Here we are back in rainy, miserable, cold Britain and I have to say not voluntarily but the cottage needs work over the winter.
I’m sitting here updating computers that have not had updated since July, the fridge was duff, Microwave had some damage, heating was acting up, the electrician I asked to fix the hot water something like a month or so ago hasn’t done the job… in short, lots of work to do. Still it’ll keep me warm.
We’ve just upgraded the cottage to high speed broadband – and when I say that we’re looking at up to 80 Mbps down and up to 20Mbps up – that should bring the place into the 21st century – well, for rural areas anyway! All of that in the coming weeks but not before a short trip to the USA – should have some pics in here soon.
As our time in Spain draws to a close – we have only a short time left before returning for a while to miserable, sopping wet Britain – something I don’t at ALL do voluntarily, it is worth noting that in our time here this year, which started in July, I could easily count on both hands how many times we’ve seen rain.
Temperatures here in Andalusia are maybe hitting 22c in the afternoon with a few exceptions but a somewhat chilly 8c at night. we’ve had the heating on for 2 days this year up to now. Down at the coast from where we’ve just returned from a short break with friends, we had one sunny day this weekend, equivalent to a typical British “better” summer’s day – and one cloudy day though in both cases the temperature rarely dipped below 18c and peaked I think around 24c.
Things I won’t miss include lazy good for nothing couriers and absence of B&Q but that’s about it. Oh and dogs – endless, pointless barking. I won’t miss that. Things I will miss are friends, cheap beer, even cheaper fuel, sunshine, swimming pools, great food and friendly Spanish people. Still, only a short time before we can start a 6 month Spanish trip in earnest. This one was cut short by the most amazing combination of bad luck and ropy workmanship last year, next time we’ll be better prepared. Maybe when we come back our new adopted external cat family will still be here.
Thankfully my cyber community I’ll be taking with me – at the time of writing, I’ve around 1000 visitors a day to the tech blog (http://tech.scargill.net) and I think approaching 800 followers on Twitter. Hopefully over the winter I can give them some useful write-ups.
UPS – the Worst Delivery Company in the World?
I bought a watch on Kickstarter some time ago – a smart watch, from America and it did well for a while but got some water damage. I was a little annoyed as the watch is supposed to be waterproof but the company (Pebble) were very good about it – they said no problem – we’ll ship you another straight away – you’ll have it in days.
And they chose… UPS. Too late to stop them (the LAST delivery from UPS was an utter and expensive disaster).
On time, Pebble sent me a tracking number – and the parcel would arrive here in Galera on Wednesday. I made sure they had the map link, that they sent the house map link to UPS and I sent a copy to the guy I’d previously spoken to at UPS in Spain. What could go wrong? Eventually the tracking info updated itself and sure enough – LATE WEDNESDAY ARRIVAL. We were off to the coast for a couple of days (Thurs-Fri) so I let everyone involved know. Early Wednesday afternoon – the tracking information changed – “Incorrect address” – I could not believe my eyes.
I immediately wrote to everyone involved and ensured they knew that my address was correct and that I was ABSOLUTELY NOT going to be around on Thursday or Friday.
Sure enough nothing happened on Wednesday – I sent a stream of correspondence off and we went off on our trip to the coast, with a confirmation from UPS that they’d try again on Monday.
Friday, an email came in on my phone – UPS have DELIVERED YOUR PACKAGE. I was flabbergasted. The address they delivered to according to the email, was nonsense – 2 letters – and the delivery was to “SOAN L” – not only was the address rubbish – but who on EARTH was “SOAN L” – didn’t really even sound Spanish and it certainly wasn’t English.
So after screwing up the Wednesday delivery, they sent the package on the WRONG day to the WRONG place to the WRONG person.
As it turns out – they’d just resorted to form – and delivered the package to …. Spanish Inland Properties – “SEAN L” a local business in the village – the very helpful chap there and on Saturday I picked up the replacement watch from him. They simply could not give a SHIT about customer requirements. What if one of my friends had not suggested I contact Sean. What if Sean had said “sorry, I don’t have any parcel”.
All’s well that ends well, but now I feel it is my duty to warn everyone, everywhere – DO NOT USE UPS IN SPAIN AS THEY ARE COMPLETE RUBBISH – Two screwed deliveries in a row and a general feeling from the people here that they just don’t care and will take the easy option.
We’re currently spending our summer in Spain, having made some major changes to our lives. I’m no longer the National IT Chairman for the FSB – a role I held for 14 years without opposition. I decided in June that I’d spent enough time with the organisation and it was time to move on.
Maureen is no longer teaching and we made the somewhat bold decision to clear off to Spain for the summer. Our old home in Wark is on long-term rent and Hollyberry Cottage is fully booked until our return in the winter. In the meantime the ESCO work I was doing for the EU had drawn to a close (at least for now – I’m sure it won’t be long before I see Brussels again).
Hence instead of making excuses for the British summer that never comes, we’ve been here in Andalusia (Andalucia if you’re from mid-Spain) now since July and despite some of the disturbing weather forecasts you might have seen for parts of Spain, we’ve had I think 2 days of rain and maybe 5 or 6 days of gloomy clouds all summer – the rest has been glorious – yesterday for example was 30c and sunny (general photos in this album). The last rainfall did a power of good for the lakes which are a bit on the low side this year, but wonderfully warm for it.
I spent a short amount of time in Boston this summer, invited by a Chinese group to help out at MIT and met some great people there. Mind you, the airlines lost my bags in the process but that’s another matter.
If you want to get into the whole Spanish thing – I maintain the Spanish Bedrock website where I detail our travels in the hope it is of interest to others… and there is also Facebook etc., the social media links are in here somewhere. Meanwhile on the technical front, the additional time this long break has given us has been great, I’ve been able to devote more time to various projects and learning on my tech website, something that just doesn’t work when you are flitting back and forth from one meeting to another.
Accordingly I’ve been learning all about Linux thanks to the Raspberry Pi 2 which has kind of forced me to make the effort – so my new home control project – detailed at http://tech.scargill.net has given me ample opportunity to start broadening my Linux skills – still very much a work in progress.
I guess most importantly we’re having fun and relaxing, something I’ve not done for a long time. We miss our friends in the UK but then that’s what the technology is all about – Skype, Facebook and other toys have changed the way people communicate, generally for the better though I am looking forward to face to face meetings with our pals on our return in November.
This morning, we’re off to Huescar for coffee and some bits and pieces then I have a day of wiring up to do, I’ve been re-designing the lighting here outside our cave and am trying to make the wiring as neat as possible. For now most of my updates are on the Bedrock site.