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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’ Category

Hot Tub Cover

Hot Tub CoverI think I can honestly say that even the Chinese could not beat this – today we went to the hardware store in Baza to get a gazebo to cover the hot tub so as to keep the wasps out… I’ve never seen anything more badly designed – the holes in the metal rods were so big that when you tightened the bolts, just after they started to deform the extremely thin metal tubing, the heads disappeared inside!

grapesTomorrow I’m off to buy a bunch of oversize washers to put 2 on each bolt and nut set to do the job properly!!

But for tonight – that’s it – giving up – an early night and so hopefully an early start. We need to get this done, get the top on – get the LED lighting in – and get in the TUB!! It’s hot out there!

Just fitted an Android HDMI box to the TV to convert the TV here into a smart device – only to discover we’ve not brought a single mouse from the UK!!!! Nor keyboard…… all working – however the first attempt did end up with a loud bang as a pitifully under-powered Chinese USB power supply exploded thankfully NOT taking the TV etc with it…

On the upside, the first grapevine is coming along just nicely…

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….

A quiet yet explosive day in the mountains

Maureen taking a walkI got up around 7.30am this morning – of course my computer still says 6:30am – it’s still on UK time. There was a thick fog over the mountains and it looked like the sort of day you just want to go back to bed.

Maureen arose somewhat later and we went off down to Galera market to get potatoes for lunch – and then headed off to nearby Huescar to get a mains extension and some cheese for the potatoes. Surprisingly few sources of cheddar out here. Our normal supermarket (Ole) was closed for reasons beyond me so we went in search for another, calling in at the paint store for some wet rot repair….

We came back to the house for lunch and spent the afternoon catching up with emails and going for a walk across the hills.

Huescar squareAfter a brief interlude, putting up new fittings in the bathroom, thinking about throwing my laptop out of the window… you, know, holiday stuff… we spent part of the evening relaxing watching Vicky Cristina Barcelona – an excellent Woody Alan movie and one that shows Tom Cruise’s ex-girlfriend in a great light.

The weather was not quite bright enough to get my solar lighting running at full belt… and there was a little rain overnight. I’m hoping it’ll be brighter tomorrow but I’m not complaining compared to what we left back home in the UK.

A couple of glasses of wine and Norman Lay rang up –"trouble at mill" as it were… as Maureen was watching the movie I went outside to continue our Skype video – only to find the weather was improving (pitch black of course). Once I was off the phone I thought I’d try putting on the external lighting (we’ve a full complement of colour-changing LED lights outside) – that went well but by now the weather was turning again to cold – so I wrapped up the extension and as I was reeling it in – BANG!!!

GaleraPitch black….  the extension lead feeding my external camera fell to the ground and the plug-in-the-wall supply made a WELL over the top exit in the form of a dramatic explosion, taking out the breakers.

I sit here typing, surrounded by a faint smell of firework night… it’s no big deal, I brought spare kit with me from the UK, everything is fine except for the power-less camera, but just something else to repair first thing.

Tomorrow the plan is get our CHURROS fix at the Huescar market and then to take our new neighbours down to visit the Brits for our usual (when we’re here) Thursday night session in town. I anticipate a very pleasant day and it’ll be nice to see who’s out here in the depths of winter.

The movie was great… reminded me of "Shirley Valentine". Woody Alan may be strange but he understands people.

Perhaps a glass of Rose?

Panorama of Galera

A Winter Break

IMG_4301Not the best start to a holiday… we set off 10am on Saturday morning ready to enjoy a nice quiet break over in Spain… no worries, just a nice, relaxing holiday with sun.

So first things first, by the time we’d driven up to Edinburgh airport, the keeper of the keys realised she’d left them on the hook back in Wark. We deliberated but really, there was no going back.

The lady at the airport parking company had all sorts of ideas about putting the keys on the plane – ideas instantly dashed by the ever so useless attendant at the Easyjet stand who simply said that Easyjet don’t do packages. I don’t think they’d ship their own dead mothers to their funerals – but hey, they’re cheap! Before getting on the plane, Maureen rang up our friends here in Spain to see if they could help with the no-keys-for-the-house situation.

Alicante Airport - very nice and modernWe arrived (after I have to say quite a pleasant flight in which I slept for all but the part in which I watched Prometheus for the umpteenth time) in Alicante around 8pm – dark outside but really quite pleasant temperatures. Our car was waiting for us at the airport – and looking at the queues for Goldcar rental we reminded ourselves why we go through the hassle of having our own car!

We figured we might have to stop over in Alicante until the key situation was resolved but on ringing up we were told that the locks had been bypassed and we were ready to go!  Well done Shirley and Cyril.

Chinese junk storeOf course it didn’t take me 55 minutes to find the Chinese junk shop in Alicante and Maureen needed groceries. Thus, a quick spot of grocery shopping and a few photos and we started our 2.5 hour drive to Galera, arriving around midnight

Fountain at the roundabout in AlicanteWe’d had the sense to have the heating turned on before we left and so while not cosy, the place was quite liveable once we arrived. One pizza and a bottle of wine later we gave up for the night.

This morning, Shirley and Cyril came over to give us the loan of a chain-lock as the builder won’t get here until the morning to sort out replacement locks. Excellent.

A real fireThat means we can pop out tonight down to the village to see what’s happening.

Not a lot, I should guess, at this time of year.  It’s been foggy here today but the sun keeps trying to sneak out and occasionally succeeds. My solar lights are out there praying and we’re in here watching TV and blogging. By teatime, we’ve spent the day relaxing (not much else I can do until I get access to my tools) and realising that of the new LED lighting I brought – I forgot the WHITE! Ah well. Thank heavens for Ebay.

Even on a Sunday, the FSB emails keep coming in so I’ve filed all but the most important and we’ve just returned from dinner – a night at LA POSA with friends –priceless…. the sun never really did make it out – which is strange because apparently until today it’s been fine here with 21c at lunchtime not being uncommon!

The Autumn Break

Google in DublinIt’s been a very busy week having spent the latter part in Dublin visiting Google’s HQ over there (and learning LOTS from a bunch of talks and chats), I came back in time to grab a quick night’s sleep before driving up to Edinburgh.

We hardly got off to a good start to our break…. the plan was simple… because flights to Murcia were a tad expensive this year, we would fly into Alicante from Edinburgh and the company looking after our car would meet us there with the car.  We’d then drop the driver off at San Javier on the way to Mojacar where we’d booked a hotel for the night – with enough time for a spot of shopping and dinner.

Hotel AlphonsoThat was the plan. The company screwed up big time and despite a very clear email with instructions, the driver was sitting in San Javier as normal, waiting for us there. Things went downhill from there. The driver had to come all the way up to Alicante, pick us up and drive us down to San Javier – by which time it was FAR too late to have dinner in Mojacar… We dropped the driver off any by now all our electronic devices were flat and in desperate need of charging from the multi-charge station in the car… easy enough except that someone had broken the charge unit while the company was holding onto our car… and blown the fuse – so it was impossible to charge anything. With time moving on and no ability to make a call if something went wrong we had to abandon our plans for Mojacar for the night and instead made a last minute booking at the King Alphonso 13th hotel in Cartagena after having dinner in a German restaurant in Los Alcazares. The company will soon know just how I feel about this one.

Mojacar on the coastThis morning after an atrocious night’s sleep thanks to round two of the flu, we had a nice room service breakfast at the hotel before setting off, devices fully charged to Mojacar where we had lunch at La Murala on the seafront as well as a trip to the local market before heading back off to Galera.

Stunning weather at the seasideOur place is fine, the wood fire is glowing and after a couple of hours nap I’m sorting out photos and about to have my first glass of wine. The coast was really warm and sunny – here in Galera, it’s looking to be clear and dry and maybe approaching 20c tomorrow (not that we care as long as the sun is out and it’s dry, more than we’ve seen in the Northeast of England for a while).

We’ve a busy week ahead providing neither of us succumb to even more flu, we’re off at some point with friends to Marbella to see our ex-neighbours and I’ve brought a new solar panel over to give it a thrashing (ultimately I want to run cameras and routers etc. from solar in our absence for reliability) and of course I could see at least one trip to the Chinese junk store.

A Day in the Oven – Lake Negratin at 42c

Negratin from the opposite end to normalAfter a very pleasant evening last night (we ended up having a pizza locally and chatting with friends) we had a rather late start due to some folk overdoing it the night before… and headed off this morning to Baza for some supplies before heading off to Lake Negratin where we spent much of the day as the temperatures rose toward and then exceeded 40c.

After spending the afternoon paddling around and using the inflatable boat as a sun-lounge, we headed off at around 4pm – at which time the temperature was hitting 42c – a record certainly for our trips here, around the back end of Negratin and discovered a new beach (with new road) we’d previously not come across. The photos here were taken at that beach though we were not about to hang around too long as it was simply too hot.

The scenery and colours were amazing and we’ll be back soon to take another look. Even at 7pm this evening it was still 36c outside – and this is DESPITE a slight haze – thankfully the cave is relatively cool!

Tomorrow the market in Huescar.