Farm & Garden – March 2017

Wow, we are off to an excellent start to the month/year, Snr Proenca has been at our place at the end of last week and the start of this and from the pictures I have seen is doing an amazing job.

The grass has been cut, the flower border, tidied, the land cleaned, the vines pruned (properly), the soil aerated between the vines, gravel placed where we asked and needed, the damage near out neighbour repaired and the boxing in on the drainage started. Just need the boxing in to be finished, the irrigation pipes put back and the system checked.

We have attached a number of photos below, which should give a good appreciation of the site. Our wish as I think we have expressed in earlier postings is to take away the nakedness that this level of cleaning/tidying leaves and regain a more natural appearance, but we have to get the base right first and that requires this level of cleaning.

The problem at the moment is we haven’t been able to spend as much time as we need to keep it tidy as growth appears, but hopefully soon we will be able to (Well I will anyway) so we don’t have to have the annual harsh clean.

Let just hope he finishes the last little bits, we know from past dealings, there always seems to be a few little bits left unfinished so that he needs to come back, but of course he needs to make it worth his while so always finds something extra.

Enjoy the photos.

Around the house











The Farm











The Vines

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Tractor Update

Nothing brought yet, but we now have a good indication of the size and accessories we need and how much it is likely to cost. The reason for delaying is we have to ensure that it will fit ok in the garage, for when we are not there, plus the company say it will take about 2 weeks form order to delivery, so in Portuguese terms this could be anything up to a month, and we need to ensure someone is at the house to accept delivery, which is a little difficult, but may become easier in the near future. Read the main postings for more detail!

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Farm & Garden Update

The Farm and Garden, so far have fared well during the winter, but now we are entering February, probably the wettest and windiest month of any year and all indications are this year is not going to be an easy year either. So far the work we have had done seems to be working, fingers crossed that it is affective enough this month.

There are a couple of things that still need to be done, but hopefully these are just improvements that will help ensure the work that has been done will last and a couple of corrective items.

In terms of the improvements, there are two things. The area where the two new tracks meet and the concrete tubes to take the stream are, has created an area on the high side of the buried tubes that can get very muddy when it rains, this we think is just due to drainage, but adding more is not really an option, some we are going to place an area of gravel, which should allow us to pass without getting too muddy, suspect we will have to top it up each year for a while until it forms a more solid area, but hopefully it should work.

The second job is where the new gutter we had put down the track, meets the old concrete tubes, which form a drain to take any water under the track into the stream, we want a concrete box put to stop any damage from any water flow.

The corrective/maintenance items, are to finish filling the holes crated by the damage last year, in the main they are done but a bit of levelling is needed. Then the irrigation system timer was not working properly so whilst we don’t need it at the moment it needs to be sorted before we do. The reason to chase this is, that is difficult to get Snr Proenca to us at the best of times so we need to time it with the new work.

The only other thing is the grass cutting! God it’s difficult to get this done. We have now purchased a suitable lawnmower, which we will take down next trip so hopefully starting this year we will be able to do some ourselves.

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House Update

The final sign off documents are now with the council, including all the required papers for the house and the pool, I am lead to understand that all that’s needed now is a single signature from the builder and everything else is good to go. We just need to get the builder to the council office to sign were he missed, no easy feat I can tell you, remember its Marco we are talking about here. Maybe when we are next there we will have to kidnap him and take him to the Council and not release him until he has put pen to paper.

Adjustments to the electric gate, ensuring it closes without straining the fixings, which also has now been done.

We have also asked Paulo our Project Manager to try and get the builder back to fix a couple of issues on the house, nothing too major, but things that happen as a matter of a new build settling. There are two things. A few cracks on the walls in certain places that need correcting, well within tolerance, but need putting right and some of the granite blocks in the path around the house have sunk, again due to settlement but need to be put right.

The biggest problem we know is going to be getting Marco the builder back, he has certainly become very elusive in the past year. A shame really as we thought we had built up a really good relationship with him, but it seems that perhaps others are not quite so tolerant and we seem to be paying the price.

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Finally, better later than never, welcome to 2017. Apologises for the lack of postings recently, I guess there are two main reasons, firstly it’s the winter and therefore there is a lot less activity to talk about, and secondly we have been “planning” yes, always plotting and planning, more about that in a while.

During the last few months we have been working with our Project Manager to try and get a few bits finished off, I will put postings in the different categories to explain a little more on each.

So anyway, Happy belated New Year and welcome to 2017.

We celebrated seeing the New Year with our annual short visit, which once again this year was very successful. It was great to get the log burner lit, it just makes the place so warm and cosy.

Plotting and Planning, so what’s that all about? Well the decision was made that we need to start the process of retiring! Wow, but we are too young! Never! You can imagine the conversation. Can we afford it? Can we afford not to do it? All which resulted in the decision that I, being the older part of our partnership would retire first, lucky me, and this year.

So 2017 looks like it going to be the year of retirement.

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Tractor – October 2016

tractor2Information gathering and investigations has been the flavour of October, we have spent a number of hours on the internet and watching YouTube researching and learning about 3 point mounting systems, age is measured by hours and not miles/kilometres, etc.

This was followed up by a visit to some friends who already own a small tractor and associated equipment. This proved very useful to see about the things I had learnt, further my knowledge on size and power, size in BHP and power required to drive the accessories. I also had the opportunity to try for myself, playing with their setup. I think had it not been a showery I could have spent many happy hours driving around cutting the grass and weeds. I like this, it’s fun, probably only because it’s something new. Let’s see if I still think the same in the years to come.

Armed with all this new knowledge it was off to the first dealership to look at real tractors. Lucky enough one of the guys at the dealership spoke very good English. We looked at both new and used, used seem to be about half the price of new. In Tractor terms, we understood that used was not as bad as in the world of cars and used Tractors can be very reliable.

However, the stock of used tractors available was very limited, from what we could see they were all “very” used, maybe not for us at the moment. We think we need either to wait perhaps until they have some more stock or/and look around at other dealerships, or maybe we should consider new?

Watch this blog for more news.

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The Farm – October 2016

olivetreesWe should be starting to think about harvesting the olives now, but unfortunately this year once again we are not going to be able to harvest. Work commitments just will not allow. We have tried a number of alternatives to try and get someone to do it for us, but to no avail, so I think this year they are going to have to go to waste, let’s hope we can get better organised next year.

grapevinesOn the up side we were able to sort the irrigation for the vines, and to re-establish 3 more of the runs with new posts and wires.  At the moment there is only a couple of vines in each run from the old stock, but the plan is that in the spring we can plant some new vines stock, hopefully now we have the irrigation in place they have a better chance of survival.

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House & Garden – October 2016

As mentioned in the last blog we had damaged the Main Gate in the summer and I can confirm that the repair has been done well on the side we damaged. However, whilst the repair on the other post was done well, there is still movement in the fixing on that side, which has been there since the original installation. We are going to have to get in touch with the gate installers to see what can be done, then we might be able to make a more permanent repair the post. It just needs the fixing bolts removed and replaced but tightened down properly. The gate does however work properly now, which is of course the main thing.

grassWe had the most amazing clover grass, we really wanted it to be cut more often than it is but it has proved hard to get anyone to do it. The guys doing it now are the same people that demolished the old hut, I guess it’s because they were trying to do it all at the same time.

The net result was we have grass that was about a foot (304.8mm) tall with clover leaves about an inch (25.4mm). The good news is that it has now been cut and with the winter coming it shouldn’t grow as fast as in the summer, the not so good news was that it only got cut on the day we had to leave to come back to the UK.

channelNot sure if this should be in the House & Garden section, the Old Hut or the Farm, but
let’s leave it here for now. The old hut is gone, so we had to get the land re-landscaped and also deal with water flows. We had a channel put in down what was the old track, this was being lined with a concrete gulley whilst we were there. This runs into a drain which takes any water under the track and shoots it into the stream (The old 500mm concrete tubes that we had to upgrade from the stream tunnel were used for this) All looks a bit messy as well at the moment, but I am sure when it is finished and the natural vegetation returns it will be fine!

On the down side the Cactus that we had been trying to keep on the bank dropped out the bank, where the team had to widen the track. On the up side this all happened whist we were there so we were able to retrieve it, and move it to a better place. Just hope it survives! It’s a Cactus, they survive anywhere, don’t they?


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The Old Hut – Gone

hutgoneWell this is hopefully the last entry against “The Old Hut” our visit has confirmed that it has in fact gone. The rubble has been used to build up the bank along part of the stream, which should help to retain any excess water when the rains come.

rubbleneatRubble can never look pretty, but it has been well covered with soil on the non-stream side. The side that is visible from the stream is a bit messy but there’s not a lot that can be done. Time will be the healer here, when the natural vegetation returns I am sure it is going to hide the mess.




Either way the guys have done well to hide the rubble on the land, which obviously saves the cost of removal and disposal.

So that’s it, it’s done.

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The Old Hut – Going, Going, GONE

We were hoping that September would see the demolition of the old hut, but in true Portuguese style it didn’t happen. I am sure many of you that read this blog and therefore have an interest in the Portuguese life style would now that there are two dates with every job, the promised date and the actual date.  It is very rare indeed that these two are the same. The challenge is to try and get them as close together as possible.

going1We had been pushing hard for the work to be carried out as quickly as possible, before the rains came, as we knew the landscaping work we had commissioned needed to be completed to ensure there was no, hopefully, further issue with the flow of water when the rains started.

Well last week the first real rainfall was seen in the area and we think that may have stirred some action with the builder as he had agreed that the work would be done before the rain came and any compensation claims from nearby neighbours etc. would be pointed in his direction. Maybe it wasn’t that, it was just circumstantial, either way, mid-week some heavy equipment appeared.

Over the next 3 days, first the roof disappeared, then the walls, by the Friday evening most if not all remnants of the “Old Hut” had gone. The next question is where has it gone.

We now as mentioned in an early blog the Portuguese put great stature on old weathered roof tiles, we know the intention was that they were being stacked somewhere on our plot for keeping, but where we wonder.

going2Also the old main roof timbers they were going to cut up into “log burner” size pieces and would be stacked somewhere on our plot so we can store and use during the colder months. Again we wonder where.

The thought on the remaining of the brickwork was that it would be used, some to build up a higher bank along the stream side to help prevent future overflows, and the remainder along the tracks down to the lower fruit farm.

going3There was also agreement to use some of the old drain pipes removed from the earlier failed attempt at bridging the stream to form a drain to channel the rain water on one track direct into the stream.  Also to re camber the second track so the water flowed away onto the land above the stream, thus keeping it away from the fruit farm area. Any remaining brickwork from the hut to be spread over the tracks to try and firm up the dirt. Has this happened we wonder.

As you can tell, we haven’t yet been able to see if this has all happened to our satisfaction, however we will be back at the house this week to see for ourselves, so watch the blog for updates.

The one thing we do know if the old hut has finally gone and there should now be clear views right through towards Monsanto, weather permitting of course.



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