there is no “normal” anymore

Like for many others in this area, there is no “normal” anymore, there’s  “before the fire”

and “after the fire”

for those of you that have followed our story and the one from before moving to Portugal, we have been constantly building since we married (21 years ago)…….

I had a home for a bit in the UK and then we built a new one….

which didn’t really become my home

we then moved to Portugal and rented various hovels!!

We’d been living in our new house for 2 years, but it was a building site most of the time, with no running hot water or bathroom, that was fine

I liked my outdoor bathroom and when the Rayburn was on there was always hot water on the stove top…..

We had almost finished all the very expensive and complicated plumbing which would have given us two sources of hot water

one from the Rayburn in the winter

and one from a solar water panel for the summer……….

we were two days away from filling up the tanks and testing the whole thing……

Having a home was the most wonderful thing, unpacking all our stuff which we hadn’t seen for years

getting it out, finding places for it, mounting pictures, paintings and photographs

actually being comfortable

cooking and eating amazing food from our gardens

harvesting for the winter

I had just finished making 120 litres of grape juice

we had, rather ironically just finished paying for and sorting out all the paperwork for a very expensive olive grove on the other side of the valley in front of the house, which has now exploded too……

having an actual life that wasn’t full of stress, hard labour, long hours……

I was so proud of the house, what we had done, how beautiful it was……ourlifehandmade

sadly that period has ended
that chapter of our lives was abruptly closed on the 15th October, a day and night that will forever be melted onto our hearts

please help us if you can :


black cherries

it’s been a fantastic year for cherries here, the big tree next to the house doesn’t seem to have suffered for having half it’s roots severed by the foundations going in, some if it is a bit tricky to pick some we can pick from a couple of the windows (very romantic), friends have been to help and we’ve made cherry and cardamom ice-cream

ice cream

pie fillings for the freezer and endless tarts


cherry juice

cherry juice

and am now in the process (10 days) of making glacé cherries, i would have dried some but don’t have the space or intact racks and i would have made jam but have noticed that the jam in my stores is not getting eaten………

food of love

marriage is a difficult thing, some would say it’s the most difficult thing you will ever do, whether you are officially married or not, it takes work, compromise, patience, discipline and a lot of love.


I live with a man who loves his food, he loves different foods from me and generally that’s ok it work’s,  it take’s a lot of discipline on my part to not eat everything he eats and it takes some compromise on his part to eat the things I want to eat.

One thing is certain, I have learnt, that the way to my husband’s heart is through his stomach or less his stomach but more his desires for things to put in his stomach. When we met each other I had never made a cake in my life, having not come from a home of baking or even puddings for that matter, his childhood was very different, they always had puddings and at least one cake a week……..


For the first few years he didn’t ask me for anything special in the kitchen, I was commuting to London everyday and rarely had time to think straight let alone bake a cake but since we moved to Portugal and I have more free time, I’m able to indulge him and I love it, it makes him so happy and that in turn makes me happy, call me old fashioned, I don’t care, but that is (for me anyway) all that matters, it works, it’s the easiest thing, it doesn’t take a lot, just the desire, the desire to do whatever it takes to make someone happy without sacrificing very much at all.

So when he asks for bounty bars and he’s worked his heart out all week, that’s what I do, take the morning off and indulge him


Happy eating