Tuesday, 26 July 2016


2nd July
After a lovely relaxing day at Idanha a Nova baragem we came home, ate Halloumi and mixed salads (it's good this cheese making lark), followed by home grown strawberries and goat's milk ice cream; then watched 'Eye in the Sky' a good film but quite scary realising today's technology!

3rd July
Hottest day so far 40+ in the shade ......
I spent the day over a hot stove making a goat milk style cheddar cheese. I thought it would be quick but I had to make two batches (2 gallons of milk) as all the recipes said it wasn't worth making less as there would be more rind than cheese.
Brett prepared the floor in the studio/workshop ready for tiling.
This afternoon I was so hot I went in the pool to cool down - we have a plague of biting beetles in it! I skimmed it, then spent the rest of the afternoon removing beetles from my underwear!

4th July
I got up early and took the cheese out of the press, rubbed it with salt, left it to dry; it needs to mature for 4 - 12 weeks, in a cool place, I'll have to use the fridge - it certainly looks the part, can't wait to try it.
We went into CB to buy tiles; if I had an unlimited budget these wouldn't have been my first choice, but they were cheap (only 4.99 sq. m. so the floor in my studio came to less than 100€), they're a kind of beige quarry tile ......

5th July
E muito calor .......
There is the most magnificent hydrangea display, I have ever seen, in our village; unfortunately it was not at its peak when I managed to photograph it (but it still looks pretty amazing).
While I had my camera (actually my tablet) to hand I thought I'd take some vegetable shots too; I couldn't actually see the screen (the sun was too bright), so it was a matter of 'point and shoot'. The tablet kept switching itself off, with a message saying "the device has detected unusually high temperatures and will switch off for your and the device's safety" (or words to that effect).



Winter Squash (Etampes)



Sweet Potatoes

Brett hit a big snag re tiling the studio today - the adhesive can only be used in temperatures between 5 - 30C!!!! So he's monitoring the heat (on the decking it's nearly 40 which doesn't bode well).
He left it until gone 6.00 but it was still 39C on the deck and 32C in the studio, fingers crossed!
We were forecast rain; lots of rumbles all around us, but pathetic precipitation.

6th July
We had a spectacular storm in the night; it started at 4.00 a.m. and continued for several hours, at one point it was right overhead (flash, crash, flash, crash, .......) and torrential rain. Much cooler today (about 34C). Brett laid all the whole tiles - it's looking good (and I love my windows!).

Turns out we were lucky with our storm; just 10-20 kilometers away they had 20 minutes of 1cm hailstones (which settles 1" deep on top of plants), potentially ruining all the vegetables in their gardens .........
This evening we were back down the bar (Wales v Portugal), it was heaving with Portuguese supporters.
Diane, Baptiste and Richie (Chicken of the Woods) entertained us after the match (yes, they'd brought guitars with them). Two rounds of free drinks tonight!

7th July
Happy Birthday Lesley xxx
Thomas & Diane brought us a couple of female muscovy ducks for Mr Muscovy; fingers crossed we can manage to keep these ones.
I'm resting my kefir grains; after weeks of multiplying like mad they've suddenly gone dormant. It could be that they are feeding quicker, due to the heat, and they have got out of balance. So they have been well rinsed and are now in the fridge in a sugar solution with added sea salt; the cooler temperature will force them to rest (according to the article I read on the internet).
All the tiles are down, grouting tomorrow evening (to avoid heat), wait 24 hours, then I'm in .......
Tomorrow I'm off to CB with Pam (the sales are on!).

8th July
Happy Birthday Lauren xxx
Pam and I had a good day at the sales; I bought a few half price items (for me!). Poor old Leon, who came in with us, didn't have such a good day; he came off his bike (a raised slab on the cycle path), he's covered in scrapes and grazes and his bike is in a sorry state too.
Mr Muscovy refused to leave his shed today as he two new lady friends were still locked in - he's a very happy duck.
Too hot to grout today!

9th July
Happy Birthday Rebecca. Xxxxx
Another 'today will be the hottest day of the year so far', 40+ in the shade. It's so difficult to work in these temperatures; I was supposed to be making cheese but I've postponed until tomorrow (I'm going to make another cheddar).
Thank goodness for the new pool I've been in several times today.
Still too hot to grout.

10th July
We went into CB to buy me storage, shelves and table tops for the studio (happy face!).
This evening we went to the bar to watch the football final (Portugal v France), Portugal won!!!!
Paul & Martine joined us (they had been teaching a drumming workshop at P&M's), they ended up doing a session at the bar. We were given lots of free drinks and didn't get home until 2.00 a.m.

11th July
Feeling rough!
Brett grouted the studio floor (very happy dancing).
Diane and I spent the afternoon relaxing by the side of Lola's pool drinking white sangria's (so decadent).
When I got home a Brett had put together my shelves and made me a table.

12th July
Today I moved into my studio; I carted all my craft stuff from the mezzanine above the kitchen (up and down the stairs so many times) across to the studio and now I'm shattered! And most of the new shelves are full, and I haven't even started on my glass making equipment, so I've got to get more .....

13th July
Diane & Thomas picked up the goat kids today (Bill and Mini-me), so Georgia and Hazel won't need to be put in the shed tonight. Georgia is quite obviously pregnant, Hazel probably is too, so we're going to reduce the milking* and let them dry up, to help support their pregnancy - which is a bit of a shame as I'm enjoying having our own cheese.
I spent some time in my studio ......
* There are various methods for drying up goats: (1) Just stop milking; but there could be the chance of mastitis, say the people that don't use this method. (2) Reduce the frequency of milking from twice daily, to once daily, to every other day etc. (3) Gradually reduce the amount taken each milking (this is the method we will employ).

14th July
Today we took only 500ml from Georgia and 250ml from Hazel - seems like a waste when they had so much more to give!
We went into CB and bought tiles for the workshop.
Played in the studio .....

15th July
So we took 500ml from a very full Georgia, went to take 250ml from Hazel, she gushed so fast we got 500ml from her too! Brett has decided we need to just stop milking (cold turkey) as, by milking them, we're just stimulating them to produce more milk - I get it but .... I hate to think how uncomfortable they will be!
I moved and unpacked eleven boxes from the shed three of the boxes had been nested in (mice) and were full of droppings, stinky piss and chewed up bits of paper (my books, prints, drawings etc). I was very pragmatic and just threw lots of stuff away (it still rankles though!!!!) and I have the smell of mouse piss up my nose!
Unfortunately some of my belongings have deteriorated in storage including my Badger brushes - all the bristles are falling out (slightly upset as they are expensive).

16th July
Shifted another 5 boxes and apart from glass and books I think that's it; I've got an awful lot of tidying and organising to do.
Last time I dyed my hair was a week or so before I diagnosed myself with cranial shingles; it was suggested at the time that I could have had an allergic reaction to hair dye, so I've been frightened to colour my hair since - it looks BAD! So today, with trepidation, I applied a natural vegetable hair dye (I was worried to read that it still contains Hydrogen Peroxide) so I'm now waiting to see if I have any reaction. I got Brett to cut 4-5" off the length too; he refuses to give me a 'pixie' cut, shaved sides or any of the other shorter styles I've suggested (because it's so hot)!
I took photos, which got immediately deleted as my face was too crooked ("Ooooh Sandra it doesn't show/ you can't tell", liars!!!!!!), even my sunglasses were lopsided.

17th July
It's so hot ...... 07.00 I was in the pool!
Andrew called round this morning to admire our pumpkin patch!
Brett did a mass if strimming, how can he work in this heat?
I made fudge, to take with us tonight; we're dining at Thomas & Diane's. And 'bread and butter pickle'; as we have so many cucumbers coming (I picked five this morning). All this was interspersed with jumping into the lukewarm (!) pool (with the annoying biting beetles - our neighbour's been baling his hay).
Our dinner date wasn't until 9.00.
3.00 a.m. the solar was reading 50% ........

18th July
OMG we didn't get to bed until gone 3.00 a.m. We had a lovely evening at Thomas & Diane's; A&K were there and a new couple, Andrea & Mark.
Hot, Hot, Hot ......
Despite all the sunshine our batteries are not charging well, I asked advice on a couple of off-grid sites and it appears that heat affects both panels and batteries, so I have been trying to cool the panels down with buckets of water! I had lots of advice that wasn't practical like "keep your batteries between 7-9C", how? Oh easy, insert 'earth pipes' or site them in a cellar ("Brett, can you dig me a cellar please"!).
I made my last cheese for a while, Chevre - the curds will be setting overnight. Hazel and Georgia look fit to burst, but they seem happy enough (staying with the flock, eating etc), I hate it I want to milk them, to make the comfortable!
I picked ELEVEN cucumbers this evening.
The batteries were 80% tonight ......

19th July
The curds weren't set this morning, they can take up to 24 hours.
Too hot to work so we went to Meimao baragem for the day,
we met Pete & Dawn there, chatted for ages, they have lemons, they leave to go back to UK on Thursday, they're bringing me lemons on Wednesday (happy days!).
We drove around the baragem to the less used side, it was rocky, in and out of the water, the getting in/out was not nice.
This evening the curds were set so I put them to drain in the oven overnight. I used some of the whey to make a fermented cucumber relish.
Bread and butter pickle (left), fermented cucumber (right)

20th July
The curds were a lovely consistency; I made two, garlic flavour, logs of fresh cheese and a small wheel that I will leave in the fridge to mature.
Yay, Pete & Dawn brought us a big bag of lemons.
I made buttermilk and yoghurt today.
We went to the village to fetch water, dump rubbish etc and met Baptiste with another new arrival (been here two weeks) - a lady called Rose.
I picked TEN cucumbers this evening ......
One of the Muscovy's started sitting on 19 eggs (they've been laying in the same nest - Me Muscovy's bed!).

21st July
Happy Birthday Saskia XXX
21 eggs in the nest this morning, so I made another nest and put 6 eggs in it (to encourage the non sitting duck to lay there).
Went into CB to buy wood for .... more tables for me and a workbench for Brett.
We had our first ever turkey egg; it was just laid on the ground out in the open, no hint of a nest! It's very pretty, all speckled.
Brett has started feeding my cucumbers to the pigs ......
Ok both ducks are sitting now (one took on 'my' nest), so I split the eggs between both nests, 11 each.

22nd July
These sitting ducks aren't like UK ducks, they get off their nest for food and drink (maybe because it's warmer here the eggs don't need so much heating?).
It's supposed to be cooler today, less than 35C.
I made lemon curd, Brett made hay racks for the sheep/goats.
C&D came round to see if Brett wanted some work (Baptiste's roof) - I'm a bit worried as it's a very high house (Chris reckons they need a 7m scaffold tower!).

23rd July
Ok I'm baffled now, both ducks are sitting but one is obviously still laying as there are 11 eggs in one nest and 12 in the other (I've marked the eggs now, so I can remove any freshly laid ones). Mr Muscovy, bless him, is standing (sitting actually) guard!
Brett started tiling the workshop; once that's done I'll have more room in the studio, atm it's full of tools.
I checked the duck's nests for extra eggs and what did I find nestled down in the middle of the duck eggs? A turkey's egg!!!
Another late night; Chicken in the Woods (Di, Baptiste,  Richie, Martine and Paul) was playing at Bar do Clube, in the village. There was a fantastic turn out from expats and villagers which meant there was a brilliant atmosphere, everyone had a good time. We got home about 2.30, we're becoming 'dirty stop outs'!

24th July
Happy Birthday Claire xxx
Feeling a little tired today!
I processed all the picked aubergines (there's masses more coming); 'Griddled Aubergines in Olive Oil' and 'Brinjal Pickle'.
Brinjal Pickle (left), Griddled Aubergines (right)
Brett had to break up a fight between a turkey and a muscovy (the muscovy was winning!), maybe the turkey was wanting to lay an egg in the Muscovy's nest?

25th July
Lobby has started being very verbal (she copies Lily); they had me up at 6.45 this morning .......
It's going to be hot today!
Oh dear, I had to break up a fight between a turkey and a muscovy!
Brett finished tiling the workshop; tomorrow he will grout.
Picked loads of tomatoes this evening - I will dry some tomorrow (unfortunately not in my super expensive (well the postage was!) dehydrator as the solar is not up to it).

26th July
Omg J&J had a fire on their quinta this morning, the bombeiros (fire engine plus helicopter) put it out; they said it was started by an electrical fault in their water pump.
I made ice cream, prepared tomatoes for drying and generally tidied up. Brett grouted.
41.6C (in the shade) at 2.00 p.m. - it was even hotter out in the open, we were both very moist!
42.4C this afternoon ...........
Still 40+C after 6.00, getting in the pool is like getting into a warm bath .......
Debbie & David have found some of my 'lost' glass pieces in the workshop in Wales but I'm still baffled as the where my glass blocks are and a couple if panels.

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