Category: Community (page 1 of 2)

“Country cousins” Tortosa Free-day

Tres amics són tres cosins, tres cerveses … potser!

The term “country cousins” often pops up in English literature with no implied intention of insulting their sophistication, but rather as an affection or a tongue in cheek expression. Prior to the days of London’s Zoological gardens when friends, relatives, or strangers from the countryside were visiting the City, it was a wonder what to do or where to take them. Thus, in novels it is written to take the “country cousins” to see the Royal lions guarding at the Tower.

However, I (their birth-“Foden” Cousin from Jesús. Tortosa) was treated to the first break with my cousins( from higher up River Ebro at Benifallet) for a drink and a chat outside, since the lockdown on 14th March, 2020.

The quandary: Where do we go? We don’t have lions in Tortosa, except one statue on my gateway entrance and that doesn’t count as a place of interest. We were all in agreeance that a beer or two and some nibbles (aka tapas) to sit outside were on the cards, but preferably near greenery and not pavement side. So my cousin headed for Tortosa Parc.

We are only in Phase 1 of the opening up of Terres de l’Ebre region since the lockdown. We were all masked up and like excited kids (or thirsty camels heading towards an oasis) hurried to the freedom of the park, along with an over-excited 5 month-old Maya, the German Shepherd puppy. Oh so cute!

The tables were all well spaced out as they are to do so under the controls as stated and no inside drinking. My cousin told me not to touch the table until she’d thoughtfully brought out her mobile bleach and sponge cleaning kit. I was impressed. She also placed a sanitizer bottle on the table for us to share.

Aside: the only slightly awkward issue was the fact that we could eat and drink outside the bars, but we were not allowed to use their toilet facilities – nor any others available! So it was prudent to control your consumption. (LOL)

It was crazy busy with not enough waiters to cope. So the service was slow but the Bokatines staff were friendly, courteous, and well protected. We were all just so happy to have that time in open spaces away from our respective fincas but to people-watch instead. We have been more fortunate than most as we have not been enclosed in confined spaces of apartments – many without balconies or open roof-top places to breathe and enjoy the evening air.

However, I personally feel I have had too much of the countryside and yearn for people’s contact. My cousin asked me how I was feeling now. I replied that I keep looking at the people and feel like they are two-legged aliens that I once knew in another life. It felt so strange to be seeing so many people in, what was such a normal pre-Covid-19 area, where the bars next to each other, overflow across the main rain of Avenigua Generalitat into Tortosa Parc.

I felt exhilarated!

Sunday evening 16th May beers and tapas in Tortosa Parc




Three canyons of beer arrived with the dew running down the glass, served in gloved hands, and plates of tapas of nachos with bacon and cheese and patatas bravos with allioli. We dived on the food like hungry lion cubs and the lager beer hit the spot -every time! Well- there was one or two top-ups but no-one was really counting.


The conversation flowed to and fro between local family catch-ups about Valencianos and Brits, Californians and New Yorkers too, not to leave out our nephew and niece in Japan. Much discussion of how this pandemic has impacted everyone personally and their private lives, their businesses, and those in the tourist rental industries. Yet, everyone seems to have continued working online, new projects, existing projects, and finding activities to occupy themselves. It is encouraging to hear that Germans are still enquiring to come down to Spain, just aren’t allowed across borders if no Spanish residencies in place.

So please tell me:

~ How has your first week in Phase 1 passed in Terres de l’Ebre?

~How do you envisage improving or changing anything in the coming week while still in Phase1?

~What ideas or motivation can you share within the community?

(c) Tales from the Ebro River Valley: RosieReay

Ebro Valley crop circles cultivation- Camarles style.

Crop circles mysteries have baffled us over the history of time. We have marvelled in their beauty, their mysteries, legends of ominous satanic work at large, questionable hoaxers, climatic changes, studied by the intellectual professors, Crop circle (s) are preserved in stunning photographs until the end of time or even aliens landing (fringe theorists) and working their ‘butts off’ through the night while farmers slept.

Liz Crichton (started her project around 2017) gave thanks in 2018 saying: ”And still our wonderful crop circles keep producing! #abundance#gratitude”. Now wait a minute, Ayrshire tatties grown by a Scottish lassie relocated to the countryside in Camarles, Terres del Ebre? I’m awfully impressed as the climatic conditions could not be at more opposite extremes. I for one will hint for a specimen from next harvest to try one ‘lonely’ plant to propagate. After all, I was not nicknamed by my brother as Spud, when I was no more than knee-high to a grasshopper, for nothing!

So how does Liz still do it in 2020? Here is what was relayed to me as I lamented about my rock hard Spanish soil ideal for olive plantation, but vegetables-really?

“Crop circles – without a doubt!”

Take all your composting materials, cuttings, weeds, food compost waste twigs etc., and gradually layer the inside any size circle that is manageable for you to reach a circumference of 4 metres and a depth of 25cm. The tougher twigs /cuttings go on the bottom. Create a thick layer and stamp it down under your boot(advisable to wear on the el campo), then fill up the rest with mixed layers (any old way works). Finally, tramp it down again and water it.

Crop circle preparation

Once it has created a kind of dense vegetation mat you can immediately pour over a whole 70-litre bag of compost on top and plant in either seeds or plugs of anything that grows upwards i.e. lettuce, chard, spinach and so on.

crop circle young lettuce

In the 2nd year (or winter) top the circles up with another bag of your compost material and you can grow deep plants, like potatoes, carrots beetroot or even parsnips, as by then your initial compost material will be turning into soil in your crop circle. It is important to line the edges of your wire with the drying grass or weeds to save the new compost or precious water flowing away.

Crop circle 1st year growth

After the 2nd year, you can remove the encircled wire meshing and spread the compost and dig into your ground. It will now be soil down to a depth of 6″ (15.24cm) because of the worm activity and water( you can hand water if irrigation is not doable) that has nourished below your circles!

End of crop circle year 2: Ayrshire potatoes

“This year I’ve used a light sprinkling of 15/15/15 feed to once a week with great results!”

Multi Crop circles

“Mind you, I talk to them as well!” quipped Liz Crichton, “and I always ask before I pick and use www.moonandgarden.com“. The Moon & Garden is guided by the moon’s influence. Avery nifty application (French, English, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch) as your coordinator to optimize your daily ‘best to do’ organic gardening by using biodynamics to use earth’s energy of the sun and moon enhanced with your personalized recording of Calendar, Gallery and action Alarms.

“May I pick you now, por favor?”

However, this is not a new-fangled idea amongst the traditional farmers in this valley. When we first moved to our Finca (2005), Partida de San Bernabe’, our neighbours aka. vecinos, came across to see what small vegetable plants for sewing I had just proudly bought. (I say proudly as my run of Spanish verbiage was almost non-existant!) He muttered away through his toothless grin in Catalan -no normal, no no- HIs wife explained in Spanish that I must only plant according to the moon cycle as his grandfathers had always done –Siempre– I considered myself rightly told off!

(c)Tales from the Ebro River Valley: RosieReay

EbroVoice -the Zen of Life

Where the local stories flow

“Lockdown in Catalonia” since March 16th and counting. It is a necessary and essential means to justify and contain this pandemic. Yet, out of this disaster the true values of living are being pushed to the surface, like young plants in spring. They have been buried for too long.

It is a time of not only unity in the Ebro River valley communities: forming new friendships (be it digital or otherwise); taking time to revive family talk-time; dusting off the old chess set that has been sat on top of the wardrobe for too long; but also a period of inner reflection; drawing on the deeper strengths of our character ; exploring new hobbies and crafts; reading and studying; paying respects, thanks and gratitude to all our health care professionals and workers and the bio-technological researchers racing against time to find a vacinal cure.

So, I ponder on the Zen of life by taking a word and digesting it letter by letter in my thoughts’ recipe.

E =B = R = O =V = O = I = C= E

E = Ebro River is the essence of life to our valley, mountains, towns and Delta. The essence of your day depends on you. Think about it!

B = Believe in yourself, then others will too.

R = Remember / reflections – that silence is sometimes the best answer. Hum along to the old song “The Sounds of Silence” or as my old Mum used to say, “Silence is golden.”

O = Open your arms to change and opportunities, open your thoughts to new mediums and open your eyes to what is going on around you. We cannot be an oyster in times like these. Shine like an opal for others.

V = Visualize it! Venture out of your comfort zones. The virtual world engulfs us in isolation. Use it to your advantage especially if you are alone. Learn to play chess or scrabble online you will make many new friends. If you have land go grow some vegetables. I know we can’t pop down to garden centres, but we all eat veggies and can grow new vegetables the old fashioned way or how we did so as kids. Carrots/beetroot/onion toppings, or even aubergine and garlic-they all grow out of nothing. Potatoes propagate in a pot just by cutting one up into cubes. Red,yellow, green peppers taste them, visualize them as you cover the seed head under compost.

O = Opinions tread carefully here. Our opinion may not be the same as someone else’s. There is no right or wrong. In this period of containment we are living in close quarters with others. Feelings run high and patience expires quickly. A colloquial expression that is very appropriate here is; Put your brain into gear, before opening your mouth. ( I need to often remind myself of this.)

I = If opportunity doesn’t come knocking, build a door. We all have intelligence, different levels but we can expand them. We may have to be inside, but we don’t have to live 24/7 inside our own thoughts. Communicate, share inter-cultural activities (digital or otherwise) and remember knowledge is only as powerful as the next person you share it with . That is intelligence!

I think the ‘Balcony singers of Italy’ were so inspirational to the nation and Europe – it soon caught on and viral orchestras and operas have given so much pleasure to so many people – ‘Grazie mille italiani’.

C = Compassion / consideration /commitment/control. All very powerful words use them in your actions cleverly. Don’t complain about being bored. Everyday get up, get dressed, make your bed and do something. It doesn’t matter what. Just do something!

E = Expressions /excitement/excel/enlighten/encouragement . Look around you and see how a smile can change the whole day of an old person or a child. Encourage others at home to live and not just go about grumpily. Excel in learning new things from others young and old. When someone doesn’t know or understand something in a second, third or even their home language enlighten them or teach them how to use Thesaurus. Encourage your youngsters keep a scrapbook, journal and adults to can write down the humour as well as horrors and sprinkle with ideas on how they kept themselves amused and others with hyperlinks and images. I’m sure there will be a film coming out after all of this.

Embrace the family you have – near and far. In these horrifically, scary times we are living in some people may lose all their loved ones. Be grateful for all the odds and sods, warts and kisses too.

Charlie Brown summed it all up: “Keep looking up – that’s the secret of life.”

Credits: Thank you kindly to Claudia Tapalagas for this tranquil scenery of our beautiful River Ebro.

(c)Tales from the Ebro River Valley: RosieReay

Camarles welcome all -lovely stalls-lovely people-lovely friendly little town

20401055_1432307533527308_807822529_nAt Camarles this Saturday 29th July, 2017 from 9am-1pm is an antique/craft sale where we will be selling a variety of homemade, delicious edibles and art items.

Be sure to get there early if you want a bottle of “No Mas Moscas” (fly repellent) as the word spreads of its effectiveness, it is selling very fast!

We are running an end of the month try it special (only a few more days left on offer) on our homemade, ecological goat cheese buy 1 get 1 free. It can be used as a delicious alternative to soft cheese, cream cheese or sour cream in any recipe, topping for pizza or baked potato or eaten fresh with crackers or bread. It also freezes well so stock up now during this one time special!

All of our products are made with love. We’ve been told you can taste it and as we are there each week we take requests for colors on the art projects and flavor combinations in the homemade cheese. We use almost exclusively organic herbs from our own garden and wild ones from our land. We can make vegetarian cheese on request as our in stock stuff has a quarter of a gram of cuajo per cheese along with a bifidous culture and milk from our own goats plus our homegrown herbs and that’s it no chemicals, no salt (except dried Parmesan style) and nothing else. We grow oregano, basil, cinnamon basil, chives, sage, tarragon and harvest wild garlic, wild thyme and wild Rosemary.20370769_1432307506860644_578559664_n

Our guest contributor :Stephanie Crystaal20292523_1432307920193936_557254422_n

Exploring Tortosa

By guest blogger Marie Pugh

I’ve been to Spain many times before but I’d never visited Tortosa, in fact before I met Rosie Reay playing Scrabble online I’d never even heard of it! Looked in the normal tourist guides and apart from a line or two it wasn’t mentioned. I was intrigued.

As we’d arrived late to the Corona hotel we decided to stay put and then explore the next day. After a wonderful breakfast, ‘twas a revelation to see the workmen drinking beer at 8am, on went the sunglasses and sun cream. We’re not the type of people to plan our adventures so it was out the door and turn left!

Tortosa 1

We weren’t disappointed. Nestled on the banks of the Ebro it really is a city of two halves.  On the right bank where we were staying it had a much more urban feel, the place where people lived, they worked, they spent time with their families. But a gentle stroll across the bridge and you were in the ‘old town’. A vibrant, busy place, full of character, architecture, shops, places to eat and more importantly ‘be seen’. Whether drinking coffee, enjoying a beer or nibbling tapas, the locals really seemed to be enjoying the town. It had a relaxed, informal, atmosphere. Although not ‘touristy’ it felt comfortable. It didn’t matter we knew no Catalan, a friendly smile goes a long way. Everyone made us feel welcome.

The old half is just that – old! The Cathedral of Santa Maria de Tortosa is a great place to visit. We learned a lot about the history of the city, it really has been around a long time. The streets are steeped in history and it was quite exciting to think that we may have walked the same steps as the Romans!

Unless you want a big debate don’t mention the impressive monument in the middle of the river, it really is the elephant in the room.

How a chance game of scrabble brought me to the Ebro Valley

By guest blogger Marie Pugh

You know how it is, its late, you can’t sleep so you’re wasting time cruising through the social media sites. Ah Facebook! Scrabble … yep that should waste a bit more time. Anyway I got hooked. Was playing every night with different people, suddenly a little box appeared, a chat box. What the hell I thought, why not, it’s not as if they can see me sat here bleary eyed and unkempt in my not so flattering PJs.

So that’s how I met the author Rosie Reay who happened to live in the Ebro Valley. Sat in the cold in Cardiff she painted a very attractive picture of her life on the Finca, I could almost smell the almond blossom and picture the soaring of the eagles. Come to visit she said. We’ve a great fiesta coming up she said. The whole town dresses up and parties, you’d love it.

Mmmmm…. I’ll have a think about it. Next thing you know the flights to Reus were booked and before I knew it Ryanair were bouncing the plane down the runway.

River Ebro 1Now the trip by car from Reus to Tortosa was interesting to say the least but it wasn’t until we got to our destination we realised just how interesting. Those ladies by the side of the road weren’t selling oranges!! It was late when we got to Hotel Corona, but the hotel was an absolute delight, and I couldn’t wait to explore our surroundings over the next few days and even better I was going to meet Rosie Reay in person. What does one wear to meet a published author??

 

The Caravan

Farmstay

By our guest blogger Sue (aka slightleynuts)

Now we are living in our house it was a question of what to do with the caravan? A few people suggested offering it for rent. People might enjoy the experience off grid, or on  small farm living abroad.

Learning to live using solar power and no piped mains water is a challenge! I remember (in England) how I took for granted switching on a light or turning on a tap or just the simple pleasure of hopping in and out of the shower without thinking about the water consumption or the power it tool to work the pump!!

“It seemed a good idea, we have been working towards getting the caravan ready.”

1IMG_20140824_155219This area made a big difference, it doubled our living area.

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We spent many evenings stargazing and listening to music, or entertaining friends.

 

 

 

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It seems so much bigger now there are not 4 dogs lolling all over the place.

 

 

 

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I remember trying to make honeycomb and the whole caravan filling up with bees!

 

 

 

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Its been a real trip down memory lane for us and now is finally ready for renting. A holiday with a bit of something different. You can learn about “Living off grid” or trying to become self sustainable.

 

 

 

The caravan has 3 bedrooms which sleep 2 people in each. The living room also has a hide away double bed, so it can sleep between 6/8 people. “It has its own BBQ”

So if you or anybody you know would be interested in coming to stay please contact me. We are set net to Els Ports Parc Natural in Catalunya Spain. There are many cycling and walking routes locally, a variety of beaches, natural pools all within a 30/40 minute drive and the local town of Tortosa is set on the River Ebro. Famous for its fishing. especially cat fishing.

Im more than happy to show you around our little farm and intoduce you to some of the characters!! Maybe try your hand at goat herding!! Or just come and say Hi to Pickle 🙂

If you are interested then come have a look at the goat escape

For more of our guest blogger Sue please visit http://slightleynuts.blogspot.com.es/

Aqua Roquetes offer valid only until 14th September

Fun and variety

Fun and variety

AQUA ROQUETES

Passeig Manel Cid s/n

Roquetes, 43520

Tel.: 977504022

www.igesport.com

Bingo: Building That Bridge Back Home

Re-loaction

Which road will you take?

 

One of the biggest and most contentious scenarios anyone will have about living abroad, it’s the difficulty in dealing with a living situation that might not be as comfortable as what they’ve grown accustomed to. It’s not just a change of location; it’s also a change in culture, of contacts, and for all intents and purposes, of an entire way of life. No matter where people might move and no matter what the reason, finding the best way to adjust should be the first goal of anyone living abroad.

Here are some things to take into consideration for people planning, or thinking about, living abroad;

Make Use of Modern Technology
It probably goes without saying that with more and more people moving away from their country of origin in order for business reasons, it becomes even more important to keep contact with friends and family back home. Yet it’s surprising how many people still feel estranged despite how much modern technology has changed our lives. iPhone users can use Facetime to get in touch with relatives no matter where they are, while Skype is a great option for those without a smartphone.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so many other websites and apps have been bridging people effectively ever since they’ve been launched. While it might not be as good as actually interacting with friends in person, it’s all a matter of taking the initiative and making use of the tools that people have at their disposal to make expat life more comfortable.

Turn The Old Into Something New
Because people can only take so much of their old homes and lives with them abroad, it’s important to find new ways to enjoy old things. Even for something that’s rooted in so much history as community bingo, simply finding a room to go to online with old friends over the weekend can work wonders, especially with chat functionality enabled on some providers.

“I get the privilege of meeting so many different people from so many backgrounds and I see so many lives changed with huge wins!” Ellie, a Chat Moderator for Betfair Bingo, stated. A strong community, no matter where people end up, is what can make or break an experience entirely.

Move Outside the Expat Bubble
It becomes easy to gravitate towards something that’s pleasant and familiar, but when Englishmen are afraid of talking to anyone that isn’t an Englishman, or when an American expat family will only eat at McDonalds or other US-themed restaurants, it only makes it more difficult to adjust in the long run.

The modern day nomad will always have the problem of being neither here nor there, but the solution isn’t to create an insular life. Celebrate what makes the new location unique and special, get to know the people, and build a home wherever life might take you.

 

Fair Exchange Xerta

Fair Exchange Xerta – Catalonia and afar

Xerta or Cherta they are one and the same place, however this service is not limited to the friendly village along the canal and the River Ebro, it is open to Spain. After all we have Fedex, Correos (buyer collects or pay postage.)

This is an open group set up on our best e-friend and confidante  a.k.a. Facebook. Here is another innovative lady in southern Catalonia, moving and shaking, inspiring us all to post our items for exchanging.

In the festive spirit, there is more – it is free of charge and with Maggie’s blessing, in serving the community.

What you have to exchange need not be mega big or exceptional, but it may be just what someone else is looking for. The old adage of  bartering and swapping prevails.

“Fair enough,” I hear you say, “but what if I have what they need, yet do not want the exchange they are offering?”

“It is very easy and straight-forward. Talk to them. Persuade, debate, exchange, recycle, haggle, swap, sell or give freely.” After all, we are in the season of giving and goodwill.

There is another angle to this Fair Exchange Xerta group; you need something but they have nothing to exchange. Fair enough – put forward your request politely and be honest in what your budget limit is subject to your approval of goods.

Now this is a very interesting angle; you wish to promote an event or have a business(one ‘man’ or corporate) and want to promote your products or services. This is a novel outlet to get your business out there in less than the 30 second elevator pitch. The charging is done on a sliding scale to suit the client –  be it weekly, monthly, tri-monthly, or sixth-monthly, annually or a one off.

Please contact Fair Exchange Xerta on Facebook or email artofmakingmiracles@gmail.com

 

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