Tuesday, 6 May 2014


21st April
We spent the day tidying up outside and in the vegetable garden, we want everything to look it’s best for our visitors! And it really is looking nice, Brett says it’s the best it’s looked since we bought the place.
Absolutely shattered this evening!

22nd April
CB shopping for hose pipe for the vegetable garden, this is just a temporary measure until we decide on a more permanent irrigation system; oh dear when we got to the shop we couldn’t remember whether the pipe from the well is 45mm or 55mm – of course we got the wrong one! So Brett spent the afternoon trying to coax a 45mm pipe onto a 55mm fitting; he managed it, with lots of boiling water and sheer determination, it’s not going anywhere now!.
P&M and Chris & Di came around for drinks and nibbles, we are so happy with how good everything outside looks we had to share it (they weren’t allowed in the house!). Once the roof is on the decking we’re going to invite all our friends around for a proper celebration.

23rd April
It’s so nice to have Looby back; she’s been a slave to her hormones for nearly three weeks but suddenly today we had our dog back, it’s lovely.
Another shattering day cleaning the house, then we went for a walk around the quinta and I picked bunches of wild flowers and Brett picked a bag of lavender flowers – so we could ‘dress’ our environment, it now looks and smells good.

24th April
Hoorah our visitors arrived today, I couldn’t sleep last night I was so excited!
This morning it rained quite heavily, I was disappointed as I had planned on having lunch on the decking – but the sun came out and dried everything off so we were able to lunch outside.
It was lovely to see Joyce, Sarah and James; but they were tired, they had been up since the early hours, so we didn’t get to do a tour of the quinta (we’ll do it tomorrow!).

25th April
We had a lovely lazy day; we walked around the quinta, collecting wild flowers, which we pressed later, and generally ‘hung out’. Then this evening we went to Penamacor, walked around the Medieval Area and went for a meal in the restaurant – Joyce said it was the nicest meal out she’d had for ages.

26th April
Haha, we got two lots of washing done yesterday, which Sarah brought over first thing so that it could be hung out ready for the sunshine.
We take all our visitors to Monsanto, it has very impressive architecture, with huge granite boulders bulging out of the walls and through roofs – the boulders are incorporated into the houses. The day started rather cloudy,
but fortunately the clouds lifted and we were able to appreciate the magnificent views from the village.
Sarah & James treated us to lunch at a typical Portuguese restaurant in Lower Monsanto, which was very enjoyable.
Then James wanted to visit Idanha-a- Velha (he had picked up a leaflet at the cottage), a nearby village with a Roman wall surrounding it, bridge and ruins - it was well worth the detour, we will go back again (it will be added to our repertoire!).
I just liked this picture of me and Joyce!
Beautiful carvings
And beautiful architecture
Roman Bridge
On the bridge
Unfortunately no pictures of Sarah as she was taking the photos!
After dinner we sent S,J&J back with another load of washing!

27th April
Brett, Sarah & James took the dogs for a lovely long walk (nearly 2 hours) this morning (Brett’s going to take me on it later this week); they crossed one set of stepping stones, walked along the river, then crossed back over the other stepping stones. Apparently Lily didn’t want to get wet so she followed Brett across the stepping stones, which are a good four foot high – Looby, of course, waded through the water (with Sarah!). On their walk they saw a great deal of wildlife, including ducks, storks and most excitingly a large terrapin. Joyce and I stayed at the quinta and drank cappuccinos!
Time passed so quickly; Joyce, Sarah and James left after lunch and I felt rather ‘flat’, a bit like after Christmas; but I think they had a good time and they said they would definitely come again.

28th April
Back to work today; Brett finished the rafters for the decking porch, so hopefully we will be able to get the roof on soon, we need the shade as the weather is warming up. And I worked in the polytunnel for a while, but it was very hot (40+) so I couldn’t stay in there for long. I picked a big basket full of vegetables, for lunch and dinner: broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, chard, escarole and onions – and this is merely the beginning of the season, I can’t wait for the courgettes (they’re already flowering) beans and tomatoes. And then I carried on with the relentless weeding, unfortunately the ground is getting rather hard, so it’s not easy going anymore.

29th April
This morning Brett started preparing the base for the barbeque and bread oven, it’s going to be brilliant.
I spent the morning with an angle grinder, cutting up concrete mesh to make tomato cages; it’s lethal stuff, I had read warnings about it on the internet so I was wearing glasses and safety boots but I still managed to get some very painful gashes on the palm of my hand (no, I wasn’t wearing gloves!). So far I have assembled ten cages of various sizes – my tomato plants will vary from 2’ to 2m. They work out at around 1€ for the smaller ones, 3’6” high, to 3€ for a 5’ one – to buy a readymade one you’d pay £5.99 (for a short flimsy one) to as much as £25 (for a taller flimsy one), so I think mine are a bargain! And they will last many, many years.
It's hard to take photos as they blend so well with the soil!
We have been putting off taking Lily for her vaccinations and identification chip – mainly because she’s been car sick whenever she’s been in the car, but this afternoon we took her into CB and she was as good as gold, the poor little mite was very subdued. She wasn’t sick and she didn’t complain when she was injected (though she did do a little pee on the vet’s table, but she was frightened so that’s allowable!). She had her chip put in, she’s registered as MY dog and her name is now Lili (that’s how the veterinary nurse spelt it and I think it suits her, sounds rather French). The vet told us she is a Podengo (Portuguese hunting dog) quite an old breed (5thC), used to hunt rabbits.
The other reason we went into CB was to buy the equipment we need to irrigate the vegetable garden – hoses, fittings, sprinklers, spray nozzles etc, we’ve spent about 280€ but it will make our lives so much easier and the garden should grow all the better for it, some of the plants are going to seed and I expect that is down to lack of water.
We started to assemble it when we got home, laying out the pipe and attaching the fittings (some a nigh on impossibility without boiling water, others just slipped on), but, as it was taking an awfully long time, and we were getting tired, we will finish the task in the morning.

30th April
It didn’t take long to finish setting up the irrigation this morning (we were very tired last night!) and it works a treat, it needs a bit of tweaking but it’s going to make our lives so much easier.

Brett concreted the base for the barbeque and bread oven and I made twelve more tomato cages.
Then we watered the garden ... again!
Pam, Mark & Rowan came to dinner, it was good to catch up as we haven’t seen them much recently. They had some exciting news; Tipping Tipis is going to be featured in the Sunday Times as one of the twenty best ‘Glamping’ sites in Europe!!!
We started out sitting on the decking then it got a bit cold, so we moved inside.  Around 9.30 Brett realised we hadn’t put the animals away!!!! It was completely dark outside, the ducks and geese were just hanging around outside their sheds, the chickens had gone to bed; thank goodness he remembered we were fortunate no predators were around.

1st May
Beltane Greetings, Happy May Day
We took out all the brassicas that had gone to seed (the plugs I bought from Fundao); the ground was very hard, it was tough work, very punishing on the hands (and mine were already painful).
Brett rotorvated all the unplanted areas of the vegetable bed – it looks much neater.
I’ve planted out masses of melons and watermelons; I’ve never grown them before so I’m very excited.
Summer is on its way; it was 25° today and it’s forecast to be 29° on Monday, so one of our next jobs has to be getting the ‘pool’ ready – it’s a thick dark sludgy green atm and I hate to think what’s lurking under the surface!
We went to order to roofing for the decking, the builder’s merchant was shut because it’s a public holiday – Portuguese public holidays happen on the day, not the nearest Monday as it is in Britain.

2nd May
The temperature was 20° before 7.30 a.m. so much for getting up early to do things in the polytunnel!
Cesar brought the post for the decking yesterday so Brett was able to finish his hand rail.
I spent most of the day weeding and sowing, I was also flooding areas with the water from the pool, which we emptied today. We found three spiny newts and one frog at the bottom of the pool, they were all liberated safely.
The max/min thermometer in the polytunnel registered a max temp of 40°+, the one, in the shade, on the decking recorded a max temp of 27° - so it was pretty warm today.

3rd May
We cleaned then filled the pool; unfortunately the paint we used last year has flaked off the floor quite badly; so rather than repaint it (which probably wouldn’t work any better than last year) we have decided to go for the distressed look!!! It looks very inviting now, but it’s bloody cold! It needs a few days of sun on it to warm it up.
We’re convinced the courgettes, pumpkins etc are looking better today after their soaking yesterday.
We went round to P&M’s this evening for drinks; they think the stray dog that has been living under their deck is pregnant – she’s been having carnal relations with Toobie (the dog they inherited with their quinta) despite them locking her in the Landrover, tying her up etc she kept managing to escape!

4th May
It was Monsanto Medieval Festival this weekend; I realised we’d chosen the wrong day to go (today) when I saw Jamie’s posts on Facebook this morning – videos and photos of all the parades and events yesterday!
The Medieval Market was still on, but who wants medieval clothes, swords, bows and arrows? There was one band playing, they were rather good and the crowd was happy – who wouldn’t be ... the sun was shining, lovely atmosphere, fabulous architecture, however, next year we will come on the Saturday! We stopped for a drink in a restaurant, sitting on a terrace with the most fabulous views, and were soon joined by Karina, Alex and Alex (Alex’s dad) and their friend Ben ... and then a little later by Leo & Erica – so we sat in the sunshine socialising with friends for an hour or so; Alex knows someone who has a pregnant pig (black) and who is selling sheep (he has bought two young ewes) and goats, hopefully he’ll introduce us to him this week and we will get the start of our livestock.

5th May
Brett is putting a small decking area around the pool, so it’s easier to get in and out of; today he made the concrete blocks to stand the posts on.
He has also started putting the spindles into the railings; they’re made from olive branches, so it’s rustic and engineered wood together. It looks good, though it does remind me rather of a playpen!
I did lots of planting and sowing; the garden is starting to come together and every day we are eating something from it. Already we’re not having to buy onions or salad greens. There are lots of flowers on the courgettes, and runner beans and there are peas forming on the plants.
The birds tell us when it's their teatime!
It looks as though the Muscovy duck has started sitting this evening, she didn’t come out for her evening meal, at the last count there were thirteen eggs in her nest; so in thirty five days (9th June) time we should hear the patter of little tiny webbed feet!
I love this time of year, it’s so full of promise.

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