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.
The Santuario de Santa Magdalena on the outskirts of Novelda is a 20/30 minute drive from the Hondón Valley. It’s well worth a visit and is an interesting piece of architecture overlooking the town and the new high-speed railway to Madrid.
As you can see from the picture here the external masonry is very “Gaudi-esk” in style, similar to the iconic buildings of Barcelona. You will marvel at the ornate work on the outside but if it is open you should also peek inside as it is equally as beautiful and features the only 70 piece marble pipe organ in the world. On the day we went the organist was there and proudly played a few hymns. An awesome sound.
Along side the church is also a triangular keep (tower) and grounds. It has limited opening times so check the link below before setting off. It is best seen on calm warm sunny day like we did… it’s definitely worth a look. Maybe you could combine this with a trip to the Novelda town market, usually a Wednesday.
Albatera (see Google Map), an historic Spanish City and municipality located close to the Vega Baja del Segura. It is in the province of Alicante, part of the Valencian Community on the Costa Blanca South, Spain. Albatera comes from the words “Alba”, meaning Spanish and “Terra”, meaning land. Albatera basically means “Spanish Land”.
Geography: Albatera has an area of 66.5 km2 and according to the last census 2005, has an approx’ population of 12,000 inhabitants. It is near to the towns of Crevillente, Orihuela, San Isidro (Train Station), Catral and Cox.
The closest airport to Albatera is Alicante (L’Altet) at around 38 kilometres (35 minutes drive), although San Javier Airport (Murcia) is also easily drivable. The postcode for Albatera is 03340. Road access to Albatera is usually the E-15 (A-7) and N-340 roads.
Weather and Economy: The climate is typical Mediterranean, with an average annual temperature of 19ºC, reaching 30+ in the summer with over 300 days of sunshine per year. The economy of Albatera is mainly based on trading “confección costura” (Clothing Manufacture) and farming/agriculture. You cannot fail to spot the acre upon acre of crops such as lemons, oranges, figs and olives… and they are delicious!
Culture and Events: The population are mostly Castilian speakers, although there is a push to speak the Valencian language now. The main town hosts mainly Spanish, Hispanics and North Africans. However, the surrounding “Campo” has many homes of retired northern Europeans such as the British and Dutch who own either holiday villas or have migrated for the “Spanish Dream”.
Catholic Church:The most important and central monument in the city is the baroque Catholic church built in 1727 which is the centre piece of the main Plaza. Also important is the Sanctuary of the Patroness of the Virgen del Rosario or Aurora, who is celebrated on the first Sunday of October by the “Brotherhood of Our Lady”. Albatera has a long history of cultural tradition such as traditional music, with two local bands, a choir and parish choirs.
Fiestas: Albatera, like many Spanish cities/towns, offer a week of Fiestas for the community (the whole family can join in). The main and colourful parade event being the “Moors and Christians”, which are spectacular, a “must see”. The Semana Santa (Easter) is also a very religious and a busy time for the city. The festivities in honour of the town’s patron St. James, are usually held the week of July 25th. Albatera is still developing with the construction in recent years of the House of Culture in the “Parque de la Huerta” (30,000 m2), the House of Music and more sports facilities (including a new public outdoor pool).
Nature: As Albatera is surrounded by mountains and natural parks (Parque de Montana) it boasts excellent outdoor activities such as walking/hiking such as the “Rambla de la Sal”, cycling and shooting sports. They have also recently built an outdoor communal swimming pool.
Come visit the Hondon Valley… with beautiful mountain views, the vineyards and 300+ Days of glorious Spanish sunshine per year!
Brought to you by Hondon Villas. Voted “Business of the Year” in the Pride of Spain Awards. Buy or Sell property. We have 10 Years in Spanish Real Estate. We are the #1 local Real Estate Agent in the Hondon Valley areas covering Hondon Valley, Albatera, La Romana, Macisvenda, Hondon de las Nieves and Hondon de los Frailes for property sales, rentals and real estate services.
One of the nicest days to visit the Hondon Valley is on Market Day, every Saturday in the lovely Hondon de las Nieves…. You can shop for fresh produce or clothes, meet with friends for drinks or just enjoy the tranquil ambience over a brandy, coffee or a tostada or a selection of tapas. Hondon Villas wish you The Good Life!
The main two villages of Hondon de las Nieves and Hondon de los Frailesnest in the beautiful Hondon Valley. For decades they have grown an abundance of agricultural delights such as Grapes, Almonds and Olives (the main economy). Hondon is surrounded by an expanse of stunning mountain views and traditional arid Spanish countryside. These excellent vistas are a delight in all seasons!
Take a walk or drive through the country roads and you will just marvel at the changing light, shadows and picturesque skies. The Hondon Valley is well known for its mild climate and pleasant summer breezes, which is very welcoming in those hot summer months when temperatures rarely fall below 30 degrees.
The region enjoys sunshine in excess of 310 days per year, where the air is very clean and the pace of life slow. Hondon offers a very peaceful and stress free life.
So please, come take a look at the Valley of the Vines, drink the local wine under the bluest of skies and feel the warmth of the Spanish sun on your face … and you’re hooked! We were! We love it! :-)
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