Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Practise Bullfighting and Horse Show

Ivan took Ryan, Angela and us into the countryside north of Sevilla to a farm that boards horses and is a riding training venue. We would call it a riding academy in Canada. They were having an event for charity to support the riders and their travels to other facilities. It was packed! Very good turnout! There was a community vibe about it like we’ve seen at wine festivals in small towns in Germany and I experienced at our local fair in Brentwood Bay, BC., where "everyone knows your name", well Ivan's anyway.

Here is Ryan and Angela's blog on it, they take great pictures! They also took note of names of where we were and our hosts, read about it there, no sense in repeating. Did I say REALLY great pictures!

We had beer and food at tables in the riding ring, our chairs kept sinking in the sand floor. The food was home made and excellent, they ran out and then brought more in.

There was an auction, see Ryan's comment about the dress, but there was also this saddle. Those things in the middle are the stirrups.

Padded front and back, comfy!
Then we sat around a ring for the bull fighting training session, we had wanted to do last year but wasn’t available to us then. Some are quite privately done, others like this one are an advertised for charity event. The bulls certainly didn’t give up easily, chased the capes with vigour. I am not commenting further here on this strong tradition in Spain. I wrote about this last year and now having seen the training sessions would still not go to a bullfight but was enlightened to see the training process.

The skill of the toreadors was incredible, and fluid, almost like a dance with the bull! 

This fellow was very good!
Various levels of skill in the toreadors, as well, the best or eldest, got the first go and then when the bull had gotten tired, next. They started off the “fight” by having a blindfolded horse with very thick padding, rider on top, teasing it by poking it with a stick. 

The bull would butt the horse in anger which increased his ire or frustration. There were two bulls one had longer energy and more fight than the other.

Then back to the food and beer tent for more tapas, then the real fun for me was shown. Girl riders, about teen age, on their horses doing increasingly higher rounds of jumps. There was one small girl on a small horse that made it through, plucky kid, plucky horse! The proud smile on her face was a delight to see.

Men on large horses, individually, took their horses through the paces of walking sideways, backwards, horses are not used to doing that so it was also skillfully done. 

Then a young fellow dressed in Andalucian costume did the same with his but also had the horse stand on it’s hind legs and actually sit down. This kid and horse were incredible! 

This fellow also judged the jumping class
The whole show was wonderful, in the what a day, in a local community!

It’s been since I left 4-H, a farm program for teens, or attended the country fair many moons ago, that I’ve been in that atmosphere of parents and professionals teaching children how to work with animals and husbandry training skills. Just as important the ability to perform with confidence in a ring with spectators, always was my biggest challenge. The animal is sometimes unpredictable despite all the hours of training, it may get spooked by a loud noise or sudden movement. My first year in a show ring my steer ran amok in the ring and even got phlegm  in the judge’s hair, sure didn’t win that one!

We estimate that there were likely over five hundred people in attendance, hard to know because the property was large and there were people everywhere and only two, yes, two toilets, men and women’s, one each causing 30- 45 minute waits. I guess they hadn’t quite planned that part for such a successful event. 

Angela, Ryan and I were all snapping pictures until their camera died so I credit Angela for some of the later pictures and she did a couple of videos, I knew the camera was capable of but didn't know how, doh. Angela is a good photographer, especially with movement which I’m not. Once again I failed to be able to load the videos, note to self - learn for heaven's sake! 

The day was a truly extraordinary experience! Another with our guide and  friend Ivan, and Ryan and Angela, our "on site" professional photographer and media expert. Thank you!

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bruce's New Eye and more Food, Like we need it!

I braved getting a hair cut and it was a good move. Saw the proprieter of a shop staring out his window, he had curly hair, and looked a bit bored or lonely. So I took the opportunity to use his services. I do sometimes look for curly hair on hairdressers because mine is and they’ll hopefully understand it better. Those of you with straight won’t know, but if it gets cut against the natural curl it can be hell! I also don’t use a hair dryer or styling products that would “beat” it into shape. He blew dry it straight! Funny, Bruce didn’t recognise me, almost. It’ll go back to being curly again tomorrow but was a change to have totally different hair for a day! I also liked the fellow, he’s from Columbia and must be rather brave to open a hair studio when they are as frequent almost as bodegas, on every corner.

Trip with Ivan to the eye doctor, for analysis of Bruce's cataract, more on that later. Afterward we all needed food and drink so went to a small bar next to a park, called La Raza. More on that in a bit as well ... reason I mention now is to set up the next bit.

Travelling to and from from the hospital we use a boulevard that has the houses or castles from the 1929 Expo, read about it here

The Queen's Sewing Box

This was actually built prior to the Exhibition and has a rather poignant story behind it you can read about it on the above link. We have passed by it many times and I've always admired it as a very pretty building and finally took a picture. 

Ivan had never been to La Raza but to a sister restaurant of a group so knew the chef was good. Modern twist on basic Spanish food and it was excellent! Tasty and beautifully presented.

There seems to be large corporations or mid-sized ones that own groups of restaurants of high quality in Sevilla. They do not operate as “chains” like Milestones or Earls in Canada. They have individual names and no real visible connection to each other so only people “in the know”, would that they are owned by the same organization. Seems to me they tend to be on the trendier side doing modern versions of typical Spanish tapas or racions (full plates). I had raw salmon, best I think I’ve ever eaten, melt in your mouth and we shared a  plate of roasted lamb with quinoa. Didn't think I liked quinoa, but perhaps wasn’t cooked the way this was, it was delicious and the lamb was perfection. So, again, going on about food but sitting in the sun, having tapas, and a drink, well, you know, we are loving it.

Ivan gave me a purse! I was always complaining about the one I have because it’s difficult to find things in, not enough pockets. Guess he got tired of hearing it so solved the problem by buying me one! So thoughtful and kind.

Ivan met us and went to Antonio’s tile “palace” to pay for our commissioned tile piece, half of it anyway, as a down payment. This will be it with a true, blue Sevilla sky for background.

We've asked Antonio to paint in a typical Sevilla blue sky.
His Bodega sign is coming along and so detailed, many layers upon layers of paint. Every time we go I get a better understanding of how much work it is, the labour involved, I want to see it finished! We will have a piece of true art when he has done our little commission. He is a true master of the art and we are glad to "support"  him in a small way. He is part of generations of the technique and it will be lost in time, as with many labour intensive, non typically profitable traditions. Best described as "labour of love" perhaps.

Warning to J in Madeira Park who has a quail as a pet, don't read this bit - trust me!

Bruce keeps complaining we haven’t been to the Quail’s place, the quaint little bar that does such lovely quail we were at last year. Yummy as always and looks to have had some decorative upgrades without loosing the neighbourhood vibe. They had a tile at the bar which says “enjoy your beer and have your little bird with it, specialty of the establishment”.

Ivan's pic, couldn't get it straight on, a pole in the middle to shore up the ceiling.
Okay J, safe to read now...

Across the street was an eclectic store that sells all manner of heating products. They used to provide all the coal to the homes in Sevilla before electricity. Now they sell coal for BBQ's and all manner of other products. 

Ivan's pic of the inside.

Ivan's pic of the outside, hard to see but the plants are held in an ancient bicycle carriage, perhaps originally used to deliver the coal.
Then on to the market restaurant where you pick out the food you want and they cook it for you. Bruce had a nice fill of oysters so it was a very good food day for him. The Market is called Mercado de la Feria and we were at the outdoor bar of it. All food comes fresh from the market and cooked to order so you really cannot get any better than that! Read a Sevilla blogger's take on it here with great pictures.

Feria is a very, very did I say very, large spring fair here in Sevilla. Families and companies have tents to entertain guests which you need an invitation to. Everyone dresses up in flamenco dresses and traditional men's riding clothing. Ivan said his sister has about twenty dresses, according to custom a woman must have a new dress every year, somewhat like most annual celebrations in many cultures. Dresses can cost a bomb from hundreds to thousands of Euros depending on, well you get the picture, lots of fabric and flounces, then the accessories are equally important. I won't go on, so much has been written. You can read more about the costume here from an expat.

The City has already started preparing for it, here is a picture, of the entrance gate, a naked one, it will be filled in with lights and is an attraction in itself.

In this picture it is hard to see the scale, but look at the tops of cars to help imagine it.

Bruce was operated on for a cataract in his right eye. He had been slowly going blind for about a year, pretty serious obstruction. Ivan took us to the Doctor, as our interpreter and support. Long story, editing to make shorter, it’s done.  Drops, drops and more drops are needed for the next while but he’s feeling good and seeing out of the eye better than the left which he used exclusively until now. Good care in the hospital here, modern hospital, competant staff and surgeon, about half the cost we were quoted in Germany. Freiburg Hospital pricing structure is strange though, to me, they budget for every eventuality, make you pay for it up front and refund what was not used. I understand this, they have many clients from other countries, many from Russia actually, and they want the money up front, not saying anything bad about Russians here, just the hospital's policy for everyone.

Storks are here! Rides back and forth to the hospital mean going out of the City a bit and there are a few old abandoned buildings, that used to belong to the military have stork nests on top. Dawna says they have returned to the Mundenhof in Freiburg as well, after their winter in Africa. Curious Bruce was looking up their habits and they can fly from Africa to Iceland, amazing. They are of course known for bringing babies “into the world” and that symbol is multinational.

Belated Happy Valentines Day if you celebrate it, we don’t, but do pick our own day to make special as it happens. I will not go on about Hallmark and florists, I have a great friend who is a florist so Mother’s Day and Valentines are her best selling days. I may edit this out (obviously didn't) but it’s a good day for men and women to acknowledge or pledge their love, a reminder to do so I think. Heavens you cannot escape it! Advertising everywhere, but really only here in the last week or so.

So I’m sorry this post is long on ordinary stuff that one does in the slow travel experience and short on more interesting things like new locations and interests. We are really hoping to get out more this next month into the countryside with Ivan.

Another thing about slow travel, you get to a spot for say four months and think you have all the time in the world and then day to day things take up time and before you know it, it’s time to leave – What?! – we had X amount of time and didn’t do what we really wanted to! Whereas if you are on vacation for a couple of weeks you are forced or mentally challenged to combine as much activity in as possible to experience the place in the short amount of time you have. Perhaps a healthy combination is in order! For example dedicate one day to exploring per week like we do with appointments, rambling but you get the idea.

Bumper cars parking – parking is tight here as I’ve mentioned many times before and have been witness to a couple of occasions this week, people with cars too big to fit into the space but try anyway. They'll hold up traffic, try for the spot by bumping the other cars back and forward, really, they use their bumpers and push the stationary cars, in the end, they fit or don't, realize and move on. 

Cheers, hope you weren't too bored, go to the many links this time.
Bx2 and Lexi Cat.