Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Understanding Everest

I had the two elder granddaughters to stay. So much fun. Playing with water pistols and a tiny inflatable paddling pool. We could get really deliciously wet in the extreme heat. Isabella is quite a dab hand at photos. Here are a couple she took that I was hardly aware of.







Oops, I look a bit grumpy there! Probably expecting the water pistol!

I have been getting on with cobbing my kitchen. Sometimes it feels a bit like Everest. I actually prefer to work alone for the moment in this new room, as there are a lot of things to think about at this level. Windows and the cold cupboard and shelves for storage. I found some big floor tiles that fit the cold space exactly. They make perfect shelves.





It doesn't look like much but I am on the fourth 'row' of mud. Yesss!

Also, today I began the earth floor in Gail's house. We decided not to use any sand (because it had been scattered by dogs and some of it has been used for cat litter tray). Instead we used fresh and fairly fresh horse shit. In this weather it is dry nearly as soon as it hits the ground, but boy oh boy does it make a good mix!





We mixed it in the wheelbarrow so that it was easy to pour into the designated area, which consists of two pieces of lath, (ripas) set a distance apart and amazingly enough, quite level!






A scrummy texture that went on a treat. We wet the floor well before putting it down and made sure that the mix was not too wet. We had to stop as it was getting too hot outside to sieve the earth. Take note: Prepare your materials in advance! Gail has put shade netting over the roof which makes it really fine to work inside.

So it's all stations go for the moment. The vege garden survives and is producing scarlet runner beans and some tomatoes are nearly ready. A regular supply of strawberries for breakfast (and the blackbirds get some). I will have a good harvest of blueberries from one bush, this year.

It feels unusually hot which makes it hard to work much. Siestas and cold vinho verde in the evenings. Yeah!


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Mostly Mud

I have been busy.
Workshops and wwoofers.
Mostly mud.








Domenico lovingly sanded the eucalyptus poles which had gone a bit discoloured from rain.

Janosch built the foundation wall using stones that both of them had brought by wheelbarrow from around the place.  Amazing work by lovely guys!





Then I was ready to start cobbing, finally! I made a ventilation hole using an old wine bottle as a mould.





That worked very well. This mud is amazing!





The plastering workshop at Gail's went well and we have more or less finished the inside. It looks great.

The spring flowers have been fabulous and now it's hay-making time. Soon the land will turn brown and dusty. Summer is a coming in!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

May Be Wet


We have had some rain and clouds so the flowers and the sky are really something!


The cob workshop went very well. We got up to height, plastered the inside and finally, we notched the rafters and put them in place. That little house is coming on nicely.


This is my view when I sit outside and have tea in the morning.  Far away in the distance there is an old windmill which I can only see when the morning sun shines on it. For the rest of the day it disappears and I feel tricked. Where is it?


I zoomed in a bit so the view is more visible. Lovely and soft on the eyes.

I have two brilliant helpers to get the kitchen extension going. Very exciting. Photos to follow, soon!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

April Update


Tulips by the door. Lovely spring colours. I planted a jasmin by the compost loo which wafts sweet smells in the evening. (The compost loo is not smelly, btw).


I haven't done any more to the extension, yet. Building up my strength to tackle the trench. It won't take long when I'm in the right mood. I am still considering going up a level, but that feels very far away and almost too exciting to think about!

Meanwhile, I have neighbours! Rosa and Raquel are living up in the top house and it is nice to see a light on in the evening, and to say hello on passing. They have done some mounding up of potatoes and dug over one of the terraces. I had planted chickpeas but they looked too weedy to be worth it, so we will sow ordinary peas instead. All good nitrogen fixers.

The artichoke is a major feature in the garden these days. Oh, and there are strawberries ripe in the strawberry patch! Delicious.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Not well-connected but growing deep roots

The internet doesn't work very well down in my little piece of paradise. It is quite peaceful.

I sit and look at the view as I sip a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
The sun rises and shines through one of the bottle niches  as this time of year, the spring equinox. How appropriate and lucky. (I didn't plan it so). So I lie in bed and am blinded by the light.


The cuckoo has begun to call. The golden oriole has made a fleeting visit. The brambles are on the rise. Definitely spring in the air.


Oh yes. I've been digging. Some solid quartz in amongst thick yellow clay.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Flittin'!



This is how we do it in Alentejo. With a wheelbarrow. I just decided it was time to live the dream. The old brick shack on the hill has been a great shelter and has lots of potential, but my heart is in my little mud house.

Anyone who knew me when I lived on Mull will remember we were always 'flittin'. I guess my mum had a restless spirit and we had two farms at once, for a while. I remember coming home from Oban High (where I was a weekly boarder) and being told I was walking in the wrong direction home! Oh, no, she had done it again!

Anyway, back to the present. I must tell you how it feels to live in a house you have actually built with your own hands.... and a rush of words come: happy, smug, amazed, curious, warm, sheltered, hugged by nature. It's grand.



See how my clothes shelves (yes, they came down on the wheelbarrow) disappear when you look at them side-on.



My desk (which is also a treadle sewing machine) and next to it a spare bed/comfy chair, by the fire.



 The window seat, where the heat from the stove slowly penetrates the clay and is a very nice place to sit and drink morning coffee. Beside that is the arts and craft zone.

My bed, where I can look out and see the hills far in the distance, and get the morning sun.


And this is the kitchen area for the moment as it is too windy to cook outside most of the time, which is why I will be building the extension, soon!

And there are daffodils blooming in the garden. Joy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

News From The Hill

A new year. The days have been warm and mild so I have continued widening the terraces on the hill-side and planting stuff.



The broad beans and garlic are coming up fast. Peas on the next level with potatoes.

Oh, look what is coming down the side of the hill... Is it a digger... I wonder what that is going to do?


Aha! Now you know. I decided that the outdoor kitchen would be better indoors. So guess what I will be doing this year? Love mud!


While I've been digging the terraces and the garden I have been chucking all the stones I find into a bucket and then filling up a wheelbarrow and then taking them down to the site. Why not? My Scottish bit says 'it's free', and my quiet self enjoys the zen-like activity.






I am still knitting rabbits. They are so cute.