Saturday, April 11, 2009
Well, we went to Portugal for about 4 weeks, and as always stayed longer. I've got severe soapmaking withdrawal now - fingers are itching to get going. Luckily (?!!!!!) the weather is rubbish back in the UK so this Easter weekend I might just get a chance to make some.
It gets harder and harder to return to the UK each time we spend some time hidden away in the Algarve hills. I need to make some major life decisions and either take a leap and try living there or keep faffing about living a half life spread between the UK and there! Not an easy decision to make as I have family here and we're very close. I put out some feelers for work whilst I was there, and there are a few things that could come up but I'm not the type of person that likes uncertainty and the thought of not having something definite lined up makes me nervous! I'm such a coward. Maybe I was a real risk-taker in a previous life and this time around I'm a wimp!
Anyhow, we were extremely lucky with the weather in March - the driest for a decade in the Algarve - and watching the garden spring to life after all the rain they had at the beginning of the year was wonderful. When we arrived, my plum tree (under which I sit contemplating my navel and staring at the clouds) was completely bare. A few short weeks later and she's sprouted a beautiful crown of leaves so there's now shade to sit in and watch the birds and sky. For some strange reason, I feel a real affinity with that tree - she's very old and gnarled but she valiantly springs to life every year - and I do a lot of thinking sitting there. (Am I losing the plot finally?!!!) Oh, and I also make hideous crochet doilies sitting there - more to follow in another post :-)
Our lovely Portuguese neighbours were as kind as ever, giving us fresh eggs, vegetables, lemons and delicious winter oranges. We were invited to dinner twice for traditional Portuguese food which was a lovely treat for my Mum & Dad who were staying with us. They cooked "Bacalhau com batatas ao muro" which is dried salt cod (soaked in milk I think) cooked very slowly with garlic, onions and small baked potatoes which are slightly crushed. Mum & Dad said it was delicious. As I'm veggie, they made me a separate meal of freshly picked veg and eggs, and homemade soda bread. I was really touched by that - Regina knows I'm allergic to yeast so she made me my own loaf of soda bread and it was delicious. Whenever I make it, it ends up like concrete. They then produced 2 massive dishes of what Mum said was the nicest ever creme caramel as well as about 3 other desserts - would you get that kind of hospitality in the UK any more? I'm not sure.....
The second meal was a spur of the moment thing because when Regina was picking the broad beans I offered to help and just asked how she cooked them. Next thing we know, her son Rafael was telling us dinner was ready! We abandoned our half-cooked dinner and went round to find she'd cooked another traditional dish of "favas com choriço" which is broad beans cooked with potates and sausage and fried pork. I had to pick out the meat this time but the beans were delicious :-)
This is turning out to be a long waffle isn't it? I think I'll separate the other things we did into different posts before you all lose the will to live reading this lot! Congratulations if you got this far by the way :-)