Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Paid in cakes

When a friend asked Peter to come up with a logo for a new coffee shop recently he took the opportunity to be paid in cakes.  We went to collect last week, as the coffee shop, Dona Chica opened to the public. 

Our friends, a family from Oliveira do Bairro, have taken on a cake shop and bakery in a village close to them.   It’s a bold move, there are thousands of cake shops and bakeries across Portugal, every village has one.  It’s also long hours, our local one is open from 6am to 11pm every day of the week, 365 days a year.
Arriving at Dona Chica we stepped into a slight chaos and very mild panic.   So much to do before the doors open the following morning.  Peter tasted the beer, it was fine so he felt he could have another.   I started cleaning tables and decorating the Christmas tree.

We took the tour, saw the bread chef making the bread, watched the pastry chef make Bolo Rei (a great mixture of dry fruit, bread style which you either love or hate….but once you’ve had it toasted smothered in butter then you’ll love it). 

We left at 8pm with things not finished, we were expected at dinner – the Portuguese are just wonderful at feeding you up, it’s like having several Jewish mothers “eat, eat”. 

In payment for Peter’s hard work on the logo we were going out that night to see a Portuguese X Factor runner up – Berg (follow this link to watch on YouTube, the language changes but the sentiment of the hard luck story stays with you!).
Arriving at the venue well past my bedtime at 11pm, Berg kept us waiting until 12.30am before he made is appearance (I mean Madonna doesn’t even make you wait that long!).   Great fun to be out past my normal bedtime though!
Dragging ourselves up the next morning at 8am, those working at the coffee shop had been up 2 hours already, we decided to visit local market town Agueda.  A strange trait of Portuguese towns is during the holiday period the local council decide what would really add atmosphere is to put up speakers across town and pump out pop music for 10 hours a day.  At Christmas, it’s Christmas music…..but this time we walked up a stunning historic street to the sounds of ‘I will survive’….sometimes Portugal is very strange indeed.

Heading back to the coffee shop we found it open, busy and running well.   Our friends in their Dona Chica t-shirts paid Peter in cakes and pastries, and I snuck in there too.   I'm delighted to say the bread, coffee, cakes and service was fantastic and the Christmas tree twinkled in the background.   
Good luck to them, I wouldn’t want to work the hours needed, but it is a family business and I hope that it works for them.   The upside is whenever we want to have some free coffee and cakes they are only an hour away which is great for us, the downside is that this family are going to be so busy from now on, taking time off in their holiday home in Pera will be a thing of the past which is a real shame for us.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Builder rejection

In this instalment I am going to try to attempt to prove that finding a builder here in Central Portugal is much like dating.   Now it might be like this the world over, I don’t know, I have never had need of a builder in the UK or Jersey.   It might just be a very sad reflection on my dating history (likely) or it just might be the next 10 points are the truest thing you’ve ever read.

1)       There are a lot of ‘fish in the sea’.   Just like the dating pool there are a lot of builders out there.  But finding the one you want is hard.  I’ve heard my friends make their recommendations ‘not him, he is pissed by noon’, ‘he’s good but never returns your calls’, ‘don’t trust him’. 

2)       You need to deal with rejection.   You invite the builder to take a look at the project, you speak you best Portuguese, tell a few jokes, look interested in what he has to say, smile, nod, ask questions, he says he’ll call you, he doesn’t. You wait by the phone, you check your emails, you ask mutual friends to remind him to call you…… 

3)      You sometimes get stood up.   Because they don’t show up when they say they will.  Grrrrrrrr.

4)      He’s only after your money.  This might be an expat thing, but some local builders have a price for you and a price for local people!  Not cool. 

5)      They tell you things so you’ll like them.   ‘I’ll call you’ is the biggest lie.  If you can’t phone me Monday don’t tell me you’re going to phone me Monday.  Just tell me you are not interested!  

6)      The one you want is unavailable.

7)      There is always someone new around the corner.   And so the game continues, you invite them round, tell them what you want, speak your best Portuguese, listen, show interest and low and behold they tell you they can ‘see you next week’!

8)      He’s fine but his work mates are rubbish.    

9)      Sometimes you wonder if it might just be easier to do it yourself (‘oh matron’).

10)   Hope.  What keeps us dating?  The hope that somewhere out there the perfect man is for you.  What keeps you believing you’ll find a builder?  The hope that somewhere out there someone will mend my bloody wall!  

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Poolside Musings

I love a phone call which begins with a great friend telling you they are coming to visit.  I especially love a phone call from said friend when she tells you that she is putting us up in the 5 star Pestana Palace hotel Lisbon and that we are meeting this Sunday!

Well if the hotel is good enough for Madonna, then it’s good enough for us!

Poolside Musings One  - when it looks too much like your boobs it is wrong.

Because of the heat, we didn’t do much during the day, instead we lazed by the pool, reading, chatting and people watching.   There’s that great scene in Sex and the City where Stanford and Carrie are talking about judging people and he uses the line, “Carrie, we judge, it’s what we do.”  He’s right, most of us have made people watching a fine art, complimented by the catty comments, either said in your head or to each other. 

This in mind I was watching some of the ‘Euro Rich’ at the hotel pool, when one woman caught my eye, as she pulled off her top to expose her bikini, the boobs didn’t move at all, an impressive piece of surgery I thought.   This woman and her boyfriend took the sun loungers next to me and I thought no more off it as I dozed in the 38 degree heat.   Upon waking up about an hour later she caught my eye again, those boobs didn’t have nipples – not such an impressive piece of surgery I thought, as I rubbed my eyes…hang on, that’s not her boobs that’s her bum!   Yes a bum lift of extraordinary proportions, pointing sky high, tiny bikini bottoms hidden by the rise of the rump.    I suggested to my friend that she have a look and confirm my thoughts ‘yeah, it’s a bum lift, but they should have sorted out her cellulite at the same time!’  -  Ahhh, we all judge!

Poolside Musings Two – a pool with a centre-piece gives a focus for posing.

People are funny, we lay there all of us by the pool, reading our Kindles, playing on our phones or tablets….I think I saw someone reading a book and actual book with pages!  But what was funny was the fact that what we all love is a bit of posing.  

The fountain in the centre of the pool gave the perfect opportunity for posing.  Starting with butt lady from Musings One….she swam out there, climbed up to the fountain and began some posing, which may have betrayed her previous career in the soft porn industry!  Next person to swim out, to lay down across the side of the fountain and pose for pictures was a young man in a pair of ultra-tight Prada swimming trunks – ah the Euro Gay Man (more on them in Poolside Musings Three).  He continued to pose for a few moments while photos were taken and everyone noticed.  On our final morning, and all in the name of blogging, I swam out there.  The pose isn’t quite the same, but my English reserve kicked in….it’s a shame I forgot to suck in my tummy though!

Poolside Musings Three – Is he gay or European?

Just as Legally Blonde the Musical suggests, sometimes it’s hard to tell!

So, what do you think?   Here are just some of the other people around the pool.

A group of five men, all with good hair, well kept, various ages all in the best swimwear known to man (and all of it quite tight fitting).   Are they gay or European?

Older man and younger man, head to toe Gucci, complete with soft-soled Gucci loafers, one in red and the other in blue, (older man in fabulous maritime style blue braded jacket.)   Gay or European?
In the hills of Central Portugal you don’t see this European chic gay man.  It’s a trait of the city gay man, and in this case the city gay man with money.   It made me smile, I remembered nights at G-A-Y and Balans Old Compton Street with some very fond memories indeed.

Poolside Musings Four.   Is drinking at noon bad?
Not when it’s white wine Sangria complete with fresh passion fruit.

Obviously we did leave the pool area, I mean a girl’s got to eat!   But this little holiday will always be remembered for the poolside people watching….that comes with the final thought of ‘if we all people watch, then what on earth are people saying about me?’  but that way madness lies so I’ll try not to give it another thought – now pass me some Sangria!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

The holiday

Peter’s gone on holiday, back to Jersey for the first time in 3 and a half years.  He’s taking the scenic route with his friend Jamie, up through Spain for tapas, then into France for a surf then onwards to St Malo for the ferry.   I’m home alone for the first time ever.  

Normally I go away for a week or two and I’m working, working 10 hour days, making the trip pay for itself, despite some hard drinking with girlfriends and shopping in M&S. 
Whenever I get home I look to see what Peter has done in terms of DIY.  I was spoiled a couple of times last year when I got home Peter had, built a desk, a cabinet, varnished the floor, dismantled a bread oven…..etc.   But the last few times, I’ve got home and nothing has been done, not even the vacuuming! 
So, while Peter is away I’m making it count, I’ve got a tonne of jobs listed….from finally finishing my fundraising strategy for work, to filling and painting the water damage, getting the kitchen floor varnished again, putting some batons in the bedroom.   All this and dog walking and the watering which needs to be done…..wish me luck!

Friday, June 21, 2013

It’s not just fast, it’s Fibre Optic!

Times, they are a changing.  Fibre optic is coming to Pera, yes our little village is going global and the sales people from Portugal Telecom (PT) have been round!   We are lucky, I think PT ran out of fibre optic cable and Pera is the end of the line!  (It’s the same (I hear) for the mains drains, anything above Pera is not connected).
In fact large towns like Figueira da Foz are without fibre optic because the law in Portugal has recently changed to allow any provider the opportunity to 'rent' the lines of PT.  So, what have PT done?  They've stopped putting in the lines of course!    A law which is suppose to benefit everyone,  gives consumers choice and adds some competition to the marketplace, has backfired a little and the result is a deadlock that ends up stalling progress!

So with a promise of a whopping 30mb speed guaranteed we signed up!  Now we wait for the change-over and for the obligatory moody PT engineer to come and drill another hole in our wall for another cable.  But, Peter assures me, it’ll all pay off, as our whole online experience will change.  O
ur ADSL is so very slow, results of the ‘speed’ test prove that.  Upload 'speed' 0.42mbs!

But in August it gets worse and even getting onto the internet is a problem as thousands of holiday-makers log in and use up what little speed there is facebooking their photos! 

But what does a high connection speed really mean?  Will I have to work faster just to keep up? Will the murder mysteries I watch on You Tube be clearer/better?  Will my Skype experience be ‘enhanced’? 

Having spent two hours only yesterday trying to download Instagram to my crap (and yes cheap) Android phone, only to realise that the bloody thing does ‘not support Google Play’ I feel that the whole mobile phone and tablet revolution has passed me by.  What the bloody hell is Google Play for a start?  

That’s the problem of ‘pay as you go’, of being a bit cheap and of living in rural Portugal I suppose…I just have let this whole thing happen and have remained faithful to my PC (I’m a PC and proud).  I’m a blogger, facebooker, pintrester and tweeter, but  mobile phones and tablets are a dead world to me.  Oh dear, is this what it is like to be a ‘silver surfer’ next I’ll be saying things like ‘what’s a browser’ and ‘opps, I think I have deleted the internet’. 

So high speed is coming….I just hope that I notice the difference and my life becomes enhanced!  Now if I can just get that mobile phone to stop searching for a WiFi connection...

Friday, May 31, 2013

A new engine

Last year Peter bought himself a motorbike.  It took months of looking in every motor-repair shop in Central Portugal to find it.   

Motor-repair shops either stock brand new scooters, usually called ‘Sprints’ or ‘Cities’ in an ill-placed homage to the 1980s it appears.  These great plastic things cost £2000 are about a 50cc and go about 20 miles an hour.  With two of us on the back we’d never make it up the hill to Coentral, let alone anywhere else!

The other thing filling these motor-repair shops are ancient motorbikes, mostly in bits, in need of much love.  These bikes seem to be permanent exhibits at every repair shop, relics of bikes, bits missing, crash victims the whole lot.   When we asked in these shops if they had anything for sale, it turns out that these bikes are semi-permanent displays, we were told on many occasions ‘no, it’s in for repair’ but these repair seems to take years!

I think Peter had images of biking to the market, with a box-full of chickens on the back, his Portugal scarf flapping in the wind, much like the other old men in neighbouring villages.  He’s also keen to take part in the annual ‘Pera Bike Run’, which takes in the local villages (mostly bars and people’s basement bars) which happens in June.   I am sure images of his Dad on his motorbike and memories of Peter’s experiences in Jersey (driving a motorbike with a surf board on one side to view the surf at St Ouen’s) all played their part.

Finally, in November last year he found the bike, in a repair shop in Louriçal.   A 125 Yamaha, just a year younger than me - a 1975 classic (the bike not me).  He looked at it once, twice, three times then made the deal.  Told it was ‘roadworthy’ he sorted out his insurance and went to collect it. 

OK, the tyres needed replacing, the petrol cap wouldn’t close, it took 10 kicks to start it up and the speedometer didn’t work but, hey, nothing insurmountable!  500 euros lighter we headed home, me in the car following closely behind…..about 10ks in the bike broke down.  We called the guy, he came to collect us, said ‘call me next week’. 

Round two:  We collected the bike (I think the chap had glued a couple of bits of wire together to make it go again).   It still took a lot of kicks to get it started and I noticed quite a strong smell of fuel coming up through the floorboards from the basement below the house where the bike was parked.   But, it seems to be working.  Peter was out and about on the bike.  

Wanting to get it serviced, knowing that some things needed ‘tightening up’ Peter found Doug Selway in Tomar.  Mecânico de Motas e Engenheiro de Motores’, Doug is a motor-bike expert with a long history in racing and repairing bikes.   We needed someone who spoke English, someone we could trust and having seen all the bikes in the repair shops gathering dust, someone with a sense of urgency.   Doug was perfect.

It was only when Doug started to take the bike apart that the full extent of the bikes history came to light.   ‘It’s been in a bad crash’ were some of the first comments, ‘how on earth did it make it the 100ks here’ followed, then ‘it’s a miracle you actually made it’ to end!   The bike was a whole heap of bad news.

Those cowboys in Louriçal would have known the bike was in bad shape – ‘roadworthy’ my arse!  And they didn’t give him a receipt!

Finding parts for a 1975 bike cannot be easy, Doug trawled the internet, ebay and other sites looking for items.   Things started to look bleak as Doug sent Peter some pictures of the bike in bits. 

First job was the front forks which were split and needed replacing, after that the bike needed:

·         New front wheel

·         New disc brakes

·         New chain

·         New exhaust

We were due to pick it up when Doug called.  It was only when the first immediate problems were sorted out that the full extent of the job appeared.  It would need a new engine….

So, it got a new engine.

It was then completely rewired, all the ‘home fixes’ the previous owner did had to be repaired along with some very questionable work from the cowboys.  Peter decided that it was well worth a re-spray, which held up the repair works as we waited on another company to get the job done.   Finally, Doug built a new luggage rack, fixed new stands.

This week Peter collected the bike.  It looks almost brand new with a great 70s feel.  There is still a bit to do, but all of that can wait, none of it urgent.

We were lucky on a number of occasions with this bike….firstly, thank god the bike made it the 100ks to Tomar…bad brakes, leaking fluid, crap engine….It was truly a good job we didn’t realise how bad it was.  Second, we were lucky to find Doug, he went above and beyond because of his love of bikes, because taking something from nothing to a fully working bit of bike history is what he loves. 
You can find more about Doug here, along with some more pictures. Click Here.

Friday, May 3, 2013


After what felt like weeks of rain the sun came out....BBQs, drinks on the patio, mosquitos, lizards and a little sun-burn.  Peter put his tender plants out, things started growing fast.  Then the world turned up-side-down and the cold came back.  Monday was about 12 degrees in the day, blinking freezing.  The fire was put on at night and I have been ramping up the sex appeal by sleeping in my fleece!

Today though the world has returned to normal, the sun has come out and it's lovely out there.  So to celebrate I've been taking some garden pictures....

Peter without realising gave me a complement; 'you couldn't wish for a better flower bed' he said...without realising that there is an awful lot of work, weeding, thinning and re-planting gone into it. I soon told him!

I love these flowers - no idea what they are

Peter and Lord.  Everything in the garden is moving so Lord is hunting lizards, mice and snakes

These tiny flower-heads are the olives starting to grow

And our first lemon has appeared on our tiny tree

Depite hacking back the vines to an inch of their life, they are sprouting again.  Tiny grapes are already forming

Complete with pollen covered bee/bug thing

Peter has been working hard in the veg patch

This is blooming for the first time.  It's stunning.

The tulips and iris' are almost over already, but the rose buds are about to bloom

Our amazing Jasmin is stunning again this year - it's about to come into flower

Just one problem - MOLES - last count 23 mole hills

Friday, March 29, 2013

When mobile phones let you down.

A day trip to Lisbon with our Dutch neighbours Ferrie and Ingrid was planned.  Ferrie had to go to the Dutch Embassy to sort out his passport, while Peter and I wanted to go to the super Chinese supermarket we know in the downtown area of Lisbon.

In a city where people queue for tins of sardines, we wanted to buy noodles, sweet chili sauce and shrimp paste (not items normally found in your average Portuguese supermarket, where flour tortillas are considered risky).


A coffee break on the drive into Lisbon (just 2.5 hours away) we realised that Ferrie had left his phone at home!  Not to worry, Ingrid had her phone with her.   The plan was to part company at the Embassy, for Peter and I to take a walk from one side of town to another, stopping for much needed Sargres (beer) on the way and for us all to meet up in the downtown district once our Dutch friends had driven over and called us.

An hour passed and Peter and I were starting our first beer, a second hour passed, I’d looked at shoe shops, drank another beer, Peter took some photos.  Three hours passed, it cannot be taken that long in the Embassy, it’s the Dutch Embassy not the Portuguese one – surely efficiency is built in? 

Peter called Ingrid – phone straight to Dutch voicemail. 

OK no worries, they are still inside the Embassy, a problem maybe?

Half an hour later, we phoned again.  Straight to voicemail!  We debated our options, head back to the Embassy to look for them (a hour away on foot) or Peter’s idea to walk up and down the main drag of Lisbon on the look-out for them.  After all we’d said meet downtown – except Lisbon’s a city, a big place compared to Pera and finding someone, even a very tall Dutchman and his shorter wife, was not going to be easy!

I think a mild panic started to form in Peter’s mind… ‘how do we get home?’ he asked.  ‘Erm, the train’ I said, my city survival skills coming into the forefront (!) (I’m a Londoner after all!!!!). 

We decided to cut our losses, to head for the Chinese supermarket, buy what we could easily carry then head onto the train station to get the train home. …it started to rain, our jackets were still in the car with Ferrie and Ingrid.  I needed to pee, I was hungry, Peter was frustrated…maybe a day out in Lisbon was not a good idea.  

Taking our frustrations out on each other we finally decided to stop for lunch to call a truce and have a very large glass of wine. 

Just as we’d given our order we had a phone call….Ingrid.  Her phone had run out of battery.  The spare battery they’d bought in a shop and spent an hour charging in the car had not worked, the second battery they’d bought and spent an hour charging in the car worked…..they were on their way downtown.
Fraught, flustered, hungry and in need of  glass of wine they finally met us 4 hours late in the restaurant.   


Mobile phones had let us down, like everyone these days we had no back up plan - no motherly, 'if we get split up, wait at the entrance for me to find you'.

Now there are worse places to be stranded, Botswana for example!  The irony is, it only took ten mins in the Dutch Embassy, we should have just waited!

Mobile phones let us down again just this week.  

Peter and I had a very minor car accident.  Going round a corner we slid off the road and our front wheel got stuck in a ditch.  In the middle of now where, with no mobile phone reception, we were a bit stranded.  In the first 10 mins about 4 cars passed us and tried to help, but no luck, we needed a tow.    So I started walking back up the hill towards home, surely at the top of the hill I’d get phone reception and we’d be ‘saved’.   1km passed, ‘this hill seems to go on forever’ I thought.  2kms passed, ‘do I turn back and tell Peter where I am, or do I carry on?’ 3kms passed, ‘why are there no cars passing me’, 4kms and finally someone passed me, I flagged them down and they took me the final 2kms home.  With a land line in my hand I spoke to friends and neighbours who rallied round and drove to Peter, picked me up to take me to the car and towed us out.   Car not badly damaged, Peter’s pride not even dented at coming off the road!  
Turns out Peter’s mobile phone often plays up and cannot find reception.  All you have to do is turn it off and on again for it to work!  GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

In a roundabout way

This is not a new subject for those Central Portugal bloggers, but it’s my version and I’ve been meaning to show off this very special (‘special’) part of Castanheira de Pera for quite a while now.

A friend, Emma, has already written one of the best blogs about our town on her blog, Emma's House in Portugal – read it here.

Rightful Castanheirense (those born in Castanheira de Pera) were a very proud bunch.  In their lifetime they have seen the town change from flourishing to slightly sad (like Brighton about 30 years ago before it got good again – you know what I mean).   Castanheria de Pera is a town built on wool, from socks to traditional hats the town was once full of mills powered by the Pera stream.  Sadly, a walk along the stream at the back of town shows the decline of this industry, abandoned mills almost litter you pathway.  The whole industry replaced by cheaper imports.

But despite this sad decline, Castinheria de Pera is not so different from so many Portuguese towns, because no matter where you are, how small the village, how depleted the population, there seems to be a pressing need to decorate the village roudabouts.

Not for the Portuguese the sad little mini roundabout where no one quite realises the rules still apply (Jersey folk using the mini roundabout at the top of Beaumont you know who you are).  The Portuguese like to stamp their roundabouts and stamp them with art.

In Castinheira town centre we are treated to a whole host of roundabout art, from the sublime to the simply ridiculous.  Most of the art tells the story of the town, its past success as an epicentre for woollen mills. 
From the water mill to the needle to the large loom lifted from one of the abandoned factories and placed as a reminder of times gone by on the roundabout.





Some of the art is just mental…..(not strictly on a roundabout, but too good to pass up).

Bilbao has the Jeff Koons dog


We have the Astroturf fox (although I think it’s a mouse)


Do other countries decorate their roundabouts with such style I wonder?  I don’t recall any in the UK, but I may well be wrong.  Surely the French would use every opportunity to express their cultural identity, but I cannot recall ever having commented on it when in France.    Maybe Portugal has found its niche here, this is their expression of cultural and regional identity and frankly, long may the slightly bonkers roundabout art continue!

To take a look at some more images of excellent, tragic an inspired roundabout art, follow the links a reader has posted on the end of Emma’s blog.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Storm

It was a cold and windy night and the power went off.  Plunged into darkness (well, we were asleep so it was dark anyway, but I’m trying to create a mood here).

Power cuts are pretty common in Portugal, the electricity wires run along the forests strung from poles so every so often a tree hits a power line and out goes the supply for a short time.   However last Friday we had a storm, a big storm and our power supply was off for four days and it’s only just stopped raining.

It is only when your electric supply is out when you realise that almost your whole life depends on having this supply.   No internet means no work, no phone or mobile reception means no phoning to check the situation, no TV means a disaster!

On Saturday we plugged in our gas cooking rings, got the candles ready and went off to a lunch given in a local social club.  How they catered for 60 people with no electricity is beyond me (even if it was cold and you had a choice of apple or orange for pudding).  

Our normal heating is a fire in the front room so no change there, we were not cold.  Our hot water is not dependent on the electric supply, so no change there, we didn’t smell and could wash up.   But how did they manage before the electric light bulb.  Candles are romantic because you can see diddly-squat.  But what I missed was the TV, I mean seriously, there is only so much you can read before your brain starts to crave a bit of The Great British Bake Off (or is that just sad little me?).

So early to bed on Saturday and a hope for the power supply to be back on Sunday. 

It wasn’t!

Saturday night saw more heavy rain and strong winds.  Walls came down and more trees decided to abandon their roots.   Driving into the largest town about 20 mins away I realised that this problem must be across the whole of the county – trees had taken down wires the whole length of the journey, the cashpoints were closed and the local supermarket running off generators.  The queue for petrol was 20 cars deep (I do love a panic buy).

At home I started a Russian short novel, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (cheery) and hunkered down for another evening.  Having polished off the book Kane and Abel (yep, it would seem that there is only so much literature I can take too), off I went to bed at 8pm in the hope that the power supply would be back on Monday.

It wasn’t!

OK it’s beyond a joke now, I need internet access, I need TV, I need distraction, I need to do some work!

I had hoped that Peter and I would be inspired by the lack of TV and start talking, playing cards or backgammon in a ‘blitz spirit’ way of making do.   Alas he wasn’t interested, ‘I like the quiet’ was his comment on the situation.  But then he is the man that can go on holiday and decide to read in our room as opposed to going out an exploring! 

So, to bed with the hope that the electrics would be back on Tuesday.

It wasn’t!

Well it was for a time, but then it went again, then it came back, then it went again.

Wednesday came, it started with a dog walk in the pouring rain (it’s like groundhog day isn’t it, but don’t worry it’ll be over soon).  
After Peter had cooked our dinner on the top of the fire place (very ingenious I know) we went over to our neighbours for a drink and a moan about living in the dark ages.   Suddenly and as if by magic the power returned….celebrate good times come on!  

Home, TV, Internet, Lights.  Suddenly we don’t have to feel guilty about not talking to each other, the TV’s there to distract us (just a shame there was nothing on).  So, thanks to the miracle of electricity I bring you this blog, boring as it may be it at least gives you some hint to the life that we’ve lived in the dark the last few days.

Thousands of people were affected by the storms, many without light and water for days.  11,000 kms of cable had to be replaced by the electricity company EDP, who have done their best to re-connect us (despite no one working on a Sunday!) in appalling ongoing weather conditions.  We've also lost some lovely old oak trees, some hundreds of years old which is a real shame.

By the way I’ve finished A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (actually quite cheery in a way).