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This is the UK website for Peter and Maureen Scargill. We live in the Northeast of England and also on occasion in Andalucia in Spain.

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Life in Northumberland

home made humidifierNo exciting photos right now, mainly because we’ve not seen sunshine in the Northeast of England for a while now, just the usual suicide-inducing damp, cold weather.

Having said that, we’ve not had snow or anything – there is no chance of it being a white Christmas for example.  I’ve been buried away in my workshop now for some time, taking advantage of the bad weather to get stuck into some new learning.

On the right you’ll see my new toy – a home-made-from-scratch ultra-sound humidifier. The idea came to me one morning as she was griping about the room being dry. Inside the £2.99 B&M glass-with-wooden-stopper case is a £4.99 high intensity ultrasonic steamer from China, which when fed 24v (supply came with the unit) generates one hell of a lot of cold steam due to silent ultrasound vibration. Then follows an aluminium tube from B&Q, a 25mm processor fan (£1 from China) and a little convertor to take 24v down to around 3v (£ from China). The 5v fan forces air into the container and hence lots of very fine steam out. I dropped the voltage (to the fan) to reduce noise to virtually zero. Right now it is running flawlessly and I’m waiting to see how long it takes and how much water it takes to make an effective change to the room humidity – which, run by radiators and fire – tends to get a little dry at times.

The whole thing is on a Sonoff controller hooked back to my house system which knows how dry or otherwise the room is and controls accordingly. At least that’s the plan. How well it will survive cats sniffing, running dry and other daily challenges remains to be seen. Also needs a protective shield to stop the fan getting damp and make it look more presentable.  It did occur to me that a somewhat more powerful version of this would be ideal for the pergola in the height of Spanish summer. We have misters but they provide rather large water droplets whereas this is REALLY fine stuff. Could be nice for compensating for the blisteringly dry heat in August.

Other than that, Maureen is doing her usual Christmas stuff, I’m focussed on my blog which is just about to tip 6,000 signed up visitors and needs lots of attention. Some day if the sun ever gets out we’ll get around to some outdoor activities.

Life as Usual in Bellingham

Van Morrison at the Playhouse

Life is pretty much back to normal here, I’ve still not opened up some of the packing stuff I brought back from Spain and my office is a tip but everything is working. Last weekend we went up to see Van Morrison at the Playhouse in Edinburgh and the following morning popped in to see an old friend Nigel Duncan who lives just outside the city before returning that afternoon to Northumberland.

West Woodburn

This weekend we’ve just had a lovely stop-over with some friends in East Woodburn. They have a place in Spain and whenever we go visit they do the most wonderful tapas – we had a great night.

West WoodburnIt’s pretty grim here in Northumberland – only a week ago the trees were the most wonderful colour as you’ll see on the picture over on the right (clicking on these pics should make for larger versions)– but now – there is only wood – and cold weather. Still, we’ve had a reasonable amount of sun in a dark, miserable Britain kind of way – not quite what they’re still getting in Spain though I understand even that is coming to an end for a while. Roll on global warming please.

Our cat Simba watching me workMid-Week Maureen and I went off to see Dr Strange which I have to say was very good though the CFI – whilst magnificent,was a little OTT. So now in between other jobs I’m focussing on getting my new toy – the Amazon Echo (we bought two of them) to control as many things around the house as possible – by voice. It really works well as long as you are careful with your choice of phrases – I called the new Office lighting “strip light” and it keeps thinking I’m saying “strobe light” but by and large – this is a major home-automation improvement on anything before it.

Got a black tie political do coming up this week – should be interesting to see if I still fit into the shirts (not had to wear anything formal for several months – indeed I spent virtually every day in Spain in sandals and shorts!!) -6 months stay this year and I’m not enjoying being back in the cold but at least I can get to our fantastic baker in Bellingham.

And with that, I’ll leave you with a couple of recent photos. I’m looking forward to the next episode of WestWorld – probably the best thing on TV right now (I think it is on Netflix – we’ve given up with “normal” TV altogether – between Netflix, Amazon and Now TV, we get a better selection than ever at a fraction of the cost of Sky satellite – and as for FreeSat – well, personally I think it is mainly rubbish).

Enjoy the pics. Oh and if anyone starts talking rot about the pound recovering – so easy to do with selective graphs, here’s a graph over the last year…

Pound versus Dollar

Theatre Royal next to the Playhouse in Edinburgh

Metro Centre in Gateshead

Can it get worse? Of course it can

Hard to believe we’ve only been back in the UK for just over 3 weeks. It seems like a lifetime.

When we left Spain the worst thing we had to worry about was Brexit – the end of Great Britain – now – there is Trump – racist, sexist… there are many terms to describe him but the thing that worries me the most is how FAR this guy is from the people who think he will be their saviour.

Mostly white people with similarly misguided views the big thing that separates him from them is the silver spoon. While claiming to be all things to all (mostly white male) people – he has lived a life vastly, vastly removed from those who have the most faith in him.  That and the fact that this man will have his finger on the nuclear trigger. Thank heavens Americans only put presidents in place for 4 years – I should imagine anyone with a clean email record – maybe the nearest office cleaner would be a good competitor. But we have 4 years to go as the mighty dollar and the mighty pound slowly sink into the west.

I always said political correctness had gone too far but for 2 great nations to swing so far in the opposite direction.. I can only say, for once that I’m glad I’m a white male.

They always said the yellow race would rule the world – they didn’t say it would be our fault.

Counting the days to get back to our little hole in Spain, far away from it all.

The Return

And so we start our long journey back to the UK. We left Galera first thing Wednesday and spent most of the day driving up through Spain. We arrived at our hotel Palicio Urgoiti in Bilbao in time for dinner.

All in great comfort except that the room air con was bust and so we spend the morning having a good old soak in the hotel pool to cool off. 

We started our overnight voyage first thing yesterday but by the time we hit land this afternoon and get an urgently needed MOT in Southampton we won’t have time to go home as we have to pick up my sister-in-law first thing tomorrow at the airport… hence we have another hotel stop-over tonight.

With luck my new Echo Dot will have arrived so I’m looking forward to a couple of days R&D while teaching the Dot to voice control the heating and lighting back at the cottage. 
Maureen is off to Ireland so I have a few days of uninterrupted gadget time ahead while having voluntarily left the sun back in Spain (if only temporarily) to return to rip-off, Brexit Britain. We must be mad.

I’m checking flights already as we watch the BBCs “Rip off Britain” on the ship.