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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

The War is on…

A quiet day yesterday, we’d planned a trip to the lake (holiday, all the shops were shut) but people turned up and we ended up chatting then sitting watching the scum known as “accident insurance companies” on the TV. Meanwhile I’ve been having a play with black plastic pipe coiled up to see how quickly or otherwise it heats up water.  It does – nearly burned myself! I reckon 100ft of black pipe Las Posaon a simple black corrugated plate would give us all the hot water we need. We have a bath here but generally don’t use it as it’s a little small, so showers are the main reason we have hot water and they don’t use a lot. I reckon feeding the cold water into the tank VIA 100ft or so of coiled pipe as above would preheat so much of the water, we’d really use very little electricity to heat the tank. Simple solution for a simple life!

Meanwhile, after being warned by friends last night while enjoying their company at LA POSA,  that someone over the hill is competing for most-fancy-lit-cave with a set of colour-changers on their wall, last night we took a look over the hill and sure enough. Well, we CAN’T be having THAT, so I’ve ordered a full set of high-power state of the art colour changing LED floods – give it a couple of weeks and you’ll be able to see the place from MOROCCO! I’ve already made a couple of changes but I need outdoor sockets which I’ll get tomorrow.

Galera to FortunaFor now, a nice lazy trip to Fortuna for tonight, then tomorrow we’re off from there to pick up our friend Alison at San Javier (Murcia Airport) and of course fitting in a trip to the Chinese junk store therein.

Another lovely day for it – temperatures in the mid-30s (again).

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.

A Flying Start

Our June trip to Spain got off to a flying start when the utterly useless and never to be used again Ryan air sent us a refund on our plane tickets, having decided the trip was not worth doing! We quickly rebooked (at additional cost and hassle) with Jet2.com and on Friday we started our long trip to Spain via Edinburgh.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Edinburgh – it’s a vibrant city with lots to do… but like most cities it has its share of DUMPS and that’s where we found ourselves on Friday night. After a very pleasant drive up the A68 we arrived at our hotel and headed off in search of food before going to see the new and much-anticipated 3D movie "Prometheus".

No matter where we drove the place was a mess and we ended up at a Kebab joint before heading off to the cinema.  The movie was, as you’d expect from a Ridley Scott production, EPIC and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maureen by way of contrast found it a tad gross.. well, with Alien-type movies you do tend to get that, but EXCEEDINGLY well done and something I’ve not seen for a long time, presented some ideas to ponder about the origins of mankind…. all in all excellent.

Chaos at Edinburgh airportFirst thing Saturday morning (like, 5.30am) we headed off to Edinburgh airport and that’s where things really started to go badly – the computers were off so the airport staff were operating in headless-chicken mode, we had the entertainers coming round for friendly chats hoping we would not notice we were in very large queues… so that was the relaxing breakfast out of the way. The plan took off only marginally late and we found ourselves wishing to hell we’d brought noise-reduction headphones as the plane was full of exceedingly noisy babies! Not nice for 3 hours.

Other than the landing – which I’ll bet costs the pilot 3 month’s salary as he slammed the wheels into the ground so hard that passengers were, for a second, somewhat alarmed… apart from that it was as you’d expect, SUPERB weather and a relatively friendly welcome.

Our Spanish car was waiting for us (the one we bought last year) and we set off to visit friends on the coast, but not before filling the car wish shopping from a nearby supermarket. We did notice the car seemed to be less keen to start that normal.

Our friends are on a week’s break at a golfing resort and we popped in for a very pleasant lunch, their apartment overlooking the (massive) resort as you can see in the panorama below. Very calm and peaceful.

Seaside resort near San Javier

And that was fine – we set off mid-afternoon at a leisurely pace for the 2-hour trip to Galera. Less than an hour up the road, the car started to stall as if it were out of fuel. It just kept getting slower and slower, the more I pressed the accelerator the more it slowed down. Eventually we stopped on the hard shoulder right on an overpass and contacted the insurance company who after some translation issues eventually sent someone off to come and have a look. After half an hour of waiting I tried the car again and hey presto it was fine. We set off to see how far we could get before updating the insurance company… and managed a few miles – ending up on the RM-15…. same again – slowing down to a half.

Poorly carThe roadside service eventually turned up at teatime and the guy put his jumpstart leads on our car which then appeared to work. We drove off – only to find the same thing happening within half a mile and thankfully he was following us. He’s convinced the battery is to blame, Maureen and I are more inclined to believe there is a problem with filters as the battery had PLENTY of power to turn the starter motor…  it didn’t help that the repair guy didn’t speak a WORD of English and our Spanish is still rubbish.

And that was that, after many phone calls and semi-decipherable discussions, the car headed off in one direction and a taxi turned up courtesy of the insurance company to take us and our bags to Galera, about 100Km away!

Being the weekend of course there is NO way anyone’s even going to look at the car until Monday so I expect we’ll be stranded here until mid-week – we’ve plenty to do but as some of it involves cement we don’t have, the logical choice would be to enjoy the sun and get the wine out – sadly – we don’t have any of that either.  The plan was to attend to all of that stuff today (Sunday) at nearby Huescar. Our neighbours up here in the mountains have come and gone and so here we are.

To add to the problems, the electricity people appear to have "improved" the electricity as promised however in the process, running the hot tub triggers some kind of reset and so we can’t put the hot-tub on! The upside is, as promised the broadband speed has increased and so now we have faster broadband in Spain than we do at home – and better mobile signals!

A winter’s day in Galera

Sheep in the middle of the road in Galera

Didn’t get up until around 10am this morning (9am UK time) – with double comforters as it’s a little chilly… I could have quite comfortably stayed there all day… but – we had to go find a plumber to get some repairs done to a burst pipe and so off we went into the village, stopping by Don and Carol’s place to see their pellet heater, a very efficient modern, remote controlled beast. Next stop the village and we managed to get the contact details of a plumber who turned up within the hour to fix the pipe! Job done.

We spent the afternoon doing odd jobs and a spot of reading before heading off to Huescar, encountering a bunch of sheep on the way as you see in the photo above. First stop the Chinese junk store then some groceries before filling the car up for our trip to Murcia tomorrow (to buy a table!!) and now we’re back at the cave, armed with groceries, warm as toast… and about to select a movie from NetFlix to watch. 

I spent part of the afternoon testing the new VPN solution to let us watch the likes of the BBC iPlayer and CatchupTV over here, after a couple of false starts and some amazingly fast technical responses from the HIDEMYASS people, we’re up and running. I checked out TOP GEAR on the iPlayer to make sure it works  – no problem.

So, some travelling tomorrow… quite looking forward to it – guaranteed sunshine and blue skies though it’s unlikely to get TOO much above zero degrees C before lunchtime!

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

Enter the world of Facebook

I’ve been sitting here programming since 7am tonight – it’s been one of the laziest days I can remember – Simon from across the road came over to offer suggestions as to how to fix our wobbly Pergola – then Adrian came over to get me to look at his laptop – and that was it for the day.

Tomorrow we’re off to explore new territory! I’ll be taking the camera.

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