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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 more than 14 years and are currently working on making the country our permanent base.

If you're familiar with what3words (if you're not now you soon will be) we live at dossier.bath.sawn

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Archive for the ‘cave’ Category

An interesting Week in Galera

Bedrock  -up in the mountains outside of Galera

If you’ve read my previous blogs we’re here at Bedrock to get the place ready for the summer – the usual – holes appearing in walls etc. and the plan was to get some paint and cement and start the process early this week.

That was kyboshed when our Spanish-registered car packed in on the way over here. I can’t remember ever being without a car… it’s an interesting experience… not half as bad as I expected but we were beginning to wonder how to get the next set of groceries up the hill (it’s a BIG STEEP HILL) when one of our local friends who’s been talking to the garage in Caravaca De La Cruz for us informed us that it’s a wiring issue (so much for the road-side mechanic and his BATTERY theory) and we can pick it up tomorrow –AND it’s not going to break the bank. We’re so grateful for offers of help we’ve had – nice to have decent neighbours.

Meanwhile it turns out there is still an issue with some paperwork stopping us getting the electricity sorted and so we’re ok as long as we don’t go above 2-3Kw – which means no hot-tub…

On the upside the broadband is working a treat and the weather has been SUPERB – it’s 33c out there as it was yesterday also – BEAUTIFUL sun-bathing weather with a nice breeze to stop you frying.  Maureen is alternating between outside jobs and watching the royal celebrations – I on the other hand have two genes missing – one for watching sport – the other for following the royals – so instead I’m alternating between plugging holes in the walls, doing a spot of programming and buying cheap Chinese crap on Ebay – I managed 30 minutes in a deck-chair and that was it – too many things to do, too little time.

We just found out today that Lorca has a decent shopping centre with an Eroski supermarket so no doubt we’ll be taking a trip there before long. But first… a trip to the local bar for a beer and pizza.

Bedrock  -up in the mountains outside of Galera

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

A Billy No-Mates Night in Galera

A far cry from the height of summer, Galera in Autumn is, well, a little, ordinary kind of town… Thursday night, the night the Brits supposedly head off to the pubs – nothing, nobody, zilch.

After a day’s solid (virtual) meetings and website designing I headed off down to the village to check the local gossip. Not a British soul in sight!  Thankfully I’m comfortable enough at the local pizza bar to sit and have a billy-no-mates night. I could not believe it – not a single British soul – worse, no-one that looked like they might speak English either – which is a bit of a problem when your Spanish skills amount to "2 beers please" and "sorry I don’t speak any Spanish". Thank heavens for Facebook and text messages.

Still, a nice warm fire courtesy of our new wood supplier makes all the difference. I have to pick Maureen up from the Airport sometime Saturday and the car rental company were kind enough to desperately need the car back to sell it (times must be tough) so they’re paying for the trip (not insignificant – a full tank there and back to Murcia airport – though why they call it that when it’s miles away from Murcia I don’t know). Meanwhile it looks like we’re now the owners of a Spanish car so hopefully being ripped off by car rental agencies will soon become a thing of the past.

I’m counting on tomorrow being a much quieter day and maybe tonight’s rain shower (the one the  useless forecasters said had no chance of happening) will clear the air. 19c and sunny – apparently…

The end of a camera and more

Floppsy the puppyThe weather cooled off a tad first thing this morning (I think it got as low as 25c) and for a moment it even rained… and so Maureen was sitting inside reading a book when she complained of a crackling sound. Bearing in mind we had broadband issues yesterday I thought I’d better check. Sure enough, one of the cameras which had refused to start up has a power supply which was making cracking noises.  To cut a long story short, the Chinese camera is now a pile of scrap metal (due to it’s power supply, not the camera) and in the bin. The sparks must’ve been affecting the broadband as well so my only spare has now been called into operation. All done and ready to guard the place while we’re off on our long trip up North tomorrow. No doubt once again this will be part rubbish power, part rubbish Chinese power supplies.

Our neighbours Karen and Dave turned up this afternoon so we spent half of the afternoon sitting outside chatting – great use for a Sunday afternoon.. everything is working and first thing tomorrow morning we have to take an early trip to the bank to set up Internet banking before heading up to Northern Spain – but not before one last trip out tonight to see everyone. It’s now 8pm, we’ve had a massive storm – how all gone and it’s drying up already – the puppy has been doing his best to emulate a maniac in the garden with his new toys (plastic milk bottle and a plant-pot). We’ll miss him.

Sky is clearing – could be yet another nice night…

Evening view near Bar Manolo in Galera

Habland WiFi

A special mention here for the company providing many of us in Galera and surrounding areas with WIFI.  For the first 3 years of being here we dealt with a very expensive company called Iberbanda for our broadband. This is a WIMAX-type service with an antenna in the village which is then used by anyone with line-of-site access and a suitable small dish and account. Iberbanda were prohibitively expensive for many and in our case, being here only part of the time, one of our largest outlays. I could not find any help in English and they were never very responsive. When we started we had a 512K connection – which by modern standards is awful – and we only had that increased to 1 Mbps when I noted that this is the minimum standard acceptable in Spain and wrote to the company accordingly – our speed went up but not voluntarily.

Earlier this year a company called Habland came on the scene and we immediately moved to them on recommendation – they offer 1Mbps (in both directions) as standard, a dramatically reduced monthly outlay (as little as 14 euros a month) and when we first had this installed I had some issues as my requirements are somewhat more involved than simply reading email.  I was initially disappointed by the issues but I have to say that I’ve had support including weekends and strange hours from a fellow called Antonio who manages perfect English and clearly knows his stuff, technically.  This is so very different from our previous experience (and indeed my experience with many tech companies).

The standard offering even includes a speed increase for those merely browsing the web rather than downloading – and the promise of more flexible offerings in the future for those of us who need higher speeds for part of the year.

The first test results below are a little biased because I’m doing this at 8am in the morning and also the speeds reflect the fact that the test takes only a moment to run… continuous speeds would be lower and the SECOND set of figures is more typical of results…

Habland Speed test 1

Habland Speed test 2

The bar below shows how the speed drops dramatically after a matter of seconds… but this does work well for simple web browsing.

Graph showing drop in speed over time

Ok, it’s not broadband as most Brits know it – but it works and works well considering we’re half way up the side of a mountain. You must be able to get line of sight to the village for this to work – and while 1 Mbps may sound poor – consider that for Skype usage, it is your upload, not your download speed that matters – and the upload speed here is faster than my 8 meg broadband upload speed back in the UK (typically 600k/second).

What would be great now would be the ability to bump that speed up to say 8 meg for short periods, say on a daily or weekly basis…. whether or not that happens remains to be seen.