Grapes of wrath

Happy New Year to all who read my ramblings………

The locals in Benfeita put on a yearly service and lunch for all new “estrangeiros”, fairly unique initiative we are told. One that we were honoured to be invited to. Never sat through a catholic mass, apart from the church being absolutely freezing, it was very humbling, even with all the sitting and standing, standing sitting, copying the locals and not really knowing what the heck was going on. At the end I was dragged out from my pew by a very forceful old lady, to kiss the baby’s head….(well plastic doll actually) and then we all went back to local village hall for enormous amounts of food and wine. The Portuguese like to play a game with their tables which Sandy calls hide the tablecloth. You will bever see so much food on a table anywhere in the world, incredible. Some of the older ladies from the community sang local folk songs and one chap sang some Fado. I finally met one of the old ladies who shouts “boa dia/tarde” at me from the road when I am working on the land, hopefully she’ll become a good friend.

Whilst Rick has been clearing yet more land of weeds, mint, fennel etc. I have been tackling the grapes, which have to be pruned before end January. We’re guessing the land hasn’t been properly worked for some years. The grape vines had spread up to 4-5 metres. Totally overwhelming and quite dangerous. As I slowly work out what is coming from where, I cut and pull, often being whipped in the face by the vine or the thing the vine is attached to, often brambles. I’ll be happy when I’ve finished. There are rows and rows of them, all scattered around the meadows, terraces and across the river (haven’t worked out how to do them yet, need waders and harness!).

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