Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to really love a child

We found this little piece in an old journal. Sorry we can't attribute it to anyone, if you know, do tell.

"Be there. Say yes as often as possible.

Let them bang on pots and pans. If they are crabby put them in water. If they're unlovable, love yourself.

Realise how important it is to be a child. Go to the movies inyour pyjamas. Read books out loud with joy.

Invent pleasure together. remember how really small they are. Giggle alot. Surprise them.

Say no when necessary. Teach feelings. Heal your own inner child. Learn about parenting.

Hug trees together. Make loving safe. Bake a cake and eat it with no hands. Go find elephants and kiss them.

Plan to build a rocket ship. Imagine yourself magic. Make lots of forts with blankets

Let your angel fly. Reveal your own dreams. Search out the positive. Keep the gleam in your eye.

Mail letters to God. Encourage silly. Plant licorice in your garden. Open up. Stop yelling. 

Express your love. A lot. Speak kindly. Paint their tennis shoes. Handle with caring.

Children are miraculous."  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

For my River.

For you
From whom such sweet sweetness flows
For you
To whom our faces irresistibly follow as sunflowers to the sun
For you
Always you

Flow not into the sea just yet. For there is more.
Much more. Here and to come.
To soothe. To soften. To see.
For you
Always you

Waiting. In hope. Look, the buds on our planted trees wait for Spring.
And we for you.
Always you.
For you. For you. For you.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Quantitative Easing

For those still unsure just how ridiculous the state of global government debt is, watch this. You'll get it.

If you're still interested in these type of stories not usually screened on average mainstream media, do check out George Ure's blog Urban Survival. Nice. If you're interested in official definition of what Quantitative Easing, check here on Wiki, before the net shuts down completely. Some day shortly. Unless the revolutionaries win. And we get more Diaspora stuff where information doesn't actually "live" anywhere at all so no one can control it.

Peace to all our friends in London right now with the Student Fee Rise just passed. We hear there are horses crashing through student protesters. Time for the peacemakers to make their stand.

As I keep saying, get ready. Be prepared to wage peace.

Love from the mountains.  Memphis.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Interjecting noodle bakers on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I don't really get what Thanksgiving is, but that's OK cos we have American friends who have showed us its about the best food and the best friends and family available getting together for a wholesome thankful time. So we're looking forward to popping over to our friends today for some of the good old American loveliness that exists in so many American homes right across the world today.

Big news in creative wonderland of Moses is that John is front page of the internet gallery Eyestorm. Purdays are also in chats over possible show in this Sintra gem, showcasing their new views of rural Portuguese life. Go Purdays!

Right, about baking your noodle. We've been pootling about on You Tube watching various lovely things. This one is for all those who have kids, work with them, or preferably are them. "Well bake my noodle!", as we say round these parts. We'll put more up over coming days. Get a cuppa tea and enjoy. It's an hour...

Finally a wee autumnal view from the road to castelo branco where incidentally I took my level 1 ECG Cricket coaching course last weekend. All the way out here in Portugal. In Portuguese to boot. First Cricket Coaches Course in Portugal to Portuguese speaking Portuguese. Twas most cool to have been there. At the start of a cricket revolution. The vid is of the trees not the cricket.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inklings and Eric Cantona Rabbit Holes

Just 3 links for y'all today based on my inklings over these recent interesting days. Will leave it to you to make up your own mind. Be warned. Engaging in this 3 part little journey may prove to be a rabbit hole that drops you out in Wonderland. Enjoy.....

Now, take a view from the Clif on these 2 obscure videos released this week.

Peace and love and all the beautiful harmonies,


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Eyescape Dreamscape

"You got time to kill, ain't yer?", he said. A fair accusation I thought. Precisely why we're here and not there. Time to kill. Time to talk. Time to listen. Time to be. With friends. Alone. Time to imagine. And that peeps is where we are headed today. Imagination.

Lets start with a wee perception shifter that took place here this week. River and I went for a walk one day to the opposite side of the little valley on the north side of our house. We've been here 3 years now and never walked it. Mainly cos we didn't know it was there til a bulldozer went down it in the summer (as part of the biannual road cleaning they do here for ensuring fire engine access in the forest).

Now 3 years is a fair bit of time to spend in the forest. We walk a lot. Found many paths. Beaten a few clean only to be scratched to pieces by newly grown brambles on return the following year. Investigated. Stopped. Stared. Marvelled. Gave thanks. In many many places across the land. A thousand different vistas. Up down round. Thought we had a pretty good idea where we lived. Until this week. Until that path. Until a single view from 250 metres away blew us away.

We have spent all our days for almost 2 years gazing west and south. Never seen a sunrise over the horizon, only over the hill mid morning. We've consumed every single sunset down cascading far away valleys. But we've never looked from over there back up. Back east. Like this.

As you can see from the pic, our house is situated half way up, what is actually, a perfect hillock. After a series of other equally revealing views from along the 500m path, River and I had our breath taken away and simply sat on the edge of the path for a very long time feasting at the wonder of the eyescape that was laid out before us in every direction. Hearts and spirits wide wide  open in absolute surrender to the majesty of this place, in awesome thankfulness for it all, and total utter gobsmacked surprise that we had no flipping clue for all that time where we had been living. We live here? We live here.

A return to the house for a cuppa and a quick look on google translate for the name of our houses, Cabeço. Always thought it was some kind of derivative of Cabeça which means head. But no, in fact it has one very specific meaning. It translates as "Knoll". I must have seen this translation at some point but ignored it cos it failed to resonate as a description. So seeing that we do in fact live on a splendid knoll, was a tremendous treasure to discover after all this time.

What was so outstanding for us about this little revelatory walk of ours, was that no matter how aware we think we are, no matter how well we think we are doing in understanding the context of who we are and where we are, a trip to another viewpoint, another perspective, even one that is very very close to where we have always been, can immediately reveal we never really had a clue! Truly a type of revolutionary perspective shifter. Now that one name, Cabeço, the name of our house, will always be for us inextricably linked to this wake up call that there is far more beauty in this world than we have yet seen. All we need to do to see more is change our point of view.

In the context of our new found  titillating eyescapes, we have also been reflecting much recently on dreams. Our own dreams, those we are sub consciously experiencing while asleep and more interestingly those visions that we are consciously pondering in our daydreams. Night and day, day and night, these movies running in our minds eye somewhere, are our dreamscape. We commonly accept that dreams can often, particularly the lucid ones, feel extremely real. We touch, we smell, we see, we talk, we hear, we fear, we love. We reflect on the past, we try to resolve the present, we glimpse the future. But where are we doing all those things? In our dreamscape, of course. It's not real. It's just dreaming in it?

But what if our dreamscape is real. As real as the phenomenon known as the material world. What if? What might that mean? Could it mean we can actually imagine the future into being. Visionaries often do don't they. And artists. And writers.  They imagine what is not there in the material world. They imagine it in the dreamscape. Then seek to bring that reality of their vision, into the real physical world. If the dreamscape is real, then I have a feeling I have absolutely no idea how to navigate my way in it. We just might have an extrordinarily powerful tool as human beings. Way more powerful than we have ever imagined to date. Our Imagination.

If that's true, then what a time we are in folks, to imagine our way through the coming days. Let's do it. Let's ignite a revolution. Let's imagine, seriously imagine, a more beautiful world for ourselves and those around us and for those further afield who really need to be able to escape their own physical realities right now.  I know this sounds all so familiar. But again I say, what if it were possible? Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions and all that.

Anyhow, there's some perspective shifting going on around these parts. And I think it has something to do with all the wonderful friends we have been sharing time with this last month. John and Caroline obviously, with their elegant artistry with the brush and the camara, have both inspired with their enthusiasm and their work. (Their exhibition is on in town next week by the way and trust me, they will be putting on quite a show. Do check out their blogs - great photos, great paintings, great haikus.)

Also been hanging out with Ian and Merle and their tribe, Anna, Oliver, Jonny. Went up to the Serra da Estrella with them last week. Such outstanding beauty all the way on the winding roads through vale and ridge and villages and paddling in river beaches in hot sunshine, until you arrive at the summit, the highest peak in portugal at 2km above sea level, with snow all over the place and crystal clear views for eternity.

The light, the rocks, the moss, the colour, the magnificence. Almost felt like we were on another planet. And again, not very far, only hour and half. Took Moses and Perry for a walk into the snow. They rolled, they jumped, they frolicked and ate way too many snowballs. The dogs, just like me, were in heaven.

It's Autumn. It's breathtaking. It's where we live. It's been full of lunches and dinners and fires and music and conversation and games and laughter. So much laughter. And of course pumpkins. Lots and lots of pumpkins. Relishing the eyescapes that are our nearest and dearest. Taking note of what is passing through our dreamscapes. Waiting for the rains to pass.

Peace and love. Dream a little. Imagine.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Sweet Sixteen...

Photography by Caroline Purday. Haiku by Jon Purday. Thanks guys.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Thanks to those who commented on the last post. Lovely to start some new conversations with people contemplating similar things at this time. Continuing on a similar note, there seems to be a central theme recurring in our reflections and dreams at the moment. That is the nature of energy itself. At the smallest level of what we consider to be the material universe, energy just keeps spinning to keep matter in form. At the largest view, the galactic view, the whole thing is spinning interrelatedly in ways we can't fully comprehend. Doesn't really matter which lens you care to look through, the microscope or the telescope, the data is telling us the same thing. It's all spinning in the same way: vortexually.

According to the Websters online dictionary, the word 'vortexual' doesn't actually exist, although 'vortical' does. However, given the prevalence of the phenomena on so many levels, the omission rather surprised me. Or maybe not. Maybe in fact it's a new way of not just how we are currently describing what we see in relation to the interconnectivity of all things, but also, just possibly, how we are seeing it. More simply, how we feel about seeing things move, including us, more spirally towards an unspecified moment in time.

Now, this all might be some random playback of influences, and I am happy to concede that the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy read in my teens, might just be affecting this.

The Total Perspective Vortex is allegedly the most horrible torture device to which a sentient being can be subjected.

When you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little mark, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says, "You are here."

But I doubt it. Our new view of the entirety of it all I suspect is arising from what we are actually seeing with our own eyes at this present point in time, rather than through an inculcated lens. If that makes sense. Our eyes on the material world interlaced with images from our dreamscape, both in our sleep, and more interestingly, while fully awake. 

What if, we all are spinning vortexually. Always have been, granted, but what if we are on the place in the vortex, (obviously in all the vortexes on every level all at the same time), where the spinning is getting closer to the centre, with exponentially increasing speed. The reason we might be more aware of the interconnection of things, more able to see past, present and future events with increasing clarity, is in fact that it's all getting much 'closer' together. Maybe this singularity at the centre of the universal whirlpool, feels a little more inevitably possible, because it might, of course, truly exist. If so, the notion of vortexualisation (OK stretching it here a bit but bare with me), of which as stated we are becoming more aware of and affected by, is indeed a developmental process leading to a moment in time evidently hurtling towards us with all its accompanying chain reactions, really rather quickly.  At which point I assume, everything, including us, will have been vortexualised. 

Alright enough. You get my point. "Vortexual" is, whether we like it or not, already here in our cultural vernacular at Moses. Arrived a week ago. But as you can tell, already pretty forefront. What I really want to know, is if this little word is resonating with anyone else out there.

Let me know.  


p.s. found an online definition for vortextual, which ironically, is a fair description of my piece, but not in a way I would have imagined. suggests verbosity and annoyance for friends subjected to listening. so i have, obviously suggested the urban dictionary publish an alternative version for vortexual. once published, i feel a fair balance will have been made to the info cloud. but you can decide for yourself. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wage Peace. It’s time to get ready.

What a time we are in. Today is the 10th of the 10th of the 2010. Those dates don’t come around so very often so I hope you will allow me the moment to share something of what drives us to do what we’re doing here, in the middle of the forests of central Portugal. I wrote the following script for a video I was intending to submit for the “Life in a day” project earlier this year. Too much was happening back then with our restoration work for me to do the job justice, but re reading these words this morning, I felt I’d like to still put it out there and see if we can start a conversation through it. Feel free to submit your thoughts and/or links to cool articles around these issues that you have found helpful. Somehow I feel the time to get ready to wage peace is close at hand. I don’t have much of an idea what this will look like. Just that it’s time to get ready.

Mankind finds itself on the cusp of an extraordinary time of change. No one really knows what the change that’s coming is going to look like. Just that it’s coming. Most of us, in fact, are completely unaware that things have already begun to shift. We are, if you like, asleep. Collectively asleep.
Busy, really really busy, but sleeping nonetheless.

Our beautiful home of planet earth seems to be going through one of its regular (for Earth we’re talking every few thousands of years) seismic shifts. Weather patterns are going crazy, polar caps melting, sea levels rising, ocean currents altering, ferocious flooding, city destroying hurricans, island crushing earthquakes, continental wide ash cloud volcanoes, deep sea oil volcanoes. None of which are new. Just right now are happening all so very very fast, in Earth clock time.

Instability, that some say, begins to take place on Earth before momentous change – ice age scale change – stuff that wipes out species like dinasours. Maybe it’s humans next. Maybe not. Maybe it’s just happening as it always has happened and always meant to have happened. Maybe we’re not helping matters.

There are a lot of us humans. Billions. We’re polluting and destroying our planet’s resources and each other with such relentless vigour, that it is a little tricky to see how things can carry on for much longer. Our life on earth, our way of life on earth, doesn’t look to be that sustainable.

Let’s talk oil. Our civilizations right now are based on the black stuff. We use oil to drive our cars, trucks, trains and aeroplanes. We use oil to make the cars, trucks, trains and aeroplanes. We use oil to power the electricity supply. Oil to manifacture a vast array of products and clothes and foods. And we know, oh yes we do, that oil is running out. We just don’t know when. Sooner than we collectively think, probably. So we’re tinkering around here and there with alternative sources of energy, with bio fuels, with wind, wave and solar power. With nuclear power. Not a thing that responds well, I imagine, to tinkering.

Ironically we will consume vast quantities of oil just to make the machines and infrastructure required to harness the energy from these alternative sources. Will there be enough? What if there’s not?

The other big unstable foundation of our civilisations today is money. We’re busy busy busy making money. Working to earn bits of paper or numbers on screens, to pay institutions for food and services that we are more than capable of growing and providing for our very own selves.

3 years ago, sensing that ‘times they are a changing’ our little family of 4 plus dog set out on a journey to find a life less ordinary, a place in which we could quickly acquire the skills we had never learnt which enabling us the chance to live a little more self sufficiently.  We found it here in the forgotten mountains of central Portugal. In some old abandoned stone houses on some terraced land with rivers running through it.

In the midst of all the talk of cataclysmic planetary change, we’re tending our garden. Growing our veggies, vines and fruit orchards and hoping we can survive in nature’s abundance after the oil and the money run out. Maybe we will. Maybe we won’t.  Either way we’ll be looking after this little piece of land and the people we find ourselves with, until the storm that is closing in passes or consumes us in its wake.

(The brief for the video project was also to answer the following 3 questions.)

What do I fear?
I fear that my children grow up in a world where humanity continues choosing to destroy itself and their days will not be filled with the peace and safety and beauty of this day.

What do I love?
My queen of a wife River, my 2 gorgeous children Josh and Eli, good music, tasty home grown food. I love sunrises, sunsets and the stars that follow. I love watching the wind make the trees dance in the forest. I love picking grapes with old people who have spent their lifetimes living in their landscape in a culture that is not my own but is quickly becoming so.

I love love.

What do I have in my pocket?
Pen knife. Pencil. Mobile. Lighter. Fags.

What a time capsule this film is for those that follow. If you’re watching this years into our future, maybe post some kind of apocalyptic change, wanting to find out what life was like for man on earth back in the days of 2010, know this. There was hope. And there always will be.

There’s hope in every seed you plant. While there is a sun in the sky, pure water falling from the clouds and earthy soil at our feet, everything is possible. Living off the land in harmony with the seasons is a good life. You really should have been here to see it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Green Tomato Chutney and more wine making

I have a sneaky suspicion based on the arrival of a new wind today (and on hard evidence from online weather sites) that tomorrow the autumn rains will commence. We've felt and known that for a week or so now and like little mice scurrying around before a storm, we have been gathering firewood and pine cones, staining the last bits of wood around the house which are exposed to the elements, and daily harvesting and preparing more of the delicious fruits of River's labour of love, her 'horta bonita'.

Tarpaulins are on, covering a number of stacks of wood dotted around the houses on all sides, under which now reside a variety of tree trunks, branches, old floorboards and beams too rotten to salvage for building into other things and mounds of off cuts from all the new wood we used to build 2 roofs, a veranda, a green roof  and 4 floors this year, all of which we will burn in the stove to keep ourselves warm and heat our water this winter. We've not gathered it all in, but enough for us not to have to worry about dry fire wood probably at least til Christmas.

Now the rains can come and wash this land anew with its autumnal promise of a new season away from the harsh scorching heat of the summer sun. Warm, wet and windy. Boy, will the forest love it.

A few videos below from the last week or so. Guest starring Carline's brother Steven and his beautiful and expecting wife Sophie who flew in for an action packed weekend mostly involving the harvesting, making and consumption of quite a fair quantity of wine. Come back for olive harvest soon guys. You were great.

Hope all your encounters are full of lovely vibrations this week. It's much easier to feel less afraid if you turn off the TV and don't open a newspaper. Seriously.

Yours tomatoly,


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We Love Eska!

Sitting this morning with coffee as sun rises over the mountains listening to the woman who brought Vonnie and I together. Stop, listen and let your soul fly to another far higher place. Eska...we love you.

Inside Out | Odyssey (Live Cover) by ESKA

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"The Best Pupils of the Year". 'Course they are.

On the eve of returning for the 3rd year to their lovely local school in Oleiros, Josh and Ellie found out last week that they both won prizes for being "O melhor aluno" (The Best Pupil) in their year group. A tremendous effort on both their parts. Moving to another country, learning a completely new language from scratch, adapting to a new culture so far removed from the one they grew up with in London, is an achievement in itself. But to do so with such ease and grace, making some really lovely new friends along the way, and topping it off with the best grades in their classes resulting in winning a prize at the school diploma day? I could not have written a better script for them myself. Done us proud, didn't they just?

Our old friends John and Caroline and adorable girls Maya and Violet arrived 2 weeks ago to spend a year's arts residency with us here at Moses. John is a painter and Caroline a photographer. River and I spent 3 weeks in August finishing the restoration work on the Xisto cottage that we had ourselves been living in for a year and a half. The house looks gorgeous and the Purdays have quickly made it into a home.

To find out more about them and what they will be up to, they're already blogging. is the family one. is Caroline's photographic journey and is Maya's very special own addition to the global blogscape. Watch those spaces and mark my words. Another beautiful story is being written here. And there is more to come. Much more.

Summer break is ended. Tomorrow kids return to school and we start the routine of long school days (kids leave for bus at top of the hill at 8am returning 6.30pm) and continuing work on the land and our own house at Cabeço. This has been a pretty full on year for us. Restoring 3 houses in stone, clay, lime and wood, planting and watering over 300 trees up and down the land, starting and establishing 2 beautiful and productive vegetable terraces, installing irrigation systems from the bore hole and the water mine, all of which were governed by some pretty tight timescales based on the seasons and the arrival of people at various points. My Mum and Dad in June, Helen, Anthony and Cleo in July, Nathan and Annie in August and then the Purdays, all of whom needed accommodation ready. Feels like the season of deadlines has now finally passed and we are moving into a new, calmer, less pressurised way of working.

The list of jobs and projects to start is still fairly huge - decorating the houses, building storehouses for all these potatoes and beans harvested and jars of jams we are about to make, building barns and a workshop for me to make all the shutters, flyscreens and cupboard doors required, a new greenhouse and potting sheds, restoring the Adega by the newly planted orchards to be a fruit storehouse, cider press and studio space for John to paint, possibly houses for chickens, sheep and a pig, pergolas for the roses, grafting of all the old grape vines, river damns to create cascading natural swimming pools, forest clearing, more terrace clearing and more, much much more.

Yet River and I are sure in the knowledge that this will all get done. Sometime. Probably sometime fairly soon as well. It is, after all, why we are here. To expend the energy of our thirties and probably some of our forties, on creating a more sustainable life for us and our children. We are getting there. The food from River's 'horta' this year has been outstanding. Plentiful potatoes, phallic courgettes, the sweetest tomatoes, yard long beans, corn right off the cob, peppers, onions, cucumbers, carrots, beetroots, herbs, squashes and my days, those pumpkins. The 'sweat hours' as the Americans say, are so worth it.

And all this comes with such an incredible feeling of accomplishment, in particular because we came out here from London fairly ill equipped for this way of life. I never would have imagined when we first found Moses 3 years ago, that in 2010 I would be able to build houses and terrace walls in stone and clay, put on wooden tiled roofs from scratch, plaster, plumb, be proficient in the use of a wide range of power tools including chainsaws, pneumatic drills, band saws, grinders, cement mixers and tractors, while at the same time teaching over hundred children to speak English in 3 local primary schools, properly becoming a part of our wider community. Awesome, simply awesome.

Autumn is approaching. Even though it's still hot and blue blue skies, we know when the rains come, they come to stay. All our lovely old neighbours have already begun, ney some already finished, bringing in their fire wood for the winter. We're already late. The grape harvest is round the corner and we want to help our neighbours make their wine again this year where we can. Then it's October and our dear friends Ian and Merle and tribe arrive over the hill at Eiro de Miguel. Then it's olives, picking sorting bagging pressing into oil. Then its Christmas and the long awaited season of rest, reading and reflection that we already know to be a Portuguese mountain winter on the edge of wilderness.

But today is Sunday. And I plan on doing nothing.  Except this blog of course. And cooking up a lunch of freshly harvested roasted veggies. And maybe a game of chess with Josh while I can still beat him and scrabble with the Purdays. Maybe just a wander down to the adega with River and Moses to imagine what we will do to the place. We recently decided that is where we will retire to one day, tending the orchards, living even more simply and let the kids have everything else. They deserve it. We will diminish, and go into the west, and remain Memphis and River.

Thanks for tuning into the blog. Videos up below in a bit...

Peace and all good things.


Ellie gives her first interview with Moses TV since her return from London. 

The Purday family give their thoughts on their arrival at Moses and show off the new improved cottage they will be staying in for a year. 

Ellie and Josh pick up their Best Student medals at school.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Harvest to Share. By Memphis.

Oh my days what a summer! Sooo much happening all at the same time. Still in the process of moving into our new houses, boxes everywhere, building cupboards and storage as fast as I can. My cousins Helen, Anthony and Cleo came for a delightful and entertaining week’s stay (come back soon guys you were great!)  River’s sister Annie and her boyfriend Nathan arrived this week and will go back to London, with Josh and Eli as companions for the journey, next week. River and I have started the final phase of restoration on the house down at Moses in readiness for the Purdays arrival at the end of August after their camping trip round France, Spain and northern Portugal. It’s all go.

And then there’s the heat! 45 degrees plus on some days with no decent rains since early June. That means a whole lot of watering every day in various parts of the land. Watering the veggies on the kitchen terrace, watering the trees up and down the roads, watering the orchards down by the stream, watering ourselves drinking 4 or 5 litres a day.  

With this level of heat, inevitably comes fire. As I write, Portugal is suffering in many parts with forest fires. Some huge. And some also not too far from us. 2500 hectares burnt just this week in the Serra da Estrella National Park. The smoke that lies down the valley here some nights is a somber spectacle. I will write more on fire once the summer has passed. 

In the midst of all of that, as you will see on the videos below, River’s garden has exploded and we dug up our first potato harvest. There seems to be some innate sense, as River says, that a harvest is best shared. What a pleasure it was then to have had Helen Ant and Cleo to dig together in the earth for potatoes then devour the chips that followed. I hope we can share the grape and olive harvests similarly with others this year.  Any volunteers for November and December olive picking, bagging and taking to the press?

I’ll sign off with this photo of River holding her first courgette of the year. A young one apparently. Of the Italian climbing variety I understand. Tricky to find in shops as it doesn’t journey well. Which is a shame cos they’re rather sweet and tasty, especially when roasted.  


My cousin Helen, partner Anthony and goddaughter Cleo pull up the year's first main potato harvest for storage. Great work guys.

Helen brings in the potato harvest on our tractor, expertly driven round the hairpin terraced roads.

River takes up the first potatoes from the kitchen terrace. And Nathan & Josh clear another bed for more veggies.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ellie karate chops chocolate

One month ago the kids moved into their newly restored stone cottage. Yesterday River and I finally moved in to our house and spent the first of what we hope will be thousands of nights in our new bedroom.

We have one house for Josh and Ellie. One for us. Our children have therefore, in effect, suddenly become our closest neighbours and what lovely ones they are too. I do hope they pop over for a cup of tea every now and again.

Grandparents have come and gone and left us lots of joy, some expertly pruned roses and quite a few soft fluffy veggie beds that River has already filled with more delicious things to eat.

Everything is chaos, obviously. Yet there is an unmistakable stillness flowing that comes from the knowledge that we have finally arrived in the home that will be ours to love for the rest of our lives, God willing. It's been a trip to get here. Travelling then moving from one temporary dwelling to the next 8 times in the last 2.5 years has taken its toll. Now, at last, we feel like we are breathing out. One long sigh.

After months of imagining, planning, procuring and building, I can't tell you how great it feels to be actually cooking in that kitchen, sleeping in those bedrooms, eating in the courtyard and living altogether just as we dreamt it might possibly be.  Lists of lists of tasks await us. Unending work. Oh the sweat and the toil and the blisters. But folks, I wouldn't swap this for all the riches in China.

Enjoy the videos.  Memphis.

Eloise and her friend cook up a chocolate storm in the new kitchen and demonstrate how to chop a bar in two.

The kids secretly film their late night chat with my Dad and get caught on camera themselves murdering an innocent fly.

A peak at Vonetta's new kitchen 'horta'. My, how does her garden grow!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kids move into their new house

Well we did it. A bit tight to the deadline of my Mum and Dad coming out. But managed to get the house livable before they arrived. Felt very much like one of those surprise TV renovation shows where they only get a weekend to transform a place before the owners get back. On Monday, the day before the royal visit,  6 pairs of brackets hung, 13 huge slabs of granite and marble work surfaces carried down the hill and mounted, 8 sinks 2 bidets 1 shower and 11 taps plumbed in, glass and fittings for 12 doors finished off, all in a single day. We even managed to spend Tuesday morning bringing tractor loads of bark chip down to place around the house to turn it quickly from a building site into something resembling a house. Have a look...

Here's a clip from the kids Oleiros School Gymnastic show in town with every class in the local area doing a wee thing. Great night and this vid is Eli in action (she's the tall one!). Battery ran out for Josh's performance so can't show you that he nailed a perfect front flip off a trampette.

That's all for now. River and I are still sleeping in the house down at Moses until we've finished off the decorating in the new bedroom. Josh and Eli have moved out into their new place. After 3 years of temporary accommodation in which we have moved 8 times it is a lovely thing to have finally given them a permanent home. Until, that is, they fly the nest once more.

Peace and all good things.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Xisto Slate Floors and Bye Bye Lovely Builders

Video blog of the final, yes final, fortnight of professional restoration work on our Xisto stone houses here at Moses. The builders left yesterday. Von and I are immensely grateful for them, especially for all that they taught us in the process. But now they're gone and we have the house to ourselves once again. 3 weeks til my Mum and Dad arrive and still a fair bit left to go before the house will be ready to receive them. Deep breath...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dry stone walling begins

Today summer feels like it has truly arrived. Bright blue hot hot Sunday. The mountainside and pathways are bursting with yellow and blue flowers and the wild white rock roses are ready to put on their impressive annual display.Just chilling out after a scrumptious Sunday lunch, I thought I'd upload some vids from the last fortnight. The professional bit of the works on the house is drawing to a close. Another fortnight maybe at tops. All the windows are in, just waiting on the doors.

Tiles are on in all the bathrooms and kitchen. Supporting walls are all built and rendered and tiled where required. Wooden rough cut pine tree boards are nailed in to the apex of the gable end. Just waiting for the 100 sq metres of natural cut multi coloured slates to arrive and we can lay the remaining  floors. And waiting for all the sinks and taps to arrive so we can call in the local stone merchant to measure up for the granite worktops.

Built a concrete fossa (water tank in the photo) to house any grey water from the house not usable on the land - for example from the soak sink in the kitchen for when we'll need to wash out the salt from the eating olives and a second drain from the washing machine if we ever need to wash anything in bleach.

We spent most of last week clearing the kitchen terrace from all the rubble and wood mounded there and to make space to begin what we thought would be the long process of restoring the dry stone terrace walls. In fact after just 2 days with the lovely old stone mason João, we've built over half already (he tells why he likes dry stone walling in the video below).

So in a fortnight, the builders will hopefully leave and we will be able to put the finishing touches to the shell, thus beginning the lifelong task and joy of creating; for me that will start with converting the old floorboards from the house into beds, cupboards, book shelves, shutters as well as a pergola on the kitchen terrace. River will continue to be besotted by all things gardening, but her inside time will probably become more focussed on mosaics and fabrics. All lovely stuff. But that is all to come.

Right now we're enjoying the final phases of the restoration work and sensing the pleasure that awaits us when its all done and dusted ready to move in. In the meantime teaching is going well, kids are still top of their classes at school and River has staked more trees on the road (a tractor video tour below if you fancy it) and covered the potato field in more donkey manure and pine needle mulch.

I have a sneaky sensation that River might be at this very moment suggesting that perhaps this afternoon "we" could nip into the forest and cut some Mimosa trees to make the dozens of pea stakes she will need shortly.

"We could dear. Good idea. I'll be there in just a tick."

Oh by the way, Chris Stewart's Driving Over Lemons series, is a must if you've not already read them. Lovely tales from his family's adventure of a remote mountainside rural Spanish life.

Here's the link to the blog showing a video of the the day we first started back in July 2008 with the arrival of the diggers, Demolition City!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Large Leca sacks and iron oxide pigments arrive

Just a couple of quick videos today. We have been manically painting for the last fortnight, as you know, with paint made from 18 month old slaked lime. Each wall needs at least 4 to 6 layers and we have a lot of walls. Arms are a bit tired as you can imagine. The tiles for the bathroom and kitchen walls and the slate for all the ground floors should be delivered this afternoon too. So next week we'll be tiling and laying floors and building walls to support the granite worktops. Not long to go now before we're in.

(In the vid above I promised to link to the blog post where Von started slaking the lime way back in November 2008 "Horses and Nuclear Waste Monkey Suits")

Von's mum Arlene finally made it on a plane back to London last weekend after the craziness of Iceland's revenge on the rest of Europe. It was so lovely to have her for one more week enjoying the grandchildren and the gardens and the cooking. Come back soon Mum.

Josh and I are off to play our first cricket game of the season tomorrow. We'll post up some video action of the boy. All very surreal. A delightful white picket fenced cricket field in the middle of the Portuguese countryside about 2 hours drive south of here with a real multicultural bunch of fanatics messing about with a bit of leather and some willow. Can't wait.

While we're away, Eli and Von will be at home having fun with the new iron oxide pigments making deliciously coloured wall paints. (I tried to make that sound like there might be some kind of equilibrium or reciprocity in this weekends' activities, but failed miserably. The boys will in fact be playing while the girls are working. "But Cricket is so much more than just a game ma cherie...")

Toodaloo. Té já.