Many thanks to our great friend (and high-minded painter) Andy Baird, who both conceived and jump started this attempt to contemporaneously record at least some of the eventings of one move abroad. Regarding content, the narrower column on the left is the supposedly more timeless and reference stuff; ongoing entries are in the larger-width column on the right of the script below - following the (red)


by-line below. The plan is for these at least to be augmented over time.

It should also follow, therefore, that the most recently added post will always be at the top of this right-hand column; so if you want to get a flavour from earlier times, scroll and start NEARER TO or EVEN AT THE BOTTOM (only, please, please if you chose this option, allow yourself a series of snack-breaks; it can be repetitive, and boredom is guaranteed to increase with intensity of effort!)- but ANY comments are not only also welcomed ->but positively encouraged

Remember this folks ......

Remember this folks ......

Friday, February 03, 2006

2005 -2006 Update

RIGHT THEN, & a bit of catch-up. (2005)
Sunny CSJ continues to live up to its name: so much so that the locals are (genuinely) getting a bit worried. Not that it's real bronzy-bronzy stuff -the normal Portuguese winter North wind blows as per usual & every time it does brass monkeys run for cover- but with the exception of Christmas Day and last Sunday (6th Feb) we haven't had rain since November. That means neither spuds nor milho (pronounced meilohn, Portuguese for corn) have been planted yet, and reservoirs are a lot lower than needed, bearing in mind that summer will no doubt be its usual blistering self, this all isn`t really good. Even those same locals are beginning to question the meaning, the existence of “usual”. Nobody’s saying anything yet, but we're getting an unnerving sixth sense that a “Bankheads` arrive, weather goes walkabouts” culture might not be too far below the surface. Did we mention they practice witchcraft here……..?

Somewhat more positively, everybody seems to be talking about British TV plugs and Central Portugal being the “new Tuscany”. We don’t care, our Portuguese-built, Andy-painted home remains that – our home: though it has to be said that new blow-ins “fromp Barnsley” are in the process of renovating a farmhouse just a few miles from us, with a view to permanent habitation further down the line. For our part, having now walled off the front, we had our garden delivered yesterday. That’s to say, two tractor loads of (absolutely beautiful) topsoil to lay out atop the residual hardcore base from our house build. That should take care of a few weeks leisure time. Any bets it’ll now rain continuously for, what was it, 40 days?- though to be honest we've been eagerly waiting for it. An initial though of perhaps buying a small plot for cultivation has now leapt in to an investigation (geophysical and financial) to see if we might buy a modest sized ruin to develop. Watch this space.

(Autumn) Whilst no doubt history will reveal multiple events of transensational importance rumbling away in the background, the truth is that these past few weeks I have remained so busied in the field (say about a 20 hour part-time week) that nothing else seems to have particularly registered. Until this morning, though more of that later.

The field, since you ask, has been everything I’d hoped for (in fact, WE`d hoped for, since simultaneously it keeps me out from under Geraldine’s feet. My notional Phase I -the before-the-rains bit, has been successfully completed, meaning that the field edges are now cleared back to expose the full extent of the “arable plain”. Notwithstanding the twenty or so off-cuts hillocks now waiting thereupon for burning (estimated late October, it`s illagal to light fires in the open between April and October) this comes down to c.1200 m2 of land which I hope to ultimately use as a mixture of grass, orchard and crop-growing. Before that, there remains the question of irrigation, but I have a cunning plan for a storage tank! As well as that, the exercise has removed about half a stone and ten points on the BP  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . she does work very hard!

And so back to this morning. After an (on reflection, perhaps flippant) remark along the lines of “Well YOU organise it, I’m busy ” to Geraldine as recently as last Monday, I have this morning stripped out the bathroom for a re-tiling and suite replacement job which starts to-morrow! And even if the builder/decorator did ask for confirmation that she wanted it ALL replaced, I must admit that the existing set-up, while masculinarily perfectly adequate, was a tad on the dowdy side, so no complaints. Eh?

So we go on. Finally had a little rain, but for the most part the sun keeps shining. As that fellow Armstrong said, it’s a wonderful life. Keep in touch.

(Spring 2006) Just to let you all know that, following the driest summer in 60-odd years of records -with more than six months with absolutely NO rain- we have, this morning, had neve (that’s ne-vey – Portuguese for SNOW) and we aren’t talking about an odd isolated fleck. Should’ve known that when two separate local shepherdesses (and sages) yesterday forecast the same, they weren’t just apeing back what I’m inclined to say to them as MY guess. (they don’t really resort here, as in Norn Irn, to forecasting the weather as a talking point: much more inclined to ask you your /boast about their/ AGE!

Now … where`s my ski-suit?

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