Saturday, March 31, 2007

Power from the Sun, and too much smoke

A lot done today, Solar panel is up, its a bit of a Heath Robinson affair but seems to function well, I am not sure of the state of the battery that we have borrowed from Carlos but it seems to be holding up well. We have to carry the battery down from the roof each morning and back up in the evening but we can now charge it here
We also set up the weather station, no connection to a computer at the moment - that will have to wait until we have mains power (our little 60W panel works well but does not do wonders).

We had one minor problem tonight, cooking dinner on the fire ended up filling the house with smoke. It seems that cooking on an open cooking fire is not as simple as it seems. ( first we could not get it started now when it is going it fills the place with smoke. Have we done the right this in coming here? In a way I want to go home...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

We have arived, mostly

Well we are here - for better or worse.
The trip down was rather fought with problems.
first we were stopped by the French Police for being over loaded. 13% in fact, around 300Kg. The result of this was that we had to pay a fine of 150 Eros. and to stop us getting stopped a gain we decided (or should I say I decided) that we had to lighten our load. We had thought that we could possibly hire a car and then move some of the load to the other car (well 100Kg would move just having one driver in each car).. But we decided that that was not a good option as most of the time we would be apart. So ther result was that we dumped quite a bit of stuff - most of the heavy bits, two UPSes one 75A/h battery and other assorted heavy bits. The van handled a lot better afterworlds but some of the stuff that was dumped will never be replaced.

The rest of the trip we were very nervous and on edge incase we were stopped again. This also messed up the Berther cam as I did not feel happy about running the cam with the police there...

We came over the pernees in a blizzard... it looks very pretty when we could see but most of the time all we could see was white all around and the back of the truck in frunt of us.

The next thing that went wrong was that the ferry was 11 hours late, the result of that was that we missed the connecting ferry and had to stay two nights in Tenerife...

We did manage to pick up Tabby ok.. but the ferry trip was not that enjoyerble for her, she was sick and messed her box so we had to clean it out which ment that although I was not feeling too sea sick at the start, atfter that I was.

We arived in La Palma at 10:30 feeling a bit off and very tired and frased. Sheila meet usjust out side the port and haded over the keys, she has very kindly made the bed and got some food in for us. The last 45Km of the trip were done in darkness and we arived at our new home at arond 11:30, but our trubles with Berther were not over, She was still too over loaded and would not go up the pester (steep road) to our home so we parked her on the road at the bottom and went o bed..

This morning we had to carry half the load out of Berther up to the house, befor we could get her up the pester, unloading took around 2 hours and a lot of energy. The rest of the day had been tken up with getting bits we need.

The fun this evning was trying to get the fire alight so that we could cook our dinner. The problem was that we did not have much kinding and mst of the wood was damp. But with the help of a air pump for the matrice we got it going, some time resbling a small blast fernice. Just the batries in the air pump were giving out (and our pashence) the fire desided to catch and we did have supper.

Also managed to get the 12v lights up today, runnig off of a car battry borowed from Calos.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Long and Winding Road

As I sit here in a hotel room in Sevilla, I'm thinking back over what has been a very eventful and stressful 5 days. Last Sunday we left our house in London and headed out on the road. Since we left the UK on the Monday morning we been pulled over and fined by the gendarme, Driven over mountain passes in snow blizzards. Crossed several international boarders. Looking back on it now it has been a lot more of a challenge than I had originally thought, and I have made several mistakes along the way the biggest was overloading the car in the first place. This lead to the first of our problems, We had made a quick coffee stop, and as we were leaving the service area we were pulled over by a couple of Gendarme. After looking in the back and seeing that we were full to the top they took up to a weighbridge and then back to there office. At the office they told us we were 300Kg overloaded and that this would be a 135euro fine. We were allowed to continue but later that night we pulled over by a bin and unloaded a number of the heaver items we had in the back of the van. I'm a little annoyed at myself for having to do this as in hindsight we should have shipped more than we did, but were are now down to a more acceptable weight(I think). Ever since then I have had fits of apoplexy every time I see a police car or a police officer, I am so worried about being pulled over again and still being over weight, But if we do at this point we can just post stuff to home.

Driving across the mountains in Spain was an experience some times we were driving through complete whiteout conditions, for a while we were following the snow plough up the mountain pass. Several times we came to a compete halt for periods of around 30min, other times we were squeezing by with one wheel on the road and the other on snow. Once the snow had passed and we started to come down on to the plains the scenery started to change to a more familiar Spanish style.

I am a little worried about the drive tomorrow as we have to drive to Cadiz to catch the ferry over to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, but the motorcycle Grand Prix is on this weekend at Jerez which is just north of there and there is likely to be large queues on the auto route and a large number of Guardia Civil patrols.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Road Trip Has Started

Well we made it.... This last week has been hell, Why is it that we ALWAYS get the timing wrong! We had just under two weeks to get sorted out, and we could have done with another week, and a bigger van!
Yesterday we tried to pack the van, and ended up with more stuff that space in the van... So we got up at 6:30 this morning and did it again, but left some non essentials out - like our TV... DVD recorder and still the van is packed solid, most of it packed very well apart from one bag of tea which keeps slipping out and hitting me on the head.
I will admit that it has been a very trying last few days and I have honestly contemplated not going, even this morning after we realised that we still had too much stuff to go into the van, if I had knife to hand I would not have left.
But here we are, 10:00 pm in the Travel inn Folkestone, two hours on the road behind us and no problems (and 8 days ahead of us). Tomorrow we leave England on the 10:50am EuroTunnel service, and then the real adventure begins.
To Any of our Friends that we did not get a Chance to say goodbye to, we are sorry but this last week has been too hectic, there is an open invitation to come out and see us, but could you hold off for just a bit so that we can get the Bathroom built.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Oh Arrrrr

We Are Now Officially Farmers..

Yes, we finally signed all the paperwork for the house sale on Friday at 2:15 pm, it ended up being a bit rushed as the notary closed at 2:00 pm and they wanted to go home.... It was a bit of a letdown and we got nothing in return for all the money we handed over, although the house and land was now ours.

As to the farmers bit, today we went to the house to have a celebrational barbecue, original it was just going to be us, Sheila and a friend or two. But as the current owners were still moving out and can only do that on Sundays (they don't live there normally just use it as a bodega on the weekends) we had a very pleasant afternoon with them as well. The guy that we bought the place off of informed us that as we owned the house and land we were now members of the irrigation committee i.e officially classed as farmers ..... and it seems that farmers and local people seem to be a dieing breed at the moment. The two houses next to ours are empty and possibly up for sale so we are not over looked at the moment...

Well although the place is more of a building site than a house, it is our building site.. and we are carrying on a good local tradition. The guys farther built the first one room house on the land in the 1950's and then went to Venezuela to work and earn money to pay for the place, his wife was left with one son (the seller) of about 7 and a sick 2 year old, a pig , a cow and some goats. She then built the kitchen and another room on to the house. While collecting water from a spring and fire wood and bedding each day.

This house has some very interesting history and I hope that we don't destroy it...