After a long winter and a year of stop-start lockdowns, many of you are dreaming of a holiday in the sun or buying a lovely home in Spain – and in a few more weeks there might finally be some clarity. We are hopeful.
BUT ….. In case you missed the news this week, we are happy to confirm that there is light at the end of the tunnel for prospective home buyers from Britain. Starting Monday 29th March, the UK’s travel restrictions will include a list of specific “reasonable excuses to travel” outside the country, which includes travel “in connection with the purchase, sale, letting, or rental of a residential property,” according to new legislation.
Permitted activities include visiting an estate agent, developer sales office, or show home, viewing residential properties to rent or buy, and preparing a property for moving in. Also… starting next Tuesday 30th March, the Spanish government will be lifting restrictions on flights from the UK! Travellers will still have to show a negative PCR result from a test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.
As other countries have different rules, laws and restrictions around Covid-19, and it can be a moving target, of course so YOU need to make sure you comply with your departing and arrival country’s rules. Check the Gov websites or your travel agent. Failure to comply could mean BIG FINES!
So cling onto the good news, that in general it can still be possible to travel abroad for the purpose of purchasing a property.And people are doing so.
You probably will need a negative COVID-19 test before, during and after you travel. Some countries may require you to quarantine for a period (5 to 10 days). And it would be wise to get an authorised letter to prove the purpose of your visit.
However, here are the valid reasons to travel, including a purpose to buy or rent property abroad:(Again check as they may change)
• Work • Study • Legal obligations or to vote • Moving, selling or renting property • Childcare reasons or to be present at a birth • Visiting a dying relative or close friend • Attending a funeral • Getting married or attending the wedding of a close relative • Medical appointments • Escaping a risk of harm
For UK travellers, SKY have an article that explains the current situation in more detail, including the RED LIST of countries that are most affected.
After one of the coldest winters on record in Spain, the province of Alicante is already seeing the first and glorious pink and white blossom of the almond trees on their farmland. The areas of Torrellano, in Elche, Hondón de las Nieves and Hondón de los Frailes, in the Medio Vinalopó, the districts of Marina Alta and Vega Baja are some points of the province in which you can already enjoy a beautiful landscape. The pictures below were taken 1st week of Feb’ 2021.
Nature is wonderful and brings us this “blaze” of glory each year. It is common for the first petals and the first almond buds to begin appearing at the beginning of February. The local residents get excited about this, as not only is the Hondon Valley full of colour for the first time of the year, but it heralds the start of the warmer and longer sunny days.
The relatively high temperatures in recent weeks in the region, where in some points, such as Elche, have reached between 18 and 20 degrees! We’ve seen people sun bathing on the coast. However, the local farmers are a little worried that some almonds groves in the mountains may be exposed to possible early morning frosts as the local temperature and inclement weather can be cold in the evenings / mornings in February. Lately the Hondon Valley is feeling 5-9 degrees first thing. BRrrrrrr! But all is well by mid-morning and a lunch al-fresco is a still a pleasant experience.
So how do you like your almonds? … Sweet or savoury? Roasted and salted, spiced, cookies, ground into cakes, marzipan or mixed in muesli… what’s your favourite use of local almonds? Enjoy. They are delicious. #almondblossom
Roscon de Reyes is a traditional sweet cake to celebrate the Spanish Christmas & the 3 Kings parade on 5th Jan, Epiphany.*
At this time of the year all across Spain families like to share a “Roscones de Reyes”, a delicious sweet pastry ring, which is shaped as a crown to welcome the Epiphany of the Three Kings on 5 January. This is one of the oldest traditions in Spain, and can be traced back to the 12th century, if not before.
This is usually the most magical night of the Spanish Christmas calendar, especially for the children. The three Wise Men or Kings visit houses and leave presents for everyone or parade local streets & town centres. They can be spectacular with the Kings giving away sweets and presents to joyful , excited children. Loud music is blaring, the costumes are glitzy and theatrical and people dance. In Madrid, the capital, they televise the parade to the country which usually includes some very special guests and celebrations. It’s a HUGE parade and worth a look. Of course all towns and villages, like the Hondon Valley make the effort too.
*Alas. COVID-19 wil curtail mass gatherings and celebrations in 2020 but we are sure the Spanish will embrace and do what they can.
These Roscones are usually decorated with pretty colourful candied fruit and are often stuffed with a cream or chocolate filling and it is lightly fragranced with “aqua de azahar”, made with the blossom of orange. Look out for the little figurine of Jesus or some similar gift, as it brings luck (if it doesn’t bring the dentist).
The Covid crisis is having a big effect on the bakers of these Roscones, with sales down by one third this year, reflecting the fact that big family gatherings are being avoided at this time. if you can support your local bakers, rather than the supermarkets #lovelocal.
Remember that the 6 January is a public holiday to celebrate Los Reyes and children finally get to open their presents on the evening before.
Have you tried a Roscon? Where is the best place to buy one?
The Spanish love their grapes for the Festive Period, especially New Year. And the reports are that it is a bumper harvest expected in Spain, especially in the Vinalopó / Hondon areas. This year’s production of PDO Vinalopó Bagged Table Grapes amounts to 40 million kilos.
At the beginning of November, the harvesting of the Aledo variety grape kicked off in the Vinalopó region. This fruit is traditionally consumed on New Year’s Eve in Spain following a tradition that dates back at least to the final years of the 19th century.
In an interview with Agencia Efe, the president of the PDO Vinalopó Bagged Table Grape, José Bernabéu, said that they are looking towards a “good campaign” both in terms of production and marketing. This year sees an excellent quality of the product and the good market response to “the best protected grape in the world.“
He said that the weather has been “very favourable” this year since September. The crop has benefited from the dry climate in this area of the Region of Valencia, necessary to obtain a “premium quality” product.
In addition to the good weather, “the product is being well-received in both national and foreign markets,” says Bernabéu. “However with a good supply and demand the growers are not being forced to lower the price of the fruit, as we’ve seen happen in previous years.” They have been the same price for about 20 years.”
This year, the production registered under the PDO amounts to 40 million kilos, counting all 7 protected varieties. In addition to the Aledo, there are also Victoria, Ideal, Red Globe, Doña María, Rosetti and Dominga grapes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Place in the Sun is returning to Channel 4 with a new series!
We’re all in need of a bit of escapism at the moment, so from Monday 11th May these new episodes be transporting you to sunnier climes for an hour each weekday with our all star line-up of presenters!
Tune in to Channel 4 at 3pm every day for four weeks of brand new episodes full of sun, sea and property hunting. The usual APITS crew will be presenting episodes across the globe.
Danni Menzies, Laura Hamilton, Jonnie Irwin, Jasmine Harman, Scarlette Douglas, Ben Hillman and Jean Johansson will be searching for the perfect properties for their househunters across Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands and France.
Hola! thank you for your visit.
If you are looking to buy or sell property in the Hondón Valley area, please consider Hondón Villas, a local family business for 15 years. We are passionate about property and can advise & hold your hand throughout the process. Our office is in the main Frailes plaza, open Mon-Fri 10.00-17-00 and by appointment at evenings and weekends, WEBSITE : WWW.HONDONVILLAS.NET