Sunday, 24 June 2018


3rd April
We're going to be pretty sociable for the next few days and for some reason I seem to be catering for each event! So today was a big catering binge:

This evening Erd is coming round (Nicky & Taliss are in Lisbon) for dinner and Scrabble - roast pork, brocolli, baked sweet potatoes and (Brett has requested) Yorkshire puddings.

Tomorrow we've been invited to Alex's birthday BBQ - I'm marinating belly pork and making old fashioned bread pudding with stale sourdough bread.

Thursday we're going round to Vince and Lola's, so that they (Brett and Vince) can look at my generator - I have pork ribs par-cooked and for marinating in the fridge, I'll make a salad tomorrow.

And on Friday we've invited our new neighbours (Noelia & Lief) to lunch - to ring the changes we'll have roast leg of lamb with wraps, salad and taziki.

It rained a lot today but I did manage to pot our new citrus trees up into big terracotta pots - I discovered that the trees were obviously bare rooted (much cheaper to buy) last week, the compost just fell away from the roots, what a rip off!!!l

6th April
Tuesday evening was fun - mainly because I beat Brett and Erd at Scrabble.

Wednesday's BBQ was not a wash out, although we did have to retreat undercover at one point.

There was so much food (mainly meat!). Our pork was very disappointing; it was very undercooked and therefore tough - it responds best to long slow cooking (so perhaps not the best thing to take to a barbecue!!!).

Thursday was a success; Brett and Vince stripped down my generator, diagnosed the fault (so now we have to source the spare parts). Meanwhile Lola and I prepared lunch and drank wine! Vince has loaned me his generator until I get mine mended.

Today Noelia, Lief and Lianze (nearly 4 years old) came for a lazy lunch; we ate outside in the sunshine.

And now we're socialised out!

Brett has managed to finish pruning the olive trees in the vegetable garden - it makes such a difference to the look of the place.

Looby is really getting on our nerves. She spends the whole day trying to escape the quinta and the evenings whining and pacing. We know it isn't her fault, but it's still bloody annoying - only another 2 weeks to go ...

7th April
Nicky and Tallis are back from Lisbon. They and Erd came around this morning, stayed for lunch, nearly stayed for dinner, but we're eating too late these days (after the animals are away) - so another day of socialising!

8th April
Hoorah, actually did some work in the polytunnel - potted on nearly 100 tomatoes and sowed a few trays of seeds. We'd like to sow some seeds directly (winter squash etc) but the ground's far too wet.

I made 2L of goat's milk into Cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce) - five hours simmering on the range. It's delicious on ice cream.

9th April
We went to the vet tonight and got told that we have to register our animals (goats and sheep). It's been on our 'to do' list for a while - it's now moved to the top of the list!!!

Bloody Looby; all evening long pacing and whining ...
11th April

I'm gradually potting on all my seedlings but now I've run out of trays. Yesterday I potted nearly 100 sweet peppers (5 or 6 different varieties).

Today I made cheese: Chevre, Halloumi and Ricotta.

We should have loads of milk tomorrow - we castrated Lucy's kids (ouch!!!).
12th April

We've had loads more rain, consequently gardening has ground to a halt.

And we're getting so much milk I've started making Cheddar (needs 10L so cheese making every third day) - I'm already bored with it (I hate having to steralise all the equipment)!

13th April
We've been really worried about Lily; she had a lump (which is getting bigger daily) behind her jaw (lymph gland?). So today, as we were going into CB to pick up Helen from the train station, we took her to the vet (whilst fearing the worst). We're so relieved; it turned out to be an infected salivary gland - she's on a course of antibiotics for the next eight days.

Saturday 14th April
We had a daytime craft meeting for a change. Lola's friend, Titi, came to teach us macrame. I made a necklace (first 'caging' a heart shaped stone I carved ages ago) and started a bracelet. It was a lovely day; Titi was a very patient and good teacher, we had lunch on the decking and relaxed in the sunshine.

Brett is doing lots of gardening atm; it's looking very tidy.

4.00 found us at Bar do Clube with the usual suspects (plus Helen and Richie).

15th April
Helen and I finished our bracelets and then did some printing with the Gelli plate. We're going to make cards for the carboot next Saturday.

16th-18th April
Lots of fun in the studio, mainly making cards.

We had a fermentalist meet up at Nicky's. Lola instructed us in the making of a fermented Baba Ganoush (it won't be ready for two weeks).

We took a selection of cards with us; (1) to show off! (2) to ask opinions on pricing (one of the hardest parts of selling artwork). The general consensus was no less than 2.50€ each!

19th April
A trip to Spain; the market was rubbish - no fabric to buy - we bought onions (large white salad onions and strawberries). However the day was not lost, we met up with Lola and Nicky, Erd, Tallis and Erd's mum for a tapas lunch (Erd treated us, as a thank you for the goat kids we're giving them).

Then everyone (bar Lola) came back to our quinta for the afternoon!

20th - 26th
Helen picked up a nasty chest infection/cough (on the plane we think) - which she kindly shared with us!

We didn't do the carboot; inclement weather (cold with heavy showers) again, which would have ruined our cards - I'll try again in May.

We were supposed to go to Fundao on Monday (to buy veg plugs and ducklings) but we all felt too ill so that was aborted.

I roped Helen into helping me design, and make, my hat for Lily's wedding.

We started by making flowers with wire, wood glue and nail polish! The wire was bent into a flower shape, dipped in glue (to fill in the petals) and, when dry, painted with nail polish - it looked easy on the video!!! Helen persevered with that method, I, wanting instant gratification, used tissue paper and glue to make my petals - after several days we had a good selection of flowers.

Lola had loaned me a couple of hats to adorn but they were too heavy for our flower creation so ... I fashioned a cloche hat shape out of wire, wrapped it with material, attached the flowers and some beads (it's not finished yet but it's looking very promising - definitely unique).

Then Helen went home ...

Feeling really crap!!! I woke up at 03.53 (and never went back to sleep). I'd showered by 06.00.

We had to process some chickens; the cockerels are fighting and doing some real damage to one another (we had to isolate two). These birds are really aggressive (they bite humans too), they're usually very docile. We had our largest bird yet - 11lbs.

On Tuesday (three days ago) I had a message from Duarte " I know you don't sell sourdough bread, but it's my family get together this weekend and I would really love to have five of your loaves for our picnic"!!! I had to immediately revive my starter, Wednesday evening I made the dough, let it prove overnight, then he came and picked up the uncooked dough (as I didn't have time to do anymore), he has to knock it back, shape it, leave it to double in size and cook it - I didn't charge him! He came bearing gift ... Shitakii mushrooms, tasters of three different Irish cheeses made by his friend (with cardoon as rennet), and some of his olives.

Andrew had his annual picnic at his quinta; which would have been fun had we been feeling better.

Took the chickens across to Vince & Lola's (to put in our freezer).

The bits for my generator have arrived.

Brett gardened, whilst I suffered and played with my hat!

Still suffering, but had to make cheese ...

30th April
Off to Fundao to buy vegetable plugs

P.m. planted:

150 x onions

42 x peppers

40 x sweet potatoes

50 x tomatoes

21 x aubergine

Bearing in mind I'm also growing all of these (bar onion) from seed in the polytunnel - these are to give our harvest a head start.

1st May
Beltane Blessings (as we say around here!) ...

It's that time of year when our fridge is FULL of milk products: bottles/jars of milk (obviously), kefir, buttermilk, clabbered milk, (we have yoghurt but bought from Lidl!), whey and then we have the cheese: Halloumi, Chevre (fresh and maturing) and blocks of Cheddar-type (at various stages of maturity).

The sow had her piglets - SEVEN (which is a record for her) however only ONE is still living - four weren't fully formed and she's already managed to squash two! She really is a rubbish mother, totally unaware of her offspring.

2nd - 4th
I finished my hat, made a brooch and have even started my dress.

Nicky & Erd were going to have our pair of Erzgebirge goats but decided (after several weeks of pen building and choosing names) that they weren't ready for them (slightly put out); so today they went up for sale on the Penamacor page.

Brett has stared building our outside kitchen.

4th June!!!!!
Well my blog hasn't been updated for a couple of months (had a few complaints!) so I'll post this and try to do better from now on!

24th June
I've been trying to upload photos since the 4th June but for some reason I can't. I've googled the problem but either the solution doesn't work or I can't understand the jargon. So I'm posting my blog without photos.

Any advice (in easy to understand language) gratefully received!