Sunday, 29 March 2015

For Stephanie .....

21st February
I always feel a sense of achievement once I’ve posted my blog; round about two weeks after I’ve last posted it starts to hang over me – it’s all the compressing of pictures (and choosing them) that takes me so long, and that's saying nothing about uploading time. Anyway it’s done now for another few weeks.
I started weeding my herb bed and Brett continue to put the wire around the first paddock.
As we were invited round to Chris & Di’s tonight I made some honeycomb to take with us (forgot to take a photo!). It was a great success. Andrew and Richie were invited too and we had a lovely sociable evening (Di didn’t serenade us this time which was rather disappointing).

22nd February
We didn’t hear any shooting this morning so maybe the hunting season is over (fingers crossed)?
I continued weeding the herb bed and Brett finished the wire on the first paddock – so now we need our lambs!
It was lovely and warm today – spring has sprung.

23rd February
Got up early to make lunch as Andrew came round to encourage me to weed my vegetable bed (the one with the over wintering crops); we got on quite well until ‘rain stopped play’.
Garlic & Broad Beans 

Brett has found a spring coming up at the edge of the first sheep field , so he dug it out and filled it with stones – hopefully it will flow most of the year and we’ll have fresh running water for our animals.

24th February
Spent the morning shopping in CB. How do I always manage to fall over? We went into a China shop; I stepped on a rug, sticking out of a pile, and crash there I am down on the floor having smacked my knee, on the hard tiling, on the way down! – fortunately no one, but Brett, seemed to notice.
We bought the wire, for the second sheep paddock, on the way home.

25th February
Pam came for coffee this morning, so I didn’t get much done.
Chris & Di came for a cup of tea this afternoon, so I didn’t get much done!!!!
I did make some lemon curd and started tomorrow night’s dinner as we have P&M coming over.
Brett has started attaching the wire to the second sheep field.

26th February
I had to take P&M to pick up their Landrover from a garage near Spain; it wasn’t ready and the mechanic wouldn’t be back for an hour, so we went to Penamacor to do some shopping – got back to the garage, he needed to work on it for another day!!!! So I took P&M back to their quinta and explained that the house would not be clean when they came for dinner as the three hours I had lost driving backwards and forwards to the garage was my house keeping hours!
Brett finished the longest side of his second paddock and the wood for the gates is arriving tomorrow.

27th February
Andrew has been nagging me about my weeding!!! So I was back out in the vegetable garden today weeding the over wintering veg – it was much more enjoyable doing it with Andrew!
Brett continued with his fencing.
As Cesar (with our wood order) hadn’t turned by the time we needed to leave for class I got a lift in with Pam and Brett stayed home.

28th February
We took our rotovator over to Andrew’s quinta today, so that he could use it ... something has happened to the gears (they won’t engage anymore), it would have happened who ever had been using it (so we’re not blaming you Andrew!) but it’s annoying it happened now, just when we need it.

1st March – St David’s Day
Yesterday I continued weeding the vegetable garden, today I could hardly move without pain, so I took the day off and played with various methods of labelling the plants in the herb bed.
This afternoon I just sat in the sunshine and relaxed with an audio book!

2nd March
Spoke to Mr Louis today about where to take the rotovator, he has arranged for us to take it to Viktor (the mechanic at the start of our track) on Thursday.
Brett continued fencing, I worked in the polytunnel – it was jolly hot!

3rd March
Today a whole load of us went to help Clare & Andy start their straw baled house; Brett was making ‘beams’ and I was stripping bark from Eucalyptus trunks – not a nice job, apparently it would have been easier if they were freshly felled but we were having to bash them with hammers to get them separated.
At 4.00 we, along with Marc & Mieke, met up with Karina who had kindly arranged for us to see her neighbours who had lambs for sale. They were a lovely Portuguese couple who spoke no English and lived on a huge farm (120 hectares); however he said that we should have bought our sheep in October, as they are strong, because of all the grass (grass grows in winter here not summer) and that the spring lambs are weak and not good for breeding from – he showed us both, unfortunately he didn’t have any October sheep for sale!
When we went to leave they invited us in for a drink ..... three bottles of wine (he made 2,000L last year!), aguadente shots and jeropiga (a mixture of aguadente and grape juice) all made on the farm served up with their sheep milk cheese, homemade chorizo and bread – Portuguese are very hospitable.

4th March
My hands hurt!!!!!
J&J phoned up this morning, they want Brett to do some building work for them; so we went to visit them at their new quinta. They want him to build a couple of small block buildings.

5th March
The rotovator was left outside the mechanic’s garage at 10.15 (we had arrived at 9.45 but nobody had opened up by the time we left) Mr Louis said to leave it outside it would be fine ..... it was, phew.

6th March
Mr Louis took us back to the mechanic’s (so he could translate???); Viktor basically said our machine had a good engine (Honda) but the rest of it was a heap of shit and something inside the gearbox was broken – I don’t think he even looked inside it! He told us (well he told Mr Louis, he never once spoke to us) to take it back to where we had bought it as it was probably still under warranty.

7th March
We took the rotovator back to Soferragens and it is still under warranty (as far as we could tell!).
Brett carried on with his gates while I spent the rest of the day cooking and cleaning as we had Chris & Di and Andrew coming for dinner and table tennis. I did a cheese fondue; Di had never had a fondue before!

8th March
Gardening – me.
Hanging gates – Brett.

Freerange geese

9th March
Pam and I went to Fundao; I bought some onion plugs (2 bundles).
Brett finished his gates.

10th March
Brett has got a few days, paid, work for J&J; he’s building them a toilet block (dog shed on paper) as they are going to have a bar.
I planted nearly 500 onions (plugs and sets) and potted on lots of seedlings .....

11th March
Happy Birthday Karen!
Brett at work.
Me hobbling around with a bad back; but I still managed to do three lots of washing (with my trusty washing dolly!) – including the bedding, so I’m feeling virtuous.

12th March
Brett working
I went into CB with Pam; I was keeping her company, she had a long list.

13th March
Hoorah, Brett’s last day at work!
Made lemon curd and honeycomb (which was much crisper than last time, I let it cook longer – I need my cooking thermometer); lemon curd for my breakfasts with Greek yoghurt and honeycomb to take to P&M’s for Pizza Night.
Lou and J&J came to Pizza Night plus Leon (P&M’s workaway); we christened their HUGE new decking area – it’s very posh.

14th March
First Saturday morning advanced Portuguese class; where we speak mainly in Portuguese! Oh it’s hard; it’s not so much the speaking as the understanding what we’ve got to do when that’s said in Portuguese.
Andrew’s friend Baptiste is back for a year; he’s has bought a beautiful mansion, in the village, which needs rather a lot of work – including a new roof, including timbers, and floors. Last night he invited us and C&D for drinks at the bar in the village – of course we didn’t get home until gone midnight!!!

15th March
It’s so nice getting up on a Sunday morning and knowing there isn’t going to be any shooting, not that we had it particularly bad this year.
I woke up remarkably fresh after last night’s socialising!
Brett and I spent the day constructing and painting the panelling for the seating area by the kitchen stove – we’ve made it a bit of a statement by painting it purple!

16th March
We bought 100 more posts today (for fencing): I helped Brett line them up and then spent the rest of the day being domesticated cooking and replacing a zip in Brett’s new trousers – which was easier (for him) than taking them back!

17th March
Happy St Patrick’s Day
RAIN!!!! Hoorah, the garden needs it.
As many of our friends are Irish (Lou, Jamie, Vince ...) P&M hosted a St Patrick’s Day lunch.

18th March
We bought fence posts and wire today (two trips this week because we can only get so much in the truck). So Brett now has masses of work to keep him occupied (plus he’s working for Annika next week).
I spent the day in the polytunnel.

19th March
Brett is very busy with his fencing and until we get the rotovator back there’s not much I can do in the garden so Brett suggested I did the vine pruning; he gave me a quick lesson (cut back to the second bud) and I was off .... audio book on my MP3 player, dogs in field playing. It was quite a relaxing pursuit until I got a big weeping blister! Yes, I should have been wearing gloves!

20th March
 I carried on vine pruning –wearing a glove on my cutting hand.
Brett will be fencing for the foreseeable future!

21st March
Language class, I’m the dunce!
Brett carried on fencing and I pottered in the polytunnel and did some vine pruning (my hands hurt!).

22nd March
Summer’s arrived – I heard my first cuckoo!
We had a bit of a relaxed day today as Brett’s working for the next three days.
Pigs in the shade
Pigs in their wallow

23rd March
Brett went off to work at 7.45.
I was so busy, spring cleaning – washing rugs, curtains, windows, lampshades, moving the heavy furniture to sweep under ... all the stuff that doesn’t happen with general housework. Everything was so dusty; I can’t wait to lose these concrete floors (although Brett maintains that most of the dust comes from outside!).
This morning we had hail and this afternoon a strong, icy cold, Northerly wind; I lit the fire early.

24th March
Brett was working. I tidied up all my mess on the sleep platform.
I tend to dump all my craft projects up there (in the process of tidying the kitchen); so today I labelled draws and boxes, threw out rubbish (as much as I could bear to!) and tried to group materials logically – well it looks better anyway.

25th March
The sun is out today, but it’s still rather blowy.
Andrew and I did ‘open gardens’ today for one another. First I walked to his quinta, 12 minutes door to door, and admire all his broad beans (Haha Andrew, that’s in case you’re reading my blog!!!!). His garden is very well maintained, especially compared to mine, and his Globe Artichokes and Asparagus make me very jealous (my ONE Globe Artichoke is weed infested and my Asparagus was eaten by the geese last year!). However my winter squash (I have about 100 plants) and potatoes are more advanced than his – not that it’s a competition! His neighbour gave me two buckets of potatoes to plant and a bag of lettuce to eat.
Then we wandered back to our quinta, walked around the polytunnel, where I'm having to balance all my seed trays on tall pots to stop the mice eating them!
Mouse deterrent 

Winter Squash
and garden,
Florence Fennel
 and then went home for afternoon tea – so civilised.

26th March
We went into CB to see what was happening with our rotovator – they said it should be ready next week .... it’s been four weeks and I need to sow root vegetables.

27th March
Brett dug over some of the vegetable garden, for me, with an enxada; at last I’ve sown parsnips, carrots and beetroot. Lots of the plants in the polytunnel are ready to plant outside; so over the next week or so I need to build supports for beans, peas and squash.

28th March
Portuguese class this morning was quite nice; we went for a coffee break and decided to just sit in the sunshine and speak Portuguese (it was hard not to lapse into English when we couldn’t express ourselves in Portuguese though).
This afternoon Brett carried on with the fencing and I started painting his gates. There’s a farm in Wales, between Pontardawe and GCG, that we have always admired; it’s called ‘Garth’ the farmhouse is stone and slate and all the doors and field  gates are painted a pale blue – it’s so pretty. I used a pale green paint and hopefully we have achieved the same effect as ‘Garth’.
Lovely green gate

Geese and gate (only three geese because one is sitting on sixteen eggs)
Cork Oak Tree and Gate

29th March
Brett strimmered all the verges and around the vegetable garden – our quinta is looking lovely atm. I continued painting gates.
The wild flowers are starting to bloom.
Irises in the poultry run
The Guinea Fowl are growing.

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