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Discovering a new life in Costa Almeria

Having made the decision that full time work really is bad for your health,my husband convinced me that we should get 2 puppies and retire early. What I hadn't anticipated was that retirement would see us in Almeria, in southern Spain. This is our story from making the decision to move to our life here. For more posts read the full blog at What I hadn't realised was that I wasn't ready to retire so after 2 years we are back in the UK. However, when I am finally ready to retire - Spain is still in the mix.

Finally, no more changing gas bottles before showering.
26 February 2010 @ 09:53

A recap.

We decided to live in a house in the countryside 3,000 metres up a mountain. It gets cold in the winter, there is snow in the winter which is deep enough to stop us getting the car out for days at a time. We decided we would put gas central heating in running on propane from a tank as we are way too far away from any mains supply of gas. Natural piped gas is not common in this part of Spain although highly populated areas are beginning to get piped supply.

We only knew of one supplier of bottled gas, Repsol, and so spoke with them about the supply. Their tanks were massive so we would need to run off the tall bottles and were recommended to have 8 bottles and run 4 on/4 off. We weren't keen as this would look unattractive at the back of the house but, any less would mean the bottles needed changing too often and if the track was difficult to access because of snow we could run out of gas and have no heating or cooking.

In conversation with Manolo at the plumbers merchant he told us about another supplier Cespa, who did a smaller tank than Repsol, suitable for domestic use. 1,000 litres which should last for months and certainly see us through the winter months without difficulty. The tank is quite cute, if a fuel tank can be cute and it seemed perfect for our needs. Refills would be 3-4 days from order, which is a simple phone call. While we were waiting for the tank we could run the system with 4 small bottles, 2 on/2 off.

We started the process in mid-November and we received the signed contract from Cespa dated 26th November. We were given a timescale of 3 weeks for the tank to be delivered and a further 3-4 days for it to be filled up. With any luck it would all be set-up by Christmas and we wouldn't have to worry about fuel throughout the winter.

But, this is Spain. Timescales can stretch out quite a while.

The timescale for our tank has stetched way beyond expectations. In Spain you learn to be patient but this has certanly tested our patience to the limit.

The tank is manufactured in Portugal as it is cheaper than if it was made in Spain. At Christmas when we asked,it was only just in production, should be shipped early January. We had one fall of snow where we were snowed in for 3 days and on day 4 we had no choice but to dig our way out as our bottles were empty. The bottles only lasted for 4 days in really cold weather when we needed the heating on 24/7. When you run on LPG there is always a residual amount left in the bottles, normally 10% but in cold weather it can be as much as 15% - this means when you need the most get you get the least! The outside temperature affects the amount of usable gas. It also means you are paying for gas you can't actually use. Each change of bottle was costing us €10 so it is not a cost effective way of running a heating system, but it was meant to only be for a 4-5 weeks!

But this is Spain. Finally, after almost 10 weeks the tank arrived. We were told it would take about a week for the first fill and after that it would be 3-4 days for a refill from when we telephoned an order through. We were so excited.

The excitement didn't last long.

We waited for it to be filled. In the meantime we had more snow, we couldn't get out for 3 days. This time we ran out of gas on day 4, but we stayed warm through the snow. A week passed and then a second. We started calling into the shop every week for an update. Every week was the same, the paperwork is stuck in the system. We cannot get the tank filled until the paperwork is sorted.

Last Friday we finally had a call to say the tanker was coming to fill us up. We knew better than to get excited this time.

It didn't arrive.

I rang to ask why and it seems they sent the big tanker (like you see deliver fuel to petrol stations) and he was worried that the slope on our track was too much and, having got down to the house, he wouldn't be able to get back up to the tarmac road.

They needed to send the smaller tanker which has to come from further away, so doesn't come to the area every day. It would be here Tuesday or Wednesday.

It didn't come.

This morning we got a phone call. The little tanker was coming.

AND IT DID!!!!!!!!!

We now have a full tank of LPG,well 85% full - that's the maximum they can fill it. It should last us several months. We don't have to change bottles anymore.

Now, we are very excited. We're going out to celebrate tonight.

We're going to town for a PIzza!

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