More than a month since our last post? We must have been busy!
Let’s start with a bit of progress on the decorating front. Our aunt & uncle (hi Pen & Huff!) came to stay for a few days so we thought we should pull our fingers out and make the guest accommodation look a little more respectable. First the bathroom – this is what it looked like when we moved in;
Inviting, no? A lick of paint and a bit of colour makes all the difference;
And the bedroom. After painting the bathroom and realising how much paint a rough rendered wall takes to cover, we decided that we would need to do something about the render in the bedroom. In hindsight, I’m not sure why we thought we wouldn’t, but we didn’t have time to get it done before Pen & Huff arrived so had to settle for a tidy and clean. Remember what it looked like when we bought the house?
The mezzanine was removed straight away as it was too low to stand under and too high to stand on top of. We also replaced the roof. The room was still full of junk though (ours rather than the previous owner’s by now) as everything that didn’t have an immediate home when we moved in was dumped in the annexe, so it needed a good clear out. One thing led to another – we put up more shelves & pictures in the house, organised our little storage barn with shelving, cleared out under the bed and even got down to sorting out old paperwork. Fifteen year old Australian tax returns anyone? Our work in progress;
At this point we only had a couple of days to go before the visitors arrived and were rather wondering if we were going to get it ready in time, but finally;
At some point we have to move all the furniture to sort the walls out and paint the floor but it looks so tidy I think that can wait a bit. We have been inspired to finish the decorating in the house and, as I write, David is removing towel rails etc so we can paint the bathroom. From which we will move on to the bedroom, hall, kitchen & living room. After which we might want a lie down.
We had a weekend away in a lovely B&B near Sintra, a beautiful part of the country just north of Lisbon. Beautiful but, oh my goodness, so crowded especially on a very warm weekend in May. There is some spectacular coast in the area and we made the obligatory visit to Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point on the European mainland.
We really enjoyed a couple of the quieter spots in the mountains as recommended to us by our host, in particular Convento dos Capuchos, a tiny Franciscan monastery built in 1560 and inhabited until 1834 when Portugal abolished all religious orders. This particular branch of Franciscan-ism (?) believed in living a particularly simple and primitive life in harmony with nature, and their monastery is built in and around huge rocks and lined and decorated with cork. It was very simple and beautiful and would have been a bloody awful place to live in winter!
There were very few windows in the monastery, so our way was lit with a string of LEDs along the floor. We rather liked the way they invited you to look down the latrine too!
While Pen & Huff were here, we visited some other great local sights including a new discovery for us, a beautiful gorge that David had spotted on Google Earth. It took a bit of finding but we had a lovely walk there – unfortunately we didn’t take a camera so you’ll just have to wait until we go back for photos. We also took them to the Roman ruins at Conimbriga and Convento do Cristo, the home of the Knights Templar in Portugal. Again, we didn’t think to take a camera but you can read about our previous visits to both here and here. Both are on our highlights tour of our region, so if you visit, you will probably get to see them in person. Unless you are parents who come to help us move in, in which case we will work you to the bone and not give you any time off, even for good behaviour.
Obligatory weather report. I’m not sure how best to describe the weather in May – brilliant, pants and a bit bonkers sums it up I guess. We were ticking along quite nicely at the beginning of the month with temperatures climbing into the high 20°s and even hitting 30° a couple of times. Then within a couple of days it plummeted to a high of 12° and heavy rain – of course, this happened just before our visitors from Australia arrive. It got so cold while they were here that we had to light the wood burner in their room (we held back on calling them southern hemisphere softies), but as soon as they left the temperatures started climbing again. And then today has been cold with heavy rain again. The forecast tells me it is going to be hot again next week – who knows?
Of course the sun/rain/sun/rain combo has been doing wonders for the wildflowers – although even we are having to admit that some of our ‘wildflowers’ are looking distinctly weed like, so David has been busy with the brush cutter. The veggie garden is looking OK – my brain seems to have done everything on a UK timetable rather than Portuguese, so everything is a bit later than it could have been but I’m sure it will catch up. I may have accidentally left some of the seedlings out in a big rainstorm a couple of weeks ago which left them looking a bit battered, but I’m choosing to believe that they will recover so have planted them anyway. The last of them went out yesterday, before today’s big rainstorm, so they may be looking a little more battered by now. Nevermind, they are plants and their entire purpose in life is to grow, so grow I’m sure they will. Please note new rustic compost bins, ‘crafted’ from recycled roofing sheets.
Right, dinnertime so that means I should go and do some painting!