And on the seventh day…

The rain stopped. Of course we all knew it would eventually – it doesn’t ever rain forever – that would be tantamount to Biblical and who needs that? I was starting to crinkle a bit around the edges and there was a definite whiff of mildew in my darker corners. But cease it did and inevitably the sun came out from behind those breaking clouds…

So the enormous timber frame construction kit that I’ve been whittling piece by piece in a miniscule temporary workshop has finally seen some daylight. Trying to man-handle six metre glulams inside a half built kitchen that only measures five by three has been somewhat trying but needs must when Beelzebub barfs into your beverage boiling pot…

Built using Pythagoras, trigonometry and an exceptionally short pencil this spruce skeleton has tested my maths, memory and man muscles but at last it is fully upstanding. Proudly perpendicular to the horizontal. Plumb to the prone. Erect.

Only thirty eight rafters to cut and I’ll be done…

I didn’t surf today. Too busy getting the splinters out of my big, burly man-hands…

The dust settles…


…and a moment of tranquility is found.

There are a myriad of beautiful moments during the lengthy and arduous process of building your own house – when the roof is pitched and the rain is turned away, or when the electricity is connected and light fills the previously dark corners. The windows turn a shell into a house and pipes bring life to showers, taps and washing machines. Doors, floors, tiles and paint – all fantastic.

But the best moment of all, as Papersurfer Junior is sleeping soundly in his new bedroom, the sun slipping behind the Serra de Lousã, is sinking into the new sofa and watching CSI with Tango

(I haven’t surfed for bleedin’ ages so don’t even go there…)

International Rescue…

under the stairs

Things were looking pretty grim at Quinta do Cabril for a while. Since the robberies last summer morale has been low and the work to sofa ratio quite high. Of course my ridiculously inconvenient sinus weevils have hampered things somewhat but things have changed – the sun is shining, the birds are tweeting and the international building team has reconvened for a mighty assault on the previously daunting task.

Several tons of grey stuff has been thrown at the walls and been lovingly smoothed into clean lines and dynamic shapes by my (somewhat OCD driven) Austrian/Portuguese renderer. The mixer has been turning endlessly, fed by Fernecas the swarthy Portuguese man-machine. Meanwhile I’ve been whittling balconies out of old pine trees and fashioning wiring circuits from coils of cable and small plastic boxes.

The result is a house shaped thing that looks like it needs a coat of paint rather than a pile of rocks that could do with a good bulldozing on the way to the pub…

I expect it’s nearly time to go surfing.

I didn’t surf today. Soon grasshopper, soon…

For a brief moment…

rusty mixer

For a brief moment earlier this week I could see an end in sight for work at Quinta do Cabril. The eternal struggle of man to create a place of shelter could one day be over. One man battling to keep the veracious forces of nature from the delicate skin of his family and have somewhere to store his neatly folded pillow cases.

My international team of builders were hard at it, insulting each other in a strange mix of Portuguese, German and English. Render was going on walls, wires were going in walls. There were pipes being fitted and screws, nails and staples being put in the correct orifices. Harmony and tranquility – in a bangy, smashy, shouty sort of way.

Apart from a small glitch when Fernando threw himself head first down the stairwell for no apparent reason everything is going swimmingly (don’t worry – there was a large stack of timber below that broke his fall).

I didn’t surf today. Bleh.

i before e

i before e

  1. 1,246 screws
  2. 722 pieces of timber
  3. 36 litres of cuprinol
  4. 47 sheets of polystyrene insulation board
  5. 1,438 roof tiles
  6. 2 splinters
  7. 1 mystery bruise on my left elbow

…the final result being a roof (and a ceiling depending on where you’re standing) – a huge psychological barrier broken and protection from sun and rain to continue the work inside.

More photos (inside and out) can be found here.

I didn’t surf today. I may need a break though…

Rain dance…

…if you want it to rain just follow a few simple guidelines:

First cut some fresh garlic picked on the full moon, then carefully slice some newly slaughtered flesh (bacon or ham will do), wash some lettuce and a tomato then get some mayonaise (preferably Hellmans) from the fridge. None of this will make it rain but you will have a delicious and nutritious lunch.

To really encourage precipitation of a vertical nature then simply spend a few days carefully, painstakingly, (with skill and cunning) creating a perfect roof from well-seasoned timber; choosing a time of year when the merest whisp of a cloud is a scarcity indeed. Then stand back and admire your work as the first rumble of thunder meanders through the valley…

No – the tiles aren’t on yet. Yes – it will be buggered if it really does rain.

Anyone else having a good week?

I didn’t surf today.

PS – 17 bonus points if you know who painted the above rainscape.

Good kharma…

…I received another chain email today professing great kharmic reward for the simple action of forwarding it’s life lessons to others. Maybe the author of this message could explain to me (as I sat amidst the dust and rubble of my new ‘house’ in tears this morning) why my door had been kicked down and all my tools had been stolen? Why some mindless arse had decided that I deserved to have my means of working and earning a living removed from my life and replaced with feelings of despair, distrust and disillusionment…. ?

Still – the GNR (rozzas to any UK readers and cops to anyone Stateside) were exceedingly pleasant as they filled out forms and projected a complete lack of catching anybody. As for my insurance company – surely it must hurt to smile that much whilst telling somebody that the likelihood of a claim is virtually nil due to technical/clerical/incompetency issues. Have a nice day to you too.

As for my kharma. I have swatted a large amount of flies this year. That’ll learn me…

I didn’t surf today.

On the lighter, brighter side – Tango arrives in 13 days. Ohboyohboyohboy…..

Look what I made Ma…

stairs from the back

…I am a rubbish son.

My mother often asks me to take photos of work so that she can check up on me see what I’ve been doing (in a loving, maternal type way). I have not performed this simple task for quite some time so here are a few pics of ‘Quinta do Cabril’.

It’s a work in progress – so a little imagination may be needed. Oh and maybe a lick of paint…

I didn’t surf today – bit busy doing manly buildery type stuff.