Thursday, 17 September 2015


6th September
Ha, we were watering the vegetable garden this evening when huge, cold, blobs of rain started falling out of the sky (it wasn't forecast). The kitten ran into the goat shed (with the goats), not even coming out to be fed! Thank goodness Brett got the pig shed roof finished. Unfortunately my drying peaches were out!

This evening I sorted through my seeds to see what I can sow now; there's actually quite a lot - peas, beans, lettuce, escarole, radish, carrots, parsnip, onions, broad beans, beetroot, turnip tops, cabbage, brocolli, coriander, parsley, basil - to name but a few! So I'm going to be busy for a while.
And we also have to pick our grapes and make wine this week.

7th September
Haha, it was raining in the night, Brett crept out to see if the pigs had found their new house - they were both squeezed into their old house!
Well I am totally shattered; I spent the morning weeding as it was far too hot to work in the polytunnel sowing seeds. Brett rotorvated (tractor) several large areas ready for planting.
This afternoon I was determined to sow seeds - I was baked (and I did most of the work outside the polytunnel).
Fingers crossed, Lili appears to have stopped dripping;
she finished her antibiotics today; though we still need the results of her urine test (her urine that was sent to Porto) - the dogs will be disappointed, no more Dairylea (well Portuguese equivalent) cheese triangles twice a day!
I never get bored of taking pictures of my daily harvest! ...

8th September
It's hot again today 35 degrees in the shade and quite humid.
This afternoon we cleaned all the wine making equipment, then picked and crushed 100 litres of grapes - by then we were bored with picking (it's prickly work) so decided to continue in the morning. Last year we made 70 litres of wine; we unearthed 40 of said litres, in the shed, with dried up airlocks!!! We tend to drink beer rather than wine, which is ridiculous as the wine is free, beer is more refreshing. This year we're going to freeze bottles of grape juice, we'll definitely drink that.
The grapes are good this year; these bunches weighed about a kilo each!

9th September
The bee eaters have migrated and there's a definite feel of autumn in the air; although, as the day progresses, we still get some heat.
I can't believe I ache so much from the gardening I did a couple of days ago! Where's the woman who used to weight train before breakfast and teach 13 fitness sessions a week? ... she got old 😞!
We picked and processed a few more barrels of grapes; we decanted 20L of juice into 5L containers. Two containers went straight into the freezer, one went in the fridge, while the 4th had 1.25L of juice taken out and replaced with Aguadente (a Portuguese spirit) to make Jeropiga (a popular Portuguese drink) - it will be ready for sampling at Christmas.

10th September
We had an early start today as Brett went on a forty mile bike ride and I went to Spain with Pam and Lou.
We had a fabulous time! I bought two more lengths of fabric, some fantastic shaped peppers - it must be pepper harvesting time I was spoilt for choice with the varieties; I bought three types that I will save the seeds from.

Then we stopped for coffee and tapas (cheese and ham pasties, fried potatoes, chicken drumsticks) tiny little portions of each for the three of us the bill came to 5€! And then we found this lovely shop (delicatessens) which sold beautiful tins of paprika and drinking chocolate - so I had to buy those!
Brett arrived back in the village about 5 minutes before us.
This afternoon I made a dress from one of my new fabrics; the design for this one is more conservative than my last three (as Brett doesn't like them much) however the fabric is quite interesting - it's obviously cheap as the printing is faint in patches (where the ink hasn't taken) so it looks distressed.

11th September
Happy Birthday Gill XXXX
We picked some of our winter squash; they are really exotic shapes and colours and not in the least like what I expected (I keep a diary of what I sow and plant) -  lots of cross pollination going on I think!
Pam & Mark came round this morning to help us clean out the big stainless steel wine making cylinder, we own jointly, so that we can sell it - we haven't used it in two years and new ones cost 269€ so it's well worth selling (we've asked for 175€). It still had 'wine' in it, which actually had turned to very nice vinegar - we bottled some and chucked the rest.
A couple of days ago Brett suggested we invite Chris & Di, Andrew, Baptiste and Richie to dinner; so we invited them this morning for tonight! I spent the rest of the day cooking while Brett cleared up the decking - it looks inviting now.
Everyone accepted their invite; I cooked a huge saucepan of vegetable sauce and a kilo of large pasta tubes, made two large loaves into garlic bread and a big bowl of salad, and grated some cheese and Andrew made some chocolate brownies; we thought we would be eating left overs for the next few days - everything went apart from a small bowl of salad and a bowl of plain pasta!

12th September
We went round to C&D's for coffee (that was our excuse) and to see their house as the windows went in yesterday - it's absolutely fabulous.
Then we went to look for Chicken of the woods (C&D found some this week). We found some at the top of Andrew's track (and yes, I messaged him so he could have some too), it was a perfect specimen; we only took enough for a couple of meals (though I have read since that it can be frozen).
Haha, I managed to sneak some beans into the photo ....
While we were out and about we also picked up some wood up that was left behind when the eucalyptus trees were felled.
Our big rotorvator has become redundant, as we now have the tractor; Brett cleaned it up this morning and I put it on Facebook - it sold within 6 minutes, in fact two people wanted it (within 6 minutes) AND the wine cylinder has sold - so now we're looking round for more stuff to sell, Brett has suggested I try selling some of my glass panels (I think the green lady might sell well).
Lou has invited us for Sunday Lunch at Pam's tomorrow (she's providing the meal, P&M are providing the venue); I offered to make pudding - I picked up and cooked a bucketful of fallen unripe peaches (they taste delicious), I'm going to make peach crumble and custard.

13th September
It was cooler today; Brett said we have lots of rain forecast this week πŸ˜€, it'll be really good for the garden.
Baby watermelon, tomatillos, courgettes and BEANS!!!
Sunday lunch was very good (roast lamb and pork, carrots, beans and roast potatoes) with Lou, P&M and J&J; Dylan, C-z and Libby (their baby) turned up after we had eaten .....then it rainedπŸ˜€!!! It would have been so easy to stay for longer but we had already left the animals for five hours.
Alfie, C&D's dog, has taken to coming here (he's in love with Looby!); only problem is he pees all over the place and chases our Muscovy drake - so we have to shut our dogs inside and him outside .... he came here twice today.

14th September
The dogs and I were outside 7.30ish, letting out chickens etc, and Alfie turned up - he must hear us open the front door. It's getting chilly first thing I was wearing leggings, for the first time in several months, and a jumper.
Oooh lucky me, I am now the proud (said with sarcasm) owner of a brand new Hoover!!! Brett says he can't use it because of his asthma! I have to say it does work a lot better than the one he smashed up a couple of weeks ago (the one that used to billow out clouds of dust) this one has bags which seems to contain the dust better .....
More excitingly we bought a kitchen sink, nothing fancy just stainless steel; it's getting too cold to wash up outside on the decking, Brett will install it tomorrow then I can tile the wall behind it.

15th September
Proper rain today (and more forecast for tomorrow); it's the tail end of Tropical Storm Henri. We lit the range, it was really snug in our kitchen πŸ˜€.
We left the goats in (they don't like wet or windy) with lots of greenery and hay.
I spent several hours shelling almonds; Claire (P&M's neighbour) gave them to us a couple of years ago, so they were jolly hard! The nut cracker didn't make any impression on them, I had to use a hammer; I managed to keep a good 90% whole - I got better as I progressed, a sharp, but light, tap on the fat end was the key.
The rain was much appreciated by the garden but the solar suffered; the 'summer/drinks' fridge is already off, the freezer was turned off overnight and we rationed lighting (and other electrical appliances) - it was like being in a warm (rather too warm at times) cave!

16th September
It was very windy and wet overnight and heavy rain this morning
Brett and Matt had organised a bike ride, they sensibly cancelled that!
The big downside of the rain is nothing much gets done; it's too wet to work outside and too dark inside (and, of course, electrical tools can't be used unless we use the generator). Which is great for one day, it's nice to have an enforced rest, but by day two it gets a bit frustrating, especially as we have Vince & Lola coming to dinner on Friday and Helen arrives on Saturday, so we have lots to do.

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