Peter's Blog

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Sunday, 25 August 2013

The years meeting and meal

It's that time of year again when a meeting is called by the Association here in Vale boa. The head of the meeting is a couple who organize what needs doing and as the lady is a lawyer in Lisbon it helps. The main topic for the coming year is to protect our water. Vale Boa has more water than we need and what we have is needed by those who live here, the animals " Chicken, Goats etc " and the land. I couldn't quite understand what is to be done to protect the water but the association will i am sure do a good job on our behalf.

After the meeting we had a meal, the meal started with bread, cheese and salad. Then out came the Rice and beans. This is made with bacon, sausage and beans cooked in a large pan and herbs and spices. Then rice and water are added and it's all left to simmer until done. This was followed by what we call " Road Kill " this is a term we use for the way they cut chicken into small pieces for cooking. It probably comes from the fact that the chicken cooks much quicker when in small pieces than if left as Breast and Thighs/ drumsticks. Then we had the lightest sponge cake to finish of with. During the meal we had a very nice red wine and after trying some local wines this has been the best i have tried

The term Road Kill came about because chicken is cut through the breast and squashed flat so it can be grilled. To see this chicken in a supermarket plastic tray flattened does not look very appetising but who am i to tell the Portuguese that the chicken doesn't look very appetising.

Just some of the locals and those who only come here during there August holidays but own a property here.

84 and 89  and they still work on the land daily. Puts me to shame when i can only manage a few hours a day.

Keiths cat taken prisoner by Donnellise ok i maybe can't spell but she won't see this.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Shiraz or Syrah what's in a name

I planted some grapevines a while ago and after taking photos of what's growing well i decided to take some more of the grapes. Because i have nothing better to do.

They may only have a few grapes on but that's not important, what is important is that i had a long time ago asked on a Forum where to get good grapes for growing for wine. I wanted to get something a little more interesting than the usual grapes grown locally.

I found that in a local garden centre/ builders merchant a large bucket of grapevines tied into bunches. After going through them i found that one was called Syrah. Being an ex licensee i knew this to be Shiraz, this grape is known by two names so i got three to try. The pictures below show how they are doing.

Only a few grapes but they are doing well.

A few more grapes on this vine but again doing well.

This one is more interesting as it's a Shiraz and it has no grapes but this the one i want to grow up my veranda.
Also you can see some of the wood i have to cut down for my log burner to keep me nice and warm during the winter. The bigger leaves are a  Aubergine plant that now has flowers growing so i should be able to look forward to some Aubergines.

Everything is growing very well

It's been very hot for so long now and all my crops are growing well. When you consider that i only have about 175 sq m of land and the chickens have a large part of that. Among what i am growing are the pictures below and they are all doing very well. They are growing as fast as i am eating at the moment but i am going to dry the chilli and peppers for use over the winter

I would have had a picture of my strawberries but i had them for breakfast better than corn flakes. On the grapevine i planted were two very small bunches both on different vines. These are Shiraz type grapes well i now have a couple of grapes that have turned red. It will be next year before i get any real bunches and another two years before i get enough to make some wine. The Chardonnay vines are also doing very well but no grapes this year.

These chilli i had in a beef casserole and they look and taste good.

I put my phone in this picture to show scale. This is the cherry tomatoes that i picked this morning. I am getting so many i need to find a use for them. 

This should be my pride and joy, my runner beans are now about 12ft high. When i picked them for the first time i cut the side string of like i had seen my Mum do when i was a child.

When i had my chicken casserole i looked forward to my beans but, a big But they where all so stringy and horrible. The chickens will get them and next year i will grow a different type and i am very disappointed with these. 

More chilli's and they are all growing very well. But more about these another time when i have picked and tried them.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Flaking paint on the kitchen door

While working on the kitchen i took of the kitchen door and left it outside. I don't know or can't explain why but the paint on the door is flaking of the door. At first this was not a problem as the door needs a new coat of paint to look good for when the kitchen is finished.

As i peeled of the flakes of paint i found that the door had only ever been painted once in the life of the house. Also that the wood under the paint was rough not as you would find in new houses today.  The panels in the centre of the door i will take out and put glass in them to allow more light to get in.

The job now is to remove the paint from the door before i can do anything else. In the UK there are places in most cities where you can take painted doors and get the paint removed but i have yet to find anywhere here in Central Portugal that restores painted doors.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Got the grouting done today

Much on my Blog in recent weeks has been a muddle one day it's the veranda the next it's the kitchen or even about other subjects.

The reason i am not concentrating on either the kitchen or veranda is when it's to hot i work inside of the house when it's a but cooler i can work outside. When i did go against what i knew to be right i got badly burnt.

Today was to hot to work outside on the veranda so i got stuck into the kitchen. I had to get down on my knee's and get the grouting done. I had intended to do half of the kitchen today ad the rest tomorrow well that was the plan.

I ended up doing over half of the kitchen floor and it was mid afternoon so i stopped for a cup of tea. As it was only a little after 3 o'clock i did a bit more or that was the idea. I put to much water into the grout  so i had to add some more grout. What this did was to give me more than i needed to complete the kitchen. As i had to much grout i completed the hall coming into the house and at the end i was proud of what i had done all in one day.

Now over 6 hours later i am sitting getting my Blog up to date when i decided to get a drink only to find that my knee's don't want to move. It was like this when i first tiled the floor and a relaxed day following the tilling i felt so much better s with an easy day tomorrow i will be ok again.

I should be able to get stared on the final painting of the kitchen walls then all the sockets can be fitted for when the electrician calls to connect everything up.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Don't work out in the sun without a top on.

How many times have you told your children to cover up when it's sunny, well it was hot yesterday and the temperature was in the high 30's.  Well i got burnt and it was not till the next morning when i went out in the sun that  i felt the burning. Bit late now but i will not make that mistake again and i only have myself to blame.

I had got most of the timber to complete the veranda and it seemed a good day to get started and work went along very well. I looked forward to completing as much as i could the next day when i had used up all the timber i had.

I first put up the top on the one side that was complete. I even shaped the corner facing out down the lane.

Now i have started on the side facing the lane by my house.

The beams above my Pergola will have  my grapevine to use for shade but it will take a few years to get mine like this picture shows.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Christmas cake fruit soaking in Brandy.

Christmas is on it's way and preparations are already in place. Each year i make a Christmas cake, but no ordinary cake. My cake is always filled with fruit soaked in various alcohol.

This year i am using just Brandy, cheap from Makro and yes we have Makro in Portugal.All my fruits are being soaked in Brandy ready for when i make my cake for this Christmas.

After the cake in made i will then start to pour Remy Martin VSOP into the cake for extra flavour, this Remy is special i filled a jar with nice big black cherries to flavour the Remy and that's what i will use for this years cake.

Lots growing and even storing some for later

Apart from the kitchen and the veranda i have also been getting on with my garden or at least what i am growing.

My runner beans are at least 10ft tall and the beans are starting to grow, spuds are looking really great i hope that what's under the ground is as good as the plants look.

Strawberries, every day i get a good handful and what i want is next year to get even more but i want to change how they are planted and how they grow. Where my strawberries are is not the best place as i have potatoes next to them. I would either have all strawberries or all potatoes. I can and could move my strawberries to a raised bed and i have a spare that is not used yet.

I have planted 9 grape vines, 3 Shiraz and 6 Chardonnay. i planted them to see how they would get on on a piece of land that goes so hard facing the sun you need jack hammers to break the ground or wait for the rains to come. For now they are doing very well, the best one is the one next to the veranda. It is my plan to train it up the veranda but that will take time but time is something i have plenty of.

Chilli's and peppers i have growing in a couple of raised beds along with my tomatoes. Planting my tomatoes was a big mistake, i planted cherry and a big variety together and forgot which was the cherry. Cherry tomatoes can be left like a bush i am told but the others you need to remove the side shoots and train the plant up a cane. As they are together i can see now the ones that are cherry and the ones that should have been trained up a cane.

I have lots of chilli's and peppers growing. I will end up with to many to use so i asked about drying chilli's from someone who has done it for years but how do you keep flies of drying chilli's. Next idea is to cut the chilli in 2 and remove the pips, then put them in a jar and fill with oil. Problem solved i will have loads of chilli and peppers for over the winter months as a local supermarket has oil on offer for only 99 cents a litre a bargain.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Two years have passed and so much has happened.

The 1st August 2013 marked the second anniversary of my arriving in Gois from the ferry to Santander and a new life. On that night i got of the ferry i had intended to stop and complete the drive the next morning. For someone like me who enjoys driving the night was perfect, clear sky and little wind so i drove until i would need a break. That was the plan but the drive went so well that i arrived in Gois during the early hours of the 1st August 2011.

It's now 2 years later and much has changed. I soon made a temporary kitchen at the bottom of the stairs while i took apart the kitchen as it had been since it had been built many years ago. The downside was that i took out an old chimney that held the roof up and also held the chimney above in place. That mistake meant that i had to have the chimney taken down and the roof made good.

The first 15 months or more found me doing very little, i had adapted to a simple and stress free life but now i am getting on with getting work done. I am now having to do things i have not done before or even believed that i could do. The last week has seen me tilling the kitchen and hall floor. I could have chosen to tile a simple pattern but if you look below simple is not what i am after. All the electrics are in place and they will be connected soon and then it's the kitchen base units, oven and hob and sink. Doesn't seem a lot to do but i don't see that now as a problem.

Part of the lounge has been started, battens have been put in place so that i can get the log burner installed ready for the winter.

So from someone who in the UK would get someone else to do even the smallest job, now i am having fun learning new skills and i can proudly say i have had no help apart from Gary lifting 4 sheets of plasterboard into position as the sheets where to heavy for one person to life above my head.

Roll on the coming months when the kitchen should be complete and the walls that face the outside in the lounge will be insulated as i already have the boards ready and a nice log burner.

 This took a bit of working out so it finished as you can see in the photo.

As i have almost three boxes of tiles over i decided to tile the small entrance hall.