The House & Garden – September 2016

hobAt long last we have managed to get the cover on the extractor over the hob, it had to be specially made, just because of the shape of the vaulted ceiling and the height, now it’s done, it looks amazing. The only problem was that the guy that did the work managed to break the glass on the hob! Nothing is ever simple is it. He has agreed to source the replacement glass and fit it, and we have agreed to cover the cost. Yes you could say it was his fault and he should bear the cost, but he is a one man band doing odd jobs for us and doesn’t have insurance that would cover this, and it was an accident, so we will cover it and he is doing other work for us as well.

The same guy is due to build a small cover for the borehole, but again like all the Portuguese although agreeing it to be done, it take an age to actually get it done.

We also had to add another little job to his list, as we managed to break the automatic openers on the gate on out last visit, just managed to pull one of the openers out of the post. This at the time of writing, he has started to repair for us, reinforcing the post with some concrete before remounting the opener.

sprinklersThe garden around the house is getting there, the watering system is working well for the plants and apart from a couple of the sprinkles tops needing repair the clover/grass is getting well-watered. There are a couple of places that need fixing but we will get there. The biggest issue now is getting the clover/grass cut. The guy that said he would do it is the same guy that’s doing the demolishing of the hut and the landscaping so its suffering the same way, getting him to do it. The consequence is its getting very long.

We have decided that we will get a mower as soon as we can, so at least we can cut it when we are there, we still need someone to cut it on a regular basis but it would help.

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The Old Hut – September 2016

demolitionballIn combination with the landscaping work that we need on the farm, we have also agreed with the same contractor to get the old hut demolished.

The plan is that he will remove all the roof tiles, as these may be reusable, the Portuguese seem to put great value on roof tiles. These will be stacked at a suitable point on our land. The wood inside, mainly the structure of the roof, will be removed and cut into log size pieces that we can use on the wood burner. I expect these will just be left somewhere and I will have to move them and store them in the garage along with all the wood stacked there last year from the pruning of the Olive trees.

The main fabric, e.g. the tile blocks and bricks would be broken down and form a wide path down the original dirt track to the farm area, sloping away from the neighbour and down towards the stream. At the same time reuse the old 500mm pipes that were removed from the stream bridge, mentioned in an earlier blog, to form a large drain to take the flow of water that will run down the track, along with the water dispensed from the pool plant room, when we clean the pool system, or empty the pool and take the water and run it into the stream.

Again, it was planned that this work would happen in September, but as mentioned in the farm blog, we are still waiting.

Posted in 2016, Project Portugal, The Hut | 1 Comment

The Old Hut – The story so far

hutinsideAt the start of the building of the house project, we needed to get electricity on the site. The main supply, delivered by overhead cables was already to the edge of the plot so we just had to drop a connection down to a meter and connection box.

In conjunction with the builder we decided to go one better, after the meter connection we would run a cable to the new house where the internal MCB panel would be and a further connection to the shed, so we had power we could use on our trips.

It was a great idea and worked well, but later as the new house came to completion and we thought about demolishing the hut, the power supply to the hut was now a problem and would have to be removed before we could even think about demolishing it. This was further complicated because we had a supply now running from the hut to the new Pool room plant room.

So Phase 1 was to work with the electrician who had worked on the house and get him and his team to sort the power and run new supplies to the new pool plant room and remove everything from the old hut.

At the time of writing that has now been removed and we are free to get the hut demolished.

So who does that we ask?

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The Old Hut

hutThe original hut that came with the land when we brought it is just in the way of the view towards Monsanto, so it has to go. It’s been great having it whilst we have been building the house, somewhere to get out of the sun or the rain when needed, plus a great place to store all our bits.

The builders also put it to good use for the storage of tools and materials, but that is all done now and the building is basically empty.

We also now have the garage which came with the extra piece of land we brought later in the process and that is perfectly adequate for all the storage we currently need.

In many ways its seems a shame to remove it as it has history with the plot, but at the end of the day it is just old bricks and tiles and just is in the way of the view so it has to be demolished.

So that’s the subject matter on this project, the demolishing of the hut and its disposal.

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Tractor

tractorYes, we have made the decision that we need to get a small tractor!!! Whilst it has been fun and somewhat fulfilling strimming the land each time we visit, now the house is there we want to enjoy that more, so strimming is becoming a bit of an annoyance. Plus, in the summer it is just too hot, so it means getting up early doing a couple of hours and packing up by about 10 am.

The land does need to be cleaned every year, not just to make it look nice but to reduce the fire risk. Whilst this is not an issue for us, we do want to keep the risk low and there is current a move within the Portuguese government to introduce mandatory land maintenance, which would mean they would clean the land and the owners have to pay the bill, the land is claimed by the government until you pay up. The way to avoid that is to clean the land annually yourself. capinadeiraThe way to do this easily is with a tractor. With a tractor and a “capanadeira” more details about that later, but in essence it’s like a large rotating chain, under a cover, that you drag across the land and it does the same job as a strimmer, but a lot quicker. I reckon I could do the whole plot in a day.

First task is to source the correct size tractor and equipment, so watch this blog for progress.

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The Farm

farmBackground

The original farm was about 2 acres, we have used about half of that to place the house and pool and have added about another acre with an addition purchase, so are back to about 2 acres.

The newer bit, although been cleaned and we need to keep it cleaned each year, we don’t intend to anything with for the time being, so we are back to about an acre that we need to pay particular attention to.

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July 2016

changeThere is not a lot to say this month, I think I have said before the main project is now all but finished and we are in to general remarks about general things about running any house, which let’s be honest can get a bit boring, so I think I am going to change the format of the blog a little going forward from now to make it more relevant.

So instead of doing monthly updates I am going to blog on “mini projects” for example, one project will be “The Farm” another “The House & Garden” or “The Old Hut” then I will just blog against each as things change, I will add equivalent categories to make accessing easier, so expect a number of blogs to appear in the coming days, each introducing a new subject.

Updates will be more irregular depending on if anything has happened, good or not so good, we don’t like bad! So keep checking in or watch for the alerts if you have subscribed or notifications on Social Media.

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June 2016

GrassJune has been a far better month, I know we were late posting May’s blog, but that was more because we had some issues as I am sure you have read and we wanted to at least get some of the corrections done before posting, daft I know but we like to stay on the positive. LandWe still have some corrective work to get finished off but at least the better weather has returned.

RepairLand1At a visit during the month we were able to review and confirm progress on the work. PipesThe new larger pipes have been installed for the stream, or should I say to allow for the crossing of the stream and the start of a new rock wall along the side of the stream where it had overflowed was in progress. The rather large Grand Canyon style crater that was created has been filled and the bank to the neighbour’s land has been strengthen with rocks. So everything was starting to look as normal as it could, we just need the vegetation to grow back now so it doesn’t look so “manufactured”.

The irrigation system to the farm area has been installed and is almost complete, just a bit of tidying up to be done. The only issue we had was that because we are using the same borehole for the watering as we are for the house, when this is running it takes all the water away from the house, which is not so good. After a few discussions and thoughts, the decision for now is to run the new irrigation at night, when we don’t need water in the house. With some scheduling of the watering around the house should avoid any usage problems, that with the addition of a non-return value on the house pipe should fix it for now.

After several attempts, reading the manuals and a fair amount of testing, we got the result we needed. The manuals were fortunately in English, but it still takes a bit of thinking about to understand what it was actually saying, but we got there in the end.

The schedule for now is:

  • 1:00 am watering around the house, flowers and grass for 1 hour, 6 x 10 min segments.
  • 3:00 am watering on the farm for 1.5 hours
  • 7:00 am a second session around the house, repeat of 1:00am

It was also time for the great unveiling of the pool. Whoohoo! You have to bear in mind we had it installed at the end of last October and it has been covered up since then, whilst we have been to the house, it has either been to cold, e.g. the winter or our visits have been too short. We had to get it done at that time due to the availability of the construction company. It was a bit mucky so a good clean of the sides was needed, but the floor was still very sandy.

We didn’t want to clean the sand out until the guy who constructed the pool returned to give us instructions on cleaning the filters, we were sure we would clog them up with the amount of sand that there was.  However, it was just sand in the water. After it had settled, post the cleaning of the sides, the water was clear, so the first dips/swims were certainly in order. Splash!

WowWe also turned the lighting in the pool on late one evening and the affect with the darkening skies was just knockout.

The last job on this visit was to get the outside lights all put up and working.

This we managed to do just about but didn’t have time to take any photos so they will follow soon. It is going to be quite impressive I think.

Posted in 2016, Casa Neroli - Photos, Construction Update, General, Project Portugal | 1 Comment

May 2016

Disaster Strikes

WetLand1Well that may be a little over dramatic but it got your attention.

The start of May proved to be the wettest period recorded since records began for Portugal. The persistent heavy rain at the start of the month put everything under pressure. We also had the additional problem that we had a lot of land clearance work completed over the last 4 – 6 weeks, clearing the land and the streams, which you would have thought would have helped with the amount of rainfall, but it caused problems because of the amount of free flowing rubbish ( off cuts from the clearing ). Had the land had time to recover we are sure most of this would have been held / helped by the vegetation.

Stream1We had a bridge, well concrete pipes put in the ground to take the flow of the stream, we needed to do something to allow a tractor etc to gain access to lower section of the land. The problem was the pipes that were fitted were not really big enough to take the flow. They would probably have be fine for the general average rainfall, but anything abnormal they would struggle and with the excess water this month and the rubbish coming down , blocking part of the tube caused the water to back up and overflow its banks.

The net result was it washed across our land and ended up washing a fair amount of the soil and sand from our land on to our neighbour’s farm. Whilst he was very understanding of the abnormal conditions, we had to agree that the work we had done had caused problems on his land, which of course we agreed to help him recover from.

Stream2The men that had done the work on our land were also being very fair about the fact that they felt the under sizing of the pipe and clearing had contributed to the problem. So we agreed that we would fund the materials and they would provide the labour at their cost to correct the problem, making repairs to the land where a huge hole had appeared, repair to the bank near the neighbour and double the size of the pipe in the ground.

CanyonHowever as we approached the end of the month the work had still not been done, I guess in some ways it is understandable, that they didn’t want to progress whilst the land was still sodden after the rain and of course it is the cherry season and therefore most of the men will be out harvesting the 2016 crop, it was still however disappointing from our perspective.

To make it worse, the heavy rains and now the lovely sunshine had made the grass/clover around the house go into growth overdrive! If it grows much more without having a cut they we may have a problem finding the house, lol. In any case the Swimming pool is disappearing in the long grass. We had asked the same team that was doing the work above to cut the grass as well, which they had agreed to, but……the cherries!

The rain devastated the whole region and the cherry crops, production was down on the previous years by around 80%, yes thats right 80% so you can imagine what it has done to the industry and the price. Lets just hope that next year recovers.

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April 2016

Garden2Despite the very changeable weather this month we have managed to progress work on the farm and garden areas.

Garden1

 

 

The beginning of the month was really quite wet so it was difficult for the workmen to get on site and get any real work done, but towards the end of the month the weather improved enough that work could progress.

 

IrrVines1Tidy1The irrigation has been laid into the vines and the fruit trees, despite pressure from the guy that was doing the work for us to rip out the old vines and plant new ones on the cleared land.

IrrFruitTrees1We wanted to maintain a status quo for the time being, once we are there more we can progress a bigger “plantation” for now we just want to “play”.

You can see by the photo why he was looking to do this, it’s a large flat area idea for a small vineyard.

 

May be in a couple of years eh!

Tidy2

 

Remembering of course that we brought the extra piece of land that he has now cleared just to make sure no one else could build anything there, domestic or agricultural. We were originally just going to leave it as it was, completely over gown but the guy doing the work couldn’t stand it so had to clear it.

 

I feel that in the next few years it may get overgrown again, but at least it has been landscaped a bit now.

FrontGate1The other job that we have managed to get done was the re-laying of granite cubes just in front of the garage, which had to be redone just because the land had settled on the outside of the building causing a small dip.

The main re-laying was the area where the gates open due to the slop of the drive this had to change to allow the gates to operate properly.

FrontGate2This looks so much better now, it was originally ok, but when the gates were installed the camber of the drive did not allow for the gates to open, so the granite blocks were hastily adjusted just to allow the gates to work and it did make a bit of a mess that has now all been put right.

So, on these two jobs there is just a bit of snagging to complete and then it’s set to go.

 

Posted in 2016, Construction Update, General, Project Portugal | 4 Comments