Too Good (Hondon Writers Circle)

Richard Seal, a master of words and the description and of The Hondón Writers Circle has kindly submitted this insight into life in the rural charms of the Hondon Valley. Delightful.

Published by Percy Chattey Books

Bill and Jean love describing to friends back in Wolverhampton how their Spanish villa is tucked away on a mountain road behind an abandoned ruin, beside a forgotten expanse of wasteland which hosts an occasional sheep or goat, with black trees struggling to yield any olives. They excitedly explain that it is too far for the postman to trek, so they have a village mail box – a space stuffed full of old leaflets, and fiesta flyers from yesteryear, parties probably celebrated with customary joy when the aged local shepherd was just a boy.

Flanked by stunning views, lush almond groves, and fields full of oranges and lemons, Bill and Jean often sit together gazing at the landscape and feel that all this is a bit too good to be true. However, they know, through the blood red brilliance of the Costa Blanca sunsets, the occasional dog bark carried on the breeze and the birds which nightly hold the high notes on their twisted boughs, that this is how life is supposed to be.

Sitting in church every Sunday, listening to the service, Bill and Jean are vaguely lost amid Our Lady and saints unknown. They marvel at the Spanish words barely understood but sensed and sampled. A smiling señor and señora on the row in front suddenly turn to clasp their hands, making the couple feel so welcome. Afterwards they enjoy a leisurely lunch with a few Spanish locals, savouring the great value menu del dia with a bottle of vino tinto – Neither dissent at the prospect of time so well spent.

On a late August evening, Bill and Jean stand in the village surrounded by Spanish folk in family clusters, sitting together on rickety chairs hauled out of shuttered houses. The fiesta parade of floats leaves the pair in slack-jawed awe: Flower pot children amble ahead of twenties’ flappers, blazing a trail for Hawaiian gyrators; comic characters herald zombies and an underworld cast before the spectacular midnight firework blast. English village fates seem such distant memories, the couple’s life now is a Fandango; They smile at each other and wonder each day who could have spiked their Earl Grey.

Credits : Copyright c2020. This article was kindly written for Hondon Villas and the Hondón Community by Richard Seal, a member of the local Hondon Writing Circle. ‘Too Good’ is taken and adapted from Richard Seal’s book ‘Living Now’ (2018)

Percy Chattey Books publish Story Telling ® a series of Short Stories and Poems in digital eBooks / paperback formats available online via Amazon and Kindle.

Help for Foreigners to Integrate into Spanish Life

The Provincial Institution (Alicante Diputación) want to help foreign citizens to understand and integrate more into local and national life here in Spain. Some 190,000 euros has been allocated to do this. And our region is involved.

Novelda Magdalena Church
Novelda Magdalena Church

The deputy of International Residents, Juan de Dios Navarro, has highlighted that the objective of these programs is to collaborate with the local entities of our province in the development of projects and activities that “contribute to help, advise and integrate the thousands of foreigners who they have chosen our province to live ”.

If you live here in Spain, you will know it can be different from life in Northern Europe, even quirky to foreigners! Many foreigners do not have the language skills or understanding to integrate or learn about the real day-to-day life here. Of course understanding the language, economy, culture and labour can enhance and facilitate a better lifestyle & happiness.

In this sense, the new initiatives such as Spanish courses, awareness and integration campaigns, care and advisory services, information campaigns on the municipal register, volunteer programs, intercultural participation days or sports activities will be subsidised. “The demand for this type of projects has increased significantly in recent years given the importance that, for their (foreign citizens) full integration in Alicante, have, for example, knowledge of Spanish or legal, legal or labour issues that concern them.” says Juan de Dios Navarro.

So look out for these initiatives in your local Town Hall or on local Facebook groups and get involved. Most will be free!

The benefited municipalities are Aspe, Elda, Hondón de las Nieves, Hondón de los Frailes and La Romana, in the Middle Vinalopó, Crevillent, in the Baix Vinalopó, and Salinas and Sax, in the Alto Vinalopó. Aigües, El Campello and Mutxamel, in L ‘Alacantí, and Albatera, Algorfa, Almoradí, Benferri, Benijófar, Bigastro, Catral, Cox, Daya Nueva, Daya Vieja, Dolores, Granja de Rocamora, Guardamar del Segura, Jacarilla, Los Montesinos, Pilar de la Horadada, Rafal, Redován, San Isidro, San Miguel de Salinas and Torrevieja.

In Vega Baja. Alcalalí, Benigembla, Benimeli, Calp, Dénia, Llíber, Murla, Castell de Castells, Ondara, Orba, Parcent, Pego, Benitachell, Els Poblets, Sanet y Negrals, Tormos and Xábia, in the Marina Alta, and L’Alfàs del Pi , Altea, Beniardá, Bolulla, Callosa d’En Sarrià, Finestrat, Polop, Relleu and Tárbena, in the Marina Baja. In the El Comtat region, aid will go to L’Alqueria d’Asnar, Cocentaina, Facheca, Muro de Alcoy, Lorcha and Planes, while L’ Alcoià will benefit Banyeres de Mariola, Onil and Tibi.

as report on Valley of the Vines

6 easy-to-cook Spanish Tapas dishes. Yum!!

There’s are 100’s of tapas recipes and dishes to choose from. They can be regional or very generic Spanish and portions vary too. In many parts of Spain they are served free with your drinks in Spanish Bars, always welcome. Some can be bizarre compared to northern European tastes but give them a go!

Well one of our favourite cooking channels on YouTube is “Spain on a Fork”. If you are new to Tapas or want to try something new then this channel is well worth a subscription.

Try cooking these very easy but essential Spanish Tapas Dishes yourself…
In the video below you can learn to prepare and cook the very popular and typical Spanish tapas recipes…. it looks so easy and so delicious. let us know how you get on.

Including Warm Salted Almonds
Manchego & Sweet Roasted Peppers
Garlic Mushrooms with Smoked Paprika
Roasted Potatoes with Paprika Ali-Ole
Roasted Asparagus with Lemon
Cheese & Egg Montaditos
… all delicious and at only 3 or 4 ingredients per dish.
The recipes can be printed and followed here:

6 easy to cook Spanish Tapas Dishes

A Montadito is a staple of the culinary arts from Spain. It is a unique tapa-sized rolls of bread similar to a baguette but wider and with a twist. … The etymology of the word ‘montadito’ stems from the word ‘montar’, which means ‘to mount’ in Spanish.

We Love Spanish Tapas !!

You can get Tapas in the Hondon area, but it’s not widely available or of great variety... least not in the league of Granada and the Andalucia region in general. A new Spanish run Tapas Bar has just opened calls “El Charro” in the Frailes Plaza (see Facebook El Charro)

Having just visited my favourite Spanish Language site “SpanishDict.Com” – they now have a blog and have written about Spanish Tapas

Tapas, those delicious little snacks you can get in any bar in Spain, have recently been making quite a splash in the United States. In the past 3 years, I have seen 4 tapas bars pop up in my neighbourhood alone. And people are crazy about them! The thing is, other than serving tiny bits of expensive food and over-priced drinks, these trendy American tapas bars have almost nothing in common with your traditional Spanish tapas bar.

Spanish Tapas

In many places in Spain, dinner is not served until 9 or 10 o’clock at night. So many people like to “tapear” or go out and eat tapas at a few different bars to meet up with friends, discuss the day, and in general just relax in a fun social atmosphere. In a lot of the major cities and in most parts of Adalucía, when you order a drink, often you get a tapa for free. Or sometimes it is the other way around; if you order a tapa, you get a free drink.

Now, how this tradition came about is debated among a few popular theories. First, it is important to know what “la tapa” means. Literally, it means “cover” or “top,” so it is important to keep this in mind when thinking about its history.

Some say that some sneaky tavern owners from Castilla-La Mancha found that a strong smelling and tasting cheese could “cover” the flavor of cheap wine. This way, they could sell the not so great wine for a higher price by including a free piece of cheese.

Others say that when King Alfonso XII was visiting Cádiz on the south west coast, he ordered a cup of sherry, which is famous in this region. In order to protect the wine from the blowing beach sands, the waiter covered the wine glass with a slice of cured ham. King Alfonso apparently enjoyed it and asked for another glass of sherry with a “tapa” just like the first.

Less legendary is the thought that since you are most likely standing when you are out having drinks with friends, you would need to cover your drink with your plate in order to have a free hand to eat. Or that you would need to top your sherry, a very sweet wine, with bread or ham to keep the curious flies away.

Now what kind of tapa you get with your drink widely depends on the region, but the staples are olives, of which there can be many different varieties, bread with aioli, and some kind of fried seafood. It is also very common to see small slices of bread topped with Spain’s famous jamón serrano or slices of cheese. My favourite is tortilla Española, which is very similar to an omelette with pieces of fried potato and onion inside instead of cheese.

There are thousands of tapa recipes out there and I encourage you to try a few on your own. Being all the fad right now, your friends would definitely be impressed if you invited them all over for an early evening of tapas at your house. ¡Salud! and ¡Buen provecho!

The Hondón Valley… Percy’s View

The Hondon Valley, Spain

The Hondón Valley… A refuge! This quiet sanctuary is away from the pace, hassle and bustle of the world. The Hondon Valley is a beautiful Spanish neighbourhood nestling in between the mountains and less than one hour’s drive from the golden beaches of the Costa Blanca beaches.

It is a region which can trace it’s roots back to Roman Times, the stone terracing still surviving, although unused and overgrown on the mountain side give presence to that period. The small stone huts dotted around the landscape shows evidence of a later period, when men toiled the fields and these stone constructions were places to rest from their labour, or they were for the shepherd to shelter and to take a break whilst looking after the flock.

Most of this has now disappeared as the community has engaged on a different more relaxed way of life from its previous one of farming and horticulture, morphing into a holiday paradise. This has taken place since the turn of the century, when in the year two thousand, development started with the construction of detached houses on parcels of the urban area.

It was in 1840 that self independence of the valley began to develop when the controlling authority, at that time the Dominican Friars of Orihuela, granted self governing powers to the two Hondon villages of Frailes and further to the north Nieves, with the latter being the controlling one of the pair. This changed in 1926 when the two parted company and the smaller of the two with 12.6 square kilometres of land obtained self autonomy, and the two villages developed in their own way. Today the valley is a quaint mixture of farming, residential and holiday makers living side by side.

Visit Hondon de los Frailes in Spring

In January the blossom on the almond trees will extend across the valley spreading a vista of various colours of pink proliferating around the fertile land between the Spanish style detached properties, giving the general feeling of Spring, although it has not quite arrived, it gives the impression it is on the way.

Hondon in Bloom! As the early months of the year progress then other plants will follow suit when the early buds that have formed will turn into a blanket of foliage hiding the developing fruit of the vines which will be harvested, starting in September and on to the end of the year. In between this period, the fields of olive trees their crop will have matured and would have been gathered.

This valley, this refuge from the madness of the outside world, it is where the quiet relaxed pace of time is paramount to everyday living. The mixture of different people mainly north Europeans who have found the delights of this place in the clean air of the mountains making it their home, mixing in as one, creating a contented community with its self governing bodies controlling the smooth running of events. The street parties and the fiesta in July and August… not to be missed as people come from far and wide to see the spectacles and to enjoy the cuisine offered by its restaurants.

La Montanosa in the Hondon Valley

From their humble beginnings the two communities of the valley with their grand old Churches to the centre of each built and named by the Dominican Friars all that time ago. As the bells of these structures mark each hour the surroundings progress into the new age well equipped to welcome all who wish to live or holiday in its peaceful environment.

Copyright 2020. This article was kindly written for Hondon Villas and the Hondón Community Percy W. Chattey, a member of the Hondon Writing Circle.

Percy W. Chattey is a local author of award winning thrillers and the “Story Telling” series. You can purchase Percy Chattey’s books in paperback or Kindle via Amazon… just search Percy Chattey.

Muy Tranquilo in Hondón

If you know the Hondón area you’ll soon realise it has one stubborn but very quaint foot in it’s agricultural past and the other slow marching into the 21 first century. The valley has a long fertile farming history, particularly grapes, olives and almond groves. But over the last 20 years it has seen masses of foreign investment in property sales. Times they are a changing! Well, local expat’ Richard Seal, a teacher and writer, observes the traditional of Hondón village life…

Counting Sheep!
The Spanish shepherd nods at the sauntering expat who has stopped in front of his flock on the mountain path in the Hondon Valley. Goats sit, staring back in defiance at the intruder, whilst the sheep set themselves to square up to the fluffy dog rounding them up. As the man runs the gauntlet, the group stands together calling the human back – if he thinks he is hard enough.

Nuts!
Further down the road the expat watches a farmer, moving slowly in the sun, leather-faced, dog pant-wagging at his side. Suddenly a mobile phone becomes a foreign object, not working or welcome here – decades melt away with each drip on his sweat streak-striped shirt. Silence shimmers in the heat, disturbed only by almonds dropping, shaken down from his trees.

Village Folk
Arriving in the village of Hondon de los Frailes, expat tips his hat to the aged couple, sitting on rickety chairs outside their house, listening to a crackly radio, with shutters closed against the August afternoon heat. On a low wall near the English bar, clear of the waves of Geordie and Cockney tones, sits a group of old Spanish men. Hewn from rock, faces carved in granite, they say nothing … their brown eyes are sharp, darting, sparkling over small cigars. An elderly lady stands beside a tree, leaf framed, small and proud, in timeless silhouette.

Speaking of Spanish
The expat eschews the English bar in search of paella while the locals enjoy their lunch at home. Lingering in the cafe, he luxuriates in the Senora’s sensual smile and mellifluous voice. He would love to share her song, fancying flamenco. His shaky grasp of the language falters further to broken words barely held together by a ‘bueno’. Watching the man struggle, searching for Spanish, the waitress hovers and flashes him a smile. A giggle sneaks out, brown eyes twinkle at his stuttered words. Returning with the bill, his ‘muchas gracias’ is met by a breezy ‘de nada’.

Strands, written by Richard Seal. Available via Amazon.

©2020. This article was kindly written for Hondon Villas and the Hondón Community by Richard Seal, a member of the local Hondon Writing Circle and has published “Strands” and many other stories / poems inspired by his Spanish & Hondón life.

Percy Chattey Books publish ‘Story Telling®, a series of Short Stories and Poems in both digital eBooks & paperback formats available online via Amazon and Kindle.

Q. Are you buying property in the Hondon Valley? Check out our Exclusive Hondon Villas for sale. We are a local family run business in this area for 15 years. We know Hondón well!

Living The Dream in Hondón

Local resident and writer Trudie Le Beau recalls her winter “moving-in” experience into the Hondon Valley many years ago to “live the dream”. She opted for a new build as many did in early 2000’s as Hondón redeveloped itself. Of course new builds have to become homes and that means getting stuck-in! But it’s a happy ending.
Thank you Trudie, here at Hondón Villas we wish you many more happy years in this gorgeous tranquil part of rural Spain.

When in November 2004 my husband and I moved into our villa in Hondon de los Frailes it sat lonely and unadorned in a plot of dirt with not a blade of grass in sight and which, much to our dismay, still represented a building site inside.

Livinf the dream .... relaxing in the Spanish sunshine. Bliss!

Snagging the Property
Fortunately we had one day free before our furniture was due to arrive so, instead of treating ourselves to a celebratory lunch, we hastened along to the Ferretaria in Hondon de las Neives to buy buckets, mops, scouring pads etc and spent the rest of the day sweeping up cement dust, mopping floors, cleaning gunk off windows, scrubbing grout and cement from various surfaces and falling into our camp beds exhausted.

Not the best start but thank goodness our furniture arrived as planned and things soon began to look much more homely once we had somewhere to sit and the fire (of which our builder Paco was very proud) was lit.

Over the next few weeks Paco visited on an almost daily basis to attend to the odd snags that presented themselves, like the radiator leaking, the shower head being put on back to front and the boiler not working. We also had bathroom furniture and wardrobes fitted so for a few weeks the place felt more like Piccadilly Circus than home.

A Pool? It’s all going Swimmingly!
The next thing to organise was the swimming pool and once we had decided where to position it, we set things in motion. Earth was excavated and a frame of re-bar and the pipe work were fitted, and that was when it began to rain. Our dirt patch soon became a sea of mud but, dear old Paco came to our rescue by laying a path of scaffolding boards from the gate to our steps, but unfortunately each time we walked on them they sank a little deeper into the liquid, brown slurry and almost disappeared.

The rain continued relentlessly so naturally we assumed that the pool installation would be put on hold, but how wrong could we be! The next day a cement lorry arrived to pour in the base of the pool, which it managed to do but by which time it had sunk into the mud up to its’ axles; at that point we closed the door, put on the kettle and switched on our VHS recorder (we had no television at that point) in order to drown out the raised voices and what we were sure were Spanish expletives!

Eventually the pool was finished and our plot resembled a stock car racing track but peace reigned. It was February by then and freezing cold, so much so that when the water lorry came to finish filling up the pool the water that was already in it was frozen. Never mind, we were starting a new life and we’d discovered that booze was cheap and the natives were friendly.

Slowly but surely the Hondón summer feels more like the “dream”
Things improved no end through the summer months. We began to plant out the garden (with the aid of a kango hammer) and had plenty of visitors who didn’t seem to be phased by the frequent electricity cuts and days with no water – at least we had the pool. We were able also to have a telephone and wi-fi installed as well as a television – all the creature comforts of home.

New Furry Friends
By this time we had acquired two dogs that needed homes. One was a beautiful Husky that had belonged to the bathroom fitter whose circumstances had changed, making it difficult to look after her and the other, an Alsatian cross who had been abandoned. There seemed to be so many dogs in need of help then but over the years, thanks to the wonderful people at Hovar and Barkinside to name just a few the sad problem of feral dogs has receded.

Hondón is Still a “Gem” all these years later…
If we ever had any doubts about moving to Hondon de los Frailes they didn’t last long. Over the years we have seen the village gradually grow and improve so that at present it has just about everything one could ask for in the way of amenities, yet it still retains the quiet peacefulness that first attracted us to the Hondon Valley.

What could possibly be better than sharing a meal with friends and family whilst watching the sun set on a beautiful summer evening in Hondon de los Frailes?
Can’t think of anything?
No, nor can I.

Copyright 2020. This article was kindly written for Hondon Villas and the Hondón Community by Trudie Le Beau, a member of the Hondon Writing Circle . She has recently published her book “The Petite Chronicles”.

Percy Chattey Books publish ‘Story Telling®, a series of Short Stories and Poems in both digital eBooks & paperback formats available online via Amazon and Kindle.

Published by Percy Chattey Books

Lockdown in the Hondón Valley

The Hondon Valley is a gem of inaudibility nestling amongst the mountains and about an 45 minutes drive from the Costa Blanca coast. And it is where we live and we love it here. No regrets leaving the UK from us! Here local resident and book publisher Percy W Chattey tells us about some of his observations during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Lockdown: Woman in Mask

The Old Way in Hondon…
Nearly two decades ago my wife and I found this Spanish paradise called The Hondon Valley. At that time it was trying to climb out of its farming past and join the twenty first century. I laugh now but there was over a three year wait for a telephone line and the television had two Spanish Stations with the large ‘H’ type of aerial, the kind which decorated thousands roofs of houses in Post War Britain.

Fast Forward to Spring 2020
Everything has changed over those years, and now we are as knowledgeable as most people about the modern wonders that abound us and are sorely needed in this time of Lockdown.

Shop Local #lovelocal
The local village, Hondon de los Frailes, has taken staying at home very seriously and because we are banned from travelling to a decent supermarket, about 12 Kilometres away, we have found the delights of getting our supplies from the local small shops, who have coped very well in this time of crises. Although there is not the choice of items as in the bigger shopping arenas, we are getting used to the change of diet.

Keeping Busy
It has been a wet spring here in the Valley which on the plus side makes it more a Garden of Eden in terms of greenery. But it means staying out of the rain during Lockdown. At least we are in the dry. Now short of climbing up the wall or painting it, we have been trying to find novel ways of keeping busy.

The Hondon Writers Circle members have not being able to meet for their fortnightly get together, so they have built up lengthy poems, by each putting in sequence four lines on the groups WhatsApp page, building something funny and unique which is then published on Facebook.

Ludo is a fascinating game when played with two partners in a group of four and nothing like the way children would play it. But of course, with the present situation it is not possible, especially if you have to be two metres apart. But with all the technical know-how in the Valley and the ability to use Skype, we managed by having a board in each of the two houses one with a camera over, and the game was on. If you would like to know the rules I will happily send them to you.

Behind the Mask
A lovely little story from Karen a member of the Hondon Writers Circle. Having a need to get provisions she decided to make herself one of those no-sew masks. She followed the instructions to the letter, and it worked! Looking great, and it fitted really well. Putting a bit of a coffee filter paper in the pocket at the front, because cotton alone will give about 10% to 20% protection, but add a coffee filter paper and it goes up to a 50% to 60% shield.
So, off to the shop, got everything on the list, and got back in the car, taking the mask off she saw the lower half of her face was blue, lips and all. She looked like she had been dead for a week! Going straight home warning the husband not to laugh at her or else….thank goodness it washed straight off!

Roll on Summer and the “New Normal”
We are all looking forward to the Valley turning back to normal with the sun warm and bright, also being free to wander the streets and to go a bit further to look at other parts of the world. There is also a mountain of work to be done in the garden, weeds two feet tall … perhaps the rain and the Lockdown are not such bad things after all…

Published by Percy Chattey Books

Copyright 2020. This article was kindly written for Hondon Villas and the Hondón Community by Percy Chattey, a member of the local Hondon Writing Circle .

Percy Chattey Books publish ‘Story Telling®, a series of Short Stories and Poems in both digital eBooks & paperback formats available online via Amazon and Kindle.