Last Minute Fixes

We fly back home today but our flight does not depart until 7:20 PM. So, we have the morning to do yet more in what has already been a hectic and crammed two weeks. I’ll be glad to get home for a rest! :))

Spain does not, it seems, enjoy a particularly law-abiding reputation. The reason that we got into Spain seven or so years ago was that we began house-and-dog-sitting for a couple whose very pleasant villa had twice been burgled whilst they were away on holiday. Last weekend, we have been told, one or more of the empty properties on our development were broken into by low-life-scum raiding the plumbing fittings in the bathrooms. Whilst the two ground level windows (to the rear) of the properties are fitted with rejas [bars], the remaining high-level windows and sliding balcony doors overlooking the steep drop of the mountainside, are not protected. Our socially conscious individual(s) had gained access via the vertigo-inducing balconies.

The caretaker on the development had offered to fit internal locks to the vulnerable doors and windows. Knowing we were departing for the UK this afternoon, he had offered to do it at 10:00 this morning. He was true to his word. We could have done with 6 locks but only 5 were available so one window, the one with the longest drop beneath it, remains unsecured. I left him extra money and a key to the now working entrance door so that he could do the additional window when a lock did become available.

We needed one more thing, I thought, to make our late evening return in March more comfortable – we needed some form of heating. Spanish houses are built to stay cool-ish in summer rather than warm-ish in winter. Heat efficient they are not. Most larger houses are equipped with a log burner and gas (from bottles) central heating. Neither are particularly cheap heating solutions but, fortunately, the Spanish winter is a little shorter than ours. [Spain can be a cold country. On-going verbal disagreements are frequently heard concerning expat Brits and the righteousness of winter fuel payments. I will tactfully avoid joining in.]

Casa Libélule is a small property and does not have any gas supply. Neither does it have a wood burner nor a chimney for a wood burner. It is designed to have an electric heating/air-conditioning unit which we will, eventually, have fitted. For now, though, the most flexible and timely solution would be an old Spanish favourite, one that all houses of any size appear to use even with their other heating options, an estufa. An estufa is a self-contained mobile gas heater built around a replaceable butane gas bottle.

I whizzed off to our favourite local ferreteria [hardware store] to buy an estufa for 115€. I needed a gas bottle, too, of course. Forewarned, I popped into the local garage to sign a license/contract for a gas bottle. Now, the gas bottle is a 12.5kg butane bottle and cost about 17.50€. In the UK for Guillaume’s gas supply, a mere 6kg of propane costs a whopping £20.25 – in effect 50% more for half the amount of gas. Strewth! Furthermore, I was very surprised to find that I didn’t actually have to pay for the license/contract; my first bottle was still only 17.50€. Why was I surprised? In the UK for Guillaume, the £20.25 price for 6kg propane from Calor is the refill price. Your first purchase will include a so-called “rental” charge for the gas cylinder and will set you back a princely £60.24.

EstufaAnyway, we now have an instant heat source that, assuming I can light it successfully, can be fired up when we arrive after our march drive down from Bilbao and here it is. It may not be the most attractive of heating solutions but it ain’t that bad and we’ve got just the spot for it tucked into a corner at the top of our staircase.

Lunch and off to the airport …

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Posted in Spanish Venture Part 1

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