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This is the Spanish website for Peter and Maureen Scargill. When in Spain we live in Galera in Andalusia (for clarify 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 something like 8 years or more and now we're spending a lot more time here.

Find out more about this by reading through the blog entries, menu-accessible pages and archives if you're interested! Welcome to Peter and Maureen's Spanish website.

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Archive

Summer is Coming

Galera

Since our Valencia trip we’ve stayed largely local, visiting friends and enjoying the weather – which has been a little more unpredictable than usual for the time of year with a pretty cold breeze for most of the month up to now, though the last couple of days have been superb.

Don’t get me wrong, it has been sunny most days but the air itself when the sun dies down – has been cool. We’ve done some work around the house and garden, Maureen has been catching up with her reading while I’ve been learning some new stuff on the computer. Meanwhile we’ve had several sessions down at the local pub.

I’ve been replacing our very toy solar panels with a larger 250w job (and in Spain you get every watt) – not enough to do anything too serious with but it handles the outside lighting, my workbench lighting, charging of phones etc. and is a great learning tool. I’ve built proper housing for the electronics with plenty of room for expansion.

We’ve signed up to a deal with the electricity supplier to give 2 hours a day of free electricity – 10am to mid-day so now the showers, washing machine etc. all get done at the same time. Wish I had a shed-load of batteries I could charge up while I’m on.

Last week I was out of it for a little while thanks to some kind of mild food poisoning – which I regret to say most likely came from one of the restaurants at the lake! 3 days of stomach hell. Didn’t stop our regular trip to the Huescar market and coffee and churos.

Restaurant in BazaToday we were reminded that the Baza market is on Wednesdays – rather handy as we often do our big shopping in Baza on the same day. Took a visit to the vets as one of the cats is chewing himself to bits and while we were out we had lunch at one of our favourite bars in town.

Tomorrow is Huescar market but if the weather is really kind we may just hang around. I’ve ordered some wood to make new doors for the BBQ and so depending on how quickly “Wood To Go” can process the order we might end up taking a leisurely drive to Velez Rubio.

Baza market

I’ve been continuing my work on the tech blog which has grown to having around 7,000 signed up members – and I’m getting typically 3,000 page views every day, sometimes a lot more. Running something like that means continually coming up with interesting and new information – thankfully a number of manufacturers (mainly Asian) have been making sure I always have something new to talk about which is nice and I’ve built up a network of talented folk I can contact all over the world. I’ve made a start recently on a photography blog which is more about the kit than the images.

Before long we’ll have returning neighbours on both sides – that’ll be nice – and some other changes nearby which will also be nice. All in all it is looking like a good summer ahead.

Galera market

And hopefully soon as the water gets warmer, we’ll be able to take some trips to the nearby lakes for a dip – right now the water isn’t quite up to it. Great to look at and sit by – not so good getting wet in. In a few weeks time all of that should change. Meanwhile, lots to do. I’m guessing we’ll be taking a walk to town tomorrow night to see what everyone is up to.

The Lake

The Valencia Trip

TripOn Friday we dropped off friends at Murcia airport and took the opportunity as we were in that part of the country to take a trip up to the area around Valencia.

After several hours drive, we arrived in our destination town called Xativa which is in the province of Valencia. Back in the day, the Arabs brought paper manufacturing to the area and Xativa was known for it’s schools, education and learning circles. The area is also famous for linen fabric manufacture.

We stopped in a little place up a side street in the middle of town – near the theatre and again within walking distance of a very nice park.

The accommodation was run by two gay fellows (who talked a lot, one Spanish with a good command of English, the other English – from Durham area) I have to say the place was very good.

ParkParking at the theatre was free and it was only a few minutes walk to our accommodation – also as you might expect near a theatre, there was no shortage of reasonably priced food – sadly the weather could have been better… indeed all the way from Galera up to Valencia has seen a lot of rain in the past few days – hopefully now over.

View from our accommodationWe generally spent our time either walking around of driving around the local towns to get a feel for the area, not to mention taking a “nap” in the early afternoon which extended through almost to dinnertime in the evening!!

We had planned a trip to the beach in Valencia but not knowing the area too well, we completely missed the beech areas – the traffic was horrendous considering the time of year – but then it is a big city (population 790,000).

This was not our first trip to Valencia – if you want to see lots of pics of modern buildings etc – here’s a link to our photos.

Weather in Galera end of April

Back in Galera now, all is well, I’ve been doing a spot of repairing in the lower bedroom and in the process discovered the effective use of mesh and concrete in wall repairs!!! More on that later. The sun is back out and so lots of little jobs around the garden to be done including testing that solar panel.

The Solar Panel

Solar PanelMy solar panel experiments continue. The sun isn’t quite up to it yet – just as well because this gives me more personal energy to get things done. Here it is on the left, my nice 250w panel which outputs maybe 36v.  I’ve yet to work out an inexpensive yet solid frame for it but at least I can experiment with the kit I have to go with it.

The panel will feed out to a pair of “buck convertors” (not seen here) which are able to put out 15 amps each at anything from the input voltage down.  Because the panel regulator I have is designed to handle 24v systems (with solar panels up to 40v) or 12v systems (with solar panels up to 26v) it is not keen on the idea of powering a 12v system using a 36v panel… so I thought of another way.

One of the buck convertors will output something in the region of 24v for the solar regulator which then not only charges the battery but also takes charge of the load, making sure it disconnects if the battery gets really flat.

The other buck convertor will supply 12v directly to my office for charging stuff. The battery will do the same and diodes will separate them so that in the event of full sunlight, I can draw power straight off the solar cell rather than feeding it through the regulator system. Should the sunlight drop the battery of course will take over – hence making sure I squeeze every single drop out of the solar panel.

kit

What you see in the image above is one of two 12v deep discharge leisure batteries, the regulator, a 500w sine wave convertor (240v output) and my meter showing the state of the battery which is clearly no-where near fully charged. This was born out by my attempt to use my 500w milk 240v frother which failed miserably as the battery voltage dropped below 12v.  The controller is an MPPT T20 which has a quite comprehensive display. Despite using decent copper speaker wire, I think I need a dramatic thickening of the wire to lower losses.

The large panel, able to output up to 250w was in fact outputting nearer 20w at the time due partly to the angle and mostly due to the clouds!!!

Update 01/05/2016: Now if you are reading this and wondering about the cable – you are right – it is WAY too thin even though it is actually quite heavy cable.  Armed with plenty of sunshine today,  I attached my 500w mains milk frother to the 500w sine wave converter and ran that straight off the battery. The fully charged battery dropped to 12.1v under load but when I checked the red/black connections on the investor – it was down to 10.9v – so under a metre of that cable dropped over a volt!!! Time to re-think cable thicknesses.

A New Summer

SeaAnd here we are once again in Spain, the start of hopefully a beautiful summer. The crossing was uneventful, other than THREE charging us ridiculous sums for data while on the boat. 

Our trip to Bilbao turned out to be a trip to Santander (near enough) from which we travelled down to somewhere we’d never been to before – Burgos, stopping at a small hotel on the outskirts of town on Calle Don Juan De Austria.

Hotel

Bar in BurgosBurgos itself has lots to offer including a fantastic cathedral. As we were only stopping overnight, we went into town first thing in the morning and took a look at the cathedral but it really is going to need a separate trip (bearing in mind we had 3 cats in the back of the car).

Burgos CathedralAlso even with the sun out it was not quite t-shirt weather so despite the attractions we were as keen to get back into the warm car. Maybe later in the year.

From there we drove down to Galera, arriving late afternoon – I think something like 7 hours (plus 2 hours to get to Burgos in the first place).

We’ve had mixed weather up to now, hitting 30c+ one day then cooling off but today was great, we had shopping to do in Baza and it was around 24c most of the day – absolutely ideal.

We’ve already met up with several of our friends here, sadly some are either away or going away around now but that’ll make it all the better when they come back!

GaleraWe have a new grass area (artificial – too hot in the summer for a lawn) and I’m working out plans to put up my new solar cell as well as testing out some new Amazon speech synthesis code for the home control system.

This takes over from an earlier system called Ivona which has a pretty natural voice for a machine. Anyway that’s all blogged over at the tech blog if anyone is interested.

SimbaThe cats survived the journey well, no accidents, not even a moan. Simba is back to his usual tricks of sitting licking himself to death – I can see a neck collar on if he keeps it up – but he does look more relaxed than usual so maybe he’ll be ok.

All of these pictures should expand if you click on them incidentally.

 

New Grass

This week we’re dropping some friends off at the airport and from there taking a trip up to Valencia, quite a drive but the weather will hopefully hold up and it is an opportunity to find new Chinese junk stores and visit more new places.

Hours to go

Hexham to Galera tripWe now have less than 24 hours to go and we start our long trip to Spain.

Very roughly the image describes our planned route – from the Northeast, stopping over at a friend’s place, 24 hour ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao, then a couple of hours drive before another stopover before heading down to Galera.

Quite a trip armed with three cats and a car-full of “stuff”. But we’ve done it before so it’s not entirely new. With rain and 13c max temperatures forecast for Hexham area for the coming week now is a great time to clear off.  Galera on the other hand is forecast to have a constant 26c max for the coming week – that will do us just fine – great weather for fixing hosepipes and upgrading the solar panel.

Had a great winter here in the UK thanks to our friends – without which it would have been pretty miserable (the weather in the Northeast is always miserable) – looking forward to getting together with our friends in Spain for a great summer.

Lots to do, people to see, places to go. By the time we leave I’ll have had my share of Indian food to make up for the coming lack of it!!

Too short a Break

Wine from BullasI can’t believe we’ve been here a week already – time flies.

Once we got settled into the cave and had time to start looking for things to fix, we discovered more minor issues, there’s been a little vandalism down at the roundabout – someone cut the solar panels clean. You have to wonder about people (especially as there’s an on/off switch). Anyway, that’s all repaired and the shower which had been deliberately disconnected will soon have a new copper connector – might just put a cattle fence generator on the metalwork in future. So all’s well there.

The Pergola had an unrelated electrical issue – a dry solder joint (I can only imagine the extreme cold in the evenings) but I fixed that yesterday. There is always something to keep me busy.

Meanwhile I’ve been working on my tech blog, I’m on a voyage of discovery right now, in-depth learning about something very technical (modern Javascript Objects) and we’ve spend some quality time with our neighbours/friends and had a great night out last night at Emilios Bar (Calle Los Carriones, Castillejar). I noted there’s a photo club of sorts up there but as they meet on the first Monday of the month (8pm) I’ve had that until May.

EmiliosToday, Maureen and I went on our travels to Baza – I left my webcam in the UK so we had to get a new one for here… meanwhile, the broadband fibre coming into the area broke and so we’re all sharing a very slow connection right now – Habland are busy sorting out the problems and respond a great deal more efficiently than some UK providers I could mention. 

Very difficult to see everyone in such a short visit so I hope if we miss anyone out they understand – but of course soon we’ll be here for the summer – new projects lined up and we’re hoping for some exciting short breaks including a big one off to Morocco! Meanwhile our friends Aidan and Helen are up at Valderobres putting together their new place – or at least starting to dismantle the old one – I understand they’ve had some good weather. Looking forward to taking a trip up there in the summer.

I’m just waiting for “we need to go to the garden centre” to repopulate our plants here as some didn’t make it through the winter – I’m hoping the grapevine will come back with a vengeance soon.

A quiet night tonight as tomorrow we’re off to meet more friends to catch up. I’m pondering popping down to La Posa for a quiet pint once I get all my little jobs done here. Can’t do that much with the current broadband so may as well enjoy a beer..