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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 ‘technology’ Category

A Day at Cullar Pool

Spent much of the day yesterday in the pool at Cullar which is 22km away from us. With Maureen at aqua-aerobics in the morning, I headed off with our neighbours to the pool and eventually to meet up with Maureen and another couple of friends.

Unlike the pool at Orce, it is not free to use the Cullar facilities – but near enough at under three Euros for the day. The place is excellently maintained – with 2 pools and restaurant facilities. Plenty of shade around the pools and the grass is in unbelievably good condition (it is real, I checked).

Cullar pool

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TV in Spain

MaureenI won’t say it hasn’t been a struggle but as of today I’ve just about cracked the TV thing with one exception.

If you’re not a frequent visitor to Spain you may not know that SKY and the BBC do not like you watching their stuff when you are abroad – this is indeed being fought as I understand by the EU as it is highly uncompetitive – and as someone who pays the TV licence and pays for a Sky subscription – I find the restrictions utterly unacceptable.

Right now the only thing I have not cracked is Sky on demand (well, sort of) – so if you have a SKY HD box they’re not about to let you record on-demand stuff as you did in the UK – I’m still working on that.

VPNs are a way around most of the issues – but you need a fast VPN to the UK and this tends to slow down access to other stuff – so I’m using a service recommended by a neighbour of ours called Unblock-Us. In UK terms it’s around £3 a month – and so the way it works is you make a minor update to your router (DNS settings) and those services that need it – iPlayer and Sky – go through that and are handled as if you were in the UK – other services go un-affected. No setup on individual PCs etc.

Near GaleraAlso I have a Now-TV box here and that too works thanks to Unblock-Us. The good part about that is that it is relatively easy to unlock that box into what it really is – a Roku media server – so with the addition of PLEX on my PC and on the Now TV box not only can we access our media here – but also on the phone anywhere – remembering that THREE now include data with roaming accounts – such as Spain and the USA. Now I have PLEX operating – I’m looking to see what other goodies the Roku system has to offer.

Sky Go also works using this system and so with a decent tablet, SKY options are now much wider. I’d still like to crack getting the Sky broadband downloading working – it’s likely on a Port that the American company doing Unblock-US are unaware of. 

So all in all a step change from where we were weeks ago. All we need now is a decent TV a

Another weekend over

Hotel Abadi in Baza

Our first weekend in Spain of the summer over, not quite the weather we’d anticipated but still way better than the Northeast of England I’d expect. After Saturday’s excellent wine-tasting, a quiet Sunday down at the Sunday market in Baza.

This is not one of the best markets by any means, tends to be the same old tat on sale every time but we did manage to get a nice coat hanger for the hallway and the Hotel Abadi does a very passable bacon sandwich.

Spent the afternoon working on my cameras – finally getting a combination of settings allowing all 3 IP cameras to operate at once. Maureen is still having a little trouble with the TV due I suspect to WIFI bandwidth or the VPN that lets us pretend we’re in the UK. We finished the weekend with friends testing the sparkling wine we’d purchased the day before.

Today I’ve lots of little projects to be getting on with while Maureen goes off to Pilates. Still have an office that resembles a bring-and-buy sale.  Weather is looking good – the sky is clear and I suspect it will be at least 25c by mid-day.

A funny old day

Galera at sunsetNot a lot happened today, we decided to stop in today and then have a tea-totalling night – yes, I know, Saturday but we’ve had a good week, time to let the liver recover.

We spent the morning finishing off the Gazebo – it’s still a little temporary but we’ll fix that when the shops open Monday. I’ve been working on my home control board (which doesn’t work and as it’s midnight I’m about to give up on it for the night).  I did start to put up a set of colour floods only to realise I’ve left the relevant remove control back in the UK!!

Instead I sat through X-Men Wolverine which showed the history of Wolverine before he joined X-men. The only problem with it was the ending as Patrick Stuart gets out of the aeroplane to welcome the young X-men – erm, isn’t he supposed to be in a wheelchair?? Oh, I know, it’s only fiction but it you’re going to do something, you may as well do it properly yes?

Tomorrow a lazy day I suspect, time to get the miniature oscilloscope out to see what’s wrong with this pesky board… and perhaps a walk. Can’t really get stuck into repairs until I can get some plaster and cement so may as well make the best of it.

Don’t forget you can click on any picture in this blog to see a higher quality version.

Galera at sunset[6]

Shock Horror – the TRUE cost of electricity in Spain

After reading some time ago on the web that the average cost of electricity in Spain was something in the order of 14p per KW/H (I’ll explain later) I was shocked to say the LEAST to actually sit down with LED fire surround lightinga real modern bill now that we have “proper” electricity – the basic cost per KW/H isn’t bad – but by the time you add in the standing bill (ie payment for nothing) and all sorts of other perks and then the dreaded VAT (which most of us have to pay and can’t claim back) – the TRUE cost of electricity at least around here is currently around 22.4p per KW/H. That’s a LOT.

To put that in perspective for those who don’t do maths – the little dial in the electricity meter is usually marked in KW/H – might be marked to 0.1 KHW or just to the nearest KW/W

How does this work? Simply – if you run a gadget that uses a Kilowatt (Microwave) – for an hour – you’ve spend 22.4p. If the gadget uses 2KW (maybe an oven) it’s costing you 44.8p an hour.

Mainly SOLAR and LED lightingSo why am I showing you my new lights (temporary setup) – because thanks to LED technology which most of these are, the display you’re looking at comes to around 50w all in a running cost of around 1.1p per hour – not too bad, all except for the distant green rope light which is going!! 

I can’t do much about hot water and washing machine etc.. until we get organised and get a solar heat panel – friends recently told us they’d used no electricity for hot water since May! I figure using that same feed for the dishwasher and washing machine would reduce their electricity use by a massive amount also – but that’s for the future. For now with Compact Fluorescent (and some LED) inside and solar outside we’ve made a start at a decent lighting setup without running up huge costs. The lights are all able to take on any colour.

Of Sunshine,Telephone Calls and Cars

To describe yesterday as a “lazy” day would be an understatement. This morning Maureen and our friend Alison headed off in the early hours with our helpful neighbours to Granada to pick up a rental car.

Meanwhile I took the opportunity for a lie-in and then after catching up with the email mountain, to read all about telephone numbers in Spain. I thought I’d found a cheap provider who offered a Spanish number for under £3 a month – turns out the advert was a little misleading – they wanted £10 up front and then a fiver a month. I’ll keep looking. Currently investigating localphone.

El Parador near Galera Monday 27th August 2012Oh, the saga of the broken CAR! Well I contacted ANNA last night and she was to meet us at the dealers in Huescar today at 1pm.

We turned up at 12:55 and no sign of Anna outside? – no, indeed she was already in there interrogating the dealer. She seems to have good sense of humour and certainly speaks good English – the whole thing was wrapped up in minutes – turns out a pair of large retaining clips in the gearbox had broken – they had the whole thing on the ramp open to show us – they broken bits will be replaced tomorrow and we’re likely to get a bill for around £100 – not too bad really considering the alternatives.

After a successful chat with Anna and the mechanics, Maureen, Alison and I went off to El Parador for lunch – Menu Del Dia – very pleasant indeed – nice food, helpful waiter. Armed with our rental car, by tomorrow we should be a 2-car family for a while. And now to find out why I can’t read my cameras on the mobile phone. The perils of fitting a new router. Tonight I need a trip to the Chinese store to get some cable ties then I think we MIGHT just be up to a trip to La Posa.  No sign of my new spotlights.

Our thanks again to neighbours.

Peter Scargill.

Sunset in Galera 26th August 2012