Friday, January 23, 2009

When it rains, it pours!

I’m lying down surrounded by a horde of cushions on the huge floor level sofa in our newly restored house at Moses, in front of a roaring wood burning stove fire, writing this blog while I wait optimistically for the incessant rains outside to stop. And boy, when it rains here, it really pours.
Over the last month we’ve had a couple of days of beautiful sun, which we’ve taken advantage of to start picking olives from 5 of our 30 olive trees. But for the rest of the time it’s been raining. A few times, even snowing. We had arranged over the course of a couple of weekends in December, for a team of neighbours to pick our trees with us and then do another 70 or so trees at our friends Ian and Merle’s place over the hill. Not surprisingly our neighbours weren’t keen to do so in the rain and the bitter cold so we had to put it on hold. We think the local olive press down the road closes at the end of January so if the weather clears up over the next few weekends we’ll still hopefully be able to gather a few more sacks. As much as Von and I can with our wee hand held olive rakes. If we miss the press, we’ll store the olives in barrels of brine and orange peel to eat rather than use for olive oil. It will be an enormous amount of olives, yet I reckon Von will get through ours before next year’s harvest time and hopefully we can pick and save some for Ian and Merle to sample from their place when they return again in the Spring. Come back soon peeps, we miss you.

On the 6th January, we said our farewells to Von’s Mum and sister, Arlene and Antoinette, sending them off with a delightful day shopping and moseying around in Lisbon before their flight back to London in the evening. Check out their cameos on the vids below. We miss them loads already and are indebted to them for filling our new place with laughter and above all magnificent memories of our first Christmas at Moses.

Arlene and Annie reflect on their first trip to Portugal…

Since they left us, the only real drama here has been that our highly independent princess of a cat, Angel, almost broke our hearts by taking herself off into the wilderness for a week, the coldest week in Portugal for 20 years with temperatures at night dropping to minus 8 and below. Thankfully Angel returned, unscathed and a little on the hungry side. Apparently, our friends tell us, January is the month that cats tend to disappear like that here in Portugal so I suspect she’ll be off on another wandering expedition shortly. Next time though, we won’t be having kittens about it.

Kids are back at school and Von and I have taken the first fortnight of January to recharge our seriously depleted end of 2008 batteries. Pottering about the house creating some resemblance of order, cooking, cleaning, tidying up the surrounding land, and as I mentioned above, picking and pruning a handful of olive trees. Nothing major. Nothing strenuous. We now feel ready to go for all that is in store for us in 2009, the year we want to build what we came to Portugal to build: our own houses at the top of the hill that we bought in September 07 with the intention of restoring them to live in for the rest of our lives. We’ve written our annual plan and budget, sat with our architect for a day to revise the drawings reflecting all the changes we’ve made in our ideas since the first plans were completed a year ago, and already have a roofing company in place to start the timber framing at the end of January. All set. Ready for action. So although we’re most thankful for the substantial soaking of the land (and us) at the moment, we’re also praying for a break in the daily deluges so we can begin to build once more.

It’s midday and Josh has just returned unexpectedly early from school. Another teachers’ strike he says. He’s drenched from head to toe after his walk down from the village, although behind him outside, I can see the dark rain clouds dissipating a fraction. Yep, there’s even some blue up there in the skies along the valley. Might even be able to get out this afternoon, se Deus quiser. Von’s already spotted the sun and is putting on her boots in front of me. “Right, I'm off.” she says, “It’s sunny at the top. I'm gonna move some stones. You coming?”

Right behind you dear. I'm right behind you.

1 comment:

Ana Conceicao said...

Hello, while looking some things up online about oleiros and estreito I found your blog, and was very excited! I am originally from that area a tiny village by Estreito called Vale... I moved to the U.S when I was 4 but we go back almost every year. I love reading about this courageous adventure you are taking in Oleiros. The houses look like they are going to be gorgeous, and I love that you are keeping some of the original stone work. I hope that maybe we can talk or when I am there I would love to meet you all. Hang in there, I know the rain and the slow way things get done can be frustrating at times. Just keep to it! -Ana