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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 ‘poor quality’ Category

Trials and Tribulations of Temporary Electricity

It SEEMS that after a lifetime of working off "builder’s electricity" we’re now in the hands of the electricity board (we THINK). I had expected "proper mains" but when we got here we were disappointed to find that the lights seemed to be bobbing up and down even more so than usual. This morning I ran some tests…  off-load the mains coming to our place is around 220v – which is fine.. BUT – run a single standard kettle and the mains voltage immediately drops to under 200v and stays there.

Indeed, typically resistive elements as you find in kettles take MORE juice as they get up to temperature and though my digital meter isn’t well suited to instant readings I can quite safely say the power drops to 185v or lower as the kettle turns on. As you can imagine, this means the hot-tub and anything else heavy duty is a no-no.

I did some quick tests as I now have a decent meter here…  with only TWO domestic items turned on, apart from (efficient) lights, it is clear that the power would not support more than one group of us here at once and is not even good enough for that!! This is MUCH worse than it was in February and before.

Rubbish Electricity

In the above example the effect is obvious – with the vacuum running, turning the Microwave on causes the vacuum to slow down dramatically. Left for any length of time this would cause damage. If you’re local and reading this – this WILL damage some domestic equipment so it is vital we sort this out ASAP. Our lack of Spanish makes it difficult to argue with electricity company hence this info for anyone who wants to have a go. Mains voltage would normally be expected to be in the range of 210 to 240v but when it starts dipping down to 170 or so – you’re looking at heaters being useless and motors getting into dangerous ground.

Update 07/06/2012 – the lights continue to vary and on several occasions during the last 2 days the power has momentarily failed altogether just for a second – just enough to reset various devices… this is really completely unacceptable as a service.

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!

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

Unpaid Bills

Apparently the builder has has not paid the bill… Electricity is off at our property in Spain – which means as far as I’m concerned, any theft, damage or hot-tub corrosion is chargeable to the BUILDER. If you’re reading this and are in the same boat… we need to treat this one VERY seriously! I hope we can all agree this is TOTALLY unacceptable. Bloody good job the weather’s not bad!!

Turns out that builder’s electricity is good for 2 years – and it’s 2 years! Hard to believe they could not get proper electricity installed in that length of time – my patience is starting to wear thin on this one – I don’t fancy the summer holidays with a generator!

Update! Electricity is back on and has stayed on for some time now. I have no doubt it’s still sub-standard, sometimes dropping below 200 volts which breaks appliances and shortens the life of electronic lamps – we’re already onto our second Jacussi heater, we’ve had to replace the timer on the dishwasher – but it turns out it was the heating element. Bulbs have gone.. the builder has a lot to answer for. If you’re living there and reading this – have YOU had appliance issues yet?

Despite all that I’m looking forward to getting over there and getting some HEAT!

The Spanish Way

While there can be no doubt that the weather in Spain is a major driver for Brits to clear off to the sun, there are a lot of problems in this country that not everyone is aware of.

I’ll give you an example – today we went off shopping to Granada. As usual, shoppers in front of us using credit cards were asked for identification (they don’t seem to use chip and pin here) but for once we were paying cash – at Carrefour and MediaMarkt.  It may be we’ve always used credit cards in the past or just not taken too much notice, but not only did the operator at MediaMarkt open up the goods we were purchasing (presumably to ensure we could not claim that bits were missing – not that they’d know the difference on anything really technical) but EVERY Euro note we gave them was checked through a machine.

This is either the height of paranoia or they have some SERIOUS fraud issues – I can’t remember the last time in the UK I saw anyone run notes through a scanner. Apart from the time wasted while this process occurs it does not exactly give you confidence in the people around you in the shop – the assumption being we’re all a bunch of crooks!!??

Another issue I’m becoming aware of is that no-one seems to know how to mix concrete – and if they do they’re not letting on – all around us we see severe winter damage despite the weather here CERTAINLY being no-where near the disastrous weather we had in the UK this year. Concrete simply falling apart because of ice getting into it!

On electricity – well, there’s a fight we’re just starting. Voltages in our area as low as 170 volts not only causes heaters to run at less than 50% efficiency it also damages motors which stall due to insufficient power and damages electronic lighting already blighted by the unfortunate fact that retailers here seem to buy in the cheapest Chinese junk they can get their hands on. I plan on next visit to bring in plenty of electrical equipment from the UK where at least we have some standards! Meanwhile we’re planning to take on whoever is necessary to get something remotely like normal electricity. Anyone local reading this – please note we need your input.

More on this later and you can’t get away from the fact that it was WARM this afternoon while back in the UK no doubt folks are freezing…