1
Northampton

Here we go again. Early start. LB went slightly mad and threw everything onto the bedroom floor before composing herself and packing her Christmas travel bag. Left Wymington nineish and stopped at Bell Plantation Garden Centre just outside Towcester for brecwast.

Unusual toilet notice??

Made my way to the South coast in good time. Got a bottle of water and five pound compensation for ferry delay! Hurrah! Currently sat in the void between check in and security in big queue! Shaun happy.

Fecking van search again, although the old boy was fairly chilled about things. Took one of my bags and put it through a scanner and scanned me too! Then sat in another bloody queue for ages before eventually making it onto the ‘Titanic’. Found cabin in reasonably good time. Had a bit of a wander round before having a snack and aperitif. Tired now. Chick on the PA said we would land about half five tomorrow. Will look at sorting a park up in Bilbao for the night.

Contemplated the posh restaurant for three seconds. Got a microwave meal and a vino instead. Too tired to watch ‘the entertainment’ and retired to my deluxe cabin at nine ish. Bought some premium WiFi to liaise with LB but this cut out just as she was in a mid ‘Raunds rant’!!

Night all.

2
Southampton

Bloody choppy. Like sleeping in a washing machine! Don’t know where they got this driver from?

Shower quite tidy. Went and had some brecwast (French style) and had a brief wander outside.

Lots of old people on the boat. Am I being ageist, or am I one of them?? Lots of beige on board!!

Hope to land at five (UK time) so might try and get to a park up 40 minutes inland if I can get off boat quicker than I got on the bloody thing. Must remember to drive on the right!

Got off boat quicker than I got on. Cursory check from Manuel at passport control and I was heading South. Sailed through the first two tolls, then ‘three beeps’ and the fecking barrier wouldn’t lift. Don’t panic! Luckily a great big mampy woman in orange overalls climbed all over the can and did some witchcraft with my dongle and reset it!

Arrived at park up in Vitoria-Gasteiz for the night and found a cute little tapas bar a short distance away.

Slice of pizza and a glass of vino for .€1.50! Mental.

3
Vitoria-Gasteiz

Chilly start. Heater deployed. Might need to find some facilities in a bit. Nice walk round VG. Eventually stopped at cafe near van. Coffee and toast and morning ablutions.

Southwards. My ‘blip drive’ seemed to be back in working order after ‘Orange is the new mampy black’ worked her magic last night. Stopped at a service station for a wee and a sandwich. Very warm in the Spanish sunshine!

Crossed into Portugal, late afternoon, and parked up in Castelo Branco. Went for a pre-tea stroll, then nearly wet myself when I went out for tea. Watching LB on the Blink system is a thing of absolute beauty! I riddle you not. She could have her own series on Channel 4 before long!!

Traditional vino at the ‘snail bar’ (€1), then a yummy toastie ‘al fresco’ in the main plaza thing watching Portugal play Luxembourg at football. And so to bed.

4
Castelo Branco

Saturday. I think. A good hour spent fannying about with the Wi-Fi on board. Need to turn on data roaming in the settings. Think I know how to do it, but gave up for the time being when nature started to call!!

Sorted it. Amazing sense of satisfaction. Celebrated with some toast at McDonalds. Then went shopping. Then realised I’d lost my card I’d tried (and failed) to buy my toast with. Abandoned the shopping. Back to McDonald’s. No. Not been handed in. Security. No. Ok. Block card on app. Order new card. Simples. Not simples. App still has old address. No problem. Call Tesco bank. I can tell them the last four digits of the card number; when it was last used; all the transactions etc. Not good enough. We need to go through security. Who was your first employer and what is your favourite food? Fuck. Ok. Definitely NCC and sandwiches. No. Toast then. No. Bacon sandwiches. No. He was starting to piss me off now. Apparently I could go on the website and update my address and he patronisingly said it might be a good idea to change my security questions! Knob.

Went and tried again with shopping (different shop) and got some petrol and stuff for strimmer. Also got box for strimmer and tent. Made it to Monte Fidalgo late afternoon. All very dry, but otherwise good,

LB spotted on Facebook that someone had miraculously found my card! Contact made and they are going to leave it with security at shopping centre for me to collect tomorrow.

Incredibly peaceful here, although I did see a fox up the nearby lane and got dive bombed by a killer bat when I was eating my tea outside! Like a feckin scene out of Jumanji!!

5
Abrantes

Morning land!

Not a bad view to wake up to? Had a much needed shower. The gadget worked well! Time to fire up the strimmer. Remarkably it came to life fairly easy, and I started the gargantuan challenge of trying to get ‘the land’ under control. Some progress made and a much needed break was taken to catch up with the rugby. Wales beat Uruguay! When it came to re-starting the strimmer, I encountered some difficulties and almost ruptured my shoulder trying to start the bloody thing. After twenty minutes, I realised I had run out of petrol!! Not clever!

First strimmer blister developed soon after and I called it a day for the day. Went back to CB and retrieved card from security at Alegro centre. Unblocked it on app, so hopefully it will work again soon!

Got a sandwich from Auchan then had a wander round CB. Lovely town. ‘Liked’ the tattoo place on Facebook. Might be brave!!

CB quiet on an October Sunday night. Had my customary vino in the snail bar then had a burger and a pint in a deserted rock bar on the way back to the van.

Good park up location. More pictures than text. Metraphorically speaking of course.

6
Castelo Branco

Got ‘strimmer sickness’. It’s a phenomenon. Achy body. Sore throat. Bastard thing. Typhoon Hagibis hit Portugal at 4:05. Roof retracted as a precautionary safety measure. Thunder in distance and strong winds (outside van) and very heavy rain. Hope my shower shelter is ok!!

Had to phone Tesco bloody bank to unblock the frigging card. What a saga. Luckily I had also changed my security questions, so knew how many testicles I had and that my mother was my father’s wife. Got some throat ‘sweets’ from pharmacist and contacted Nuno. He will arrange to pop out at the weekend. Coffee and toast at a nice little cafe near the market in CB.

Rain persisted all morning, so goretex jacket with silly looking hood deployed. Face masks and cheap shovel (€5) purchased from old school hardware place in CB and rakes and gloves obtained from DIY store on retail park. Dropped tools off at Monte Fidalgo. The wind last night had flattened the shower shelter! I shall erect it when it’s dried out!

Parked up at Villa Velha de Ródão (henceforth known as VVdR). Rain eased off after an hour or so and strange chemical smell from paper factory didn’t seem as prevalent as on last visit. Perhaps wind blowing in different direction? Will go Camara tomorrow when ‘paperwork’ less likely to get soggy or be blown to the Algodonales!

Had a delicate little cheese sandwich for lunch. Surmised that cheese better than ham?

Sun out after lunch, so ditched the anorak and went for another stroll. Popped into another cafe for an espresso. Schoolboy error. Happened upon the only drunk in the village. God he could talk. Well slur actually. Did speak some English. Ironically told me about the multitude of tablets he was on for his serious heart condition whilst knocking back a tumbler of whisky and asking everyone that popped in for a light for his cigarette. Also learned that he had malaria (twice) and had been bitten by a snake in Mozambique! Lucky sort of bloke. The girl behind the counter was almost wetting herself at my pained expression!! Did eventually escape and retreated to the river.

Out for tea. Cheap eats. Lots and lots for not very much. I have walked about twelve bloody miles today!

7
Abrantes

The sunshine has returned. Throat no worse. Bravely returned to ‘drunk man cafe’ for brecwast. Luckily he hasn’t surfaced yet!!

Popped to the Camara. Slightly confusing discussion, although I think they were trying to be helpful. The old boy spoke to the solicitor (Olimpia) and suggested I go and see her and get her to complete another form. I think I then bring that back to the Camara and they can possibly look to change the licence on the building?? Email sent, but will drop in to her office tomorrow.

Back to MF to do some land work. Lots of strimming and raking. Also erected tent to store laundry etc in.

Popped to the bar and had a coffee. Like I’d never been away! Got talking to John (1) . John (2) behind the bar. J (1) was telling me about the best route to Spain and that you can only cross the border at weekends? I kid you not. J (1) and another old (really old) boy (think his name was Louis or something?) then started on the schnapps and whisky!!! Louis bought me a coffee. The little chihuahua was there again! Cool place. Olimpia emailed. Appointment on Friday.

Did more strimming and had a much needed shower afterwards. Popped to Bar Rato for a beer before van tea. Went to the river a few miles from Alfrivida. Last time we were there, there was a bloody great boat on it. Not today. People in Bar Rato friendly enough. Woman worked out I was ‘Ingles’ and chatted to me. Tidy job.

Someone on Facebook had said it is something to do with the Spanish not releasing water from a reservoir??? Back to MF for van tea. Chilli and mash. Weird combo??

8
Abrantes

Not brilliant having to go to the ‘outhouse’ first thing in the morning! There are some compensating factors when you take in the views at the bottom of ‘the garden’ spectacular mist over the river today.

Popped to Perais (nice alliteration there) in search of a coffee. Found a cafe secreted behind the traditional fly screens. Old boy in there spoke really good English! He hopes to go to Brighton next year to do some teaching and improve his English, which was bloody good.

Back to MF for more strimming. Will need to get some petrol soon. Running low. Strummed til I ran out. Well knackered. Nice to pause and reflect on the tranquility.

Drove in to CB for some much needed sustenance when the gas ran dry. Well knackered now. Nice wander round this lovely little town. Back to van and watched ‘Derry Girls’ on Netflix. V funny. Had planned to go to a tapas bar I had ‘discovered’ on ‘Trip Advisor’ but decided to give a little cafe/restaurant a go instead. I’ve passed it a few times, and it always looks a bit intriguing. Ordered something with a bit of help from ‘your man’ and google translate. It worked. Vino Branco - can’t really go wrong. Then a lovely plate of a ginormous rissole type thing, smothered in a runny egg, accompanied with some delightful chips and rice. Oh, and a delicate little side salad to be going on with. Blissful.

9
Castelo Branco

Made it to the market facilities in time!! If you know what I mean. The DUP seem to have dropped a ruddy great spanner into Boris’s Brexit plans this morning. God knows what happens next.

Grey and drizzly in Castelo Branco today. Time for coffee and toast.

Moochy morning. Time for strimming muscles to recover too! More Brexit shite. Boris announced he’s got a deal, then the loons in the DUP say they ain’t supporting it. Feck knows what happens next.

Small frango baguette for lunch at the Alegro.

Managed another ten miles somehow. Not bad on a drizzly day. Got email re: Pentle Drive. Will work out how to print the bloody thing tomorrow.

Had a vino in snail bar.

Then stumbled across the ‘Jardim’ restaurant in a little side street. Groovy place. Scrummy food. Cool people. Got talking about football etc. Loved it.

10
Castelo Branco

Off to market early doors. Next step to work out how to get PD forms printed. The post office! Helpful man printed them for 50 cents! Off to see Olimpia. She will register the property with the council as a ‘habitacion’. Appropriate paperwork signed. Her parents live in MF, so she is coming out on Sunday to measure the building for the application!! She’s some flower.

Got some supplies and petrol for the strimmer and headed for MF. Nuno made contact. He’s going to pop out tomorrow!

And I strimmed and I strimmed and I bloody strimmed! Some old boy from up the road came and said hello. Packed up at half five. Popped to Bar Rato for a much needed beer!! Ok. So I buy a beer. Then the owner gets me a free beer! Then I ask when the restaurant is open. Basically if you book a table; they will cook!! This old boy in the bar spoke some English and told me that rabbit is a speciality!

Brilliant. Loved it. Laughed. Made to feel welcome. Again! Back to MF for snack tea.

11
Abrantes

Washing day! And a clean bag on the toilet. I spoil myself sometimes!!

In to CB for laundry. Coffee and pastry for brecwast (bad, I know!). Purchased some more two stroke. Not for brecwast. Sent PD forms off to LB for checking and witnessing etc. Rain starting! Trying to keep up with the shenanigans in Parliament as well!

Quick espresso in the market, then back to MF to meet Nuno in a bloody thunderstorm! Conversation through google translate, but think we got somewhere?? Tried to explain about submitting an application to the Camara etc. Think he got that. Also think he got the fact that I didn’t want anything daft. Like to think he also got the plan to try and get going on outbuildings first?? Nuno said about trying to get water and electric connected. Obviously this will make things easier for him in doing his work. I will need to speak to the Camara about the water and google the energy company about the electric. Much to do. I will send him some plans over next few days and he will come back to me with some prices. Positive? Also, Luigi the lorry man messaged to say he can’t do Monday. He’s got to see the tax man!! He even offered to provide some paperwork to prove it!! He had rearranged for Tuesday!!

Drove to Nisa (the place, not the shop: I shall say this only once!!!). Think I’ve found somewhere for tea, but went for a vino first. I riddle you not. 60 cents for a hooge glass. Vat receipt attached!

Found another bar. Half restaurant/half snack bar/half tapas. I know. That’s two many halves!!

Anyway. Cheap vino. Fishcake delicacies and gurt lush chicken pies (x2) and I’m a happy boy!!

12
Abrantes

Sunny Sunday. Boris sort of sent his letter, but didn’t sign it. Like a silly child. First PdN of the trip for brecwast!

Back to MF. Strimming day. Made some progress down ‘bottom field’ and also created a giant bloody hayrick!

Some old boy popped in and said hello. Think he also said something about olives and the possibility of someone in the village pressing them for oil?? Be bloody handy if they did. Then Olimpia turned up with her dad, two kids and the worlds biggest tape measure to detail absolutely everything for the council application. Tidy job.

Then, this other old boy showed up and basically asked if it was ok to let his sheep graze on ‘the land’ next spring. Why ever not. Exchanged phone numbers etc. Tidy boy.

Strimming ended at five ish. No more visitors. Quick shower and off to VVdR for the evening. All very quiet in VVdR on Sundays, although a fair few vans parked up, including a couple of GB ones!

Had a vin Branco in the Sporting Lisbon bar then van tea and another episode of Derry Girls.

Email sent to Nuno. Email sent to EDP energy. Very misty in VVdR this morning. Coffee and toast to start the day. Called in to Camara and asked about water connection. Think I can get this once licence application approved. Also enquires where nearest tip is. I like a good tip. Well, council chick only went and booked me in for a personal pick up! So, anything lorry man doesn’t shift (assuming he’s turns up tomorrow), I like up near the gate and the boys (or girls) from the council will come and collect in due course.

Afternoon spent strimming, then popped to bar in Perais for a post work vino. Back for a van tea; an episode of Derry Girls; and Parliament TV.

13
Abrantes

Barn clearing day. Supposed to be a relaxing day away from strimming. It’s now 3:38. I’m totally broken. Lorry man has just left. I have the biggest hay rick in Portugal and hoping that the council are coming to collect some rubbish tomorrow!

Slightly recovered now and sat at ‘snail bar’ having well earned vin Branco. Feel a bit fresher too. Had to jettison a pair of socks earlier! Disgusting. Can’t believe the shit we found in that yonder barn. Even a box that had bloody dynamite in it!!

Found a cool ‘Churrasqueira’. Half frango and some lovely potatoes avec vin Branco. Delightful.

14
Abrantes

Quiet start in CB this morning. Purchased a strange looking product that I think is meant to resemble a wheelbarrow?

Back to MF to study my pile of hay and artistic collection of rubbish astutely piled near the lane. Hopefully the awfully nice people from the Camara will come out and collect it before too long. Not so warm today and a bit drizzly at times. Might mulch my hay a bit??

Spoke to the old boy next door (who I haven’t seen much of) and he reckoned the hay is a good fertiliser. Good after a drop of rain and chuck it around all over the place. Amorim dropped round late afternoon and said much the same!

Managed to get the old cart out of the garage and did get some hay put in there!

Was on my way to get som water from the rap up by the church, when the old boy over the road called me over and insisted I filled by bottles from his tap (not a euphemism!). He explained that he had his water from under the ground (bore hole?) connected to the electric, and driven by a pump. There is obviously lots of water about under the ground locally. Just a case of being able to access it! \240He also showed me his garden; loads of fruit and veg and gave me a couple of his juicy peaches (again, not a euphemism!!).

Drove to VVdR for the evening. Pleasant time on bar at the top of the town having a vin Branco and watching ‘the price is right’ with four or five old boys. Enthralling television.

Wandered back down and found the restaurant next to the bakery was open. Yay! Had ‘redfish’, vin Branco, caramel and cafe, bread and olives. €8.50. Bargain!!

15
Abrantes

Well tired today. Thought about phoning in sick, but that would have been a poor effort. Very sunny in VVdR early doors. Saw Amorim driving the council road sweeper round and he shouted ‘Ola’ across the street at me! \240Drove over to CB. Made executive decision to have quiet day today. Will have a wander about and resume intensive hay work etc tomorrow!

Beautiful day in CB. Bought some garden rubbish bags in B & Q (Portugese equivalent obviously) and was served by a girl with incredibly hairy arms. Make of that what you will!!! Popped in to EDP office. Apparently, you need to get a highly trained electrician to make the connection to the property and liaise with EDP. Then they will set you up with a contract etc. Might see how that compares with cost of solar if I can find a friendly electrician!!

Called at Lidl and got burger for van tea. Stopped off at Bar Rato on way back.

Right so, and then I’m driving back to MF when a bloody great deer only runs across the road in front of me and leaps over the bloody fence! What the fuck? To quote LB!!

Oh. Got some money back from tax people! Result!

16
Abrantes

Hay everyone! No, I mean hay. Lots of it. Maybe I need to get a horse? Anyway, another lovely day in Monte Fidalgo.

Shifted a fair bit, but it was bloody hot today. Found some nice new daps mind!!

Gave up late afternoon and had a nice shower. Headed for Abrantes, stopping for a healthy snack en route.

Found a cool park up by the river and fortunately a strategically placed cafe close by with toilet facilities!!

Climbed the bloody steep hill up to the main part of town where there was some sort of pastry festival with bands etc. Tidy job.

Walked back down to the van and dined at restaurant a short walk away. Delightful.

17
SantarΓ©m

Sunny Saturday. Bit fresh first thing. Nice walk along the river to start the day. Coffee and facilities on the other side of the Tejo.

Popped to InterMarche for a Tosta for brunch, then back in to Abrantes for a wander round the old town. Nice castle; strategically placed; amazing views. Groovy church with a wedding go on. Bless them.

Drove on towards Nisa and veered off to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, called Ameiria do Tejo. Incredibly pretty, sleepy place. Couple of bars, a castle and a church. Gorgeous. I was mooching about around the quiet streets when I heard a sheep from what I thought was inside one of the houses. But no. Just outside the front door, was a tiny lamb in a basket. This woman then came out and explained that the lamb was poorly and they had been bottle feeding it! The families’ two dogs also came out and the little lamb was lifted out of the basket and played in the street with the two dogs!! A surreal sight.

Onwards to Nisa. Had a good walk round again in the hot October sunshine! Found a groovy fountain! Like this town.

Gammon, egg and chips and mucho salad for tea in the mafia cafe !!

Late drink at ‘Frage Rock’!!. All human life is here.

18
Castelo Branco

Happy Birthday LB!!!!!!

Sunny Sunday in Nisa. Might watch a bit of the rugby before moving on. Had a mooch around Nisa before heading to MF to collect laundry. Wales came up short against South Africa. Never mind. Don’t think I could have coped with playing England in the final!!

Laundry done. Drove into CB and parked up. Nice Sunday afternoon stroll round. Stopped to catch up with a bit of football and did have a cheeky Pastel de Nata!

Burger night and early to bed. Back to work tomorrow!!

19
Castelo Branco

Let the working week commence. Even dreamed about bloody strimming!! Coffee and toast, haircut,supplies from Pingo Doce and off to Monte Fidalgo. Oh and purchased a mower as well!

Reasonably industrious day. Shifted some more hay into the garage. Did some mowing and took four bags of rubbish/grass crap to the local bin things. Bloody nuisance getting dark a bit earlier! Popped to Bar Rato. Couple of ‘old fellas’ in. Nice atmosphere.

20
Castelo Branco

A hard morning’s work, even if I say so myself! Managed to relocate the pile of hay from the fence to the garage and also mowed ‘bottom field’ so that’s looking a lot better. Emptied out the ‘annex’ as well. Guess what? That had a load of bloody hay in it too!!

Packed up oneish. Hot and sweaty. Contemplating going to Serta for the night??

Drove to Serta. Bit damp on arrival. Had a walk round and it cleared up a bit.

Managed to find a lovely little restaurant for tea. Tidy indeed. Wonderful steak and amazing chocolate cake with lemon sauce for pudding!! Delightful. Made contact with Jam Rock about a possible cabin on the land too!

21
Abrantes

Grey and drizzly in Serta this morning! Supposed to be better weather back in Monte Fidalgo today and tomorrow, although it looks pretty unsettled over the next week.

Drove across to Castelo Branco to get some lunch supplies. Popped in to Decathlon and had a look at their pools. Tidy prices??

Afternoon spent doing battle with the ruddy great bramble bush near the well. Slight inroads made before the rain came. Will have achey arm’s tomorrow!!

Drove to VVdR for the evening. Will go to Camara in the morning and see what’s happening about rubbish collection. Solar man hopefully coming Tuesday afternoon. He was going to pop out Friday, but then realised it’s a bank holiday! Good point. Will need to do some planning!

Walked up to the top of the town. Bloody restaurant closed. Not too worry. Some chick in a battered old clio was at the cash point and said that the other restaurant down the bottom was open tonight! Jump in! Well obviously, I properly risk assessed the situation and availed myself of a free ride. So to speak!! Clio girl dropped me outside the door of the only place to eat in VVdR, but as it was empty, I decided to walk up the road to the bar and get a drink first. As I ordered my vin Branco, I looked at the woman drinking her coffee at the bar and thought she looked familiar!!!!! It was bloody Clio girl having a coffee!!

Adjourned to my regular Wednesday night table for a scrummy hedge cutters tea, followed by fruit salad!!

Returned to van for quiet evening, but had minor incident with fly and fly spray!!! Nothing to see here.

22
Abrantes

Halloween. Brexit Day. Die in a Ditch Day. Achey arms day. Take your pick.

Had a coffee at cafe up the hill then popped in the Camara. Chick in the leather trousers apologised. For some reason, she had me down as living in Perais. Hopefully, now I’ve clarified the right location, I might actually get the stuff taken.

Back to MF and some serious hedge cutting. The lemons seem to have found a new lease of life??

Old boy popped round and spoke about the olives. Reckon they will be ready in about ten days and it sounds like there is some communal, village scheme in operation. I will need to tidy up the bottoms of the trees in readiness! Popped to CB to get an axe from the china shop. As you do?? Nipped in to Bar Rato for a vin Branco and to catch up with some smaltzy Portugese quiz show that the old boys seem to love. Van tea tonight. Carbonara surprise!!

23
Abrantes

November 1st and we still seem to be in th EU. Boris ain’t dead in that bloody ditch and Mark sodding Francois hasn’t presided over a nation that has exploded. Set about trimming the olive trees. Bloody hard work. Done three by ten o’clock and bolloxed!! They do look a lot better though!

Jam Rock and his mate Ricardo turned up at ten. Nice old boys. Seemed fairly positive about what they could do. JR will try and work out some specifications and prices over the weekend.

Did another couple of hours of olive pruning until every fecking muscle seemed to bloody ache. Lack of breakfast also kicking in now, so headed to Castelo Branco for some much needed sustenance, courtesy of ‘Pans and Company’.

Very muggy in CB this afternoon, although the forecast storms not arrived yet! Stopped for a coffee late afternoon before returning to the van to stick my jeans on. Major effort to find the energy to get back out again, I can tell you!

Quick drink at Snail Bar then took my life in my hands at ‘Cafe Central’. Food was actually ok, dished up by moody breasts. The old boys in there were something else. Best mates one minute; almost fighting the next! Quality.

24
Castelo Branco

Slow start Saturday.. watched some of the rugby in the van before venturing in to CB for some breakfast. Heavy rain first thing anyway.

Bravely went in to see your man at ‘Ye Olde Goat Tattoo’ place and rashly booked myself in for next Thursday for a ‘Banksy’ balloon girl. Your man cleverly took a picture of my arm on his iPad and then superimposed the Banksy image onto the arm pic, so I could get a good idea of how it would look!

After that moment of madness, I drove to Idanha-a-Nova and had a walk round. Got some lunch and stopped near a cool river on the way to Idanha-a-Velha.

IaV a really cool, old Roman town in the middle of nowhere. Some sort of festival going on this weekend, so the place was rammed. The only restaurant had ran out of food in the main bit, but they did the most incredible tosta. Lovely place.

25
Covilha

Sunny Sunday. Had a quick stroll around IdV. Very sleepy on a Sunny morning!! Drove across country to Fundao. Mucho windy en route. The GNR were on one road where a tree had come down. Elsewhere I had to wait for a sheep to stroll up the road, then had to stop and let a mini wild boar slowly and casually cross the carriage way in front of me!!

Parked up just outside the centre of Fundao near the swimming pool. Had a walk round and have to say, the wind has got bloody cold!! Did mellow a bit later in the afternoon and saw a funky little tractor that may be cool in the future!

Went for tea at a restaurant about 50 metres away from the van. Cool place. Good food. Mega portions!! Interesting people!!

26
Castelo Branco

Market day. Chickens, rabbits, trees, hats, axes, olive nets etc, etc

Went all farmery and bought some overalls!! How weird is that!!

Back to MF for some more olive tree ‘cleaning’. Did another seven or eight trees before the rains came and I adjourned to CB to do some laundry. The Camara had been out and shifted the bulk of the rubbish! Hurrah! Hope they will come back for the remaining stuff in next few days. Olimpia also send her credentials through, so they were duly forwarded on to the silly legal woman in Leeds. Popped in to Bar Rato on way back. Lively in there tonight!!

27
Abrantes

Bonfire Night. Overslept!!! Late for work. More frigging olive trees!! Chop, chop, bloody chop. Broke the monotony up with a walk down the fields below them land’. Very peaceful. Lots more wells. Lots of firewood.

Packed up late afternoon. Few olive trees to go! Did some hedge trimming to! Stopped at bar In Perais for a cafe en route to VVdR. Had an espresso whilst the boys had beers!

Had a vin Branco at the Motorista bar in VVdR. Had some yummy cheese and bread too whilst watching ‘the price is right’ with the ASBO group!!

Walked down to usual restaurant for beef stew, followed by mousse de chocolate! Tidy.

28
Abrantes

Didn’t oversleep, but slowish start. Coffee and toast at the bakery. Liaised with Jam Rock who will come over Friday to start on the foundations and then hopefully get the wood delivered on Monday!!

Eventually mullered the last of the olive trees today!! Hurrah. Hooge bloody pile of crap accumulated!

Managed to make a start on ‘Well Field’ with the mower. Think it will be a lovey spot in time.

Castelo Branco tonight. Found a part of town I didn’t know existed! And a nice restaurant as well!

29
Castelo Branco

Tattoo day. Strangely not that nervous. Yet! Mind you, it’s only half seven. Breakfast as advised by tattoo guru LB and some Monster energy drink. An extra poo just in case and it was time. Actually, it probably wasn’t as bad as I thought and Guy was a nice old boy. Told me about his land in the forest near VVdR.

Went and got some lunch at Allegro afterwards. Think it helped to eat !! Popped into the ‘pump’ place. Old boy quite helpful and gave me some numbers to contact people about bore holes. Also called in to BPI bank and got some information about opening a Portugese bank account. Stopped at bar in Retaxo for a coffee on the way back to Monte Fidalgo. Had a walk round the village. Found a communal bread oven! How cool.

30
Abrantes

Tattoo doesn’t seem too bad. Will need to wash it again in a bit. So I did. Last of the dressings too! Busy day today. Jam Rock supposed to start laying the foundations and Leo Lee coming to talk about solar systems! Cleaned the toilet and did some mowing before \240‘guests’ arrived. Amazing sight of vultures soaring over Casa Margareta! Sheep moved in next door as well. This is a wonderful place!

Leo gave me lots of options about solar and will send something next week. Jam and Ricardo got to work straight away and had the foundations in place by mid afternoon. I mowed about eight mikes and was well knackered by the time they left. Adjourned to VVdR for tea. Up the hill tonight. Oh and Pentle Drive completed this afternoon. Justin is the proud owner of Gran’s house. I have ‘the loot’ as he puts it. Good point by LB that the foundations for the cabin on the Portugese land went in today!!! Had a vin Branco in Cafe Maybe and then tea at the cafe near the Camara. Amarim and his crew came in and said hello!

Saw on Facebook that Paul Thomas from Begelly had a stroke a few days ago. Poor old boy. He’s living in Australia now. I messaged Justin who already knew! Why he didn’t think to tell me??? Drink it while it’s fizzy!!

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Saturday. Chilly start. Went to my ‘local’ bakery for coffee and toast. Also got a cool roll/ciabatta type thing stuffed with chorizo etc and a carne empanada. €3.20 or something daft. Breakfast and lunch sorted. The woman who works there (Lycra leggings) must live over the road and was hanging out her smalls as I walk passed and she said ‘Ola’ across the road. Soon after a rally appeared. As you do! Quite a mix of old and new, but a proper job, ‘marshalled’ by two GNR officers,

Popped in the supermercardo to get some bits. The old boy on the till knows me now; says hello in Ingles etc!! On the way into Monte Fidalgo I stop and have a chat with the olive man and ask where I am supposed to take the bloody things. After a bit of toing, froing and google translate, he jumps in the van and we drive into the village and he shows me where the olive press is!! Inspired, I head back, throw out the green net and become a fully fledged olive farmer! Several soggy hours later (it rained!) and a great big bucket was full! All you do is wack the trees and then pick the little feckers up! One shitter hit me straight in the eye! Bloody hurt. Dangerous job.

Then. A bloody flock of sheep just turned up. I heard some bells and in they waltzed. No shepherd; no sheepdog; no Amarim; no little goat/sheep girl/boy. Cool as you fecking like. Ate some grass, went into next door. Wandered back. The ultimate sodding free range!!

Off to Castelo Branco for tea and to escape the rain. Had an aperitif in a nice cafe and watched Benfica beat Santa Clara. Then had tea in one of the cafe’s on the big square and watched some more football.

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Parked near the station last night. Bloody noisy this morning. Loads of ‘young people’ about. Not sure where they coming from. There is some sort of disco type place nearby?? Had a coffee and croissant at InterMarche then headed back to ‘Olive land’ and cracked on! Pretty much all day in one bloody tree! Diversified at one point to relieve the monotony and started on (I think) the only green olive tree. All in all a productive day even if I can hardly walk at the end of it!!

The old boy from over the toad popped in the chat! He reckons the olives were good. Should bloody hope so. He also asked about the foundations and seemed quite relieved when I said about a cabin and not a nuclear power plant! He also enquired if I had a woman!! I reassured him that I was not the only gay in the village and that LB (technically a woman) would be visiting at Christmas!

Tom bought a new car today. His golf died! Of course I was asked to make a contribution! Fair enough. I did with Bex. I was having some text conversation with Tom and he asked how I was etc. Nice enough, so I said I was picking olives and he said.. ‘in Wales?’. One: Wales is not renowned for it’s olive production. Two: You might have thought he would have asked or been advised where I was currently. Three: I was too gobsmacked to think of a three!!

Popped to Bar Rato. Watched first half of Sporting Lisbon against Belenese. Back to van for pork steak in roll.

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Bloody olive legs!! Never mind. Let’s get back at it! Did some more on the green tree, then did one of the black ones down in that corner. Then found a ‘super tree’. Hooge bloody olives and masses of the bloody thing. Popped down to mill mid afternoon and eventually established that they would take the olives; turn them into oil and I have the oil to cook in, sell or bathe in for the cost of 12 cents a litre. Dropped of 62 kilos of the bloody stuff!

Off to CB to escape the pesky olives for a while. Got some t-shirts in H & M then cheap tea at cafe near the station. I know it’s boring, but... Steak sandwich. Frites. Two glasses of vin Branco and a coffee for €5!! Even bought some chocolate from Pingo Doce to celebrate!!

Cold and sunny in CB this morning. Coffee and toast and a bit of admin to start the day. Not rushing. Slow and steady and will resume olive farming this afternoon.

Purchased a container for preserving olives in from big department store thing in CB. People very helpful and gave me some guidance about ‘curing’ the olives. Suggested using some oregano as well as salt!

Also went mad and bought a petrol olive harvester from BricoMarche. Had to be done. Neighbour popped round and was impressed. He also saw I had got a bigger net. 6m x 6m and commented that he had a bigger one! 12 x 12!! He also told me about an olive mill in VVdR and said it was better. Not sure better how? Another old boy wandered in later. Spoke English. Said hello. Do you live here? Nice van etc, then his phone rang and he was off! Then Amarim literally entered from left field and last spoke about the mill in VVdR. Also said it was better! But more commercial and that the one in MF produced better oil and was more ‘artisan’! Confused now. Amarim reminded me to prune the trees! Christ. Another bloody job. Popped to Bar Rato and watched a bit of the price is right.

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Neglected my blog today. Been hard at it again with olive! Gorgeous day in Monte Fidalgo. Bit of rain in the night, but what a start to the day.

Toiled solidly until late afternoon when my buttocks could take no more. VVdR for tea tonight and decided to visit the olive mill there. Helpful bloke at the gate spoke English and explained the process to me. They take a sample of your olives apparently; if your olives ain’t no good, you do the walk of shame and have to take them home again!! Fortunately after waiting in a queue for ages and registering as a ‘primers’, I dropped our olives down the chute, waiting patiently and was given a ticket to say they were ‘bom’. Another 40kg!!

It’s Wednesday. Tea at usual place. Drink in Bar Motorista first. Chick won a car on ‘price e certo’. Shock news. Had to sit at different seat in restaurant! Had fried flounder and panacotta.

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Breakfast followed by a confused visit to the Camara. Apparently, they haven’t had anything from Olimpia and I need to bring the paperwork in to them! One step forward etc. Email duly sent to Olimpia. See what comes back.

Jam Rock and the boys turned up, followed by a hooge lorry full of timber. Fair play to them, they cracked on and got the base up sharpish and the insulation and the first covering before the monsoon came. Got a fair few olive trees done too, then adjourned to Castelo Branco to do some washing.

Went to snail bar for a drink. And stayed. Watched Portugal beat Latvia 6-0 and had some tapas type things. Tidy job.

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Esta Frio!! Went and got some petrol. Not because it’s cold, but because I need some to power my machinery!! The boys were on site by the time I got back to MF. Flying. Spoke to JR about possibly doing some work on the outbuildings. Seems keen!

Harvested another 10 million olives (at least). Will sort them Monday. Finished early and made for Portalegre. Weekend off! Cool place. Popped in nice wine bar and had good chat with this old boy. Same old story. So welcoming. Then found a cool restaurant a few doors away. Deep joy!

Need to find a better word for nice. But. Nice, waitress chick. Cool olives and queijo.

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Slow start to a sunny Saturday. Eventually crawled out of the van and wandered round Portalegre before stopping for lunch. Don’t know what happened to breakfast today!

Walked and walked. Down to the retail park thing. Up to the cathedral. Bought a candle. A real one! Went to the castle - free! Took lots of piccies!

Nice bar for pre-tea drink. Inspiration for cabin! Cool place for tea afterwards. Cogumelo and lamb chops. Tidy job indeed.

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Grey. Wet and manky in Portalegre today. Made it to the bus station facilities before the cogamelo’s popped out to say bom dia!

Went and had breakfast at L’eclerc, before driving across a misty countryside to Castelo Branco to get some supplies from Pingo Doce. Weather cleared a bit, so headed back to Monte Fidalgo and did some olive sorting before the rain returned mid-afternoon. Hopefully, it will ease off again, and I can get this load sorted and take them to the mill in MF tomorrow.

The rain (from Spain) fell mainly on the plain in Monte Fidalgo! But, I sorted all the olives out. Reckon, there’s about six trees left to do? A few more days, weather permitting. Will start putting a load in a brine solution in the next few days too. Lots needs doing!! Esta frio again this evening. The idea of the log burner in the cabin grows ever more appealing. Will try and clear the rest of the hay out of the barn this week, and start created a dry space for wood etc. Popped to Bar Rato, then steak sandwich (in van!) and so to bed.

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Shit the bed it was a cold start to the day. But, very beautiful too. Incredible mist coming off the river.

Put my hat on and cracked on with olive production. Got another equivalent of LB’s body weight down to the mill in MF by nine. Nice old boys.

Jam Rock, Jake and Paulo (new boy) turned up soon after and set to work sorting the roof trusses. Paulo cracked on with treating the exterior timbers and skilfully used the room of Jam’s truck as a makeshift ladder!

Got bloody warm in the afternoon, and the old boy from over the road popped across with a load of beers. Then he went and fetched a ladder!! Tidy indeed. Late afternoon, the roof panels arrived and a combination of carpentry and circus skills got them up before darkness descended!!

Into CB for the evening. Steak, egg and chips at Trovas and Provas and a bar of Pingo Doce finest chocolate for sobremessa!.

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Cold start again. Will try and pop and see Olimpia or Sofia this morning and try and make sense of the legal paperwork situation. Want to go to Agriloja and the second hand furniture place. Might try and source a log burner too!

Lunchtime update. Called in and saw Sofia. Paperwork duly collected. Bought some storage boxes from Agriloja and visited second hand place. Lots of stuff there. Nice coffee table that might look good. Also went to ‘Jom’ and was tempted by a groovy red chair! Maybe.

Tea at new place near the hospital. Nice frango. Jam Rock sent some pics of the cabin. The boys are flying!!

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Monsoon in CB this morning. Not rushing. JR pricing up other jobs today, so back on site tomorrow. Breakfast at usual cafe, then off to Brico Marche. Hirsute Helena has rolled her bloody sleeves down. What’s that all about?? Anyway. First log burner didn’t have the right size chimneys I needed, so went to plan B, and got a bigger one that LB could grill a kebab on apparently!! Talking of LB, she passed her medical exam at NGH!!! God bless her! Keep taking the tablets and tattoo as you go. Can’t do nothing for the club foot and the asymmetrical inner thigh? Everything is relative! Anyway. The boys from BM loaded up the van with the log burner and a load of shiny chimneys!!! Sounds like a euphemism, I know. Got some diesel and lunch from the nice chicks in Inter Marche and headed back to Monte Fidalgo. Still bloody raining, but managed to ‘hump’ the log burner into the barn.

Afternoon spent painstakingly (literally) sorting olives into the pickling pot. Finger and thumb shredded by the lethal device for slitting the olives. Damage so severe that iPad no longer recognises my thumbprint!! Maybe wear gloves?? Tea in VVdR as usual on Wednesday. Spare ribs tonight.

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Judgement day at the Camara. Well he looked at the form. Took a few notes and said, ‘okay’!. Passed. He did initially question whether I needed some more stuff to get water connected, but took me across to ‘leather trousers’ (she was wearing a frock today), and she had a word with two old boys and seemed to sort it. I signed a few bits and apparently Welsh Water will be out next week to look at the connection etc! Oh, and I can pop in Monday to get my residency stuff!! Celebrated with a poo and a coffee in a funky cafe across the road from the Camara!

Back to MF where Jam and Jake were hard at it insulating the cabin. Bit bored with olives, so attacked the hedge in ‘well field’.

Off to CB for tea. Tried a new bar near big square. Amazing steak. Got chatting to this old boy who turned out was an inspector in the ‘economic police’. Showed me his badge. Gave me his details and told me to call him if I had any problems in Portugal!

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Monsoon in CB this morning. So, that makes the pavements wet and slippery and not especially conducive for wearing non grip New Balance. That will learn me. And, ironically, I had a slight speed wobble in exactly the same spot on a rainy day a few weeks ago. Up I went and down I came. Elbow damage and knees came up like a bloody golf ball had been inserted in it! What a knob!

Consoled myself with a tosta mista at Allegro, then bought a hi-tech olive ‘cutter’ to save my digits from being shredded. Headed back to MF where Jamie and Ricardo had inserted the patio door. Discussed ‘Operation Wetroom’ and I kindly let them have an early finish. Spent the whole afternoon tackling the olive tree nearest the cabin, only to see that it was still bloody festooned with the sodding little things.

Posh tea tonight at Cabra Preta. Very distinguished. Lovely cheese with honey, then venison stew for main.

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Mr Tumble is a bit tender today. Everything still seems to work ok. Just a bit slower than usual!! Christmas has started in CB. Decorations going up in the market and the Salvation Army playing carols. They gave me some candles. Clearly thought I was in need of spiritual enlightenment!

Coffee and croissant at a new cafe, then off to buy the first bit of furniture for the cabin. Rustic, coffee table which weighs a bloody shedload. Luckily the girl in the shop helped me carry it to the van and had fairly substantial hooters to balance things up, I think it’s a cool table. So there.

Also utilised my new olive gadget and save lacerating my digits. Much better. Sorted several more trees out this afternoon. Lovely day in Monte Fidalgo,

Bought some guaranteed ‘non slip’ new daps from Sportzone at the Forum. Only €20! Found another cool restaurant. ‘Bom Garfo’. Possibly the best so far. Helpful South African chef called Lili assisted with the menu. Lovely carrots in olive oil and garlic; veal steak (first time for veal) and a delicious cheesecake topped with a pumpkin sauce!!

Off to InterMarche to get washing done. Wore new daps for the first time. No issues so far. Registered for a IM clubcard while waiting for washing. Tidy job.

Next stop Aki, where I purchased the garden furniture for the soon to be constructed deck area. Didn’t realise it was a bloody jigsaw puzzle! Managed to get the sofa, table and one chair done before the olives called. Will get the other chair done tomorrow.

At LB’s insistence, I scrubbed everywhere with scalding hot water at the end of my shift, before popping to Bar Rato for a traditional Sunday evening vin Branco.

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Busy day! Up early ish to sort olives. Down at the mill soon after nine. Another 50 plus kg in the press. Helped some old farmer load his olives from his tractor on to the scales and then into the press thing. He must have been well in \240to his 80’s!! Bloke at the mill recognised me and got my details from ‘the system’ straight away. Also spoke with a couple who spoke some English. They explained a bit about the process etc.

JR turned up with another new boy (Jez) and they cracked on with the outer cladding. Ricardo arrived and sorted the foundations for the deck and then took the roof off the outbuildings!!

I focussed on hedge work today. Cleared the rest of the stone wall in ‘Well Field’ and started to clear round the actual well; discovering loads of bottles in the undergrowth!

Oh. Forgot to say, I found a cracking bakery in Cebolais da Cima. Bought some cakes for the boys and a lush curry type savoury thing for MW. Feet needed a deep scrub tonight!!

Headed into MF to hit the multibanco’s. Saw Carla from InterMarche in the Forum. Weird seeing someone out of context, but she said ‘Ola, boa tarde!’. Cool. Went to Bar Benedito for a Vin Branco and stayed for a Pica Pau. Lovely dish of pork with piri-piri sauce.

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Must have been ‘over tired’! Thought I’d slept for ages and woke at one and couldn’t get back to sleep for eons. Then was mega sleepy at getting up time! Monsoon back today, so will probably give ‘gardening’ a miss.

And it rained, and it rained and it bloody rained. 3:30 and it’s just about stopped. Crazy day. Had a walk round CB in the rain the morning. Sensible?? Then toured the DIY and furniture shops in the afternoon to get some crazy ideas for project MF.

Felt financially abused briefly this evening from afar. Silly me. Simples tea in ‘Boutique Presunto’. Baguette and fries. Bloody lovely. Watched football. Some bloke had a mad sneezing fit. Funny as Fidalgo.

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19:15. I’m watching ‘O Preco Certo’ in VVdR. First chance to write blog today. Busy day. Cappuccino and croissant way back when in Castelo Branco this morning, then caught up with JR and the crew at MF. Another two additions today. Charlie (dreadlocked English boy) who was on cladding duty, and ?? (didn’t catch his name) who was on cannabis and bricklaying!

Hooge delivery arrived, and the outbuildings started! The flooring in the cabin was 90% laid, and the final window installed. Meanwhile, on the jungle, I continued to battle with brambles, predatory vultures overhead and car exhausts!!

She won a car! The couple were unmoved!

Mixed grill and paneconne tonight. Much appreciated!

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Breakfast at the groovy cafe up the hill in VVdR. Popped in the Camara with my €15, and the old boy was ready with my certificate of residency. Five years!! Stick Brexit up your arse Boris. Quite shocked. And pleased. And honoured!!

Popped to a ‘new’ bakery to get some lunch supplies. Another nice place. Saw Amarim. Said Hello. Called in Supermercardo. Old boy said ‘Ola’.

Back to MF and focussed on olive pruning. Got a fair amount done. Cladding 99% finished on cabin. Mezzanine erected, although Jamie nearly demolished it demonstrating it’s sturdiness. He went to lie on the ‘bed’ not realising he hadn’t properly screwed the last ‘beam’ in! Not his finest moment!

Whilst pruning, I saw the biggest bloody eagle type thing fly across ‘the land’. Bloody majestic. Then the sheep came to visit. Funny buggers.

Ricardo erected the pipe work for the bathroom and gave me some measurements for tiles. JR started on the decking too!!

Changed the water on the olives when the boys left then went to CB. Popped to the pool and tried out my new card. €15 and seemingly swim as much as you want. And a free shower too! \240Fish for tea. First as a sort of Portugal residente! How weird is that??

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Slow start. Popped in Aki. Think I’ve found the right sort of boilers, but will check with JR before purchasing!

Bought gas burner from ‘Jom’ for cabin kitchen and had a look at some potential kitchen tiles in BricoMarche.

Stopped at the cool bakery in Cebolais to get some cakes etc. Had a cool Portugese lesson from Sarah (the owner) who speaks brilliant Ingles. Her grandparents were English. Told me to call the cafe if I ever needed any help!! Oh, and her frango pies were delicious!

Minimal crew back at MF. Only JR, Ricardo and Luigi the bricky. Stairs to mezzanine erected and bed area fully boarded. Frame for deck completed and outbuildings flying up. Bloke from Camara turned up and marked the spot where water can be connected. Ricardo reckons I will get something (email or snail mail) asking me to confirm that I want to go ahead with the connection, then they will get it sorted. Oh, and another delivery arrived late on. And I pruned another load of olive trees.

Went to VVdR for tea. Up the hill tonight. Went for a more delicate tea, delightfully served by the girl with the big personality.

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New cafe this morning. Well busy. Coffee and a sweet croissant. Yummy. The old boy who helped clear the barn messaged this morning to see how I was getting on! Cool.

Did a bit of work back at MF, but heavy rain curtailed my efforts. Tested the bed instead before heading into Castelo Branco. Cool view out of bedroom window.

Popped into Decathlon and got some spare swimming trunks and some better ‘gardening’ boots. Saw Lily ‘the chef’ who said ‘hello Mark Williams’!! Got some tiles for the cabin kitchen in Brico and saw the old boy from MF who I got talking to at the olive mill last week! Went swimming again (and had a shower). CB has declared Christmas. Beautiful and magical. Every tree seems to have lights on it. There’s a Christmas market (inside and out) and an amazing snowy grotto. Impressed.

Quick vin Branco at Snail Bar and then popped over the road to the Bifana SE Cafe. Another cool place. And a bargain. Hooge dinner, wine and coffee for €6!!

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December!! Bloody hell. Stopped in van and watched Boris lie his way through an interview with Andrew Marr. Depressing! Got some bits from Auchan before getting boiler from Brico. Think it’s the right sort? Got €10 off with my card and it was also €20 cheaper (Black Friday?). Had haircut and beard trim following complaints from Wymington!!

Did a bit more pruning, but limited by heavy rain this afternoon! Did make for some dramatic rainbows mind.

Sunday visit to Bar Rato then van tea and early night.

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Up and at it early today. A poo with a view and a new bag for a new week, if you know what I mean! JR messaged to say he was busy ‘up north’, but would be back on the case tomorrow. Spent the morning strimming in the corner near the old stones, and then shifted the pile of olive prunage and brambles inside the stones. Looked loads neater. Did some strimming down in well field, before packing up mid afternoon. Popped to VVDR and I think I might have registered at the health centre. Old boy (possibly the doctor) did some paperwork and said something about coming back in nine or ten days? Maybe to collect a card? Who knows. Also discovered that the health centre in Perais is only open on a Friday. Popped in Camara. Apparently they haven’t had the info back from Welsh Water yet, so don’t know how much to charge me for connection etc. Leather trousers reckons I will get an email, and then I can pay ‘online’??

Across to CB to do laundry. Went swimming again and had the pool to myself for a bit! Frango and spuds for tea.

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Sunny but frio in Branco this morning. Utilised the facilities in the market and had a coffee and torrada before getting some supplies and heading back to MF.

JR on site with his chick (Dominique) and his hounds, Solomon and Beau. Cute things. The dogs! Dominique cracked on with staining the outside of the cabin and JR did the deck and started on the cozinha. Big effort on the hedge clearance front today. Knackered afterwards! Also got an email from the Camara about the water. Will pop in Thursday and pay the connection fee!

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Another lovely day. Popped VVDR to get a coffee and some biscuits. JR messaged to say digger man on way and could I meet him at church. Raced back and rendezvoused with ‘mad Frank’ the crazy Dutchman! Actually, he’s a nice old boy and quickly set to work digging the trench for the septic tank and then the hooge hole to put the tank in. We then had another crazy discussion about ponds and I commissioned Frank to dig a pond on the land! He reckons he soil is excellent (clay) and will be great for a pond.

JR continues to make progress with the cozinha and will incorporate a wine rack. Dominique focussed on the outside, whilst regularly interjecting with ideas for decorating the interior of the cabin! Crazy chick. More hedge cutting in bottom field and a bit more work in well field. Hard work!!

Wednesday, so VVDR for tea. Quiet in Bar Motorista. Woman not there, so no ‘Price is Right’. Old boy preferred the Discovery Channel. Nice tea again. Fish disguised as KFC, followed by fruit salad disguised as mousse de chocolate!

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20 days to Christmas! Cold start down by the Tejo.

Cappuccino and torrada in the funky cafe up the hill. Then popped in the Camara early doors. Leather trousers and ‘hey blondie’ seemed to be waiting for me. All good. LT smiling. Sent her a confirmation email, handed over my connection fee to the treasury’ and she reckons connection should take place Monday or Tuesday!! Got some lunch supplies and biscuits etc in VVdR then headed back to MF where all systems were go!! Couldn’t even get a parking space!! Mad Frank was digging to Spain. Dominique was staining in her bra; JR was erecting a wine rack and Ricardo and Luigi were throwing bricks up in the outbuildings!

All packed up half four ish. Paid JR some more shekels and he said I was the best payer!! I’ll take that as a compliment! Popped Brico and got some more kitchen tiles, then went swimming. Knackered tonight. Really nice tea in tiny little restaurant. Cool old boy runs it too.

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Bad. Lazy start to Friday. Had a mooch round CB. Bought a dish to put olives in and made appointment at Santander for Monday morning to try and open bank account!

Did some mowing and attacked the last olive tree standing back at MF. Cabin continues to progress. Really impressed with the stained floor etc. Commissioned JR to make a built in wardrobe type thing. Ricardo has hopefully sorted out an electrician to get me connected to the grid. Happy days!

Justin sent something about an overpayment for Gran’s pension! Had a half decent conversation. Progress? Vino and tea up the hill. Tired. Long week. LB been inked. Looks good.

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Cafe and hot pastel de nata before returning to MF for a morning of tidying up. Seems to be a hunting day locally. Lots of people in the village; lots of dogs etc. Can hear the wild boars being ‘hunted’! Life in the countryside.

Sorted all the wood round the cabin; assembled the last chair for the deck; finished sorting the olives of the last tree. Still need to do the roots. Changed the water on the olives in the containers. Then got tired and headed to CB. Had a moochy afternoon. Saw some bargain vines in Agriloja! Must give them a go.

Went for a swim (and shower!!) at teatime. Knackered tonight. Nice walk round the Christmas market, then a quick vin Branco in the Saloon Bar, before going to a restaurant I went to in March!

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A frio Sunday. Off to Alpedrinha to check out the market this morning. Stopped for coffee and croissant en route. Al/ha a cute little town in the hills up near Fundao.

Market a bit weird. Mainly expat hippie types with a couple of token Portugese folk singers. Not really my scene. Bought a jar of chutney of some middle class English chick, then vamooshed back to CB. Checked out some tiles at Maxmat and bought a letter box! Tom has lost his feckin keys again. Twerp.

Paid a € and had a go one of those weird relaxing massage chairs in the shopping centre! Strange things!

Well foggy in CB tonight!

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Bank day. Got there with all my paperwork. Even stopped at China House en route to buy a posh folder to put it in. What can go wrong. Have you got your passport? Yes. Proof of address? Yes. Fiscal number? Yes. Fiscal certificate? What the feck is that?? Ok. Off I go to Financia to get a copy. Then to another office to get them to change my address!

Eventually, I have the right documentation and the account gets opened, although my UK mobile number might put a spanner in the works as they need to text me PIN numbers etc. No worries ; I am popping back in Wednesday to sort out home and contents insurance. Seems sensible after this outlay. Realised I missed breakfast, so had a nice baguette etc just round the corner from where I park the van.

Had a wander into CB and popped into the furniture ship in the old town. Met this amazing character called Jorge, who makes furniture, funnily enough. Spoke to him about possibly doing a wooden sign for the cabin. ‘Casa Margarida’ etc. Happy to oblige. Just need to pop back with measurements; details etc. He was interested about me living in Monte Fidalgo and said to come and see him if I ever needed any help or support!

Went to Brico. Got some more tiles for cabin. Gratis as I have now got €40 on my card! Yay! Popped in second hand city and saw a sofa that looked half decent. Good price. Comfy ish. Right sort of size.

Back to MF where JR and Dom were hard at it! Not a euphemism!!! Painting has started and JR commenced cladding the back wall. Agreed that interior front wall should be clad too! Cleared up debris from remaining olive tree and shifted some of the crap from the store room. Then set about hacking away a new ‘orchard/vineyard’ area betwixt pond and well.

Popped Bar Rato for a sherbet. The old boy there knows what I want now and his wife (I presume) always shouts hello! This old boy had a conversation and said he lived a couple of doors away!!

Back to MF. Pork in rolls. Night.

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Cold. Popped VVDR for coffee and pastel de nata. Nipped up the olive place and hung around in the queue for my 5 litres of oil. Felt a bit inadequate as the bloke in front loaded his clio with thirty odd five litre bottles!! Never mind. You have to start somewhere!!

Back to MF where the man from DPD dropped off the heaviest tent in the world!

First job; cleared muck etc out of store room and spread it on ‘the \240land’. Then moved on to the well area. Think I made some progress?

JR and mad Dom moved things along in the cabin. Two walls have had their first coat of paint and the other two are now clad in wood. And a wardrobe has been erected!

Nice swim (and shower) in CB followed by much needed steak, cogumelo and frites in my new favourite cafe. Invited into a medronho tasting session. Very warming and sleep inducing!!

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Bloody medronho! Off to see bank man at nine. Sorted app and got all buildings and contents insured. Transferred some money across too. All works ok. Breakfast at Pingo Doce. Made a new friend! Well lush.

Did washing, but drier busy. Improvised on return to MF.

Purchased a sofa from second hand city. Should do the job. Slightly concerned about the condoms on sale \240in InterMarche!!

JR and Dom making cracking progress and started varnishing the floor at close of play today.

It’s Wednesday. VVdR for tea. Quiet drink with the fashionista in ‘O Motorista’ first.

Tidy tuna steak for tea and remember kids; you are never too old to stop wearing a tracksuit!!

Skipped breakfast in VVdR and headed back to MF where Mario and Luigi were on site with shovel and pick axe ready to make a start digging for agua. Nice set of boys from Welsh Water, although their kit could do with a bit of updating! Cold, damp Election Day in central Portugal. Did some olive sorting whilst the boys kept digging. Hooge trench. Made them a coffee when the icy rain came, and we all sheltered in the barn and had an amazing conversation.

12:30, they announced they were off to Bar Rato for lunch! As you do. I decided to walk down to the barragem. Stunning views even on a rainy day!

Saw a cool pond on way back. Wonder if Mad Frank’s creation will end up like that. Similar size. So. The boys were back after lunch. They dug a bit more, then said ‘nao agua’!. They couldn’t find the bloody pipe. Never mind. Two neighbours were then deployed to look at the hole for an hour in the freezing rain. Still no pipe appeared. Several calls were made to the Camara. Still no pipe appeared. 3pm. Cones were placed around the trench and the boys departed. Hopefully to return tomorrow!!

Went for swim (and shower) then bought some coat hangers and a few bits for the cabin in Castelo. Went to the bar where I met the police inspector. He was there again! Nice chat with another old boy too.

Election. Can’t even talk about it. What hell is this?

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Abrantes

Friday the feckin 13th. Get Brexit Done. Well done Britain. Abandon hope!!

All happening back at MF. Welsh Water have hired a digger from Mad Frank and found the pipe. About 30 metres from where they were digging!!

JR and Ricardo had brought Luigi, Hugo and Paulo (all real names), so things were cracking on. Guttering erected. Kitchen tiled. Log burner put in place and floor of outbuildings concreted.

Friday up the hill in VVdR. Quick drink in the ‘Maybe Bar’ then I was lucky to get a table at Varanda da Ville. Big Christmas dinner there.

63
Castelo Branco

Another slow, sluggish start to a Saturday. Eventually got into gear. Had a coffee and pastel de nata and whizzed back to MF to do a bit of tidying in the cabin. Managed to haul the sofa in from the barn. Think it looks ok?

Christ shopping for a bloody mattress is hard work. Gave up for the weekend and bought a funky light instead!

Did order ten thousand tiles for the bathroom etc from Maxmat, which will hopefully be delivered early next week!

Now swim (and shower) then tea at ‘Trovas & Provas’. Very good as my neighbour would say. Yummy cheese to start, followed by beautifully fresh pica pau.

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Castelo Branco

Often rains on a Sunday. Luckily I have my super duper rain jacket. Unluckily, the bloody zip has broken in half rendering it totally useless. I shall be going to Decathlon later!

Had a walk round CB in a semi functioning jacket before purchasing a replacement. Also bought a very fashionable Portugese mobile phone. State of the art!

Day of shopping continued with a mirror bought for the cabin and a set of pans and a Bluetooth speaker thing.

Went and watched ‘Jumanji: the next level’ at the cinema. Good ninety minutes entertainment and helped with my Portugese learning as the film was in English with subtitles. Nipped in to Bar Rato on way back to MF. Watched a bit of the new series of the ‘Grand Tour’, then spent ages trying to register my Pingo Doce card. And so to bed.

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Abrantes

On my god it’s raining. Welsh Water turned up at nine then retreated back to their truck soon after arriving!

All this rain and the pond is starting to look like a pond. Early stages I know. Welsh Water did 45 minutes. Turned the road into something resembling the Somme and then went to Bar Rato for a two hour lunch break. Monsoon returned after lunch, so no progress this afternoon! I have filled numerous buckets of water from the downpipe coming off the guttering and chucked them in the well. Every little helps.

Popped to the Junta in Perais to try and get an address number thing. Surreal conversation with the woman there who eventually put me on the phone to her daughter who spoke English. Meanwhile Junta chick was speaking to the Camara! Transpired that someone from the policia will pop out to see me in next few days to sort out number etc!!!

Flying visit to CB. Purchased gas bottle and accompanying connection bits for cooker thing. Found an Ikea type shop and got some plates. Went swimming (and had a shower), then bought a mattress from Jom.

Still raining. Popped in Bar Rato on way back. Log burner on. Nice.

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Abrantes

The sun has got his hat again! Yay. Esta bloody frio early doors mind. First job. Sorting the mattress out. Good fit. Even if I say so myself. Someone from Welsh Water came and retrieved the digger at nine and that’s all I saw of them. Ironic, given such a good day.

What else: cleared ‘the coffin’ ready for lining. Another water source hopefully?

JR and your man Hugo arrived shortly afterwards. H set about finishing the roof on the outbuildings and JR made a fireplace in the cabin. The Maxmat boys arrived soon afterwards with the tiles. They had landed in the village and seen the old boy from the bar and he had directed them up to the land.

Lots of mowing and well clearing etc this afternoon. Hopefully progress made,

JR installed the cooking machine! Christ! What a cahoona! I’m sure I told him to keep it down to one or two? He said he didn’t realise it had that control! Ooph What a flame! Bit safer at 2/3!

Mucho frustration with Vodafone internet today. Can’t say anymore. Too upsetting.

Nice tea (as always) at my new favourite cafe.

Excellent grilladha mista. Do like this place.

67
Castelo Branco

Rainy season back. My annoyance with Vodafone UK continues. Still no feckin internet. Decided to cancel the contract and sort something in Portugal. Went through bloody security and explained the issue (again). Was then put through to Ivy in the ‘concerned’ department. She patronised me, then prevaricated. You could say she dithered and delayed. She even went through the whole bloody security rigmarole again. I did start to get a bit abrupt with (poison) Ivy at this point, and e eventually she agreed to cancel the contract. Popped in to the Forum after sorting laundry and had a nice chat with man from Vodafone Portugal who did some checks and confirmed that the sim was kaput. He sorted me with a new PAYG and internet was reconnected.

Back to MF where Frank has finished his pond excavations. Hooger!

Went for a walk towards Spain in the afternoon. A bit damp and grey, but lots to see. A wonderful place to explore.

When I came back and was sorting the olives, some old boy from the Camara appeared and told me the house number was 49, and wrote it on a bit of paper for me. Certainly wasn’t a police inspector! That must have got lost in translation!! Anyway, the address has a number. 49!!

On the way to VVdR (it’s Wednesday), I saw life in the olive mill. Good chat with the old boys who showed me round the place and gave me my stash of 20 litres!!

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Abrantes

Never mind a cabin. I think I need a bloody ark. Not ever known rain like it in all my born days. Actually, started off not too bad. Left VVdR and headed back to MF. Ricardo and Paulo on site already having been to Espanha to fetch doors. Mad Frank arrived soon afterwards, then JR and Dan the solar man. I started more bramble work, but gave up lunchtime when two mackerel swam past me. Log burner inserted. Tiles fitted behind it and grouted by Paulo’sfair hands. Door erected in no time and Mad Frank back filled the trench. Oh and he brought ten blueberry plants as promised!

Drove through several lakes to CB in the dark and eventually found the swimming pool. Did 20 lengths and had a shower. Came out nice and clean and then waded through the biggest puddle in Portugal! Parked the van. Put the roof up. Put it down again. Bloody windy. Got nice and dry again. Nipped out to Boutique Presunto for tea. Absolutely drenched. What is happening?

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Abrantes

Still raining people. First job. Trib to InterMarche to stick my jeans in the drier. I kid you not! Mental. Bought some bits at Brico and Auchan and then headed back to MF to try and get dry (again) and tidy up. Pond and well filling nicely,

Did some cleaning and tidying. Didn’t bother much with gardening. Drove to VVdR while it was it was still light, but still raining! Had a cafe and pastel de nata in the cafe on the industrial estate then got some supplies and made an executive decision to park up the hill near the restaurant. Traditional Friday vino at Bar Maybe, then luckily got a table in the restaurant when technically they were fully booked with two Christmas parties.

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Abrantes

Still raining! Sure it’s supposed to stop soon. It did. The sun came out for a bit. Went for a coffee and a pastel de nata and a stroll round VVDR.

Popped back to MF to collect some washing. Pond filling nicely and well almost two thirds full? And then it started raining again!!

In to CB to buy some bits. Mop, pillows, extension lead etc. Exciting stuff. Went for a swim (and shower), then had a drink in snail bar before having tea in Lanterna restaurant. Another one I hadn’t been to before. Saw the hooge bonfire being prepared for Christmas celebrations outside the cathedral. Cool choir in the market when I was going back to van.

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Abrantes

To the drier at InterMarche!!! Urgent. Couldn’t get washing dried last night. One drier knackered and everyone in CB drying their smalls. Got it sorted. Got some diesel. Got some oil. Got Brexit done! Whizzed back to MF. Lobbed washing in. Collected LB’s bits and pieces and headed for Porto.

Stopped for lunch on the motorway. Well at the services actually. Very busy. Everyone driving home for Christmas, I suppose?

Passed through loads of flooded areas and endured a couple of torrential downpours before reaching Ikea mid afternoon. Bloody place was rammed. Bought duvet, clock (bargain in sale) and some other bits.

Eventually found a place to park near where I stayed in March. Had a vin Branco in the bar I frequented back then and some frango at a nice place down the road. Very tired today. Boa noite.

72
Porto

Not a bad nights sleep in the side streets of Porto. Brecwast at Continente and also purchased a bargain hoover type thing for cleaning the log burner. Justin messaged to say dear old Mair Jenkins had expired at long last. Good innings as they say. Bought a bowl for the sink and a funky drainer type thing before heading up to the Aeroporto to await LB’s arrival.

Everything straightforward at Aeroporto. LB arrived on time and followed instructions perfectly. Turned left instead of right and crept up on me like a ninja! Popped to Primark to get a couple of bits!!, then drove to Alfruda for the night. Lovely location.

Nice fish tea. Lovely and fresh. Grilled on the barbecue outside.