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.
Today, 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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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)
Surrounding towns are wonderful.
On our way back we discovered a new garden centre on the way down to Caravaca De La Cruz
Working on the album but some pics here – https://www.flickr.com/photos/scargill/albums/72157675203701585
It will soon be time for our trip back to the cold, wet, political desert known (just) as the United Kingdom just as the pound equals the Euro on its way into oblivion. I have some great friends there who do I do miss when we’re not with them – but returning to Brexit Britain is not something I am AT ALL looking forward to.
However, for now that’s just something we have to do. It won’t be long before I find an excuse to come back here and of course we’ll be back full swing in April anyway so an intermediate trip is mainly down to finding decent flights and avoiding the worst of the Andalucían winter so probably that’s February out if previous years are anything to go by.
We’ve some time yet to enjoy the company of friends, with a trip way up North near Barcelona this week to spend some time with Aidan and Helen (who are over here to so with their new Spanish property) and hopefully enjoy some more of this excellent weather – it is still t-shirt weather here but it IS cooling off in the evenings.
On Friday after helping one of the guys to repair his motorhome, we went off with our neighbours to a party which we left at midnight and I didn’t wake up until mid-day Saturday – not a bad start to the weekend – I must say I was feeling surprisingly energetic after 12 hours sleep!
On Sunday after walking down to the village for coffee in the morning we headed off to Puebla De Don Fadrique for a fair – basically an excuse for the entire village to eat and drink – I didn’t – and so last night I went off to La Posa on my own, Maureen was feeling a little under the weather – and needless to say I got back in the early hours. Tomorrow we’re off to the vet.
The one thing I am looking forward to back in the UK is applying the knowledge I’ve picked up in the last several months over here in Spain, to my home control kit back in England. – Oh, yes, that and APPARENTLY there’s a new Indian restaurant opening up in Bellingham!
Meanwhile as you can see I’ve been doing some more experimenting with some superb software to “interpret” photographs as drawings – I think you’ll agree the science is coming along quite nicely. I could see some of these ending up on framed canvas. The one above in particular which shows the front of Bedrock.
We’ve had a very busy start this Autumn, with friends Chris and Jinette over for a visit. They arrived late last week and we took them down to the coast – to Nerja – enjoying the views of the viaducts and general scenery on the way down.
After a couple of great evenings with Chris, Jinette and our neighbours John and Julie, we headed back up the coast to drop them off at Alicante airport and took the opportunity to drop into Benidorm before heading home.
Here are some pictures we took along the way….
In the photo above you see an an amazing 60+ story building which apparently has never actually been occupied. A monument to great design and crap planning, what a view you’d have out of those windows at the top!
Benidorm seems a strange mix of really BAD buildings some of which are falling apart – and nice modern ones. There is certainly a buzz about the place and the seaside area is very pleasant – sadly the Brits who like to pretend they are on holiday in a hot Britain have brought things down to a low level in some parts with £2.50 fry-up breakfasts. Any unique Spanish character has been buried under this attempt to appease to the lowest level.
Interesting to compare the above with the absolutely marvellous Nerja…
However, we had a great time throughout and hope to repeat the experience in the future.
This weekend we headed off with friends to Seville. Maureen and I stayed in a hotel in Dos Hermanas just south of Seville and our friends who had brought their caravan as they are now heading off to Portugal, stayed in a nearby and excellent camping site called “Camping Villsom”. Our hotel was called the MARE and is situated along the Avenue de la Libertad.
The weather was superb throughout, generally hovering around 30c or so in the afternoons. We set off on Friday morning from Galera and arrived mid-afternoon after a 380km trip. By then it was a little late to do anything so we headed off down to the caravan site where they had an excellent swimming pool.
We had our own at the hotel but for whatever reasons they closed it a few days ago. An hour in the pool refreshed everyone after the long day’s drive.
The girls went off to the supermarket and we had dinner by the caravan – very nice, though the supermarket burgers bore more than a passing resemblance to vulcanised rubber and so the food wasn’t entirely successful.
Saturday after parking our car at the station at Dos Hermanas, we all packed into the (very comfortable and inexpensive) train and went to Seville. We walked some distance from the train (I made my 10,000 steps no problem that day) pretty much straight into the city centre via some really interesting back streets. We did the usual tour locations and had a great lunch in an upmarket restaurant near the main church before heading off to take pictures of stained glass windows.
That night, Maureen and I picked our friends up and we headed into town, found a very nice restaurant with everyone sitting outside and had dinner before retiring early for our drive back up home today (the other two went off on their trip to Portugal). As we left the hotel we bought some diesel for the car at 96.9cents a litre – cheapest I’ve seen for a while and WAY cheaper than the UK.
On the way we called into Antequera (160km away from Seville) to visit and after spending ages looking for a bank only to find a street chocker full of them, we headed off for lunch – paella in one of those cafes on the street that Europeans do so well – the place was packed which is interesting as it isn’t exactly peak tourist season right now – we’ll definitely be going back at some point – a REALLY nice city.
Of COURSE on the way back we had to stop up the motorway just short of Guadix at Purullena for some pottery!
A very nice if short break. I came back to a bust fuse – still to be resolved, one of the breakers goes to (as far as I can tell) a single socket – with nothing in the socket it STILL takes the 30ma leakage unit out – I can see some wall bashing coming on this week.