Decorating the Place - April 2006

Our second trip to the Apartment was the first time we had planned to actually stay in it overnight, so we were looking forward to our first time really there at last. The flight out this time was mid afternoon, and we arrived around 5pm on the Saturday. We had been assured that the services would be working when we arrived, but we were a bit apprehensive, following our last experiences. No other arrangements had been made to stay elsewhere if things weren’t ready; we had decided to tough it out this time, whatever the situation.


The state of play when we left from the last visit was that Water was on, Gas was off, and Electricity was from Fadesa’s supply. However, we had been informed that the Fadesa supply had been discontinued, as ‘real’ electricity was now available, and our Solicitor had told us that electricity and gas had been connected.  SO we arrive about 5pm Saturday night, open the door, throw the switch, and guess what – nothing!


We dropped off the cases, and decided to head to Ayamonte for provisions that would now include torches, and to call in to the shed on the way to complain. When we got to the shed, and I started to moan about the lack of services, Paula gently reminded me that the gas and electricity was now out of their hands, but she would do what she could. She suggested we did our shopping, and call back into the shed on our way back. The Solicitors were closed, and try to get an electrician out on a Saturday night? Fat chance I thought. Anyway, off to Ayamonte we went, stocked up with grub and booze from Esroski, and then went into the town to find some torches. There is a small general purpose store in Ayamonte (a bit like Poundland from the UK), run by some Chinese people. They seem to stock just about everything, and we managed to get a torch, and small bedside lamp there. I don’t know the name of the street it is on, but there are several Electrical Goods shops on this street, and the Chinese shop (as it has been christened), is on the corner, opposite the Spanish hardware shop. We have now used the Chinese shop for lots of bits and pieces.


Back to the shed, and Paula assured us that she had contacted Endesa (the company now providing Electricity), and they would have someone out to us before 8pm! That girl is a marvel, and must be worth treble whatever Fadesa are paying her. And she was right, we had not been back in the Apartment for an hour, when the electricians from Endesa arrived, located the problem in the downstairs meter cupboard, fixed it, and we had electricity back on. I wonder where we could get that kind of service in the UK.


Sunday was a lazy day, as Spain tends to shut down for the day. However, a quick trip to the other side of the border meant we spent a leisurely afternoon looking around the textile shops in Villa Real. Paula had given us the tip that whilst Spain closes down on a Sunday, by and large Portugal still has many shops open.


Monday was a trip along the motorway to Seville, to get a few more bits and pieces from Ikea. I had though that we had bought the majority of large items during our last visit, so on this trip, we had only hired a small car, the Ford Fiesta. However, during our visit to Ikea, we saw a sideboard that we though would look great in the Apartment. After a quick dash outside to measure up the interior of the car, I reckoned we could just squeeze it in, so the sideboard went on the list. After a few more items (bedside tables, lights, and pictures), I was beginning to get worried about getting them all in the car. Somehow, we managed to squeeze everything in, but it must have been an uncomfortable trip back to Costa Esuri for Carole, I think her nose was pressed up against the side window all the way back!  I worked late into the night, assembling different bits of furniture. It was a good job none of our neighbors were in residence, as the banging, screwing and swearing would have kept them up until midnight. I am one of those people who are lousy in the morning, and slow to get started, but happy to work to whatever time it takes to get the job finished, so we invariably spent most evenings working in the Apartment.


Tuesday was a trip to Heulva, as we had been told that Leroy Merlin was the place to go for the ‘B&Q’ items. This turned out to be good advice; we bought loads of light fittings, a shower enclosure, and a bath screen.  The shower screen in particular seemed a real bargain, on offer at only 90 Euros. Other we had seen had been about 250 Euros, so I thought we had found a real good deal.  Again, we managed to squeeze everything into the Fiesta, and headed back home.


Pleased that I had found such a bargain, I decided to immediately open the boxes, so see what I would need to do to fit the screen and enclosure. The bath screen was no problem, but whilst going through the bits on the shower enclosure, I realized that the instruction sheet was missing. Bit of a pain I thought, I would have to go back next day to Leroy Merlin, to get the instructions. Anyway, it was not as though I had nothing to do, by the end of the week, I had put up 14 light fittings!


When I went back to Leroy Merlin the next day, I managed to communicate the fact that there were no instructions in the Shower Enclosure we had bought, and one of their very helpful staff opened up another box so we could get the instructions……… then another box……… after the third one, we realized that none of the model I had bought had any instructions (no wonder they were so cheap!). The only thing for it was to play Lego, and see if I could work out what went where. After much head scratching, I managed to work it out. Fortunately, I had recently put up a shower screen at home, so I had a rough idea of what to do. In the event, I probably did it in the wrong order. After a lot of puffing and panting, I had Carole holding onto one of the doors, whilst it was secured by the smallest of turns on the screw thread, and just one turn to go. “Whatever you do, don’t move it until I give this last nut a final turn”. Fatal. Two hours of hard work disappeared as she moved half an inch, and all eight nuts popped off their spindles. Carole was rather surprised at the extent of my vocabulary! I think it must be the same devilment that makes ‘Wet paint’ signs irresistible to the touch. Anyway after another hour or so getting back to that point, I didn’t warn her this time, just got on with it. When it was all finished, I was surprised to find that I didn’t have that many bits left over, even when I have the instructions, I always end up with something I’ve forgotten to do.  After sealing the joint with Silicon, and leaving it for a day or so to set, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the doors opened and closed (fairly) smoothly, and the whole contraption was waterproof.


On Thursday, the man from the Gas Company turned up, and turned us on. At last, all services connected, and hot water that doesn’t come out of the kettle. Whilst I was busily connecting Light Fittings in every room, the guys from Comforta arrived to fit the AirCon. This proved quite a big job, and took them all day. They were a bit unsure about the electrical connection, and advised us not to have the AirCon on whilst taking a shower, until they had it checked! I had visions of the shower scene from Psycho, with electricity coursing through my body rather than Mr. Bates knife. These fears proved groundless, after the Electrician they brought along the next day confirmed that it was a simple case of mistaken identity in the fuse box.


In between times, we had managed to go into Ayamonte, and found a Washing Machine and Dishwasher at Guerrero that seemed to be suitable for our needs. We ordered these in the afternoon, and they delivered and fitted them the next morning! I had mentioned to Paula during on of our visits to the shed that I thought the gap for the dishwasher was a little too small. She assured me that it was a standard size, and if it proved too small, Fadesa would fix it. They guys who fitted the washing machine and dishwasher were great, none of this drop it off and run mentality, they plumbed both items in, and connected them to the mains. However, when it came to sliding the dishwasher into the hole, my fears were confirmed. Somehow, they managed to shoehorn the machine into the gap, but it took lots of pushing and shoving by two hefty Spaniards to do it. I hope it never breaks down, I don’t know how I will ever get it back out again!


We also managed to fit a shower screen to the bath in the en-suite, and put up the bathroom mirrors and lights, and all the ancillary bathroom fittings. In fact, we had some bits left over, (and still do). Some things that looked good in the showrooms didn’t look quite so good when we got them back to the Apartment. Fortunately nothing expensive, just bits like toilet roll holders and towel rails that we decided weren’t quite right. We thought that as we weren’t 100% sure on these items, I didn’t want to be drilling holes in the wall, only to find we couldn’t live with them later. We did eventually find more suitable items, so on reflection, I think we did the right thing it wasting a bit of money on these small items, rather than living with the dissatisfaction of unsuitable fittings.


This was Carole’s major contribution to the week’s effort. After all, someone had to try out the Recliners. In fact, it turned out to be a very busy week, and we were still building things on the Saturday morning, as we were due to fly out in the afternoon. However, we knew that on our next visit, we were entertaining some friends of ours for a few days, so we wanted the place to be as comfortable as possible, and we left satisfied that we had accomplished what we set out to do. It was a relief to get back to work for a rest!