Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

New Year’s revolutions

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

These short and misty-morninged days around the winter solstice and turn of the year seem made for the purpose of reflecting, stock-taking, planning for the next year …

Misty morning on the quinta


More work on the back roof

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

With the sudden advent of summer, we’ve been moving rapidly ahead on the rear roof. Three days of solid work has seen

  • the roof lights installed
  • the two membranes laid
  • flashing around 8 of the 10 light frames completed (we ran out of flashing tape and none of the local builders merchants have any more in stock right now)
  • the finishing work done to close the gap at the rear gully
  • the last leg to support the purlins installed
  • the rear land drain laid
  • the gravel infill completed

PET soft drink bottle lights


Can both sides of the climate change argument be right?

Friday, January 28th, 2011

As physicist Michio Kaku wrote yesterday, “Global warming is controversial, of course, but the controversy is mainly over whether human activity is driving it. There is almost uniform agreement from both sides of the debate that the Earth is heating up.”

More specifically, the controversy centres around whether the rise in global CO2 levels is a direct result of mans’ activities or whether this is something the planet itself is responsible for. This is seen (somewhat linearly) as the engine behind the rise in temperatures. So can both sides be right if one says global warming is caused by human activity and the other says it isn’t?

They can if the rise in temperatures and CO2 levels is the Earth’s response to mankind’s activities.


Wash day

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Yesterday I did the laundry. I put the laundry in the washing machine, added laundry liquid, switched it on, and went away while it did its thing.

And was almost insanely pleased with myself.

Ancient washing machine


Do Be Do Be Do

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

“To be is to do – Socrates
To do is to be – Sartre
Do Be Do Be Do – Sinatra”
Kurt Vonnegut

Somewhere in that quote above is all sorts of wisdom about Doing and Being, but the trouble is I’m so much in the Doing right now there’s no room in my head for reflections on the subject. So I’m sticking with Sinatra for the moment …


Not another night on the tiles …

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Today’s progress on the roof … highlighting the asymmetry of the building. I’m very glad now I decided to stay with the original schist roof covering. Not only for the beauty of the natural stone, but because regular tiles would be a nightmare to lay and would end up looking pretty silly.

Roof progress to date

Entire roof now planked



Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Ok, so yes, it took me about a year to realize it but this place is eventually starting to feel like home. Looking over our land a few weeks ago when driving on our track I realized that this place isn’t just any old place but is OUR place.. (well mums place.. but I still live on it ). I’m staring to grow fond of it here and I was even working today *dramatic intake of breath* stripping bark off a tree. Can’t wait to get electricity though.. It will be even more homely.. :-) x

Oonagh de-barking pine tree

A simple life | Uma vida simples

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Stove installed in yurt

Or is it?

It depends on what you mean by ‘simple’. The trouble is that simple (leaving aside simple-minded for a minute) can mean both uncomplicated, and humble, lowly, basic. The two are not necessarily the same.


Getting civilised

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

If there’s one thing I’m quickly learning about life here, it’s that you just have to go with the flow. Looking around the quinta at everything that needs doing I scarcely even know where to start — some brambles here, some bracken there … but aching muscles too accustomed to shoving no more than a mouse around all day are forcing me to slow down, just be with the land, settle in, inch a few root hairs into the soil. The soil smells delicious. The taste of the water is wonderful and has an energy and vitality to it that only water that hasn’t been killed by chemicals has.

After 3 days of trying to cram an ever increasing number of bits and pieces into the tent, I woke up this morning and moved up to the house, cleaned the dust, maize stalks, olive pits and eucalyptus leaves off the old table and set up a kitchen. With coffee on the brew, fresh orange juice to hand, and this for my morning view, I’m seriously wondering what else I need.

Morning view


Back again!

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

This is the second post coming from Quinta do Vale! To be precise, the middle terrace next to the waterfall from inside a £28.99 (Halfords sale) 2-person tent with one person (and a laptop) in it. (The children have gone to their paternal grandparents for a week, so I took this opportunity to come out and take delivery of our yurt plus all manner of tools and gardening equipment shipped out from the UK by the intrepid and very excellent Fred and Nancy Morris.)

Yesterday it rained quite a lot, which is when I discovered that you get what you pay for in terms of tents. Still, the leak wasn’t too bad. My sleeping bag only got a bit wet. The fact that I’d bought myself a bottle of vinho tinto to toast my first night on the quinta and failed to also buy a corkscrew didn’t really seem to matter. I had enough thermals, etc, to keep me warm enough through the night, so all is well and this morning I woke up to this.

Kind of says it all really.