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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.

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Archive for the ‘cave renovation’ Category

Arrival in Spain–the Summer Begins

At the airportAfter a nice flight from Newcastle (well, I assume it was, I slept through most of it, one of the better results of ageing) and a spot of shopping at Eroski in San Javier, we arrived at the cave at 1am Tuesday morning after a very pleasant drive from Murcia – the temperature being around 20c at midnight!

Tuesday we spent cleaning the place up, the builder has rebuilt the gateposts so the numbers and welcome sign had to go back up – I’ve still got the letterbox to fit but the rest is done. Tuesday night we went down to Pizzeria La Posa for a beer and to catch up with friends.

Fartons PoloWednesday some more cleaning and some work on the hot-tub – Maureen has been cleaning it out, emptying and re-filling and it’s now just about ready for use. I fitted two new cupboards which I’d stained on Tuesday. So now much of my wiring is now nicely hidden – still can’t get the new router to work however so that’s a challenge – the existing one has a tendency to stop working without notice so it has to go).  I then got landed with a Skype video conference I’d forgotten about which thankfully wasn’t too long and last night we had a BBQ with our neighbours and some new friends and I have to say what a cracking night, 3 of us got talking, one fellow was a chemist, another a medical guy and we covered every taboo subject from politics through religion – we had a great time.

Apparently the last people left at 2am this morning, I think we were nearer to midnight. The chemist guy I spoke to says I need to use multiple spray coats of PVA on the walls I’ve been having trouble with followed by something called Capa Fina– and Maureen has a new cure-all tape which you wet then put on the wall and which ends up as a rock-solid coat which looks remarkably like Plaster of Paris – so things are looking up. The tape looks amazing and I’m convinced a heavy coat of paint will make it invisible but we’ll have to wait and see – meanwhile friend Adrian has shown me the right tool to use to get the correct wall finish after plastering.

Maureen Scargill hidingToday Maureen and I went off to Baza to get a new “tent” to put over the hot-tub. Massive affair, the idea is to get a fly screen around the whole thing so we can relax without visits from wasps who absolutely gravitate to anything remotely like water (and who can blame them).  My work area is well on the way to being usable and I’m hoping to knock up a test controller soon – the plan being to leave accurate temperature and humidity sensing here along with control over external lighting – but clearly it has to be ultra reliable.

My auto-answer kitty-cam idea back in the UK is working flawlessly – except there are no kitties there – either that or they are deliberately hiding behind the camera. All I get is a video of an empty cat food tray…

Leffe BlondeTonight we would normally go down to the “G8” meeting – ie a load of Brits in the bar but as we’ve been on the pop 2 nights in a row, time for a quiet night and some Coca-Cola. If it cools off a bit we might get some work done.  It is of course nice and cool in here, maybe 25c maximum…. but outside is just a TAD to hot to actually do anything!! Once I get that hot-tub cover up all that of course changes but as I don’t fancy wasp stings, the lazing around in the tub will have to wait just a little longer.

Readers of my Facebook entries may recall my griping about the price of a glass of LEFFE BLONDE beer in Brussels which can reach the giddy heights of 8 Euros in the bar. Well, as the photo on the right clearly demonstrates  they are all thieving bastards as the cost of a 33cl bottle (same size as glasses in pub) in LIDL here is 1.19 Euros !!!

More later. I need Coca-Cola. Just had a call from the delivery people delivering the solar panel that Aidan kindly gave me – they can’t find the address of Spanish Inland Properties – they’re going to try again this morning – their so-called English-speaking operator had immense difficulty getting the tracking number off me… I suppose I could have read it out in Spanish….

The end of the beginning

That’s it for our pre-summer trip – cleaned the place up, sorted the bedroom – not too much work left to do for the summer other than repair the gateposts that ex-builder Tony put together for us and which immediately fell to bits! Now I know what materials are needed the repairs should last.

Sunset Saturday 10th June 2012 - GaleraThe weather here has been superb and we’ve done our bit for the community, cleared some of the weeds, put some new lighting on the roundabout etc. and done far more walking than I would have imagined. Stopped in last night

Came up with some new ideas for solar lighting which I’ll put together in the summer once I have all the bits I need (inc. batteries) and we’re looking forward to soaking in the lake (the water this time of year isn’t QUITE warm enough but give it a few more weeks of blasting sunshine).

I took the panorama above Saturday night just on the mountain, it covers around 180 degrees – quite late at night… you just can’t beat the view and it’s different every time. This morning the weather is great – probably 28c already, theory has it, its over 30c down at the coast and our flight is this evening so we’re planning to have a leisurely trip this morning, late lunch up North of San Javier then pick up a garden hose and a few other bits and bobs which we’ll leave in the car (the car is parked long-term outside of the airport at a very reasonable rate – sub-300 euros a year) for the summer trip.

The temporary nature of things

Ultimately, everything we do is temporary, even the giant stainless steel and glass structures won’t last forever – but the builders here have taken temporary to a new art form…

See image below – electricity meter just down the road from us. Work of art.

electricity meter

The weather was so nice this afternoon we went for a walk – and I always have the camera ready… here’s something else we spotted on the way, looks like Dyson’s going into the caravan business. Cute, huh!

Nearby Caravan

Not much else happening, sun is going down, it’s going to be a cold night and so a night in front of the fire is likely. Huescar market tomorrow morning – and the week’s treat at the market – CHUROS – or fried dough if you want to be basic about it!

The Winter of 2012

Arrived yesterday (Saturday), after doing the usual shopping round in San Javier and visiting my favourite Chinese junk store therein.

San Havier Airport

As you can see, the weather here in February at the coast is not that bad – it’s not summer that’s for sure but you could sit outside and drink coffee at the coast, no problem. For the first time we picked up our own car (usually we do car rentals but if you check earlier posts, we bought a Spanish car in the summer and so this was it’s first test). The storage company guy who dropped it off at the airport (right at the arrivals door – we only ended up walking 4 metres out of the airport!) spoke good English and warned us the battery had gone flat in storage (they check the car and get it working if there is an issue), perhaps not surprising as it’s been sitting doing nothing for 3 months – but as we found out – it was working perfectly and still is 30 hours later.

Aldi in San JavierOur new (old) Spanish Renault Mégane is so quiet when idling you would think it was turned off… and so we had a great 2-hour trip over to our place but not before checking out Aldi and the Chinese store and getting supplies for the week over at San Javier – definitely my favourite place to shop for food and rubbish up to now.

We arrived at teatime Saturday to discover that AT LAST we had proper electricity but no water… it’s sunny and several degrees here in the mountains during the day but it’s been quite cold at night. This morning Maureen got the hair drier out and the water is running but there’s a hairline crack in the cheap Chines crappy water valve…  no surprise there, most of the other stuff the original builder put in was, well, crap.

We took a slightly different and longer route than normal, partly as we decided to manage without the satellite and partly because – well, it was such a nice day.

Somewhere in Spain

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not summer and along the way we could see the snow in the mountains but for much of the trip the temperature stayed up near 10 degrees or so and perfectly clear skies, dry air and no wind which makes all the difference.

Just outside of Puebla De Don Fadrique

We opened the place up – no surprises other than the odd length of silica trying to fight it’s way through the concrete walls – nothing new there and easy to sort out in the summer… and after getting some heat going we went off to the local pub for a pint – so much for the diet.

Today, as I promised the neighbours, I put up some solar lights we brought over onto the tree on our newly re-furbished roundabout (not enough, needs more) and spent some time getting the NetFlix TV working properly on our limited broadband here in Spain – with great success – see the blog at www.scargill.net for getting Netflix and iPlayer working over here…  and I caught up with paperwork – not to mention both of us watching the best movie of all time (IMHO) – Iron Man 2 – AGAIN… the opening scene with AC/DC playing and Iron Man landing on stage has to be the best movie scene ever. I can’t wait for the Avengers movie coming out in May which will also feature The Hulk, Thor and Captain America to name a few – now they’ve pretty much gotten over the need to make these movies funny for people who never read Marvel, they really are doing a good job. A shame the CD Comics people seem to have missed the boat.

Tomorrow we need to get a hairline crack in the cold water feed tap fixed (well, we need to replace the tap – easy enough other than finding out where on earth the main tap for the area is!) so we need to organise a plumber, then we’re off to the local market to see what’s new. As always you can click on these pics for larger versions, hope you find this interesting.

Our view of Galera at sunset in the winter

Crappy Builders

We’ve certainly had our share of rubbish builders. Whoever our property developer RAMONE used to put out Pergola together needs a GOOD THRASHING!

We recently discovered that the Pergola was loose and so today we’ve had our new builder come and take a look. Turns out the wood was neither treated nor buried in concrete but just stuck in a hole with concrete on the TOP… the result, the wood has ultimately rotted (see end of front right piece in the image below – totally rotted).

And so as you see in the photo, the whole lot is now dismantled and we’re starting again from scratch…

The moral of the story?  This might be a one-off- but I doubt it. If you’ve had pergolas put together by the same builder, get them checked – and if necessary re-built before they fall down – and make sure you know where to SEND THE BILL TO!! I know where ours will be going.

Pergola being re-built due to rubbush building practices

All in All

local restaurantAll in all it’s been a successful if expensive few days away. The builders have just completed our new wall and drainage pipe to stop the mountain falling onto our cave and put in a brand new pathway  with several tons of gravel to cover a completely failed attempt at pavement. I don’t know why we didn’t go down this route in the first place but hey – you learn as you go along.

lizards at local garden centreAfter a pleasant evening at a local restaurant (right)Maureen has been very busy painting and planting flowers and I’ve been experimenting with a new grout to see if it falls to bits like everything else here (it has to be made in China) or not. The weather has probably been on a par with the UK, maybe a little warmer but that’s allowed us to get lots of work done that might have been painful in the summer.

I have my new WIFI installation and it’s all up and running including the cameras, Habland (Wimax) have been most helpful unlike Iberbanda who don’t even ring you back when they say they will (they now have their marching orders and the kit is piled up for them to take away). Between that and my Habland WIMAX dishrecent move away from Orange to Three, things are starting to improve all round.

A short trip back to the UK for some meetings and agro then we’re back again hopefully to enjoy the summer though there’s still much to be done. Lots more painting to so. I’m hoping to bring back some better lighting and perhaps replace one of the cameras with one with full audio so we can talk to builders and passers-by remotely.

Maureen has some new games for her iPad and we’ve signed up to Spotify so we can enjoy some legit music while we’re travelling.

Friday, armed with a new driveway we went off down to the village to share our news with friends and have a nice, cheap dinner out, meanwhile I’ve a new Spanish aftershave to stink the place up. More pictures of the work we’ve had done, below.

Feel free to click on any picture to get the original and larger version!


Drainage pipe during construction Drainage pipe during construction Drainage pipe after construction and embedding in concrete

Stone being delivered for patioPatio just after new stone was put downAnother view of the patio with new stone base

Night view from the pergola, new drain in place

San Javier Airport