This year really has been a more familiar time, bringing not only lots of visitors but some sort of `return` to what we first experienced -four summers ago now- and were told was the normal weather cycle of long hot but occasionally showery summers, followed by wet Autumns before and cold Winters after Christmas – with at least that separation of cold and wet providing some respite. Seemed to be true in 2003/4 and this year –stand fast Cally & family’s visit at half-term this October when it simply rained and didn’t stop until long long after their return. However, in between we had, successively a cooler and then much much hotter drier weather than even most of the locals claimed to have previously experienced. Clearly the UK is blessed with an exceptional Prime Minister – one who not only knows the people and the needs -especially in the future- of Northern Ireland better than Ulster politicians, but who knows the people and the needs -especially in the future- of Iraq, almost as well as George the slavemaster and certainly better than the Iraquis.
Back in southern Northern Portugal, life goes on. Thankfully, we have an EU regulation which says that Ttb (that’s sort of Tony Blair, for those with whom I haven’t been in recent discussion!) doesn’t have any rule or sway –or any remote influence really.
Notwithstanding the recent floodings and road sweepings away (living on a hill
The field -casting my memory back to when I last paid a fleeting visit- continues to thrive. With no takers from the local population to use the meadow for growing anything, we`ve resorted to planting a small fruit orchard of just under twenty assorted trees. Some of these like the fig will take up to 10 years to produce fruit – and that`s only if either drought or the wild pig comply. This time last year I had cleared the first half of my hillside shrubbery AND started on the top Pen, but the opportunity -primarily curtailed through a lack of weather sufficiently cool yet dry enough to be able to work- has prevented anything of real substance this year – although we did have a neighbour plough the meadow in the Spring.
Geraldine continues to thrive –speaking more Portuguese inflectives, past participles adverbial conjuncts (or is that Astrology?) and other assorted grammar daily. Cally and family all looked and sounded great. In spite of his Da, Joshua has taken up football, with Tiger 3 going on17. Jason (having just had an acceptable offer for his house in Belfast) with girlfriend Jane has already been to Rio this year, and will be spending Christmas not with us, but somewhere -over a three week trip- between the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon and Macchu Pichu. To think we thought we were being adventurous …….
Sorry if we’ve been a tad dilatory in communicating recently, but what a difference sunshine makes!
Notwithstanding our occasional recent glimpse at the European weather reports, showing Europe and the UK shaking shuddering shatting and shivering while we enjoy our warmest spell in months (22 degrees in the shade Thursday afternoon and this Sunday morning, though a bit cooler now at tea-time), it’s suddenly getting on towards the end of January, so I thought I’d better jot down a few notes.
CSJ. Four years. And d`y know, for the first three, the routine was, sort of – routine! Yes, there were variations, but essentially it was wet before Christmas, cold after it and hot the other eleven months. We improved the house, suffered the pangs (mostly timeline) of Portuguese electricians, suffered the pangs (mostly financial) of Portuguese car purchase, suffered the pangs (mostly imaginary) of Portuguese cuisine, but realizing the cost of living was even less than anticipated, branched out into a little real estate (well, a field to start with) and gradually got on with things. In 2005 we had virtually no rain for seven months, which wasn’t a problem other that it was really too hot to do much work – and the front garden grass seed didn’t take. Then we had 2006. We had LOADS of visitors from about August to the end of October, after which it rained just about every day for longer Noah and Jonah had combined, and after which it was bitterly cold -the latter unseasonal, being BEFORE Christmas- but each conspiring to frustrate any attempts at working in the field. The Golden Rule, it turns out when you`re retired, is “if it’s not comfy and you don’t fancy it, don’t do it – it’ll keep!”
And then 2007 (well, the first fortnight). All of a sudden it’s warm (in the daytime, clear night skies still mean large degrees of nighttime fall-off), certainly enough to enable fielding (which simply means me n`t dog going down to the field and whiling away an enjoyable hour or two at present largely clearing years of bracken and other assorted undergrowth. However, keeps us (both) out of mischief, and from under `er indoors feet. Incidentally, while I’m typing this, Sophie is lying dead to the worls on the bed, catching up from HER unusually energetic week. Hasn1t chased so many sticks in months!
And not that the wet-Autumn circle has been squared. We didn’t cut back ANY of our Olives (Note to self 1: remember the decision last year was to prune half our stock each November, giving fruiting branches - two-year-old wood- every year - not rocket science). We haven’t yet bought or made the garden shed for t`field (Note to self 2: buy the bloody thing /// though that -and the subsequent erection (!?)- does rather need a dependable spell of dry weather). The front lawn / entire back garden at CSJ certainly looks a bit under cared-for (Note to self 3: try feed & weed), but, albeit more out of necessity, I have managed to cart back the oak tree I felled for winter fuel, we`ve now planted the full planned panoply of some twenty assorted fruit trees in the field (more active marketing to follow around 2012) and we have -in every sense successfully- transposed our guest bedroom (now upstairs) with the previous `office` space which has now swelled somewhat into a combined workspace/parlour running off the kitchen. One way and another it’s been pretty busy (including also G`s new “pretty boy” parrot, to which she has equally dedicated many 2007 hours already, with the ultimate goal of something like a bi-lingual talking shoulder-percher!).
AND there are more Brits moving into the locality, AND we’ve become a great-aunt etc.,
So it’s not that we’ve given up on other/previous forms of communication –we’ll get back to all that in time, subject to demand justifying the time and effort- but as they say in these here hills, a working man has to “mend (his) cart wheel before the axle grease sets”
Take care Maurice & Geraldine