Sunday, November 23, 2008

Horses and nuclear waste monkey suits

Hello all. Been a while. No excuses except it's been well cold here at night and as our internet access is outside and we've been staying huddled together inside, no blogs. But today is different. It's Sunday morning and the sun is shining bright in a cloudless powder blue November sky with this as my view across the Amieira valley here at Bacelo. Sweet.

But before I update you on what's been going on here in The Shire, just took the following fly on the wall video of the kids 10 minutes ago. Every morning they are up before 6 off up the hill at 7.30 to catch the school bus at 7.50, have classes all day from 9 to 5, then get back at 6.30, do their homework, eat dinner, share the stories of their day and collapse exhausted in bed by 9. So on Sundays they can have a lie in. Bless their cotton socks. We are very proud of them. They are learning so much so quickly and are growing physically and emotionally as a result. Well done kids. Keep it up. You are stars.

Hello from the kids on a Sunday Morning

November has been pretty full on. Von and I have been working together Monday to Friday on restoring our first house down at Moses. We got all the easy stuff out of the way in the first 6 weeks - clearing the house, creating the internal wooden structures, laying our first roof, laying our first floor and rendering all the walls with lime. Now we are into the harder phase which will require outside expertise - electrics, plumbing (picture here is of Senhor Lucas installing the pumps and tubing into our new bore hole which is 300 metres up the hill from the house) hot water water system (thermodynamic panels from a company called ENat), hand crafted double glazing and pine staircases (from a lovely carpenter called Senhor Dias), railings for the internal veranda (an ironmonger in Oleiros) and a handmade wood burning stove (from Guillierm in Esteiro). All of which have been arranged and now we wait to see this last phase unfold while we lay more floors, finish the rendering build the kitchen and paint. So if all goes to plan over the next 4 weeks, we'll be able to move in for Christmas. Yaaaaay.

Anyway here's a couple of videos to update you on the work.

Nuclear waste factory monkey suit

Our first floor: slate dust topped

The weekends here in the last month have been quite hectic. We had a farewell party by the fire at Moses for Ian and his family as unfortunately Merle had to return early to Germany for the unexpected death of her mother there. Guys we hope you are all OK and your journey has not been too painful. Following weekend Shanti B and her great friend Emma from Ireland camped with us down at Moses. Emma taught us how to express the joy of life in just one phrase that we've been using every day since. WOW!!! I LOVE....(insert anything you like here - this place, that word, the bigness, fires, synchronicity, etc etc etc etc). Thanks Emma. You can come again anytime you want. (You too Shants of course, no invitation necessary.)

Last weekend we visited the National Horse Festival in Portugal's capital of horses - Galegã. It was a wonderful chance to experience another dimension of Portuguese culture. Horses and their devoted human companion admirers. The town has some exquisite architecture that we've seen elements of before but not on this scale. Streets and streets of gorgeous old buildings with hundreds of horse stables inside courtyards hidden behind the street frontage of the houses. And in the centre of the town a magnificent corral where all the horses were on show, either jumping or just trotting around the circumference. Kids, adults, intrepid horse enthusiasts the lot of them. Splendid. We'll be going again next year. Definitely. On Saturday night we stayed in Lisbon again so we wouldn't have too far to travel on Sunday for Josh's last cricket game of the year, played, of course, in delightful sunshine all day with the usual blend of multicultural languages from India, Pakistan, South Africa, England and Portugal ringing in our ears. Von has a tale to tell of that day coming soon....

One final thing to mention is that after 6 weeks of being pretty cold at night we finally have had this wood burning stove installed in our room at Bacelo. And what a difference it's made. Although the days are still sunny and hot, the evenings have been bitter when the wind blows. So thank you to "Tom and Jerry" for buying and fitting this stove for us. Toasty.