sad endings and new beginnings

the last thing I had that hadn’t been consumed or destroyed by the fire has now been swept away by a tsunami type flash flood on my land

The river broke over the top of the 8 foot high wall that borders the land, chucking burnt trees and branches, litter, lumps of coal and a tonne of top soil and ash all over my garden, it swept away all the trees, bulbs and herbs that I had been growing in pots, most of them have disappeared completely, no doubt littering someone else’s land downstream and blocking up the river

I am so completely heart broken by this turn of events that I can’t even cry anymore, I just shrugged and laughed……

So I’m off for a break, somewhere far away, where everything is white instead of black

where I am not constantly reminded of the grief that is consuming my life, where I can get a different perspective and not have to climb huge hurdles everyday just to stay on top of things, or fix something that is very broken or unfixable, or tidy up a terrible mess……..there’s only so much anyone can take until we break, I’m not waiting around to be broken by this, so I’ll cut my losses and get away before I too am so broken that I will be unfixable………

I am happily saying goodbye to 2017 and am looking forward to welcoming in the new year with an open heart and open mind………happy new year everyone

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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 :

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sarah-and-rick-whitehead

summer

not that i want to wish my life away, but it looks like summer is nearly over……thank god……

looking back over my photos, i don’t seem to have done very much, other than a very stressful trip back to the UK and then 2 weeks recovering not a lot has happened…but here’s a little snippetaubergine bee building cake carrots cherries flower1 flower2 flower3 kiwis snooks swimming tart toms woody

an odorous task

I’ve harvested the garlic and onions, firstly I want to say how bitterly disappointing both these crops are, when I lived in England I had an allotment which was heavy clay, with easy access to all kinds of manure, everything flourished, esp. the garlic and onions. I had never had a problem growing these basic crops, until, that is I came to Portugal. Despite my efforts to get nutrients into the soil, other than the first year here (land had been fallow for quite a few years), I have yet to have a successful crop, by successful I mean enough onions and garlic to last the whole year. I had always grown onions from sets, sowing in late Autumn, this year was the last year for that. All the sets I grew went to seed,

onions seedwhich made up over half my crop. The rest were plugs bought from the market and planted in early spring, these did not go to seed.

onions

So, from now on I will either try and grow my own plugs or buy from the market. Gone to seed onions do not store at all, whilst you can cut off the seed head, get rid of the head and cut the stalk up and saute in butter (very delicious), they will not grown anymore. I had to skin and chop 7 kilos of onions, with the idea of freezing them…….having been given a lot of ziploc bags recently (again, generous friends from Canada) I decided I would double bag all these onions and put them in my freezer……..bad move……i had to take them out and quadruple bag them and they still smell and are stinking up all my fruit, so they’ve gone to live in my friends, mostly savoury freezer, they said they don’t mind, they may change their minds, in retrospect, I should have wrapped them in smaller portions in tin foil and then bagged them……..the freezers here at the farm are still stinky.

The garlic again has been disappointing, I gave up with my experiment of growing my own from my own seed (see previous blog entries) and bought some teeth (as they call them here), they’ve not done too badly but again alot went to seed.

garlic

Lessons learned:

don’t grown from sets from here (they are probably not heat treated)

don’t plant too early

don’t plant too late

don’t let plants get cold

don’t let plants get hot

what a faff!!!

from plant to plate

this year we have had our first blueberries, which is very exciting, they are very happy down in the fruit meadow, so we may get rid of some of the less productive fruit (blackcurrants) and replace with blueberries,

today we had blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, such a perfect combination and only made possible by dear friends from Canada…….

pancake

As mentioned in my previous blog entry we’ve had a lot of lemons to deal with, the final thing that got made was this yummy lemon tart, definitely worth a go

lemon tart