Friday, 18 April 2008


We arrived in sunny Lisbon 4 weeks ago, on the Thursday before Easter. Angel and Moses made it safely through the drama of travelling by aeroplane, handling the whole thing way more calmly than we did. "Tom" picked us up in his pick up and, after an eventful drive back encountering a little police investigation involving MOT papers that apparently indicated very clearly that the car was not allowed to carry passengers or luggage (imagine how full the van actually was!), it was so lovely to be reunited with "Jerry" and Michelle again back in our home town of Oleiros, Portugal.

In the sunshine of the next day it was clear that "Tom and Jerry"  had achieved an incredible amount in just 2 months since buying Bacelo (seen here in the photo) in January and, not surprisingly really, were suffering a little from the exhaustion of it all. They’d cleared out buildings, set up a nifty clean drinking water system from one of their 2 water mines, installed a new kitchen and shower in ‘Kahn’ cottage, cleared great chunks of land, cut down trees, dug out and planted a large vegetable patch. In the midst of all that, they had had to make a safe and a large watertight space for boxes and boxes of their stuff shipped from Sheffield.

Before Christmas we’d rented a house in Oleiros for all of us to stay in. We’d planned to be there for the next year or so until our own reconstruction work on the magical place called Moses would be finished. However, after only a few days, we decided it was far more sensible to move into Bacelo, next door to Moses. Eventhough it’s only a 20 minute drive between Amieira and Oleiros, the energy involved in making the daily trip coupled with the need to look after and clean another house just didn’t make sense. There will be an incredible amount of work to get done this year in order for Moses and Bacelo to be ready for the first yoga retreat season next April. It was immediately obvious that we could do that work loads more efficiently and with more energy if we were all staying together rather than apart.

Last week "Tom and Jerry" travelled back to the UK to stay with "Jerry's" critically ill father. Our thoughts and prayers are with them right now as it’s a tough one. "Tom" should be joining us again in the next 2 or 3 weeks, but "Jerry"  will stay with her Mum and Dad for as long as is necessary. While they are away we’ve moved into their lovely rustic but still fairly posh country estate house to continue the reconstruction and gardening work.

Before they left though, we were able to help them prepare Harry’s house, named after one of Jerry's kittens, ready to be the Winters new home. I worked with "Tom" (the one actually doing the work here) to put on a new tile roof, install a wooden floor and clear the grounds of some pretty nasty caterpillar nests in the pines. To give you a better idea of what it's like here we have taken videos on the mobile phone and uploaded here below, so hope you can see them. If not let us know.

Vonny, the kids, and got stuck into creating state of the art self build compost bins necessary to use in conjunction with our chosen dry toilet system; one which will produce the best compost for our hungry vegetables and flowers. Von can tell you more about this in her bit. But just to say we are learning loads in a really short time about all this stuff and have had fun chopping down Memosa trees to use to construct the huge compost bins. And boy was it a good feeling to finally finish it yesterday. First project completed to time (1 week) and to budget (about 10 euros for the balls of string). Next!

Anyway, everybody is well here. Kids are working hard with us on the land, are making a kennel next week for our neighbours dog called Mourinho (another one is Scolari!) for shelter from the rain and sun, and have been to school a couple of times already. Angel has settled in like she’s always owned the place and is kindly allowing us to live here with her (no change there then!). And Moses is sooo happy to be back, thriving in the country life taking himself off for walks on the estate whenever and wherever he fancies. It’s been great to hook up with our Portuguese new mates too, Raquel, Belita, Pedro, Anita, Sara and all. Fine fine people. Sara and To’s wedding on Saturday too. 270 guests. So we had to pop into Coimbra yesterday for some outfits as ours are still in storage in Salisbury, along with the plants from our garden, awaiting delivery to Portugal (don’t ask). All will work out for good in the end. We’re sure of it.

We’ve watched this type of mad life change thing before in films like Under the Tuscan Sun, and that one with Russell Crow in his uncle’s rural French vineyard, but to experience it for ourselves is something quite different. I could expound for pages on the profundity of it all and how divinely delightful it is to stay here; cold misty mornings, warm lazy afternoons, blossoming fruit trees, frolicking rabbits, (frolicking children even), gushing streams loud from the spring rains, generous and kind neighbours infinitely wise concerning the plants and land which they’ve worked for decades, fresh vivacious home grown veggies, scrumptious red wine at a pound a bottle, etc etc. But I’m going to spare you. You’ll simply just have to book your flights and come live it with us for a while. Go on. What yer waiting for?

This is probably the last post on our beloved Poop in Europe Tour blog. We have loved this. It's been a great way to document what we've done and where we've been so in the future we can always look back here and know how and why we got to where we did! We are setting up a new blog about our new adventures in Portugal. This is now at - of course. So for now, Ciao, ate logo, au revoir, merci, grazie, obrigado and above all thanks for all the fish.