It rained this month. Goodness, did it rain. Our dog walks were turned into river crossings and we were always hoping our waterproofs would be dry enough for the next one. To add to the slight feeling of gloom constant rain brings (we felt like characters in T C Boyle’s novel A Friend of the Earth) Portugal was making the headlines for all the wrong reasons: The Worst in the World label felt very grim. We discovered one of neighbours spent 12 days in intensive care having caught Covid (she’s on the mend), the boiler man had caught it and a local wood man too…
The garden, having had such a cold January, has not been looking it’s best. There have been casualties. The geraniums are no more. Plus the plumbago, which normally gets frost bite, has gone completely black and all the plants in pots wondered why I hadn’t put them away this year.
Then while Jussi was making a great recovery, hurrah, Betty went and got a hole in her side (chasing something through a hedge we think) so yet more vet’s fees! (You’ll see she’s wearing her plastic hoodie in the top photo).
But all bad things come to an end. First of all the incessant rain has stopped, temperatures have risen and we’re having lunch outside again. It’s incredible how the sunshine lifts our spirits. This has meant getting the gardening gloves on. The plane tree has had its annual snip:
I never really like doing it, not that the task is difficult, it’s just that it always looks so sad afterwards. It’s incredible to think that the new branches grow more than 2m in a year, and there will be birds nesting in it again.
We have been to the garden centre and bought some flowers and strawberries to cheer the courtyard up. The hens have been moved yet again to a new field.
And the end of the garden looks just marvellous again:
I’m particularly pleased that the ornamental plum seems to have made a full recovery, it really was looking a bit sad towards the end of the summer. Not only is the blossom so cheerful but the leaves make such lovely blue and green dyes for my yarn; I knitted a jumper with all the different coloured yarns I have dyed over the last few years:
But, along with the sunshine, we have had some good news: Richard has at long last got The Letter stating that he has been accepted for Portuguese citizenship. We went to the Council office to get his card but were shooed away and told it was non-urgent, we’re hoping we can get that done in March, just two years after he applied!
Plus, drum roll, we also got The Letter from the Ponte de Lima council saying that our plans for the house have also been approved, almost a year of waiting there! We have sent these to a builder we met last year and now we are hoping we can afford the work that’s needed to be done. (Rather ironically the Penela council had a meeting yesterday in the village to discuss the naming of the streets, it’s been infuriating not having either house number or street name. They’ve been promising to do something about that for at least a decade).
So small steps forward. It doesn’t look like normal life will return here until after Easter, but as soon as the restaurants are open we hope to celebrate the light at the end of the Covid tunnel and getting the moving up north back on track.
Meanwhile we are enjoying the countryside in the spring sunshine. The wild flowers and orchids are starting to come out, the birds are singing and the mornings are lighter.