Sunday, April 29, 2007

Onions & Carrots

This morning we decided that we needed to do some more work on the vegetable patch. We had dug an area over a week or so ago and planted some lettuce plants in but we had to dig some more as our friend Sheila had got us a whole load of onion plants that needed to go in the ground pretty quickly. So we dug two patches over either side of where we had planted the lettuce and pulled out all the weeds and started to plant the onions. We planted the onions in alternate rows and interspersed them with rows of carrots. The idea behind this is that having the two plants growing side by side will confuse the bugs and pests. The green bush you can see amongst the onions and carrots and lettuce is a thyme bush.

Our vegtable patch

Helen in happy mood

On other fronts we have sorted out where we need to put all the electrical sockets and switches and I will start putting it all in over the next few weeks. The steps are moving forward with the lower step now just requiring a final top coat of concrete to complete. The van import is moving slowly but should be sorted soon. We have some more furniture turning up tomorrow, one item is a new mattress as the current one we are using is not very comfortable at all hopefully with the new one we will sleep better. I also have a desk and office chair turning up.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A walk on the wild side

Due to feeling a bit down (well to be honest I for one have been feeling very down for the last few days) we decided to have a day off from work or thinking about work on the house. As we live next to one of the Island walking routes, we felt that it was time that we try the walk out. Now this walk is one of the original donkey tracks connecting the villages on the island, it runs down the ridge (lomo) that we live on and then down in to the branco between Franceses and Gallegos. it is about 2Km from our house to the bottom of the branco and drops around 600m. It took us around 1 hour to get down to the bottom of the branco via some fantastic views. at one point the path arrives at the edge of a cliff over looking the sea some 400M high.
One goal of the work was to see if we could get to the sea unfortunately we could not, we managed to get within 50m of it but due to a 6 or 7M drop in the river bead we could not get any closer.
The walk back up nearly killed us both...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

20 20 vision

The only 20 20 vision we have is hindsight and at the moment that is rather depressing.
Yesterday we finally got an Internet connection, we can not get a phone line at the moment and if we could it would not support ADSL. The local town hall provide a wifi Internet service based on line of sight systems and ofcorce we don't have line of sight to the local transmitter.. (mind you we have not inquired about it). So we decided to go with a 3G USB modem, but the one we got will not do Internet sharing (explicitly stops it) also it appears we don't have a 3G signal at this end of the island. If only we have asked more questions or more to the point not rushed getting the system we may have got something that would work better but we are now stuck with what we have. It will do for now though.
Looking back we did not plan the move out here very well, we brought with us lots of things that we are not going to use for many months and have shipped things that we need now. Also due to over loading the van we lost things that we now need. I do wonder if Driving down was the best solution, as we have to import the van and that is tending to be more of a problem that we thought.
The thing with hindsight is that it is perfect. but we don't have a time machine to go back and change the things we have done wrong so we have to cope with the mistakes and try not to make more. One bit of advice to others thinking of doing something like this - take some time and get the plans right and ask the right questions..

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fun With Satilites

As Theresa said in an earlier post, we now have a limited satellite system, limited as all we can pick up is a few channels - mostly Sky news and the BBCi streams, but the idea was so that we could listen to Radio 2 which we can receive so it seems to be for filing its purpose...
Having never used a satellite before we first thought that the system was not working as we could not receive a thing.. it was only after many hours and getting a second LNB (as I thought that I have damaged the first one) that I found that the pointing of the dish is very sensitive.
The first night we have a simple system with the dish (a 1m thing that Theresa has christened Jodrel bank junior) siting on two breeze blocks. This worked OK except that the dish kept blowing over. Now it is mounted on the pole that holds the washing line up, better but as the pole is not fixed that well the dish can rotate a bit so it is OK for one Astra satellite but not that good for the other one... which is why we have limited stations.

But having access to Radio 2 has helped a lot to over come some of the feelings of isolation we were having.. Some would say why come to La Palma and then cry out for British Radio.. Well two reasons; firstly our Spanish is not that good so it is very difficult to listen to Spanish radio (and TV) and secondly, the Spanish Radio station we like is not available at our end of the island. The only radio that we can receive does not have a strong signal and keeps fading out or being swamped by Portuguese radio from Madeira.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Where does the postman call

Two days a go I put up a post box, on the understanding that the postman comes up the pista (steep road) that our house is on. But then some one stopped to talk to us as we walked along the road it would appear that he was the local postman (or one of them) no uniform and no official transport (just a clapped out car). he does not go up the pista so the box was no good outside the house - we could not quite workout if the box should be placed at the bottom by the half oil drum or that the half oil drum was the post box... So now I have taken the box down and we don't now what to do, collect the mail from the oil drum, though I think others may pick it up and distribute it as they go up the hill, or put up our box (or a bigger one) at the bottom of the hill. We will have to wait and see on that one...

More work done on the steps this morning, ok some of the drains are in and a few more rocks have been put on other rocks, the main thing that helped was, as we now have power I could used the cement mixer so mixing the stuff was not so bad but I still have to lug it up to the steps.. Also the old cement mixer is a bit on the decrepit side, it works ok but you have to unplug it to turn it off as the switch does not seem to work at all. The mixer also seems to be firmly fixed in its current location, behind a nice lily...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Lord Said let there be light.....

Today was a monumental day for us. We were a Sheila's this morning after we had been to town to drop some more paperwork off at the customs agent who is dealing with the car import. while we were there we received a phone call from the engineer who was coming to the house to fit our meter. So Sheila gave him directions to find our place. After lunch at Sheila's we did a little shopping and headed home a low and behold there on the outside of our house was a brand new electric meter. So after a quick check we switched on the circuit breakers and confirmed, YES we have electricity!!!!!!!!!!

After one short false start where I had not quite wired one socket correctly (OK the wire was hanging out) we confirmed that all the wiring I had done was OK and we now have one mains powered light and a couple of sockets. It's not much but it does mean we can now have a fridge which will make a large difference to the shopping.

On another front Helen has managed to get the satellite up and running so we now have Radio2 playing in the back ground as I am writing this.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Paperwork and other items

This morning we went to the customs office to start the process of importing the car over to Spanish plates. However as we were going through the paperwork we got to a certain point where it appears as we brought the car less than six months before we brought it into the country we couldn't do it directly through the customs office but instead would have to go via a customs agent. So we trailed across to the harbour where one of the agents is, A few bits of paperwork later and things are staring to move. I need to get a few documents, and it may cost us a little more but it is in progress.

On the other front we have also spoken to the electric company and opened our account, now all we have to do is wait for the phone call to tell us when they are going to connect us.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Work continues

More work on the steps completed today, I am not sure if my rock wall building is of local standards but I hope that it will stay up. I started to mark out the bottom part of the step that needs to be brought up to the level of the current entrance way. The plan is to have it as a curve from the gate. This is a bit hit and miss at the moment as I am making the design up as I go along.. partly due to the start of a wall that had been placed there by Manolar.

Theresa got the 12 lights in our bedroom wired up to the main battery today, putting the junction box in the wall for the 12v lighting was a bit of a mess as rubble stone walls are quite hard to channel out.
The wall before we started hacking about
You have to dig out several stones (hoping that the wall does not fall down) and then replace them with lashings of concrete.
And here you have me trying to fill in the new hole
Probably not the best way as these walls are damp in the center, and should be allowed to breath. we will need to put the wiring in the box in a few days once the cement has set. Also need to repair the hole in the floor.

I also put a coat of paint on the walls in the loo / shower, needs another coat and in a few places the white wash scrubbing off the walls but it has made a difference.
We are at Sheila's tomorrow - another try to get the electric on...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

When The neighbours come calling

What a start to April, at 2:30 this morning one of the neighbours, slightly worse for drink, came calling (well hammering on the door was more like it). At first I thought that he was worried due to the smell of smoke coming from the house after the problems we had had with the cooking fire last night. But No he was asking if we have got the electric on yet. Well that is what we think he was after But at 2:30 in the morning!!!! we managed to get rid of him after a bout 10 to 20 minutes and then tried to get back to sleep. The hole thing had quite shaken both of us.

We were due to go to Sheilas in the morning and could not get out of the house quick enough this morning. I just hope that this was a one off occurrence, because I feel a hole lot more like just going back to the UK today and I think that Theresa does a bit as well.