Thursday, 23 May 2013


Watch the video (below) before reading on...

How would you like one of those coming down your street? Tracas are very popular in this part of Spain, near Valencia. Smaller tracas, 10 to 50m long are laid out on the ground to celebrate weddings, communions, birthdays, just about anything. Giant tracas (this one was about 500m long) suspended in the air, are used for big town celebrations.

Can you see a few people 'racing' the traca? One is carrying a torch in case the traca goes out along the way.

This one was in Vila-Real to celebrate the end of their San Pascual fiesta. San (Saint) Pascual is the town's saint, so they have a week of parties, dancing, bull-running and fireworks.

If you're ever in Spain, especially in the Valencian area, check out on the internet whether one of the towns is having a fiesta. Spanish people are very proud of their traditions and very welcoming to visitors. They'll be particularly impressed if you can speak even a little bit of their language.

Grab the programme from the oficina de turismo, or check it out on the internet, and look out for a TRACA! They often have one on the last day to celebrate the end of the fiesta. 

As we'd say, 'Go out with a bang!'

Saturday, 18 May 2013

What's Your Favourite Toy? 2

Is it a Pompa Pirula

Thought not. Although you might be surprised...

This craze hit our school last lunes. By miércoles there were a couple of dozen twirling in the playground. This semana, the footballers are complaining that they're being distracted by all the reflected, flashing sunlight. 

'What is it?' I asked my class.

'Ees Pom-pa Pee-roo-la,' they chorus back.

I google it and find this... 

Pompa Pirula

'You no have eet een Eengland?' they continue, with undisguised shock. By now you might know that you do have it 'een Eengland'. I know this because having inspected the packaging, I discover the words 'Hippie Stick'. Google gives me this...

Hippie Sticks

My class are entranced by 'Hippie Sticks', and decide that as they're learning in English, they're not going to call them Pompa Pirulas any more. They're going to call them Hippie Sticks from now on. 
So, if you're learning Spanish, and you have Hippie Sticks, why don't you do the opposite, and rename them Pompa Pirulas

You have to admit, it's got a certain ring to it! But what does it mean? Well, 'pompa' is a bubble, and 'pirula' means a trick. So it means something like 'bubble tricks'.

Have fun!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Just Don't Wipe Your Feet!

What do you think these are? How do you think they're made?




Here are some more pictures to help you with the second question. The numbers link the lower pictures to the upper ones to show you which picture each detail comes from.





I'm sure you spotted the leaves and the flowers, but did you also see the rice, sand and the grass cuttings? They're nice, aren't they? I heard a number of people saying, '¡Qué chulo!' '¡Super chulo!' and even '¡Chulisimo!' as I was snapping them.

So, what are they and what are they for?

Here's a final clue...

 Well, they're made outside the front door by family members on the morning of a child's first Communion. They're called tapizes (pronounced, tap-ee-thes) or alfombras de comunión and each tapiz (tap-eeth) spells out the child's name. 

I spoke to some of the Spanish teachers in my school and they told me that they think they are unique to this region. I took these photos in Vila-Real (you might know it from the football a couple of years back). 

Let's finish with those names shall we? Can you pronounce them?
1. Arnau. This is a Catalan version of Arnold. Cataluña is the part of north-eastern Spain that includes Barcelona. Pronounce this name Ar-now.
2. Laura. Careful how you say this. Rhyme the 'Lau' bit with 'cow', Lau-ra.
3. Giulia. Very similar to Julia, but pop a little 'ee' sound between the 'G' and the 'u'. Gee-oo-lee-ah.
4. María. Just like home, although as María is a Spanish name, home is here!  

A final thought, I wonder if every child prays that it won't be windy on their communion day? 

Saturday, 4 May 2013

A Stranger on the Corner

I'm back in Madrid. Just walking around (paseando), when I spot this...

Quite a few people are stopping and looking up as it sparkles in the sunshine. I hear, '¡Qué chulo!' and even '¡Súper-chulo!' from the bystanders. (Pronounce that 'Sue-pair choo-low'.) It really rolls off the tongue and you hear it all the time when something looks great, like a snazzy-looking bike or a cute dog. '¡Qué chulo!'

Then I walk a bit closer... 

I've put this bit on video so you can maybe see how I felt when I began to realise what it was made of. Can you guess before you watch the video? If not, who's the first to spot it? Guess quickly, it's a short video. (Link to YouTube.)

Zoom in...

If you're ever lucky enough to visit Madrid (it's a great city), you'll find it in Calle del Leon on the corner with Calle del Prado

And don't forget to gasp, '!Qué chulo!' when you see it! You'll feel so Spanish!

N.B., A longer version of this post, but without the video, is available on my secondary 'puzzle' blog at You might find that more suitable for year 6. (Puzzle No.2)