No hadron collider for us


The house is closer to being our house.

So, the next annual report proof went whooshing off to the client. On certain crunchy-fruit branded computer, when you press the send button for emails, the sound of a rocket whooshes from left speaker to right. You might think that 5 or so years after first hearing it, the novelty might have worn off. Not when you’re a big kid.

Whooosh! Then the wait for the slow blue progress slug reveals that when sending a large file with not-so-breakneck 0.4Mb/sec “broadband”, the whoosh is more of a putt-putt-putt. Slow yet steady. No bounces back, so we’re free for the rest of the days doings.

Off to Ansião we drove. Despite bladder issues, Uller the dog stayed inside because of the “muito calor” day (very warm). Even if the thermometer is reading 36ºC, the Portuguese don’t do hot weather, just warm. The word “hot” is reserved for things that might take the skin off your hand, like water from a recently boiled kettle.

Once in town I saw a rare shady carpark, so dived into it. Yeah victory! Once out of the car, I noticed the shade covered approximately 3cm2 of the bonnet (for any Americans reading, this is not a “bonnet drama” with Colin Firth, so don’t picture a frilly hat). Collected banker’s cheque from our resident English-speaking bank manager. Walked in, asked and it was done. Whilst chatting casually he dropped in a brilliant bit of “would you like any chips with that” up-selling. “Do you want house insurance?” Pharr-ha, oh yeah, we forgot about that! OK it was on the list, but in the excitement, it had dropped below the radar temporarily.

Portuguese house insurance seems very extensive, but has some curious exclusions. Fourth in the list of exclusions is this: Explosion, release of heat and radiation from splitting atoms or radioactivity, and also those arising from radiation caused by the artificial acceleration of particles. What?! Well that scuppers the large hadron collider we had planned under the veggie garden.

Insurance disappointment over, we moved on. Met solicitor, outside classically grand council building (picture South America), then walked to across the square to another office in a less grand 70’s box (picture Woking or Canberra), with the sound of spluttering old air-conditioners hanging precariously from office windows above. Our solicitor who looks fit enough, then invited us into the lift. I was thinking, mmm don’t remember any 14 storey buildings in town, but maybe I’m mistaken. Ping! Oh we’re here. Those 14 storeys went by like we only did 2. And we did. Paid stamp duty and purchase tax, which on an old village house like ours, came to roughly three peanuts and an acorn. That’s Euros, not Sterling remember! Having parked in the centre of town, near the council offices, the solicitor drove us back to her office to take copies of our passports.

This done, we bid boa tarde (good afternoon) to our solicitor. We now had a gruelling walk back to the centre of town in 34ºC. This took precisely 2.34 minutes. What’s with the lift and car use? Can’t explain that one yet. With a three quarter hour window before our next appointment, this called for coffee/freshly squeezed orange juice and a couple of nutty/chocolatey sweet things. We’ve decided that for a couple of vegetarians in regional Portugal, eating out is a disappointing waste of time and money. Much as we love cheese, there are only so many cheese omelettes a person can take. There isn’t even a pizza shop around here! For us, the love of the Portuguese café is for other reasons. Coffee and sweet gooey things. Could it be the best coffee in the world? Oh dear, we’re just going to have to drink coffee and eat cakes. What a way to go!

If you’re very lucky, your café visit might include a Brazilian soap opera on the telly. Even if the volume is muted, you’ll know it’s Brazilian by the outrageously garish fluro clothing (to Anglo-Saxon eyes) and the attempt not to offend anyone by including every skin tone ever seen in Brazil. Silly yet intriguing.

Next. Met the agent at the house for a final check that what we thought we were buying is still there. We know in Germany it’s normal to take absolutely everything including kitchen and even light fittings. The house we are buying is nothing more than walls and a roof, so no problems about the kitchens or light fittings but we just wanted to check things like the barn roof hadn’t disappeared. You might think this is overly paranoid, but we met a couple who when asked what that random pillar was in the garden, they explained that it was where the barn was. They bought the house with barn and when they turned up after buying, the barn was no more! WTF?!

In early visits, the house was full of junk mixed with some very interesting old tools, furniture and assorted house hold items. We half expected everything to still be there when we did our final check. But no! Although there would have been some interesting bits to sift through, to our relief virtually everything has been removed! Important bits like, roofs, walls and firewood supply are still there. The deal is definitely on! Tomorrow is the day.

Now back (temporary) home into the mountains because there’s a hungry little dog with a full bladder to tend to. Open the door, a rush of cool air and a little sheepish dog with flat submissive ears and a cautiously wagging tail greets us. A glance into the living room reveals a large yellow pool on the tiles. The poor old girl just couldn’t hold on. Much cuddling and reassuring that it was OK and we are bad mummy and daddy was needed. The thought of her pacing and wanting us to return wasn’t great, but we preferred she was comfortable for most of the day before the sluice gate opened. A lengthy outing with her left inside is a rare event. Soon she can enjoy a pee in a garden with no sharp gravel under paw and she can potter about in a single story house with virtually no steps to negotiate!

Our house – without hadron collider.


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