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Archive for the ‘Andalucia’ Category

The Summer of 2015

Spain - Embalse Del NegratinWe’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[4]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.

MIT BostonI 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.

Spain

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.

Spanish entertainmentThis 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.

Boston

Was I dreaming?

My recent high tech trip to MIT in pool at galeraBoston, USA seems like a distant dream, mind you given the hassle I had with useless-as-shit Iberia Airlines it’s probably just as well. On 2nd of August I travelled from Alicante to Boston via Madrid. At the intermediate stop, Iberia Airlines managed to misplace my one and only bag. I put a claim in for the fact that I had to buy clothes thanks to them losing my gear.

Meanwhile all is well here in Spain – the weather is still hot as you like. We’ve had storms but they always seem to be somewhere else with one exception, Maureen and I went off to a bar in nearby Castillejar and the heavens opened up, flooding the streets for at least half an hour – mind you – it was still 22c at the WORST point and soon warmed up again. None of yer English freezing cold rain storms.

This week we’re likely to take a trip to Granada, some of our friends are off home to the UK (sadly) so it’ll be a little quieter from now on – still – that’s fine – there’s no shortage of things to do around here and I suspect more than one package from China will turn up this week to keep me occupied.

Back to my jobs. Today I’m putting new screens on windows – and a spot of cementing.

Update November 2015: In August I had immediately started a discussion with Iberia Airlines who gave me someone else’s lost baggage number just to make matters worse. Despite many conversations and a written acknowledgement that they had lost my baggage and would compensate me accordingly (I had to buy clothes) – mid-November I still have had nothing from the airline and have had to report them to the CAA. Why is it always this way with big companies…

Enjoying the Summer of 2014

Lots of info on Facebook and the blog over at www.bedrock.es – right now, Maureen is off with her bad foot to Pilates down in Galera village – we managed a nice trip to Lake Negratin yesterday and last night I did the usual G8 thing, meeting the Brits down at the bar in the village – we had a very nice evening.

panorama

Today I’m sitting here catching up with emails, organising websites (I have them all over the place and I’m consolidating to eventually get to one provider) and working on my home control system so it is reliable over the winter.

I’ve had more than my fair share of problems with the home controller kit here…

1. The heat is generally far more than you’d see in the UK so it’s no unusual to see my office here at 28c – way higher than the UK – this and less than perfect mains power has taken out a number of cheap power supplies. Now I’m using higher rated supplies with success.

2. It seemed like a good idea at the time – as we have wireless Internet here (by which I mean a dish pointing down to the town centre) and the cave is not well suited to drilling holes for wires – I put in an over-the-mains setup with little TPLink units plugged into the mains. Turns out they are not AT ALL reliable and the quality varies for numerous reasons including the amount and type of data you send over them. So – I’m putting everything back onto either WIFI where sensible or hardwired. Thankfully network cable and connectors are dirt cheap here in Spain. Just a matter of drilling holes.

3. My home control coding took a leap forward a little while ago with proper wireless networking – unfortunately like many others I’d not realised quite how sensitive my little NRF radios are to interference, especially from cheap Chinese switched power supplies. That is now resolved and the radio network is working a treat.

I now have the control unit sending me TWEETS reliably when certain events occur – and that’s great. Just need now to get a whole boatload of supplies from the UK

Galera

stars at night

The Winter Commeth

Peter Scargill in Lake Negratin

I don’t know about you but I HATE winters. We’ve spent the summer here in Galera and even when it’s raining the temperature rarely falls below 23c and is usually 10c higher. It’s been a great summer but reality sets in and the weather is starting to show cracks – there’s been the odd cloud and last night there was some rain. It won’t be long before the days are fine but the evenings too cool to stay outside at midnight – perhaps another month – meanwhile back in Northern England it’s probably that way already.

We’re planning an extension in Spain so I can work without messing the house up – meanwhile in the UK we’re moving – not 100% sure WHERE thanks to a slight screw-up at the sale and purchase end but no doubt within a couple of weeks we’ll be planning the new house and my workshop (within fairly close range of Wark I suspect). Here in Spain I want to use solar power and it’s looking good – I have a pilot setup with battery, solar panel and solar controller, enough to light up an office without any problem – I don’t think the same setup will work in the UK where we have maybe 10th of the sunlight! There are some GREAT new E14 LED candle lights out now and I plan to make extensive use of these in future, abandoning the rather coarse-looking compact fluorescents as I think their day has come and gone.

However it all makes for excellent winter planning – and scouring Ebay for suitable products to do the job. Andalucia in winter isn’t a great deal warmer than Northumberland and often cooler at night but at least the sun stays out most of the time! Meanwhile for any techies looking in – I’ve just finished a pretty good solar powered cricket generator – code and info here. http://scargill.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/digistump-cricket-generator/