Monday, 13 July 2015


19th June
When I posted the blog today I looked at the blog’s statistics and it’s had another weird blip, on the 13th June, 198 views! What’s that all about? As I said last time I don’t think I have anywhere near that many friends and family following the blog (more like 15!), very perplexing ...
The council have strimmered the track to the village (it looks like a motorway now!); consequently, at 5.30 this evening, we had an appointment with Chris to move ‘Richie’s’ stone (the one that everyone hits, if they’re going to hit anything), so that Will & Gill’s camper will be able to get onto the quinta when they come to visit in October (happy, happy, happy).
Armed with two heavy duty crowbars ‘Richie’s’ stone, along with some other obstructive rocks, was relocated about 9-12” back into the hedge row, opening the track up immensely.
We continued into the village to dump the rubbish and on the way back stopped to chat to Mr Louis; he took us for a tour of his (lush, beautifully growing) garden, giving Brett two marrows enroute, then we invited him to the bar for a quick beer ..... C&D were there – we didn’t get home until 9.00!!!!

20th June
Happy Birthday Mel!!!! XXX
Oh dear the temperature is climbing; it was 36° yesterday and today it reached 37° (in the shade). I can’t cope; I’m seriously thinking of cutting my hair short.
Brett carried on mowing the grass and moving stones under the blazing sun.
I stayed in the house (which is 6° cooler than outside) and made some lemon curd (I make it about once a week).
Mark (and Glenn) texted to say that he’d just met a couple on the campsite in CB from Brynaman!!!! I had this ‘friend’ request from Jay a couple of weeks ago and had ignored it as I thought it was a mistake – apparently they’re buying just up the road from Mark (small world).
I picked our first figs today (thanks to a message from Andrew telling me to go and look at my trees); they are sweet and juicy.

21st June
Happy Summer Solstice!
It’s the longest day of the year and now the nights start drawing in! But the heat is still with us ... 38° today (in the shade).
I was still feeling crap; so I had an easy day while Brett continues cutting the grass in the field.

22nd June
We went to Fundao to buy onion plugs; they were 3€ a bundle (of about 150) but as she only had three bundles left she offered me all three for 6€ - I can never resist a bargain! This evening we had to plant them; we’re experimenting with the Portuguese method and planting in channels, then flooding with water.
While we were in Fundao we met up with Nicky & Rich for a coffee – they’re going back to the UK on the 4th July, but they’re keeping their options open by not selling here – we’ll miss them.
Brett cut my hair this afternoon; I wanted him to do it with his clippers (with the longest comb on), he just gave me a short bob, which needs some shape to it as it is rather severe (he can only do straight!). Disappointingly it’s not that much cooler!

23rd June
We did more gardening this morning; we’re into this channel lark! Then Brett strimmered whilst I used the tractor and scarifier to create a fire break in the big field.
This afternoon was weeding (me) and strimming (Brett), then back to our channels and planting our next crop of beans.
Then this evening we went boar watching for a couple of hours (on our land as there’s been lots of digging recently) – we saw nada!

24th June
Salad and herb seed sowing in the ‘Portuguese garden’ (me), while Brett scarified around the olive trees (just like the Portuguese do!).
This afternoon I cooked for Pam’s birthday picnic, tomorrow, at the barragem (Idanha a Nova) – devilled eggs and chocolate fridge cake.
So today Brett cut himself (with help from me) a Mohican haircut! I wonder what I’d look like with one?

25th June
I was a bit worried about the picnic today as I remembered the site as having no shade; but we found a lovely place under the trees, so we were quite comfortable.
Everyone brought food so we had a buffet lunch with a variety of dishes, which was nice. The water was fabulous – I went in fully clothed as I forgot to find a swimming costume!
We left before anyone else; as we had left the poor old dogs for six hours and felt guilty. They were fine but very pleased, as always, to see us.
Soddin' bastard voles ate through the roots/stem of one of my organic yellow courgette plants, bit the whole plant away from the roots!!!! And it was really big and healthy last night and giving us lots of courgettes.
There were two kittens in the vegetable garden today (obviously came from Pimenta’s), very friendly and sweet .....

26th June
We went into CB this morning to buy three things – cycling/running shoes for Brett (he’s found someone to go on bike rides with), a connector for the scarifier (our one is too short and the scarifier tips up at the back so all the prongs don’t go in the ground) and, most importantly a COOKER!
We were successful on all three counts and our cooker arrives on Tuesday; it’s a very basic calor gas cooker, white, four rings and an OVEN (no grill, but I can live without a grill). Four rings will be a real luxury as I’ve been coping with just two, and an oven .....
We called in on Mark and Glenn on the way home; Mark goes back in a week’s time, so they’re coming round on Monday for dinner.
As we drove up the track to our quinta there was a lamb (obviously left behind when the shepherd had been grazing sheep); it followed the car, but we couldn’t catch it – I messaged Andrew to tell ‘his’ shepherd.
The kittens were still up in the vegetable garden; Lili is besotted, she has to go on a lead or we don’t get her home!

27th June
When I went to do the sheep and goats this morning the dogs noticed the lamb (now on our quinta!); they chased it and it managed to wiggle its way through the fence into the sheep field – where the rams all ganged up on it and used it as a punch bag, but it didn’t seem to mind, it kept coming back for more. We’ll still try to find its owner as it looks like it should still be on milk.
I’ve negotiated with Brett; as long as the kittens stay over by the polytunnel I’m allowed to feed them – they are asking for food constantly, so are obviously starving, and I hate to see them suffer.
Today was bloody hot (39° on the decking, though neighbours reckon it was 44°); however, by keeping windows and door closed, we managed to keep the house 10 degrees cooler than the decking. Brett spent the day outside strimmering and mowing, while I just about managed to survive inside!
This afternoon we went in the pool, along with several wasps who have found the water (fortunately they weren’t aggressive).

28th June N/I
So hot ..... (our max/min thermometer, on the decking in the shade, has registered a temperature of 41° in the last couple of days!!!!).
There was a shepherd with his flock just outside our quinta today and ‘yes’ it was his lamb, so she’s back with her mum (happy ending).
We have guests for the next three days (Mark & Glenn and Chris & Di, Monday night, Nicky & Rich, Tues night and Vince & Lola, Wednesday lunchtime) so we tidied up the decking and put out the soft furnishing, it looks very inviting now.
This afternoon it was back to the pool with the wasps! They aren’t acting aggressive and both Brett and I were saving ones that looked like they were drowning.
We didn’t see the kittens at all today, I hope they are alright; they have been around our vegetable garden nonstop for the last few days and today no sign of them at all. Last year Chris & Di had kittens that they think were eaten by the fox L.

29th June N/I
The kitchen was already 29° when we got up this morning! We slept, last night, with wet towels over us and two fans going.
The outside thermometer has been reading 39° every day this week, even though it has been feeling progressively hotter, so this afternoon we put the digital thermometer outside (in the shade) 43°!!!!!!
Mrs Muscovy didn’t get put away tonight; she’s been  a bit tardy coming back in the evenings – she goes into the scrub and brambles the other side of the stream, I think she has a nest (hopefully she’ll sit quietly and not give herself away).
Chris & Di and Mark & Glenn came round for pizza this evening; we stayed outside on the decking until almost midnight. Mark slept in his van; poor old Glenn had an uncomfortable night on the sofa in the kitchen – he gave up on the sleep platform as it was way too hot.

30th June
Our cooker was supposed to be delivered this afternoon; we had a phone call first thing to say it was on its way and we had it by 10.00 – very efficient.
It’s weird each burner has what looks like a spark igniter next to it, but we can’t make them spark ... the instructions for lighting the burners starts with ‘bring a burner flame’ (what’s that mean?), does that mean it hasn’t got automatic ignition and, if not, what are the bits sticking up?
Still no sign of the kittens; we’re getting a bad feeling now.
Nicky & Rich came to dinner and to say ‘goodbye’ – they’re off to live in the UK for a while (they’re not selling up here though so we’re hoping they’ll be back).

1st July
Today was a little cooler, it felt lovely!
No kittens L.
Vince & Lola came for lunch and Vince cleared up the query about the cooker, they’re thermocouples; built in safety valves that switch off the gas, if the flame goes out.

2nd July
THE KITTENS ARE BACK!!!! JJJ Brett was worried that I thought that he might have done something sinister with them; I didn’t – I thought Pimenta might have done something sinister to them! But they are fine and just as demanding as usual.
We decided to go to the market in Spain, about 40 minutes away; however by the time we had done the animals, watered the garden, petted the kittens and driven there it was 11.50 – the market shuts at 12.00, everyone was packing up! But it wasn’t a completely wasted journey as we went to the supermarket and bought lots of interesting food that we can’t get in Portugal – even though it’s the same supermarket chain as we have in Penamacor. AND the lager we pay 96 cents a litre for is only 72 cents in Spain (54p for a litre of lager!).

3rd July
Brett left home for a bike ride with Matt (he has a cherry farm in Alpedrinha).
Yesterday I read an article that suggested honey and cinnamon would help with arthritis; so I thought I’d give it a go – mix it in with my morning Greek yoghurt (what could possibly go wrong?). This morning I took the honey and ‘cinnamon’ out of the cupboard only to realise yesterday I had eaten ground coriander and honey!!!! They’re labelled in Portuguese; cinnamon is canela moida, coriander is cilantro molido; and ‘no’ I couldn’t taste the difference as I still have no sense of smell (it did feel a bit gritty though!).
Then Looby threw up her breakfast all over the rug .......
On a happier note; the kittens came to greet us (me and the dogs) when we went to feed the sheep and let out the goats. The dogs (mainly Lili) were a real pain as the kittens don’t like being run at by excited panting monsters; but they stand their ground, fluff out their tails and give them a good swipe, or run up a tree!
I decided I really had to spend some time altering Lola’s dress (she bartered an 11€ jar of artichoke hearts for the work), though I wish I’d never agreed to do it; it’s lined (sewn into the bodice and free under the skirt) and the material is really slippery and stretchy (not the type of fabric I’m used to working with at all). I’ve been putting it off for ages and I’m not pleased with the results now I need someone to try it on so I can see what it looks like before I go any further.
We had three days of socialising at the beginning of the week (Mon, Tues & Weds), we have Marc & Mieke coming tomorrow (Sat) and then this afternoon we had a text from Chris & Di inviting us round for curry tonight (Fri) – hey ho it’s a hard life!
We had a couple of hours by the pool; the kittens came and made themselves comfortable sleeping on top of us – they’re so friendly.
Then off to C&D for bacalhau curry and cuddles with their, highly excitable, puppy.

4th July
RIP Molly (4 years has gone very fast!)
The kittens are hilarious, apart from a bit of hissing and puffed up tail, they ignore the dogs who are jumping around them, trying to encourage them to play. They really are confident little souls.
Marc & Mieke came to dinner; they brought us a crate of lemons which we bartered for boxes of eggs (they’ve had ‘fox’ strikes recently). We had guinea fowl (very tasty) braised with caramelised figs. We sat outside on the decking until the mosquitoes drove us inside.

5th July
We didn’t see the kittens after lunch yesterday and not today either – just like last week ... I refuse to worry (I hope nothing has happened to them!).
The vegetable garden is not very productive this year .... although there are masses of flowers on the beans hardly any are setting (last year I was picking buckets full, giving the excess away and making chutney with them), initially I had a few cucumbers from the polytunnel but they’ve dried up now, the potatoes have soft rot and are rotting in storage, the carrots had very spasmodic germination but haven’t gone beyond seedling stage, the peas podded and dried before I got around to picking them, the beetroot bolted, the parsnip didn’t germinate, the lettuce didn’t take off (a couple of pathetic plants) and the onions hardly grew before they either went to seed or the tops died down, meantime the weeds grew (despite constant weeding) and all look lush and healthy – so very disheartening! But I do have masses of courgettes (from the plants that the voles haven’t yet destroyed) and the tomatoes are ripening rapidly.
Beanless beans!!!

Kale (Black & Red)
We designed the cupboards for either side of the cooker, the sink unit and the island – tomorrow we will go to Cesar (the woodman) to get the wood for the worktops and the doors, Tuesday we’ll go to CB to get the wood for the carcasses.

6th July
Still no sign of the kittens L.
Our trip to Cesar was disappointing – we only came away with wood for the four legs of the island!
And now the voles have started on my tomatillo plants .....
It reached 42° (in the shade) this afternoon; it makes it very hard to find any enthusiasm to do any work! We have been experimenting with fans, bowls of water and wet muslin to try to make a rudimentary air conditioning unit (but we can’t keep the material wet). If we keep all doors and windows shut we can keep the house 10° cooler than the decking (so it feels quite cool when you come in from outside).

7th July
Happy Birthday Lesley! XXX
Another hot day, with no sign of the kittens.
We had to rethink our design for the kitchen cupboards as the wood we were originally going to use was exorbitant; we think it might be a better design anyway.
Looby was chewing something this evening; I took it off of her – it was a duck’s foot, so now we know there’s no more Mrs Muscovy! Everyone is losing poultry atm – blaming foxes, mongoose, lynx (truly) and wolves (I’m not making this up!).

8th July
Happy Birthday Lauren! XXX
It was far too hot (for me) to work outside; so I cooked, and still got exceedingly hot!!!!
Lemon Curd, Iced Tea, Labneh (Yoghurt cheese balls in olive oil), Lemon Spoom (an old fashioned lemon ice cream) and Carrot Chutney (one of my favourites), and I squeezed a bucket of oranges for juice.
Brett can take the heat better than me so he spent the day on the decking making the kitchen cupboards; they are going to be fabulous.
Rebecca & Paul are coming tomorrow; I’m so excited ...
Our friends Dee & Josh have just given birth to a baby girl, Audrey – Congratulations and lots of love XXX.
Hoorah, THE KITTENS CAME BACK this evening – I think Pimenta must lock them in his shed then go home for a few days, they were very hungry!
Jasmine (female)
 Jasmine has the palest blue eyes (China blue).
Juniper (male)
 Juniper's eyes are pale green (gooseberry).

9th July N/I typical as I NEED to keep in touch with Rebecca while she’s travelling!
Happy Birthday Rebecca and Happy Holidays ... XXX
L the kittens weren’t around this morning ...
More cooking – this time using the oven, bloody hell it got hot in the kitchen!
Brett was on the decking most of the day making the cupboards – they’re looking fantastic, now I’ve got to decide what colour to paint them ... I’m so tempted to go back to green (I do like a green room).
... J but they were back this evening! Haha, Lili was being a pain around the kittens, when we were playing with them on the pool decking, then she fell in the pool!!!!
R & P’s plane was late arriving so they didn’t get to the village until 1.00 a.m. and then we didn’t get to bed until 2.30!

10th July
We took a picnic to Idanha Nova barragem; lovely and quiet (until R&P hired a jet ski!!!). We watched a couple of planes flying backwards and forwards picking up water to control a nearby wildfire.
Came home via Intermarche (Idanha Nova);huge selection of health food there (probably prompted by the Boom Festival crowds).

11th July
Took R&P to Monsanto in the morning and then on to Penha Garcia barragem for a picnic and swim. The water was lovely but .... the leeches were still there (tiny, tiny leeches but still leeches!).

12th July
HOT 40+
We stayed at home and lazed by the pool. We didn’t see the kittens at all today L.
Then this evening we went to Penamacor; we walked up to the tower and then we were treated to dinner at O Jardim – Brett, Paul and I had Polvo (Octopus) .and Rebecca had the biggest piece of Bacalhau; it was very good though a bit more expensive than our usual restaurant.

13th July
Lili found the kittens for us (I think she went next door!).
C&D have deserted the sinking ship ... they’ve gone to Peniche (the coast) for a week or so, they said they were too hot in their camper.
R&P left after lunch; we had a lovely time with them and I’m sure they’ll be back.

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