Peter's Blog

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Sunday, 30 December 2012

One more day and it's a New Year.

Well it's only one day to go and i have learn a new skill. I saw Jamie Oliver with a group of school children showing them how to cook. In one program he had them making fresh Pasta and it looked so easy to do.

100 grams of flour and an egg.

Not much needed but to make sure i got it right i watch the video again. Mix the flour and egg and kneed it for about 10 minutes and then put the dough in the fridge for half an hour wrapped in cling film. Then roll it thin and cut to size unless you are posh and have a pasta maker but cut in thin strips is OK. Now all i need is for my homemade bread to finish and i can put my dinner on. Tonight Chilli con Carne but with freshly made Pasta.

So for me that finishes of a good year were i have done and learnt so much this past year.

Now for a glass of Cherry Remy Martin.

Today is the birthday of my eldest son who after finishing work is on a beach somewhere in the Indian ocean. 

A Happy New Year to everybody who has taken the time to read my story.


Thursday, 27 December 2012

The New Year is almost here.

Well Christmas is here and the New Year is only days away.

The closing year has seen lots happen for me personally. The year started when i went back to the UK in January.

My Mum was due to have yet another operation on her hip, due to delays she ended up having the operation days before i was to return home. Thankfully she has recovered and has slowly made progress. Mum expects to be able to be running round like a young kid but she has to make do with the progress she is making. 

But it was the return home that was a big surprise to me, the lane outside of my house had been resurfaced. Before i went back to see my Mum the lane was little more than a track. When i got back we had a nice new resurfaced lane and they had made it wider as well. When i returned home the house had been empty for a month and it took three days to get it warm again, i just left the aircon on. The walls being single brick had no insulation and they had just retained the cold with no heat to keep them warm the walls where like radiators but being cold instead of warm.

I have just been to dig up my Christmas potatoes and i am a bit disappointed with the few i was able to dig up. But it's something else i have been able to do. Next season i will be better prepared and able to plant and look after not just Potatoes but lots more.

Recently i have had problem with my bread making, a number of loaves have not risen when baked. First i tried new yeast, no good and after 5 failed loaves i got some new flour. Right away it worked perfect so it's down to the flour and it seems that where i have stored the flour it was to cold. I get 25 kilo of flour in 5 kilo bags from Makro and this does me for a while. Now i need to find a way to use the flour instead of wasting it.

Now that's what i call a nice loaf. If i hadn't had so many failures i would have added some Sultanas.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Recognised in Lidl

I was in Lidl today looking for Marzipan a bit late for my Christmas cake but sometimes things get forgotten. As i couldn't find what i wanted but upon hearing an English voice i asked a couple who were nearby. They couldn't help as they had only moved here 10 days before. As we got talking it was obvious from what they said that they know me or of me. It seems that from Spain they had been reading my Blog and they came to this area because of what i had put on my Blog. After visiting here they have rented a house while they find somewhere to buy.

It will be interesting to see how they get on as they have some very interesting plans ahead.

Good luck to you both.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas cards

At this time of year it's Christmas card time, i can only say sorry if you got one from me. Handwriting is not something i was ever good at but none of use are perfect.

Over the last week i have received a few cards and they all have nice writing but the latest was totally unexpected not because of who it was from but the message inside was in Portuguese. This card was from my Brother Tim wife Alex and Ethan and Esme. Tim that was really nice that you made the effort to use Portuguese.

Mum is a master at making cards of all kinds but this year her card was not a home made card but with her beautifully hand written message.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Any Cognac XO is my drink of choice

My drink of choice is as the title says Cognac. Over the years i have collected and drunk the best of Cognacs. My two i am proud of are a bottle of Martell 1950 and a bottle of Martell 1951. Through Bargain Booze who i was a Franchise with had my two bottles identified by the labels and due to unique marks they where able to tell me when they where made. These i won't open as i am saving then to leave to my two sons Lee and Anthony. 

Today i made mince pies and in the mince meat i put some Remy Martin cognac into the jar of mince meat. I left the mince meat for four hours to get well soaked with Remy flavour. I am not a master at making pie pastry but i did make pastry the best that i could. Sugar on top and into the oven they went, i waited and checked until they where ready and cooked just right. That's OK but when they where done i had to wait for them to cool down. When they had cooled enough i sat and enjoyed the best Christmas mince pie i had ever had. They tasted Mmmm so the moral of the story is if i can make the best mince pies in the world then with a little practice they so can YOU.

It's only a few days before Christmas and if you can give it a try, it doesn't matter if it's Vodka, Bacardi or even Cognac it's Christmas and enjoy the best Adult mince pie there is your own.......

Reflections on this time of year.

Today was the first day for a little while where i didn't need to put the aircon on for heating, it has really been a mild day. The last few days after the rain have been a lot better than of late with no frost in the morning so here is hoping for a mild Christmas. Last year the weather at this time of year was nice but when the sun went down so did the temperatures.

The last few day i have had the time to look back and consider what it was like back in the UK. Last Christmas was the first one away from my family, Christmas dinner was the one time we would all be together but now that's no more. Last Christmas was the first one that i didn't get to see Chelsee. Again i won't get to see her but at least i should get to see her on Skype so it's not to bad.

Sean my grandson was to young and also he lived so far away that he really didn't get to see him often. Now Sean is of an age where he knows me but i am not there to see him i am 1,729 miles away by road. I have been able to speak to him on Skype but i am really a bit of a stranger to him, he knows me and we do speak a little but it's not the relationship i was hoping for as he got a little older. I have a trip back to the UK planned for March and it should be a time to get to see Sean and Chelsee but who knows.

This year due to circumstances both my boys will be working on Christmas day but it would be nice to be able to speak with them both.

Who said Christmas is for kids what about us grown ups. On the 22nd i have been invited round to some friends in the next village and the best of it is to get home none of use have to drive on the main roads. I don't drink and drive but i will have a few but safely just around the corner from my home. I have said that i will bring a bottle of Cherry Vodka, made by me. Last night i tried some Peach Aguardente a local firewater but one that i have added sliced peaches to about 4/ 5 months ago and it does taste good also i made some with Cherries added to it for flavour and that to tastes good

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Last week Mum had a visit from a close family member not seen for years.

Last week my Mum had a visit from a cousin i hadn't seen for 16 years, i had hoped to speak to her but it wasn't to be but we got to catch up today on Skype. This was an early Christmas treat for me as it was a huge treat for Mum to see her sister's daughter after so long.

When i was young and i can still remember that far back as families grew up the youngsters would start of into the new big world, get jobs meet partners and get married as you did then. Now 30, 40, 50 years later where are we New Zealand, Mozambique and Portugal. Then there are most of the family from Arbroath down to Southampton, over to Wales both North and South and  one near Hereford.

But how has the family and i done?  also anybody i am lucky to be related to down from Ken Dodd my Dad's cousin to those retired in New Zealand and done in life. When i left school i expected that i would be a butcher and i was and get married and have kids usual thing. But jobs what do the family do fr how have well all done. Consultant doctors, nurses, teachers, one in the security service protecting ships passing in the Indian ocean i include in this list in-laws, Very high ranking police, Head Fire officer, Very high  in a Pharmaceutical company, University Professor, Nurse, some owning companies,  one even worked for a company in Texas and lived in the UK " if my memory is correct " , Industrial Chemist i could go on but what i want to show is the way families have developed and moved on in what is now a small world.

 I can  speak to my family over the Internet and we can see each other but what does the world hold for the next generation of this extended family? I have one cousin in Mozambique who is fluent in Portuguese and i struggle with the basic language of my new home. But the next chapter of this family is here already some young babies some new teenagers all wanting to get on in life if you look back this family has done so well " In-laws included " for me it started with my Mum and Dad but it's now down to the new Mum and Dad's of the family to write the next chapter of the history of this family.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Trying to clear my wine.

I  have made a lot of wine this year and i want it to clear like the wine you see in the shops. I have 5 wines that i want to clear, Peach, Pair, Tometilia and Grape, Peach & Pair and Cherry.

I have just tested the latest the Tomitilia and Grape and it is 13.2% alcohol. Most of the others are all almost 10% so this latest is a bonus. One thing i didn't have was a constant temperature, the temperature fluctuates from a low over night to high during the day. On a home brew forum someone mentioned using a heater to keep brewing bottles at a constant temperature. It's easy to say and i was able in the end to be able to do that. I had a 20lt plastic container and i found that i had a fish tank heater so i decided to give it a try. After the Tomitilia and grape was done i tested for it's alcohol content and it came out at 13.2%.

In the UK you can get all the chemicals that you need to assist with the brewing.  Nutrient, Tannin, Pectic Enzyme, Glycerine and Campden tablet. These are all used to make the wine as you know it. Wine can be made without and that's what i did as i didn't have any so i had to make my wines without the chemicals, well the locals have been doing it without for centuries so it has to be good for me.

 Left to right.




Peach  Pear

Tomitilia & Grape

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Bloodshot eyes and a Boney fairy

I am no different to any other Grandparent we do some daft things with our grand children to get a smile or a laugh. Yesterday my grand daughter Chelsee was on-line with me on Skype and i got out my Christmas tree and the few decorations i have. My tree is already decorated so it was easy all i had to do was get it out of the draw it has been kept in since last year.

Chelsee took a picture from Skype of me with my Father Christmas decorations so below is a picture of me and the decorations. I got the reaction from her i wanted and to see and here her laugh was worth it.

If nothing else i do have a sense of humour. 

Now a warning FEED you fairy after Christmas if not over the coming year look what happens to Fairies who get put away hungry. Can you see the bloodshot eyes?

What to do in the morning to keep warm.

Well winter has arrived but so has the sun and after all the rain we have been having for the past month the sun makes a welcome change. The day first thing in the morning is very cold and even with a frost on the ground most days this week. In the sun it's warm and as the sun comes up the day does get very nice until the sun goes down. You can feel as soon as the sun goes down the temperature drops rapidly outside.

As soon as i get up the first thing i normally do is put the aircon on to get the place warm. Well not quite the first i normally put my T shirt into the bed as i get out to get it warm for when i get dressed. Back to that later, each morning this week when i have got up and put the aircon on it shows the inside temperature and it has been 10c when i have got up each day. By the time i have boiled the water to make a cup of tea it's up to 15 or 16c and climbing so it's not so bad.

Most people have a log burner and over night the fire goes out and has to be started all over again. That all takes time to clean out the ash and light the fire, bring in the wood. All this time without a fan heater it's going to be cold until the fire is roaring away and has the place warm again.

Thank God for aircon is all i can say and thanks to Gordon. Gordon is a member of the Forum that i am a member of after speaking on the Forum about the use of aircon over a period of time i decided that i would install aircon when i arrived here. I installed aircon in my lounge and it's the best thing i did. Last year my biggest electric bill was only 58€ for a month so the running cost was fine by me. Twice a year the Electric bill is adjusted by the electric company and the next bill following the winter bills my next bill was much lower so using electric for heating for me was OK.

These morning have been cold when i get up but the aircon is great the one thing is i don't like to do is put cold cloths onto a nice warm body. As soon as i get up i put my T shirt into the bed to get warm but most of the time as the T shirt is cold it's not much warmer when i get dressed but it's better that when i got it out of the draw. Last night when i put my electric blanket on i put my T shirt and underwear into the bed so that when i got up and dressed they were already warm. The difference it made when i got dressed today my T shirt and underwear was Oh so nice and warm. What a start to the day.

As i finished typing this i had a look at the temperature on teh aircon and it's already 25c and i have only been up an hour.

I can't take the credit for getting dressed with warm cloths but it was my first wife Tyna. Tyna always put her underwear into the bed as she got up in teh morning so really it's because of her today i got dressed with nice warm cloths on. 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Rain and Cold but nobody is complaining

It was nice today to wake and open the shutters and find a nice clear blue sky. It looked really nice out until i went to feed the chickens only to find that it was very cold outside. When i went back inside i really felt cold so i put my aircon on to warm the place up on the front of the aircon unit it has a display and the inside temperature was 14c inside. It may be me but looking at a display saying 14c now did i feel cold because of the display or was it really cold who knows.

While i was driving into town the temperature on my dashboard was 7.5c. Now before i went out i had Radio Merseyside on and during the morning show someone mentioned that it was just about freezing so who was i to complain. Listening later in the day on the news their where reports of one river being 14ft higher than normal and floods everywhere. Wow things do seem bleak, the river going through Gois may not be as big as the Mersey but it is a big river for here. I stood and watched the speed of the river and with the rains of the last few weeks the rain had turned what was a slow sleepy river into a torrent.

The rain and the rivers will help the environment all along from far up in the hills to were it eventually joins other bigger river. So much of the year their is the danger of forest fires due to the extreme heat from the constant sunshine but for now the rain is badly needed.


Monday, 26 November 2012

Donovan and something funny

During a visit to a friends house after repairing his computer we sat talking and to test that the repair was ok we had some music on. As i liked the music of Donovan i put on one of his CD's on to play.

As we were talking i remembered a Donovan track that i found so funny. I found the same track on Youtube and played it as my friend didn't know about the track i was talking about.

But don't let children hear it.

I have just been looking through Youtube for more Donovan tracks and found one i had never seen of him with Bob Dylan. Dylan being another favourite of mine. I hope you take the time to listen to this track as well and for those who know me will know how much i enjoy this music from my late teen days.

He killed Miss Marple and got 4 years 6 months

Today on the Radio from Liverpool the news reported that a local kid who had killed a women by knocking her down with his motorbike had been sent to prison for 4 years 6 months. Doesn't sound to bad typical thing kids do, this was not the typical kid he was 22 years of age and never had a licence for riding a motorbike. He had 18 convictions and was riding doing Wheelies along the road and pavements. Dis reckless action had one day to cause an accident.

The accident had to happen to an old customer of mine. She was affectionately known to me as Miss Marple after the film of the same name. She was one of the nicest customers who came into my shop. The judge says that he got 4 years 6 months because he was genuinely sorry for causing the death of a dear old friend who really was not so old having only just pasted 50 years of age. 

This reminded me of some of the problems with gangs i had in my shop. One gang knew just how to get me wound up they would fill the shop with about 12  15 of there gang.  Below from the pictures you can see just how hard it was for customers to be able to get in and be  served and i can say how glad i got away with ever having one of them get aggressive.

My new life is now stress free and this is one of the reasons i just don't want to go back to the UK. But what does the future hold for all the nice people who knows. How do you counter the effect of the gangs like in the pictures???

The two near the counter were trying to get served but in the end the comments from the gang just made them leave.


This is not just a Liverpool problem this goes on all over the UK.

The new owner of the shop employed measures that meant the kids kept away.

There is a sound device that's legal but attacks the hearing of young people of the teen to early 20's and the new owner has no problems.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Clear skies but it's still damp after the morning mist

Although it's really nice outside because of the mist in the mornings it's damp so getting washing dry is difficult. It can normally take a few days to get cloths dry even putting things outside to dry. This is the first time that one lot of washing is still not dry and i now have more just been washed.

I use air conditioning for heating and i have just had to put it on early to try and get my cloths dry. Being vain as i am i don't want people looking at my smalls so they hang over the ends of my bed but i have run out of space for my socks. HELP comes to mind but what the hell it will all be ok in the end.

Monday, 19 November 2012

But you live on your own in a shed in the middle of nowhere!

On one of the Forums i am a member of someone wanted information as to the cost of living. I replied with details as to how much it costs me to live.

Would you believe that someone who claims to be a woman but on a Forum someone who replies could be either male or female.

 Well this person said " I get really annoyed with you Peter.It's people like you that make other people think you can live here on 300 euros a month!!!!..Yes you might,but you live on your own in a shed in the middle of nowhere! "

For those who read my BLOG will understand that i had to reply to such a comment. So i live in a SHED well my cottage fells more like a home to me but what would the nasty Ba****d know about me or my home.

So i can live on 300€ per month. Last month my water bill was 6.07€, Electric was 21.04€ and my phone and internet was 32.08€ and with my house tax or Rates as it is in the UK at 30€ per YEAR. I can't help the fact it's so cheap to live.

As to food i am not a veggie and it's meat for me at every meal and being an EX butcher  i make sure get the best, Why because i know what i am buying and how to cook it.

Do i enjoy cooking you bet i do and i have over 25 jars of spices because i take cooking serious and keep pushing myself to get better and better at cooking. As i have said before i only use fresh ingredients and i now enjoy better health in part to my better diet.

I make my own bacon Why because i can. I make my own wine Why because i can. I grow some of my own food Why because i can.

Sorry for going on

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Every star sparkles in the clear night sky

After the last few weeks of relentless rain the last couple of days have been without doubt beautiful with clear blue skies . The only thing that could have been better would have been if it had been warmer. The night skies are now clear and full of stars and with no light or air pollution every star sparkles.

But clear skies bring their own problem with no cloud cover the nights are very cold at this time of year. That's ok when you are inside but the morning brings the cold again until the sun comes up and burns of the morning mist and the day warms up again. As soon as the sun goes down in the late afternoon the temperature drops dramatically and it's time to stay inside and keep warm.

After doing a lot of washing today i had everything hanging out to dry, it seemed an idle day to get some washing done. Nothing dried everything is on hangers inside the house to dry until tomorrow when hopefully it will be warm and the drying will be done till another day.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The jacket now fits

A long time ago my now ex wife brought me a jacket but like many of my cloths she would get the size she wanted me to fit and not the size i was. I could never fit the jacket you see in the picture because i was so over weight. It became a goal of mine to fit into the jacket not because it was a special jacket but because i was the size i would like to be.

Since my move i have lost such a large amount of weight and even have flaps under my arms. Now women had to have flaps of skin under their arms but i don't care it shows just how the move to my new life has had a dramatic effect on me both physical and mental state.

Last night i was invited to go out for a meal along with the local Brits by the new couple who have moved into a house in the village i live in. The picture you can see is me in the restaurant and wearing the jacket i so wanted to fit into. I do look and feel so good now all i need now is to maintain my new look.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Builders rubble someone has to move it

Some time ago i was offered a piece of land across the road from me next to my land and adjacent to the road. Last January the lane outside of my house had the road relaid. At the same time the lane was widened to make it more like a road instead of a dirt track that had been their before. Because the lane was to be widened the people doing the work asked for permission to cut the lane back. At that time i only had a very small piece of the lane that bordered the lane that was. After i came back from visiting my Mum in mid February the lane had been laid while i was away.

The wall that had been built along the lane had a gap between it and the land that it had been cut away from. While i was away a builder renewed some of the broken tiles and the edge tiles on my roof and pressure washed the entire roof. When i got home it looked as if i had a new roof. Outside of the cellar the builder put all of the broken tiles from the roof his excuse was so i could see just what had to be done while i was away. In truth it was to save him taking the broken tiles etc away to a dump or were they take building waste. 

Well it's a long time since last January/ February when i went away and came home to what looked like a new roof. Today i started to remove all the building waste and put it behind the wall across the road from me. A neighbour saw me and although he is Portuguese it was easy to explain that the land was now mine and i was filling in the gap behind with all my rubbish. Their must be more than a ton to move but today i move most of it all nicely behind the wall.

Tomorrow i will get the job completed and then i can make the footings for the base for the verandah. 

It's rained over the last few weeks but no like in the UK, the rain started one day and forgot to stop it just rained and rained and rained without stopping. One day i watched in the distance you could see the the clouds forming and slowly rising.above the valley. What a time to have no batteries in my camera.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

What my Dad meant to me

I've never spoken to anybody about my Dad and how felt about and remembered  him.

Today being Remembrance day brings thoughts of Dad closer to me again. Dad was everything that you could ask for in a Dad, wise, funny clever and a friend. Yes i miss him but he is still their when i need him.  Dad was their when i had a son over in Afghanistan in a unit that when a reporter stated that a sister unit suffered 20% causalities and 7 Dead, i really understood the dangers my son was in. It took a brave reporter to be on the front line and record all the horrors of modern warfare for me to understand the dangers my son was in. Thankfully Dad watched over him and he came home safe and sound. Thanks Dad.

When i was in my teens their was a TV program on every Sunday afternoon called World at War. Being a young lad in the 60's who had found music and a life safe from War and starting to make my way in life watching TV about war was not for me. Dad would watch this program that to me glorified War. I was lucky in that conscription had been stopped and life was ahead of me a life to be enjoyed. I didn't want to see or hear about war and killing.  Slowly over the years i have grown to understand just what that TV program meant to my Dad. It was a reminder of what had happened in his life. It also showed that we must never forget the sacrifice that was made to give me the life i had then as a teenager and the effect on me now grown up and now 63 years of age.

During Dad's retirement Dad did so much for the other Old soldiers of the various associations that Dad as a part of. For those who needed help he was their for them, always happier to do for others than have others do for him.   

Today i have so much respect for all that the previous generations had to do to make this a safer place for me to live. They  went to war and so many never came back. As a child my own Granddad one day got out an old handkerchief discoloured over the years and inside their is a penknife smashed. That penknife was in his breast pocket as he made his way over a canal/ river and as he got out he was shot by a sniper in the heart. Lucky for me his penknife was wrapped in his handkerchief, the bullet smashed the knife but didn't kill my Granddad. One day that knife will be passed over to me and i will show and tell my children and grand children the story. A story of how we came so close to not being here.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Remembrance time to remember a spare a moment of your time for the Fallen

Tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday and a time to remember those who gave there life so we could be free.

The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

'Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you ?
Have you always turned the other cheek ?
To My Church have you been true?'

The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
'No, Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.

I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand.

There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.

'Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell.'

Author Unknown~

Friday, 9 November 2012

My Dad and the Dessert Rats.

When i was on Facebook a little while ago i saw a picture that had been put up by my sister Jackie. The picture is of a plaque with the emblem of the Dessert Rats famous during the WW2.

My Dad who until now for some unknown reason i have neglected to mention  was a proud member of the Dessert Rats and his part in WW2.

The above plaque is on display in a Liverpool Pub. I just hope that they know just what the plaque stands for  and the sacrifice that was made by those who didn't come home. It's there sacrifice that made the world a safer place.

After Dad retire Dad was an active member of the various Veterans associations that exist for the units that Dad was in during WW2. Desert Rats, The Normandy veterans and also the 108. Dad was extremely proud to have been a member of the Kings Regiment that dates back to the 1600's. The Kings Regiment is a local Regiment to Liverpool.

 Seeing this plaque on Facebook has given me a lot to think about Dad may not be here now but he is still such a big part of my life.

More information about the Dessert Rat can be found on Wikipedia and their is a link below.
 The link to wiki you will need to Copy and Paste it into your browser

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A sad trip to the station.

Last week i got the job of picking someone up from the station and took him to stay with a local couple. Sadly where he was to stay was a little to far out of town for someone without a car. Other arrangements were made for him to stay in the centre of town at another house.

During Ken's time here he proved popular with all of the local Brits he met, he was even invited to a party in a local village to celebrate someone's 60th birthday party.  All came to a sad end when i got a call to tell me that Ken needed to catch a train to go back to the UK due to family reasons.

When Ken gets to come back he knows of the warm welcome he will be sure to receive.

By for now Ken

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Pictures of MUM

I would have like to include the pictures below but it was right to ask permission because i was not the person who took then.

I am amazed as to how Mum has got over all that she has had to endure these last twelve months.

The journey that Mum has been on with Four HIP operations to one leg and to break the other hip is remarkable and one that I could not have undertaken. Mum has shown a strength of character that other and i include me as well i couldn't have put up with what Mum has endured.

I only get to see Mum by using Skype because i live in Portugal and she lives in Liverpool but Mum is very good with her Ipad. Facetime and Skype their is no holding Mum back and i am so proud of her. MY MUM

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A tip about Facebook

Here is a handy tip to use with Facebook.

I hate all the adverts on the right hand side of the Facebook page. You can cancel an advert and a box comes up asking for the reason. Click on the one that says " Sexual Explicit Material " Keep doing this every day to every advert and after a little while the adverts end.

Now all you need to do is be patient and the adds will end.

You will still get the " People you may know " But the adds are now gone

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Fresh Strawberries Mmmmm

As i have mentioned before it's now November and raining but who cares.

Today i went out today to pick some Strawberries and Peppers in rainy November but also i had my grand daughter Chelsee along with me. We picked some Strawberries but we had to leave some that were not ready to pick yet.

Later we went over to feed the chickens, today they had stewed apple, pear and carrot peelings and cabbage leaves. Chelsee had a good time watching the way the chickens were running around until the rain started again and i had to go in so my laptop kept dry. Oh did i mention that Chelsee was away in Liverpool and i am in Portugal.

Oh for the use of Skype and the taste of fresh Strawberries in November.

My Mum and Skype

I have mentioned before about my Mum and the fact she uses Skype to call me. Tonight was no different that any other time that she called but tonight she couldn't hear me. I don't know what was wrong with her sound and i even tried to get sound going by on my machine i rebooted in case the fault was mine. Sadly this was not the case tonight but instead of just switching of i quickly replied as Mum asked " Can you hear me? " i replied by writing down on a piece of paper " Yes i can hear you ". This went on for a while Mum would say something and i answered by writing the answer down on paper.

Mum mentioned that she had been to the hospital and she had been discharged and didn't need to go back for another two years.The news from Mum was so welcomed when you can consider that she had five hip replacements in twelve months. All this by me writing replies on a piece of paper.

Mum also mentioned that my sister Sue would be down next week and fix the Ipad for her

Lastly the best bit my brother Tim has a Blog all about Mum just for the family and he has put a video that Jackie had taken of Mum walking unaided in her kitchen. What progress Mum has made in the space of a year.

Congratulations Mum.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Almost November

Today is the 29th of October and today we had blue skies everywhere and a nice warm day. Who would think that on a day like today i would be transferring plants out of pots into one of my raised beds.

When i started my latest raised bed it had soil in the bottom, then compost, then coffee waste, then straw and then more soil. As the soil was in so poor a condition it needed compost, straw and waste coffee to try and create something better to grow in.

Today i planted out some peppers and chilli that i had growing in pots. Also i was given an Indian Basil plant in a pot and along with the chilli and peppers i planted them in the raised bed. It may seem odd that at this time of year i am still planting things out in my raised beds. Mad i may be but if they get through the winter then i should have lots to enjoy as we approach spring next year.

Over the winter i have plans for the new bit of land i now have and to get parts of it level so i can have some more raised beds. I want to grow everything from seed as i see that as a challenge as i have been drying seeds from lots of things. I was given a green stripped tomato and some small yellow tomatos with luck they will dry well and in the coming months they will grow into nice healthy plants.

This all may seem strange but today i picked strawberries, chillis and a pepper and two small tomatos and this is the end of October so lets be glad that the year for me has been kind and rewarded me with things i have grown myself.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

An extra day

As i got up this morning i realised how early it was 8.37 am i went back to bed it just felt too early. I couldn't sleep but lay their thinking what i had to do today and being Thursday i had already missed the market at Arganil. Well at 10.12 am i finally got up to an almighty bang. Thunder wow that was load, over the years i have heard a lot of thunder but this was something else. and for the next half an hour it happened a few more times but during this time there was little rain.

I had to leave this and come back to it to continue as i went out shopping with a mate. What a fool i felt i was convinced that it was Thursday only to find out it was Wednesday. What a fool i felt but i now have another day so that's a bonus. Now what will i do with this extra day?

I went out collecting free food. Well stuff i have grown 7 nice big Strawberries. 2 Red chilli's and a hand full of Tomatos. Nearly the end of October and the Strawberries are still growing well. I left another load of Strawberries until they look ready to pick. Chilli's and Peppers are all still doing well and hopefully will carry on for a while and as they are ready they go straight into the freezer.

This maybe a handful of Strawberries but in the UK you got Strawberries from the shops. These are all my own now i need to think how i look after the plants over the winter.

The winter here last year was to me great and as it was my first i can't compare it with previous winters but if this coming winter is like the last i will be happy.

I do know that i have to bring in my Lime tree as they don'y like the cold. The mornings can be cold till the sun comes out so in the inside for the Lime and maybe some of the things i have in pots.

So my extra day hasn't been to bad.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

MOT update

Well Monday was to be the day i went for an MOT. I planned to get out before the GNR "Police " would be out dong their road side document checks. I left home at 6.45 am in the morning and arrived early but on my way i called to fill up with LPG gas and to get the car washed. Before getting an MOT the car has to be clean so i power washed all around the wheel arches and gave the body a good clean. Even doing this i arrived at 7.40 am. I settled in for a wait but there is no sign outside as to the opening times so i just had to wait.

The inspection centre didn't open till 9 am  so i had a good wait but i was the first one in the queue. The cost is app 28.18€ much less than the UK. The bonus is that the inspection stations only inspect the car and they have nothing to do with repairs so you get a fair inspection unlike in the UK. A number of times after putting my car in for test in the UK minor things have been found and the garage has mentioned things and offered to repair and retest.

Well the car was tested and passed so by 9.30 am i was at last on my way home and free to drive were and when i want.

The error was on my part from getting the date wrong before i checked the documents.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A Sunday morning

Sunday and i took my Granddaughter to see my chickens after that we went for a walk to see what i had growing in my various growing areas. First we went to see the Strawberries that are still growing and their are about a dozen almost ready to be enjoyed. We then went down to my raised beds were we saw the Chillis, Peppers and Broccoli. Next we went to see the Lemons all five of them but five is better than none so lets be glad of what we have. 

Outside of my front door in front of my aircon unit is were i have a number of plants in pots, well not pots but cut down water containers. We saw more Chilli, Peppers and Tomatos. It was nice to have enjoyed this time with Chelsee but it would have been better had she been with me. Chelsee was on my Laptop on SKYPE, Chelsee and I have to make do with seeing each other on the computer but who knows how soon i can go back to see my Mum and family and Chelsee.

This week i also got to speak to Sean my Grandson  also on Skype. Sean is a little younger than Chelsee but they also keep in touch with each other again using Skype it certainly is a different age we live in. Anyway back to Sean, as he lives so far away from me when i was in the UK i didn't get to see him as much as i would have liked but to him i was just a stranger who he would see not very often and he was so SHY. I have now seen him a couple of times and he is now more outgoing than he was and when i last spoke to him i said that later in the week i would take him to see my chickens and i hope that i can speak to him today but who knows.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

How to make Scouse

I have just found a great website and on it is a joke section, the joke below is from it and i hope that you all enjoy it. The site was found as i wanted a recipe for making the perfect Scouse. I found what i wanted but i also found a bit more than i wanted

Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Heaven, God went missing for six days. Eventually, the Archangel Gabriel found him, resting on the seventh day. He inquired of God, "Where have you been?" God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look Gabriel, look what I've made." Archangel Gabriel looked puzzled and said, "What is it?" "It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put Life on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a great place of balance." "Balance?" inquired Gabriel, still confused. God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth, "For example, North America will be a place of great opportunity and wealth while South America is going to be poor. Over there I've placed a continent of white people and over there is a continent of black people.," God continued, pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely hot and arid while this one will be very cold and covered in ice." The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a small populated area in the land of Great Britain and said "What's that?" "Ah," said God. "That's Merseyside, the most glorious place on Earth. There's a beautiful river, glorious parks, and buildings, great music and world dominating football teams. The people from Liverpool are going to be modest, intelligent and humorous and they're going to be found traveling the world as expatriats. They'll be extremely sociable, hard-working and high-achieving, and they will be known throughout the world as diplomats and carriers of peace." Gabriel gasped in wonder and admiration but then proclaimed, "What about balance, God? You said there will be balance!" God replied wisely, "Wait until you see the lazy, arrogant, bastards I'm putting next to them in Manchester."

No MOT because i didn't have a registration documnet

This has not been a good week it all started on last week on the Friday when i found that the MOT on my car had run out. Here in Portugal the MOT runs from the birthday of the cars first registration ok i understand that but. When i started the Matriculation process i had to have a Portuguese MOT and the car passed and that was that.I didn't know that soon after i would have to have it all done again but if that's the rules ok. Since i had my car made legal here i have been waiting for the new registration document to arrive and at the MOT they said they can't do an MOT without the registration document.

Monday i went to Coimbra to the IMTT to get my registration document and after waiting my turn to be seen by the person who deals with car matters it was my turn. I have seen the same lady before and knew i would have problems i speak no Portuguese and she speaks no English. But the young lady security officer on the door speaks great English and she came over to translate for me. It also seems that i had to register the car at the Conservatoria department but it seems that all i had to do was go back and get a ticket and queue up to see someone else but this time the person i saw spoke English. After a few minutes he finished reading my car documents from when i made the car legal and replied that the new registration document would be ready to collect the next day not the result i wanted another trip over to Coimbra 45 km away but what could i do but go home.

I was lucky i have a friend here i my village who drove me over so as not to risk a pull by the GNR " police "  and a hefty 250€ fine for having no MOT. As we passed the half way point on our return home we were stopped by the GNR " police " at a road side check. What they do they have a number of officers at a roundabout and stop traffic from all directions to check their documents and ask you to do a breath test. All was ok because we had only had a coffee and we where on our way. Before we left i asked an officer as to the date on my documents i had with me when i needed to get my MOT done. The reason i asked was while i was getting my car registration documents sorted i asked the official when i needed a test to be done. The reply i got and it had the date on screen was for April, but why does the MOT show September i asked but he didn't know. I told the police officer and she said it was the date the car was registered not the date the car was made legal. OK.

On Friday the postman called with the letter i was expecting from the IMTT and it had my registration in so i now have the last of the documents that i need to carry with me as it's law here in Portugal that you have to carry your MOT, Insurance, Registration, Passport and driving licence with you when you are driving in your car at all times.

So Monday morning bright and early and raining i hope, raining because their is less chance of a GNR  " police " road side check. With luck i will get my MOT done and nothing to worry about for another year.  Lastly i have a tow bracket on the back of my car as i do a bit of towing. As it wasn't fitted as new by the manufacturer i have to remove it for the MOT.

Friday, 12 October 2012

First Egg got my first

I got my Chicks on Monday from my mate Greg, he did mention that one would only lay a small egg. How right Greg was, i got my first egg today and it was small very small but it was the first of many i hope.

 The picture below is of the first egg that i got this week. As you can see the small egg in the picture is the first got from my two chickens. I am a little disappointed in not getting any more than one egg in a week. Maybe when they settle down they will start laying more eggs.

The bottom picture is of the two girls eating. There diet is one to envy apart from there layers mash they also get potato peelings, carrot peeling, cabbage, celery, mushroom, apple, pear and banana peeling and rice. Daily they get most of that and lightly boiled. 

What will the coming weeks bring who knows but it better bring eggs or they may end as dinner.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

From Bacon to Baked Ham

I have written before how i make my own Bacon and how successful it is.

After watching a video about curing a Ham  the chef then went on to bake the Ham in the oven instead of boiling it. Not having made my own baked ham i thought i would give it a try. Instead of using a joint of leg pork that is traditional for a Ham/ Gammon for a try instead i used belly pork.

I first skinned the belly and took out the bones. The bones went into my store of bones that will one day make a good stock for some soup. Below is a list of all ingredients that where used in the cure for the pork.

With the belly now boneless and skinless the meat was rubbed well with the salt cure and placed into a plastic bag. Each day the salt draws out some liquid and this has to be discarded and the meat rubbed with the salt cure again. At the 3 and a half day stage the pork will be washed in cold water and dried the curing is now done.

This time instead of using it for bacon i will roll the bacon to form a joint that can be baked in the oven all being well it should be as good as a Ham/ Gammon. I will glaze the joint as it's cooking. All being well at Christmas i will be making my own baked Ham.

250 gm Salt
50 gm Soft brown sugar
5 gm Ground black pepper
A tea spoon each of Coriander, Black mustard seeds, Juniper berries, Fennel seeds.

I have at last finished this project, after the belly was complete i rolled the belly up and placed it for three hours into a slow cooker. " If Heston Blumenthal can cook at slow temperatures then so can i ". After three hours i took the meat out of the slow cooker and kept the water for later to be made into a soup. I used my own home made marmalade as a glaze and then put the meat in the oven for two hours on a low light.

I waited until the next day before i tried my attempt at making baked ham. My time was not wasted the flavour was all i could ask for and the glaze worked very well. As a young butcher i was responsible for cooking the cooked meats for the shops i have worked in. I used to cook full silver sides of beef, whole legs of pork and boiled and baked hams.

One thing i would say if you want to try to make your own baked ham for your Christmas dinner then first give it a try. Use a cheaper cut of meat first and i am sure that you will not be disappointed in the end result.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Chickens Chickens and Chickens

I received a call from the bloke who i got my chickens from. He had just heard that i had lost all my chickens and made a nice offer. He said that he had a couple of chickens he would give me. The chickens were 18/ 20 months old and would carry on laying for a long time to come and i could have them for free. Now that's a nice gesture.

The breeder has thirty chicks a few days old and they are all sold and in about 4 weeks there will be another thirty hatched. From the next batch of chicks i may have another 5 like my last lot so i can raise a few Euro.

After i released the two chickens today they stayed inside maybe because of the stress being moved in boxes and being released into a new home. I went over to see them after an hour and they were out but as i approached they went inside. I took over some peeling from an apple i had just eaten and after a short time they had been out again and eaten all the peelings.

For security i will be locking them in at night nice and secure i don't want get back to loosing any again. For now they don't have names but i am sure that my two grand children will have ideas but i will update with a photo and names when i can

Monday, 8 October 2012

Crushing grapes and not by foot this time

Last weekend was grape picking time. A few weeks ago i got myself a grape press for crushing grapes into juice for making wine. The press had been stored in a Donkey stall at a friends house. Surprisingly the press was in very good order considering it was covered is straw but clean and dry.

I picked two wheel barrow loads of red and white grapes. I also have a stainless steel container about 2 ft X 2 ft X 2 ft. a nice strong box for fermenting wine in.I guess that i crushed all the grapes and found i had about 30 liters of juice. For now the juice is in the stain less steel container and i am waiting for the fermentation process to start.

Although the grapes are red the juice is white, to get red wine you just leave the crushed grapes in the juice to give a rich red colour.

Here is my stainless steel container that now holds about 30 liters of grapes juice that will soon become nice red wine.

The top is wrapped in cling film to keep any creepy crawlies from getting in. After fermentation the wine will be transfered to other containers to finish of the fermentation process.  

This is the top for the press and just sits on top of the press.

More photos will follow of the press as soon as i can.

Friday, 5 October 2012

What a free week this has been

What a week this has been. I went out on Monday and picked some Blackberries for a Blackberry and Apple crumble. Not enough blackberries to make just a blackberry crumble but who cares blackberry and apple it is. Across from the blackberries there is a tree full of Figs although i may not be a big lover of Figs but one or two at a time is not bad. I counted on my Strawberry plot 7 strawberries that are close to being ready to be picked. I hope that i can pick them all at the right time and they are all ready together 7 is the most that have been ready at the same time.

Today wednesday with Keith who now lives in Vale Boa we picked a full wheel barrow of red and white grapes. There are lots more to pick but Fernando parks his car by them and i don't want him to catch me picking them. He doesn't know that i have permission to pick them but how would i explain to him that i have been told i can take them when they are ready. The language barrier is the problem here.

Next to the Fig tree there is a Quince tree. Quince look just like a pear but they can only be used to make a type of marmalade called Quince jelly. I have found a few recipes for Quince wine. Due to the amount of grapes i have i don't know if i will be able to make Quince wine but for further information look on this link this is a Forum run by wine makers in the UK i have found them a great help up to know.

Today thursday i went to the weekly market in Arganil. At the market there is a section where all the food stalls are in the same place. At one stall i saw some nice Red Peppers and decided to buy two and picked the ones i wanted, when it was my turn i handed the two peppers over to the lady and she gave them back to me without charge. Free.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Autumn is here and the nights are staring to get darker

Ir's now that time of year again. Summer has been and Autumn is here and the nights are staring to get darker but it has been a great summer.

Apart from the fires the weather has been great with none of the extreme heat we had last year. We have had a few days of much needed rain but not enough to speak about. If the coming winter is like last year I for one will be very happy. Last year was my first winter here and it was really very pleasant cold in the morning but as the sun came out it got much warmer a really was nice.

The entrance to the River Bar in Gois.

When i was last there two young girls where using a raft to take people over to the tables in the river. Hope they got paid for there work

From across the river

Tables in the river now how cool is that.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Even we get rain

Even here is Central Portugal we get rain. Now if you are in the UK ok you have just had a bit of rain and it does seem bad but we get rain as well. This week we had rain but nobody complained about the rain we had. It was badly needed to dampen the forests and it helped in fire avoidance but the sun will soon dry up the ground but in the short term it has helped

Why well it's like this we have had some fires but not just a few fires these fires that i was able to see the result of whole valleys where burnt. But what i saw as i was going to Coimbra was Helicopters flying away from a river after dropping the huge buckets into the water to use to help put the fires out.

This is  the type of helicopter used to get the forest fires under control. These helicopter pilots drop down to rivers and sometime water towers to fill the buckets to drop the water where it's needed most. from what i saw this week there where many places that the firefighters couldn't get to but  the helicopters can.

This picture is not one from Portugal but it is shown to let you see the type of equipment used in fire fighting in Portugal.

Here at Vale Boa there is a water tower and should the valuable water contained in the tower be needed then i am sure that the pilots would soon drop from the sky to fill there buckets in the water should there be a fire close by and there was a need for water quickly they would take it.

A long time ago i saw work being done at the side of a river not far from where i live. I asked a friend who was with me at the time what was going on in the river. It seems that the year before there had been flooding along this stretch of river. What was going on was the river was being made wider so that when the rains come the water will flow better without flooding.

Over the last few years that i lived in the UK during the rains many rivers flooded. Why when they know that the rains will bring flooding don't the powers to be have the rivers made wider. If they can do it in Portugal then why can't they do the same in the UK.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Alvar the builder

Quite a while ago while i was with friends in Sao Martinho we where approached by a retired builder called Alvar. He speaks no English and we speak no Portuguese but he made it known that there was a petition he would like use to sign. It seems that the local Camera/ council ran a free bus on one side of Gois to take the older people from teh outlying villages to bring them to the weekly market. Alvar found out about it and asked for a free bus for the elderly from our side of Gois to be able to get to the weekly market.

We all signed the petition and it seemed that the issue was forgotten until we where shown in Portuguese a timetable on a door of a derelict house close by during August when family members who come back to Vale Boa pointed the timetable to me.

It took till today the 24th September before i came to use the bus service. From Vale Boa there where three of use who boarded the bus for the journey into town for the market. On the route down to Bordeiro the bus soon filled up and instead of calling at Pias and sao Martinho the bus had to go straight the market. As the bus was filled it shows that the service was indeed a needed service.

At the market i saw one stall where there was freshly ground spices there where everything from seedlings to cheese, jewelery almost everything but vegetables one of the things i needed most. Also i use a lot of fruit and i was surprised by the prices on show. I helped myself and soon filled three bags with bananas, apples and pears. A total of over 6 & a half pounds in weight or a little over 3 kilo all for a cost of 3.17€ i know from buying in the supermarkets i normally go to it would have cost me more.  Even the butcher had meat that looked so inviting and asking to be taken home a used for a nice meal.

This market i will now be using almost every week after what i found by looking closely today. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Painting i can do but Artist i am not

During the last week the sun kind but not so hot that you couldn't do any work.  This last week i have been busy with a wire brush cleaning the walls either side of the front door. It was time to start to get the outside of the house painted well the part either side of the front door.  This may be getting to the cooler part of the year but it's a part of the house that would make a nice place to be able to sit outside with a nice something cool to drink.

I am aware that i am now not as young as i was when the dream started so with that i decided to use my scaffolding tower. On the top of the gate where some spikes very sharp and dangerous. I didn't want to be working and perhaps fall on the sharp spikes so i got my angle grinder out and removed the gate. I will at  some time put the gate back but not before the spikes have been removed first.

As well as the walls by the door i am painting the front wall at the front of the house all in a nice clean looking White. At the bottom of the walls one thing i didn't like was at the bottom of each wall was a different colour painted finish. about eight inches up from the floor it was coloured a dirty red colour. A really ugly colour so i have painted from the floor up all white. As soon as i finish i will take some photos as usual to show of.

Now for something that's not about Me.

Now for something that's not about Me.

At the top of the lane past my house is a house that to get to it you have to go through an arch under another house. It has been purchased by an English couple.

After hearing so much about English builders when i heard the name Keith as the builder alarm bells started to ring. I soon found that Keith was a go between for the Portuguese builder who speaks no English. In the first two days the builders removed the entire floor in the lounge and did much of the outside finishing off work left from the previous builder.

The wall that ran midway under the floor that was removed had to have a doorway  cut into it and also a stairway built in the corner and if that's not enough a block and beam floor had to be installed. Then the floor had to have a layer of cement skimmed over the entire floor.

What isn't shown is the floor that was taken out. The floor was a timber floor and also the beams where also timber these where all removed before i was able to take any photos. 

All this was done by four workers and they did a remarkable amount in only four days.

I will look forward to bringing more of this stiry over the coming weeks.

You can see below where a doorway was being cut in the wall below. Also the block and beam floor is being laid.

Here that floor has been completed and now needs skimming with concrete before a final skim.

Here the builder is passing down concrete in a bucket to the other builder who is casting the stairs below.

This is the stairs that are cast in concrete going down to what will be extra rooms at a later date.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Time to get a load of wine made.

For hundreds or maybe thousands of years man has been making alcoholic drinks by means of fermenting all kinds of fruits etc. Today i picked 20 kilo of white grapes and took all the grapes of the stems and 20 kilo is a lot of grapes and stems.

While in Porto during the week i was in Ikea with a friend after dropping of a car back to the car hire place at the airport. During the time in Ikea i found a box and a lid that would do for starting of the fermentation process for my wine i planned to make.

Sunday morning i decided it was time to pick the grapes. It didn't take long and i had about 20 kilo and then started the long job of taking the grapes of the stems after that was done it was time to  juice the grapes. What i mean by that is time to give my feet a good clean and then get into the big box i had the grapes in. Pressing grapes by foot was a strange thing to do as i have a steam juicer but 20 kilo was to much to try and do in a juicer.

The juice is now in a container ready for fermenting not bad for a days work. I went on a Forum i am on asking to borrow or buy a a fruit press. I had a reply from someone who i know not far from me who has one for me to borrow or if i want to buy it. There are still a lot of white grapes where i got mine from but also i have probably at least 50 kilo plus of red grapes so it would help to be able to use a fruit press. The white grapes just have to have the juice extracted from them but the red grapes you can leave the skins in to give the wine the red colour. The juice from red grapes is actually white so the skins are needed for colour.

When i make the red wine i will leave the skins in with one batch to make a good dark red wine. I will also take out the skins a bit early with another batch so as to make a Rose or lighter coloured wine.

I am temped to get the white wine  put through a Still and have it made into a spirit. Cognac is made from wine made from white grapes and then it is distilled a number of times to create Cognac. Seems easy but there is a bit more to it but i don't have the types of grapes  Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Colombard that are needed to make a Cognac type drink but it's worth a try

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The difference a few years make

On another Blog i am working on about Vale Boa but about the history of Vale Boa i was sent some photos of Vale Boa 2011 and some from 2004. Looking at the photos i can make out some difference in my hose and the one next door.

This is the picture i received and cut away some to show just how the house next to mine was in 2004. The roof can clearly be seen and intact.

Here in 2011 it is clear that the roof has fell in and the house is now a ruin.

One thing i have found out is that if you own a property and there are windows that overlook someone else's property then you have to have a barrier in front of the window so your window can't open onto a property that you don't own. Pity as it makes the house look so uninviting with bars up on the windows.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Cherry Cognac and Cherry Vodka and cake.

It's now about three months since i made my Cherry Vodka. The plan was always to use the cherries in a Christmas cake. Well i also made some more cherries but these where in Remy Martin VSOP a really nice Cognac.

After three months the normal Vodka that i used has turned into a really nice Vodka with the added bonus of now being flavoured with Cherries Thhe Remy Martin well enough to say i won't be sharing any it's all for me anyway i made it so i should get to drink it.

Three months on and it was time to prepare to make my Christmas cakes yes two cakes. I couldn't put vodka  cherries and remy martin cherries in the same cake so i had to make two. As i didn't have two round tins i used the two long tins instead and they are now cooling and i will take some photos later but for now i have pictures of the cherries.

I had to sit for a long time splitting the cherries in two just to get the stones out and i did do a good job but then look at the knife i used my best boning knife.

These are Cherries that you can buy in any shop all i had to do was to prick loads of holes in them for the Vodka to infuse with the cherries. It really is that easy prick holes in the cherries and  put the cherries into a bottle with a wide neck and after putting in the cherries then fill with you favourite spirit. It's so easy.


These Cherries are different these cherries came from my own tree at the bottom of the lane by the font. These like the other cherries i sat and pricked loads of holes in them before these where left to soak up the Remy Martin flavour.

I already have other fruit drinks on the go at the moment but the next while they are in season will be Blackberry flavour but maybe a cheap brandy. Even a cheap brandy will turn out really good once it has the added fruit flavour.  

Thursday, 6 September 2012

It's been a painful day today. Ouch

Many years ago maybe as many as 15 years ago i was drilling some aluminum to fix some brackets to it. I slipped and the drill bit broke while embedded in my thumb nail.  The drill bit broke and a piece was left behind in my nail. Painful as it was i had two of my children with me so i had to show i was OK while if the truth be known i was wanting to shout Ouch or something like that.

Well today while at the market in Arganil i was getting out of a friends car and slammed the door on a finger. With so many people around i couldn't scream much as i wanted as the pain was so bad i just kept quiet. It's only hours later that the pain has really got bad. Ok i know about as a man i could never know hat pain is as i am not a woman but believe me it hurts. What i need is someone to administer first aid and ring me cool drinks while i feel sorry for myself.

As the last time i did something daft like this was over 15 years ago well maybe it was a bit overdue. If nothing happens for another 15 years i will be happy but for now i am in pain.

If you are eating then it may not be wise to go any further. Sorry


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Lots of things growing well but could do better.

We are now into September and with the weather as it is i hope for a lot more time for growing. I took some pictures of things yesterday that are ready for picking. Well it really has been a good year for me with my growing food for myself for the first time. Ok the crops where not as i would have liked but with such poor soil i have got the best that i can. Over the winter i will work hard to make the soil much richer for next year. Growing green beans in a tree was worth a try and next year i will probably have loads more beans growing in the tree that's for sure.

One pepper is turning colour to red and you may be able to see there is still one that is green.

Another type of chilli that still has to turn another colour before it's ready for picking. Also i have some of these in my Raised bed.

The purple chilli you see at the top has to turn red as those lower down have and then in the freezer till they are needed.

A nice little red chilli almost ready to pick in a few more days.

From an Orange, Lemon and a Lime i am left with just two lemons still there is always next year.

A little red chilli ready for putting into a Chilli con carne. But for now stored in the freezer till i make my next chilli

The sky is full of Smoke

The next subject i should be talking about was about how things have been growing etc but while out today and these evening i must go back to the fires.

I went over to a place called just outside of Oliveira do Hospital where someone was selling up to return home. On the way there in the distance i could see huge clouds of smoke in the sky. In some places you could also see the smoke rising above the skyline. What is rather upsetting is that this time last year i had been here a month but saw no signs of fire or smoke in the sky. There had been fires but none so near that you could see the smoke in the sky like today.

Looking down the lane i took a picture that i have already put on my Blog and it was clear that smoke was in the sky. Tonight as i went out to water my plants i could see in the distance that the sky was growing dark so i went to get my camera and took some alarming pictures that you can see blow

Helicopters and planes could be often seen today doing there part to control and put out the fires. I even saw down in Gois the Fire tenders though not like i know from the UK  but machines suited for the terrain here in the Central part of Portugal.

The brave men and women who fight these fire are not paid they all do it voluntarily i certainly do thank them because it's these brave people that keep places like where i live safe. The sky here is normally a beautiful blue colour and at night the stars twinkle away for all to see. Today the sky was taken over by smoke i can only say i hope very on of the brave fire fighters returns home safe. 


Monday, 3 September 2012

16 Die is forest fires in Portugal

This time of year forest fires seem to be a common thing in Portugal. Here in Central Portugal we seem to be having our share of forest fires like the rest of the country. Our local fire department known as the Bombeiros, they are made up of Volunteers and don't have the modern machinery that you would see in the UK. The machines they have may be old and look like they should be scrapped but they are designed and built for the conditions found here and do a job the the modern UK machines could do or get access to the fires due to there size and design.

Below is some text from a UK News Paper that shows just how serious it is if it gets International coverage.

I also am showing a pictures i took looking down the lane from where i live. If you look at the skylive above the trees it's a greyish colour and then it  goes to blue. That's the smoke in the sky and at a time like this we must spare a thought for those brave Men and Women who are fighting the fires.

Fire crews are still struggling to bring wildfires in the southern Algarve tourist region under control today, officials have said.
The death toll from two weeks of record blazes rose to 16 when a firefighter, who had been burned in a forest fire in central Portugal last week, died of his injuries late Wednesday night.
Almost 500 firefighters, working with 139 fire trucks and helped by 240 soldiers, contained most of the fires in the Algarve region that had raced for five days through a hilly inland area of dense forest.
Strong winds and a heat wave drove the fires.
The main fire moved to within about five miles of Lagos, a major holiday town on the southern coast, before being brought under control, said Antonio Gualdino, spokesman for the National Fire Coordination Center.
The wildfires have charred a record 215,000 hectares (531,000 acres) so far this year, an area almost the size of Luxembourg, according to an estimate by the Forest Service.
The government has announced a national disaster in some areas and has requested financial aid from the European Union.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Life is just so good

I am so lucky life is good and every day i am able to look back in the evening and say That was another good day.

Today is no exception after sterilizing a load of straw for my next raised bed. Sterilized whatever for, well in this raised bed is mushroom compost and not wanting any bad bacteria to spoil it the straw had to be sterilized. I then after it had time to cooled i then spread it over the raised bed and then covered it with a layer of mushroom compost and then soil. Not just any old soil, soil that was so dry after sieving it into a wheel barrow it was more like a powder than soil. Then i had to  take it down to my raised bed and spread it over where the raised bed was. The difficult part was spreading over the raised bed because it was like powder. It had been dug out from where someone was having a pool base built. The soil had been left in the baking sun for a couple of months and was  dry it was more like powder. After a good watering hopefully it should be ok. Next i need some horse manure and i am told the Co-operative in Arganil have it for a little over 3€ for a 70 liter bag.

Tomorrow i will hope to get my Carrots planted for later in the year and i want them to do well after all this work i have done to give them a good home.

I got to go to Coimbra late in the afternoon with a friend and while there we went to Makro. I like the flour you can get at Makro even though it is a little bit more than i would pay at the likes of Lidl, a little over 8€ for 20 kg. Also i got some Currants and Sultanas for both my Christmas cakes.

Talking of Christmas cakes this year i am going to make two cakes but in tins like you would use for a meat loaf.

The reason for this tin is because i have two but also i have some very nice Cherries that have been in Vodka for the last three months. I also have some Cherries that have been in Remy Martin for the last three months. It would be wrong to mix them up so i will have to make two cakes. Because i can.

In the cakes will be Currants and Sultanas. At Makro they have Currants and Sultanas that are huge not at all like you get in Asda or Tesco  in those little bags of 100gm or 250gm these bags are a Kilo. Any over i will be using them in my bread.

I have mentioned before that i make all my own bread and i often use Currants or Sultanas in it  i would normally  put in 50gm of either Currants or Sultanas it does make a nice change to my bread. Before you get to impressed i use a bread maker but then again what can you expect from a man with such a busy life as i have.

Well that's all in a day so as you can see life is good in fact very good.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

I need my knives sharpening

Leaving school i decided to become a Butcher my line of thinking was that you can't get a machine to cut and prepare meat. You also could get to meet Girls. Now remember that i was 15 and a half just the age to start to have girl friends. I was lucky when i left school in the 1965 it was a great time to be starting out in the new world of having to work and earn a living, no more delivering paper for the news agent to get my pocket money. Instead i had to get a job because it was time to leave school behind me.

My first job was in a shop in Liverpool called Coopers now Coopers was the Harrods of Liverpool full of posh customers people running around helping rich people shop. The smell of roasting coffee and bread made working there a real pleasure. But my time there was to come to an end  i was only getting £4 and 8shilling a week in todays money £4 40p now i had to get the bus into Liverpool town centre and pay for my dinners and give my Mum money for my keep and have a social life.

I found a job in another butchers less than half way to Liverpool town center and for an extra 4 shillings a week. Now 4 shillings may not be a lot but i could go home at dinner time it i wanted my bus fair was much less but i had a bike and i got more money. But i got to met lots of girls my own age and life was good it was here i was to meet my first wife and also Jean. Jean was my first love and is still that one special person and she will always have a place in my heart.

We used to have an Italian man call each week to sharpen the shop knives and he had a bicycle that he could pedal and a grinding wheel spun round and it was on this he sharpened the knives.

I went to a craft fair in a Town called Arganil some time ago. I saw  man sharpening knives down one of the lanes but as it was late in the afternoon and a long journey home and back to get my knives sharpened seemed a waste of time. If i had gone home he may not be there when i got back so i didn't bother. But i do need my knives sharpened but here in Central Portugal i can't find anywhere to get them done.

As a butcher we used what was called a Steel to keep our knives sharp but there is only so much you can do and now Mr knive sharpener where are you?