So, nine days after ordering, and paying for it, the Sky digi box and viewing card arrived. The UPS driver went away with a bottle of wine and we oohed and aahed over the delivery. A very exciting delivery and a very exciting day…

Everything was connected, the card inserted, the screen changed to a Sky screen – all good so far – and then we saw the message which we did NOT want to see…

Your Sky+ HD box isn’t getting a signal…

Prior to making the purchase, I’d had numerous email exchanges with the company, ensuring that a) they did deliver to Istria, b) that we did NOT need fixed line internet for this service and c) that the satellite we had in place would enable this all to work. I was advised that the digi box we had would not work with this system, so we purchased their Sky box – an additional expense but one we felt was ultimately worth it, if it meant we got UK TV finally. I was assured that our current satellite set up was perfect as we needed the Astra satellite and this is exactly what we had. Online instructions – and reviews – all suggested that this was a total doodle to set up, and I had no reason to believe otherwise as I read the experiences of people all over Europe, who were sitting pretty, probably watching “Strictly Come Dancing”.

Still no luck, though. Online chat was initially helpful, but it soon became clear that things weren’t going to be as smooth as we’d been led to believe. It was helpfully suggested that we get a local satellite engineer to look into this, and Oli left the live chat, making it quite clear he couldn’t really be arsed any more with my issue in Istria. Let’s just say the night we had planned in front of the TV didn’t quite pan out that way…

However, next day we felt a bit more upbeat. It couldn’t be that hard, surely? Everywhere you look around here are satellite dishes, so it had be resolveable. We found a shop on the coast that seemed to be the answer to our problems – we’d found out we needed a coaxial cable as well as an LNB and this shop had them. Hurrah! Investigating a little bit more, the guy in the shop didn’t think we’d need these as he felt we had everything to make it all work. All we needed was his man, Leonardo, to come over and hopefully just change the direction of the dish so that the signal from the Astra 28 (and this number is significant!) could reach us.

When Leonardo arrived, it all started out so positively. He could speak perfect English – always a bonus as our technical Croatian hasn’t advanced too far – and he made the right noises about signals and receivers etc. Unfortunately it all unravelled when he went to check the actual dish and spoke to a colleague. We’d need a MUCH, MUCH bigger dish (as in 3 metres wide!) if we were to have any hope at all of the Astra 28 signal reaching us. And, even worse, the signal would only work on a bright, clear day. Any fog, low cloud cover, rain, wind or snow and we’d get nothing. Zilch. To illustrate, as he could obviously see I was having none of it at this point, he did a search on the reach of the satellite…

See that outer lilac band? The one that *just* about covers northern Italy? The one that skirts over the top of Istria – the little bulge across the bay from Venice? Yep, proof that we weren’t going to be getting UK TV any time soon, as the coverage did not actually reach us! A quick internet search revealed that it used to, but the footprint had recently changed, meaning that people who had previously been able to receive a signal in Italy, the Balkans and Greece, no longer could. So a dish, no matter how large, was never going to help.

By this time, I was utterly despondent as we’d made a fairly expensive, but seemingly useless, purchase and were STILL no nearer getting the TV we were craving. (If you’re still reading and wondering why we don’t do it via fixed line internet, that’s a whole other story, which we’re currently pursuing with T-Com in Zagreb ?). So, it was back on the internet. I couldn’t accept that there wasn’t a solution. People must live in much more remote areas than us, without fixed line internet, and be able to access satellite TV other than the rubbish Croatian offering. And, seriously, I don’t say this lightly – it is appalling.

A day searching online was well worth it. By a process of elimination and dogged determination, I found an answer, through a company based back in Manchester! And, on Friday evening, we were at last able to settle down and watch *normal* television – and the added bonus we even got North West Tonight so got to watch was going on in the NW…

The set up isn’t perfect just yet, but Christmas came early to Istria this weekend and I was able to gorge on Come Dine With Me, SCD Final and The Apprentice Final. And, in a new twist, our brilliant builder/electrician, who loves a challenge, has been investigating the satellite option and is on his way over. We think he may have a solution…