A tad brisk…

I once heard an estate agent* say to a client (in a bright yet, sincere manner) ‘…it never rains here you won’t need any’. He was of course answering a query as to the lack of guttering on most of the old houses in Central Portugal.

He was obviously elsewhere several years ago when it rained for 12 weeks straight, flooding the entire valley and washing half of the roads and bridges away. It was the type of Biblical downpour that only a man with good boat building skills and a penchant for bestial matchmaking could appreciate. He must also be busy hibernating every spring and autumn when ‘the rain in Spain falls mainly in…’ well in Portugal apparently. There’s a reason it’s so lush and green around here.

The same estate agent** was then queried upon the lack of central heating in the aforementioned houses. This question was unfortunately posed during the balmy heat of the summer months, so it was impossible for these hapless house viewers to imagine a potential drop of over 40 degrees celcius during the few months leading up to Christmas.

In real life it gets proper cold up here in the mountains. Cold enough to need thermal pants and woolly socks. Cold enough to really need central heating and certainly cold enough to cause irreparable damage to the procreational prospects of a copper/zinc alloy based Simian.

I didn’t surf today. Too f**king cold…

*please feel free to insert one of the following words to replace ‘estate agent’: Shark, Scheister, Weisenheimer.

**at this point just ‘tool’ will do. Or any other idiomatic term for the male genitalia.

I f**king hate pikeys


Living in the foothills of the Serra de Estrella in central Portugal is supposed to be an idyllic existence – stunning picture postcard scenery, perfect weather all enhanced by friendly and convivial neighbours. Aging donkeys retiring peacefully by the river, toothless old crones carrying bags of washing on their heads. Just the sound of birds in the trees, the river bubbling through the granite rocks and an old peasant man hacking up some phlegm on his way to market.

What I’ve experienced over the last 20 years certainly has included all of these elements but there are many other bitter tasting ingredients to spoil the taste of this delicious metaphor pie. I won’t get started on the hideous mouldy concrete building developments marring the countryside or the fact that it pisses down with rain for half of the year. I’ll stick to the continual theft of my belongings I’ve suffered whilst living here.

The most recent happened a few days ago whilst we were slumbering beneath a full and shining moon. Some thieving Gypsy bastards relieved my truck of a pair of brand new batteries. A relatively small haul but added to the several thousand euros worth of property that has already been stolen from me it begins to smart a tad. So the security upgrade will continue – more fences and gates. Cameras and alarms. It all just takes the shine away from this supposedly lustrous life.

I discussed the issue with my exceedingly wise mother:

“…maybe you could attach live electricity wires to the truck?”

“…a good idea Ma. But it would be terribly inconvenient to find a smouldering pikey stuck to it in the morning…”

Maybe we’ll just move to Hackney instead.

I didn’t surf today.


Language is a tricky thing. The subtle nuances of a native tongue can take more than a lifetime to master and the challenge of mastering a second or even third can be almost insurmountable. Some people have a natural flair for it – they can hear a word and it is immediately available for use in their vocabulary and others aren’t so lucky (‘carbonara’ can be a tricky word – can’t it DP?).

I’ve been attending an ‘advanced’ Portuguese conversation class for a while (slightly misnamed as several of the students couldn’t Portuguese their way out of ‘um sacinho de papel molhado’) which is a somewhat random meandering through the grammatical paths of Portuguese and English. We spend half the lesson speaking Portuguese (as we should) and the other half debating why the 2 nations can’t both speak English or at least reinvent Portuguese so it makes more sense to foreigners (go home you cerebrally challenged freaks).

Of course the teacher is fluent in both but occasionally has to question the colloquialisms that befuddle her. Towards the end of yesterdays lesson she wrote on the board…

“TO GIVE SOMEONE HEAD” and innocently asked the class “can anyone tell me what this means?”

I didn’t surf today. Too busy sniggering in the back row…

Nice weather for ducks…

waterfall steps

…personally if I was a duck and it had pissed down non-stop for over a week I’d be pretty bleedin’ miserable. A light shower on an April afternoon and I’d be fluffing and preening and looking all jolly in a ducky ‘I’m quite waterproof’ way but on a freezing cold afternoon halfway up a mountain with a force 7 ramming precipitation up my lightly feathered derriere. Not likely…

Anyways – the excessive downwards water delivery has supplied excellent photographic opportunity with the overflowing river bursting over some stone steps above Lousã castle. Very pretty it was too…

More pics at my flickr page.

I didn’t surf today. Pfft.

Frozen flush

frosty fern

A general misconception that we are all swanning around in bikinis, surfing and drinking large fruity cocktails down here during the winter months must surely be dispelled. Not only do we have to wear woolly hats and thermal knickers but at times we have to suffer from ridulously pretty frost formations adorning the local flora (see flickr pages) and occasionally having to unfreeze the toilet waste pipe (lavatory if you live in Sussex).

The latter is best avoided as the situation can (and did) develop into a rather sordid affair if flushing occurs before defrosting takes place.

I didn’t surf today. I was busy lagging my pipes.