Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


When I put the clocks back later tonight I'm going to retune the telly. The way the frequencies are divided up between mobile phone services and TV networks is being changed so it's either a laborious retune (splendid design Samsung people!) or lose channels. TV is one of the few things we generally get as well here as anywhere in Spain.

My phone provider sent me one of those super offers the other day. For just two euros more per month I could have 40 new TV channels, increase the ADSL speed to a maximum of 100 Mb and get double the number of download gigs on my mobile phone. I tried to sign up. None of the advantages were available here in Culebrón - no 4G, no fibre, not even the TV channels. That's what you get for living in the countryside. ADSL at 3 Mb maximum and a dodgy mobile signal.

When I worked at the furniture shop my boss had a go at house selling. I used to take the pictures and write the blurb for the sales sheets. Lots of people who lived up some unmade track would tell me that they'd spent so many thousands on bringing in mains water or having the placed hooked up to the power grid. When you live in the middle of nowhere you suddenly realise that these things are good. The trouble is that for buyers, these services are as basic as walls and a roof and add no value whatsoever to the sales price of a house.

We have running water. Not the hardly purified agricultural water that some country houses get by on but proper clean water. They are running a gas pipeline pretty close to our house. It will take piped gas from Monóvar to Pinoso and on to Algüeña. There will be no little spur to our village so we will have to continue lugging gas bottles around. We suspect that one of the diggers or lorries damaged our water pipes. We had a couple of days of intermittent water and pressure so low that the gas water heater wouldn't fire up. Cold dribbly showers are horrid even in the relative warmth of this October.

They put drains in the village a few years ago. The nearest access point was about 300 metres from our house. They told us we could connect up to it if we wished but we'd have to dig our own trench and put in our own pipework. We decided to stick with our septic tank even though it sometimes smells a bit. That didn't stop them charging us 45€ per year for drainage costs though.

The electric supply is a bit ancient too. We get a lot of power cuts, generally only a couple of minutes but not always. We only have 2.2 Kw of supply. The Spanish word for electric isn't electric - it's light. That's because that's what power was for most houses at first. A dim 25w bulb to rival the candles and oil lamps of earlier generations. Our Twenty First Century 2.5 Kw electric kettle would blow the circuit breakers on our 1970s power supply every time we fancied a cuppa if it were not for a bit of skullduggery on our part. Long before the palm tree was menacing the supply we talked with our neighbour about bringing in more power. The price was around 18,000€ so we all quietly forgot about it.

Life in the country is lovely - great views. But sometimes as the internet grinds slowly, the water dribbles, the lights dim and the gas heater sputters to a halt waiting for a new bottle I forget all about those views and long for a nearby bar and tarmac underfoot.

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