Monday, 7 December 2015

OLIVE HARVESTING ...

Friday 13th November
Brett went to work and I was bored! There's only so much housework I can (be bothered to) do .....
I posted my blog, which takes an awfully long time - I blame the tablet; to start off with it's not possible to 'cut and paste' a whole document (though it will 'cut' a whole document but not 'paste' it all, so then I lose half my blog!!!!!) and uploading photos, don't get me started on that - suffice to say I have a hate, hate, relationship with my tablet!
On a positive note I only took one co-codamol last night and have taken no Ibuprofen today, the neuralgia is getting better (phew).
Terrible breaking news .......

14th November
Horrendous acts of violence in Paris last night; so much hatred, it's heartbreaking, I can't comprehend it.
Oh no, I managed to shrink one of my new dresses when I did the washing on Thursday; it fits rather too snuggly now - hopefully it will stretch.
I went to class (on my own again), I feel very virtuous!
Brett hurt his back when he was letting out the goats.
I finished sewing my last dress 😀.
This evening we went to a 'vinho e licor' festa (wine and liqueur) in Sao Migel de Acha; there we met up with Diane & Thomas (who live there and had been at the festa since lunchtime!), Chris & Di, Baptiste, Richie, plus Steve & Keren, Bridget & Stephan and a host of other expats I don't know the names of.
We stayed for several hours, so we could see/hear the musical acts - it was Fado (traditional Portuguese 'folk' music); it's weird the singer doesn't appear to take any notice of the instruments, singing in a different rhythm, it's not in the least bit catchy, it's slow and passionate .... I have to say I don't like it!

15th November
Another carboot sale; but I opted out of this one, choosing to go as a buyer rather than a seller. And thank goodness I did .... Firstly: it was held in a big car park up past the Camera (Town Hall); great, you would think, except that the road up to the Camera was shut off for road works and no diversion notices posted! Secondly: all, barr one, of the stalls were run by expats and all the buyers (while I was there) were other stall holders and the few expats who didn't have stalls - I bought some dvds.
There was a chestnut festa with pig roast, on the same site, this evening; but we didn't go.
I wore my shrunk dress all day and it has gone back to it's original size except for the length - I'm now wearing a mini dress (which is fine as I'm wearing it over stripey leggings).

16th November
I helped Brett line up posts in the big field (it's a very important job!) and cooked - Nicky & Rich are coming round tomorrow evening.
Goodness,  sourdough bread takes a long time to prepare - a week for the starter (feeding every 12 hours), 6-8 hours for 'the sponge', 2-4 hours for the first proving another hour or so for the second proving and then 40+ minutes to cook!
My Kombucha tastes like vinegar! I don't know if that's how it's supposed to taste or if my one has gone off - definitely an acquired taste! And the scooby looks strange;
but I messaged Michelle (who gave it to me) and googled it, and I think it's ok.
My creme caramels worked well, so that's a positive; and the filling for the chicken pie tastes good.
So tomorrow all I have to do is prepare the rest of the food, rack off some wine, tidy the house, wash the floor,oh yes and make some bread ..........
My sourdough bread is not good; it didn't rise well and it is rather (understatement) dense!
I think there are two reasons for this (1) I started the bread about 11.00 a.m. and finished around 10.00 p.m. which is only nine hours (I skimped on some of the timing so the yeast didn't have time to grow sufficiently), and (2) I had to use ordinary plain flour as the only bread flour I can find is packaged as a bread mix, with yeast already added (which defeats the object of sourdough), and, I've just thought of a third reason, the oven had cooled down by 9.00 so it wasn't hot enough.

17th November
We thought we'd try our wine this morning (it's traditional to taste it at the beginning of November) and, if it was nice, to serve it to our guests - it isn't particularly nice! So we opened some of last year's, which is nicer but ..... this wine doesn't store well. So while we were at it we tried our cider - we have 10 litres of, a very good, apple cider vinegar! And 5 litres of a very dry 'scrumpy'.
Brett hates being incapacitated so, despite his bad back, he spent the day knocking in posts.
I made bread, chicken pie, prepared vegetables, cleaned and hoovered the house, washed the floor, and did copious amounts of washing up - knackered!
We had a nice evening and, because they decided to not stay overnight, we didn't drink too much! I even managed to do the washing up while Brett walked the dogs.

18th November
Brett continued post banging; all the posts are in and ready for wire - he's talking about using the tractor to tension the wire (I'm worried it might snap it, but he seems confident).
Pam and Naomi were going to pop in for a cup of tea this afternoon, so I made some Brownies (from Michelle's recipe) - I even managed not to burn them! Unfortunately they ran out of time and didn't make it - Brett and I enjoyed the Brownies!
Pooh, Brett is working tomorrow 😞.

19th November
Well I had a lovely job while Brett was at work - patching the olive net.
The olive net is huge 6m x 6m; it wraps around the base of the tree to collect the olives as they are 'combed' from the branches. Unfortunately our net, which we inherited with the quinta, has loads of holes in it, through which the olives escape when the net is gathered up; so it was my job to patch these holes. I cut off a length of the net and then discovered that the net was simply made from parallel strands of nylon woven at right angles to parallel strands of nylon, no locking stitch, cutting just unwove it!!!!! So I had to hem all my patches before using them and hem the raw edge where I had cut my length from - all this was HAND SEWING (which I hate) with nylon fishing line (thanks Henry!) which gets tangled very easily. And then I was ready to repair the net - needless to say it didn't get finished today!

20th November
Today was a lot of preparation for visitors; Vince & Lola came to dinner and Pam for a cup of tea. First I had to blanch, then marinate pork ribs (we had pork ribs, potato wedges and tomato salad and Lola brought a Tiramiso for pudding), then house cleaning. Once done, it was back to the net patching.
Pam ended up staying for lunch, then we went round to see Di for a cup of tea 😀.
Dinner was fun, we had a tasting of our ... orange liqueur (good), lemon liqueur (good), and geripiga (fabulous, must make more next year), plus some of the drinks we've been given in the past a strawberry liqueur (too sweet) and something unlabled (not good)!

21st November
Hangover!!!!!! And I had to go to class 😞. It actually wasn't too bad .....
Brett has started attaching the wire to the posts in the big fieldh he's very excited as he can use the tractor to tension the wire. It will be great once we are fully fenced, we'll never have to tie the dogs up again.
I made my friendship cake today; it looks very tasty.
I split the starter and gave a batch each to Mieke and Ann as we went to dinner with Ann & Martin this evening.
They gave us fondues; a vat of hot oil that you cooked your own food in, with crudites and dips, then a chocolate fondue that we dipped fruit in -it was great fun!

22nd November
This morning I had to do lots of cooking as Mark and Andrew came for lunch; Mark is staying for a couple of days to help with the olive harvest.
For lunch I made caramelised onion and apples with blue cheese quiche (I made it up as we didn't have a lot of ingredients in the house!), with jacket potatoes and salad. I also made another batch of Michelle's wonderful brownies and some carrot soup - so we have lunch and snacks tomorrow.
Brett continued fencing with the tractor.
After lunch we walked around the vegetable garden and Andrew insisted we must have sweet potatoes as the foliage was so lush (we dug some up last month and found nothing worthwhile), he had a dig around and found half a bucketful!

23rd November
Poor old Brett tripped over the dog ropes (the ropes we tie the dogs up with when they are in running away mode) and thinks he might have broken his big toe, he's in a lot of pain - of course he wouldn't let me take him to have it x-rayed or take pain killers.
We picked 154k of olives. Halfway through the afternoon the trigger on Brett's chainsaw broke; so clever old Mark made him one out of aluminum (thank you Mark).

24th November
This morning there was ice on the animal's water  and snow on the mountains.
127.75k olives (282 total) picked today - the olives were much smaller than yesterday; a lot are still green and are much harder to strip from the tree which is one of the reasons we picked less than yesterday.
Lili loves Mark!!!! He's the only person, other than us, that she will climb on top of (she almost prefers him to us, bitch!).

25th November
Mark went home after breakfast (thanks for your help Mark) with plans to design and build an olive mill/press (unfortunately it won't be ready this year), I'm doing all I can to encourage him - imagine being able to completely process your own olives.
We had to go shopping as there was no food in the house. Then, this afternoon, it was back to picking; we managed 71.5k (353.5). We can only find one mill in the area that actually gives you back your own oil; the others are co-operatives where you receive a 1 litre of oil for each 10 kilo of olives you take regardless of condition or quality. The mill in Proenca a Velha takes 25% of your oil as payment; which is fine if the olives have a good yield - last time we had oil our Nov. picked olives gave a litre of oil for each 7k of olives and the Dec. picked were excellent at a litre for every 4.6k, fingers crossed they're as good this year.
There was a spectacular sunset tonight and directly opposite was a HUGE bright moon - of course the photos don't do justice to the actual images.


26th November
Ache, ache, ache, ache, ache .... especially my hands as I tend to use them, to brush the olives from the branches, rather than the combs.
109.5k (463k total, only 37k more for our target of 500k) picked today and they were all the little black ones.

27th November
ACCCHHHHHEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!
On a positive note we hit our 500k target before lunch, we still continued to pick after lunch and now have a grand total of .... 542k; so we should get at least 50L of oil, though we're hoping the yield is good in which case we could receive as much as 75L. We'll take them to the press Monday morning (we don't know if it's open over the weekend).
We are absolutely shattered after five days of full on physical work - olive picking is nothing like the romantic activity portrayed by television (Olivio margarine/Bertoli olive oil adverts), it's bloody hard work!
Haha, I took off my boots tonight eight olives came out of one and one out of the other (I thought my feet were uncomfortable)!

28th November
Still aching, but I managed to go to class (feeling virtuous!).
Lola and Vince have bought an olive press (very expensive) and have run out of olives to experiment with - I said she was welcome to some of ours as long as she didn't expect help with the picking! I did help her clean them (take out all the leaves and twigs), she got about 15k.
This evening we were invited to dinner at C&D's in their 'Hobbit' house (straw bale), Andrew was there too. We arrived 6.30 and didn't leave until nearly 1.00 a.m. time just went so fast - lovely evening.
Brett, kindly, gave Andrew a lift home (he lives the opposite direction to us). He's (Andrew) picking his olives atm and we're going to take him to the mill with us on Monday.

29th November
The hunting wasn't too bad this morning; we could hear shots in the distance but nothing too close.
We were going to have a day off; Brett still did some fencing, I did the housework and washing - so not that restful!
We met an English woman at the fonte in Aguas the other day, she came to visit this afternoon; she wanted to see our vegetable garden, which is not looking good atm, so I can't think that she was very impressed! I felt bad not inviting her to stay for dinner but she is a vegan and I need a bit of notice to cook vegan food - I'm sure she'll come again.

30th November
Our olives, before we picked up Andrew 
It was very icy this morning; the animal's water was frozen and so was the water pump.
We picked Andrew, and his olives, up at 10.00, drove to Proenca, only to be told to come back Thursday morning - they are inundated and have run out of crates, but we are booked in now.
We could have tried another press; but at this one we get back our own oil and, all the presses are busy this time of the year so we'd have no guarantee that we would get in anywhere else quicker.
Brett carried on fencing.

1st December
I can't believe it's nearly Christmas (and my birthday!).
Brett carried on fencing the big field today and I tiled behind the sink, tomorrow I will do behind the cooker.

2nd December
We went to buy food first thing; there was this poor female dog who had obviously just had puppies hanging around the bins at the shop - we gave her dog biscuits and some of the meat we had just bought! It's so sad, I wanted to take her home but the puppies still needed her.
Then we went to visit M&M's new quinta in Aldeia da Santa Margarida; it's a lovely plot with great views.
Usually when we go out we put the dogs in their shed (which is the other end of the quinta to the house) and I walk them back home while Brett drives back; today, as the dogs and I were walking down the track there was this blood curdling screaming, that got louder and louder, coming from the pig run - it turned out to be the boar who had the wire of the fence caught around one of his back teeth and he was panicking!!!!! Brett managed to extract the wire from his mouth (fortunately Brett is very strong, I wouldn't have been able to do it) and then he had to go and explained to Gary that we weren't slaughtering our pigs!
Brett finished the big field and I tiled behind the cooker, tomorrow (after taking the olives to the press) I grout.

3rd December
It was quite hard work at the press; all the bags had to be transferred into small crates, then carried into the mill, our 28 bags filled 42 crates. They are going to do separate pressings for us and Andrew so he will get his oil back and we will get ours. The people at the press will ring us when our oil is ready for collection; let's hope it's soon as we are literally down to the last dregs of our oil from two years ago,
Looks dreadful but actually tastes ok 
we're determined that it will last, everytime we use it all the debris from the bottom of the barrel comes to the surface!
I grouted the tiles and, while waiting for it to dry, I made a couple of blackboards, one a cat shape and one a sheep - one will sit on the tiles over the sink (I'll let Brett choose).
 Brett fenced the area between us and Gary; the area will become the second pig run.

4th December
Brett had this 'brilliant' idea to extend the tiling all along the cooker worktop - so that's what I was doing while he went to work! Tomorrow I grout, after class.

5th December
I had to get up with Brett (who was going to work) so he could apply dye to my hair (I should have done it last nignt but I was too tired); I'm not a red head anymore 😞 (I haven't got a grey parting either!).
I went to class and found out that today was the last session of the year ....... hoorah (I'm absolute rubbish, I can't remember anything from one week to the next). Class was actually quite good fun; the room we should have used had had its locks changed, Pedro had no key - so we sat outside the cafe, in the sunshine and learnt a Chritmas song.
I finished my grouting; tomorrow we'll put up shelves, plate rack and blackboard - then I'll do some rearranging.

6th December
2.00 a.m. and I couldn't sleep, I got up and made some hot milk - Looby got up too and was pacing around asking to go out!
Brett put shelves etc up, but not the blackboard as he wants to attach that with 'no more nails';
The 'cat' blackboard will sit on tiles to left of plate rack

I had fun arranging things in the kitchen and have made a list of all the stuff that I have, so far, noticed is missing:
Green ceramic flan dish
Pale blue kitchen scales
Antique fruit/pudding dishes (lots)
Antique side plates (lots)
Green Lady of the Night & Day stained glass panel
Acid etched & sandblasted Crow panel
We think we have been through all the boxes now (not unpacked just looked through), we have no idea where these items could be (still in Wales?/lost by removal man?) - I'm very upset about the loss of my panels and am still hoping they might turn up packed with pictures/mirrors.
Sunday morning and the hunting wasn't too near us until ..... I heard Gary shouting, then a gunshot, and no more Gary shouting!!!!! I went to fetch Brett from the big field, he told me I was overreacting-  fortunately I was, Gary hadn't been shot by a hunter!

7th December
Cold, dreary and damp today, so I lit the fire early and made roast pumpkin soup. Brett carried on with the fencing, below the house, soon we will have a 'dog proof fence'.

Friday, 13 November 2015

RAIN = NO SOLAR .....

22nd October
Brett went to work.
I used the curtains from the farmhouse to recover the cushions from the large leather sofa from the Barn. When we had them as curtains they were two tones of gold,
however the reverse of the material is red and grey
which was the side I chose to use. Of course, as all jobs go, I got a lot less done than I had planned; but I think it's going to look rather smart.
This evening the dogs took themselves off for a jaunt for about an hour; we called and called until we were hoarse, they are in BIG trouble!

23rd October
We had an undisturbed (by dogs) night, first one in a while.
Brett went off to work before 8.00, I was awoken from my slumbers by the dogs making a racket, let them out and there's two HUGE Serra de Estrela sheepdogs outside the house! I took my dogs back inside until they disappeared (they can be quite aggressive).
We're going out to dinner tomorrow evening, so I made creme caramels; as I was putting them in the oven I realised there might be seven of us sitting down to dinner! So I had to make a second batch 😞!
I carried on with my upholstering (taking apart quite a bit of yesterday's work).

24th October
Well I'm proud of myself, I went to language class on my own (Brett has decided he doesn't want to go anymore); I need to get back to the Michel Thomas tapes too, it would be great if, one day, I could converse, with confidence, in Portuguese.
Heavy rain and quite cold this afternoon; we didn't light the fire as we were going out this evening - it wasn't nice in the house (cold, damp and dark).
It was dark when we arrive at Alex & Karina's, so we couldn't see all the work they've been doing properly (buiding bathrooms, bedrooms etc).
M&M were at A&K's too; it was a good evening and as usual we came home very full!

25th October
Lots of hunters around today, not actually on our land but close by - bastards!
Andrew invited us for lunch; he'd made Spanish tortilla with his own potatoes, lit an open fire (outside) and cooked sardines over it and made a mixed salad - we ate outside in the sunshine, our contribution was the remainder of my creme caramels and hot chocolate; it was a lovely afternoon.
As always we come back from Andrew's with garden envy - he puts a lot of work into his vegetables and it pays off, his garden is fabulous. Brett and I had a long discussion and have decided to start a new (winter) garden in the field below the house - so now we're all enthusiastic.

26th October
Happy Birthday Lawrence! XXX
We went into Fundao and bought bundles of vegetable plugs from the market - 50 x broccoli (4€), 25 x cauliflower (2€), 25 x 'walking stick' cabbage (2€), 100 of each, white (2,50€) and red onions (2,50€) to start off our new garden. After eating a hurried lunch Brett cultivated (with the tractor) a section of the field for planting (it's already been scarrified a few times). We planted the walking stick cabbage (20) on the boundary, as it stays in the ground for several years, then rows of white onions (104), red onions (150), cauliflower (35) and broccoli (80) - actual number of plants bought in brackets ... we were stiffed on the walking stick cabbage, but we did well on the rest! We estimated that we've planted up less than 5% of the whole field,
so there's room for much more - I have nightmares about the weeding it'll need!
While we were in Fundau we bumped into Joanne (Lola's friend Helen and I went to Spain with); we swopped sewing stories, she's making 'Japanese. aprons' ( I call them Pioneer/Prairie Aprons). Now, of course, I want to make one; they'll go well with the dresses I'm making.

27th October
It rained throughout the night so the plants we put in yesterday should be well watered in 😀.
Lawrence's birthday message was still on the phone today (queued for sending) 😞 - sorry Lawrence we didn't forget you and hope you had a wonderful birthday XXX.
Our phone and internet signals are always adversely affect when the weather is rainy/stormy/foggy - I've been trying to post last month's blog since Sunday, I can't get the photos to upload.
Heavy rain on and off all day; so we couldn't work outside (though Brett did a few jobs between showers) and no power to work inside - I used one light bulb and cut out and pinned the cushions for the back of the sofa and two dresses. Once we have solar again it will take me hardly any time to finish them, as all the complicated work is done 😃.
The sky was black and cloudy but there was a lovely rainbow this evening; of course the photo wasn't as intense as the actual event.
Our peas and chickpeas, in the experimental field, are germinating!!!!

28th October
Not much solar charging going on today so we used the generator to do the washing (Brett) and sewing (me).
Brett doesn't know if he's working tomorrow; he thinks that he and Chris left it that they would see what the weather was doing (they are doing blockwork outside, so need it to be dry), and that Chris would contact him if they were. There's been no contact (but as we have no phone signal that's not surprising!); on the otherhand Chris might think he's sent a message and he'll be expecting Brett to turn up ....

29th October
I don't know what they're doing to Alfie but there's some awful noises coming from C&D's direction - it sounds like a dog caught in a trap ... but it's probably just that Alfie has been tied up!
Drizzly, dismal morning.
Haha, when we went over to do the sheep and goats we had several messages from Chris, the last one saying he was worried as he hadn't heard from us .... unfortunately neither of our phones will send a message. Brett has agreed to go to work tomorrow 😞.
Brett has started preparation work for fencing the big field; today was strimmering and chainsawing.
While Brett was out he spotted a group of Parasol mushrooms,
which we immediately picked; one went into our dinner and the other three are drying in the warming drawer of the range - now I need to find Ceps!
I finished the sofa cushions and it looks bloody good, even though I say it myself! Tomorrow I need to make some throw cushions but as I haven't got much material left I'll have to do patchwork.
Brett's been designing our new building which will house my studio, a workshop and a spare bedroom; the whole building will be 8m x 5m and my studio will be 4m x 5m!!!
Dinner was Bouef Bourginnone (with a whole bottle of last year's red wine), turnip tops (self seeded) and rice; unfortunately the Parasol mushroom wasn't easy to distinguish as the casserole was cooked for two and a half hours.

30th October
The mushrooms seem to have dried well, they've shrunk a lot.
Brett went off to work.
Hoorah, I managed to post last 'month's' blog.
Unfortunately it was a dull day so I couldn't use the solar to carry on with my sewing; I cut out and pinned some patchwork, but now I don't know if I like the idea of patchwork cushions!
It is only pinned!

31st October
Happy Samhain (Halloween)!
Still dull and rainy, and the same is forecast for at least another week ....... so still no solar, I wanted to get on with my sewing, Brett suggested that what I need is an old fashioned, hand operated, sewing machine; what a pity we don't have ebay in Portugal.
We went into Penamacor for provisions, on the way home I saw a big group of Parasol mushrooms but ..... they were behind a wire fence, there was no way of getting to them 😭, what a waste! However we drove down the track towards Gary and found two (one was my lunch, the other is being dried).
Brett wanted to have a relaxing afternoon, in front of the fire, watching Sparticus; I didn't, but I didn't have anything better to do! It's a very long film, we only managed half of it.
We were supposed to be going to the Chestnut festa in the village tonight, but Chris didn't get back to us with the details and it was lovely and cosy in the house ...

1st November
And today the sun came out .........
I'm still harvesting quite a bit from the garden.
Unfortunately for me I had to 'make hay while the sun shone' i.e. hoover!!!!! Not my favourite task but the house looks lovely now, which is good as we have visitors coming in the morning.
While I was sleeping (I have some of my best ideas when I sleep, and a fair few that are completely impossible once I wake up!), anyway, I suddenly remembered a couple of cushions that would go with the newly unholstered sofa - blue background with dark pink and blue flowers (Joyce gave them to us years ago), and it means I don't have to make any now!
Brett is keen to get the fencing finished in the big field, so he spent the day with chainsaw and strimmer - it was perfect weather for working outside, so I planted garlic in the winter garden (133 cloves) and picked a bucket of quinces for quince jelly and quince cheese.

2nd November
And the rain is back ......
We lit the range early as we had visitors (Ellie & Kevin) coming. They have been living in Portugal for a while but hope to be moving to this area next year. They came to look at our solar set up, and went away very impressed with the range (it does make the house feel very cosy).
It rained all day so this afternoon we watched the end of Sparticus (Brett fell asleep!).

3rd November
Spit, spit, spit, spit, spit ........
Today we went into Penamacor (we needed animal food); on the way home I was on the look out for the mushrooms I saw a couple of days ago, so I could show them to Brett, (I'd also convinced myself there must be some way I could harvest them) however I couldn't see them. BUT there was a car parked close to where they should have been and ............ there was a man with a fruit crate overflowing with MY MUSHROOMS masses of them, he'd just climbed over the fence and taken them - they should have been mine, I saw them first! (At least they didn't go to waste).
We managed to pick one Parasol mushroom growing along our track to the village (pathetic!).
However ....... when we got home I thought I'd check in the eucalyptus wood, behind the pig run, and found a couple of massive ones (and lots that had gone over); so now I know where to look next year. I'm still pig sick about the ones near Penamacor!
The range was lit first thing so, as there was free heat, I made a batch of quince jelly and quince cheese (Membrillo/Marmelada).

4th November
Another dull, dreary, drizzly day; it's hard to find the enthusiasm to do anything - actually with no solar it's hard to find anything to do to get enthusiastic about! This means I usually end up cooking ...... soup, pizza (I try to steer clear of sweet stuff when we're bored!).
Hoorah, my Membrillo set beautifully (this one cooked on top of the range for 2 hours rather than in the oven, Claire)

I've cut it up and wrapped it in parchment,  it should keep nicely in my preserves cupboard; I can give it as gifts or eat it with cheese (I have enough to do both!).
P&M started their olive harvest today; I wanted to make some salt cure olives for eating, I went out to pick olives and gave up at less than a 1/4 of a bucket, as I got wet even though it wasn't raining at the time the trees were still dripping - I'm not envying P&M and their Workawayers! I made up 3 jars of olives and salt, I will carry on making more jars as the month progresses. The dry salt cure method is much quicker than the brine curing method (6 weeks v 1-2 years!!!) and I think it makes a nicer tasting olive too.

5th November
The house smelled so nice today as I made my aubergines into Sweet Aubergine Preserve (Claudia Roden), it's got cloves and ginger in it; it's supposed to be used like a jam on bread/toast or to flavour yoghurt, but I think it goes well with cheese and cold meats too.
Well it had to happen; this afternoon we ran out of solar (we've had no sunshine since Sunday and the weather has been dull and rainy for a good two weeks), it gets dark by 5.30 nowadays. We spent the evening with candles for lighting, no fridge and no tv (screen to watch dvds on); it was a loooooong evening, we were in bed by 9.30,hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow.

6th November
It was raining when Brett went to work, it stayed dull for most of the morning; we had a few sunny periods this afternoon, so I risked turning on the inverter to cool down the fridge (beer!).
I did use the generator for 15-20 mins this morning to hoover and plugged the fridge in at the same time.
I had a rather boring day as the ground was too wet to garden and the house was too dark for any interesting activity - I tidied and cooked (Bacalhau) and pinned a dress. Oh yes, and rescued a bird from the chimney.
Brett is working again tomorrow but I want to go to class, Lou is giving me a lift; only problem is I have to meet her in the village (20-30 min walk), so I'll have to be up early to get the animals fed/watered/let-out/walked etc.
This evening I started getting electric shock type jolts along my Bell's Palsy damaged nerves, bloody painful .......

7th November
I was up at 04.00 a.m. looking up Facial Neuralgia, which I have a classic case of! I couldn't sleep, every 13-20 seconds I got a 'shock', it's horrible. Paracetamol doesn't touch it, I took 8 between 9.00 p.m. and 7.00 a.m. Ibuprofen takes the edge off it but not much more - I'm at my wits end, don't know what to do with myself.
I did go to class, as it would have been worse spending the whole day on my own - I needed distraction. It took me 21 minutes to walk to the village.
Richie says one of the fields across the river is full of Parasol mushrooms .......
When I got home we had had several hours of solid sunshine (24 degrees today), so I sewed one of my dresses.
I found some co-codamol left over from my last Bell's palsy episode, it should help me sleep tonight.

8th November
Red Tent Day ...
Apart from getting up at 03:00, to take more pills, I slept well until ....... 06.45 when we were woken by bloody hunters! (One of the 'joys' of living in rural Portugal); Brett had to ask several to leave our land - they were actually very polite and accommodating.
I made a tortilla to take to the, first ever, Penamacor Red Tent Meeting at Claire's; I had no idea what to expect-  Brett thought we would sit around and talk about our periods!!!
Eight women attended, four I had never met before; we started off just chatting, having a cup of tea and eating some delicious food - spinach and onion stuffed bread, dehydrated vegetable wafers and the best Brownies I have ever tasted (recipes should be on Facebook tomorrow).
The ceremony wasn't too intimidating; we sat in a circle (and from then on everything was confidential) introduced ourselves and 'shared' if we wanted too - I didn't feel comfortable sharing, so I didn't! Then we chatted some more, had another drink and more Brownies......
The best bit was that I came away with a Kombucha scooby for fermenting tea - I've been trying to source one for ages (I also want water kefir grains) and some Parasol mushrooms. I made my Kombucha up as soon as I got home .....

9th November
The sun has come back and the solar is charging nicely.
We went to buy fence posts and on the way back we called in on Diane &Thomas .... she gave me some Milk Kefir grains (in some milk kefir)!
It was one of those days when not much gets done; we lost 2-3 hours this morning visiting D&T and then more time this afternoon when they came to visit us.
Brett is really fed up with our geese, they keep chewing things; they ate through a cable on the generator, they've been at the tractor and truck and yesterday he caught them chewing the leads from the solar panels. So today we moved them, lock, stock and barrel, to polytunnel paddock. They'll be behind stock wire so won't be able to get to the vegetable garden or anything else important (including people, they're quite aggressive atm).
I soaked my breakfast oats in milk kefir overnight.

10th November
Breakfast: oats soaked in kefir, chopped almonds, apple chunks and raw sugar - delicious!
I'm into fermented food atm; my milk kefir was thick and creamy after 24 hours (and I've read that the 'grains' can be converted to water kefir grains quite easily, so once mine has multiplied I will swop half over). The Kombucha is looking good; there's definitely something going on in the jar.
I've started off a couple of 'starters' today - Sour Dough: it's just flour and water, it needs feeding every 12 hours for a week and Friendship Cake: (it was very popular in the 70s), this is yeast, sugar, flour, and milk; it takes 10 days to grow, stirring daily and feeding every few days - then it's divided into four portions; three to give away (hence the friendship bit) and the fourth is mixed with fruit and eggs etc to make into a cake.
Brett carried on with his fencing preparation.
We realised (apart from breakfast) we'd had a Vegan day -homemade flatbreads and hummus for lunch, homemade pesto and pasta for dinner.

11th November
Hoorah, Brett's new Ipod was at the post office today (thank you Stephanie XXX); so he spent a lot of the day being frustrated by I-tunes! And the rest of the day fencing preparation - it's a very big field.
Oh no, my milk kefir grains have disappeared!!! I strained the very thick (almost solid), creamy kefir through muslin (like I did yesterday) and there were no grains left in the muslin once the kefir had passed through - I have no idea where they went, all I can think is that they have disintegrated and are mixed in with the kefir (so much for converting my excess to water kefir grains!). I've mixed a couple if spoonfuls of the kefir with milk to see if I can still make it (like yoghurt).

12th November
Wow the week passes quickly; Brett was back at work today (he's only doing two a week but they seem to come round more often than weekly).
My kefir has set; well I don't know if it it technically kefir as I haven't got the grains, but it's something kefir like - and much as I 'google' it I can only find passing reference to people using it like this usually on FAQ pages. Anyway I'm amassing an awful lot of (I'll call it) kefir and must find uses for it other than my breakfast.
Looby was in a horrible mood this morning; whinning and pacing (even Lili was growling at her) - I have an awful feeling she's coming into 'heat' again.
The goats sleep in a shed overnight and graze in the field, with the sheep during the day; between the shed and the field is an oak tree and it has dropped huge acorns around it - the goats (we have recently discovered) absolutely love acorns! I can hardly keep up with them as they rush towards the tree and dragging them away from it is getting more and more difficult - imagine three goats with all of their twelve legs braced against the pull of their leads .....
Today feels and sounds like spring; it's sunny and warm and all the birds are singing (in fact they are building nests too).
I had a productive, if not terribly exciting, day as we had the solar; housework, sewing
Front

Back
and washing. Brett was working at Annika's.

Friday, 30 October 2015

SECOND SPRING ....

2nd October
Brett and Matt had a bike ride this morning, I was at home doing the chores!
When he got back we went to M&M's for lunch and had a great afternoon putting the world to rights! Mieke messaged me the other day to say she had some large green plates for sale (1€ each) ... I collected them today, they're really nice and very BIG!

3rd October
We missed language class again as we had arranged to deliver the rotorvator to a couple who have moved here recently: we had lunch with them, they are talkative, friendly, and seem very nice.
Something happened tonight (via internet); I am so bloody cross, seething in fact, and I can't get it out of my system by writing about it in my blog; suffice to say I won't be volunteering my services for anything in the foreseeable future!

4th October
RAIN!!!
Vince has found a trailer for our tractor, he haggled on our behalf and got it for 430€ (the ones we looked at in CB on Thursday were much more - 1400 for a lovely tipping one and 600 for a wooden one with knackered tyres and bodywork that needed a lot of work).
We went over to look at it; Brett talked trailer with Vince while I spoke with Lola about last night; I'm still really, really angry!!!
Lola loaned us some films; as it was raining we had a lazy afternoon watching a crap film.

5th October
Real rain all night, it was dark in the house all day (like a cave), I didn't use lights as the solar wasn't being topped up and Brett says the batteries aren't holding their charge anymore - perhaps they need reconditioning (Mark has a device!).
Brett was working at Annika's with Chris.

6th October
Brett went to work, I had Pam round for a 'sewing day' .
Pam made scatter cushions for Jamie's birthday present, I made a dress from one of my 1€ lengths of material - it's based on one of my Ewa I Walla dresses (I think the design was called 'Farmer's Wife'), which I love, unfortunately the EIW dress fabric is, either being eaten by moths, or perishing in this environment - it's full of little holes and is terribly fragile. My new dress has the same feel (when worn) as the EIW dress, but it's somewhat gaudy - orange with large fishes printed on it (a departure from my usual choice of colour!)
. I'm going to make a green version which will be more subtle.

7th October
Brett's last day of work this week 😀, he only did a six hour day.
I planted 140 leek plugs and 114 onion plugs (the ones we bought last week in Fundao) I wore my 'Farmer's Wife's' dress - I felt very pioneery! Lucky me, I had the kitten helping me - she wasn't much help! And then I noticed my hand was hurting ... I'd worn a hole in my palm with the handle of the dibber!
This afternoon I made my green Farmer's Wife dress; then I spent the evening unpicking the skirts (five rows of stitching) because they didn't hang well.

8th October
Oooouch, my hand hurts; I can't use it properly and brushing teeth with the left hand is nigh on impossible!
It looks like Lola and I are cooking the food for Guy Fawkes Night at the Hub (meat and veggie chilies, jacket potatoes, toffee apples and Tarte Tatin).
The kitten is getting too used to coming to the house! She arrives in the morning, before we get up, which starts the dogs squeaking - how can we break that habit?
I made a much better job of sewing the skirts onto my green dress.

9th October
Jamie's birthday; he organised a party at Gloria's bar (Aldeia do Bispo); I made a batch of chocolate covered honeycomb (hokey pokey) for a present. I find honeycomb quite 'hit & miss'; today's, fortunately, was a HIT!
Honeycomb recipe
4 oz sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
Melted chocolate to cover (optional)
~Place sugar and syrup in heavy based saucepan, stir together (off heat).
~put pan on heat, melt sugar & syrup together (without stirring).
~let mixture cook and bubble until 'hard ball' temp reached (drop a small amount of mixture into cold water it will set hard and crisp) - be alert at this stage, as the mixture can rapidly get too hot and burn.
~add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk in - the mixture will froth up; quickly pour onto baking parchment, allow to set (refrigeration will aid this process).
~cover both sides with melted chocolate (optional) .
~break into bit size pieces.
~enjoy!
Hmmm, I'm not enjoying the hoover so much now the novelty has worn off; Brett came in and found me using it - I was pulling it around on its back, stupid thing rolls over too readily!
We had an interesting evening at Jamie's party; lots of people to talk with, gin & tonic served in fishbowl like glasses and one of the strangest meals to date - luke warm: chicken, belly pork and sausage, cold: brussel sprouts, rice with tinned carrots, hard boiled egg and salad at the exorbitant cost of 8€ a head, with just a plastic fork for cutlery! The landlady was exceedingly rude as she explained that she had run out of gin and vodka because of all the English people drinking in the bar (only three G&Ts and two V&Ts had been purchased at this point), one of our group went into a massive sulk and refused to eat, and to top it all I fell over (again Mark), on our way back to the car (no it wasn't the drink!), and buggered up my knee; yes an interesting evening!

10th October
Cold and dull; not much solar action going on today.
Mark brought over some packing cases the other day (I was going to utilise them in my studio); Brett has made one into a hay feeder for the sheep and goats, he's put skids on it so it can be dragged from field to field. We put it in with the animals this morning, by the time we left the field five of them were already eating from it - it made us feel like proper farmers (I was wearing my green farmer's wife's dress!).
Lazy afternoon, we lit the fire in the living room
and watched a film "Life as a House"; it was very cosy and the dogs were in their element!
I've sneaked some of my glass into the house!

11th October
Haha there's a post from Jamie suggesting that the winter venue for The Hub gatherings should be at Gloria's bar (the bar where he held his party on Friday)!  He's saying she could put on food - yuk, no thanks to that ....
Andrew asked if we fancied fungi foraging this morning, as it was raining the answer was a resounding "no". Yesterday we found mushrooms growing in profusion along our track;
I've done a spore test (brown) and applied all the other identification techniques I know (gills, colour, stem ring, staining, size, smell etc) and I'm 100% sure they are Field Mushrooms but - we're not going to eat them just in case ...... (there are a couple of fungi that look similar, smell slightly different, stain occasionally that are 'edibility unknown'); stupid thing is, with the same books, back in the UK I've gone through exactly the same process and happily eaten the mushrooms.
O8.30 we were heralded by the whistling of Chris, interspersed with calls of "Alfie", from one side and loud shouting of "Fuck off, go away ......" from Gary on our otherside. Alfie has discovered Rosie (Gary's female dog who is more than likely not spayed), everytime he is untied he heads over to Gary's quinta.
A very gloomy wet day called for 'comfort food'; Brett made cheese on toast (in the woodburner oven, as we don't have a grill) while I made a very comparable version of Heinz Baked Beans .......
Cook diced onions and garlic in oil (20 mins), add chopped up tinned tomatoes (simmer for another 10 mins), flavour with tomato puree, tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and salt, pass through a Mouli to blend, tip back into saucepan, thicken with cornflour, add a jar of haricot (or your choice of) beans, heat and serve - tastes just like the real thing!
Mark came over this afternoon with his big truck so that we could pick our trailer up from Vince & Lola's;
then he came back to us for dinner (ribs, wedges and salad) and to stay overnight.

12th October
HEAVY RAIN!!! Pam messaged me to say they had run out of solar, so we can't be far behind! We haven't had enough sunshine for any charge for several days now; Brett says he doesn't want to test the batteries to see how charged they are as it would worry him! We're keeping snug inside our shed/cave with the range on and no lights!
The main problem with rain is we can't do any work; outside jobs are off, we have to choose our moments going out between downpours to do the animals, and inside work is not easy as we can't use electricity (not even to Hoover!) -  so we read a lot and watch films.

13th October
What a bloody awful night; the dogs were either pacing, panting, squeaking, barking or a combination of the four all night!!! Brett and I got up several times, independently, to let them out, but they just ran off into the darkness. We think, originally, it could have been the kitten outside the house; but even after she'd gone the dogs just wouldn't settle - needless to say Brett and I both got up feeling lousy and moody.
The weather this morning wasn't exactly raining just a bit drizzly, the sky was very overcast, so still no solar charge 😞. We lit the range early as we need it to dry our clothes which get very damp when doing the animals.
Then 11.00 ish ....... the sun came out! Brett disappeared, next thing I know he's ploughing up the field in front of the house, well actually he was scarifying - he does like the tractor!



I was back to the 'dark ages' .... doing my washing by hand - it makes me appreciate the twin tub even more; hopefully we'll have enough charge to do a full wash later in the week.
Alfie has been around a few times today (he cuts through our quinta to get to Gary's); he's sporting a rather jaunty green harness!

14th October
Looby isn't well; she had to go out several times in the night (so perhaps that's what the problem was last night?).
Hoorah, the sun came out and our batteries were back to 100% charge.
I made lemon mousse to take to Vince and Lola's tomorrow evening.
Brett made a drawer to go to the left of the sink.

15th October
Brett was back at Annika's today (he and Chris are going to do a couple of days a week); I don't like it as I get bored on my own! I did some gardening; planted out beetroot and rocket.
I bought hair dye yesterday; there wasn't much choice (black, blonde or auburn) I chose auburn - I now have a bright red head!!!
This evening we went to Vince & Lola's for dinner; we couldn't believe it when I asked the time and it was midnight - Brett still had to load scaffolding and tools onto the truck for work tomorrow.

16th October
Brett went to work 😞.
The weather collapsed one of my bean supports so I dismantled it to reuse with the pea and bean seedlings I sowed a few weeks ago - it was hot sweaty work, when I got home my head looked as though it was bleeding (red hair dye)!
I picked masses of vegetables (aubergines, peppers, beans, tomatillos, courgettes, chillies) the colours (purples and greens) are fabulous together.
The harvest said 'Thai curry' to me;
so we invited C&D round for a meal. The tomatillos worked well in the curry, adding a sour/citrusy note.

17th October
I 'googled' tomatillo recipes - they can be used in any recipe calling for green tomatoes (as a substitute or in addition too); today I made pickled tomatillos (one sweet jar, one sour jar).
Pickled Green Tomatoes/Tomatillos
In a saucepan mix 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar 1 tablespoon seasalt, bring to boil.
Slice tomatoes/tomatillos thinly, pack into jars with diced fresh chillies (to taste).
Pour vinegar into jars; making sure vegetables are below surface - I cut up a yoghurt lid to fit under rim of jar, works a treat.
Put in fridge once cool, it will keep for a month (or can be water bath heated for 10 mins), once open will keep in fridge for a month.
Ready to eat in four hours .......
For the sweet version I added 3 tablespoons of sugar to the vinegar.
This afternoon was back to strong winds and heavy rain = afternoon watching a film (well I watched whilst Brett fell asleep!) and rationing the solar.
Homemade pizza for dinner; then a night in front of the fire! We were invited out on a pub crawl .... the fire won hands down!

18th October
Another crappy night with Looby asking to go out several times - looks like she might be going to the vet tomorrow.
HEAVY RAIN, dull and dreary ... lit the range and had a traditional Sunday lunch.
This afternoon we had proper TORRENTIAL RAIN;
there was water cascading down the slope outside the house making a great pond around the goose house and the boundary stream, which has been bone dry for months, was flowing rapidly.

Lots of fungi have sprouted up overnight and I haven't been able to identify this HUGE boletus (30+ cms cap).

19th October
The track into the village has been more or less washed away; it's like driving down a rocky river bed, there's only large stones and rocks, anything small has gone, and huge, deep ruts - thank goodness we have a 4x4!
Went into CB; repairing the phone screen would have cost 70€, it was cheaper to buy a new phone 60€! Then we spent another 17€ on a cover (to cushion it next time I fall over!), unfortunately  we couldn't find one to fit in China shop, where they only cost 3€ (what a waste of money!).
We bought several kilos of broad beans, peas, chickpeas and garlic to plant fields to say of vegetables to grow over the winter (most of it for animal food) - that should keep us busy!
We saw several quinta where they have started harvesting their olives.


20th October
We have found another boletus growing on the quinta; I think I have identified it correctly as Boletus Impolitus (Iodine Bolete), it's rare, edible but not worth eating!

Pam messaged me to say she had plant seedlings for me; so we had a day of gardening - most of Brett's was done with the tractor, he also lit a few bonfires (I'm still paranoid about fire). And I managed to fall over (yes, again Mark!) this time really wasn't my fault; I was wearing my work boots, they have hooks instead of eyelets, and the lace of my right boot got hooked to my left boot .... so now my other knee is grazed and swollen - Brett says I have the knees of a six year old!
We planted/sowed onions, carrots, cabbage, calabrese (red and green varieties), South African kale (from Lou), spinach, parsnips, radish, something Pam can't remember what she sowed!, and some big blocks of peas, chickpeas and broad beans - the blocks are an experiment, we broadcast sowed(probably too densly as we rapidly ran out of seeds). Brett says we're real farmers now as we're planting up fields.
When we were in our local animal food shop I found some interesting looking seeds Beterraba (beet) Gigante (gigantic) Amarela (yellow), a big pack for 1€; I didn't know if it was for human or animal consumption (but I bought it anyway!) .... when I looked it up I found it is a heritage seed which is becoming popular again in America for humans (all parts of the plant can be eaten raw, cooked and pickled) and by small farmers for animals. 25 seeds retail at 1.69$ (2.50$ postage), from Amazon, and I have at least 500 seeds, maybe even 1000 for 1 EURO!!!! So we're going to plant a block in our experimental field. We're feeling enthusiastic about out garden atm!
We went the vet in Penamacor to get wormer for the dogs; and as he doesn't open until 8.30, in the evening, we decided to treat our selves to a meal out. We went to O Quartel, a bit more expensive than some but more interesting food too.

21st October
Brett injected the dogs with their wormer; the vet had warned us that it might make the dogs cry for a while - then we remembered Looby crying for a good couple of minutes when the vet wormer her a few months ago, however were both fine ... maybe because we gave them cheese?!!!!
It was warm and sunny today; it feels and sounds like spring - the garden thinks it's spring I have five tomato plants regenerating!
Brett attached skids to the old pig house, so we can use it for poultry.
I carried on with the sowing; a BIG block of the Gigantic Yellow Beet, and in the vegetable garden lettuce (green and red), walking stick cabbage, escarole, Florence fennel, carrots, beetroot and rocket.

Friday, 2 October 2015

HELEN CAME TO VISIT ....

17th September
Happy BIrthday Lily! XXX
We have a kitchen sink in situ; it's not plumbed in yet and the water is still outside but we can now wash up inside (remembering not to tip the bowl of water into the sink).
Well, much as I hate to say it, I'm rather impressed with the new Hoover!!! I hoovered the living room floor yesterday (concrete) usually this creates a choking dust storm, but it just looked clean (and this morning all the surfaces aren't covered in dust) and the kitchen  floor definitely looks cleaner between cleans.
We spent the day preparing for Helen (who comes on Saturday) and Vince & Lola (who're coming for dinner tomorrow evening). I made pumpkin soup, the first pumpkin I went to use has been hanging around for a couple of months when I cut it open all the seeds were sprouting!

18th September
We worked so hard yesterday we didn't have that much to do today; apart from food preparation for this evening, the washing, cleaning and hoovering again (we're obsessed!), the daily animal and garden chores, and Brett mucked out some animal sheds - but apart from all that it was a restful day!
This evening's meal was chicken liver pate (made yesterday), followed by pot roast guinea fowl with sausages and apples (the recipe called for brandy, which we didn't have, so I bunged in some miscellaneous unlabelled liquid, given to us by Nicky & Rich, which tasted strong - I think it's some type of flavoured aguadente), beans and saute potatoes; Lola provided pudding, Eton mess (yummy).

19th September
We missed language class today as we had to pick Helen up from CB 😀.
We didn't do much for the afternoon as we were going out in the evening.
Once the animals were put away we went to Alpedrinha festa (via Jeanette's to drop off the wine vat and the fonte to pick up water) arriving at 9.00ish (very late for us!). The festa was very lively and so, so, crowded, the atmosphere was great. There were some fantastic bands, we met a load of our friends, we ate lots of food and left around 12.30 (the band on the main stage still hadn't started) there was masses of people still arriving. We got to bed at 1.30.

20th September
We all felt very sluggish today after our night out.
Helen and I had a fun day printing, stenciling and doing some wirework.


Looby and Lili are such good friends!

21st September
Happy BIrthday Helen! Xxx
We gave Helen a Spanish shawl and an Indian style silver box with elephants embossed on it.
We had to go to CB as Brett needed the dentist; thank goodness for Nick recommending his dentist - he was brilliant and Brett feels that he did a good job.
Helen and I spent the morning going around all the China shops!
Oh dear, Helen wanted to sunbathe - the chair fabric must have perished in the sunshine!
Sorry Helen I HAD to post this!
Not repairable!
We took Helen to the 'skewer' restaurant (O Fontaine) for her birthay meal - it was good.

22nd September
We (Helen & I) are doing a carboot sale this Saturday; we spent the morning sorting out and pricing up the carboot boxes (yawn!). Brett was on the tractor ploughing up acres of land for growing animal food.
In the afternoon I drove into Penamacor (first time since my eye went dodgy),we did a bit of shopping, spoke to Pedro about the carboot sale (it's 09.00 - 19.00, 10 hours!!! Pedro says we can leave when we want to), came home and just outside the gate I clipped something and burst a tyre!😞

23rd September
Our first job was fixing the tyre; we went to Aranhas (where we got the tractor tyres). He patched the burst tyre and put in an inner tube, he also mended a slow puncture (threading a piece of rubber into the hole) and charged us 20€!
Brett is off with Matt tomorrow cycling (Helen and I are going to Spain with Lola); Matt, who is a vegan, is invited for lunch so I made Moroccan carrot dip, refried bean dip, and chickpea salad to go with bought wraps.
The pigs aren't eating; we don't know if they are ill or it's the food, as I purchased a new sack yesterday - their tails are curly, their posture is good but they might be a little bit lethargic? It's very worrying.

24th September
We didn't feed the pigs this morning.
So, while Brett and Matt did a 43 mile bike ride, Helen and I went to Spain with Lola and Joanne (Lola's friend) ...
I bought more fabric (of course I did) four lots, spending the grand total of 6€!
Matt didn't come for lunch in the end, but it was really tasty, so his loss!
The pigs ate their afternoon meal, we didn't put their pellets in it so we don't know if that was the problem.

25th September
The pigs ate a proper meal this morning.
I made some 'kraut' (fermented vegetables).
Helen and I went through the carboot sale boxes prioritising as it looks like our 'tables' aren't going to be very big. I appear to have lost three of my glass panels (green lady, white crows and John Reyntien workshop) Brett thinks they could have been left in Wales, to say I'm not happy is an understatement!
Hoorah, Brett found the White Crows panel, still no sign of the others.

26th September
An early start ... we (Helen and I) had to be in Penamacor at 8.00 to set up. It was quite a sociable morning, lots of our friends attending and I sold 86,50€ worth of, as Brett puts it, 'tat'! Then it really slowed down so, at 2.30, Helen and I started packing up - this officious woman came up (well two came in tandem) saying that we couldn't go as I had signed the form agreeing to stay until 7.00! Me, being me, stayed and sold nothing more, a complete waste of our time - however we were set up next to Lola so, to compensate, we bought some wine and drank and chatted for the rest of the afternoon.

27th September
Although we didn't have physically active day yesterday Helen and I were quite tired today.
Brett has been cutting down the shrubs and trees around the stream in preparation for fencing off across the stream in order to give the ducks and geese somewhere safe to swim. Helen and I prepared some of the straighter pieces for weaving the herb bed fencing; it was 34 degrees in the shade we tired and heated up very quickly. We didn't get much wood preparation done!
Helen was so hot she lay down on the tiles of the kitchen floor - not for long as Looby found her!

28th September
We were up at 3.00 a.m. to watch the eclipse; we saw 20 minutes of it, but I was very unimpressed with the 'blood' red moon - I didn't think it was even orange!
We went to Fundao to buy chicks (16 frango), went to all the China shops(!) and drove past the Nespoon house for Helen to admire (she did).

29th September
Brett was working at Annika's, Pam and Patricia (Pam's mother) came for a 'girlie' lunch (tortilla and salad, Pam brought brownies).
This afternoon we had RAIN and an impressive electrical storm 😀.

30th September
Brett did a half day at Annika's, Helen and I covered a cardboard box with hessian to store the dvds in.

1st October
We went into CB to take Helen to the station, did a bit of shopping, I fell over (you're right Mark I am always falling over!), broke the new phone (I must have landed on it) and now all my joints ache.
I made some 'Bounty bars' as we are going to lunch with M&M tomorrow; very easy ..... mix condensed milk with desiccated coconut, form into shape, put in freezer to harden, cover with melted chocolate.

2nd October
Great, the tablet keeps switching off and it's more or less fully charged.
Brett and Matt spent the morning riding their bikes.
The Kraut is 7 days old, looks and tastes good!