Peter's Blog

Iberianspices spicesiberia

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The last of my Potatoes

The ground that i have been using is very poor. It's never been used and really i would not have used it but i just wanted to give it a try.

Next year i will be better prepared, i will put loads of manure and fertilizer in as soon as i can so as to get it ready for next year. If there is time i will get something in for the last few months.

Over the next few days i hope to be able to borrow a sieve and get all the stones out of the spoil ready to use again.

This is the last of my potatos that i have just lifted today. So when they are gone that's it back to buying them from the local shops.

I planted red skin and white skin ones and they where worth the wait.

If you look close you can see the stones in the soil. This piece of ground had never been used to grow anything apart from weeds.  The   potatos where next to these strawberries in ground just as bad.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A lovely surprise in my email today.

I never have grown up i am like any child i love getting surprises and today was one of those days. I am good with a camera but nowhere as good as my mate Richard. I received an email and upon opening it i found a picture that Richard had put together for me that tells a part of my story of my life here in Portugal.

There is the gable end of the house as it was when i moved in. Then a picture of me after i had just got the cable guy to fix my internet and phone line. The road sign as you approach Vale Boa. Me and the car. A big bowl of oranges i had just picked. Some flowers from up on the estate. Lastly my chicks, i fell out with the white one his name was No1 and the reason i fell out was because he pecked my leg and made it bleed. Then i had flies stopping for a drink of fresh human blood. No1 was going into the pot on the 1st September for a celebration. As i have said before i have lost all my chicks due to a Mongoose getting in and killed them all and getting away with one for his dinner.

Richard the pictures where  a nice surprise and Thanks.

Monday, 23 July 2012

A couple of nice things today.

Today i went down stairs to my cellar check how the mushrooms where getting on. Yesterday the first sign of mushrooms was coming through  and today they had doubled in size from yesterday. Mushrooms normally double in size everyday.

This type of mushroom is called an Oyster Mushroom. When they grow big enough they can be picked and enjoyed.

The next surprise i got was when i was watering my plants was that one of my Tomatos had turned colour and is almost ripe. Also my Peppers and Chilli's are now almost ripe and my green beans also look good.

My first tomato i have grown myself. My Mum and Dad grew Tomatos all the time as i was growing up. Now it's like i am following  on from what my dad had shown me as a child. It's surprising as i pinch out the side shoots it's like when i did it as a child.

Nice green beans and as soon as there are enough i will enjoy them with my dinner. Comes in handy having a tree next to the beans to train them up the tree trunk.

These Chillies are looking so good. But how hot they are who knows.


It looks good everything is coming on so well.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A great weeks work done.

It's been a long time coming and many challenges for me to address, but it's done. I have at last a new Ceiling.

This week i have finished the plasterboard and jointed the seems. Instead of plastering the whole ceiling i have been watching many of the videos on Youtube about sealing the seam instead of the whole board. I made a mess of the first joint but after careful rubbing down with sand paper it was as it should have been. After this i did the next three joints and stood back proud of what i had just finished.

At the top of the ceiling  at the side of the ridge beam i have a narrow strip to paint, i left this bit because i still have to finish the ridge beam. After painting the ceiling i intended to seal the ridge beam again with Linseed oil but i didn't have a brush so i carried on with the other jobs i had to finish.

On a number of Forums in Portugal members have advised adding 10% water to the paint for the first coat. I watered the paint 10% but i did two coats instead of one.

The ceiling now has had a total of five coats of paint and it looks great. Next my attention was to the lights. The holes where cut for the light fittings and all the fittings are in place. I only had 9 LED lights instead of 12 that i need because when i got them i got the quantity i needed wrong. For those who don't know LED bulbs are very cheap to run. One bulb if used for approximately 2.7 hrs per day will last 15 years or 15,000 hours so they say on the packaging. Now that's  great i can't see me ever having to change any bulbs in my life time, i hope.

I tested the lights to make sure that all was ok, but. To test the fittings i put in some of the normal type bulbs that can fit in these type of fittings and they are the ones hanging out in the picture below. Those in the fittings on the ceiling are the LED's bulbs.

Ridge beam to oil and all is complete. Time for a beer or two.

All lights working and ok just three to change to new LED's

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Ready to get new chicks.

Now that my chicks have gone it's time to get ready and learn from them. I have two places for them to and one was hopefully where eggs would be laid and the other is for them to perch.

I know i lost them all but in the time i had them they had the best i could give them so i don't feel to bad. The next chicks will have the same Layers mash, boiled rice and greens ever day. All i need now is to get some new chicks. I have found someone who has some that are laying already so i may get some from and not have to wait like i did before.

This is where hopefully where the new chicks will lay me eggs for my breakfast. All nice and clean ready for the new chicks to move into.

Plenty of space for them to perch when not enjoying the outside space on a hot sunny day.

What do you do when it's hot, paint the ceiling

It's been a long time but at least for the ceiling the end is in sight. A fellow scouser while staying not far from me came over one morning to help me lift the sheets of plasterboard up so i could secure them to the ceiling. These are the type where you just cover the joint with a kind of tape and skim over the joint. I have now done the joints and today i put a first coat of paint on the ceiling so as any blemishes will show through and i can the then sort them out

After painting the ceiling i found just two small spots that need a bit of sanding down and then it should be just another coat of paint and job done.

I remember a long time ago buying the mixer pictured left. At the time i was asked what i got it for. I got it because we where doing a house up and i wanted to mix my own paint for a feature on the fire place. I got talked out of my plans but i kept the mixer. I was advised to mix  my paint for the ceiling with 10% water why who knows but i did as i was advised and my mixer came in very handy when it was needed. Job done.

It's taken a long time to get to this point in time but who cares i have all the time in the world to get it done but i did it Me all on my own.


Just a couple of spots to be rubbed down and it's looking good. Just the ridge beam to be done with a bit more linseed oil and varnish it and that's all done.

It's hot hot hot

Yesterday it was hot, it was hot but not like in the UK  when you get sweaty  and under your arms gets all wet and smelly. It was just hot. I went down to my car to take a picture of the dashboard as it has the temperature on it. The first picture shows the temperature and the time.

As it got hotter i had to put the aircon on to cool the house down a bit. On the aircon unit it has the temperature, when i switched it on it was showing 33c and thsi was the inside temperature.

Good job i had the sense to get myself air conditioning for when i moved and it proved a good buy. Oh and it heats as well.

Wow 37c inside the car. 

This was inside the house on the air con unit.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Last man standing has now gone. No6 is no more.

This morning at 7.20am i was woken by a noise, a noise that i couldn't figure out what it was. I had been in the middle of a dream, i lay there trying to get back to it but i couldn't. I lay there till 8.30 when because of the noise i got up. It seems that a neighbor was having his land strimed. All his grass was now burnt by the sun a browny colour and dead and it was a fire hazard. After the guy had done his job he just left all the dead grass where it was, now that is a fire hazard and opposite my front door.

Last night i went up before to check how No6 my cockerel was. He was the last surviver of the attack by what may have been a Mongoose. He was on his feet and was looking better than he had so i was hopeful that maybe he will survive. How wrong i was before i even had my morning cup of tea i went to check how he was. Shock he was lying on his side but still breathing but looking like he was on his last gasp for breath. I went back an hour later and he had passed away. That's all my birds gone.

I tried not to get to involved but after raising them from what looked like little balls of fluff to only a couple of weeks away from laying eggs. It was a very sad start to the day but you must get on with things. No6 was named after my liking of the cult program The Prisoner who himself like my No6 was a prisoner. The only difference was that my No6 is now dead.

I saw an advert for chickens for sale after emailing the seller i find that they are between 10 and 15 months old and they are already laying eggs. Well that may sort out my breakfasts. Now how about pigs laying Bacon now that would be good.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Shock Horror and Great Sadness and an Update.

As soon as i open the door to my house maybe i make a noise but my Chickens start to get excited because they always hear me. Never a day goes by that i get out without them hearing me come out. Yesterday evening as usual i went to give them some food  i normally do in the evening as i was told whatever you give them at night adds weight on them. What they get during the day gets burnt of as they run around how true it is i don't know but i feed them at night as well. They had a good amount of cabbage leaves and a tub of boiled rice. Boiled rice is the favourite, whatever i give the they go mad for the boiled rice.

This morning i tried to get out without them hearing me as i do each time i open the door. Today it was boiled Potato and Carrot peelings, but today it was potato peeling from my own potatos so a treet and boiled rice as well.

I managed to get the door open without them hearing me. As i went over to there place they still made no noise and i started to imaging the what may be wrong. As i got close i could see that there was feathers everywhere. Something was wrong, as i looking in i could see No1 the white cockerel and one of the hens lying on the floor dead and in the other half of the chicken house another hen cowering in the corner of the room. Next door was my big black cockerel as well cowering in a corner. One hen is missing presumed dead.

Upon checking around the chicken run i found a place where something had  dug under the fence and got in and killed two and took one hen away. I had prepared my chicken run to be safe and secure and i was happy with what i had done but what do i do now to make there home even more secure? i don't really know what to do now

Today is Friday the 13th i have looked in on my remaining two chicks a hen and No6 a cockerel and i have just found that the last hen has now passed away. No6 is just sitting in the corner maybe in shock i don't know. I am just leaving him alone to see if he gets any better. Should he be no better by tomorrow i will take him to the breeder for advice but if he has to be put down then so be it. I don't want to see him suffer so i may have to let him go.

I have watched River Cottage many times and the one thing i have learnt from watching Hugh is how he likes to make sure that all his live stock have the best life that he can give them. It's after watching these programs that i can say that i gave my chicks the best i could. It's sad that they ended there short life the way they did.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Got the better of a con man

Almost 30 years ago i had a contract to maintain a fleet of vehicles owned by Pickfords removals in Liverpool. I had many opportunities to watch how they worked and how careful they where with the belongings of others. I have in recent times had the opportunity to use the experience i gained so long ago. I had a job to move the belonging from a removal van down a tiny lane and put them into storage until the where needed by the owner. As the van was being unloaded i took photos of all damage to the few items that had damage on them. In case the owner decided that they had been damaged while in my care.

This is one of a series of photos i took after removing the contents after the house was sold. I put them into storage until the owner can make his own arrangements for his property.

 This another of a series of photos i took of the kitchen. It is obvious that there is no damage in the cooker area.

Two days before the final documents where to be signed and the property transfered to the new owner the new buyer inspected the property as he was moving his daughter in.

I received a phone call from the estate agent asking about damage " behind where the cooker had been " I assured him that there was no damaged to any area where the cooker had been. I don't know what the proposed owner was up to but i am glad tha i was able to draw on my experience of my time with Pickfords.

The ceiling got plastered well started

This week  i managed to get some tape and filler for the seams between the sheets of plaster board on the kitchen ceiling. I have watched some videos on Youtube about how to fill the seam on the ceiling.

Just put  some filler along the seam and put the mesh tape over the filler and rub the tape well into the filler. After you have done this now use a big wide spreader knife. This is like a big wide scraper but it is more flexible and it is ideal for the job.

All this looks so easy i watched one video a number of times until i felt happy that i could do the job. So i thought.

This looked so easy just spread the filler up along the seam now you rub the tape into the filler that done and it all looked good. I should have stopped now while i was ahead but i did keep going. foolish me.

Now i got some filler and started to fill all along the seem and at this stage it was about eight inches wide but only a thin covering of filler. I now started to get the spreader knife wet so i could remove the excess and that's where i went wrong. Most of it was OK apart from a section in the middle where it just seemed to drag. Oh dear what do i do now this doesn't happen in the videos. So i left it alone to dry over night and come back to it today.

You can see string from the ceiling cables and thats so if the cable drops down behind the ceiling i can get it back. since these photos i have tied each pair of strings together as an added precaution.

The ceiling in the photo may look good but it will need sanding down. That's what i planned for today, i got a big piece of flat wood and some sand paper great idea until i found that the filler wasn't completely dry. What a mess i made trying to sand filler that wasn't dry, ok i will now have to wait till it's dry.

I should add for those who don't know there is an edge along the plaster board where you fill  and then smooth it of and it saves you having to have the whole plaster  board plastered. If it's done right all you need to do is then paint the whole ceiling and ob done.

OK plan C this time i put filler over the seam and rubbed in the tape but made sure that it wasn't proud of the line. If you look close at the picture on the right you can just make out the line that you fill to. Why do these people who make the videos make it look so easy a job to do.

Where is plan B you may ask. Wish i knew but plan B was someone in my past whose address i lost. So i affectionately refer to her as Plan B. Never forgotten.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Getting close to the end of my first Brew

Well it seems weeks ago that i started with my first batch of wine. I made a gallon of Cherry wine and now the point has come where it's stopped fermenting but it is still cloudy. I have siphoned the wine and left the sediment behind. The picture if from before i siphoned the wine into another bottle. That explains why the bottle is still covered with dust. 

This is the bottle before i siphoned it into another bottle. I then added the Finings  this is something you add to your wine to make it clear and then it can be bottled. 

I use a lot of Tomato juice/ pulp in my cooking and the bottles are 1 liter in size just the size to store wine it to use in the coming months. 

But first it has to finish and go nice and clear and then we bottle and taste.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Only a month to go and a year has past

It is approaching my 1st year here in my place in the sun. I intend to recap the year past. Lots of happened in the last year.

So much has happened and just where do i start. Please take the time to come back and see what i have made in my new life.