Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

Back again!

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.)

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.

Everything has been growing while I’ve been away. I discovered that one of the unidentifiable (in January) trees near the barroco does this in the spring.

A camellia! And everywhere there’s the smell of mint because it covers several of the terraces. Mint tea! But since I don’t have a stove and a kettle, that’s kind of academic for the moment. The grapes are all growing, including the ones I pruned back in January. There’s quite a spread of growth rates across the quinta. It will be interesting to see how much of that relates to position and how much to the general health of individual vines. There’s some south-east facing ones that are setting fruit already, but further along the same terrace are some I pruned and these are at the same stage of development as the north-facing ones.

Bracken is growing on many of the terraces. It’s a good time for cutting it right now to keep it down (it also makes good compost high in potash if it’s cut before it gets woody) and I went through some of it today with a pair of shears (no strimmer yet). No doubt with the last week’s rain, after an unusually dry and warm February and March, it will be bursting out of the ground with renewed vigour over the next few days.

Darkness has fallen now, and so has the temperature. There’s a cacophony of owls shouting at each other from valley to valley. So many! But I borrowed a corkscrew from a neighbour and it’s not raining, so things are just hunky dory. The sound of the waterfall and the Benfeita church bells have already insinuated themselves into my being. The church bells have become even more ambivalent about striking the hour than they were in January (they forget about 3 times a day now as opposed to once every 3 days). Today I discovered that the bells of Luadas up the hill play a variation on the same theme, but harmonise with the Benfeita ones. It would be quite something if they managed to do that at the same moment, but that’s too much to expect for clocks.

I’m walking around everywhere with a very large grin on my face, despite bruises and bramble scratches and sore muscles from tangling with said brambles today. How could I ever have had any doubts about this? It feels so totally and completely right! The whole land sings to me! Why it should do that I’ve really no idea, but for once I’m not even going to attempt to answer.

Goodnight from Quinta do Vale! Particularly to Em, Bangy and Roon who aren’t with me on this trip. Love you! Em, there’s steps to be cleaned …

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  1. Your 1st born April 20, 2009

    Hi there phillip. Nice flower uv got growing there! I like. Well its been very sunny here today, walked to broughton with ciff bob & roc’s in just a T-shirt can u believe! Then sunbathed on the trampoline. Now slobing in front of the TV after eating more flapjack. Need more oats where do I get them? Painting the van tomorrow I think. Working Wednesday then off for a bit. Just gonna cut bobs hair then not sure what we’re doing. Got no food or diesel and no money until wednesday so bit fooked really. Anyway phone me later hen. Rateils are at Eddys tonight then going tomorrow I found out. Bangys lost his phone iv to tell u. Speak soon mother dear. Lav yoo. xxxx

  2. Quinta do Vale April 20, 2009

    More oats at back of big cupboard underneath where the other oats were. Loads-a-oats! So you can at least live on flapjacks. Gloriously sunny here too today. Too hot for working in the afternoon and I’m well knackered after tangling with brambles yesterday. Just going to meet P&C so won’t phone until much later on.

  3. Michelle April 21, 2009

    Hi glad its all so lovely for you-sounds like you are in bliss land-enjoy wendy.
    love your site by the way
    see ya soon

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