Sunday, 16 November 2014

Nightmare: FIVE WEEKS without internet!!!!!!!!

28th September
My resolution is to try to post my blog more frequently; it took me ages to post it this morning, only problem is now that the weather is a bit iffy our internet signal is compromised.
First thing today we went to P&M’s to pick up the fruit crusher and drop off our memory stick with the Kindle books (thank you Steph!) on it, for P&M’s workaways.
Then we went home and made cider with 150L of apples (didn’t weigh them) but it made 13L of juice, at the moment it looks an ‘orrible brown sludgy colour, hopefully that will go as the cider clears. I was gutted to have to put the apple pulp on the compost heap – pigs would have loved it or I could have made it into chutney (but the cupboard is so full!!!).
Then this afternoon P&M’s guests came to see our quinta; they’ve just bought their own quinta and are looking for ideas.

29th September
I was going to go into Fundao, to buy plant plugs, but I couldn’t find anyone to come with me (Brett wanted to get on with the plasterboarding). I’m still struggling with driving here, which is ridiculous; I’m fine once I’m in the car, it’s just the idea of it (and the fact that my left eye doesn’t work very well any more). So I sowed seeds and filled in my gardening diary, which I was very good with at first and now I do month/six week blocks (which isn’t much use at all), and sorted out my seed box – general gardening housekeeping.
Brett only has two walls to go in the living room, and the bathroom ... then he can start plastering.
Every time Brett does something to make our home less shed/more house I think that’s it, less dust, and every time I am wrong! The dogs bring it in on their coats, it blows through the windows; I’ve never lived in such a dusty house!

30th September
Andrew came round this afternoon, we talked gardening; then we walked around the vegetable garden and Andrew and Brett convinced me it was a good idea to dig up a Sweet Potato and Jerusalem Artichoke, to see how they were doing ... it wasn’t!!! They need far longer; they were pathetic and rather disappointing.
Then we went round to look at Andrew’s quinta, which is very close to us ‘as the crow flies’ but a couple of miles by track; going to see him has given me back a bit of enthusiasm for my garden, which is good as it’s now it needs working on (to get the winter veg in).

1st October
Flippin’ heck the year is whizzing past, it’ll soon be Christmas!
I’m still working on my stencils whilst Brett finishes off boarding (nearly there). Today I sorted out a couple of reference books (of course I didn’t find the ones I was looking for!); but now I want to have a go at making oilcloth (it was in one of the books I did find!) – I could make ‘rugs’ for the floor, the rag rugs we have get so dusty that the colours don’t show through, oilcloths are waterproof so they could be mopped. And I would quite like to make a table cloth for the decking, they sell waterproof material in the ‘China’ shops but the patterns are not nice!
Pam came round this afternoon and brought Clare & Andy with her; they (C&A) make, and sell, tipis, which are made out of heavy duty canvas ... which is what oilcloths are made from! They’re going to let me have some off cuts to practise on; it’s funny how things fall into place like that, there’s me thinking where will I get canvas from and they turn up on my doorstep ...


2nd October
First practise at oilcloth today; I used calico. I painted it with PVA and then used acrylic paints for decorating it – I was then supposed to apply varnish or oil (the books say linseed oil, but I, of course, will use olive!), but I didn’t bother to do that with these samples as I made them into bunting (which now I have to convince Brett will look nice at the back of the decking!).
The living room boarding is as complete as it can be while we still have the solar in the house, so just the bathroom to go now and then plastering ........ Brett’s going to start with the cupboard bed, so I’m now thinking about how I’m going to paint it – at last we’re getting to ‘my bit’.

3rd October
This morning Looby found a duck or goose egg, she very gently carried it back to the house, in her mouth, without cracking it. She was so pleased with herself, we let her keep it; she then proceeded to make a small hole in the shell and lap out the contents. Lili was beside herself with jealousy, so we gave her a chicken egg (they are laying well atm); she had no idea what to do with it – Looby ate that one too.
The geese are obviously in season and the males are far more aggressive than usual; they attack the dogs whenever they see them – I have to protect them (are you impressed Steph?).
For some reason, when we were painting the pool (2012), I wore one of my favourite dresses; and, of course, it got covered in blue pool paint, which wouldn’t come off. So I have been wearing it as a gardening dress; today I stencilled it with acrylic paint, what’s the worst that could happen? I can still wear it for gardening, but if it works ... the possibilities are endless ...

detail of stencils
We went round to Mr Louis today so that he could show us how to make troughs with an enxada. He gave us a bucket of potatoes, which I accepted as mine aren’t very good, I peeled some for dinner and they were as bad as mine!
This evening Looby found another goose egg – I, meanly, took this one from her!

4th October
Andrew does all his ground preparation with an enxada, so today Brett took the rotorvator round to his quinta and cleared a good sized piece of land for him – he says he’s going to give us a day’s labour in return, I’ll be able to use him in the vegetable garden.
I stayed home while Brett was cultivating Andrew’s garden as Chris, Di and Andrew were coming to dinner; I had a leisurely morning making dips (two types of carrot, refried beans, thanks Karina) and dough for flatbreads – which is just as well as we had a hectic afternoon.
Brett brought some beetroot from Andrew so I made another dip (still leisurely and laid back) then ... Gary arrived and stayed for about 2 hours, he only went when Nick arrived (they don’t get on) and he stayed until Gary came back (as he had lost his keys so Brett had to help him break in) ... by now I’d lost 3 hours of the afternoon! I hadn’t washed up, tidied the house, washed or changed myself, and I was still cooking flatbreads when C&D arrived. I was stressed!!!
However we had a great evening eating, drinking and playing table tennis – I sneaked off to bed while the rest were playing doubles, around 12.30, Brett didn’t get to bed until 2ish.

5th October
We had a lazy day; Brett needed a break from the plasterboarding. We took the dogs for a walk to the river; they had great fun running through the water (I swear Looby was grinning!).
When I was on Facebook someone had posted a wartime poster – WASTE NOT, WANT NOT, PREPARE FOR WINTER, Save Perishable Foods by Preserving Now – it is so apt for me, it’s more or less my motto, I had to have it so ... I printed it out on the laser printer and transferred the image onto a piece of wood, this method inevitably distresses the finished product so it looks like an authentic vintage piece. I’m very happy with it.
Then we spent the afternoon watching Kill Bill 1 and 2.

6th October N/I
I’ve got to start noting when we don’t have internet; Brett thinks there’s a pattern to it, so N/I after date = no internet (we check for emails on the Kindle so we are still contactable). Our mobile phone signals have been awful recently too – the Portuguese phone is receiving texts hours after they are sent (sometimes 24 hours) and if someone tries to ring us we get a text (hours later) to say we have a missed call, and we can’t ring out or send texts easily. The English phone seems to receive texts OK but when I send a text it’s ‘queued for sending’, then I have to walk around the quinta, with the phone in my hand, looking for a signal (I don’t always find one).
This morning Brett went over to help Nick lift some beams into place. While he was away I put up my bunting (hehe!). He wasn’t happy, he says it’s ‘tat’ ... but it’s still up.



7th October
We had Pam & Mark round for a meal this evening, we haven’t socialised with them (one to one) for ages, so it was great to have a good old gossip.

8th October
We went to visit Diane & Tom at their quinta in San Migel d’Acha (about 10 minutes away); they haven’t moved over yet, Tom will come at the end of Nov but Di has to continue working for a while. Their quinta has wonderful potential; it has a nice sizes stone building which will make a lovely house (they were camping in one room which had a useable fireplace, so it was very cosy). They have fabulous views (Monsanto and Idanha a Nova), lots of fruit and olives trees, AND their village boasts THREE cafes that serve food!!!! They treated us to lunch (thank you) at one of the cafes, it was good food ... very envious!
Tomorrow we’re celebrating Jamie’s birthday (at The Cave!), so I made a Chocolate fridge cake.

9th October
I spent the morning, and much of the afternoon making Jamie a birthday present; it took so long as it didn’t work very well, so no photo (all I can say is it did look VERY distressed!)..
I can’t believe how sociable we are atm, today we had two social events.
First lunch at Andrew’s, with Chris & Di; he has a tiny, cute little casa in the village. He had cooked us a choice of soups; lentil and fig (delicious) and a rather fiery tomato soup (very tasty, but it had quite a kick to it) plus two types of homemade bread. Then we went to view the ‘mansion’ that Baptiste has bought ... wow, wow, wow I can see why he bought it, it’s beautiful with lots of original features, but there’s so much work and it needs a new roof immediately, so a rather expensive project too.
We had a brilliant plan for this evening; Brett would drive the five of us (Us, Chris & Di and Andrew) into Penamacor (for Jamie’s birthday bash) in the truck and we had booked a taxi back to the village at midnight; so we could all relax and enjoy the evening ... and everything went to plan until a few minutes after we stepped out of the taxi and were walking up our track (looking forward to bed) when Brett said “the house keys are in the truck”, NOooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!
Brett had to break into his gym shed (which took ages because he had made it very secure!), cycle into Penamacor (10 miles away) in the pouring rain, drive home (fortunately he’d only had four bottles of beer over six hours), whilst I huddled on the decking, with the dogs. I had to snuggle under a damp throw as the mosquitoes were out in force. We got to bed around 3.00 a.m.

10th October
So very tired .....
Brett had to spend the day mending all the damage he did to the shed last night!
The stove is ready to light, chimney swept etc so bring on the storms that are forecast for next week!
The rain has spurred on the herb garden, so much basil
I made Pesto.

11th October
Another social engagement! This time it was lunch at Marc & Mieke’s. Their food was delicious, as always, we like trying food from different nations – they’re Belgians, they do very interesting condiments; today we had a spicy apple cheese and onions and sultanas cooked in vinegar with sugar (it was cold so I suppose it was a kind of chutney) to accompany roast pork.
Mieke has made a fabulous chandelier from a thick grape vine cutting, turquoise coloured plastic water bottles fashioned into flowers and fairy lights – they gave me a sack of the water bottles, so I spent the afternoon trying to make flowers (they have to be melted over a candle), my attempts weren’t very impressive.
It’s officially winter ... we lit the stove this evening; it’s so cosy in our house, with the rain outside and us all snug and warm inside! We love it; especially as we were able to dry the washing that has been hanging around damp for a couple of days.

12th October
We could hear shooting in the distance, but so far this season we’ve had no shooting on our quinta; one of our jobs this week is to get the ‘no shooting’ signs up around our perimeter.
Well it rained a lot today, so we lit the stove, battened down the hatches and watched films.

13th October
Rain is forecast for much of this week, which means we have to think every time we use the solar; we don’t really mind this until it impinges on the use of our refridgerator! And if it goes on too long we start to get bored; but atm it’s a novelty.

14th October N/I (P.M.)
 As today was forecast to be the only day without rain, this week, we had to go shopping; first off to the village market, to buy fava beans (they didn’t have any!) and garlic, for planting over winter. We met Andrew and Pam at the seed stall; we also got to say ‘Bom Dia’ to quite a few Portuguese who we ‘know’ which made us feel part of the community.
Then we went into CB to buy plaster, look at tiles (floor) and wood burning stoves (living room); we also bought ourselves a present for the kitchen ... a ‘smart’ TV, it’s so we can watch films in front of the stove when it’s on (atm we have to go into the living room), we didn’t need it, but we treated ourselves (most of the time we live quite frugally).
Then we booked Lili in for her operation; they’re doing it at 3.00 on Thursday – we can pick her up at 4.00! I feel really awful putting her through this, but I know it has to be done, I keep telling myself this time next week she’ll be back to normal (but I can’t help worrying).
When we got home Brett set up the new TV ... we have to take it back; as he was going through the installation process the screen switched off and won’t switch on again (it’ll give us something to do while Lili has her operation).
We bought a few bits for Pam in CB which she came to pick up, she brought Olive (dog) with her; Olive and Looby had a wonderful playtime in the kitchen, while we had a cup of tea and Lili cowered in the Living room, she doesn’t like visitors/change anything she doesn’t know. She’s a strange little dog; with us she’s all pushy and confident, as soon as we have visitors she becomes a wee timorous beastie, with her tail between her legs and peeing on the floor if anyone approaches her! As Pam and Olive left the house Mrs Muscovy was crossing the decking, Olive (alias Chicken Killer) attacked her (bitch) we fought her off in time.
This evening we met C&D and Andrew at the bar for a couple of beers, it was quite cold in there (we have our stove on at home); but C&D like it, as it’s not as damp as their campervan. Chris wanted to know what the rumpus was about earlier – he had heard the Olive attack from where they live.

15thOctober N/I
Dull and damp with drizzling, relentless rain .... (a bit like Wales!). So no solar charging for us today.
Mrs Muscovy is fine after her encounter with Olive; so that’s two of her nine lives gone!
Brett made wheels for the scaffold tower, so that he can move it along easily as he plasters.
I made prototype stencils for the cupboard bed; I freely admit I’m adapting a medieval stencil, from Mulcheney Abbey, Somerset, which I found in one of my books (The Country Decorator, Miranda Innes). The design includes dark stripes stencilled with a strawberry vine design; I used this design to decorate the sides of a set of shelves that Brett made a few years ago (it will always sand off if we don’t like it; I sanded it, once it was dry, to distress it a bit!), as usual I am using Acrylic paints (I like them because they dry quickly and once dry they are waterproof). Yesterday I treated myself to new craft knives/scalpels (I bought a few different types!); it’s a real pleasure to cut with a sharp blade.

Bloody hell the flies are annoying; I don’t know whether it’s because of the rain, maybe it facilitates them reproducing quicker, or what, but there’s an awful lot of them atm, it was the same last year. One got into the cupboard bed with us; every time we turned out the light it was active, then it would hide as soon as the turned it on – we got it in the end!

16th October N/I
What a horrid day, poor old Lili thought she was being punished, as we couldn’t let her have food or water; and when Lili thinks she’s in the ‘dog house’ she becomes a very loving, subservient little dog, asking for forgiveness – we felt so guilty! And as her appointment wasn’t until 3.00 p.m. she had to suffer for a long time.
Taking her into the vet was awful; then we had to watch while she had an injection (anaesthetic) and fell asleep (this was all outside and in public, not like UK vets). We were told to return to pick her up in an hour!!!!! She was so groggy, poor little mite, but she wagged her tail when she saw us. They put one of those uncomfortable ‘lampshade’ things on her, to stop her chewing her wound; they only seemed to have two sizes, small and extra large, the small wasn’t big enough so she was given an extra large – it would have been too big for Looby! It was a ridiculous size, it was set to the smallest diameter (which was still too wide for her neck) and there was this huge flap of excess she had to carry round with her (it weighed more than her neck seemed to be able to support!). When we got home we altered it, so that it fitted her better (reducing the diameter, cutting off the excess and cutting off some of the length). I took the opportunity to decorate it; I thought she might like it better if she looked good! She hates it!!!! So until she starts playing with her wound it’s off, she’s miserable enough as it is.



17th October N/I
Lili slept in the living room last night (next to the cupboard bed), so we could keep an eye on her, consequently we didn’t sleep well. Poor little mite couldn’t get comfortable; she started the night with her ‘lampshade’ on, but that soon came off as she was even more uncomfortable with it on.
Poor old Looby doesn’t understand (of course she doesn’t she’s a dog!); she doesn’t realise that she’s in the way when we’re trying to encourage Lili to take her medicine and she’s there, a big bumbling dog, between us saying ‘I’ll eat the pill’. I did manage to get Lili to eat some porridge, off a spoon, she was like a spoilt princess (according to Looby, who didn’t get any special treatment when she was sterilised, she was just left in a cage to get on with it).
Most of our day was dedicated to Lili; trying to tempt her with food, and stroking her (and saying sorry!), she lapped it up (the attention). At around 4.00 p.m. she ate a few pieces of pork scratching and at 5.00 p.m. she ate a spoonful of meat (from a pouch of meat, it smelt just like the tins but cost three times as much!). Then around 9.00 she ate quite a lot of meat, then jumped onto the sofa next to Brett (if she can jump she’s definitely on the mend).

18th October N/I
At 1.30 a.m. Lili had to have her ‘lampshade’ put on her, she could hardly lift her head. Then at 6.00 she was climbing on the bed saying she was cold, so I had to cover her up. She was so hungry this morning; I was able to crush her antibiotic and mix it in with her meat (it hardly touched the sides), instead of forcing it down her throat with my fingers.
This is our fifth day of no internet now; it’s starting to get annoying! So much for me updating my blog more frequently.
Brett and Chris spent the morning at Gary’s, doing the job he’s been asking them to do for ages (fingers crossed it works). Her reckoned it was only two hours work ... huh, it took well over four hours!!!! But he was very grateful and as long as it doesn’t get too windy it should be fine.
I spent the day making plaques saying:
A Minya
CASA
É a tua/sua
CASA
(My house is your house)


I’m letting Pam have them for her (our?) stall on the Christmas market in Penamacor, and if they don’t sell one of them will be her Christmas present (it’s alright she doesn’t read my blog!). She suggested that I have my own stall, but (1) I don’t have enough stock to sell and (2) last year we spent two days decorating gingerbread men and making mulled wine (plus Pam had made juggling balls and quilts) and she sold nothing!
I’ve been looking around for stuff I can put on the stall; I have a couple of China shop boxes (they’re sold as unfinished wood) which I have painted, some wire cobwebs I made in the summer, a bag I made from a lace table runner then transferred some printed hearts on it and I might make some ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Feliz Natal’ plaques too.
Hopefully next year I’ll have my studio up and running then I’ll be able to make some glass Christmas tree ornaments, which I think could be sellable.

19th October N/I
Lili had a good night, but she does get rather cold towards the morning (she’s used to snuggling up to Looby), I kept covering her up, but every time she moved her cover came off. And her poor little belly is purple; she must be in quite a lot of discomfort.
We woke up to shooting in the distance, which reminds us we must get our ‘no hunting’ signs up.
Brett started plastering today!
Plastering in Portugal is different from plastering in the UK (of course it is!!!); to start with their plaster is the same stuff they stick the plasterboard on the walls with, no pink finishing plaster for them. And we had a choice of drying times 2-4 hours or 24 hours; Brett went with the 24 hours (as he’s not as fast as a professional plasterer). He mixed it to the same consistency that he would the pink plaster and ... it just slumped down the walls (like glace icing off a cake) and after 12 hours it hadn’t ‘gone off’ enough for him to smooth it out, (how long will it take, 24 hours perhaps?, we thought that was drying time not workable time!). Tomorrow he’s going to try to exchange it for the faster drying stuff! On a good note the colour is a rather nice off white.

20th October N/I
We have been without internet for nearly a week; well it will be six days at lunch time. People are starting to phone me, as I’m not responding to fb messages – unfortunately our phone signal is still not good either.
However, Brett phoned the plaster company and they said ‘nao problema’ to exchanging the plaster (he has all his conversations in Portuguese, even on the phone); so I stayed at home while he went to CB to, hopefully, get better plaster.
Lili is so much better today, she was trying to get Looby to play; unfortunately Looby doesn’t realise she has to be gentle, so I had to stop them – but it’s great to have her back to normal.
While Brett was in CB he bought me some glittery paints, so I spent the afternoon playing with them. And Brett spent the afternoon with his second lot of plaster; he said it was easier to apply than the first lot.
Phew the second lot of plaster works well and Brett has done two walls in the cupboard above the bed and the wall behind the larder cupboard. I even got to work with the left over plaster; I taped the joints and plastered over the tape (Brett’s first coats were sucked into the gap leaving a dent, this should stop that from happening) and I filled in the gaps between the floor and the bottom of the plasterboard.
Outside there’s lots of extremely loud creaking sounds ... it’s tree frogs; bright green, small frogs which are everywhere atm, I think it must be their mating season.

21st October N/I
It’s getting silly now, we haven’t had internet for a week and, as well as, lack of communication, we have masses of things we need to look up. I have a horrible feeling we’re going to have to spend some money and buy a proper internet connection.
Lili slept in her ‘lampshade’, neither of us slept well!
The wall has dried to a chalky white colour, I actually drew a chalk line on it (don’t tell Brett!) and it’s not at all visible.
Brett continued to plaster; while I cooked, as Marc & Mieke came to lunch – they brought us another Muscovy female, Mr Muscovy is very happy!
We drove down to the river this afternoon; mainly because I had seen a large white object on one of the quintas near us ... so when we went out in the car I took binoculars!!!!! Turns out it’s a campervan; we can’t get close enough to see the number plate or what side the steering wheel is on (I know we are very nosy!), but we imagine it must be expats as you don’t get many (any?) Portuguese living in vans on quintas around here.

22nd October N/I, 8½ days and counting ....
Lili continues to improve .... J as Brett deteriorates; he has a swelling on his right wrist and it makes a crackling noise when he flexes it (I suggested he took a day off but he wanted to continue), he’s in the cupboard bed today which means we’ll be sleeping on the sleep platform for the next few nights.
I did some gardening (at last!); the area that Brett rotorvated has weeded up! I used the ‘claw’ to clear a strip and will leave it to see if the weeds that I’ve disturbed die or re-root (my guess is re-root!). I did some potting on in the polytunnel; it was jolly hot in there. And I weeded (by hand) an area to plant out some permanent plants ... it was rather hot work as the weather has changed again and daytime feels quite summery again.

23rd October N/I
I’m worried now as it’s Lawrence’s birthday in a few days and I haven’t been able to send him a present yet.
We’re seriously thinking about getting an internet package (not that I like the expense!), but we have to get one that works on our quinta; when Pam brings her connection here it’s no quicker than the village internet. And ‘unlimited’ here isn’t unlimited, it’s ‘fair usage’ and then, once your allowance is used up, you get slowed down for the rest of the month; Pam often runs out and is in the process of upgrading (so we’ll let her do it first and see if it’s any good for us). Hopefully the village wifi will be up and running soon.
And our mobile signal seems to be getting worse; I wrote a text to Will first thing, it was still ‘sending’ half an hour later, then I get a message ‘could not send message’ why not? I seemed to have a signal .... our phones never used to be this bad.
The sleep platform was fine; it feels much more spacious than the cupboard bed, and it wasn’t too hot up there, which was one of my main worries.
Lili is back to normal; she is instigating play fights with Looby and running round and round the house. Occasionally she yelps; when she’s jumped down from a height and jars her wound, but she soon forgets about it.
The new female Muscovy has settled in well; she wanders along behind the other Muscovies and, obediently, goes into the shed at night.
So Brett had a day off from plastering – he finished plasterboarding the sleep platform!!!! That really helped his wrist.
I taped and skimmed the ceiling under the sleep platform and inside the cupboard bed (which had to be done on my knees on a plywood base = very sore knees!).
This evening we went round to P&M’s for pizzas AND to pick up our FOUR parcels of DVDs (thank you Steph); I’m now the proud owner of the complete  series of The Avengers 1961 – 1969 and the complete series of The Persuaders, so I’m well set up for the winter! We haven’t worked out how to get the smart TV to recognise the DVD player yet (it took a while for it to find the hard drive, so I’m sure there’s a way).
I also collected a large bag full of vegetable plugs that Mark bought me on Monday; so I will be rather busy tomorrow.

24th October N/I
This is getting ridiculous now; we’re into our eleventh day of no internet AND now I can’t send texts (even when the phone appears to have a good signal), it just gets stuck on ‘sending’. I think perhaps a mast has been compromised; I just hope it hasn’t been decommissioned as I do know there’s a new Vodaphone signal which is very strong atm and people say it’s because there’s a new mast.
I had no choice but to garden today as I had to get my plant plugs in ... it was bloody hard work as I had to weed it all first, and I didn’t manage to finish so I’ll be gardening tomorrow too.
Brett plastered inside the cupboard bed.
C&D gave us their Vodaphone dongle to try out (no point in buying something we can’t use), it doesn’t work at their quinta ... it didn’t work at ours either L!

 25th October N/I ... day 12!
I’m so achy I can hardly move! But I had to finish planting the vegetable plugs; it was only when I had finished that Brett pointed out that my three rows of ‘onions’ were actually leeks! Bugger, I’m growing leeks from my own seeds (I have hundreds coming through) I wanted onions! And I planted them like onions not like leeks so they probably won’t even grow properly.
Lili has got most of her plaster off; she’s doing it at night, with her hind leg (so much for us making her sleep in her ‘lampshade’).
I can’t believe we’re still without internet and we can’t use our phones (occasionally we can receive a message but we can’t send them).

26th October N/I
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAWRENCE, GRANNY LOVES YOU XXXX!!!!!!!!!
We could hear shooting in the distance when we got up, they got nearer during the morning I could hear their voices quite distinctly on neighbouring quintas) but they didn’t come onto our quinta (but they were my excuse for not doing any gardening today!).
Brett plastered part of the kitchen ceiling, while I worked on my design for the cupboard bed; I want it to have the effect of hand painted wallpaper, but slightly distressed, so that it looks old. I’m getting quite excited about the project now. We went to C&D’s for dinner; when we got home we discovered that naughty Lili had taken out her stitches!!!! So we won’t need to take her into CB tomorrow!
C&D loaned us their other dongle (TMN), the one that works at their quinta, ... it didn’t work at ours though!
Hoorah I’ve got my English mobile working (well I can send texts when I have a signal), I had to switch it off and back on again

27th October N/I
Brett spent the morning working with Chris at Anika’s; setting up ready for when she arrives (for a fortnight) tomorrow. Then they, Brett, C&D and Gary, will be working for her for the next thirteen days (they get weekends off) ... it’ll pay for our floor tiles.
I’ll have the project of the cupboard bed to be getting on with while Brett’s gone; I practised my design on plaster today.
OK answers on a postcard please (because I haven’t got internet!); how the hell do you open the lid of a Kilner jar when it’s been vacuum sealed in a water bath for 45 minutes???? I have jars and jars of tomato pulp and I can’t open them!!!!

28th October N/I ............(2 weeks today since we’ve been able to go on-line!)
Brrrr, it was chilly this morning, I wore a jumper and legging and was still cold ... hopefully it means we can light our stove again soon!
Brett plastered the wall behind the dresser today; I’m going to stencil a pattern on it (white is rather bland behind the shelves). And I did some gardening and then worked on my ‘wallpaper’ design.

29th October N/I!!!!!!
Brett went off to work, on his bike, at 7.45 a.m. Then I went off in the car at 9.30, to take all the tools they hadn’t realised the needed; proving that I’m quite capable of driving when necessary!
As I enjoy doing my artwork so much I feel a little bit guilty about spending a whole day on it; so I did a couple of hours hard graft in the vegetable garden (weeding, planting out garlic, watering etc) – that made me feel that I’d earnt some ‘me’ time. So I continued playing with my wallpaper design.
I was incredibly tired this evening; I couldn’t believe it, when I said “I’m going to bed” and, it was only 8.50 ... I still went!!!

30th October N/I (day 16, and no sign of it returning)
Brett went to work in the truck, to take all the tools they would need today.
I stayed at home and made chocolate fridge cake, at Brett’s request (we don’t have anything sweet in the house to nibble on, and we’re going to a party Friday night so it’s something to take with us – I made a lot!).
I marked out the back wall of the cupboard bed, ready for stencilling the background ‘wallpaper’ (Fleur de Lys and simple flowers); it took me absolutely ages and even though I used a long straight edge and a spirit level my marks weren’t terribly accurate, in the end I made a template which worked much better than measuring.
When I started stencilling it all went wrong!!!! The stencil kept ‘blarting’ and smudging, individual prints are not as good as I want them and they’re not terribly square (not that I mind that, as it makes it look hand done). I wasn’t in the least bit happy while I was doing it! However the overall effect isn’t too bad at all and anything that glares at me can always be covered up during the next stage when I add the trailing nasturtiums. I thought it would be a quick job; today took me five hours.

31st October N/I (in the back of my mind I’m hoping that it will come back on the 1st!)
Happy Halloween!!!
Brett went off in the truck again.
I was back working on the cupboard bed; first thing I did was cut new stencils (from the off cuts of Lili’s ‘lampshade’!) in the hope that I would get cleaner prints and it worked, I had a much better day today (but it still took me a long time).
considering this was a different stencil to above I'm pleased it looks so similar
When we put the animals away one of the female geese was missing; we found her sitting in the middle of a gorse patch on five eggs – we put her in the goose house (minus eggs), we don’t want more geese and we didn’t want her eaten by a fox!
We were invited to a Halloween party at Clare & Andy’s this evening, but Brett was feeling the effects of three day’s hard physical labour and he just wanted an early night. I feel really mean about not going to the party, we had planned too – I had even made chocolate fridge cake to take; but once it gets dark it’s a real effort to go out, we were in bed by 9.00, I can’t believe how tired I am too it’s not as if my work is physical.

1st November N/I
So much for my bright idea of getting internet back on 1st !!!!!
Brett deserved a day off so we had a lazy day; though I did do some stencilling when he trained.
We put up some of the ‘no hunting’ signs along our entrance boundary and locked the gate in hopes of deterring tomorrow’s hunters.
And now I think I might be being poisoned ... since Wednesday I’ve been feeling extremely tired; I’ve been in bed by 9.00 every night, I had put it down to the clocks going back, but now I think it could be the fumes from the paint I’m using to stencil with – I’m in a confined space working for hours at a time with China shop paint, goodness knows what’s in it! Today when I did my stencilling I got a banging headache almost immediately, so sensibly I stopped. Next time I will have the window open and a fan on.

2nd November N/I
No sight nor sound of hunters today; not even in the distance, perhaps because it was the ‘Day of the Dead’, a religious day when the Portuguese honour their dead relatives and friends with candles and flowers in the cemeteries?
This afternoon we went on a Fungi Forage with Andrew; we found lots of Fly Agarics, some interesting earthballs and, we think, Saffron Milk Cap, I want to check the colour of the spores before we risk eating it!!!

3rd November N/I
Well the spore colour is whitish/creamy which doesn’t help much as Saffron Milk Caps (choice to eat) are whitish and Woolly Milk Cap (can be edible) are pale yellow.
It was decidedly cold this morning and I’m already not liking Brett going off to work every morning (he’s only done three days, he’s still got two weeks to go).
I was very productive today; I weeded more of the vegetable plot, constructed and sowed a wigwam for peas, planted a couple of rows of broad beans and a patch of turnip tops (peas, broad beans and turnip top seeds all from Mr Louis).
Yesterday Andrew said that the people in the village gossip about all the incomers (of course they do) and that Brett and I have a good reputation and are well respected because we try to speak Portuguese and we grow vegetables – we felt rather chuffed!
I need the internet back ........ to tell me how to open my Kilner jars (someone else is bound to have had the same problem): I’ve tried prising, boiling to try to release the vacuum, I can’t pierce the lid because it’s glass and I can’t phone anyone for advice as I have no phone signal – I’m totally frustrated!
Yay, I persevered; I boiled it up and pulled on the tag of the seal (I dreamt that was how I should do it, not the boiling part) and suddenly it just popped – I won’t be using them again in the water bath method!
It started raining at 2.00 and continued all afternoon and evening; my plants and seeds should be well watered in.
Brett came home early (as they had been working outside and it was raining).
We lit the fire this afternoon; I like it when it rains and the fire is lit, it’s all cosy in our house.

4th November N/I
It’s three weeks now since we had any internet and we’re starting to get emails (accessed on the Kindle) as people realise we’ve been out of communication for so long – we might even have to go into CB so we can use the free WIFI there (at least I’d be able to update the blog). I tried to answer a couple of emails today but I didn’t have a strong enough signal; you have to be really patient with the Kindle (it’s ultra slow) and walk around the quinta until 3G signal registers, then you can write (very laboured on the Kindle keyboard) emails, people will start to think I’m ignoring them!
Brett went off to work and I finished off the background to the cupboard bed; tomorrow I get to do the exciting bit (the rambling nasturtiums – sounds like a folk band!), but I think it looks good already ... Brett, of course, keeps pointing out Fleur de Lys that aren’t completely regimental!
Marc & Mieke came round and I spoke to them about their internet (they have satellite, which they are pleased with); only problem is you have to take out a year’s contract before you can try it, so what if it doesn’t work here? We can hardly ask M&M to bring their dish round for us to try it!.

5th November N/I
Brett says there was a frost when he left this morning.
Of course they don’t do Guy Fawkes night here (why would they?), so no fireworks for us tonight (we’re more likely to see them in the summer when the villages have their festas).
Brett went to work; I went to the cupboard bed and painted the first instalment of trailing nasturtiums.

6th November N/I
Bloody Muscovies; when I got up this morning Brett had already let the animals out (except the ducks and geese, as they are noisy and he is considerate, because I don’t need to get up as early as him) so I know it was the Muscovies ... they’ve eaten my Aloe Vera, it was really thriving and now it looks pathetic, they had the ginger too and they tried the chilli plants but obviously didn’t like them!
Well my shitty day continued; for some reason instead of taking the duvet off the bed, like I did yesterday, I just folded it back ... of course a brush rolled onto it and it’s now got a big yellow stain on it!!!! And acrylic paint doesn’t wash out, even if you put it in water immediately, before it’s had time to set; I’m so cross with myself!
Fortunately my trailing nasturtiums worked OK, so something went in my favour.
Oh yes, I tried to write some emails on the Kindle and of course I couldn’t get a signal and ... why is it that my UK mobile says Emergency calls only, so I can’t phone anyone or send texts (and Brett has the PT one, but I can’t even contact him) but texts from Orange get through (and I’m probably paying to receive them!)? I wish I had stayed in bed!!!!

7th November N/I
Hoorah, got a text from Mark (and Glenn), he’s going to be coming out next week.
Pam came round for a ‘craft day’; we cut out lots of Christmasy stencils, she’s going to use them for bunting. It was nice to have the company.
She also brought her dongle (TMN), there was a signal but it was very slow, I had to use the basic version of AOL
Nightmare; Atm Brett is working 8 – 3 (7 hours), 5 days a week (and he’s knackered by the end of the week) but Annika wants more progress so she has offered double the wage if they are willing to work 7 – 5 (10 hours), the money is tempting ... !!!

8th November N/I
So after much deliberation, a couple of beers, sitting cosily in front of the stove Brett and C&D exchanged a few texts and decided to accept Annika’s offer!!! It’s only five days after all (I’m going to hear that a lot!). He wasn’t happy when he woke up at 6.00 a.m. and realised it was still dark, fortunately today he could roll over and go back to sleep.
Great, now we can’t even get emails on the Kindle it says unable to get a secure connection on this site – what’s that mean?
We had a proper day out in CB today, no boring shopping just browsing and buying a few nice bits. We got the green paint for behind the dresser and I bought some interesting acrylic colours. I bought a jumper from H&M and I actually managed to get some leggings that fit ... I don’t like to generalise but the Portuguese tend to be rather short so their leggings are always too short in the body and leg for me (I can get them wide enough but not long enough) anyway they still have C&A here and their leggings are a perfect fit, if anything a bit baggy (but I can grow into them!) and Brett got some socks! Then we had lunch out in a typical Portuguese cafe; three courses (soup, a main meal with chips, rice and salad and a pudding) plus bread, a drink and coffee for 6€ each (that’s less than £5 a head).
Then as we came home it started pouring with rain, so we went in and lit the stove; a
lovely relaxing day.
Haha, funny text from Mel ... she has blog withdrawal (I have internet withdrawal)!

9th November N/I
So much for our no hunting signs; we were woken to the chorus of gunshots! Brett went and spoke to the hunter who was nearest our house, he was just beyond the chicken run (less than 100m when they’re supposed to be no closer than 250m to a dwelling), and he agreed to go elsewhere. Unfortunately his friend, who isn’t on our land, continued to shoot towards us and occasionally the shots rained down on our roof – it’s not a nice experience.
I used one of my new acrylic colours (chestnut) to paint the beams in the bed cupboard; I only managed to paint one as I had exactly the same experience as last week, my head was swimming for the rest of the day (annoying as I still have two beams to paint!).
We went out for lunch, at a restaurant, with C&D; the food was ‘interesting’! They were obviously trying to have a more varied menu than the other restaurants; the meal started with chicken soup (a bit watery, needed seasoning) but C&D as are veggie and they weren’t catered for (the waiter kept trying to give them the soup, asking them to just try it). Then we all had fish dishes; Brett and C had a kind of paella (again rather watery), D had a huge dish of three fish steaks which she said we good and I had what the waiter said was plaice, but it wasn’t, in a creamy almond sauce I liked it (but Brett said it was too salty and nutmeg over powered it – my lack of smell means I couldn’t taste the nutmeg at all). Then we were given chestnuts and a homemade sweet drink made from grape juice and firewater (aguadente). And for pudding I had black bean tart (interesting, rather stodgy, probably a bit like pumpkin pie) and Brett and Chris had an orange ‘tart’ that looked like Swiss roll. We drank an expensive wine for us at 7€ a bottle, Brett had a beer and we had coffee; it came to 15€ each, which we think is expensive for here! But it was nice to go out and have a relaxed Sunday lunch.
We called in at the village bar on the way home and had a beer with Mr Louis; we’re finding it much easier to talk to him nowadays. Then we came home and lit the stove.

10th November N/I
Poor old Brett was up at 6.00 a.m. it was still dark and there was frost outside – he’s wishing this week away!
I had a boring day, nearly eleven hours on my own, it was cold and then it rained. I stencilled some nasturtiums (the paint for them is OK), cleaned and tidied the house (not that it stays clean for long), lit the stove and cooked dinner (like a proper little housewife).
We were in bed by nine!

11th November N/I (it’s 4 weeks today since we last had internet) and the Kindle has stopped getting emails, so we’re completely out of touch.
Dark
Dreary
Dismal
Rainy Day
I don’t like it when Brett gets out of bed at 6.00, he takes all the warmth with him and I can’t get cosy again – I tried to stay in bed (the later I get up the less time I’ll be on my own) but I was up by 7.30.
We’ve been rather relaxed about our electricity recently; it’s been working fine and we have enough for our needs, but when I turned the water on (which activates the water pump, 750w) the inverter started beeping!!! That’s what several overcast, rainy days does for the solar. I switched everything off, bar the fridge, and spent the day in the dark! I put barrels under the decking roof, to catch the rain water, so I didn’t have to use the water pump again (I was very pleased with myself, for my inventiveness!).
I had a boring day in the dark; I had intended to make a dress, but couldn’t use the sewing machine, so ended up just cutting out and pinning – the day dragged, especially as Brett went shopping after work so didn’t get home until nearly 6.00.
Brett tested the batteries when he got home, they read 12.02 (less than 50%, that’s not good). We turned the fridge off overnight.

12th November N/I
 I tried to stay in bed this morning; so when I got up I was sure it must be about 10.00 – it was only 7.50!!!!!
I had no internet, the phone said emergency calls only (I don’t get how that works, if I haven’t got a signal how can I make an emergency call?), my Kindle needed recharging (Brett took it with him and charged it as he drove to and from work), I couldn’t use electricity (I’m trying to help the batteries recharge), the garden was too wet to weed and Brett had the truck ... I was so bored! It wasn’t raining, but it was dull and overcast, so not much charge for the solar.
I managed to make my ablutions last until nearly 10.00; mainly because I couldn’t lift the shower bag into position. We use solar shower bags, but nowadays we have to heat the water on the stove and transfer it to the shower; then the bag has to be hauled in the air, via a pulley system (hook!) with a nylon rope, which is slippery and cuts into my hands. I only managed to pull the rope a couple of inches at a time, then I had to stand on it, to stop it being pulled back by the weight of the water – it was a slow, painful process!
At 12 noon I was halfway through this long boring week!!!!
The batteries read 12.6 (65%) when Brett got home, so my economical use of electricity had an effect.


13th November N/I
Windy
Wet
Washout
Woeful Day!
So last night I’m having a conversation with Mark (and Glenn) via text (he’s had to cancel his plans to come back, we’re very disappointed), but my last text to him didn’t send, it was ‘queued for sending’ all night; but, explain this ... at 3.41 a.m. I received a text from Orange, but Mark’s message was still queuing!!!
It was raining when I got up at 7.33 (why can’t I stay in bed longer?); and I was on my own (if you don’t count the dogs) in a dark house, with ten long boring hours looming in front of me ... oh joy!
I painted the wall behind the dresser; it’s the same colour as our old farmhouse kitchen in Wales, a lovely old fashioned green. As it was so dark in the kitchen I had to have a light on, I turned off the fridge to compensate.
Brett’s last day at work tomorrow, thank goodness.
Gary came round; Betty (his dog) has been missing since Sunday, he thinks she was frightened off by the hunters; he’s given me some posters to distribute when I go to language class tomorrow.
It rained for most of the day.

14th November N/I
I went to P&M’s today; ostensibly to do crafty things, but ended up just having a good old gossip and checking emails etc. It was nice to get off quinta and have people to talk to.
This evening we attended our first Portuguese lesson in Penamacor.

15th November N/I
Brett needed a break after the last three weeks, so we took the weekend off.

16th November

I can’t believe it; I tried to log on to the village Wifi and, after five weeks. I got on!!!!!

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