My goodness, has it really been nearly a month since we posted? It would appear so! There is a bit to catch up on so this will be a hodge podge post with bits of news and random photos of various outings.
We are continuing to settle in well and learn more Portuguese. We really feel like we are making progress on that score, especially when we meet someone who tells us about yet another expat who has lived in Portugal for years and still doesn’t speak any of the language. Everyone we have met is surprised that a) we are trying and b) what we have learnt in the last few weeks, which is a bit of a confidence boost for us. Having said that, we’ve just had a phone call from a delivery driver who is trying to find us and we don’t have a clue how to direct him. He’s sent a text saying he will deliver tomorrow, so we’ve replied with directions, courtesy of Google Translate. Goodness knows where he’ll end up!
Our focus over the last couple of weeks has been on house-hunting – we’ve seen 12 houses in 10 days. Several we’ve been able to exclude very easily but we have three that we are keen on – all very different, all requiring different amounts of work. We are still waiting for some quotes to determine whether we can actually afford what we want, but it is an exciting time.
The weather is all over the place at the moment. We’ve had some fantastic hot, sunny weather recently but the temperature has dropped considerably and there is a lot of rain forecast. So the house is freezing cold again. We had a horrifying electricity bill last month so have shut the electric heaters away in the spare bedroom, but I think we are going to have to get one out this evening.
We’ve been enjoying getting DVDs from our local library – we can get 4 a week and have one Portuguese language one each time. Obviously it has to have English subtitles, but we like to think that we will be absorbing some of the language too. We didn’t have much luck with the last one we picked – although we thought the subtitles were in English, it turned out that they too were in Portuguese. We stuck with it for about 5 minutes but it was no good – that might be a film we’ll revisit in a couple of years when our Portuguese has improved a bit!
We are gradually trying to make more things from scratch in the kitchen. Our first project is pizza! The first attempt was pretty successful – lovely crisp base – but a little bland. So for the second attempt I made a wholemeal base, a very rich tomato paste with lots of garlic and herbs and garlic mushrooms for the top, together with caramelised onions and red peppers. Unfortunately we had a little mishap transferring it from the board to the baking tray and we ended up with something resembling a calzone – only inside out! It tasted great though, so we just need to practice our transfer technique and all should be good. Practice makes perfect, so we are committing to homemade pizza once a week until we get it right. Tough job, but someone has to do it. We bought a pizza for lunch recently and made a mental note that an €11 pizza might be a bit bigger than we need! The can was added for scale.
The next project is yoghurt – we can only buy individual pots here and we eat about 10 a week which creates a big pile of waste plastic. It can be recycled but that should be a last resort – first resort is to reduce packaging. We’ll need to get something to store the yoghurt in and probably an esky/coolbox/chilly bin (delete as appropriate depending on where you are from!) to make it, but we’ll get started on that soon. I had thought that we would also start making bread, but we can get such fantastic stuff from our bread van for 80c a loaf that we won’t bother yet. I made vegetarian sausages a couple of weeks ago based on kidney beans and seitan (made with gluten). The flavour needs tweaking a bit, but there were more successful than I expected, especially considering that a gluten sausage doesn’t sound particularly appealing!
We had a trip to the coast a couple of weeks ago – it was too cold to stay inside. There was a fierce wind blowing in off the Atlantic which was whipping the sand up off the beach and causing a few problems – the car in this photo had got bogged in the sand on the road. Further down the road, there was a market happening and the car park was next to the beach. Several drivers were going to have a surprise when they got back to their car and found it half-buried!
Update I started this post on Wednesday – it is now Saturday. The delivery driver called again on Thursday, except it was a different guy and he didn’t have the directions we had sent to the other guy. We didn’t understand him, he didn’t understand us and in the end I had to ask our landlady to call him and give him directions. She did, but he also decided to give up and go home. We drove here from Spain using the landlady’s instructions – the house really isn’t that hard to find! The delivery finally arrived yesterday. The weather has got worse – more rain in the last 48 hours than in the last six weeks and we’ve even had some hail and thunder to add to the excitement. I just read what I had written on Wednesday and was reminded that we were meant to be having pizza for dinner tonight – never mind, the spiced aubergine with quinoa & chickpea pilaf was pretty good! Pizza tomorrow.
Now we are enjoying a glass (or two) of wine and Eurovision. Belgium are on at the moment – Graham Norton called the choreography woeful, but I think he was being polite!