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External Home Lighting

That’s a name I concocted as I could not think of anything better as a title for this article. I did not want to say “solar lighting” as that limits the conversation So what do I mean by this? – and what is the point of this article?

Totally solar-poweredThis is about externally lighting your property for fun/amusement or even security. I’m writing this because invariably the subject comes up in pub conversations and I often promise people to follow up the conversation later – I then usually forget or we simply run out of time.

Why should you listen to me? Because I’ve designed and built home automation systems for several homes now, i run a very successful blog on the subject of home control and that means means I get constant feedback…  I have a very good grasp of the subject thanks to knowledge, feedback, trial and error.

Lighting up your house/cave/cottage externally is not THAT easy – not if you want to do a good job – but I appreciate that some will want a quick solution so I’ll cover the easy options and explain why they may or may not be a good idea.

I’ll also promise to avoid where possible any technical terms with the ONE exception of a trivial formula you may need to calculate your needs, so this article is NOT for techies who will invariably know better anyway and I don’t want to start a raft of discussions at that level.

There is so much to talk about – so I’ll try to break this down so you can go right to where you need to be. Solar versus mains power versus battery. Stand-alone versus “systems” etc. Let’s start here:

How to power your lighting

To some extent the answer to this depends where you live. If you’re in Spain you have lots of solar power available. If you’re “down south” in the UK, to a lesser extent that is also true. If you are “up north” in the UK you may need to look up the word “solar” on Google – trust me – I was born in the North and have two houses there.

LED versus FILAMENT

filamentI’ll kill this one off before we start… if you’re still using lights with a little hot wire in them – it is time to move on. At this time there is one real solution – LED (light emitting diode). At least in theory these are pretty, low power, efficient, long lasting (but read on). Ok, there are other solutions “around the corner” but for for availability, flexibility and increasingly cost, LED is the answer.

What is a LED?

LEDIn simple terms, a piece of material that converts low-voltage electricity directly into light – it does not heat a wire, it has no gasses, direct conversion – it’s only issue is that currently we cannot achieve anything remotely like 100% efficiency – so the losses come out as heat but not as much as heating up a wire to produce light. LEDs produce very pure, clean colours – witness Christmas lights over the last few years for example and modern TVs.

COLOUR versus WHITE

coloursAt this point I’ll assume we’re talking exclusively LED. White LEDs – at least the cheap ones, do not seem to last as long as coloured ones and that is because the technology is different. Given a choice I would marginally prefer colour for reliability – even if I use the colour to make white (red+green+blue=white .. yes, honestly). If that interests you – we’ll look at this later on and have a play with colours. For now, consider your TV – generates most colours – yet there is NO WHITE in your TV, only red, green and blue (take a CLOSE look). Of interest “white” LEDs are actually blue with phosphor producing yellow. Yellow and blue make white.

Solar versus mains versus low-voltage

Yes you can get mains-powered LED external lights – without a transformer. I don’t recommend them – for reasons which will become apparent later – in a word, corrosion.

Mains-powered via a transformer – means there’s a little black box that plugs into the mains, producing safe low voltage and feeding a bunch of lights – this is how most Christmas lights work. Relatively cheap to run, hassle-free. If you are not in an area with plenty of direct sunlight – this might be a solution for you.

Solar powered

Before we start, a myth to kill:

“Modern solar panels work without the sun”. Bollocks. In order of preference/practicalities:

  • Best – orient the panel to be directly facing the sun at all times, moving regularly.
  • Next best – point the panel south (UK/Spain) at 45 degrees so mid-day it is getting hit by sunlight hard. Getting the most in the summer is not the point – getting most in the winter is the point – when the sun is lower in the sky.
  • Normal – point up – make sure there is nothing casting a shadow on the panel – look for the most direct sunlight for as long as possible.

So of course – you do get output from solar panels on a cloudy day but it is SO low, it is often hardly worth it unless you get paid for producing electricity however poorly – but that’s another conversation and yes, I’ve physically tested this. Clearly most of us are not going to have solar panels rotating all day – so the next best thing is to have them fixed-angled toward the mid-day sun – even that is not always practical.

Solar powered lighting can be generally split into three areas of interest:

Individual lights

Solar lightsWe’ve all seen them – B&Q, Brico-Depot, Maplin, B&M – £1 each – stick them in the ground and that’s it. Generally fun at first then a disappointment.

The problem here is that it never rains in China. That is, these lights are made to a price and generally speaking that does not include water-proofing or UV-light-proofing. I guarantee that within a short period of time one or more of the following will happen in this scenario with lots of cheap, individual lights.

  • The plastic will crack or just fall to bits after a year or so.
  • The solar panel will go foggy and collect less light and eventually die.
  • Rust will finish off the LED which will first look brownish then snap or simply stop working.

Is there a way around this? Possibly by throwing money at it – I HAVE had a solar light model from Maplin at something like £6 a lamp, made from decent stainless and glass that has lasted several years. Maplins don’t do that any more and most of their stuff is obscenely expensive. If you insist – when you are in the store looking at these lights – imagine dipping one in the sea for a day or two – would you expect it to work after that? If not – it is probably going to disappoint. In the UK, DAMP will get it, in Spain the sun will systematically destroy it along with overnight condensation.

At the very least try to avoid solar panels with plastic/resin covers – glass is much better – but the water WILL get into the solar panel eventually and rust everything. Lacquer it all? Maybe but will that go off in the sun over time? Certainly don’t lacquer over the glass as that defeats the object. Will it cost more than it is worth?

What about positioning? Another issue with these lights.. positioning. Can you guarantee a few hours of direct sunlight will hit the lamp every day? Is the best place for sunlight the best place for the lamp? usually not. Most of them have flat tops – depending on where you live the sun is generally NOT sitting directly above you – ever! 

However, the above is the SIMPLEST solution and often the cheapest. You have little control over this setup – if you’re happy with that, fine. If you want the best bargains in cheap rubbish – check out B&M stores (in the UK, if you have one). No really – at the bottom end of the market they are very good.

Solar light kit

Kit of lights with a separate solar panel – a kit you buy with some lights on a wire with a separate solar panel at the end. Fairly rewarding experience depending on your choice of kit. Quality and material considerations as above – but there is one big advantage of a separate solar panel – you can put the lights where they are best served and the solar panel where it will get the best light. Avoid VERY long strings of LEDS – you’ll likely be disappointed by the output.  The more lights, the more there is to corrode. Oh and nail varnish does not work – it simply goes brittle – trust me I’ve tried it.  Most sealing solutions you could try will go frosty in time and/or look awful. Can you shield these lights from rain/damp? Most are the same old crap with different plastic shapes. Few are meant to last. I’ve used them INSIDE a pergola – with the solar panel up on the roof in a corner, facing the mid-day sun. Works a treat but the corrosion arguments apply as for single lights.

Specials

lightsI should mention solar security floods which light on on demand… some are rubbish – some last for years. If all you need is a little light to help avoid falling over in the dark – these might be just the job – expect to pay £10 or more each. Make sure they come on only with movement – and the bigger the panel generally the better. Ensure they get as much direct sun as possible. Many will cover you for several days of no sun however because they only come on when they detect movement. We have a holiday rental home and at the back door and parking area these are a life-saver.

A full solar installation

Several lights in various combinations – with a solar panel installation consisting of battery, regulator and solar panel with a timer or other controller and your choice of lighting.  Can be fairly easy to set up – or very hard depending on your requirements. Most rewarding experience, most time consuming. You are in full control of what kind of lighting, a proper solar panel will last for many years, camping battery should be good for 3 years or maybe much longer, etc.. but this is a more expensive and more complex solution for true enthusiasts. Having explained the simple solutions with their benefits and issues,  I’ll now concentrate on this option.

The Big Installation

So many options here but generally you will need:

  • Some low-voltage lights
  • A solar panel
  • A battery
  • A controller

Solar panels are cheaper than ever before. Controllers are cheap. Batteries are not cheap.

The only place in this blog entry that you will see any maths is here – it is unavoidable but simple.

You want to light things up from the sun – so you need to generate power from the sun. You need to store that power and there must be enough of it to power the lights for as long as you have in mind.

We could talk about watts, volts and amps. An easy one to discuss is amps – think of it as water flowing into a bottle. You can store amps – and you can let lots of them out over a short period or you can stretch it out – less amps over a longer period.

Consider a car battery – it might say on the side – 50AH. That means that full charged it will let out 50 amps for 1 hour. Or, say, 25 amps for 2 hours – or…. 1 amp for 50 hours – etc., – you get the general idea.

It really is more complicated but let’s pretend it isn’t.  ASSUMING a 12v battery, assuming a compatible solar panel and assuming 12v lights – it can look simple – the lights might take, say, 25 amps in total – so your 50AH battery IF fully charged will run them for 2 hours.

And this is where the simple version ends. Fully use a car battery until it is flat and you’ll likely damage it. So you have to stop that happening. OR you can select a LEISURE or CAMPING battery so beloved of caravan owners – these look like car batteries but are better able to handle being left full or left flat, drained etc. For the example battery expect to pay well under £100 online.

But then in this world we’re assuming everything is perfect, 100%  efficient. It is not.  Assume the solar panel claims are based on a perfect sunny day in Spain – that the controller will not lose any power and that the battery will give out exactly what you put in – do that and you’ll be sadly disappointed.

So – we have a solar panel that puts amps into a battery via a “controller” – this is a black box that stops over-charging, over-discharging and generally has 3 sets of “terminals” – ie 2 wires each. Wire the box to the solar panel, the battery and your lights and you’re done – well, apart from turning them on and off of course.

In the UK expect half of what the panel claims. On top of that, whatever you think you need in terms of amps – add 25% to include battery and controller losses.

Here is the one calculation you need to do all of this on your calculator – W=A*V. Watts equals amps times volts.  If you have 2 of these you can calculate the third.  For example – you have a 12v, 12w light – how many amps does it need?  12=?? * 12. Fill in the blank. That’s 1 amp.  You have a lamp that uses 2 amps at 12v – how much power does it need? 2&12=24 watts. THAT much really is that easy – so now we can figure out what power we need – that tells us what battery we need – which in turn points us to the size of solar panel. Just remember that simple calculation and you can work it all out.

Clearly, variations of the one formula are:

  • w=a*v
  • a=w/v
  • v=w/a

So – let’s say that we want a lot of lights – all 12v and in total they take 10 amps.  That is 120w. How many hours would we like them to stay on – 2 hours? That is then 120 watts for 2 hours – that is 240w/Hours. That’s a lot.

If you can’t do that formula – here’s a table – amps across the top, volts down the left, watts in the middle.

tableOur 12v, 50A battery can deliver 12*50= 600W/Hours – EASILY enough – but can we charge it? We need a solar panel that can deliver 600W for an hour plus a margin for inefficiency – let’s say we need 800W for an hour… OR 400w for 2 hours OR 100w for 8 hours etc. How many hours of direct sunlight do we expect in a day? What reserve would be like for 3 cloudy days in a row?

I can’t help you there because your situation is unique. Let me tell you what I have and why.

regulatorI have a 50A/H 12v battery because it was reasonably priced.  I have solar panels totalling 80w because they came cheap (free actually from a friend).  So they give out maybe 6 amps for most of the day – let’s say in Spain, 10 hours.  My controller handles 10 amps because the cheap Chinese ones come as 10 amps or 20 amp versions. So the controller is WELL able to handle the anticipated power from the solar panel/s.  With 6 amps out from the solar panel – I can fully charge the battery in just over a day assuming good weather. In an ideal world for my battery I should have stronger solar panels – they usually describe their output in watts so 120w would have been nice. Such a panel should cost under £100.

So I can use most, but not all of the power in that battery – every day in summer and maybe 70% or more in the winter. In England I’d want to ramp up that solar panel  to get the same – especially in the Northeast. 200w would be nice there – but beware if that means best case over 10 amps coming out of the panel, a more powerful controller would be needed. 20 amp controllers are cheap as are 10 amp controllers. Expect to pay £20 or less from China.

The battery should be protected from extreme sunlight and extreme cold. A nice breezeblock box would be good – with some insulation. Batteries don’t like freezing.

So now – we come to lighting – what a big subject. I will assume LED throughout. Let’s assume  I have that 50A/H 12v battery – let’s say I use half of it’s capacity in a day to be safe. 25*12=say 300W for one hour… but I want my lights on from dusk till midnight-  say 3hours? So I can run up to 100w of lighting for 3 hours in the summer- but let’s think overall – all year around. Note that all of these calculations come from that simple formula above – really not complicated.

LED SpotlightWith a total of say 60w available – I can do lots. 10W LED floods are cheap – maybe £20.  I use 3w green floods – several of them to light the place up.  Cheap, waterproof, sun-proof, last for years – £10 – £20 each, maybe more, maybe less from China.  I also like to use 12v LED STRIP. This is becoming very popular – the Chinese stores in Spain sell variable length strips of them for 6 euros a metre in most colours (remember what I said about white – LED lights do not light to run hot – and white less than the other colours). The insulated stuff is fine – but how hot they get is out of your control. I arrange non-waterproof strip in downward-facing aluminium channel – so any heat is dissipated by the strip. My lights are lasting for years – with exceptions (some white). LED Strip takes lots of power. Mostly available to run on 12v (isn’t that handy). Beware of snake oil – prices vary, so does what you get.

LED Strip

blue stripWaterproof/non-waterproof, colour, LEDs-per-Metre, with controller or without controller… so many choices.  Firstly – how many LEDs per metre – cheaper stuff has less – look for 600 LEDs per metre – they go as low as 150 LEDs per metre so that bargain may not be as good as it looks – on the other hand – the less LEDS-per-metre the less led strippower is needed. If you are not a technical whizz – get a controller – inexpensive infra-red hand-held – or more expensive over-your-phone controllers – the choice is VAST.  If you want one colour it is easy – if you want all colours – that’s RGB strip – avoid the old crappy type with a red, then a green, then a blue light. Modern RGB LEDs have all 3 in one LED – and can truly produce just about any colour you want. Typical 12v LED strip can be cut at intervals of every 3 LEDs – so easy to make as long or short as you want. Typically the stuff comes in 5 metre rolls.

For power, full RGB LED strip can take well over 1 amp per metre – that’s 12-20w per metre. Doesn’t take long to eat up all that battery capacity. Maybe better to use less LEDS-per-metre in this case?

Cold or Warm?

warm and cold lightCOLD white light is the horrible, stark white colour you get from Cheap Chinese fluorescent lights – the ones usually marked “6500K”. WARM light has some yellow in it. With controllable RGB lighting you can have ANY TYPE OF WHITE YOU WANT. Experts tell us that white shifted toward blue in the morning is good – shifted to warm orangy at night is good.  Buy fixed colours and you’ve had all that – buy more expensive RGB and you are in control. But that might be way over the top for you.

Colours

If mixing RGB colours, Here is some examples of how to make warm and cool light as well as various colours using that gadget I linked to earlier.. Note the positions of the RGB sliders… try it for yourself..

Take a look at this link on your PC… play with the sliders to make just about any colour you want. You can do that with LED RGB (red-green-blue) lighting – by adjusting the red, green and blue you can get warm white, cold white, purple, cyan, majenta, pink… anything you like.

Using that slider demo above- try red full on, green at half way, blue around 3/4 up – you get pink.

pink

Full red, back the green and blue off a little – and you get warm white.

Control

This is the most difficult part of a big installation – a black box that turns stuff on at dusk AND off at, say midnight is not a B&Q off the shelf – light sensors pick up dusk and dawn but not time – so you may need a combination – or you may chose to do this by hand or by remote – can’t really advise here as everyone’s needs are different.

The best solution would be one that knows when “dusk” is – and that changes all the time – and also the time – for example in the summer, dusk until midnight – in the winter, dusk until 10:30pm to save power – better yet, a REALLY complicated setup like mine detects battery voltage and assumes lights out at midnight unless the battery voltage drops to 11v in which case lights off now – but that is not simple – as soon as you turn the lights off – the battery voltage will come back up – so you need rules – when the voltage gets low, turn the lights off (or some lights off) and KEEP them off until the next day. Simple B&Q timers don’t do this – microprocessors (computers) do.

Conclusion

No one, simple solution for this one – it’s up to what you want/need.

I hope the above is helpful, it is based on years of getting it wrong and filling the bin with dead bulbs/kit. Now I have it right – I might want bigger solar panels but generally I have a good working setup – I’ve gone the whole hog – everything is automatic but I can over-ride controls via my phone or PC from anywhere. You may or may not consider a simple timer is enough. At the very top-end, LED strip that runs on 5v and is controlled by computer can control each individual LED to be any colour or brilliance you like. That’s how modern airport advertising displays work for example. That is available on Ebay per metre. The sky is the limit.

options

This whole article is intended for non-techies – but invariable there will be some techies looking in – if I may suggest – this is of course just the beginning – there is plant watering, internal lighting and heating, climate control and much much more ….  http://tech.scargill.net/home-control-2016/

Pergola building and another week in Paradise

Interesting week but then it would be – we’re in peak season here so the pubs are chocker at night – it’s a short season of course.  Wednesday we met up with friends Roly and Jackie as it was their last night in Galera for a little while. Last night we’d planned to go visit neighbours but we’ve been that busy we decided to simply stop in and relax – which we did – well, kind of, I was finishing off the Pergola for most of the day and Maureen was working on the garden – thankfully both are now now well on the way to completion.

Today a new solar regulator turned up – I blew one of mine up last week due to incompetence and I need a spare – so the new one is now taking pride of place – I just need to make the wiring a little more permanent – my early evening job when it cools down a bit.

PergolaaftershaveSome of the lighting is fixed (green) – the rest is programmable to any colour we fancy – and all of it is for free and controllable from anywhere like the cameras and monitoring sensors.

Today we went off shopping – firstly to Commercial Morino past Baza for some new mesh – Simba in one of his desperate bids for freedom (he HATES being inside when we’re outside but it’s not a nice environment outside for him) managed to slightly damage one of the window meshes – this one is more substantial – anyway, so then then off to the Chinese store for general shopping and to check out their very expensive after-shave (not) – and finally – we went off to Negratin for a soak.

What a CRACKING day for it – calm (though the water could have been calmer) and 36c – just superb.

Tonight we’re stopping in – got some company later on – I think a few glasses of wine in the Pergola are in order – I’ve been writing technical blogs every spare minute and my fingers need a break.

Maureen

Oh, the waterproof camera case was a failure – nothing down there but green – same colour as the water looks from the surface – which is a huge shame because was we were wandering around aimlessly in the water today, the fish were jumping out of the water constantly – clearly lots going on down there and I noted a couple of times some fairly big fish wandering past me – but the camera was not having it. I’m guessing it is due to high calcium salts or similar – it’s certainly not due to pollution as power boats are not allowed – though I did notice on inconsiderate type out there ignoring the rules.

This morning the sky was wonderful and it is still that way now early evening – I think the rain we had the other day has cleared the way for a nice few days – or weeks…

Another successful delivery from Seur – obviously we’ve cracked that nut – mind you it did say delivery between 9pm and 10pm – and it turned up at 7pm – but that’s just a minor detail in the scheme of things.

Galera this morning

And just for the sake of it, here’s a strange tomato we bought this afternoon! More expensive than normal tomatoes – but then a lot bigger too.

tomato

August life and Times in Galera

Been very quiet since our friend Simon left. Maureen and I headed off to Albox on Saturday to go to the hardware store there for some bits and pieces. We happened to go to the market while we were there (Saturday – I would not say it’s an up-market market – but it’s fairly big and there are some gems if you can spot them) and noticed some chairs going cheap – and the result – they are now in our new Pergola – and saved us a trip to Vera where we’d originally planned to go for chairs.

band tonight

Yesterday was HOT and I got some work done but we eventually just ended up in town with friends at the Music bar for their new tapas evening – I have to say, quantity-wise – sorry – not impressed. Nothing wrong with the food but most of us were left wanting and when I ended up at the bar near the end of the night – a glass of wine seemed to have shot up by nearly 50%  – needless to say I left and ended up at, of all places, La Posa bar. Maureen caught up with me and we ended up walking home up that steep hill in the early hours.

Today we were Pergola-building when friends Jackie and Roly popped over – as always Roly was in like a shot to help (THANK YOU) and that enabled me to get the side panels finished off – marvellous.

Pergola

Note the new light chairs – and on the left our new wooden external shower – yet to be plumbed in properly as I know sod-all about plumbing! Not 100% happy about the blinds but there you go.  We had to move our grapevine and that meant cutting the root which had buried itself into the concrete. Time will tell if we’ve killed the plant which is currently covered in nice-looking grapes. Hmm, that and our Stevia plant… a little genetic engineering…. hmm..

Tonight they had the fair in Galera with lots of stalls and a band playing – not quite the level of excitement of earlier in the week but really fine non-the-less – we were only out for a couple of hours so had to split our time between groups of people we know.

Stall

So much better than walking down to the pub in the UK and hoping there is someone, anyone there not wanting to talk about football (though I have to say I really AM missing going out with our friends over there for an Indian – can’t have everything I guess). Anyway, it is after midnight and I keep promising myself a proper night’s sleep.

Village fair

Another great week in Galera

PergolaWell we never did make it to the Orce Medieval market on Sunday, a shame as apparently it was good – but we ended up down in Galera itself after spending some time working on the Pergola – which thanks to the timely intervention of various people is coming along nicely though I’m pleased to say we’ve done a LOT of it all by ourselves.

Electrics are starting to take shape and I’ve just picked up some water fittings.

So Sunday night we went down town to a somewhat sombre affair – with candles. Met lots of friends in town and had a nice night.

Galera

Candles

All of that was a FAR cry from the celebrations on Monday night – best band in living memory and unbelievable audience participation.  Only pictures will do to describe the night – we gave up at 3am but apparently the music was still going at 7.30am along with some unruly drunk Spanish – not surprising if they were drinking all night I suppose. World-class entertainment for sure.

Party time in Galera

Party time in Galera[6]

Party time in Galera[8]

 

Party

Party[5]

Party[7]

Tuesday we stopped in – well, it was going to be a quiet night but our neighbours came over and we had a REALLY good night chatting and solving the world’s problems. That of course is in the midst of what is still a mess out there as we work on the Pergola – not an easy job in the heat.

The weather has now gone off a little, temporarily – we had a shopping trip in Baza today with our friend Simon and the plan was to go to the lake for a dip but it simply was not hot enough – sitting around 28c at times as against the more normal 38c.  Perhaps later in the week. Met one of the guys I talk to about Galera on email and social media but have never met until today – that was nice of him to pop over and introduce himself – but they’re heading off home now – no doubt we’ll catch up next time they’re over.

And that – apart from another poor show from Seur deliveries AGAIN – 2 parcels – one they got right and delivered to the door – the other they left in the pub – I sent a suitable response but I’m not sure they understand what they are doing wrong – perhaps Amazon can explain when I’m done griping.

I’m sitting here making good use of the time responding to queries on my technical blog which now has something like 4,000 followers (as does the tech Facebook page) – great to be able to discuss tech issues with so many people from all over the world.

That’s it for now – Simon is flying off home tomorrow so the plan is to introduce him to cafe con leche and churos tomorrow morning.

Bloody Hell its Friday

Pete and MaureenThat was a quick week – which started last Sunday when I was supposed to pick Maureen up from Alicante but a friend of ours, Jackie kindly volunteered as she was already picking up someone at the airport at the same time.

We met up at the pub in Galera and had a few beers before heading off home so Maureen could unpack.

On Monday we went off to the local bank to put an American cheque in. Well, you could not make this up. The bank seemed unable to handle the date on the cheque which of course being American has the day and month reversed compared to ours and looked like it was in the future. We were asked to come in the next day. I don’t know about you but I’ve known about American dates since I was pre-teen, reading DC comics but hey-ho.

Pic of LCDTuesday and we headed off to the bank again – only to stand there for something like half an hour with the aid of an interpreting friend – the end result – the bank just cannot handle an American cheque for reasons still not properly understood. Is there a pattern here? The Spanish customs would not handle life-saving medicine for our friendly god-daughter, the only time I get customs issues is when buying stuff from America.. could well be a pattern?

Anyway – I’ve had it with the bank – 8 years of business, always polite – no problem there – but they could not put in that little extra effort for something out of their usual  – not impressed – their cash machine is in such bad condition you can’t read it in bright sunlight – and the online banking is nothing to write home about – worse -  they don’t seem to have that many branches in far-away places either and that means charges from other banks to withdraw money – so first chance we get we’re going to investigate the alternatives.

In the time in between I’ve spent a LOT of spare time getting to grips with some technical protocols (I2C and SPI) – for my little home control projects so I can drive a range of displays and sensors.

Meanwhile – the old pergola was being dismantled this week in preparation for the new one.

Pergola gone

Wednesday Maureen went down to the local market and we ended up in the pub again at night but not before getting out of the car to be greeted by this (dead) fellow.

snake in Galera

Thursday – nothing – we decided to have a relatively early night because we were going down to the coast the next day – I spent most of the day either dozing off or chatting to friends in Canada and the UK.

So much for the bright idea of getting extra sleep on Thursday – because early Friday morning I was woken up to the worrying feeling that a bloody SCORPION was trying to take my hand off – and indeed he was – but despite my advancing years it seems I was fast enough to wake up and slam him into the bed sheets James-Bond style (except the Bond scene featured a spider) because within what seemed like milliseconds I was out of bed and off to get a slipper to give the by now buried-in-comforter scorpion a good telling off.

Mojacar

Of course several bashes across the head had little effect from soft sandals and an even softer bed so, for good measure, I suffocated him in fly-spray before Maureen slung him out of the house.

No way was I going back to bed after that and so by evening time, while getting ready to walk down to the village for the beginning of the August festivities to meet with friends – I have to say, after a beach trip to Mojacar and a shopping trip to Albox (including the garden centre) followed by groceries in Baza, a round trip that started at 9am and finished late afternoon with temperatures peaking over 40c….  I was feeling totally knackered.

Albox garden centre

The funny thing is that after an initial tingling, my ravaged thumb was fine – I suspect he grabbed onto me in preparation for sticking his stinger in me and didn’t ever get the chance to complete the operation before he was being suffocated.

We left his broken body outside as a lesson to other scorpions and for the ants for lunch.

Anyway – off we went with our friend Debbie down to the town and met up with loads of the guys in the village – I have to say – we had a nice time – great entertainment, too!

Party in Galera

Saturday the new Pergola turned up first thing in the morning –  and of course it was hot as hell throughout the day – a day where I was not at my best due to having a late night…

Anyway, Maureen and I rolled up our sleeves as the sun went down – and by late evening after a few beers and a lot of work – we were up and running at least in part, with the new Pergola. Solid as a rock but not yet acting as a sun-shade.

New Pergola

Meanwhile down in the town the festivities were just starting up – thankfully due to zoom lenses – we didn’t miss a thing..

Fireworkds in Galera

Fireworks in Galera

I believe the Orce Medieval Market is on tonight (Sunday) and late Monday my friend Simon is coming over from the UK for a few days for a visit.

Busy-busy… I’ll leave you with more pics of entertainment – Galera style.

Entertainment in Galera

Entertainment in Galera[6]

Life Goes on in Galera

La MimbreraAnother cracking night out with friends last night in Orce – though I can’t say the food was the best I’ve ever had.

Six of us went to La Mimbrera restaurant in Orce – just off the main square and enjoyed Abadia Del Roble and Finca Besaya Rioja in somewhat large quantities.

OrceMeanwhile outside, the town square was full of people of all ages having a great time in the rather warm late-evening weather.

I think we all thought the place was rather pleasant but the food average which could account for the somewhat empty main restaurant area (below)

I had a plate of Iberica ham and some other meats and it was just that – absolutely nothing else and no imagination put into it.

Thankfully I received a contribution of roasted green peppers from others. 

A fine night, lots of laughs… and plenty of other places to try in Orce.  Today a short trip to the airport as Maureen is off home to look after property over in the UK and to visit friends and relatives.

Meanwhile my first job is to find out why the power went off last night and why my screwdriver glows when I touch the equipment on my desk!!!

Restaurant