World Cup 2018 – Portugal nails

A few weeks back my wife was going off to get her nails done. She gets the pattern changed every time she goes. With the World Cup then nearly upon us, I suggested getting her nails done in green and red, to support Portugal.

She travelled to her appointment in Lagos, and there she discussed colours/patterns with her stylist. The stylist pooh-poohed red and green. I can’t remember what my wife’s nails looked like when she came back.

Move the clock forward 3 or 4 weeks, and it was time for my wife to get her nails redone today. She went off this morning, and came back at lunchtime with alternate nails done in red and green.

It could have been the 3-3 draw between Portugal and Spain that tipped the balance. Or perhaps it is another story doing the rounds in Lagos.

Allegedly as the Portuguese team was getting on the team bus to leave, there was boy of about 7, with his father. The child was crying his eyes out, holding a sign up for Ronaldo. So Ronaldo got off the bus, went to the boy, cuddled him, talked to him and kissed him. Then Ronaldo signed a shirt and also the boy’s autograph book. After some more hugs and kisses, Ronaldo got back onto the Portuguese team bus and departed.

I don’t know whether this story is reality or just a nice fairy tale. What I do know is that people here are upbeat about supporting Portugal, so this time round my wife got her red and green nails with no hesitation.


Anne Guedes – Luz Villa

Anne Guedes recently posted a link to a villa, and I mistakenly took the villa to be close to Faro airport, which it turns out it is not. Here is the photo of the villa from Anne’s link.

Vivenda Carolina Praia da Luz, Algarve, Portugal v2

I still don’t recognise the villa, but the general setting is familiar. There is a beaten-earth track which runs from central Luz to central Burgau, along the hilltop beside the sea. There is only one section which is a bit of a challenge. The rest is flat and easy. One hotel on the way has added benches to the track, so you can get a seat if you want a rest.

So I checked Google Earth along that track and Anne’s villa is about half way between Luz and Burgau. Here it is.

When you walk the track you don’t get much sense of what the various villa grounds look like. The Luz-Burgau trail is popular with ramblers, so I suppose the villa owners want a bit of privacy.

SIL – return to Luz, and Hot Lips

On Friday 8 June 2018, I made my first return to Luz since moving out at the end of August 2017. We needed to visit because my wife gets special prescription medicine delivered to one of the chemists in Luz, so we went to pick it up.

I’ve got to say after my visit that I really haven’t missed Luz at all.

While there, I went to Spar and Baptista supermarkets. I follow Formula 1, and this weekend’s race is in Montreal. I like to do themed beer and a themed snack, so I was looking for Canadian-related goodies.

The snack was easy. A popular local dish in Quebec is poutine, which is chips, cheese curds and gravy. Don’t turn your nose up at this until you have tried it. It tastes better than it sounds, and better than it looks.

I don’t know where to source cheese curds, so I am using cottage cheese, which I bought in Baptista. The USP of cheese curds is that they are squeaky, but making my own cheese curds was a non-starter. It seems the curds only keep the squeak for a few hours anyway.

On the drinks front, the largest genuinely-Canadian brewery does Moosehead, which I have never seen in Portugal. I thought I had seen another Canadian favourite, Labatts, but I couldn’t find any of that yesterday.

The fallback position was Heineken, simply because it is the Heineken Canadian Grand Prix. However, neither Spar nor Baptista sold Heineken, so we had to stop off at Continente supermarket in Lagos on the way back from Luz.

My visit to Spar in Luz did unearth some valuables. The supermarket stocks various British beers, so I have laid in advance supplies for the British Grand Prix.

The other thing that caught my eye was a bottle of Hot Lips red wine. I thought about buying a bottle, just as a joke re Hot Lips Healy. At €3.69 it was inexpensive. Then I rechecked the price tag to find it was €36.95, so I decided to pass.

It seems the wine is made by a couple of young wine producers in Portugal. So here is Portugal’s take on Hot Lips.

This was the first time we had both gone out and left our puppy, Gonçalo, completely on his own. He was a bit plaintiff when we put him in his cage in the daytime, and we were out for two hours, but he seemed to be quite OK when we returned.

Gonçalo – Serial Killer

The definition of a serial killer that I am working with is one who kills at least 3 times on 3 separate occasions. Under that definition, Gonçalo qualified as a serial killer a couple of days ago.

His first kill was a fledgling, perhaps 10 days ago. My Adventure Trail is hewn out of long grass, and Gonçalo loves to run up and down the track, diving into the long grass whenever something takes his fancy. He was off exploring when suddenly a tiny bird broke cover. Gonçalo had it in a flash, and before I could prise the bird from his jaws, the fledgling’s life was over. Kill #1.

We were walking together in the garden in the morning, 2 or 3 days ago. I turned to have a look behind me because Gonçalo was lagging. After a few moments I could see he had something black in his mouth. I went back to remove whatever rubbish he was playing with. Then I could see it was a black-coloured bird, still obviously alive, because it was struggling. Gonçalo was not interested in giving his prize up. He scooted off to the house. By the time I cornered him and extricated the young bird, it was obviously not going to survive. Kill #2.

That same afternoon, on another walk, Gonçalo went rooting around in some long grass, and came out clutching a brown bird with white spots. Again by the time I got to the dog the bird was dead. Kill #3.

These were all immature birds. So far the parents know how to escape his clutches. On at least one occasion, a mature bird has let Gonçalo chase it, to act as a decoy and lead Gonçalo away from another fledgling.

So it’s official. Gonçalo is now a serial killer.

Gonçalo is a cocker spaniel. His breeding is to flush birds, so they can be shot, and then he can retrieve the carcass, There seem to be several types of bird here that choose to nest on the ground, in long grass. That is the type of territory where Gonçalo is in his element.

The idea is that Gonçalo should flush birds, that I should shoot them, and that Gonçalo should retrieve them. This routine needs a bit of polishing. Gonçalo doesn’t flush, I don’t have a shotgun, and Gonçalo does not wish to give me his kill.

It’s still early days though.

Madeleine v Rocha Negra

A boy of 16 years old fell to his death on Tuesday, 29 May 2018, from a height of 100m on the cliffs above Rocha Negra, between the beaches of Porto de Mós and Luz.

Multiple authorities were involved in attempts to try to rescue him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident. Due to the difficulty of the terrain, his body had to be retrieved by sea.

He was with a teenage girl at the time. Presumably she was the one who raised the alarm. It is unlikely that a passer-by would spot a body at the bottom of the cliffs, based on personal experience.

The beach at Porto de Mós is much quieter and less touristy than Luz. Heading west from the Porto de Mós beach is a wide, flat, baked earth track. It starts a sea level, but surprisingly quickly ascends to the top of the cliffs. The track itself is 100% safe, because it is around 3m away from the edge of the cliff. You have to deliberately go over to the lip of the cliff before you are in danger.

The track runs from the beach at Porto de Mós to the trigonometry point on the hills overlooking Luz. The track is busier than one might think, for all sorts of reasons.

One is that ramblers like to do the walk from Porto de Mós to the trig point. The path is flat and the incline is fairly gentle, so it is an easy walk. An amble that is pleasant all year round. Then you come to the trig point above Luz, south of Bela Vista, and an opportunity for a chocolate box photo over Luz. The media love this as a special viewpoint.

From the trig point you have choices. One is just to do an easy amble back to Porto de Mós. Many pick this, because it is the simplest option.

If you wish instead to get down from the trig point to Luz, you have 3 alternative routes. This same choice would have faced Kate and Gerry McCann when they went jogging from apartment 4G, where they had been rehoused by Mark Warner at the Ocean Club. There are 3 routes up and down the hill. One route is a nightmare, one route is not joggable, and the third looks bad but it turns out to be easy. Mountain bikes go up and down it regularly.

I have no idea which route Gerry and Kate took.

The details of the 16 year old boy who died in the cliff fall are at best sketchy. Most of what you have in this post is local knowledge of Luz and its environs.

Gonçalo v the PSP dogs

We were having multiple issues with Gonçalo. He was proving hard to housetrain. He was also chewing more or less everything that could be chewed. He was also nipping us, and sometimes the nips were painful enough to make us exclaim!

Thus we started looking at resources which might get us through this difficult period more quickly.

Our first line of enquiry was a lady vet in Tavira who specialises in canine behaviour analysis. Here we hit a brick wall. The lady insisted we both had to travel to Tavira so she could see us interacting with the dog. Then she would write a report. Then we had to find a trainer who worked with the methods she specified. She had no existing contacts near to Lagos who did that. From here to Tavira is 1.5 hours on a good day, that to be followed by an ‘interview’ of 1.5 hours, plus another 1.5 hours to get home. We decided that as we could not implement any report, putting the puppy through a day of stress was not what we wanted to do.

Then I went online, researched training books, and picked The Cocker Spaniel Handbook by Linda Whitwam. This is a bit more theoretical than I wanted. We already had Gonçalo, so explaining how to check out a breeder and an obscure U.S. selection test was somewhat boring. However, I have completed the book, I have picked up some useful information, and I am now re-reading the book, as and when I can get some time.

The third strand was Officer Mario Pidos of the PSP. We got his name via a lady who operates kennels in Luz. Mario had trained some of the dogs of her customers 15 to 20 years ago. Mario also trained PSP dogs from 1997 to 2004.

The guts of the PSP training boils down to just 4 commands. However, these are taught in very specific ways.

‘Come’ means come here. This is done on a long lead. You say the dog’s name to get his attention, then say ‘come’, and give a couple of very gentle tugs on his lead.

‘Sit’ means sit down beside my left ankle. There are ways to make sure the dog does this by your side, rather than simply sitting down anywhere.

‘Heel’ actually means the dog should walk in time with you on your left heel. There is a process for getting the dog to turn at any angle as you both walk.

‘Free’ means the work/training session is over, and the dog is free to play as it wishes, on or off the lead.

After these 4 commands, the most important thing was getting the puppy to stop chewing everything. The key here is the dog does not like sudden, unanticipated noises. So one takes a small, empty water bottle and put a few stones, pebbles, dried beans, or macaroni inside, on the bottom. Anything that helps to make a noise, but is not heavy. Then when you see the puppy gnawing at a chair or destroying a cushion, lob the rattle to land near the dog. It helps if the dog does not see you launch the missile. The dog then learns to associate destructive gnawing with sudden, unpleasant sounds, and from there it learns to move on.

Officer Mario’s PSP programme is 100% practical. And so we are putting various rattle-making objects into small, empty water bottles. It’s us versus Gonçalo.

Gonçalo v Svetlana etc.

Gonçalo is normally extremely friendly with strangers. He is usually a lick-them-to-death dog. He loves humans, whether he has seen them before or not. He is is useless as a guard dog. He almost never barks at strangers.

He has just a few exceptions on his list.

We currently have a long-stay visitor from Texas, and at first Gonçalo was really not sure about her, though the ice has thawed now.

Then there was José, a Portuguese man tapping in calçadas to build us a new patio in the garden. There was an awful lot going on at the time he first turned up, so it was difficult to figure out exactly what spooked Gonçalo. He seemed OK after that as José got on with his work.

The most interesting person in this tale is Svetlana. She comes to clean our home. She is roughly the same age as us. She happens to work hard. She is also extremely friendly. Our conversation is limited because she speaks very little English, and we scrape by in Portuguese, but her Russian is definitely beyond us.

Somehow we manage to communicate. On her last visit, Gonçalo had done a poo after Svetlana started her work, so she cleared it up. Then she told us Gonçalo’s poo should not look like it did, and that we needed to take him to the vet. That’s what we did the very next day. Gonçalo went on antibiotics and the poo problem was quickly consigned to history.

However, Gonçalo does not appear to like Svetlana, despite the fact that she is extremely friendly.

In the minutes just before Svetlana’s last visit, my wife had folded an old cloth place mat on a small glass-topped table on her patio. Gonçalo clearly wanted it, but it was flat on the glass. After 10 to 15 minutes, the dog finally got the place mat off the table. Then Gonçalo sat in front of us, triumphantly dangling the place mat from his mouth.

Then he invited my wife to play tug-of-war using the cloth place mat. Gonçalo loves tug-of-war. He had not yet got his wish when Svetlana turned up behind him. When we both pointed behind him and said ‘Look, who’s here?’, he turned and saw Svetlana, and the result was comic. Gonçalo immediately dropped the place mark, started barking loudly and rapidly reversed behind my wife’s legs for safety. He continued to bark at Svetlana from his position of security.

The only common denominator we have between our visitor from Texas and Svetlana is that they are taller than average females.

This is not a lot to go on.