Browsed by
Tag: DIY

Harvest season begins in earnest

Harvest season begins in earnest

It’s now mid July and we are well into the summer. Every day for the last 2 weeks has been well over 30 degrees with a scorching hot sun. I’m amazed that there are still some green patches of grass about but they won’t last long I’m sure. Many of the soft fruits have already come and gone – we had plenty of strawberries, a few gooseberries and plenty of the summer raspberries, but mid July brings the plums. Last year we didn’t have many yellow plums but the red ones and the greengages made up for them. This year we’ve got a few yellow ones but hardly any greengages and we had only 3 or 4 red ones! So not great news.


However, the only plum tree we planted, the Stanley plum, goes from strength to strength. Although still only a small tree, it produces quite a few fruit and as opposed to most of our other varieties, it is great for cooking with and the stewed plums are divine. Here’s a recent photo which shows they won’t be ready for a few weeks yet.

Stanley plums
Stanley plums

Meanwhile, our two almonds are just about hanging in…


Of the other trees, it’s still early days for the apples and pears, although as there are plenty of wild apple trees about, which are doing very well, I’m sure I’ll have enough for another batch of cider which went really well last year. Talking of which, I recently made another batch of home brew and I have to say it just gets better and better. And I much prefer my own home brewed bitter to the generic lager which is usually the only thing available in Portugal (although this is changing rapidly with a number of micro-breweries popping up locally).


But back to the garden. I’m not sure why but the mixture of a wet spring followed by a boiling summer seems to have induced a growth spurt in the prickly pears. We had a number of yellow flowers a while ago and it looks like we’ll have quite a few fruit. Careful of those spines though!

prickly pear
prickly pear

And of course the sun has brought out the lavender and the bees. We lost a few lavender plants to the frosts this year but I replaced them with an ancient wheelbarrow.


Last month I showed this pic of a new project.


Well, it developed a bit further into this:

and finally this, undergoing its final inspection:

It’s my new observatory. I’m quite pleased with it, especially the sliding roof. It’s been christened the “Star shed”

Tiles 2

Tiles 2

Way back in March we picked up a pile of old tiles (azulejos). We used some of them around the tree we put in the courtyard (see Tiles) but we had plenty left. In the traditional Portuguese style we decided to cover a wall, or at least part of it behind the orange tree in the courtyard.

…and the tree hasn’t done too bad since March either
Brick Barbeque Building

Brick Barbeque Building

Everyone round these parts has a brick barbeque. And they are all identical. Only problem is that we think they are very ugly and also very expensive. As can be seen below. PS the bricks are actually fake so it looks even worse in the flesh.

Solution? Build one myself! Jackie is already in position to direct operations.

I’m ready! Where are the pork chops?

Done! Meanwhile the rest of the gang are resting up…

Reasons to be cheerful

Reasons to be cheerful

One: at last at last we have the Internet at our temporary home and what joy! Up until now we’ve been using a dongle on the laptop – the connection was slow (sometimes non existent), we were having to share (no comment) and to do any work on our website or skyping meant driving up the road to get a better connection. Great news.

Two: the builders have been plodding on. We now have new roof beams over the kitchen and some of the tiles have been replaced so that won’t fall down in a few years’ time. We were also really pleased to see that a huge pile of metal junk that we had inherited from the previous owners had been taken away.

Three: we have our shed! We were going to get someone to make a ‘proper’ one from bricks but for various reasons that fell through and I was getting fed up staring at the concrete platform we’d  had put in months ago. So when a leaflet came through the letter box from Bricomarché with flat pack sheds we were there in a flash. It took us two full days to do it but we were really chuffed in the end!

The concrete pad... and some careful thinking

We seemed to have nails we didn’t need and not enough screws of a certain size but that didn’t deter us.

We only needed to dismantle it once when we got the boards mixed up...

I thought the whole thing was going to get blown over at this stage.

Neighbour Luis reckons it'll all rot in a few years...

And luckily we managed to get two licks of paint on as it’s pishing down today!