Peter's Blog

Iberianspices spicesiberia

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

One year finishing and another starting

On the news i have just been watching the fireworks on Sydney Harbour bridge in Australia. A whole year has passed by and it's been another good year for me and i hope so for all the people who take the time to read my Blog.

It's not just been Christmas and New Year but also the 1st January would have been my Dad's birthday. We lost after a long illness in 1998 but he is and will never be forgotten.

Yesterday the 30th was the birthday of my eldest son  and on the second of January it's the birthday of my youngest son. As children you can't imagine how they would grow up and what they would be doing now at 34 and 30 years of age. Both are doing well and i am so very proud of them both.

Then there is my daughter who is 32 in July. She found herself a single parent to my favourite grand daughter this last year. Things have been difficult for her but she has done a wonderful job but she is lucky to have such a wonderful daughter.

I have only one wish for the coming year and it's that at some point i would like to see my children and grand children come over to see me. But not now in the winter i can wait for the summer.

The best thing would be to see Sean and Chelsee and have them stay with me.

For now It's time to say Happy New Year to you all.

I have just re read this the last entry of 2013 and found something that may not sound right. Chelsee is not just my favourite Grand Daughter she is my only Grand Daughter. As Sean is my Favourite Grandson, he is my only Grandson.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Well it's Christmas and dinner

Well it's Christmas and i hope that all who read my Blog are having as good a Christmas as i intend to have. Christmas dinner is this year something i have paid a lot of attention to. The first year i was asked out to friends and last year i just had a ready nice dinner. This year i have really made an effort
First was my cake that had been well prepared. I first soaked the cake in so much alcohol that it would taste great but then after cooking it i put another 20ml Remy Martin VSOP into the cake and left it to soak in. As the cake is for me and i am a Remy Martin drinker why not indulge myself after all it's Christmas.

Then the meat. As an ex butcher still with my skills intact i got myself a Turkey Thigh and drumstick. First i skinned the thigh and drumstick and froze he skin to use later. Then the drumstick was cut up for curry and that leaves the thigh. I carefully removed the bone and all of the veins and froze the meat till it was needed today. After i had prepared my turkey thigh i weighed it and it was over two and a half pound in weight just a nice weight for me and my dinner.

I had kept back one pack of bacon from when a friend came back from the UK to wrap my sausages in for Christmas dinner. You can't get little chipolatas like you can in the UK supermarkets here just normal size sausages. The sausage her will have to do but as the skins have been filled a little to much you can't twist them to make little chipolatas so i just wrapped a normal size sausage in bacon easy and then it was done.

I have never made Yorkshire pudding before and i know it's beef you have Yorkshire pudding with but as it's my Christmas i will have what i want. I made a sample pudding mix to give it a try but like Beer batter i made Cognac Yorkshire pudding mix and it was good.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

18th December a sad day

Tomorrow the 18th December is for me a sad day. My best friends son has passed away and is being cremated. I got the news two weeks late because my friend couldn't get in touch as i had deleted e-mail addresses that i was getting junk mail from. The reason that the cremation is over two weeks since he passed away is probably down to a post Morten i couldn't ask why it had taken so long since he passed.

The first time i saw Neil he was in a plaster cast and that was about twenty five years ago or more. During that time Neil never enjoyed perfect health and now he is gone. I am sad because i couldn't get there to show my respect at this sad time. The last time i saw Neil when i asked how he was as always he would say Fine. He always let you think he was OK when he was not, now he can't say fine but he will not suffer again, he won't be forgotten.

R.I.P. Neil

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Now under the stairs has been cleaned out at last.

I arrived on the 1st August 2011 and for the first few weeks i was sorting out all the belonging that had been left in the house. To me it was all junk but looking back i was giving away lots of stuff that i could have made good use of. As i was moving things out of the house i put then outside by the front door. August is a time when lots of people come back to houses that they own in our village for a months holiday.

Lots of people seeing what i had put outside asked if they could take things and i just said yes. Looking back i should have put things in the cellar until i knew what i had and what i could use and then dump what was left.

Today i had a clean out in the one spot i had not touched since i moved in. I had used under the stairs to store buckets, mops and lots of other cleaning stuff.

I found in the very corner three oil lights one battered and damaged and that one went in the bin. The other two i cleaned up and the top two pictures are the cleaned up lamps. The strange thing is i took the wicks out when i cleaned the lamps and one i had to take a picture of.  As the picture shows this is two bits of wick joined together with a bit of black cotton. I know that people are not well off but to tie two bits of wick together is a bit much.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Brrrrr it was cold Sunday morning

The mornings have been cold the land is white with frost and when the sun comes up the frost is gone and the day gets better. Once the sun goes down so does the temperature down to freezing until the next day when the sun comes up again.

I prepared for the cold with 3 pairs of socks on, jeans and track suit bottoms, 2 tea shirts and 2 jumpers and a coat and hat. Even with all that i was cold, my feet felt like they had hypothermia. Someone said to have cardboard on the floor and stand on that to try and not get my feet cold. Well i am open to ideas and yes a flask for a warm drink. 

Sunday was no exception at 4.30am in the morning it was cold as it has been for a few weeks with frost everywhere. I was going to the market in Miranda do Corvo. Over night the Portuguese get to the market i am told at midnight and mark out there spot where they will trade from then they sleep in there vans.

I arrived at about 5.30am only to find all the best spots had gone but i squeezed in where i normal park myself. It seems that with Christmas close by the market almost doubles in size something i didn't know anything about. The downside was a number of stock items that i had hoped would last me till the new year sold out. That was bad enough but there is also another market on the 22nd December and then 5th January. Now i need to get restocked before it's to late or i will be letting people down and that's something i don't want to do.

Due to the amount of people trying to get a spot to sell from i will have to be at the market even earlier than normal. Maybe a 3am start but normally once a month so it's not to bad.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

What a stroke of bad luck

What a stroke of bad luck sums it all up. I got my car back today after a short time in a great garage for repairs. during the last week i have had 30kilo of spices delivered and they all need repackaging into smaller sizes.

All packages have to have the rear label in Portuguese and that's not really a problem once designed i keep them for another time. But a bad but. The new labels delivered a little while ago were a different size. The problem being ever label had to be redesigned to fit the new label size. After a couple of hours work all was done now time for dinner and then get started printing. I always print in back as it's cheaper if mistakes are made and they do get made. I had three new print cartridges sent so i had spares ready for when i run out. Page one done great only another 59 pages to print Oh no my printer stopped working and it was the blue cartridge was the one at fault and i can't explain why.

The local internet cafe is open at 10am in the morning so i will have to go there to get my printing done. It's a fifty mile round trip to get a new print cartridge or a refill for my printer. Oh well what will can i do now with my time. Mmm

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Quickest parcel delivery yet

For a long time i have used a company called Pharosparcel's use UPS for there delivery. On Monday at 5.11pm a parcel was collected in Liverpool  and at 5.36pm a parcel was collected from Manchester bound for me in Portugal.

Normally it's 5 days for delivery but this time UPS did a fine job at 11.45am this morning much less than 3 days i had both parcels delivered. Now it's that's not good i don't know what is.

There is another parcel waiting for a couple of other bits waiting to make up a Red cross food parcel. My next parcel will have, Router bits, Cam belt a parcel from my Mum oxo cubes, cheese, tea bags and more. Red cross parcel is a nickname that is used by use Brits here in Sunny Portugal for any parcel that has food in it. No disrespect to the Red Cross.

Tree felling is now almost done.

Work is going on very well picking my Olives and here are a few pictures of progress. Progress is slow as getting up a ladder and cutting branches of a tall tree at my age is not a speedy task to undertake.

This tree has had it's branches removed and all it needs now is for the what is left to be cut down to about 2 metre's tall. All the branches will be cut up and get used for firewood when it's had time to dry.

My ladder is in front of the tree i am cutting down to get the olives from. To the right you can see my cherry tree, the olive tree was as tall as the cherry but not any more.

Here you can see the branches stacked up ready to be cut down for fire wood. All the thin bits will just be put on a bonfire along with the leaves.

Monday, 11 November 2013

I'm not old really I'm not

For the last few weeks we have been getting language lessons from the local primary teacher. The teacher also teaches English to a group of elderly woman who when we met them they seem to be getting on very well in learning English.

If only we and i mean the local Brit community could make progress as well as the local Portuguese women are. We recently went on a walk for Breast Cancer along with the local school children and the local Elderly people from the local old folks home and our fellow language pupils.

We along with our language pupils where invited to a Chestnut festival in a village 32k away and the local Camara " Council " paid or the event and supplied a coach to take use there. When we arrived or the coach meeting use where all the people who live in the old folks home across the road from where to coach was  waiting.

The band played on.

When we arrived at Alvares where we were being taken it turns out to be the old folks home and infant school. Something tells me i have been taken on an old folks outing. Now OK i am soon to be 65 years old in coming  March but i am not old or i don't feel old enough to be going on old peoples days out.

No Health and safety, no fire brigade, no safety barrier in fact everything that you wouldn't get in the UK. But this is how you cook chestnuts the Portuguese way.

Enough of my moaning. When we arrived there was a fire on the ground a circle about 10ft round and the chestnuts were on top of the flaming straw. The ladies who work at the home had prepared plenty of food room cheese sandwiches, ham sandwiches two types of sponge cake and as many chestnuts you could eat. Wine, coffee and a local type of spirit called XXXXXXX. name to follow.

What would health and safety make of this i wonder. Naked flames no fire protection or safety boots. It could only happen in Portugal.

Entertainment was from a band of local musicians who played local type music. There where a number of very old people who where dancing with the help of carers

Sunday, 10 November 2013

To much spam and junk.

Like everybody reading this Blog i use e-mail. My first e-mail account goes back about 20 years and as it was my name i had given it out a bit to much. Over the years i had a number of times had e-mails that had a virus in them. To this day i don't accept an e-mail if i don't know who it's from for that very reason. While i used windows i would always run a virus checker first. Due to the problems over potential virus attachments i ditched windows a long time ago for a safer operating system called Linux in fact Ubuntu Linux.

Anyway back to e-mails, Due to this problem i opened a number of e-mail accounts for various reasons. But recently Yahoo and Hotmail  accounts i had gave me problems again and in a couple of days i found that on one Yahoo account i had over 157 spam  e-mails. It was a constant problem that had been going on for to long and needed to be dealt with. My simple answer to this was to contact all those who had reason to e-mail me with new e-mail address's.

I have now deleted 5 e-mail address's from Yahoo and Hotmail. My original e-mail with Netscape was reasonably easy to delete. I also found that Hotmail was also easy to delete. Yahoo has been difficult to delete and i still have 2 to close it's no good just not logging in. E-mails from people you know will still arrive but what you need is for the e-mail to be sent back so that they know the e-mail couldn't be delivered.

My advice has always been to have a personal e-mail account for those closest to you then an e-mail for your extended family and then one to use for general use. That normally would be safe but you still can't be sure that those closer to you haven't had there e-mail accounts compromised. 

One way problems arrive is when someone adds your e-mail to an e-mail they send to a group of friends. Each in the group also get your e-mail and it only takes one of them to have a virus of some kind on there machine and that's when problems start.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

It's that time of year again a time to Remember

It's that time of year again. Everybody has there It's that time of year again when they remember an event, a loved one. For me it's all about how i have changed over the years.

In my teens every Sunday Dad would always have on the TV World at war. Dad was not glorifying war but was remembering his role in that bloody time in his life. Being a teen growing up to take my part in life didn't want to hear about the past. It was around the time i started work, i had money in my pocket, had a social life, meet girls why did i want to know about a war that as over and had been for about 20 years.

As Dad grew older i began to see that it was pride i could see, pride in that he took part to give me this new life. Going to see the Rolling Stones, meeting the girl who was and still is the love of my life all came at a price. Millions died so i could enjoy this new life as i grow older i now understand what others had done for me.

As the years pasted Dad became active in the various veterans associations always leading being, secretary, treasurer, etc.Dad took pride once again in helping others, some of the veterans needed help others where able to help. To Dad they where all the same they had had an active role like he had all those years ago.

It is with pride that i remember that Dad had three campaign  medals. These medals where only given to those who where on the first day of an invasion for example the Normandy landing. My Dad was on that first day and i am so proud of the part he paid on that bloody day.

Now years later one of my son's joined the Royal Marines. How proud i was to see him pass out and take his part in defending this proud country. As the years have passed i think more and more about Remembrance Day and those who fell and those who survived. The last few years i have made a point of stopping at 11am on the 11th November to pay my respect. This year as i sit here this is the second Remembrance day that my son has retired from the Royal Marines after 13 years of active service. 

This year again i will remember Dad and pay respect to him and those who paid the price that gave me this wonderful life.

Skype and four generations of my family

I use Skype a lot to speak to family mainly and friends. I normally use Skype to take picture of who i am speaking to as i have done today while talking to my daughter in law Margaret. My Mum mentioned that my sister was coming to visit last week and knowing that Mum lives on her own i know how she looks forward to visits. Mum mentioned that my sisters eldest daughter was also calling with her children.

As a family we all live far and wide so this is the first time i have seen four generations of our family. It seems like only a short time ago that we where all at home before we moved on to start our own lives and look at us now. This is one of my favourite family photos and thank you all.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

How to pick olives the Scouse way.

It's getting time to pick the olives that have been growing on my trees. Look on Youtube at how people pick olives what can be more boring than shaking trees or climbing ladders.

My answer was to cut the branches down and then pick the grapes. There was also another reason and it was that the trees had never been pruned for many years. Everything i have been told is that you need to prune back a lot almost to the point where they had been pruned before.

The bonus is that almost all of the branches can be kept and they will go on the log burner over the winter. The second bonus is the olives, i won't get enough to take to the olive press to be pressed into olive oil but i can process them and put them in jars for sale at the market.

The final bonus is that growing all over the trees and branches is Lichen. Lichen is what railway model makers use to put on the backgrounds they make for the railway displays. Lichen is used to make trees and bushes and i can use all i have on my olive trees.

Not bad for a few hours work. Now to salt them and empty the water for the next seven days. 

This is Lichen. People want to buy this so who am i to refuse.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Rains gone washing done

We have had a lot of rain this week and living on a lane that goes down a hill sometimes it's a river not a lane. Our rain normally goes down a gully at the side of the lane but this week it overflowed but that's no problem. A while ago the local Camara " or council " had the lane resurfaced and the camber of the lane now runs away from the house so when it rains the rain drains away from the house.

Getting washing dry at this time is always a problem but so what, today as the sun was shining i put my washing out in the sun to dry. It took less than three hours and it's dry already so it's been a good day up to now.

 At this time of year in the UK i was always coughing very badly with a very bad  chest cough. When i came here to live i found that i didn't cough anymore and it's thanks to the lack of pollution in the air. The air here is clean and pollution free and the picture below shows why. The tree's have something called Lichen growing on them, Lichen only grows in places of very clean air so who's a lucky boy then.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Being without a car

Suddenly the reality of living in another country and way of life makes you think for a moment. My car failed the MOT as i have mentioned before today. My car runs on Autogas and also petrol one thing it failed on for it's annual test was the ABS brake system and that's been fixed but only after getting a part from the UK due to the cost here in Portugal.

My car also failed on the exhaust emissions being high. The test station advised that i switch of the gas when i drive for the retest. This i did as the tester said that the high emission may be from changing from Gas to Petrol. I did as advised but at test the emissions where still very high and the car failed again.

Instead of  going to a garage and have someone changing part after part until they find what's wrong i looked for a specialist who had the right diagnostic equipment. After finding someone i went late one afternoon to ask when i could leave my car for testing. The owner who speaks quite good English said he would have a look there and then. He connected the car to his computer system and quickly ruled out various things and said that i would need to leave the car for further testing.

The day came when i had to leave the car and i was lucky to have a friend to drive me back home. It's only now i feel lost without my car. Now is the first time in 46 years driving that i have not had something to drive or even borrow. Life does get lonely when you suddenly find yourself of the road.

I got a call and the garage confirmed what i found out from calling my cars dealer in the UK , I needed a Catalytic converter wow that's very costly. The garage said the best price he could get was 540€ ouch. Due to competition in the car parts market in the UK you can always get a deal from somewhere. First port of call after getting a part for my brake system was EBay. It didn't take long to find a very good competitive price. £114.02 and delivery to a UK address was free. This was not the cheapest but one i was happy with as the seller has over 50,000 positive feedback so i ordered my part from them.

It's now a waiting game, waiting for the part to be delivered to a UK address and then sent over to me. Wait wait and wait but being without a car will be hard to take. Being out in the country and without a car is not good. There is a bus service from our village each Tuesday morning to go to the market and that's it. OK i have friends but i don't want to put on them as may car is my problem but i should have it back soon

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Ok so it's raining but we need it.

For month after month, after month we had sunshine from morning till night. We had temperatures up to 40c and now it's all gone winter is on it's way. It's not all bad it's just got a little colder during the day 20c is still ok by me but for the last few days we have had rain. As i live half way up a lane in a tiny village you get to see views from the windows looking down the valley. Today with the rain we had what looked like a river outside caused by the constant rain.

The rain stopped about noon and now we have blue skies again. The rain of the last few days has got the tinder dry ground growing again. Gone has the brown dry burnt ground and now we have plant life growing again.

This is a picture taken outside of my front door. Even the wild Fennel is growing well, days ago this was a wilderness all burnt and dead.

The effect of the constant rain has been the timber on my veranda has got wet. One strip of the deck timber has distorted badly and it's not the first time this has happened. This will be replaced when i get to go to the shop i got the timber from but the level of rain was extremely heavy. Little dried up streams now have water flowing again, so what should we expect for the coming winter Who knows but i would rather be here not knowing than in the UK.

A local carpenter says he has not seen this happed before. But once replaced all should be well.

I recently went past a man made lake that i first saw in about May of this year. I didn't have my camera with me but it was clear how much water was in the lake then but now the lake is very low.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Internet who needs internet. ME

For three months i have battled with the phone and internet supplier over my internet speed and a noise on the phone line. Today i went to another house to try my phone in case the fault was on my phone but that was OK.

Four times in the last few weeks engineers have been to our village and worked on teh lines. My friend has no problem with his phone but his internet is slow. Last night an engineer called to work again on the line and also in my house. He changed something in a box on the wall. When he went back to his van i didn't know that he was leaving, i had wanted to get him to test the line and my internet speed but he was gone.

My speed on one day was so slow it didn't even register on the phone companies speed tester. Another day it was faster to upload than download, what crazy times we are having here in my bit of paridise.

It's with a bit of luck that when i can i download loads of stuff so when speed is this bad i have something to watch.

So slow i could walk faster than this.

This is faster to send e-mails that to access the internet.

Still no better.

Better but still can't stream from Filmon.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Autumn is on it's way but still some strawberries

Well Autumn is upon use but that's not stopped the growing process as the pictures below show. Mr favourite is Srawberries, as the picture below shows they are still growing well. I don't expect that they have much longer before they are finished for another year. The Strawberries have started a number of runners and i will cut and pot them on the coming days for next year. Next year i will have a Hydroponics unit up and running. The benefit should be that the strawberries will be hanging down instead of being stuck under leaves and open for the slugs etc to attack.

This year i got from the Miranda Do Corvo market a Scotch Bonnet chilli. For those who don't know they are a very hot chilli. I have a number of Scotch Bonnets hanging up to dry before they get put a way in jars to be used at a later date. 

Here we have a variety of different chilli's outside drying before they will be stored in jars like the Scotch Bonnets.

Good spuds feed on good clean water from the tap and loads of washing up water. Now will they taste of Fairy washing up liquid later after i eat them i will know but i grew them.

Happy days

Reason my website is white

I have just been asked about the fact that my website is shall we say colourless. There is a good reason for that and when i explain you will understand.

For those who have seen my website the background is white and there was a good reason. I first created a Blog as i found it easy to design using a Blog and then giving it to a designer to make the site for me. The one major thing all along was to have the site as easy as i could get it for those who were not very good at using a computer.

The feedback i have had is that it is as i wanted easy to use. Now about the lack of colour.

I came to having to put images for each of the Herbs and Spices so as to let people know what they were buying. I could cut a picture but couldn't find out how to change the background of the picture. A square picture with a round image that was white looked OK on a white background so white it was.

The pictures may look out of focus that's because they are bigger than they should be. I will over time change the whole site when i can cut the image from the background and i can then have a new base colour.

For now the feedback is very good so i hope that you enjoy what you see. If you like it then please click the LIKE on the home page where it says Facebook.

Monday, 14 October 2013

You can even be ripped of in Portugal

Last week I needed a job doing on my car and again i asked the same garage to diagnose the ABS warning light fault as they had a machine to do a test who had previously ripped me off. Now what could go wrong Plenty.

He quoted 169€ for the parts and I said that I could get them from the UK and I did.

Before I left the car I asked if he could do a couple of minor jobs as well I asked carefully how much I needed to get from the bank to pay him. I asked three times and each time he said between 60/ 70€ each time I said is that the final amount.

To my horror on my return he said the bill was 100€, I had taken a friend with me as a witness and I had a Dictaphone with me in case I needed to back up everything I said should I need it.

I said to him five times that he said 60/ 70€ and each time he said he also did the other jobs. Each time I said but I asked what is the amount of money I need to get from the back but he was having none of it he said he was an honest man and the cost was 100€.

I then after five times of trying to get him to see that when he said 60/ 70€ that I asked for the final amount. With not getting anywhere I asked for his Complaints books and he then tried to negotiate at 80€. I then explained that as he didn't give me the complaints book when asked I had to go to the GNR and report him. He soon said OK 70€ but I said no sorry but I had to report him as he didn't give me the Complaints book when asked. After he said 70€ twice I said OK and told him I had recorded the whole conversation and that I will tell all Expats I come into contact with just how dishonest he is. At this point i told him that i had recorded everything in case i needed proof of what had gone.

With this I took the keys and left

Moral of the story. Use the complaints book only when you can back up a complaint

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Iberianspices is now live

It's such a long time ago that i decided to create my own website for selling Herbs and Spices. This came about from my not being able to get the Spices i wanted for my cooking.

I still have some minor bits to finish the site and you can't buy online till Monday the 21st October. It's the home page title that needs work and a number of the latest products i have had delivered .

I am mentioning it now so as it can be seen and to get interest in the site. If the reaction is as good as i have had from the market i go to i will be happy. I had found a supplier in a local town called Arganil and he had a great selection of 12 products. Being an ex retailer i have done the job right, i have 87 different Herbs and Spices and more are on order.

In a day or two there will also be a Facebook page where i will post information and recipes for you to enjoy. Please take the time to look at the website and should you spot something i need to  correct then please let me know.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Chicco did a fine job cutting my timber.

When i moved into my house there where three wooden boxes similar to coffins but used for storage. I set about taking these apart but with the first one i did more damage than i was happy with i was to heavy with the hammer. I ended up with a lot of timber planks from the three boxes and after sanding one plank i knew just how good timber was. It turns out to be Chestnut and due to it's age it's not going to twist or distort as it's well seasoned now so it will be perfect for the job i want it to do.

The timber you see will be cut down to go around the windows and the doors. Also i will have the doors for the kitchen units from the same Chestnut. Like my kitchen ridge beam i will oil the timber first before it's used. I will first find out what i should use to treat the timber but i hope that Allan says to use Linseed oil as it's what i favour . Allan being a carpenter all his working life knows better than i do about getting the best from timber.

Friday, 4 October 2013

When you need a car part ask a Manc

I went last week to get a new MOT for my car at the local MOT station. Here in Portugal it's called an IPO certificate. My car failed because it needed a new ABS sensor but Vauxhall Incorporated it into a wheel bearing. So i needed a new wheel bearing for the drivers side of the car.

I went to a local garage where the owner speaks English and he said to come back the next day and he would get me a price for the part. Next day i arrived to find out what it was going to cost to get the car repaired. I was told 169€ wow that's a bit much as i had already found that on Ebay i could get the same part for £41.95. Now that's a bit of a saving and it's like when i needed a rear back box for my exhaust were the top price was 245€ or a copy part from Spain for 150€. I got one from a shop i use in Liverpool for £44.67. Why the difference  i don't know but the exhaust came back with me on the plane after i had been back to Liverpool.

I found a firm Manchester  now i know that people from Liverpool and the same for Manchester have a rivalry some would say a hatred of each other but that's only the football fans.

The firm i found was Andy's auto parts and they had what i wanted and they sent an e-mail with a link to pay via Paypal. That's were i had the start of problems in no part the fault of Andy's auto parts.

My card first had to be changed for the one i had registered on Paypal and when done i tried to pay but i wanted to have the part sent to an address in Portugal. My card is registered to an address in Liverpool.

Andy's again came to the rescue and told me you can get the address changed and that was the next problem. I could have a gift address but i couldn't change the address to Portugal. I decided to try and buy via Andy's shop on Ebay but this also had it's problems i couldn't add the delivery charge as on Ebay Andy's delivery was free.

The guys at Andy's really did all they could to help me and the final thing to try was via a bank transfer. Again Andy's guys came to the rescue and it didn't take long and payment was made and delivery is on it's way.

Would i use them again that's a BIG yes not only that but i would recommend them to anybody who needs car parts.

Thanks Guys

0044 1616286199

Thursday, 3 October 2013

New roads from old

It's now well over four year since i first saw what was to be my home for the future. When i came over for a couple of days i would drive round all the villages so when i heard about the house i knew just were it was. The lane up the hill was just a well worn track and i would have to drive from one side of the road to the other to avoid the holes and obstacles in the track. Work started at the end of 2011 and while i was in Liverpool early 2012 the lane was cut and Tarmac was laid and the new wall built opposite my front door.

If you compare the two pictures you can see the changes in the last two years. We no have a Tarmac road instead of a gravel path.

The lane is much wider now and the drain at the side on the left is now much better.

You can see here much better just how the changes have been. The lane on teh left was cut back over 3ft to allow for a wall to built.

Now how's that for a good job well done. The job was held up by a week until they found someone to explain to me that they needed my permission to cut a Metre from my land to make the lane wider.

Monday, 30 September 2013

My helicopter and Vegetarian's

It's always nice when someone reads my Blog and leaves a comment. I found that another comment had been left and found that the person who left the comment had a website about food and also vegetarian food now it's one thing i have a problem with is vegetarian food. Being a meat eater i find the concept of not eating meat alien so i will have to respect those who choose not to eat meat.

I did find so much on the site very interesting and helpful. I have put a link to Rak's Kitchen on the left of this page and i hope that those who read my Blog find it useful as i did.

I speak to a friend in the UK a couple of times a week and he calls my ceiling fan a Helicopter. Well today after our usual chat i decided to take my ceiling fan down and move it to the kitchen ready for when the electrician calls to connect up my wiring.

The problem i had was the angle of the ceiling and i had to make a spacer as the blades where touching the ceiling.

There is some work on the ridge beam to do but i can do that when i touch up the spots i when i marked the ceiling when i was painting the walls.

I left this picture for my Granddaughter. I told her this was nasty clouds filling up to drop rain again.

But it is a great picture through my prison window.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Juice recipes and marinading

I have mentioned before that i am starting to sell Herbs and Spices and i will also have a Website to sell my products. Naturally i will have as the picture below shows plenty of selection for my own use. As i have only been on my own for a few short years i have to learn about just what goes with what.

I had a large piece of shoulder pork and i decided to cut it into steaks. Normally i would just put the steaks into plastic bags and freeze. Today i decided to marinade the steaks and that's were i had a problem. The problem was what Spice goes with what Spice so it's all trial and error. Black pepper and Lemongrass, Tandorri and Green Cardamon, Cumin and Coriander to name just a few. Instead of just getting out my pork steak for dinner and thinking of something to do with it i this time it's all done before.

When my kitchen is complete i will have all the Spices i don't have room for due to shelf space as you can see from the picture.

Today i had a call from one of my children to say they had had Juice made from a Juicer. That may seem a strange comment to make but this one is like lots of kids saying to most things " I don't like that ". We always had a problem getting this child to eat so when i was told the contents of the Juice i was shocked.

It has something to do with a recently found Liver problem that is still being investigated. The recipe for the juice was found on a website called and on this site each recipe gives the health benefits and the picture shows some of the information i was shown.

It's good to see just what health benefits various fruits give and when i get a Juicer i will certainly start to enjoy fruits taken this way.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Aubergine and i grew it.

Since i arrived here over two years ago i have been growing things that i have never grown before. Everything from Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions, peppers, runner beans, chilli, potatoes and Strawberries. For someone who had never grown anything i felt very proud of myself.

I was given some plants by a friend of mine and one was an Aubergine plant, this i have never had before although i have seen them in supermarkets. I picked the Aubergine yesterday and took a photo that is below this post. It seems something interesting so i have been on the BBC site for some help in what to do with it.

The BBC site is great or i think so, during the week i looked for a recipe for Batter that was egg free. The reason being i couldn't be bothered to go out to buy eggs as i had none left and my chicks are to young yet to give me as many as i feel i want.

The recipe below is for a Tuna dish but i am changing it for a white fish instead.

Gently apply the oil to the vegetables with a brush.
Heat the griddle pan and put the vegetables onto the griddle's surface.
Once the lines have appeared on the surface, turn the vegetables 90 degrees to create the criss cross griddle appearance.
Turn the veg over once the griddle effect has appeared. Remember to brush lightly with oil. When the vegetables are cooked, remove and place on a serving plate.
Brush tuna steaks lightly with oil.
Place the fish onto the pre heated griddle pan and allow to cook.
Leave long enough for the griddle pan to carbonise the steak to create the lined effect.
When they are ready, turn 90 degrees to create the criss cross effect.
Brush other side of the fish with oil and turn over to sear.
Move the finished seared steaks to the serving dish.

Monday, 23 September 2013

It's voting time here in the sun

It's election time here in Portugal but this election is a local election. As it's a local election i can vote as i am a resident but not in the national elections.

I had always votes while i lived in the UK  and never missed a vote. I remember meeting Harold Wilson when he called into the Labour club i was in with my uncle Alf. At that time the ordinary man in the street had as much chance as the educated classes. Micheal Foot, Dennis Skinner were the last of there kind. Now it's the University educated types and long gone is the time of the man in the street. I remember well when Margaret Thatcher came to power when inflation was almost 30% and in a job i had we got a 29.4% pay rise. Margaret Thatcher said that it was going to be difficult to get inflation down and she did. For over 45 years i have followed politics and always voted for those who i considered would do a good job at the time.

Coming up to the present i see no reason that i shouldn't vote here in Portugal. Today i went down to the local Junta to register to vote only to be told that i had to register a while ago the Junta is a council department, i asked just when and i was told that the deadline was six months ago.

This election i can't vote or have my say so i will wait till after the election and go and get registered ready for the next time.

Soon after i arrived home 4 cars arrived just down the lane from my house. They had music playing and someone on a microphone and about 12 people walking about. As they walked up the lane i greeted them in my limited Portuguese and one who could tell i was English came over to talk to me. After saying hello he asked how i liked life here in Portugal and if there was anything that i wanted done to make life better. I said the the only thing i would like to see done was for when home owners like me who register there home should get an information booklet. I would like to see a  booklet with up to date information as to where to get things done I.E. To register for the doctors, how to vote, where to pay house tax etc. After i registered my house i had no idea of other things i needed to do and this would be of great help.

Politicians as usual the world over agree and he did by saying yes it's a good idea as they value all nationals moving to Portugal. He left by giving me a number of leaflets and in them where pictures of all the party people, these same people were the ones who came to my village today. The person i spoke to was no more that the party leader but yet he took the time to speak to me and was in no way eager to get away from me. 

Would i vote for this party well that's known only to me as i believe that who i vote for is private. I do believe that it is my right and i should use my vote so the next election i will be there putting my X in the box

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Spices and Christmas cake mix

I have previously mentioned that i now sell spices and the reason for this was because i found it difficult to be able to buy the selection that i wanted.

Partly the reason was not so simple. Now being retired i don't have a typical 9 - 5 job. Yes i have work to do in the house but that doesn't fill in the time i have on my hands. I used to say to customers in my business in Liverpool it's OK to retire but everybody needs something to do to fill in the time from getting up to going to bed.

I had been to the Miranda do Corvo market a few times and decided that selling at the market would give me something to do. It's not just a case of buying stock and going to the market and selling the stock if only it was so easy.

First there is picking the stock most likely to sell and getting it delivered to Portugal. A set of scales, plastic food grade bags and a heated bag sealer and computer printer labels for both front and rear of the bags. That done almost 80 kilo of Herbs and Spices takes some repackaging just to get ready for sale.

The most difficult part was not creating the front label but the rear label. Under Portuguese law the rear label has to have the ingredients in Portuguese and also you have to include what the Spice or Herb is used for also best before date has also to be done.

Unlike someone who advertises on an a classified adds websie who has a selection of 12 Spices i have with my latest delivery 90 Herbs and Spices. The most common things people say at the market is they have never seen such a selection and i am glad to say they come back again. The second thing they say is how reasonable the prices are. It would be so easy to put the prices up for a quick profit but i want then to come back again and again.

New for this market is Curry powder without chilli for those who don't like heat but want flavour. Seekh Kebab andain without any chilli powder for those who don't like the heat but want the tatse of Seekh Kebabs. Also one i have been asked for a couple of times Lemon grass powder. 

For the next market i have a special for that market only. Christmas cake mix. But not any old Christmas cake mix but my special mix

3 kilo of Sultanas
2 kilo of Currants.
1 kilo of Raisins
1 kilo of dried Apricots
500g Candied Orange peel 
500g Glazes Cherries
70cl bottle of Vodka
1 litre Brandy

This will be a one off Christmas offer and as yet i have to price up the cake mix the usual sugar, flour, eggs etc will be needed. What i have done is make up all the fruit like i do for myself with loads of fruit  but adult fruit soaked in over 2 litre of vodka and brandy.

One recipe i have read asks for Cinnamon and Sweet spice mix  at the moment i haven't added any of this yet.

If that's not enough a local bar that most of use use on the way to Coimbra that's run by an English guy and his staff are also not just English but one is from my home city of Liverpool. As he has a glass display unit with chocolates in i asked if i could put in a selection of spices and he said yes.

What i am trying to say is that retiring to Portugal is great but unless you have nothing to do you will soon get bored. It's easy to g out everyday spending money but having something to do is important or at least for me it is.

I now have a website but at the moment it's not live for selling online but as soon as it is i will soon advertise on here as well as anywhere else i can. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

The reason for the sockets on the right.

I have just had an e-mail from a friend in the UK asking why i didn't have the sockets on the right of the window the same as on the left. The reason being is that the battens on the wall where in the way and stopped me having the sockets on the right the same as the sockets the left.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

My first worktop has arrived

After going out with friends looking for timber for our own various projects we ended with none of us getting what we wanted. On the way back we called at a local Granite company who was on the way home. I had a drawing of what i wanted for my worktop and a window sill so i found the boss and gave him my drawings. A little while later he came back with a price for the worktop and window sill and both for 95€. I had to ask twice to make sure the price was correct and he wrote it down on my drawing so that was it a Bargain.

After i got over my shock at the price of 95€ i asked when they would be ready and he said the next day at about 4pm. 4pm i was there to get my worktop for my soon to be finished kitchen. I asked if they could measure for my other worktop for my main run of units that is almost 3 metre in lenght. The son of the boss said that if i wanted to go home now he would follow me and get everything measured up. He also suggested that they make a kind of tile about three inches to go around the walls above the worktop and when done and sealed it will complete the effect i wanted.

As you can see i am slowly getting there. Tomorrow i will get the outside lights on the veranda connected and another milestone is done.

My friend called today to take my last base unit for the kitchen. The unit is to the left of the cooker and it was 100cm and i needed it cut down to 92.5cm  to fit. I called back to his house after 3 hours and my base unit was ready for me to bring home and fit. It fit with 2mm to spare and afer15 minutes it was all done and in place.

The electrician calls Friday to look at what's needed to get the wiring connected. I have wired all the sockets and lights but everything is coming from downstairs the idea for this is as i don't want and wires or pipes in the walls. I won't be having wall cupboards but should in the future someone want them then there will be no problem with the walls having hidden wires or pipes so it would be safe to fit units on the walls.

Herbs and Spices and lots to keep me busy

A long time ago Gordon Ramsey was cooking some pork and he put a lot of Cloves into the top of the pork. I searched as best i could but i couldn't find  any Cloves and with not being able to get Juniper berries i was fed up not being able to do as i wanted.

After lots of research i found i could get Spices delivered here to me in Portugal. By having what i wanted posted to me from the UK was very expensive so what as the answer. I had been cooking for myself for a couple of years now but i wanted to do more.

Being a retailer for most of my working life i decided to start to sell Herbs and Spices and that was the start of a new journey in my new life.

First i had to find a supplier in the UK and that took me quite a while. You would expect that in these difficult times companies would be quick to reply to get an increase in trade. Only one company was quick to reply and this company was ot an Asian company like the other six i had contacted. all six where either slow to reply or would not let me use a courier of my choice. Being an ex retailer i know what i wanted in service and only one company meet all i wanted.

My first order was for about 80 kilo of Herbs and Spices and by using my courier i paid less than £30 for 30 kilo and they use  UPS for there deliveries.For details of the courier see below.

After the first delivery i had the task of then packing into various pack sizes, Labels, the rear label had to be in Portuguese etc. So i needed to get bags sent from Liverpool as i have family who could get them and send them to me. Then i needed scales and a heat bag sealer.

After weeks of work reweighing, packing and translating labels all was done and it was soon time for my first market at Miranda Do Corvo market. I arrived at the market at almost 7am only to find almost no place for me. A place had been kept for someone who hadn't turned up so i was lucky to get that spot and it was a good one to have and for the next four months i have had that spot.

The Portuguese who sell at the market arrive at about midnight and mark out there place and put out there stuff and then sleep in there vans. I was told that to get the spot you want you need to be there at 4/5am, so that's what i have been doing. To arrive at 5am and then wait till 9.30/10am before people arrive seems a big waste to me but i just put up my tresles and then try and rest in my car.

I have big plastic trays with all my products in so laying things out is so easy and only takes about 5 minutes and i am ready to start selling. Sales have been very good and so many people are amazed at the selection i have and the other stall with about a dozen types of spice and in little boxes now turn there stall so i can't see them it may be because there sales are down or are now nil.

More about the website and a retail outlet later.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Getting ready for next years growing season

Last year i planted a few strawberry plants and they have done very well But and a big But is most of my land faces the burning sun all day. In the UK with the UK weather that would not be a problem but here even just before dark it's still hot.

Where i have my Strawberries i don't have room for many more plants but i want more strawberries for breakfast and i have found the answer. Hydroponics. Hydroponics is not new and most of the soft fruits on sale in the supermarkets in the UK are grown this way.

So what is Hydroponics, it's all about growing food without using soil. The plant just has it's roots in moving water, the moving water circulates the nutriments that they need to grow. The picture below shows how you can use the system to grow more in less space. I will have maybe 4 or 5 tubes and about 6ft long and from this i should get all the strawberries i want also my peppers, chilli and tomatos.

A simple small solar panel and battery will power a water pump to move the water and a timer to give the movement of water when it's needed simple.

Did you know that each week one farm in the UK picks for the supermarkets up to 700,000 peppers and 700,000 cucumbers are picked each week using this system and tomatos grow year round.

So this is how i am going to proceed with growing better numbers of strawberries, chilli and peppers and also tomatos but in a unit of there own.  

My units will be something like this one but not as high or long. The reason being i don't have the room.

Water goes in the top and comes out the bottom and is sent round and round again.

This is all it's about, i love being able to have strawberries for breakfast and i look forward to having many more next year.

Just copy and paste the links below, one is to a magazine that started in 1991.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Now where should the fire go corner or centre?

I have a dilemma. A little while ago i was able get myself a log burner and that's were i have a dilemma. Should i have it in the corner of the room as i had always planned or in the centre of the room.

If i have the fire in the corner i can only take the flue pipe out of the wall and to the outside and that's a lot of waste heat.

Or if i have the fire in the centre of the wall i could have the flue go up through the loft space and then outside. What that would do is help to heat the room above my lounge. At some point i want to make the room upstairs into a master suite.

The fire will stand on marble and behind will also be marble so it should look OK but it all depends on where the fire gets positioned.

The dilemma is should i have my fire here and have the extra heat given of from the flue go into the room above. The flue would go through the ceiling and out from the roof. Not only does heat come from the fire but also from the flue as heat rises and is given of from the sides of the flue.

Or should i have the fire here as i had planned and have the flue go out of the wall above the fire.

New insulated plasterboard on the left and i am getting ready to carry on round the room.

Monday, 9 September 2013

A job done and not by me.

Up till now everything i have done in my house has been done by myself, I must admit that i am very proud of what i have achieved up till now.

Today i must admit to having to get someone else to do a job that looked easy but only easy because the guy who helped knew just what he was doing. A friend has been a joiner most of his life and also a window installer. To get my window installed properly i was lost. there was a 2cm gap all around and to fit a window centred was something i didn't know how to get the window in the middle of the hole.

The trick is to fit wedges all round on each side sounds easy t say that but when you have never done or seen a window fitted you wonder were do  i start. My friend had the window installed in under an hour when i have been looking at it for weeks. So much as i had wanted to do all the work in my kitchen i had to admit i needed help. I still feel proud of what i have done.

There may be many reading this Blog who like me want to do all that they can. I would say have a go you have nothing to loose and everything to gain.

All that's needed now is for the expanding foam to be trimmed from around the frame and go and get my sill made. I had a granite sill made for my other window and the cost was 12€ so i don't expect to pay more than 12€ now that's a bargain. Sometimes it's so bright outside that photos seem dark but that's life.

What's to be done now, the base units under the window and the cooker to be fitted. All the electrics to be connected and my ceiling fan. Worktops to have made for the units on either wall, one worktop will have the sink installed and the other will have the hob installed. Then the windows and door frames have to be trimmed after getting my own timber cut to size. So really still a lot to do but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Prison bars but i still have a view.

Portugal is a country that has many laws that may seem strange to outsiders like myself.  If you don't own the land at the side of your house and you want a window and the window faces onto someone else's land then you have to have bars on the window.

My kitchen borders someone eles's land and after asking him if i could have a window that doesn't open onto his land he refused. He said that should he sell the ruin next door then the window would stop someone else rebuilding the ruin. As they are in the area i live many ruins in a better condition and a better place his chance of selling is nil unless he sells to me but that's another story.

In a previous life i had a job that at times required me to be able to weld. I was not the best welder but i was OK. I decided to make a frame with two bars to go in the gap i had for the window. I had enough flat bar steel and proceeded to cut the steel to size and weld it to make a grill for the window. Maybe as the steel was a bit thicker than i would have liked or the welding rods being 3/4 years old now as i had not needed to use any for a long time i don't know.

My attempt at welding was to say the least poor but in the end only i know that and when hidden behind my new window it won't be seen. A friend who was a window fitter for over 12 years has offered to come around and fit my window for me it was an offer that i couldn't refuse. It would probably take me all day but it may take him only an hour or so but when you have done it as a job it's so easy.
The gap above the window is because the builder who cut the hole made it 2cm to big so as to make it easy to fit the frame. The window frame is just sitting there for now but tomorrow it should be all done.

This is a window in one of my bedrooms and this is not how i would like  my kitchen window to look. As the kitchen window doesn't open i have taken a chance with the bars i have made. Will i get away with it only time will tell.

This afternoon as i painted the bars i didn't expect what i found later. At just 7pm i had just seen an advert on TV for window blinds. I have just had my dinner and i went to put one more coat of paint on the bars. The sun goes down behind the hills opposite the new window, i have my base unit that takes my oven and hob ready and they will be right in front of the window. That was OK till tonight when the sun was so bright i couldn't look out of the window. I had wanted to have my hob in front of the window but now i may have to have the hob to the right or the left of the window and i am not now sure just how to move the hob for the best.