sceneries.Then the road winds down into a beautiful old volcanic crater and a hermitage that runs along the Canaletes mountain river with welcoming rock pools to swim in and rocks to dive off.

There are pleasant walks along this gorge. Encourage the children to keep their eyes peeled for a variety of wildlife, as this Spa is in a nature Reserve. Hispanic goats will be seen perched on the most precarious, overhanging rockface, looking down very inquisitively as you stroll along. The locals will tell you to look out for “muflon”- wild boar and “paloma torcaz”, badger. If you have time to chatter in Catalan or Spanish, they will tell you amusing tales about when their Grandfather took them out hunting for the first time. (Probably several times – but the first time is the most precious of memories!).

Small animals can also be spotted and great pleasure to the youngsters, rabbits, foxes, hare and even otters. The more entrepid teenagers will marvel at the magnificence of the eagle, the falcon, whereas Papa might be thinking how tasty that partridge would looked served up exquisitely on his dinner plate. Mom, be careful of the steps when you are leaning over with that camera!

Summer is closed “hunting season”, so you have nothing to be warned on that account.

To the right of the rock pools is a stone bath type feature where arthritic people will be seen soaking themselves in the cool mountain waters, reputed to contain healing qualities.

If you are a keen hiker or cyclist you can take the Via Verde or Greenway either from Tortosa or SantJoan and it runs next to this very pleasant and relaxing spot. I have also noticed horseback riders along there too.

There is a large shaded area with communal barbecues and have seen private camping tents there. The Church is small and functional with a freshwater font outside. Cool and straight from the mountains.

If you wish to have a Luncheon then you would be advisable to reserve a table on arrival.Fancy a quick snack and a cool drink, the snack bar is large, clean and friendly. Everything is run by the Church and all the workers are volunteers.

Please remember to cover everyone in waterproof sunblock. Have a play in the rock pools with the kids and then climb out and find somewhere to relax and read, but within reach of keeping a watchful eye on the children.

Read more on the History of this Spa in the Fontcalda Natural Park in Catalan “El Santuari i Balneari de la Fontcalda”

After a good day out, one that need not be expensive, drive home safely and load up those wonderful digital photos into a computer file to e-mail to your friends back “home” or around the world. I still hear children recalling the animals they saw in the “wild” many times over after their visit to this wonderful place.

I too, recommend this place to European tourists that we book into vacational rentals down and a recent family from Belgium, said; “It was the best day out for everyone. We all had so much fun.It was so different to anywhere else.Thank you so much.We would never have found it with out you!”


Wind instruments´ fiesta in windy Catalonia

catalonian-flute.jpgFiestas are never over in Catalonia and it is with joy that we hear of another musical one called the “Ebre Terra de Vent” in Catalan or “Tierras de Vientos”in Castillian Spanish. I am sure this will entertain us, as much as the July Jazz Festival did in Tortosa.

This is a “traditional” ( I love that it can portray so many different visual icons) wind instrument music festival. And joy upon joy it is more than one day long and spreads over from the 7th September to Sunday the 9th September, 2007.

Do visit their visual site and though it is in either Castellano or Catala´ -it is informative of other musical events as well:

What constitutes a wind instrument?

Wikipedia states they are instruments that emits a sound when a column of air is made to vibrate inside them.The wave frequencey generated arises according to the instruments´s shape and the length of the column of air. Basically, how much puff you have! Whereas, the design of the instruments depicts the tonal output.

The instruments may be made of either wood / reed or brass. Sounds simple, oh but it does take skill so the sound is not cacophonic. We all remember the days of our kids running home with their recorders and blaring out some dreadful sounds from their bedroom.

However, wind instruments are often handed down over the generations to the next era of aspiring musicians.

European Day of Jewish Culture – Tortosa -2nd September 2007


The Paths of Sepharad organisation welcomed Tortosa as a member way back in 1998.Since then they have held different activities throughout their calendar year with the focal point being to defend the urban, historic, artistic and cultural heritage of the Sepharic legacy in Southern Catalonia in Spain.

Read more about their activities in Catalan at: or in English at

For walking tours in Tortosa and the Jewish route, “Red de Juderias de España Camino de Sefarad”, is held on the 2nd Saturday in each month: and is well worth the 5 euros.

This is an informed stroll and is of interest to all cultures irrespective of your religious persuasion. These are the streets / paths where Jewish people have left their mark over the ages of time in the cities architecture, their vibrant language, their innovative


culture, their ardent hard work and crafts, and all is laced with their spiritual creativity.

Fiesta de la Cinta – Tortosa


Fiestas en honor a la Virgen de la Cinta Patrona de la ciudad. Se celebran en la primera semana de Septiembre.

The summer season has been wonderful this year. We have already seen the amazingly entertaining July Renaissance festival in Medieval Tortosa town and Fiesta Majors in Campredo, Jesus and Roquetes have entertained us all, especially our Jordan (Jordi- a his amigos call him-who has relocated to live with us this year), with all the bull running sports. But fiestas are never over in Catalonia and the Fiesta Major is still on in La Senia this weekend and Benifallet will be on in a week´s time.

From the 1st September to the 9th September included, Tortosians honour our patron saint , the Virgin of the Ribbon – Virga de la cinta, after whom the Hospital on the hill is named. Although this starts off a religious festival and a procession,there is an awful lot of sporting activities and challenges along and on the River Ebro. (Oh yes, folk, the river is not just for catfishing!)

Boat races are endured in “muletas” on river day. Not to be missed is the “big” swim from Ferreries to Tortosa, not sure if this is bank to bank, or down stream . So lets come along and find out – or join in.

Fun for everyone to enjoy. The childrens´favourite greasy pole pursuit -“cucanyes” entertains the onlookers as well as the kiddies.

Night follows day, and the pleasures continue on with highly contested boat races along with the “habaneras” -Cuban songs on the shores of this mighty River Ebro – that oozes life in to this town in so many ways.

More details can be found at the local Tourist Information Office in front of the Bus station or online in Catalan, wherethe programme takes on a cultural flair : or

I was surfing online the other day (as normal) and was surprised to read a report that Tortosa is not deemed to be a Tourist town . How misguided are they! I have been here over four years now and find out something new going on somewhere,or something knew to do all the time. Come back, I say to the writer, introduce yourself and I will prove you wrong.

The Tortosians are wonderful friendly people and the population is very international now and with more languages appearing all the time. Tortosa is steeped in history, is becoming a very popular destination and a pivotal point for exploring Catalonia and Northern Valencia,not just for other Europeans, but also amongst Americans and Canadians.

Why not round off your evening by trying a different restaurant to your normal one.Wonder around the streets, browse the colourful menus in the doorways and pull up a chair. Bon appetite! Enjoy your culinary delight and soak up the evening views of this riverside city.

Read a lovely message in Catalan from our Mayor (Alcalde de Tortosa ) : Feran Bel i Accensi,

“Bones festes de la Cinta 2007!”

p.s. Don´t forget to share your photos with me of this event.

La Tomatino Tomato “chucking” festival – release your summer heat stress!

evblogtom1.jpgOnce that rocket is launched to announce 11 o´clock on Wednesday 29th August in Buñol ( near Valencia), one hour of sheer squashed tomato hurling tom foolery commences. Fun and laughter ensues! Creation of spontaneous, fabulous photographic opportunities of one of the most hilarious fiestas of the Valencian calendar year, rolls out across these red strewn streets. Where “bodies” lay sprawled, trying to regain footholds, but can´t for giggling too much and responding by retaliating with what ever “red, gooey, gunge” they can claw back off the street and”wham” back at their assailants.

“La Tomatina Fiesta” has received International fame and usually 40,000 or more Europeans, Americans, Asians converge on this small town . This is some 30 miles away from the nearest airport in Valencia and though you can travel by car , the Tourist Board recommends you take the train (return ticket is approx 3 dollars from Valencia) or bus(no return tickets, but around 2 dollars for a single). Everyone will be in fiesta “free for all tomato projectile” mode and may have already started celebrating before joining the commute. You are sure to have made new friends before you get there!

Avis! Warning!

Please, please pre-protect your camera equipment in plastic bags.This is no sympathy, and in fact, you will become a likely target for these tomato hurlers of all shape , sizes, ages and refinement. Believe the “British Reserve” mode flies out the window before you get there.

Tomato Warfare Rules of Engagement ( N:A:T:O: approved- yeh, for sure!) :

# You may only throw tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes (The clue is they are red, different shape and sizes -categorised as a fruit, though some folk think they grow on pizza´s.)

# Please squash them before throwing them. Whole one´s will cause bruising when thrown with menace (Oops, sorry darling, missed one!)

#Polizia (local constabulary) strictly forbids you to tear off other folks clothing, thought the locals seem to ignore that. (It springs to mind, “When In Rome….”, but do so at your own perril!)

#Play fair – a cheek for a cheek. ( Not sure which cheeks are referred to? Oh well, all is fair in love and tomato warfare.)

# Do not take bottles. Do not carry anything that may harm other people, or cause a hindrance to your tomato whirling arm.

#Make sure that wallets and handbags (purses) cannot be pulled off you or lost accidental in this fun brawl.

# Tomatoes and fiesta are free. Do not bring your own.

#Show respect for the passage of trucks bearing these mature tomatoes. You will not run out. They keep on rolling up with tonnes upon tonnes of this tomato cannon fodder.

#Do not wear white (or best clothes). White to a giant tomato in full flight, is like red is to a charging bull!

# Only throw at people. (Fabulous, give me your best shot!)

#Do not deface someone´s home or windows!!!

#Take no prisoners.

Well, that all sounds fair game and enough mishief for me .

Sounds a wonderful way of relieving summer stress, and without having to do a gruelling hike for days up to the top of a mountain in Nepal to shout and shout and exhale all that pent up emotion.

If you are a tourist and need accommodation places for all budgets will be found in Valencia, but are limited in Buñol. Contact either the Spanish Tourist Office or call 0034- 963-986-422or fax 0034-963 -986-421.

The Ayuntamiento de Buñol can be contacted for more specifics of teh town and fiesta details of events leading up to, during and after – as well as local amenities.

Unfortunately, this year I will be unable to personally take part, but then it will be with joy that I will be at Barcelona El Prat Airport to greet my daughter Julie (and best friend you could wish for) and other grandson, Shane Adam. Just received a text of their arrival dates!!Must find a fiesta or two for them to attend.

However, would love to receive some of your La Tomatina photo stories and tales to go with them. Please email me.

Cinema a la fresca dijous d´agost – JESUS 2007-TORTOSA

Jesus Pergola next to the Canal << Pergola next to the Canal in Jesus-Tortosa

Outdoor cinema on every Thursday evening in August.

The days are now so hot. So in the evenings around 10 o´clock, walk on down to the village of Jesus near Tortosa. The cinema will be under the pergola, down by the canal and conveniently near the Bar Casal. They assure you a good time and you will be kept cool in the evening breeze. You will meet new friends and don´t worry about the films being in Spanish or Catalan. Just sit down. Open your ears and your mind and listen smarter.

The next morning over coffee, you will be amazed at how much you enjoyed the film, the atmosphere and just how much you understood.






“Una serie de sessions de cinema per passar una bona estona i gaudir de la fresca de l´estiu a les 22.00h a la pergola. Cinema a la fresca per a les nits de dijous del mes d´Agost.”

Thursday, 2nd August : The Man – Samuel L.Johnson

Thursday, 9th August: The Bandidas – Penelope Cruz

Thursday, 16th August: Flight Plan – Jodi Foster

Thursday, 23rd August: The Wedding Crashes – Owen Wilson & Vince Vaughan

Thursday, 30th August: A Night in a Museum – Ben Stiller

See you there!

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