February 2011


Oh dear, February's gone already! The only excuse I have for writing only now is the fact that I didn't quite know what to say. We've established a kind of daily routine now that's probably not all that different from yours.

So, I decided to show more pictures which is easier on a web page because I don't have to send big attachments by email that way. (To enlarge the images, hover with the mouse over them).

Below are a few photos of a trip we made to Castelo Branco, about 50 miles from here. Castelo Branco is the capital of our "distrito", a sort of county.

We had never been there and one day Januario, our neighbour asked us to take him there because he ahd an appointment at the hospital. We asked him why he didn't take the taxi as he normally does but he said the taxi driver had said he wouldn't be able to make it to the hospital in time. So, we set off at 7am. It was a nice drive through beautiful country and it is said that there is gold in some of the rivers. We arrived just in time for Januario's 9a.m. appointment and the first thing we see...the taxi from Pedrogao Pequeno. At first Januario wouldn't give us any explanation but later it turns out that the taxi driver is some sort of remote cousin of his with whom he had fallen out and he just didn't fancy the idea of spending twice an hour and a half with him in the same vehicle...


Here's a picture of my marmelade production.

It took me a while – seeing that I'm not of English origin – to master the art of making marmelade. After a few inacceptable versions the gods had mercy on me and "tarmelade" was invented. Through long simmering on the wood stove and the addition of cinnamon the stuff turned into a dark broth that reminded me of tar. But it's delicious and it met with the approval of the connaisseur in this house.

To continue along agricultural lines, we've already done some planting in our little garden. To begin with, of course, the absolutely essential cabbages. Our neighbour Adelia is very consciencious in making sure we've got enough of the big green leaves. When the little plants are planted, they lie on flat on the ground for up to three weeks depending on the weather. (To see before and after, hover with the mouse over the picture)

For the Portuguese, these cabbages are really indispensable, they're food stuff for man and beast alike, hardly need any care and they don't need to be watered in the summer. You just pick as many leaves as you need and the thing keeps on growing. They get to a height of about 1,50m.

Apart from that, we're doing computer work most of the time. I've now familiarised myself with new web design software. For me with my late starter and teach yourself approach it's quite a learning curve. Professional web designers work in teams now because it is virtually impossible for one person to master all the different areas that are involved. I just learn what I need to fulfil the demands of my customers. It's all on a small scale anyway. I've now finished the German version of the goldpanning site, did another hogroast machine one and a little site for a friend of ours who's got a pet B&B. That one's quite nice, this is the link: Pocinhos

In January, I made a tarp for a young English guy who bougth a piece of land here. At the moment, he's just got an old converted horse box on there that needed covering. Toby is a trapeez artist and travels around the world most of the time. He spent part of his childhood in Portugal until his parents decided to go back to the UK when he was 16. Now he's got his own land here and in the long run he'd like to live again as he remembers from his childhood.

And then there was Januario's birthday on February 22nd. Mark had spent quite a bit of time preparing the event and at the old fellow's request arranged a meal at the restaurant of the local fire station. The place is a bit like a refectory but it's got a very good reputation among the Portuguese. We were 16 people sitting in an icy dining hall with a TV blaring away. But it was a great success and all the Portuguese guests were delighted. (image enlargement on mouseover)

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So much so, that Januario wouldn't let a nex opportunity slip. On my birthday, two days later, we had a few friends around and spent the afternoon barbequeing, the weather being gorgeous. Januario dropped by a couple of times but since we don't understand most of what he says, we didn't think anything of it. At 7pm he turned up at our door, all dressed saying we should go now. We didn't know what he was talking about and besides, we were still digesting our belated lunch. Carefully, we tried to excuse ourselves, unprepared though, for his angry outburst. He shouted, he had arranged it all with the kitchen lady at the fire station that we would all come back and we would never listen to him properly and didn't understand anything, etc, etc. Shaking his stick he disappeared into the darkness. After a while we got a bit worried and went after him. We found him at a neighbour's house who had been at his birthday party as well. He got them to leave the meal the wife had just prepared and in the end we all went to the fire station in the neighbour's car (who, by the way had had a fare share of wine already and couldn't quite keep in the lane. But he drove carefully.). Mark managed some chips and I just watched Januario and the Portguese couple dig into a huge pile of meat and rice and chips and cabbage. For the sake of peace in the village...