27 February 2011

Sun, sand and windbreaks

Summer holidays - what does that mean these days?  Long haul flights to far off destinations with white sand and turquoise seas or short flights to European destinations.  Perhaps a bit of culture is called for in Greece or Italy; food foraging in France or cruising the oceans of the Caribbean.  Will this year be minus volcanic eruptions, air traffic control and  baggage handler strikes?  Whatever you choose, I hope it is exactly what you saved, planned and dreamed of during the long, dark days of winter.

As a child you had no say in your destination for the precious week or two weeks of a holiday - that was down to your parents and most of us at some time, can recall holidays we would rather forget in some boring (to us children) seaside destination in the wet.  Cardigans and thermos flasks seem to loom large in my memory along with long journeys in the back of our faithful Austin A90 sat next to the dog who panted and dribbled happily whilst taking in the ever changing scenery.   

Beaches in those days did not come with the sunlounger and umbrella, but you took bags of 'stuff'.  Towels - to lie on and to undress under - plastic boxes of sandwiches that always had sand in them and anything else that might be 'needed' due to vagaries of the British weather.  If you went to big seaside towns, you could get a deckchair - I hated them after having trapped my fingers in them at an early age - and more importantly, the vital windbreak for those 'gusty' days.

About 10 years ago whilst on holiday in Dartmouth, I went on the steam railway down to Paignton.  Now it was a lovely sunny day when we set off but in Paignton there was quite a sea mist but the determined British were still out in force on the beach, windbreaks up, anoraks and big cardigans as far as the eye could see.  A true British seaside vision.

Dartmouth to Paignton Steam Train

Paignton beach - note windbreak

Top of the destinations when you lived in the North of England, was Wales and for us in particular, the North Wales coast and Llyn Peninsula.  My godfather had a cottage just outside Harlech, which he kindly loaned us for summer holidays.  Harlech is  beautiful with an impressive Castle and fascinating history, as all Wales has, about its battles with the English.  (http://www.visitwales.co.uk/)  I hope the great bakery that did a super line in big, fat juicy jam doughnuts is still going.  Many a splatter of jam eating those.

Harlech Castle

When the castle was first built, the sea came right up under its ramparts but now it sits proudly above the sand dunes looking out to sea.  The beach at Harlech is glorious - as good as any foreign one - and when the weather is right, it's an idyllic place to spend a holiday.  The other castles all along this coastline are impressive too.

Harlech dunes and beach

When I was older, I spent quite a few happy times on this beach and exploring the beautiful coastline. However, I vividly remember damp holidays where the only past time appeared to be darts - my godfather honestly thought he had woodworm.  I never dared reveal the truth. A favourite place to spend a few hours was Portmeirion - the location for the iconic series The Prisoner.

Portmeirion Village

A magical place to walk around and wonder at the vision of William Clough Ellis - all these buildings might have been lost forever, if it had not been for him. (http://www.portmeirion-village.com/)

Further along from here is the brilliant Ffestiniog Railway that winds up over 700 feet and along 13 miles of track through the stunning scenery of seas, lakes, meadows and waterfalls.  (http://www.festrail.co.uk/For children who have never been on a steam train or a train for that matter, this is just brilliant - actually all of these treasured lines up and down the country are so worth a visit.

Ffestiniog railway

My first holiday with a friend involved an overnight coach trip from Macclesfield to Bournemouth to stay in a bed and breakfast close to the centre of the town.  A great time was had as it was an exciting time in music and I saw an early Fleetwood Mac, Simon Dupree and the Big Sound, and favourite of all, the Amen Corner with the amazing Andy Fairweather Low - who I might add was quite impressed when I told him - many years later when he came to appear on a show at Granada - that I had seen him at the Pavilion Gardens in the late 60s.  I do not remember any sunbathing happening on this holiday but certainly in the years to come, the beach started to play an important role in holidays.

Bournemouth beach and pier

My first major beach holiday was courtesy of my late boss at Granada Television - the wonderful Muriel Young.  Muriel had discovered Portugal and the Algarve coast in the early 60s and built a beautiful villa in Santa Eulalia, just outside Albufeira.  She went twice a year with her family and friends and through her, various other famous people bought places in the area - Cliff Richard being one, who now has a very successful vineyard, Adega Do Cantor (http://www.winesvidanoa.com/). The rest of the year, the villa was rented out through an agency which funded its upkeep and maintenance for the year. The villa was beautiful, with its own pool and surrounded by pine trees and best of all, an orange grove where you could go and pick your own oranges fresh from the tree.  One day I picked one as I was leaving for the UK and a few hours later, I gave it to my lovely next door neighbour, Hilda, who could not believe that a few hours before it had been on a tree in Portugal.

Albufeira beach

My memories of mine and Cheryll's first visit to Portugal are as clear today as they were then.  The blue skies, the smell of food being grilled with the whiff of garlic and the beautiful scenery.  The terrifying driving standards and interesting use of large tyres for roundabouts.This was 1979 and Albufeira was still an unspoilt fishing village.  New buildings were springing up but there was still countryside all around and a lack of commericalism and tasteless architecture that has now, in my opinion, blighted great swathes of coastlines around the world. 

The main square in Albufeira had a market and when the bus went up the left hand side of the square, people squashed themselves into doorways to let it go past, and as it turned the corner, people would move their chairs and tables to enable it to continue its journey.  All great local colour.  We would walk down to the beach at Praia d'Ouro which at that time, had a tiny gypsy market on the edge of it and then walk back up towards the crossroads stopping to buy massive strawberries or to rummage in the supermarket at the crossroads, wondering at the amazing array of strange things we could find.  A favourite shop in Albufeira was an old fashioned chemist who seemed to have a great stock of Christian Dior perfumes at knock down prices.  I still have, even all these years later, a miniscule drop of Eau Fraiche in its black and white box, that I bought there. 

Just up from the villa was the original bull ring - a strange place which appeared to be built out of corrugated iron sheets and next to that was a great restaurant and bar - we didn't enquire too deeply into where the steaks came from though.  Also near to the villa, was a fantastic chicken restaurant, Franginhos, run by the Birch family who were friends of Muriel.  I made contact with Nigel Birch (one of the sons) last year and was delighted to hear he was still living on the beautiful estate that we had visited with Muriel but now is totally involved with Cliff Richard's vineyard - what a small world we all live in.  Sadly the restaurant is no more but the memories of their piri piri chicken live on in mine and Cheryll's memories.  Along with the memories of great dinners followed by great nights in the The Showboat Bar opposite, run by a wonderful Yorkshire man, Peter and his Dutch partner, Rob.  Happy days.

We made great friends with local portuguese people and as we returned every year, we were invited to birthdays, taken on trips to see new restaurants, whisked off to bars and discos.  Muriel loved the fact we returned from each trip armed with the latest gossip and scandal of the area.  We thought nothing of hitching a lift in the back of the little water trucks or on the back of a cart being pulled by a donkey as we were all treated so fantastically.  I think we kept them going in gossip for years. I had my 30th birthday there and it was fantastic as the locals had organised a special cake and everything for me - such thoughtful friends.

Life moved on for Cheryll and I as we gained husbands. I discovered and fell in love with Greece for a few years,  but neither of us ever forgot Portugal. In fact, a standing joke between Cheryll and I was retirement in Portugal in a rocking chair, covered in a shawl, cat on knee!  It was with Cheryll that I came to discover Lisbon and my present life.  I have my rocking chair and cats (sadly the shawl is actually a Spanish one) so just waiting for her to arrive with hers and then we're 'sorted'!

26 February 2011

Going Backwards?

Whilst I was doing my Saturday morning shopping in Colares this morning, I started to wonder about why I enjoyed village shopping more than supermarkets or towns.  I have come to the conclusion that it must stem back to childhood. When I was very little I can remember going with my mother to a row of local shops in Hampton Wick (just outside Kingston upon Thames) where you could get everything you needed from amazing meringues in vivid colours, to my free orange juice and best of all, small articulated dolls in the dry cleaners which were gifts from American soldiers based in Bushey Park.  In Kettleshulme, when I was deemed wise enough (about 7) I was sent with a handwritten list to the village Post Office for writing paper - Basildon Bond Azure (hard word to pronounce at that age), stamps and not forgetting the National Savings Stamps with either Prince Charles or Princess Anne on the front. 

The Old Post Office - now a private house

Savings stamps

After that it would round into Paddock Lane to the village shop for bits and pieces and to hand over my precious sixpence so it could be put towards the big box of chocolates for my mother for Christmas.  At that time the boxes featured puppies or kittens or baskets of fruit and flowers and were a great draw for children.  It was also a stopping off point on the way to and from school for sherbet dip dabs, liquorice chews, gobstoppers, Victory V (remember how they burnt your mouth in winter but did keep you warm), Imps, Black Jacks and flying saucers.  Penny Trays were a great favourite and down in Whaley Bridge I can even remember Half Penny Trays.


Sometimes I would be sent to a house nearly opposite the village shop to take shoes for repairs or pick up some bedding plants - I remember being slightly scared of this procedure but cannot remember why.  I also remember taking my doll's pram with me - probably to carry the shopping.  I also remember (blushing) that I dressed up my beautiful tom cat and stuck him in it a few times!  In Whaley Bridge, my mother and I would go to the fishmongers where I would watch in fascination as the man filleted plaice for us and then we would go to the library where I was enrolled and take out my four books - very frustrating as you were only allowed four which was never enough for me - then it would be to the sweet shop next door and up some steps for a bar of Kit Kat (or KiteKat as my mother would insist on calling it to my embarassment) and if there was time, we would go for a milk lolly for me and a coffee or cup of tea for her, round the corner in a tiny cafe near a bridge before we caught the bus home.

The library was down the left hand side and underneath The Mechanics Insitute and the sweet shop to the right hand side.

When I lived just outside Macclesfield after leaving Kettleshulme, it was a revelation to have drinking water from a tap (we had a well and it all had to be boiled), and to have large shops to hand, but Macclesfield was a market town and still had a cattle market in those days and had lots of individual shops where again you were able to have a chat and become a 'regular'.  I can even remember shops with a chair for the elderly to have a seat whilst waiting to be served.  Last year Macclesfield was on national television showing how the streets of our towns have been destroyed by out of town shopping - shop after shop with 'For Sale' on them.  So very sad. 

After Macclesfield, I moved a few miles away to another village, Kerridge, which is above Bollington and again had great pleasure in using all the local shops, from butchers, to bakers, to garage to greengrocer.  Again, I got to know everyone and enjoyed the actual shopping experience.  After here it was Edinburgh which was a beautiful city and with that came the lack of local shopping pleasure.  Out of town supermarkets catered for everything, the city itself had wonderful shops but individual shops were in the suburbs and hard to find which meant it was easier to do the 'one stop shop' and slowly I became used to it, but I missed 'something'.

Returning to England to beautiful Malmesbury, I rediscovered the joys of local shopping.  When I moved there we had three butchers, two bakeries, florists, library, greengrocers, cafes, bike shops, men's outfitters, general stores, a main post office and a sub post office and everything was within walking distance of home.  Bliss. I thoroughly enjoyed my Saturday mornings shopping and having a coffee and visiting the library. 

Michael Thomas - my Malmesbury butcher who did amazing sausages

Thinking back on these days, I realise that going from shop to shop, getting to know the people in them who had time to have a quick chat with you, left a lasting impression on me.  Shopping in shopping centres where no-one knows you or can be bothered to speak to you other than to take your money, is not a joyous experience but depressing, especially if you are single, lonely or elderly and your only contact with people is this form of shopping.  Observing the elderly here in the villages, I notice how much contact there is with them as they go out and about during the day.  The shopkeepers have time to chat as they serve and old fashioned manners come into play which have long gone in the UK.  It is quite common to see shopping being carried for an elderly person or a shopkeeper helping the person across the street -leaving their shop unattended to do so.

For those of you, like me, who savour this way of shopping, we should remember how lucky we are, as the majority of people are unable to enjoy it due to the constraints of family, money and time.  However, if you have never thought of trying your local baker or butcher, give it a try and see how nice it is to be greeted with a smile and personal service.

15 February 2011

Rain and Clay

So far we have had a relatively mild winter.  However, it is not over yet and you can't get complacent here.  Our area has its own micro-climate so we have lots of moisture or humidity which keeps everywhere very green - so many more shades of green than I remember in the UK.  Last year we had so much rain it was unbelieveable.  The day we moved in here at the beginning of March, we had around six inches in one day - I am not exaggerating.  This year has definitely been better but after about 10 days of lovely sunshine and blue skies with the odd cloud, we are back to days of blue sky making a brief appearance, followed by white, grey, and black clouds, and either short, sharp downpours, monsoon downpours or that great English favourite, heavy drizzle. 

Cloud waiting to offload on us as it makes its way north.

A nice dismal sky that looks like it might last all today.

Not much better that way!

The garden certainly enjoys it more than I do.  Most of the plants have perked up tremendously and there is vigorous growth on everything now.  All my pots are full of life - hyacinths are out and scenting everywhere, the tulips are growing about an inch a day and the crocus are pushing their way through, no doubt to be enjoyed by our friendly blackbirds, buzzards, robins and other small and pretty birds that we have.

Sadly the blue hyacinth that was with the pink one, got battered down so badly by the rain, I had to cut it and bring it inside where it is now scenting the dining room beautifully.

The strawberries really enjoy the rain and are bouncing back to life with flowers already blooming on them.

Glenn's pride and joy at present is Lucy the Lemon Tree as our first 'baby' is yellowing slowly ready for consumption.  When we bought the tree last summer, she sprouted lots of 'babies' but sadly they all dropped off except for this one.  We have been doing Prince Charles chatting to her since the summer and we have hopefully more 'babies' on the go. 

My next major project is to try and make a decent 'flower bed border' across from the front of the house.  Our landlords kindly said I could play with about 4 feet of ground next to the tractor track for the grapevines.  It already had a selection of rose bushes which were in need of some attention and a yucca tree but basically that was it.  I started to deadhead the roses religiously which meant that they only actually stopped flowering in December.  There is a mix of red, pink, yellow and a fabulous mixed red/yellow in the bed and this one only stopped flowering two weeks ago. 

When we had the glorious few days of sunshine, I went out armed with secateurs and gingerly started to prune, having consulted various websites and Gardener's World for assistance.  I got braver and braver and cut out quite a lot of dead wood and although nervous, I am thrilled to see that they have all survived the 'haircut' as they say in Malmesbury, and are starting to grow again.  I have also planted another rose - an English one - to one side in the hope it will settled in with the Portuguese ones.  The roses certainly love this flower bed as it is total clay and therefore a severe challenge to me as I want to really cultivate it.  It is lovely sight from the front door when the roses are in bloom, and for the holiday makers who rent the cottage on the estate, it is the first thing they see as they turn the corner of our house.

I have transferred some plants from the raised bed on our patio to see if they survive - so far so good.  I have also stuck, at random, some fuschia and climbing hydranga cuttings and it's now a waiting game to see what happens. My lovely old neighbour in Malmesbury, Ted Weeks, a gardener par excellence - had no truck with cuttings and rooting powder, he just cut and shoved them in and for the few that died, there were always a few that survived, so Ted, I am still following instructions. 

As there is no actual division between the bed and the tractor track, Glenn kindly dug the bed and we have a line for our demarcation purposes.  I have now popped some lavendars in to see if they take, because I quite fancy a low lavendar hedge behind the roses - I know - very English!

We are very well served by Garden Centres in this area.  There are three within 10 to 20 minutes of us as well as a Bonsai Museum!!!

The Museum is on the main road leading into Sintra and offers courses and is very well patronised. http://www.bonsaicentro.net/.

We use the garden centre at Praia Grande (http://www.hortopraiagrande.com/) for the simple reason it is on our route home from Almocageme and although smallish, has lovely plants at very reasonable prices.  For instance, the lavendar plants I bought were only 2.75 euros each.  My English rose was a bargain at 15 euros. They are very nice in there and have a great range of trees, bushes. fruit trees, climbers, herbs, bedding plants, planters, indoor plants including orchids, which are a great favourite here and a lovely tortoiseshell cat.

Aren't the coloured displays marvellous?

Beautiful orchids.

Finally, MY pride and joy

Tomato seedlings hardening off and a sign that it won't be too long before summer is here again.


9 February 2011

Finding Friends

Moving to a foreign country is scary.  Leaving the UK in 2002 was tough.  I have a small family and many friends and I knew from someone else's experience, that when you move, not only abroad but even away from your own area, although people say they will stay in touch, they don't and when you are stuck in a foreign country trying to make a new life, it can be depressing.

How things have changed.  Facebook, Friends Reunited, Skype.  There is no need to be friendless now as long as you have access to the internet, you can be in touch with friends and family all the time.  An added bonus of Skype is that if friends in the States are still up in the early hours of the morning because they are still enjoying the adrenalin kick of a performance, you can chat to them either by the message option or call them.  The old problem of time zones is a thing of the past.

In the last few years I have made contact with old schoolfriends, including two from my primary school, and girls from my High School period, old college friends, old drinking friends, work colleagues and the best bit, my lovely partner Glenn (thanks to Friends Reunited) through Facebook.

Making friends in a new country is a harder task especially if you are not in a work situation.  Where do you meet them?  How do you communicate in a foreign language?  I had a bit of a head start as I had been visiting for quite a long time and had made various portuguese friends who helped me through the early days.  Then through a contact, I met a member of The Lisbon Players - an amateur dramatic group based in Lisbon.  I worked as an Assistant Stage Manager on a production and made a lasting friendship with Laura and Kevin, who now live in America.  When I moved from Lisbon to Cascais in 2003, Laura was an absolute lifeline on where to go, where to eat, where the best markets were and she, possibly unknowingly, taught me the best routes to various places that did not involve the motorway.  Thanks Laura.

I also decided to make friends I should join a organisation for foreigners in Cascais.  They held a monthly coffee morning in Cascais so I went along to join and to hopefully meet new people.  Luckily for me, Laura was a loose end and joined me as sadly, it was not what I expected.  It was very 'cliquey' and there was no real effort in befriending newcomers. I also found that some people were not interested in me as a person when I said I was teaching English as a Foreign Language because all they wished to know about was who my husband worked for!  Also working for a living did not seem to coincide with any of the activities available as they were generally during the day or evening.  When you teach, you tend to teach at any hor of the day, mainly either mornings or evenings. When I said I was single, there was a definite feeling 'no interest to us'. I tried it once more and struck lucky when I met Pam who was and still is, involved with the English Library in Birre. For me that was worth the money I had to part with to join the organisation.  My everlasting memory is of women more interested in what other women's husbands did for a living, than trying to help a newcomer to the area. I did not fit in because I had nothing to offer them in the way of corporate gossip, one upmanship of size of villa, pool and maids.  I only taught English as a Foreign Language and was single! However, it was worth the joining fee to have met Pam. 

The library is amazing. It is situated in the annexe of a private house and keeps growing. It is held on a Wednesday morning from 11.00-13.00 and is an Alladin's cave of hardbacks, large print books, DVDs, talking tapes and CDs, with an amazing paperback section.  It is totally free and if you take out paperbacks, you can pass them on or return them, but if you take out hardbacks, DVDs and CDs you have to have your card stamped but there is no time limit on how long you have the books for.  Good job as Glenn has taken a few months to get through a biography!  Since finding it in 2003, I have been a helper and a regular visitor.  If work gets in the way, I get a bit miffed cos I can't go every week but when I go, I tend to fill up at least three bags with books to keep me going. I also found it a great way to recycle all my old paperbacks that I did not want to keep.

I then decided to join a Pilates Class (again in 2003) which was held twice a week at Hotel Atlantico in Monte Estoril.  Now that was a good move, apart from the fact Pilates was excellent for my bad back, I met my wonderful friend Ann, who again was a great source of help and guidance to me.  Ann is now back in the UK but we stay in touch and I was so pleased when she came over for my big birthday party in 2009.  Also on that day I was joined by Paul who had the great pleasure of announcing he was at my 21st and 60th - another re-connection from Friends Reunited and a link back to the happy days of living in Macclesfield.

When I moved to Cascais I started to teach English as a Foreign Language and before I knew it, most of my students had become friends.  My Spanish students kept recommending me around their friends and I loved my conversation classes with them as I learnt so much about Spain and its culture.  I really missed them when they relocated back to Madrid as their husbands' time in Portugal had finished. I then got involved with a fantastic German/Russian family who again have become friends even though they now live back in Germany.  I really miss our breakfasts together on a Saturday with the children, Katja and Timo and the lovely Leska the Husky. Through Facebook I can keep up with all my students, past and present.  I get to see the latest photographs of their children, partners or of their holidays.  I am also able to follow my youngest niece as she goes around the world on a belated Gap Year. 

I know Facebook gets a bad press where youngsters are concerned, but I think for our age group it is a fantastic way to stay in touch with family and friends and also to re-connect with friends you might have lost touch with and friends who have left Portugal and gone to pastures new.  The only difficulty I have found is that obviously when girls get married they change their names but then that's where Friends Reunited comes into play and sometimes you can find them there and then link up with Facebook. 

It's been very interesting re-connecting with schoolfriends - we all seem to have done well considering what our teachers used to say about us.  Recently five of us had a huge conversation on Facebook where we reminded each other about school days, teachers and the mischief we got up to - school trips that only occurred once due to us being 'the worst year ever!'.  Some of the stories were amazing and makes you wonder why you didn't remember them but thankfully we all have different memories to pass on our different stories and make each other laugh.

Some friends have gone into businesses late in life and in totally different areas to what they were originally involved in.  One friend, Iona, whom I met when I was working in the electricity industry,  has gone into cheese production  and has a very interesting blog on it:  http://ribblesdalecheese.wordpress.com/  Well worth a read.  It is a fascinating process and nice to hear about how she has gone about building the business in these difficult days, the fun she has with her pigs, her new shop and the cheese and chutney tastings she has started.  My only problem is that at present she is not exporting so I tend to just read it and hope that one day I can try some of the products.

Another old friend from the television and music days discovered on Facebook was Tony or Tony the Greek as the Piccadilly Radio fans know him.  He also has a blog which is highly entertaining if you are into music.  He has also written a book, The Insights Collection, which I helped him with - again the joys of the internet.  He wrote it in chunks which he emailed across to me for editing and I sent back - no time zone worries even though he is living in Florida.  Check it out if  you like a laugh:   http://engineroominsights.com/
Another schoolfriend, Deb, has a photo booth business which looks great fun for weddings, birthday parties and any other event you fancy.   You can find her at http://www.pergolaphoto.co.uk/.  Shortly she will be starting up another business with skin products - funny when you think her burning ambition at school was to be a vet and the teachers were very dismissive of her.  I think we have all done very well without the support of some of the supposed Careers Advisors of the '60s.

Since moving to Colares last year, we have made friends with a lot of local people because they are so incredibly friendly and helpful.  I also think that once the local people realise you are living here because you want to and not because you have been posted, there is a change in attitude.  My local shop has been so kind to me over the problem with my elbow.  My shopping has been carried to the car, they never fail to ask how it is healing and offering tips and recommendations on food choices, where to eat, where to buy things or even cheerfully getting my battery going after it failed in the street.  My local newsagent has even managed to order and reserve a regular magazine for me.  It's a great kiosk run by two ladies. In the laundry, I am know as Rosa the Foreigner to differentiate me from Rosa the local!  Great fun.

So, even though lots of friends are out of sight (unless you have a camera on Skype) no-one ever need feel lonely in Portugal.  The portuguese are wonderful people when you get to know them.  A sense of humour which can be just as black as the British and the added bonus is that they too discuss the weather in the same detail and dedication that we do.  You are never alone here if you can discuss the weather or football.

8 February 2011


Sunday was a glorious day here with clear blue skies and beautiful misty sunshine over the mountains.  We decided to go up to Almocageme market to get some eggs - normally double yokers - some more of Fernanda's lovely orange jam (our marmalade) and mango chutney.

She sells her own cheese, goat, sheep and also smoked ones plus amazing jams, chutneys and chouricos.  Everything is beautifully presented in glass jars with gingham trim tied with straw, which I always return to her
which she appreciates.  I swopped her one of my homemade lemon curds for a cheese before Christmas and have also given her samples of my cakes, which she really likes.  After stocking up we decided to go and have a look at a market about 20 minutes away in a village called Sao Joao das Lampas. 

There are weekend markets all over the area, you just have to know which one is on where.  For instance, the Almocageme fruit and vegetable market is on every Saturday and Sunday.  It also has a weekly market on a Thursday morning selling mainly household items, clothing and shoes as well as a couple of stalls with cheese, meats and olive oil, and vegetable plants.  Sao Pedro on the outskirts of Sintra has a market on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, Cascais has one on the first and third Sunday of the month close to the autodromo as well as one in the centre of town on a Wednesday (including a clothing, household section etc) and Saturday morning (fruit, vegetables and flowers only).  Sao Pedro and Cascais (autodromo) also do a great line in Pao com chourico - a wood baked large roll filled with thin slices of chourico.  Absolutely divine and a wonderful way to keep your hands warm in winter.  The fruit, vegetable, meats, cheeses, plants etc are usually local people and the clothing, household, shoes etc are Gypsies.  Always in black and the women have amazing long black hair.  The children are usually in tow and asleep under tables or in the backs of vans.  They have incredibly loud voices as they shout their wares - some with megaphones - which adds to the general noise and hustle and bustle.

We made our way through the countryside to Sao Joao das Lampas and found the market spread along the main road and round what looked like their park.  

Now if you are short of anything plastic for the house try this stall

What about lighting?

Need a new pair of jeans?

Isn't her hair amazing?

What about some new garden plants as Spring is coming?

Now the tiled floors are rather cold, so how about some nice sheepskin slippers

Nice set of corsets hanging above if you look carefully!

Every woman needs a new handbag

And every man needs a new implement to play with

Or would he prefer this selection?

You can never have enough towels

Need a new sofa or wardrobe or table?

And just in case you are dying of hunger, what about a cake or some wonderful bread?

We thoroughly enjoyed wandering between the stalls in the sunshine enjoying the shouts of the ever enthusastic Gypsy girls and boys but lunch was calling so we set off for Praia das Macas for lunch and then a walk along the beach to enjoy the sun and the waves.  A perfect way to spend Sunday.

5 February 2011

The Big Bin Question

It never fails to astonish me how the UK seems to have so many problems with rubbish and recycling.  Going back to when I lived in the UK, there were various recycling bins in odd council designated spots that never really inspired anyone but the dedicated to use them.  There was the option of the council tip for the serious rubbish chuckers and then there were dustbins or Oxfam.  I used to love my tin one with the special rubber lid to stop it flying off in gales but these became a thing of the past when the wheelie things came in. 

When I first lived in Malmesbury, the wonderful dustbinmen used to come round the back of our cottages and remove the bins and we also got free black bags.  That, of course, was the 80's.  Then we were told to buy our own bags and drag them round to the side of the cottages to the patch of grass and leave them out for the binmen.  Great if you remembered to do it the night before because they came early and sometimes you ended up with bags for a couple of weeks.  The fact the refuse from our five cottages and the houses close by, all dumped their bags on this piece of green, made it a target for cats, dogs and our local foxes.  Rubbish strewn everywhere - not pleasant in summer.  I once contacted the council to ask for a large, green wheelie bin so it would stop this problem.  I was informed, by a very serious lunatic, that it was asking for trouble.  It would be stolen by a passing youth who was suffering intoxication, or failing being stolen by a pisshead, it would be stolen for other nefarious uses - I kid you not!

I now understand from friends that you are lucky to have a fortnightly collection and get fines if you so much as overfill etc etc.  Then you read that recycling is a problem and not tackled correctly bla bla.  Why?  I fail to understand why the weekly collection was stopped - don't tell me cost.  It must cost far more the way it is tackled now and as for the boxes people have to have outside their front doors - what the hell do foreigners make of it.  I saw a street where the pavement seemed to be awash with ugly litter boxes (not feline) in the name of recyling.

This is an example of what we have here:

This shows two green, big wheelie bins for general rubbish that cannot be recyled.  Next to the green bins is garden refuse which is collected weekly.  The green bins are emptied every day except Saturday.  EVERY DAY.

The recycling bins.  Blue for paper and cardboard, yellow for plastics and green for bottles.  These are in a residential street.

This set of the larger variety is on the main road through Colares and on the other side of the road, are green bins.

Here are more big bins with the green bins next to them.

These are not isolated spots for bins or recycling.  You have no need to walk more than a few minutes to find either recyling bins or green bins for your waste.  I live in a rural setting.  There is a green bin at the bottom of the lane opposite the entrance to our lane, there is one to the right past the bus stop.  There are recycling bins all along the main road into Colares at set intervals.  Everyone recycles here - it is as natural as drinking coffee.

We have our own recycling bins on the patio which we empty the minute they are full - very simple, stick in car, drive to bins on way out for shopping or whatever, offload - in the words of Alexander the Meerkat - simples.  Large items for disposal are removed, after contacting the council, by a special service and costs you nothing.  Glenn told me that you have to pay to have things taken away by councils in the UK now. 

The Portuguese have the reputation for the best recycling in Europe - isn't that interesting - a small country with limited funds and resources but can show the UK how it should be done!