Saying goodbye to Aljezur

Some last impressions of “Life at the Quinta” …………….

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My highlights of the Algarve

17th of June, 2015

In a few days I am leaving Portugal and the Quinta, where I spent 5 intensive weeks. Never thought I would have a connection with chickens (especially that white fat one), ducks and goats (like the  “leader” of the group, called Antonio).DSC02705

I realize very well, that they like me so much because I treat them often with some extra food and the chickens just love the fresh produce of the garden, like the figs, cucumber, nectarines and whatever else they are offered.

Today was a special day, as I got the opportunity to take the first picture of the arrival of a new duckling! Probably, there will be a few more!DSC02900DSC02901

Yesterday, I visited with a friend my favorite restaurant “Ze Mogadinho” in Alvor. In the winter I took some pictures of the accordionist Anibal Filipe and I made some prints and an enlargement for him. I was so glad to see him playing again in the same little corner of the cozy, authentic “open air” restaurant. We spent a wonderful afternoon in Ze Mogadinho, eating the famous sardines with lovely potatoes and salad and listening to the music of the accordionist.

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This week, I also went back to Cacela Velha and Tavira. In Cacela, the same cat I fed in January was still there. With so many fishermen living in the small village and a restaurant around the corner, he or she will have eternal life,,,,,,DSC02834

I had lunch in “A Barquinha”, on the Rua Jose Pires Padinha 142, the same restaurant along the river, where I started my first meal in Portugal in December. Again, it was great food and very well priced and I was served by the same wonderful lady as in December. Although there were many more tourists now, it still was not at all over crowded and the weather was superb to go for a stroll.

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In the small garden at the Fortress all kind of different flowers were blooming and while two guys were singing and playing guitar, I just enjoyed sitting on the old walls and soaking up the beautiful view over Tavira.

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The story of “The ugly duckling of Aljezur”

June 2015, Aljezur

It is getting busy on Animal Farm here at the Quinta. There is mother duck with 5 ducklings and there is mother 2 with 14 ducklings and there will be mother 3 soon!!! Let’s not talk about dad……he literally passed out……….

So it was time to widen and open up the old pond. I was grateful, that the Thai people were still present here! We don’t know what will happen once we have two ponds in one big cage with two Duck families. It might be interesting. The neighboring chickens are very curious what all this excitement is about and I am ready with my camera to get the first shots.DSC02561DSC02577DSC02586

After not being able to have a bath for such a long time, as mother 1 and her 5 ducklings were in a separate cage, this is like a “school trip” for them!!!  Mum first and then, very careful, the children…..It is party time!!!DSC02527

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On the other side of the shed, there is mother 2 with her children. One of them is totally different. Completely yellow, as the others are black and yellow. The yellow one wants to meet the new neighbours, but mother 1 doesn’t agree with that and sends her back. Now mum 2 doesn’t want her child back anymore and is very aggressive. She chases her and picks on her and finally we have to save the yellow one from all the aggression and put her in a separate shed within the chicken cage. There she is safe at least, but also very lonely. So our next project is, to get one of her siblings to keep her company. Story will be continued……….

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Never a dull moment at the Quinta

June 5th, 2015

It seems every day brings something special here. Yesterday I got the shock of my life, when I realized that it was not a turtle, who was visiting my studio, but an enormous toad. I can’t remember I have ever seen a toad as big as this one. It looked Prehistoric! Even the Thai lady got upset about the animal, which directed itself down the stairs towards her living quarters……..I must be grateful, as the toad was really posing for the pictures.DSC02642

The story of the ducklings continued. The neigbour came over and he needed two female ducks for the male ones he had, so it was time to see goodbye to the mums and the tiny “ugly” yellow duckling could return to its siblings and even to the 5 older ducklings of the other mother.  All the children were getting along very well from the start and one of the older ducklings took over the mother role.  So mum no. 3 is still here, but she is for ever sitting on the eggs……..DSC02667DSC02661

The two Thai people also left; there was just not enough work anymore on the land. They took their food with them; an amazing way of smoking meat!!!DSC02625DSC02626

This morning I was watering the garden very early and I had my breakfast from the trees; the plums are starting and they are small, but very tasty. Then I tasted some nectarines…. and apricots, just gorgeous! The figs are nearly ripe also. Now the Thai people left, we have to eat many more eggs, but how many CAN you eat??? My arteries will get plugged from the overdoses of calcium……….

By now the harvest of the peas is finished; too bad for the goats, as they just LOVE the leaves (and the peas……).DSC02518

The next job is an extra area for the goats or maybe in the future the horses? Nearly all the poles are in place and later the wiring can start. It is an enormous piece of extra land and it will keep the wildlife out and other uninvited visitors.DSC02521

Daily life at the Quinta

May, 2015

After 10 days here in Montes Galegos, I feel totally at home. My daily routine is as follows; I get up at 6.00 and have a good breakfast, check my house sitters websites and other mails and start outside at 7.30. First thing is to start the water pump, then the chickens are going out of their night shelter, check the ducks and start watering the vegetable garden. Continue to the terraces and do some weeding in between. Every so many days different trees have to be watered. There are so many around the house, that it is impossible to do it in one day. Of course there is always happening something. The pump in the pond by the house didn’t work. It turned out that there was a small snake in it. That had to be removed with a knife. Then a part of the pump in the big lake fell off to the bottom and now somebody has to be found to go into the water and pick it up again. So we have to look for somebody, who wants to go into the water in exchange for a meal? While feeding the Koi fish, I bumped my arm into an Agave plant. For two days I couldn’t lift my arm anymore…..it was all swollen and red at the elbow. Very painful, especially in the night!

Two Thai people are also working on the land and while they work the whole day, I finish around 11.00 or 11.30 a.m. when my back starts hurting and the sun is getting hot. I also have to do some laundry and cleaning, working on my blog and now and then I go to Lagos for my weekly shopping. Lagos is fun to be, filled with tourists and lots of boats going up and down the river, to and from the sea. So totally different than in January, when I visited Lagos in the afternoon for a brief moment and there was nothing going on.DSC02438

At the end of the day, around 4.30, the chickens and ducks need to be fed and by now there are a lot of ducks! Buckets full of water need to be cleaned and filled and the shelters checked, as a fox tried to get in during the night. The goats are fun, they always are happy to see you, especially when you bring them weeds. Around 6.00 everything is checked and the evening starts. It is wonderful to be outside most of the day in such a beautiful environment!DSC02473DSC02475

Last Sunday we went looking for Samphire or Glasswort or Salicornia (Zeekraal in Dutch). It grows in abundance at the roadside, close to the Praia de Amoreira, where the river “Ribeira de Alfambres” flows into the sea. There were only around 4 families on the enormous beach, surrounded by impressive rocks and the dunes on the other side. Nothing built here, only on both sides of the beach a restaurant on the cliffs.DSC02429DSC02436

Yesterday evening we went to an other beach, called Praia de Monte Clerigo, just around 10 minutes driving from the Quinta. There is a small restaurant with a terrace over viewing the sea, beach and rocks and there are just a few old fishing houses, bordering the beach. Still so unspoiled……We had a simple meal, but the chicken was excellent!

This part of Portugal is so totally different than the Southern coast. So quiet and peaceful and very green! Hopefully, I can explore more areas in the coming days and weeks!

A hidden treasure in the Western Algarve, Portugal

Since Monday the 18th of May, I am so lucky to be in a beautiful spot, close to Aljezur, Algarve, Portugal. Helping out with watering the garden, feeding the ducks, chickens and goats and the occasional weeding. A truly amazing spot on top of the hill in Natural Park “Costa Vicentina”.  16 Hectares of land, all kinds of different trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables. A hidden gem with an amazing view and also very close to the sea, with beautiful beaches and not spoiled by mass tourism and high rises yet. On the right hand side you can see the Monchique mountain range, in between agriculture land, rivers and small villages. The last couple of days I have been exploring the property, admiring the self made lakes with all kind of different coloured Koi fish. Taking tons of pictures and just been amazed about the work, which has been put into this property, by building it up “from scratch”……..I feel at home in between the plants and trees we also had in Greece and the smell of fresh produce from the vegetable garden. Yesterday, I was at the back of the tractor, holding myself steady while going up and down the hills, to go to the three different lakes and feed the Koi fish.  I learn about Loofah (Luffa), a sweet and tasty veggie, like squash or zucchini, from which you can eat the young flowers (like zucchini), but also from which you can harvest a sponge! You have to leave it on the vine, until the skin begins to shrivel, then harvest and scrub the skin away, shake out the seeds and cut the gourd into the desired shape. DSC02353

DSC02376The stones on the property are like a painting; all different colours and patterns.

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Yesterday, I went for a quick drive to Praia Arrifana, an amazing beach, with (most of the time) high waves, great for surf boarders! A few apartment buildings, a hotel and a small restaurant is all there is. The view from “upstairs” is gorgeous! Tomorrow I will go to the market in Aljezur and explore the little village with the old fortress on top of the hill.