Peter's Blog

Iberianspices spicesiberia

Monday, 11 December 2017

Today was install day

After putting up a couple of my new lights yesterday i decided to install them all and that's 20 in total. Now the room has 28 lights with 8 on 2 switches and 20 on timers.Looks more like Christmas but the lights won't be coming down.

This is from the TV room and it took so long to get the spacing right. It takes so long to get the spaces right to use all the lights that come in a pack.

Each light is spaced to within 1mm apart from the next on either side of it. Then there is also how to hide the cable is also a big problem.

The downside is they use a UK plugged power supply so i have to buy adapters and timers but it's all worthwhile.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

You really need vision

A long time ago i finished my ceiling in my lounge and for a time i was happy with how it turned out. I had 8 LED ceiling lights, 2 above the dinning area and 6 over the rest of the lounge. That was all well and good but after i had finished in the spare bedroom with ceiling lights round the room behind the coving well.

I was not satisfied with how the lounge looked 8 LED lights may be enough for most people but as i have a TV room that has 4 LED lights and 18 hidden behind the coving i just got thinking i had to do something in the Lounge.

Using a piece of coving i decided to see what it would look like so i made a start and put a couple of lights up. I used pins to hold the coving up and it looks great but i need to see how it looks at night. Will it look how i imagine, i think it will.So i will be putting up 20 Lights that use about 10 watts of electric.
As they say and here is one i did earlier.

This is the spare bedroom and like the TV room the mine lights are on a timer ready for when they are needed.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Found Chestnut so work has started again

For a long time since Chicco had his accident i have not been able to get myselfa stock of Chestnut in plank form. What that means is i have to cut it down to the size i want and then run it through my plane.

I managed on the first day of work to cut and prepare the timber i need to finish round the window in my spare bedroom. Once done that room will be complete.

This is how the window should look now i can prepare all my own timber.

This is how far i had got to when Chicco had his accident so i still have lots to do.

Monday, 4 December 2017

A new picture of progress

Well here we are getting on with the building of my Fish tank. I have one more layer to complete the walls but with a much narrower section block. What you can't see is the insulation in the side and rear walls.

The hollow section in the blocks allows me to put the pipework for the filter and also the cables to power the pumps.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The tank gets more done

This last week i have been lucky to have had a friend stay for a couple of days and again he stood over me so i could do more to my tank. I can say when i finish that i have done wall the construction work my self.

I am having a steel cage made to ensure that with the pressure of the water the front stays leak proof.
The cage is designed to fit into the holes you see in the block work. In front of the steel door will be a tank to take the heat from the door for water changes.

All round the sides and back there is the kind of steel you see when a concrete floor is being laid For those who don't know it's called Rebar.

This is a Pacu and is related to the Piranha but this fish also has a family member called the Red bellied Pacu that looks so like the Piranha

Friday, 1 December 2017

Working 2nd December

Tomorrow the 2nd December i have a mornings work.

I had to try on my work uniform to see it fit. Thankfully it's just for a morning and only once a year.

It's the 1st December

Well unlike the UK and maybe most of the western world Christmas doesn't start in my house until the 1st December.

It's time now for Margaret the fairy to come out until she goes back in the box till the next time she comes out. Margaret as you may have guessed is my fairy. Margaret even has lights in the shape of little skulls. Really festive.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Undergrowth now gone

At the front of my house i had a small garden if you would call it that. Actually it was more like an undergrowth so thick that squatters could hide in it and not be found. using some serious weed killer and not an AK47 to kill the undergrowth.  I decided that not being a gardener i would cover it with a black membrane and cover that with chipping or as it's called here Brita so that's what i did but i ordered to much chippings.

This was taken from my bedroom window and it does look so much better now. I have an Acer tree but need a much bigger pot to put it in and that will go in the centre then that's job done.

I have a friend and when ever gardening is mentioned my answer is always the same put concrete down and paint it green. simple solution to me because i hate gardening and what do i do Chipping Oh well at least i did something.

My friend has had his house painted and to make the job easy my suggestion was to get some Graffiti painter to do it but supply the paint for them. All he had to do was give them white paint and the job would some be done.but did he listen thank God he didn't i would have got the blame if it was the wrong shade.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Screwfix Haha customer service stinks

For about 25 years I had at one point two Franchises with Bargain Booze who are the largest drinks company in the UK. The one thing that's most important was customer service and getting comments from Bargain Booze when someone called them to say what great service we gave them was well received by all the staff.

Well this is not a story about myself and Bargain Booze but it's a story about Screwfix. The thing I wanted is not a stock item so it had to be delivered to the local store the next day. I have no problem with the staff or any part of the transaction my problem is with waiting for a reply to there being a problem with a part of the machine I treated myself to. I emailed soon after opening the parcel that UPS delivered.

A vital part that has to be fitted to the machine to allow it to be switched on was damaged and as it was in the main body of the machine I was surprised to find a damaged part included in the packaging. It's now 24 hours and I haven't had a reply to my email about the damage and when I checked my email I found no reply yet.

This story will continue

An Early Christmas present to myself

While I was in Liverpool recently to see my Mum I decided to buy myself a new piece of equipment for my workshop. Since Chicco is now unable to work I have nowhere to get wood cut and planed any more I decided to get something to make life easy. I treated myself to a planer thicknesser.

Buying this should make getting so many jobs completed that have remained waiting for attention for so long.

Lots of YouTube watched

After telling a friend how difficult I was finding bricklaying he volunteered to come round and show me where I was going wrong. It seems my mistake was in not using enough water and my mix was a little to dry.

Now I know what to do I brick halfway up a door way and did quite a good job I think. The door being metal is being left as it gets the morning sun and get quite hot and that will help keep the room warm. The room will be fully insulated and hopefully the heat in the room will keep the water warm.

I do have a backup plan should I need to add heat to the room I will have a water solar panel but hopefully it won't be needed.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

It's been delivery day

Today was a busy day. I have finally got rid of all the undergrowth in the front of my house I normally recommend fill it with concrete and paint it grass green. Today I put down a huge sheet of black plastic and had a one and a half metres  of chipping or Brita as its called here. With look all the chipping and plastic sheet should keep the weeds away. As a backup I have a very good weed killer to get rid if anything comes back.

On the same delivery came a pallet of blocks enough to finish my first tank. After years of keeping dwarf  Cichlids and successfully breeding many I am tempted to keep some larger fish. Arowanas come to mind or maybe Oscars or Pacu.

This is a Pacu  they grow really big and eat vegetables and fruit.

But the fish stocking will be a long time off I am looking at next summer before I am ready to look at getting fish.

The shadows are because it's been another sunny day

When I ordered the blocks I didn't know how many came on a pallet but it turns out to be 108 blocks and after a rough calculation that should just about do it. If I have any blocks over I have another long term project they can be used for.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Now it's my turn to graft

Well here it is the start of my big build to build myself a fish tank

I recently had a couple of local builder build the base for my new fish tank. Now it's time for me to do all the rest. I started on the side where the filter system will sit on top of the wall on the left. I am not by any means a builder I am sure even Bob the builder could do the job quicker but I will do my best.
In the room will be my washing machine and freezer so the heat from them will help keep the room warm. Hopefully by insulating the whole room I shouldn't need any heater for the water as the room temperature should be enough.

The walls of the tank are being insulated with 30mm of insulation and so will the walls and ceiling will have 30mm. The walls and ceiling will have a blue 30mm of insulation that is the same as 200mm of rockwool.
For the winter period as a backup I will make a radiator and connect to a solar panel but that's a long time away. The lighting and power for the filters will also be powered by solar but it's all 12v filters and pumps and the lighting will all be LED.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

In answer to an email about my tank

I received an email from a friend as to my new fish tank. I took the opportunity to take some pictures from Youtube about someone who has a Koi tank much bigger than mine will be.

My tank will have it's glass at the top of the tank just like this one has.

My tank will have it's glass in the middle not to one side like this one.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

More progress

I waited 24 hours after the base was laid before i could stand on it. I am a little excited now my tank is on its way now just the building to do.

Here i have put some bricks together to show how tall my tank is going to be. The tank should allow me a depth of between 90cm or 100cm.

I am going to have a window the depth of the yellow tape measure at the side of the bricks. The window will be 100cm X 50cm.

Thursday, 2 November 2017


I am building a fish tank but not just any fish tank this will be about the biggest private fish tank in Portugal. Because of the weight of the tank and water i need a solid base and this will be about 2 ton. Then i h ave to build walls all the way round high enough so i have a water depth of about three feet.

When i was a teenager i had a number of tanks all small about 10 gallon but big enough for the size of fish i kept.

This tank will be big enough for any size fish not like the small fish I kept in the past. The tank will be 9ft X 6.6ft and 3ft deep.

This was done on the 3rd Nov by 2 local builders. It's something i wanted to do but it would have taken me a week and it had to be completed in one go not over a few days.

The 2 litre bottle is to show how big the fish tank will be.
I will insulate and build the walls myself but first the base has to set and dry.

If you have any ideas what I may put in my tank when it's ready then leave a comment.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

This is a bread oven

I have been watching the process   at what was a ruin in my village. Outside of what will be the back door was a huge pile of earth and stone.

This is what was found after four truck loads of earth and stone had been removed to the tip. This was an old bread oven last used at least before 1979 when the house was last used.

We have now been told by the property owner next door that the bread oven dates back about 200 years. 

Also the oven would have provided bread for the whole village

As i helped in tracing the owners i have spoke to the soon to be new owner about keeping this important piece of village history.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Expansion at last

For some time now i have wanted to expand into store with my Iberianspices brand. I have one outlet ready to go and they where waiting on me.
Designing a label with little information on the front so the jar would sit and look well on a shelf was a big job but it's done at last. Then getting a security strop for the top of the jars so that people can't open them was an almost impossible task but that problem was sorted.
It's easy to get jars locally to where i live but like Henry Ford said you can have any colour so long as it's black. Well here you can only get Gold coloured lids for the jars but in the UK you can get almost any colour you want and i choice Pink Gingham and they do look good.

Well here is the range so far. more to come.

Here are my spices now on show for sale and just waiting for a customer.

I designed the front labels so that when on a shelf they would look good.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

A difference 10 days makes

It's now about 10 days since the fires that engulfed the area in every direction around where i live.

In the background behind the wall you can see everything is burnt black that was then.

This is 10 days later and you can see the green in the background already starting to grow back.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The walls are now secure

My friend who has just got herself a house in my village, well house may be wrong it was actually four wall's. The first job was to make the walls secure and now with no roof if the rains got into the walls then further damage may have happened.

Part of the walls had to be removed to create new window opening and also a new door opening to what will be the main entrance on the first floor. All the old stone that was taken down and the old roof beams had to be removed and that took over 10 trips to the tip.

 Internally there is still one wall to be removed but some of the stone will be reused on the gable end that was in a dangerous condition. The internal dimensions measure just 18ft X 15.5 ft not a huge size but enough for a bedroom, kitchen diner and bathroom.

At present the roof is being raised to the room feel bigger, the lounge will be upstairs as there will be three windows for light. The roof i am told is going to have more windows of the type made by Velux.

The walls all round apart from the gable end in the picture above have now been secured.

The walls are now being rebuilt ready for a new roof.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

A Desolute landscape

I received an email from a really special friend who has been offline for a while. After the savage fires we have just had I had decided to go over to his property to check it was OK. In the wake of the recent storms we had an inch and a half of rain over nigh the night after the fire. The next night we had an inch of rain, I have a big plastic container outside so I could see the amount of rainfall.

My friend owns a whole valley a really private secluded valley that has had in the last couple of years  almost 300 mostly fruit trees planted. This year was the first full year and everything was coming on a real treat.

Because of the rain I decided to walk over to the house in case the track had been washed away. As I left my van I could see the extent of the fire I knew what to expect total devastation. As I got close I could see everything burnt to a cinder every oak, pine and other trees I can't remember there names on one side of the valley gone.

How glad I was to see his house was totally unscathed not a mark the fire did no damage to the house not even a cracked window. My friend has about a hundred metres away a kitchen, toilet block and this also was unmarked so I was pleased to send him a reply to his email to let him know his house was OK.

Walking along to the valley i came across a wire fence that was the boundary to a Bee keepers piece of land. The fence post was burnt away from the bottom I also saw on the main road a telegraph pole that was burnt away just like this post.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

In August there was water

During August my daughter and family came to stay with me. During the days they went to the river near to Serpins not to far from my home to swim and sunbath. Every day there was plenty of water in the river to swim in and this was a local swimming spot.

Previous years this was so deep that there was a diving board on the left of the picture. Locals say they have never in living memory seen the river so low. Some of the locals are in there late 90's so it's been a long time since it was so bad.

Now you can see just how low the water is in the river. The rains normally come soon after Christmas, This Christmas everybody will be waiting eager for the rain to arrive.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Progress is being made

After getting my friend the house they wanted it's great to see already that progress is being made to the what was a ruin. It's not long ago that the roof and first floor collapsed due to the house had not been used since at least 1979.

It's good to see that my scaffolding is being put to good use. 

The first job is to secure the tops of the walls and then build up to roof level.
This picture is of the gable end that was taken down about 2 metres as it was seriously insecure so it had to come down and then rebuilt.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The TV room wall panel

I have made one of the two downstairs bedrooms into part of the lounge and now it's my TV room. On one side of the opening I have tried with some parquet flooring to make a panel instead of what I had original decided to do was use a plank of Chestnut.

If you can imagine this from the top of the opening to the floor. lots of hard work and sanding to be done but i will do it.

It may look easy but remember i am not a joiner but little more than a novice.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Price agreed

After finding the owner of a property my friend fell in love with she has now started work. Well that sounds grand but all that is  being  is getting all the old roof, floors, stones and  broken roof tiles out of the house.

It's all being cleared so that plans can be drawn and be submitted for the works to be done but first it all has to be cleared.

We now know that the last time someone lived in the house was before 1979 that's over 38 years ago. No wonder the roof collapsed  early this year.

It really does look dangerous and all timbers are well rotten.

On the left is something growing amongst the ruin.

It took a while before i saw what i now know to be a window seat. Just look close at below the widow frame It would be a shame if this feature was to be lost and also the other window is the same. A truley beautiful old feature.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

How it's done

I was asked by a friend how to find out the owner of a ruin in a village outside of Gois.
I first went onto Googleearth and took a picture of the village to identify the house. Along with this picture I went to the Financas " tax office ". Then of to the conservatoriea a department where house records are kept. At the Financas we identified the location of the house and the name of the owner. Then with this information we went to the conservatoriea and here we found the date the current owner brought the house it was 2005 and then the price paid for the house.

As the owner has two Christian names it was a little easier to use It was lucky that only one person in the UK has the same names but as someone had started a family tree to get any further information you need to contact the person who has started the family tree. This I did but got nowhere no reply to my enquiry for further information. Dead end hell no.

Back to the Financas and conservatoriea when we found out the spouse of the present owner. Sadly the owner was not listed on so a look on good old Facebook and guess what we found the spruce. All it took was a message to the spouse and not long later we had a reply. It turns out the spouse was at the village in question only last week and saw the damage caused by the roof falling in.

After a couple of weeks my friend and the owner agreed a price  and shortly the ruin will be sold to my friend and that's a good end to a lengthy process.

If you are a resourceful kind of person and you find the house you want just by looking around the local towns or villages then why go to an estate agent. You may not pay his fees but in reality you do because the owner has to pay the fees but he just puts the price of the property up to cover the fees. So find the house of your dreams and find the owner you could get a bargain because by selling direct the owner doesn't have to pay estate agent fees so you could get the house for less. Remember estate agents fees here in Portugal are about 5 to 6%  and that can add up to a lot.

So like I did with my car I didn't listen to others I did it myself. When you are retired you have the time so if this post helps you great it was worth me recalling how I did it.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

I went to the old Pete's bar yesterday

Yesterday i went to what was known as Pete's bar on my way back from Coimbra. Talking with Barbara about how sales of the English food she no sells she mentioned that she now sells bacon and gammon. The bacon is 400g and cost 4.00€ and the gammon cost 5.50€ for two slices. They are now in my freezer ready for when i want a treat.
I took some pictures of her selection of English food and later i will put them on here.

This is the one thing that i think most Brits miss here in Portugal. I do make my own bacon but having it ready made  in the freezer saves time.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The walls came tumbling down

Thursday we start in Geoff's house taking down the integral walls that are not load bearing. I am trusted to make sure that certain works get done for when Geoff and better half come over shortly. It's nice to have something different to do and it's what I need while I am waiting to get timber to carry on with work in my house.

This is how the walls are made, mud is plastered on the walls and when dry they put use a kind of Lime plaster type material to face the wall when done.