What’s this about?
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

Archive for the ‘spain’ Category

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.

First of the Year

Our first trip of the year to Galera could have gotten off to a better start – because of the relatively short duration of this stay to set up the place for our much longer stay this year, we flew over.

Well, I don’t know why, but Newcastle Airport more closely resembled a cattle market on Friday morning. The length of the queues for customs was un-believable – I’d hate to have bad legs.  Despite all of this the airport was no-where near fully staffed! Treating paying customers like this is completely unacceptable and the airport should remember it is a commercial operation and not a make-believe extermination camp!

At the actual testing area, we were asked if we had any lithium batteries. I informed the lady that the only ones I had were in my charger, phone, tablet, PC and watch. She told me not to worry about the latter as they don’t have Lithium batteries. Had we had more time I would have educated her – but hey, life is too short.

Having discovered I had a laptop in my main bag (remember this for next time Peter, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT) she insisted it had to go into the carry on. I did point out that I have nearly ALWAYS put a laptop into the big bag as it saves getting it scratched up going through the usual scanning procedure. So, we shuffled our kit around and put the laptop in a carry-on bag and Maureen went through the detectors before me.

When it came to my turn I opened my bag to pass the laptop through separately – and lo, we’d screwed up and the laptop had gone into the wrong bag and hence through the detectors without a peep – in her bag. What a waste of time and energy but that’s how I generally feel about the UK about now – I’ve been so looking forward to this trip – to “get away” from it all for a while.

Anyway, onto the plane, Ryan Air, an uneventful flight, I was in the isle seat and the guy next to me was the same size as me which meant I was leaning slightly toward the isle, which meant in turn that every time I tried to doze off, the meal or drinks trolley bashed into me. Still, better than getting bored I guess. The most exciting part of the trip was the landing, a real winner which must’ve scraped inches off the tires. While the passengers were recovering from near heart-attacks at the severity of the landing, the usual Ryan-air automated musical fanfare came blasting through the Tannoy to proudly inform us this was yet another on-time flight – hurray! I’ll bet it still plays after accidents. I could imagine the plane lying at the bottom of the ocean, bodies slowly and silently floating around in the carcass and the Ryan Air speakers blasting away its cheerful message regardless.

I think most of us would have accepted a few minutes delay to not shorten the lives of our hearts!

Once inside Alicante airport, all went accordingly plan. We hired a car as ours is at the cave.  If you’ve not done this recently – car rentals are a daunting experience these days and if you don’t have a credit card, forget it. You have to agree to pay (in our case) £900 which you get back on return provided you don’t bash the car AND you have to pay up front for the full tank of gas which again you get back it you return with a full tank of gas. You can bypass the £900 if you pay them £150 insurance which is WAY more than any external company would charge of course.  Damage included a few scratches but they neglected to note that the entire rear windscreen wiper was missing. We took photos.

Weather at the coast was quite nice and we headed off to the hills. Our first stop was for some supplies and back in Murcia we found a Carrefour. I love Carrefour, it puts Tescos absolutely to shame when it comes to sheer variety of meats, cheeses, wine etc.

Olives at Carrefour

One bottle we picked up was £2 and we had that last night – absolutely lovely. You could not buy an empty bottle for that price at Tesco. The funny thing is all the online articles you see show these companies side by side – well, I’ve been to Tescos all over the UK and Carrefour all over Spain and France and there is absolutely no comparison. As usual I spent ages mulling over which olives to buy.

Carrefour

After spending far too much (enjoyable) time in the huge store, we headed off to the cave, arriving mid-evening. Despite being 16c during the day, it was 7c back in Galera at night. By the time we got the wood fire running and heaters up to full power – oh and recovered from the scorpion in the bedroom (he ended up in the fire) we were too tired to go out to meet up with folk, so we watched a TV show, sunk some of our cheap Carrefour wine and had an early night.

Parador

The night before, back in the UK, sleep had been something of a joke due to the arrival of five new kittens in the middle of the night and their mother was not going to do this without waking everyone up so, this morning we didn’t get up until mid-morning and headed off for lunch at El Parador before visiting friends Debbie and John in Huescar. Weather was great and late afternoon we came back just in time for an unscripted get-together with more friends back at the house – the day has just flown.

Visiting with friends

Almost all of our lighting is back in operation, the odd solar light crunched up due to UV degradation but that’s to be expected. Tomorrow I have to check the outdoor shower system which (it would appear) some idiot disconnected in our absence – I think I’ll wire the thing up to the mains next time we’re away. Bastards. Thankfully, neighbours had spotted this and turned the water off.  Said neighbours are back tomorrow – it will be great to meet up with them (and others) again after our winter break.

This evening we popped down to Pizzeria La Posa, met up with another couple of friends and spent the evening catching up with what’s been happening over the winter. It’s great to be able to wander down to your local in a foreign country and feel as much at home (if not more so) as you do back in the UK. Marvellous. Some jobs to do tomorrow but for now… perhaps a movie.

A few short days with friends

We have just enjoyed two days in the north of Spain in the province of Aragon in the village of Valderrobres and just now arrived home back home to the sun.

Valderrobres and surrounding areasValderrobres is a charming and quaint mediaeval village that sits in an unspoilt area in the mountains of Aragon. The village comes complete with cobblestone streets, knobbly old oak doors and a considerable amount of EU funded resurrection.

We were visiting the area to see our friends Aidan and Helen who are buying a sizeable portion of land in order to resurrect an old ruined building and build a new home there for the summer months.

The area is totally off-grid and so we expect to see some impressive solar power there in the near future as Aidan, like myself, is particularly fond of the idea. Having managed to source the panel importers he has secured good pricing on the 250w units so I expect lots of it. A side effect of this means that next year I will be able to almost quadruple the solar power at our cave which I’m really looking forward to. I’ll test one of the 250w units in the UK but in the Northeast of England I’ll be lucky to get enough to light one bulb most of the time.

Right now the place needs a lick of paint (but actually will be levelled and they’ll start again)

levelled

Surrounding towns are wonderful.

Town

On our way back we discovered a new garden centre on the way down to Caravaca De La Cruz

Garden Centre

Working on the album but some pics here  – https://www.flickr.com/photos/scargill/albums/72157675203701585

Winter Approaches in Galera

A hill in Galera  - a photographic masterpiece by Peter ScargillWell, that’s possibly a slight exaggeration, but first thing this morning as Maureen and I walked down to the village for coffee, it was (as it was yesterday first thing) noticeably cooler.

Of course – that didn’t last long and by lunchtime it was, once again too hot to do outside work – but the signs are there. Another few weeks and the trees will start the magical process of turning through orange to bright yellow before going to sleep for the winter – and here in this part of Spain I mean BRIGHT yellow.

We’re off to Seville this month so I’m hoping winter doesn’t come TOO quickly – I’m sure it won’t but it certainly would be nice if it was cool enough to walk around all day. In August, visiting a big city like Seville would not have been a lot of fun.

Meanwhile we’ve been getting jobs around the house and garden done, I’ve put together a new media centre with a considerable amount of memory (now putting together a second unit for my own TV in the office) and we’ve been painting the area from the roundabout upwards to make it all look more spiffy.

Town Centre

A Lovely Day for the Beach

Peter and Maureen Scargill

We’ve had a few quiet days now the August festivities are over. Not so the summer however, it has been very hot here touching on 40c from time to time. We had some showers in the middle of all of that but they never last long. Hiding from the sun has given me ample time to get some mor home control experiments done – all of which is blogged elsewhere – and to start off the new photography blog. Yesterday we headed off to Orce pool for a dip which was excellent and then last night we had an unexpected trip down to see our neighbours – as always, lots of fun and involved lots of Cava.

So today we are off to Almeria – the reason being we’re dropping a couple of friends off at the airport (which we’ve never used). On our last expedition we did much of the coast to the right of Almeria, From all the way up at Vera, through Garrucha, Mojacar, Carboneras, Las Negras, San Jose, San Miguel etc. but by the time we got to Almeria, we headed straight up the main road to home as it was getting late.

This time we get to check out Almeria and beyond. We’ve also been to Motril and various places through Nerja (which is wonderful) and on to and beyond  Malaga and Marbella – but right now there’s a gap in our experiences from Almeria to Motril – hopefully we’ll fill that gap this time. Expected temperatures around 35c so no doubt we will end up in water at some point…

Warm as toast