A few sparks

‘Hola! Buenos dias,’ says our neighbour as usual.

‘Tengo algo para tí.’ (I’ve got something for you).

Well normally that means some veg, but it seemed he needed to bring whatever it was personally rather than hand it over the wall, so Partner skipped out of the gate and waited on the pavement.

In fact it was a business card from an electrician. Hardly something that couldn’t have been passed over the wall. Personally I think José just wanted to come on the terrace to tell me what to do with the garden again.

Apparently, when all sensible people (ie us) were taking their siesta, this electrician turned up to talk to the three or four houses in our part of the street. It seems he has been contracted by the electricity company to change the main cables from the power line to the houses so that we get more current. And he was going to start next week, ie this week.

But our neighbours had told him we were travelling back to Gib, so he could maybe start last week, so I had to ring him.

Well, the first thing to say is that it cost a bloody fortune on roaming for a brief mobile to mobile call. He’ll be getting a text in future.

Next, he didn’t want to work last week at all. He said it was going to rain so obviously he couldn’t be fiddling around with cable in the wet. Zzzzzzzzz! One frizzled sparky.

I asked if he could do the work without us, but apparently not, because he needs to test the leccy inside the house when he has installed the new cables. Fair enough.

We left it that I would ring him when I was going back to Spain so that he could schedule it in.

So we tells the neighbours.

‘Who rang him?’ demanded José.

Well it was me, as I do most of the Spanish ‘phone calls, although Partner can actually do ‘phone calls with people he knows, ie the ones who can understand his Spanish accent by way of Wales, Australia and Newcastle.

José looked put out.

‘Why didn’t you argue with him?’

About not faffing around with mains electricity from the grid when it’s raining? I don’t think so. Not something I would be doing in a hurry.

You could see José was biting his tongue not to ask, ‘Why didn’t you let your partner speak to him? This is Men’s Business.’

I should say at this point, that the original wiring for our house was put in by his wife Adelina, and her sister (used to be her sister’s house). Electrics aren’t José’s strong point. We have since rewired, after the original ceramic switch fell on the floor and shattered our electrics.

It fell on the floor, because I blew the fuse (the whole house was on one circuit) by using the hairdryer to try and look seductive on Valentine’s Night, and the water heater was still on, so boom! or rather bang! And when Partner was trying to sort the fuse he dropped the little ceramic thingy that passed for a fuse control box. Thereby wrecking our electricity supply totally.

Back to the impending visit of the electrician. We told next doors that they have a key so they could let him in. They didn’t want to take that responsibility.

They started arguing between themselves. ‘Sigue!’ snapped Adelina. ‘Sigue tu!’ replied José. ‘Follow,’ as in presumably follow the conversation, because he often doesn’t listen. We stood there laughing waiting for them to finish their marital spat.

‘How about we ring you up when he arrives and you can just drive up?’ suggested Adelina.

Yeah. That’s a great idea. We’ll just sit around waiting for a ‘phone call, jump to attention, put forty quidsworth of diesel in the Landy, pay 15€ in tolls (there and back) for the peaje, drive for three hours, and just scrub our commitments in Gib when we only drove back down a couple of days ago.

No. Life does not work like that. I’d reached an agreement with the electrician so what was the problem? We all have electricity, and quite frankly I don’t care if it gets replaced anyway. Why do I need more current? I don’t.

Anyway, here, for no particular reason, is a photo of the hills behind us that I took that morning. I loved the mist drifting between the low hills and the higher sierras.

The sierras de something or other
The sierras de something or other

Of course when I get back, the cables may well have been replaced anyway!

30 comments on “A few sparks

  1. The Sierras de something or other???! and I thought I was going to be learning some Gib geography on your blog! I love how you made mention of how the neighbour who advises you on what you should be doing with your own garden……that’s happened to us both in the UK and here in Oz; our elderly neighbours seem to think we are some sort of aliens because we don’t share their love for hedges and cottage gardens even though we are English….and living in the often drought inflicted sub tropical state of Queensland…… The pair on the other side like to pop their heads over the fence and suck their cheeks in and make derogatory and scaremongering comments about the potential problems we’ll encounter with anything we are about to plant…….like Garden Police. We are apparently not to be trusted with our own garden, let alone the electrics. I swear they most keep an ear to their windows for the sound of us getting our spade out of the shed!


    • Gib geography. It is small. There is a large limestone rock sticking up in the middle. Most of us live on the west facing side in tiny flats. There is a narrow isthmus that connects us with that strange neighbour called Spain, but apart from that we are surrounded by peaceful waters.

      When I have spent time in Spain there is always a flurry of Spain blog posts. And anecdotes. José does water my garden for me when I’m not around, so I put on my tolerant hat. When I can find it.

      The best one was around a couple of months ago, when he wandered onto our terrace about five minutes after we had arrived from our three hour journey and started snipping away at everything!

      But they are good neighbours. So my skits are pretty tongue in cheek, hence us laughing at them when they started arguing.

      I think he is better on flowers than veg. He didn’t know that chicken shit is a seriously good compost/manure for veg because of the nitrogen and was surprised how well my veg did in it. Different styles of gardening, mine is minimal, organic, and veg based. He is good on what times of year to do work and when to plant veg/seeds, so I learn what I can and go my own way with the rest.


  2. More current? Wow! Whatever next? Bigger water pipes, mains sewage, a gas supply? You will be in the 21st century before you know it. I wish I had someone to lean over the garden wall and sort out my plant problems. I have to rely on the Gib equivalent of GQT and get a jasmine diagnosis by interwebnetthingy. We had to go 24 hours without power recently and it wasn’t fun so breaking your ceramics was probably not the best of ideas. Still, it probably helped the seduction – dinner by candlelight etc. After you’d beaten him over the head with a rolling pin, no doubt.


    • Water pipes are fine, although accordingly to next doors, it only came within the last few years (except we have been living there more than ten, so read 20 or 30 or 40 for that), we do still have a local tap though, not potable however. Mains sewage seems to work ok. A gas supply? Oh no. We are all stlll on bottled gas. There were rumours of mains gas coming a down the main road and up to the village but they disappeared into the gaseous ether.

      I DON’T have any plant problems. I DON’T need any interference help.

      Throw seeds/plants in ground. Add chicken shit or organic compost. Water but not too much. If it works, great. If it doesn’t choose different plants.

      We’ve done more than 24 hours without water, not sure about the leccy. It was dinner by candlelight, obviously. I thought I had written up the saga but can’t find it, although Pippa did write about the rewiring, I may add the link later. Possibly.

      I wouldn’t dream of using my rolling pin for such a mundane task. It is for creativity and delicious pastry/pizza/anything else with flour.


    • Yes. Not one we’ve ever forgotten. The difficulty was actually trying to get someone out to get it fixed. In the end our neighbours gave us a temporary fix, and we got an English guy who was struggling for work to do the whole rewire – a year or so later …


  3. LOL, just drop everything and travel for three hours, that made me smile :-)
    It must be an age thing, my mum phoned me the other day, ‘Vic, I need some clothes brought into hospital, could you pop up to my house on the train and get them for me’
    Huh! four and a half hours and three trains? I don’t think so!!……..bless her, she did offer me the rail fare ;-)


    • It might be age, and the belief that you don’t have anything to do even if you aren’t working full time. Any work at all is a commitment, as is looking for work and sorting paperwork. And given the unpredictability of the Spanish, he could turn up at lunchtime for example (anywhere between noon and 4pm with us). Oh, it’s ok, I’ll turn the food off, jump in the vehicle, sit in the frontier queue, all at a moments’ notice…

      When my dad went into hospital and I said I would go back after Christmas, my mother rang me the next day (ie Christmas Day) to ask why I hadn’t arrived yet. Given that I didn’t want to fly and it was a two day hike, there wasn’t much chance of that. I did set off on Boxing Day which I thought was a pretty rapid turn-around. But yes, you can imagine saying you will return, and then aged relative sits there watching the clock wondering why you aren’t there in ten minutes. We went half and half on the fares.


  4. Oh, old houses and their marginal electricity. At this point, I dread husband deciding to “fix” circuits or add light fixtures (we need one over the front door and another one over the kitchen counter – stupid builder leaving those out…). We’ve redone all the houses I want to re-do…besides the big thing is once you do one thing – something else ends up having to be fixed, too. All I can do is hope the attic is too darn hot to get up there pretty soon.
    Always enjoy your stories.


    • We’ve always had minimal electricity, I’m not one for ripping out, and putting in new cabling, especially as Partner hates cables on the wall, so it all involves endless chasing out, drilling, replastering. So much work for little results at the end of the day. The finca needed to be rewired because you could hardly put more than one appliance on at once. Not that we still do, but at least we have four or five separate circuits and fuses now. Doing up houses is great fun when you are young …although my idea of doing up is more like doing down, rip out any built-in furniture and built-in kitchens, and replace with very little at all. Reskim walls and paint white (it used to be fancier in olden days with lots of wallpaper but luckily my tastes are simpler these days).
      Attic? Only ever had one that needed doing – it was two bedrooms that we never used. And, thanks. Need to romp over to see what Molly has been chewing up over on yours.


      • Redoing wiring is a pain whether plaster/slat walls or sheetrock.Paint over a patch never matches the rest of the wall. Attics here are usually left unfinished – the wires and pipes run across them. Can’t store much there as the temps get hotter than 100 during the summer – we heavily insulate to keep the house cool. But to put in a new ceiling light you have to cut a hole in the ceiling then string wire to a junction box and wire it all up to code…which is hard to do with low headroom, if it’s hot – and all that insulation is dusty and itchy. We are trying to not do much to the house. Tore out carpet and put in wood floors and took off hideous tiles around the fireplace and replaced with split rock veneer. There’s 2 window sills Molly has taken huge bites out of , but really hope that’s it for repairs….Ok someday paint will replace the only wallpaper in the baths…But that’s it!


        • Our walls are cement in Gib, stone in Spain, and were always brick in UK. Spanish walls are a rustic finish anyway so that’s not a big issue for it being uneven, it’s been attacked so many times in the past, although part of the finca renovation project posts I wrote about last year do include skimming of virtual whole walls (because some of the patching hadn’t been done properly). But for normal patching it’s the clever feathering in of the plaster/filler/whatever that is the real trick. Probably easier to get a match in our houses as everything is white and currently being done once a year anyway (damp, spores, humidity etc).

          I think the problem with electrical works is unless you need a total rewire (we’ve had two of those), it seems like so much disruption for one light or a few extra sockets. Now, I’m more than happy with decorating work because there is such a vast improvement.

          Don’t like carpets. Especially other peoples’. I like wood/tile/stone and rugs. Much healthier. Much easier with dogs. Especially wet ones. We did put some carpets in one house – I was earning too much money and couldn’t persuade Partner to strip the floorboards apart from the dining room. When we sold the house, the new woman decided to have the carpets cleaned (she had young kids and we had dogs so she thought the carpets may be extremely toxic). Carpet cleaner told her it was a total waste of money and they were immaculate. She still had them cleaned :D They were all light coloured so it would have been pretty obvious if they were dirty.


    • I liked the way it looked like smoke drifting along between the high peaks and the lower ones, plus the palms standing out like sentinels on the hillside and the pillars in the wall marching in a different direction on the right. Difficult to get a good angle from where I live though.

      What’s griping me mildly about the leccy, is that there isn’t a problem, so I’m stuffed if I’m putting myself out to travel up and down unnecessarily between Gib and the finca, it can wait until my next visit.


    • Actually it is :D In fact we had a power cut here (ie Gib) the other day for a couple of hours. Can’t cook, can’t faff around on the internet, couldn’t be bothered to clean, I think I went to sleep. Spain is actually easier to cope with because we have gas for cooking.


  5. oh the joy! always makes for stories, though. anyhow, hope your electricity is sorted out in due course. in any case, it sounds like you are managing fine anyhow.
    love those clouds nestling in among the sierras de something or other! :)


    • Ha! Yes, I can imagine you will empathise with disruption of construction works given all yours of last year. But yes, we are managing. Just feels like a load of grief for something unnecessary to me, so I’m in no rush for it.

      Nestling, indeed they are. A very good word for them.


  6. Beautiful picture indeed.. wow, sounds like an ordeal getting new wiring but if it brings you stronger current, Ole’!!


    • I want to work with what I have. I know all the theory about faffing around with the soil and the chemicals and blah boring fall down flat bored to tears. What’s the point? If my soil is happy to grow certain crops, that’s what I’ll grow. I might try something twice putting it down to a bad plant or seeds but after that – nada más. Sometimes we can make our lives too complicated. I want mine to be more simple (shame others don’t but hey, it comes with age).


  7. Of course you don’t need more current. We manage fine with a 3KW supply in France, now we’ve got used to juggling the water-heater, the kettle and the oven. :-) We did however get the house rewired as it had one solitary and very dangerous-looking socket when we bought it and I’m guessing the old man who previously lived there thought that was luxury when it was installed.

    I love your photo of misty mountains, with those trees in profile.


    • No idea what our supply is, but yes, it’s all about juggling. Not clever to put on the hair dryer (which I have never used since) with the immersion heater. We need to juggle the dishwasher too for the water, but it’s hardly difficult. Just takes a bit of planning. Kettle and oven are gas so that’s an easy one.

      We do have lovely views. Sea one way, mountains the other. I always love the atmospheric mountain shots best.


  8. I had a laugh, as usual about your Spanish neighbours, and you, who reminds me sometimes of me… Interesting that the contractor was the first contact the electricty company made to you to advise re the change over. I would consider that very sus but I’m guessing it’s the Spanish way. I’ve been considering electrical work as well… I have a new rainbow chandelier courtesy of my youngest sister who works in a lighting store ;)
    I love your views of the misty sierras de something or other – once again reminds me of TA, not as grand (just big hills) and a little closer… changing scenery of weather and light :) Easter is nigh… it’s obviously time for a break… I’m homesick.


    • Next doors do provide me with material for blogs :D

      As for the change over, the electrician was at great pains to point out it was free, GRATIS, he virtually shouted down the ‘phone. Which is just as well because quite frankly it doesn’t interest me in the slightest. But yes, how about a nice letter, saying we are proposing to do these works, at our own expense, blah blah, and an electrician will call at … and plan the works for ….

      This is Spain though, and that isn’t how it works, so yes, you are right.

      Rainbow chandelier, that sounds ferocious. I take it we’ll get a pic at some point? There could be one already for all I know given how Reader performs.

      I can’t really get a good shot from outside the house of the sierras, and when I’m out walking I usually forget, but still, it conveys the impression.

      Semana Santa (Holy Week) next week. We are so not going back to Spain for that though. The shops are closed for days, the tolls go up, and life is just disrupted. You have to attend at least one big parade if you live in Spain though, I’ve done two, one in Málaga city, and one in our local town of Vélez. They are quite special, I must look out some pix for a post.


  9. Hey, your posts haven’t been showing up on my reader OR my email at all!!
    Looks like you had a memorable Valentines :-) That ceramic fuse holder seems like the ones used here, although even we have switched to circuit breakers now! But if you see the knotted piles of wires at any transformer, you might wonder how we have any supply at all!
    Love that view.


    • Nothing new there then is there? Have you followed and unfollowed? I mean unfollowed and refollowed. (You can tell I’ve not been up long) Come to think of it, I’ve not seen anything of yours on there for some time either. c’est la view eh?

      Must take a photo of the connecting box outside our house before the cables get changed ;) Doesn’t sound like Spanish electrics are any different to yours.

      I love the mountains in winter, the views are so much more interesting, the peaks covered in snow, or swirling in mist, blurred by rain – or like this one – with the mist just drifting along.


  10. Jose says, ” ‘Why didn’t you let your partner speak to him? This is Men’s Business.’
    BB says, HA! Obviously this belief is not a Geographical Local Disease of the Male Brain.”
    ie GLDoMB…. had to have a long acronym of course..
    Funny in an odd bittersweet kind of way.

    On gardening. Can I share a short story with you? (as if you have some choice I know I hear you)
    I had always had a small plot of veggies that would grow easily and my family ate almost every night; Even when ground for growing was at a minimum I container gardened salad fixings, which is what I will do in my new little ground floor flat this season.

    One year though in the mid 80’s I was not working and decided I needed to revert back to the mother earth lifestyle I had always been so enamored with. So a large vegetable garden was planned with a border around it for cutting flowers. Zinnias, peonies, etc,, A 20′ x 20′ all organic garden. I even imported Lady bugs for pest control.
    I was in heaven albeit had no experience with a garden of this size as well as a lot of vegges were new to me in terms of growing them. But I wanted to try.
    My great frustration came one afternoon when I was out zen weeding and deadheading. My best friend’s wife who lived 5 doors down showed up. Now don’t you know she thought of herself a Master Gardner. Only problem was in the states to call one self a Master a person has many classes and certification to process. She had none of this. Only her own self worth and value as she saw it was her own.

    When she started to criticize my garden and actually thought it appropriate to begin to thin out and transfer some green bean starts I could no longer hold MY tongue, Hang her being a good friends wife.
    So I simply looked at her and said “Sally, you know I have those problem with perfection, right? you know about it.” She nodded her head still feeling she was in charge, but the look on her face was she did not have a clue where I was headed.
    Good, I liked her being unbalanced.
    I continued on and told her my garden with all its flaws and mistakes was my lesson at letting go of my need for all things perfect,. That it was an experiment in motion,..ahem in growth of you will, and each flaw told it’s own story about why I had held on so hard for the need of all things in perfection.
    This “perfect” woman who always had some thing to add and needed the last word was struck.silent and with her mouth gaping open I was worried about my lady bugs. She did not know how to take what I had said.
    She left back to her own Perfect yard and Perfect garden a couple minutes later which is where she belonged in the first place. In my mind anyway.

    Never again did she try to correct me on anything, despite being so tempted, so often.
    I continued my original plan because after all; I was a lesson in imperfection. Still am and I rather like it that way

    Thanks ms, for this was a great memory spark. I had not thought of that year in maybe 25 yrs. So sorry for the novella of a comment though. ~


    • José also hates the fact that I do the garden which is also Men’s Business, because you know, it is technical and requires the vastly superior Male Brainpower. Which is no doubt why his onions this year were smaller than my little finger and he ripped them all out to share with me because they were g(r)o(w)ing nowhere. He spent the first few years of our life at the finca trying to tell Partner what to do with the garden. Needless to state, he just shrugged his shoulders and pointed out that I was in charge of the garden. Haha!

      My gardening is extremely basic, experimental to some degree, and totally organic (unless José’s fly spray wafts over onto my patch). So I love your story. I think people get too hung up on the exactly correct way to garden. If I try something and it doesn’t work out, I may have a second go, but not usually a third. Eg, I have had two bougainvillea plants at the finca both of which died on me, so I haven’t bought a third. But jasmine, plumbago and hibiscus work fine for me. I don’t particularly like roses, ie the thorns, and I would never buy them, but I have four in the garden, they bloom beautifully even though they are pretty old, and the scent is lovely, so I keep them.

      A garden is very personal I think, and while I tolerate José’s interference, it is largely because he is a great neighbour, he actually does know what time of year to do things (Spain is obv different to the UK), and he waters it for me when I’m not there.

      I like your story. It is extremely simple and very good. Thank you for writing about it and no need to apologise for such a great tale.


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