Portugal keeps exactly the same time as the UK (the only country on mainland Europe that does), changing from summer time to winter time. The UK and Portugal have been very close for many centuries, in fact it is the oldest alliance in the world, so it is thought that this may explain why they choose to function in the same time zone. As Portugal is on the same Meridan as GMT and they are almost the western-most point in mainland Europe, it also seems sensible from a solar time viewpoint. Whatever the reason, our clocks were put forward one hour, we lost an hours sleep and gained an hour extra time to work on the farm.
The seedlings were growing into strong and healthy little plants and there was a sense of urgency to get the veggie plot ready to receive them. We’d turned over the soil some time ago and had been waiting for materials so that the fence could be constructed and the pathway laid.
We’d been given a recommendation by our neighbour for a builders merchant in Escarigo, so decided to pay them a visit and order the things we needed. Famous for our poor navigation skills and not wanting to leave anything to chance, we entered the address into Google maps. We set off driving along winding mountain roads and beautiful countryside, passing through several small villages on the way. Eventually we were directed along a number of very small streets and were convinced that we had once again got ourselves lost as it seemed the most unlikely location for a builders yard. Surprising enough though, half way up a hill and in a residential area we reached our destination. Donning our masks, we joined the socially distanced queue to wait our turn to be served. We were soon greeted by a cheerful man called Sergio with a dry sense of humour. His English was excellent which is always a big help so we were able to quickly place our order for delivery the next day.
The delivery driver did not speak any English and unfortunately due to the lack of language lessons our Portuguese remains extremely limited. There was some deliberation where the delivery should be unloaded – the best Mark could offer was “Nao” (no) or “Aqui” (here). Eventually after some frustrating lack of communication, the driver put it where he wanted anyway! At the age of 58 unloading the 30 plus concrete kerb stones and 10 bags of cement by himself nearly finished Mark off and the only items not unloaded by hand were the sand and gravel!
On the plus side – we were given a free tutorial on how we should be pruning the vines, albeit it all in Portuguese. The driver did seem very impressed with the farm and even more so when he saw the barn extension that Ecositana had built. So much so that he got his phone out and made a little video.
The veggie plot took time to create, I didn’t factor in needing to allow time for the concrete to set and digging trenches to place the kerb stones before then setting these in concrete as well. I’d also forgotten just how much of a perfectionist Mark is and everything was perfectly measured and lined up. Eventually, after 4 days it was complete – even though I do say it myself Mark had done a fantastic job (with a little bit of help). First in were the sweetcorn, peas, beans, onions, kale and rocket. Mark made a rather snazzy looking gate to keep out unwanted four legged visitors and I consulted Mark’s dad, Ray, about making some bug spray. Linda gave me a book on growing vegetables which has a section on companion planting so I’m planning on introducing flowers in the patch as well.