What’s this about?
This is Peter and Maureen Scargill's Spanish website. We live in Galera in Andalusia (for clarity, that is the English spelling - Mid-Spain they spell it Andalucia and pronounce it "And-a-loo-thee-a").

We've had a home in Spain for more than 14 years and it is now our permanent base though we retain a small home in the UK.

Find out more about this by reading through the blog entries, menu-accessible pages and archives if you're interested! Welcome to Peter and Maureen's Spanish website.

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BedrockNew to this part of Spain? Perhaps you’ve just moved into Galera or a nearby town? Here, hopefully is some useful information

We live about 1.5 hours north of Granada and costs can be low compared to the UK but you have to know what to look for and where to look for it. Pricing DIFFERENCES can be quite dramatic and electrical good can be MORE expensive. Ordering from the UK and China is fine, it is our experience however that ordering from America is likely to result in your goods being held up… there is a story on the blog about some urgent medical goods from the USA so I won’t spoil it by replicating here.

Here are some hopefully useful tips – if you have more -please do feel free to submit your own!

Fuel – Prices vary dramatically so shop around – at the time of writing, fuel is cheaper here than in the UK and the cost difference between diesel and petrol is the other way around compared to the UK. Shop around, sometimes the small dealers are cheaper than the big guys and self-service stations TEND to be cheaper than manual service. There is a little garage on the road from Huescar to Cullar, just after El Margen – on the right – who does quite cheap fuel.

Compact fluorescent light and LED lights: Go to the likes of Carrefour and you’ll find the  modern LED lights we buy in the UK for £3.00 to be up to – are you ready.. up to TWELVE EUROS! So off you go to the cheap Chinese stores and sure enough they come between 2 and 4 Euros for  LED … the problem with that is – they can be RUBBISH and COLD colour. They break easily and don’t last as long – avoid lights which say “6400k” like the plague unless you like freezing cold looking refrigerator lighting. Thankfully, shops are now starting to mark them as “warm” and “daylight”.

White external paint "Pictura Plastica": – Carrefour 15 Litres 25 Euros -  same stuff – Brico-Depot 9 Euros…  but buy a small amount and check for yourself – these paints look the same (get internal/external) but some are very watery and useless. Test and get the thicker stuff. If you live in a cave you are going to need lots of this.

Electricity: – Electricity here is more expensive than the UK – BUT much of that is down to standing charges – not much you can do about that. The state-owned electricity company does have some strange offers like "Happy Time" electricity – in which you get to chose 2 hours every day for "free electricity". It also does night storage rates – which might work for you – the cheap time is from 11pm to 1pm  – a hell of a lot longer cheap rate than the UK – but of course those standing charges are still there. We use the latter and do heavy duty stuff in the morning. In rural areas the electricity fails for no reason from time to time, often just “brown-outs”.

Broadband and WIFI: – I get better mobile coverage in most of Spain than I do in the Northeast of England by some way. Broadband however is generally not keeping up with (some of the) UK in terms of speed – however they do have good wireless packages for rural areas. We use a company called HABLAND – but beware speeds go up and down depending on how many people are using the broadband. In reality we get 12MB/s max – and yes, it is often fast enough to stream HD TV etc.

Cement and plaster: There is a lot of bull talked about cements and plasters here – the one thing most of them have in common is they crack and drop off easily especially in caves. Collect advice and don’t go for the cheapest stuff.  Caves in particular are tricky as there’s sometimes a silica material that grows out of the walls – if you just plaster a repair – the material will push your plaster off the wall eventually. Our builder advises where possible putting a metal mesh on the wall, held in with long pins – and then cement over that. I think he’s right – I use a lot of ready-mixed cement and THEN put plaster on top. Beware of builders using rubbish filling in cement and concrete. Try out different plasters – leave some to dry on a flexible plate so you can easily remove it – if it breaks easily – don’t use it.

(the Carrefour and Brico-Depot (same mother company as B&Q and Home Depot) I refer to are in Granada and both also have branches on the way up to Alicante – Google it).

Stores:  It took us a long time to get to grips with this – rural stores just do NOT advertise in the way they would in the USA or UK.  Many furniture stores look closed at first sight until you realise the lights are movement operated and so as you walk through the door, the place lights up.  Some of the larger hardware stores are in factory units and for all the world you would think they were a factory or wholesale place until you get inside. We learned by taking advice from others and even then it took nearly 7 years to discover the best hardware store in the area despite driving by on a weekly basis!  Just beyond Baza on the Canilles road is a place called Commercial Moreno -marvellous but you would think for all the world it was a factory.

AquaFuertePools: Most of the local towns have a public pool and almost all are excellent – some are free, some a couple of Euros or so. In the heat of summer these are a must as it can get past 40c in the shade here. There are also a couple of really superb lakes nearby and you can swim in those too. Fishing, I understand requires a licence – though I can’t personally see how that would be enforced.

Cleaning:  In the Chinese stores are bottles of something called AquaFuerte and when you read the instructions you will see it contains between 20% and a staggering 50% hydrochloric acid. 

This stuff is both dangerous and marvellous.  It will eat through concrete, producing some obnoxious fumes – it will destroy metals – on the other hand most plastics are immune to it and it goes STRAIGHT through calcium which is a great thing as we have a lot of that in the water. Used responsibly and diluted it can clean off that horrible white residue from a range of materials – as for use as a weed-killer, spotted onto the centre of weeds it kills them pretty much instantly – just be aware of what you’re dealing with – not a toy.