My three weeks of Nanna heaven passed way too quickly. I’d heard many times that being a grandparent was great because you could always pass the baby back. The trouble was, I didn’t want to – we were having so much fun together! We went to the baby group and learnt baby massage and baby yoga, we went to the baby sensory group and learnt about using music and song in baby development, we went lots of times for a walk in the park and one day when we were having Nanna and Rupert tickles, he did his first giggle. Priceless!! But all good things come to an end (for a short while at least) and with one last hug we said a tearful farewell.
Before setting off for home I’d decided to stock up on a few things we find difficult to buy in Portugal such as Bisto, anti-histamine tablets and a very large tub of my favourite Options white chocolate drink. I also took the opportunity to treat myself to a haircut and a bit of a pamper. I didn’t think that I would be able get an appointment but after a long chat with Steve at “The Hairdressers” in Droitwich I went off to my appointment with the lovely Ella. She really had her work cut out as for the past 6 months I have been cutting Mark’s hair, Mark has been cutting my hair and we have both been cutting Wanda’s!
I’d forgotten just how lovely it felt to have a bit of a pamper and thoroughly enjoyed my head massage and re-style. I’ve never really been one for experimenting with hairdo’s but having decided that I would embrace my natural colour (which is definitely not blonde) I gave Ella a free reign. Delighted with the results, although unsure if I would ever be able to re-create this myself, I headed off with my little bag off hair product goodies! For anyone in the Droitwich area, I would definitely recommend https://www.thehairdressersdroitwich.co.uk/
The journey back to Portugal felt like a very long day. As well as having a repeat performance of getting all the paperwork, tests, checks and boarding pass sorted out, there was also a 3am start ready for my flight at 6am. Despite a 4 hour wait in Lisbon for my train, everything went like clockwork and by 4.30pm I was in the truck with Mark heading back to the farm and a very warm welcome from Wanda.
I was keen to have a good look round to see what had changed since I’d been in the UK. I was amazed at our veggie patch – it was as though everything had suddenly had a massive growth spurt and we had right in front of our little annex a bountiful supply of salad and vegetables all ready for the picking. There is something pretty special about stepping outside to pick your own dinner although it wasn’t only the produce that had been busy growing. It took two full days of weeding and trimming to get everything back in order.
The cherries, that at one time we were worried would not grow, were really big and juicy. While we were picking them from a tree on the top terrace, we were excited to see one of the “unknown” trees next to it had several tiny pears on it. I know I’ve said it before, but this first year really is one huge journey of discovery and appreciation of what we have.
Mark had made great progress in the longhouse although it had not been without it’s challenges. The old windows have now been removed and the openings made good ready to receive the next batch of windows, which we’re hoping won’t take quite as long to manufacture as the first batch did.
The metal batons are almost all done and the boarding out in the bathroom, bedroom and snug are completely finished. It’s not usual practice to skim over plasterboard in Portugal, and it seems that the normal way of doing things is to fill in the joints, sand everything back and then paint on top, something that Mark feels a bit apprehensive about at the moment as its totally alien to him working in this way. We’re learning to do things the Portuguese way, overcoming obstacles as we go along although the biggest problem that we are finding is that neither the walls nor the ceiling are in any way square. In fact, as can be seen in the photos above, the walls in some places are out by about 2 inches, even after some adjustments have been made so we have decided to accept that we have a quirky, rustic house that will always be out of alignment.
The ceilings are all very rough and uneven, so we’d invested in a bag of what we thought was skimming. It wasn’t. The large bucket full of stuff that Mark had mixed set within 5 minutes leaving us with a large block of “porcelain” in the bucket instead of on the ceiling. Back to Maxmat to buy a different product – which seems to do the job although still a bit tricky to apply.
While I was away in the UK, Mark had been experiencing a bit of bother with the boiler and more often than not had taken cold showers as there was no hot water. The day after I returned, the boiler gave up the ghost, refusing to work at all.
I like a gentle start to my day, not an icy cold one so a cold shower was not an option. As we will hopefully be living up in the longhouse in a few weeks, which has just had a brand new boiler fitted, we didn’t want to invest in a new boiler for the annexe so we had to find another solution.
Mark filled four buckets of hot water from the longhouse and carried them two at a time to the annexe bathroom so that I could have a hot bath. He was born under the sign of Aquarius (The water carrier) and at this moment in time I feel that there is some poetic irony in that as I watch him trundle back and forth with his buckets each day.
The weather has really turned up the temperature dial and having invested in a new outdoor thermometer have seen the mercury rise up in to the 90’s. I’ve had a go at tidying up the terrace alongside the annexe, getting rid of the bits of hardcore and cuttings that had been left there. The trees have been cut back, the banks have been weeded and we’ve even planted some flowers alongside the fence. An old garden table that we inherited has been jet-washed to within an inch of its life and we are now feeling ready to al fresco!